FYI: I’m running another mastermind class for Portland, Oregon based businesses – signups end Thursday, April 17th. RSVP here.

When I started my business nearly 7 years ago, I never thought of myself as a teacher – and yet, when I look back, that’s what I’ve been doing the entire time.

My first paying gig was teaching small businesses in tourism and hospitality how the web was changing and they need to react, because their customers were all online already.

Many of those businesses then hired my team to help them build websites and teach them how to drive their own digital presence, something that we still do today.

Then I launched Plum Deluxe, which teaches people all sorts of skills, from how to enjoy wine to how to host a dinner party.

Teaching, teaching, and yes, teaching. And if you want the summary version of this article, here you go:

teaching is really hard.

Stating the obvious, of course. Below you’ll find 3 more practical insights I’ve learned being a teacher.


1. Even the most successful teachers have trouble mastering student engagement & course completion.

I said teaching was hard, and for years I thought I was the only one who had a hard time keeping students engaged and sending them back out into the world successful.  You’re not alone!   The course that opened my eyes to this was Engaging E-Courses, a class sadly no longer offered by my good friends Pace Smith & Kelly Kingman.  Their course revealed the completion rates of some very well known classes and online teachers, and I was shocked to see many of them struggled to get 50% of their students to finish a class.

Key lessons learned for me here?  Keep materials sharp and focused, plan lots of DOING time into your classes instead of incessantly talking at people, and, make sure when you are enrolling students it’s super clear what your expectations are and what they’re going to get out of it, so you’ll get the right kind of people.

2. Sometimes people don’t want to be taught – they want you to do it for them.

This is a very important lesson for many business owners. I’ve seen many businesses fail because they’ve been hammering their heads into a wall trying to get people to signup for their social media courses or photography classes. Sometimes, your customer doesn’t really want to learn – they’re too busy, they don’t care – and when they say they need help, they really mean “I want you to do it for me.”

The only way to know whether people want to be taught or just want it to be taken care of is to ask. You might then ask again just to double check, because sometimes people aren’t really sure what they want!

3. The medium  is an important factor to learning success/retention.

Last, but not least.  I’ve found in my experience, the format and medium in which you teach is very relevant to how successful you will be.  We now have so many mediums for our educational content, it’s hard to choose – in person, video, audio, and books are all affordable and accessible.   You must choose a medium appropriate for both your ideal student and the content you are presenting.

This is one reason why the upcoming website mastermind group I am hosting (more details & RSVP info here), I am hosting the sessions in person.  I find that my content is best received live, and also my students also get more done when working live.

Of course, this is where I started, so I’m coming full circle, but you need to research and decide what’s best for you. For example, at Plum Deluxe we’re rolling out quite a lot of educational content this year in the form of worksheets and books, because our food and entertainment topics are better suited for that medium (think printable recipes, shopping lists, how to instructional docs) and our ideal student is a busy professional that needs very easy access to the materials.

For more on being a better teacher, I strongly encourage you to visit  Her free PDF, 6 Learning Activities to Use in Your Next Workshop, is a must read for any educator!