Diversifying Income Streams for the Freelance Music Teacher: Exploring Options

Diversifying Income Streams for the Freelance Music Teacher: Exploring Options
In today's dynamic landscape, many educators seek alternatives beyond traditional teaching roles to diversify their income and regain control over their lives. For the music teacher juggling a full-time teaching job with parenthood and a desire for autonomy, balancing these responsibilities can be overwhelming. However, there are opportunities beyond the classroom worth exploring.

As a music teacher, passion for nurturing young minds through music is undeniable. While the demands of the public school system are draining, the desire to create a more fulfilling career and lifestyle is achievable -- I've done it!

Whether offering private lessons, workshops, or community collaborations, this venture allows you to set your own schedule and align your work with your values. Transitioning to entrepreneurship requires careful planning and realistic expectations (which we've talked about here and here). You can begin by testing the waters with freelance gigs while maintaining your teaching job if you want to. This gradual approach allows you to build a client base and generate income without risking stability. I preferred to have multiple income streams moving and lined up before I quit my J.O.B.

One misconception about diversifying income streams is that it requires more time and effort. However, by selecting income streams that complement your main source of income — music teaching — instead of random income streams that aren't aligned, you can create synergy and make them all fit together seamlessly. This really depends person-to-person on what they are doing and how it fits best, but I learned how to do this in a way that saves me SO much time from my own business mentor through her signature course.

While the journey may be challenging, the rewards of reclaiming your time and passion for music are worth it. Embrace the possibilities and dare to redefine success on your terms.

If you have multiple income streams going already, what are they?

Prioritizing Personal Musical Growth Amidst Teaching and Family Responsibilities

Prioritizing Personal Musical Growth Amidst Teaching and Family Responsibilities
In the ever-changing reality of life as a musician (we all know it can ebb and flow... it's crazy!), each season brings its own unique rhythm and challenges. Balancing the demands of teaching, family obligations, and personal musical growth requires adaptability and creativity. Here are a few strategies for navigating the shifting seasons that have worked for me while also staying true to my own musical growth.

  1. Set Clear Goals: Begin by defining your musical objectives and the milestones you aim to achieve. Whether it's mastering a challenging technique, learning new repertoire or a new instrument, or honing your improvisational skills, clarity in your goals will guide your efforts and help you stay focused amidst the busy-ness.
  2. Establish Boundaries: While teaching and family commitments come first, it's essential to delineate boundaries to safeguard time for personal musical pursuits so that we don't become musically stagnant. Communicate your needs to your students and loved ones, setting realistic expectations and carving out dedicated time for practice or time with an ensemble.
  3. Create a Flexible Schedule: Acknowledge that different seasons may afford varying amounts of time for personal musical endeavors. Design a flexible schedule that adapts to the demands of teaching and family life, allocating resources accordingly. During busier periods, focus on maintaining consistency in practice habits, while in quieter seasons, seize the opportunity to delve deeper!
  4. Practice with Purpose: Maximize the efficiency of your practice sessions by prioritizing quality over quantity. Identify specific areas for improvement and tailor your practice routine accordingly. Embrace focused repetition, targeted exercises, and use your goals to establish priorities that make the most of your available time.
  5. Embrace the Power of Reflection: Use downtime between teaching engagements and family responsibilities to reflect on your musical skills. Evaluate your progress, identify areas of growth, and strategize ways to overcome challenges. Cultivate a mindset of continuous improvement, seeking opportunities for learning and development in every season.
  6. Seek Support and Accountability: Surround yourself with a supportive network of fellow musicians, mentors, and loved ones who understand and respect your commitments. Lean on them for encouragement, advice, and accountability as you navigate the complexities of balancing teaching, family life, and personal musical growth.
Navigating the seasons as a musician requires a delicate balance between fulfilling professional obligations, nurturing familial relationships, and prioritizing personal musical growth. By setting clear goals, establishing boundaries, creating a flexible schedule, practicing with purpose, embracing reflection, and seeking support and accountability, we can navigate the ebb and flow of time while staying true to our musical aspirations as busy music teacher moms. Remember, each season offers its own opportunities for growth and discovery -- embrace it!

What Should I Charge for Music Lessons as a Freelance Teacher?

What Should I Charge for Music Lessons as a Freelance Teacher?
Embarking on a journey as a freelance music teacher is an enriching endeavor, offering the opportunity to share your passion for music while earning a livelihood. However, navigating the realm of pricing can often pose a challenge for many aspiring teachers. The question of what to charge for music lessons is not just about setting a number but rather about determining a fair rate that reflects your expertise, meets the needs of your students, and sustains your business. Here are some key considerations to help you establish your rates effectively.

Firstly, your experience and qualifications are pivotal factors in determining your pricing structure. If you have advanced degrees, certifications, many years teaching, students who have won awards, or extensive performance experience, you can justify charging higher rates. Your level of expertise not only enhances the quality of education you provide but also underscores the value you bring to your students' musical journey.

Additionally, it's essential to research the local market rates for music lessons in your area. Factors such as the demand for music education, the cost of living, and the prevailing economic conditions can influence what students' families are willing to pay. By understanding the market landscape, you can set your rates competitively while ensuring that they remain sustainable for your business.

The format and duration of your lessons are also significant considerations. Whether you opt for individual or group lessons or classes and the length of each session can impact your pricing strategy. While group lessons may yield lower rates per student, they can potentially increase your overall income by accommodating more students in a single session. Many teachers also give discounts for lesson packages (paying for more lessons at a time up front) as it provides them increased job security.

Moreover, it's crucial to factor in any overheads and expenses associated with providing music lessons. Studio rental fees, instrument maintenance, and teaching materials are all costs that should be covered by your lesson fees to ensure the viability of your business in the long run.

By carefully considering these factors and maintaining a balance between competitive pricing and fair compensation, you can establish rates that reflect the value of your expertise and foster a sustainable freelance music teaching career. Don't sell yourself short!

For more in-depth, customized answers to this and many more questions, check out Music Leadership Coaching.

Building a Personal Brand: Establishing Your Identity as a Music Educator Mom

Building a Personal Brand: Establishing Your Identity as a Music Educator Mom
Building a Personal Brand: Establishing Your Identity as a Music Educator Mom

When it comes to building a freelance music teaching business, building a personal brand and knowing who you serve is the most crucial part of the equation. And as a music educator mom, your audience is clear – your students, your children, and your community. They are the heartbeat of your brand, the driving force behind everything you do, but you need to get more specific.

Navigating the journey of establishing your identity can feel overwhelming at times, especially when balancing the demands of public school teaching with the desire for more flexibility and autonomy. That's where personal branding comes in – it's about crafting a narrative based off of your own experience that aligns with your values and aspirations.

Start by getting clear on what sets you apart as a music educator mom. What makes your approach to teaching unique? How do you create a nurturing environment for your students while also being present for your own children? What instrument or learning style do you most like to teach? What type of class or lesson really gets you going? These are the stories that will resonate with your audience and draw them closer to you, finding you the "perfect student" for you.

As you explore opportunities outside the traditional confines of public education, keep your audience in mind. What do they need from you? How can you best serve them while staying true to yourself? Whether it's offering private lessons, starting a music workshop, creating a community ensemble, or launching an online course, trust that you have what it takes to make a meaningful impact. You just need to let your people know that you're there for them!

Stepping into the unknown can be daunting, especially when it means leaving behind the security of a steady paycheck (I talk about dealing with inconsistent income here). But remember, narrowing in on who you serve will really clarify things for you as you create streams of income. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the victories, and never lose sight of the incredible impact you're making on those you serve.

As you embark on this journey of self-discovery and reinvention, know that you are not alone. The Find Your Ideal Student challenge in the guide section here is available to help you in this, and I am available to work on helping you hone in on this person, cheering you on as you build a personal brand!

Navigating the Challenges of Inconsistent Income: Financial Tips by a Freelancer for Freelancers

Navigating the Challenges of Inconsistent Income: Financial Tips by a Freelancer for Freelancers
Navigating the Challenges of Inconsistent Income: Financial Tips by a Freelancer for Freelancers

For many individuals, the allure of freelancing lies in the promise of flexibility, autonomy, and pursuing one's passions on their own terms. However, the transition from a traditional 9-to-5 job to freelancing comes with its own set of challenges, chief among them being the uncertainty of inconsistent income. Balancing the demands of work, family, and financial stability can feel like walking a tightrope without a safety net. And if you're like me, this was one of the main concerns I had with making the leap.

Fear not, for there are strategies you can employ to navigate these concerns and thrive in your freelance endeavors. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just dipping your toes into the world of freelancing, these financial tips are tailored to help you weather the storms of inconsistent income. I implemented these upon making the transition, and it was overall very smooth.

  1. Build an Emergency Fund: Start by establishing a buffer fund to cover essential expenses during lean months. Aim to save enough to cover three to six months' worth of living expenses, providing a safety net to fall back on when work might be more scarce.
  2. Embrace Budgeting: Take control of your finances by creating a detailed budget that accounts for both fixed and variable expenses. Prioritize essential costs while identifying areas where you can cut back or optimize spending. Base your budget off of a low month so that you are not surprised by the low months and are able to save for the low months during the higher months.
  3. Diversify Your Income: Explore multiple revenue streams within your freelance niche to mitigate the impact of inconsistent income. Consider offering additional services, products, or leveraging passive income streams to supplement your primary source of revenue (this is where the GOLD of HBR comes into play! Message me the word "HBR" to learn more!)
  4. Establish Clear Payment Terms: Set clear payment terms and policies with your clients to ensure timely and consistent compensation. Consider implementing upfront deposits, milestone payments, late fees, and/or invoicing reminders to maintain a steady cash flow.
  5. Plan for Taxes: As a freelancer, you're responsible for managing your own taxes. Set aside a portion of your income each month for taxes, keeping track of deductible business expenses and maximizing tax-saving opportunities. I have been asked about my system for this a lot lately. Would it be helpful for me to put something together for you that's customized for music teachers? Message me if so and let me know.
  6. Fair Rates: Know your worth and advocate for fair compensation for your services. Research industry and local standards, communicate the value you bring to your clients, and don't be afraid to negotiate rates that reflect your expertise and experience.
  7. Invest in Continuous Learning: Stay ahead of the curve by investing in professional development and expanding your skill set. Allocate time and resources for courses, workshops, or certifications that enhance your marketability and open doors to new opportunities. I have a few recommendations for this musically and entrepreneurally (yes, I just made up a word, ha!) if you need!
  8. Prioritize Work-Life Balance: Maintain boundaries between work and personal life to prevent run-down fatigue and maintain overall well-being. Schedule regular breaks, establish a dedicated workspace, and prioritize self-care activities to recharge and stay productive.
For a few more practical how-tos including explanation of some of the above, check out my Self-Employed Music Teacher Budgeting Tips!

Freelancing offers unparalleled freedom and flexibility, but it also requires discipline, resilience, and careful financial planning if you're the main source of income for your family. By implementing these financial tips and embracing the ups and downs of freelancing, you can navigate the challenges of inconsistent income with confidence and build a sustainable and fulfilling freelance career. I have, and you can too!

Remember, you're not alone on this journey. Reach out to fellow local freelancers, join online communities, and seek mentorship to share experiences, gain insights, and support one another along the way. Here's to embracing the freelance life and charting your own path to success!

The Struggles of Music Teachers: Unveiling the Urgency for Change

The Struggles of Music Teachers: Unveiling the Urgency for Change
The Struggles of Music Teachers: Unveiling the Urgency for Change

In the education world, music teachers find themselves facing urgent challenges that are pushing them to the brink. Recent sobering statistics reveal a concerning trend, shedding light on the fact that a significant number of music educators are seriously contemplating leaving the profession.

1. Overwhelmed and Underprepared:
The statistics indicate that a mere 19.8% of music teachers feel moderately well-prepared or very prepared for their job. This suggests a glaring gap in the training and support provided to these educators. Music is a complex art, and teachers require comprehensive preparation to navigate the intricacies of imparting musical knowledge pedagogically effectively.

2. Lack of Recognition and Value:
A staggering 44.7% of music teachers express feeling undervalued, with some stating that they are only perceived as a preparation time for other teachers. This lack of recognition not only undermines the dedication of these educators but also contributes to a demoralizing work environment. Appreciation and acknowledgment are essential elements in fostering a positive and thriving teaching community.

3. Unmanageable Workloads:
The workload of music teachers is revealed in the statistic that 41% of them teach between 301 to 500 students, and some teach as many as 700 students! Such a large number of students per teacher is undoubtedly overwhelming and can compromise the quality of education provided. It also raises questions about the feasibility of creating meaningful connections with each student, hindering the holistic development of aspiring musicians.

4. The Ominous Cloud of Burnout:
The cumulative effect of these challenges is reflected in the alarming statistic that 45.5% of music teachers have contemplated leaving the profession. The specter of burnout (or what some would call compassion fatigue) looms large over these educators, driven by a combination of inadequate preparation, lack of recognition, and unmanageable workloads on top of increased student needs and demands placed on teachers outside of their necessary duties.

The Call for Change:
In the face of these statistics, it is imperative for educational institutions, policymakers, and the community at large to heed the call for change. Investing in comprehensive training programs for music educators, fostering a culture of appreciation, and addressing unmanageable workloads are essential steps in ensuring the sustainability of the music education profession.

While as a society, we must recognize the invaluable role that music teachers play in shaping the next generation of musicians and nurturing a love for the arts, we do not see society taking any actual steps in a positive direction to address these issues, which means that music teachers need to make some potentially tough decisions.

Empowering Music Educators: A Call to Action
As we delve into the challenges music teachers face, it's crucial to recognize the resilience and potential within our dedicated community. While systemic changes are necessary and unlikely, there's also this opportunity for music educators to take charge of their own destinies, especially in a world where immediate societal shifts look to be lacking.

Being self-employed allows music teachers to play to their own strengths, avoid the downsides to public education, and specialize in niche areas, catering to specific interests or skill levels. Whether it's music theory, instrument-specific instruction, community ensembles, or composition, educators can carve out a unique space for themselves, attracting students seeking specialized expertise. This is a large part of what I do through my streamlined method as I work 1-1 with teachers to customize their business and create an exit strategy, much like I did for myself. This is key because it emphasizes the unique approach each teacher brings to their craft.
In our ever-changing world, continuous learning is key. Music educators can enhance their skills and stay relevant by exploring new techniques, staying updated on industry trends, and incorporating innovative teaching methods. Music teachers would also do well to take a business course, particularly one that is updated continually with the changing times and trends (I have a great one I can recommend – ask for more info!). This commitment to growth not only benefits educators but also enriches the learning experience for their students.

The path to freelance success for music teachers is a multifaceted journey that involves personal empowerment, collaboration, specialization, and a commitment to continuous learning while implementing strategies that work for building a business in our 21st century world. By seizing the opportunities offered by the digital era and actively participating in professional development, music educators can not only find fulfillment in their careers but also contribute to the transformation of the music education landscape for generations to come without dealing with the burnout of the system. It's time for music teachers to embrace their potential, both as independent professionals and as catalysts for positive change in the world of education!

Photo by Wes Hicks 

Mindset Hacks for Creatives

Mindset Hacks for Creatives

Embarking on the self-employed journey is like setting sail in the vast sea of creativity. To navigate the waves, a resilient and growth-oriented mindset is your anchor. Here are some down-to-earth mindset tips for the creative souls embracing the unpredictable path of self-employment (like I did!) -- things I wish I knew sooner!

  1. Embrace Growth Mindset: Think of setbacks as plot twists in your creative story. Roll with the punches a bit—see challenges not as roadblocks but as detours leading to unexpected inspiration. Let the journey be just as important as the finished masterpiece.
  1. Sketch Your Goals: Self-employment can get messy, especially for creative people. Jot down clear, achievable goals. Break down your big ideas into actionable steps, infusing variety to keep things lively if that's your thing! Tailor your plan to fit your unique strengths, ensuring that your goals become a playground for your creativity rather than a mundane to-do list that you don't even feel like doing.
  1. Take Creative Breathers: Creativity thrives in a well-rested mind. Take breaks to recharge and let ideas percolate -- it's great to use a notebook or the notes app on your phone to keep track of these ideas! Balance work and life like a pro—your best work often emerges from a rested and rejuvenated mind. Remember, you can't force creativity; sometimes, stepping away allows it to flow back naturally.
  1. Bounce Back Like a Champ: Resilience is your secret weapon. Treat setbacks as mere hiccups. Bounce back, adapt, and let each challenge make you stronger. A resilient mindset is your greatest ally in the unpredictable world of self-employment. And if you feel like this is a struggle for you, Big Think transformed my mind around these ideas!
  1. Learn as You Go: Think of your creative journey as an ongoing workshop. Stay curious, adapt to new trends, and keep learning. The more skills you add to your toolkit, the better equipped you'll be to paint your entrepreneurial canvas. I love that HBR (my business mentor's course) is constantly being updated and added to (which I have access to for life!) so that I can keep learning and growing and adapt to new things happening in the market, social media, and world.
  1. Surround Yourself with Positivity: Create a vibe that fuels your creativity. Build a network of fellow creatives and mentors who understand the self-employment world (join us music teacher moms over here doing just that if you'd like!). Positivity is contagious—let it be the background music to your creative process.
As a creative in the world of self-employment, simplicity and practicality are your best tools to allow the creativity to thrive while also getting done what's needed to make income. Sketch your goals with flair, adding variety to keep things exciting while tailoring plans to fit your strengths. Roll with the punches, take creative breathers without forcing creativity, bounce back with resilience, learn as you go, and surround yourself with positivity. Your creative journey is a work in progress—make it uniquely yours!

Top 5 Tips for Mental Health While Starting a Music Business (or Any Business!)

Top 5 Tips for Mental Health While Starting a Music Business (or Any Business!)
Starting a self-employed music business was the best decision I ever made for myself and my family! I desperately needed out of the 9-5 world. It is very rewarding but also a challenging endeavor that can have implications on mental health, especially when you're running the show on your own or "flying solo." You cannot treat your business the same way you did a 9-5 job.

Here are 5 tips I wish someone had given me before I went freelance, tips to help you be successful with your business and care for yourself mentally at the same time.

  1. Set Realistic but Big-Reaching Expectations: Acknowledge that starting and running a business is a gradual process, and success may not happen overnight. Set realistic and achievable goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Celebrate small victories and understand that setbacks are a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey, but know that ultimately the sky is the limit! Taking Big Think was a HUGE help for me on this part of the journey, especially when I began doubting myself.

  2. Establish a Routine: Maintain a balanced routine that includes dedicated time for work, rest, and self-care. Establishing a consistent schedule can help create a sense of stability and predictability, reducing stress and anxiety associated with the uncertainties of entrepreneurship. Creating "must-dos" versus just a "to-do" list can really streamline this process.

  3. Seek Support: Don't hesitate to reach out for support from friends, family, or fellow entrepreneurs (this is why I offer Music Leadership Coaching and the Freelance Music Teacher Moms group!). Sharing your challenges and successes with others can provide valuable perspectives and emotional support. Consider joining a business community or networking group locally to connect with like-minded individuals who can offer guidance and encouragement too.

  4. Prioritize Self-Care: Make self-care a priority by incorporating activities that promote mental and physical well-being. This may include regular exercise, sufficient sleep, healthy eating habits, and mindfulness practices. The Jumpstart was super key for me in making this simple and attainable rather than overwhelming. Taking care of your physical health can positively impact your mental resilience and ability to navigate the demands of entrepreneurship.

  5. Learn to Delegate: Recognize that you can't do everything on your own. Delegate tasks that are outside your expertise or that can be handled by others, whether it's hiring employees, outsourcing certain functions, streamlining processes (I love to help people with how to do this!), or seeking support from business partners. This not only reduces your workload but also helps prevent burnout.
Remember that your mental health is crucial for your overall well-being and business success. Taking proactive steps to manage stress, maintain balance, and seek support when needed can contribute to a healthier and more sustainable entrepreneurial journey. I have dealt with some of these myself and can tell you -- starting off on the right foot can make a world of difference when beginning freelance work! And if you find that stress and anxiety are significantly impacting your mental health, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.

Myths About Teaching Freelance Debunked, Part 1

Myths About Teaching Freelance Debunked, Part 1
There are a lot of myths about teaching music freelance that I've heard from my coaching clients and others that I am going to debunk in a new blog series, so here it goes. :)

Myths about Teaching Freelance Debunked, Part 1

#1 If I want to teach freelance, I have to teach private lessons.

Nope! I do teach a couple private lessons (currently I only have 4 private students), but that is not the bulk of what I do. Mostly, I teach choirs (3 different groups) and elementary music classes during the day!

#2 If I want to teach private lessons, I have to give up my evenings and weekends.

Also no! All of the lessons I've taught from my home as a self-employed individual have been during the day. Occasionally I'll offer makeup lessons on a Saturday or an evening, but all of my lessons (at one point I had 13 private lesson students) have been during the day. How do I find students to fit this need? Homeschoolers, retired folks, and online students in other time zones are the three easiest ways, in my experience.

#3 Self-employed people pay double taxes.

While I am no tax expert (so don't take my comments as advice, just my own experience!), I have never paid double in taxes because I am self-employed. There are SO MANY things we can deduct by being self-employed that my taxes are no worse than someone who is an employee, and I have free control of my schedule, work part-time with full-time pay, and don't have nearly the amount unnecessary paperwork or meetings as employed people do. To me, the perks are worth it!

If you'd like more budgeting 101 for self-employed music teacher tips, you can grab that here. I'm all about saving you time where I had to learn the long way through living it. :)


If this was helpful for you and you'd like to stay tuned for part 2, you can join my free group where we talk about this kind of thing all the time. I post the blogs, informative videos, and discount codes to my coaching & courses here.

How to Keep Track of Your Students/Clients Without Losing Your Mind

How to Keep Track of Your Students/Clients Without Losing Your Mind
When I first started teaching music outside of the public school system, I was so disorganized with how I kept track of student/client contact information and interested leads who hadn't yet signed up for classes but wanted more details sent to them in the future.

I had little slips of paper everywhere... or a page in a random notebook with email and phone contact info, but I misplaced these things frequently and was horrible at following through on sending people the info they'd asked for.

This was a huge part of what was holding me back from being successful -- just staying organized. Until I created a system for keeping track of these important pieces of data in a way that was duplicatable and that I could keep up with.


Here's my 3-Step System:

1) Collect contact information in a consistent way. Don't do it on paper one time and in a spreadsheet another time and your CRM system (here's what I use as my all-in-one system) a third time and your email contacts a fourth time! Be consistent so that you always know where to find the info you're looking for. Once I stopped changing it up all the time, I didn't spend wasted energy and time looking for someone's contact info.

2) Use tags to organize people's contact info. Chances are, you teach multiple types of classes or lessons. I utilize tags in my CRM to keep track of what people were giving me their contact info for so that I don't waste time or brain space trying to remember what they needed. I can also quickly shoot an email to my whole tagged list for a specific interest that way with just the click of a button. Win!

3) Use landing pages to seamlessly send collect people's contact info and send them the information they were interested in! If I'm participating in a fair of sorts or have a booth at a homeschool convention or somewhere, having a place for people to enter their info in exchange for me sending them the info they requested automatically (without me having to manually enter anything) saves SO much time and ensures that they receive the info they asked for without human error of my forgetfulness or busy-ness.

If you're not familiar with the idea or verbiage of a landing page, here's an example. I have created a list of self-employed music teacher budgeting tips that I wish I'd had when I was just starting out. If you'd like to have it, you can grab it here. The process of entering your info in exchange for the specific list I mentioned is what I'm describing above. If you don't have a way to seamlessly do this with your offerings, I encourage you to find a CRM/landing page/email campaign system that allows you to do this. It saves SO much time and energy on my end and frees me up to do the fun stuff -- making music! Here's what I use for mine if you need a recommendation.

How do you keep track of client/student contact info?