School Counselors: Need extra income?

Use Your Skills to Create Extra Income

If recent economic events have taught us anything, it’s that we should all have more than one stream of income. When you have all of your eggs in one basket and that income stream dries up, you are in a difficult, maybe even desperate situation. A coach and mentor of mine, Dan Miller of years ago advised his clients to think of income as a three legged stool. It is a model that I have followed all of my business career. Here are the three legs that he proposes:

  1. Product Sales– This can mean something you create yourself and sell on Esty, TeachersPayTeachers, your own website or some other platform. It can also mean being part of a multi-level marketing business such as Mary Kay or Plexus. It is something that provides some passive income. Personally, I think passive is a bit of a misnomer, because no matter what you sell, you will have to make some effort to get the product out in front of your ideal clients. So there is definitely time and energy involved but ideally it is something that  has the potential to sell while you are doing other things.
  2. Coaching, counseling, consulting, tutoring–This is an income based on your skill set, talents, training, and experience. It might be a primary source of income that creates a paycheck through a school or established agency or business. Or it might be a business that you create yourself where you are the CEO and also provide individual or group services. Again, depending on your goals, if it is your business, you have the potential to grow the business to where you are the manager and hire someone else to provide the service either all the time or part of the time.
  3. Speaking, training, teaching-– This may mean motivational speaking or it may mean that you identify your skill set and train others to provide the same or a similar service or product. For example, if you sell lesson plans on TeachersPayTeachers, then you might create an in person or virtual class to teach others how they can create lesson plans or a similar product to sell. It you have written a book, then you might develop a class to teach others how to write and publish a book.

I recommend that each of your businesses be something that compliments the rest of your business endeavors. It’s hard to gain traction in business if you are switching back and forth between three unrelated programs. For instance if you are an elementary school counselor by day, create and sell birthday cakes on the weekend and teach an online class on fashion and looking your best, I hope you can see that you are going to be pulled in too many different directions. Instead pick your strongest area, where you already have the most skill and the biggest platform or impact (i.e.. you are known for this ability) and build around that. In other words, start by going for the lowest hanging fruit. For example, you might continue as an elementary school counselor or a child therapist, while you create products that other counselors or therapists could use in their work. You could also do training in schools or with parent groups on a particular area that you are skilled in, perhaps coping with anxiety or stress. It doesn’t mean you can’t still be passionate about fashion or baking birthday cakes, but consider it more of a hobby than an integral part of the business.

It’s also true that during hard times you can switch back and forth between your different businesses. If you get furloughed from your main job, then you can potentially ramp up your product development or your online training class while you look for something to replace it. You don’t have to look for something entirely new but simply apply more energy to something you already have in process.

If you are thinking you’ve absolutely had it with your current work as a school counselor or that it just isn’t a good fit any more, then you can still use this model as you plan the direction to go in for the future. Creating multiple streams of income will see you through economic downturns and can also be energizing in your everyday work as you continue to grow and learn new skills. As we move into summer break, consider it a great time to explore your options and create those missing income streams in your work.



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