Nik Peachey is a very creative and well-known Digital Product Developer, Materials Writer and Author in the ELT field. His advice about facing your fears of putting yourself out there? "There is nothing to lose but your fear. In the end, it comes down to the saying, It's the things you don't do and the risks you don't take that you end up regretting."
1. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day for this interview. Can you start by telling us where you teach and how long have you been teaching?
I've been involved in education since about 1990. I started off teaching guitar in a prison while I was a student and when I left I did CELTA with IH in Cairo and got hooked on teaching. Since then I've migrated through teaching, teacher training, ICT training and now I work mainly in digital product development. At the moment I'm working for EtonX, an edtech company owned by Eton College, and I'm developing online courses aimed at non-native speakers of English aged 14 - 18 around the world who want to develop their soft skills in English. I also do some freelance writing and consultancy work and speak at conferences. Like most teachers, I work more than one job in order to make ends meet and still have to try to find time to do my own stuff (blogging and writing my books).
2. Can you describe a typical day?
I get up at 5 am and work on my own projects, this could be writing or updating one of my books or lesson plans for https://peacheypublications.com/, writing my e-newsletter https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ or writing a blog post. About 6:30 I stop, do some exercise and then get ready for work. I try to squeeze in breakfast with my three-year-old daughter and make coffee for my wife before heading for the train. I have about a one hour commute into London (England) each day and I use this time to do more writing, catch up with emails and do some promotion of my work through social media. I'm actually writing this article now on the train.
I start my day job at EtonX about 9:30 and at lunch time I try to put another 30 minutes into writing or working on social media. When I finish work I head back to the train station and on the commute home I try to do a bit more writing (if I still have the energy and if I can get a seat.) Once I'm home it's family time with my daughter before she goes to bed and some time with my wife. I try not to work in the evenings, but sometimes I do webinars or online training sessions.
3. Teacher self-care is so important. What do you do in your spare time to relax?
I spend as much time with my wife and daughters as I can, play the guitar and read. Try to get to the beach or down to the park as often as I can.
4. You took on the tremendous task of writing several books and resources. Can you tell us more?
I'd wanted to write a book about technology for a long time and had spoken to publishers about this but could never get a fit between what they wanted - a book with a shelf-life of up to ten years - and what I wanted - something really up to date with embedded video tutorials and lots of colour screenshots. When iBooks Author appeared on the scene I saw the chance to do it myself, so a created a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and raised the money to take some time off work and create my first book - Digital Video - A Manual for Language Teachers http://peacheypublications.com/books/digital-video-a-manual-for-language-teachers
The book took me way longer than I had planned and I had to learn a lot of new skills along the way, like design and coding widgets. I was lucky that I had a lot of support with editing from a team of people who had contributed towards the campaign and I finally got the book published, about a year behind schedule, in 2015. I entered it for the British Council's Innovations Awards (ELTons) and in 2016, to my surprise it won. I thought after that I would be 'made' and the book would make me some money, but in the week following my win, it sold ten copies more than on a usual week. Since then I’ve written a lot more materials, lesson plans and books and have since sold around 12k products to around 6k people. Most of these though have been sold at hugely discounted prices or given away to areas where teachers just don't have the ability to access online payment systems or hard currency.
So even after a few years of getting up at 5 am, I'm still a long way from my dream of being able to support myself and my family from my own book sales. The good part though is that writing and sharing these books gives me amazing satisfaction and I have learned so, so, so, much along the way.
5. Where can we purchase your books and resources?
You can see my ebooks on https://peacheypublications.com/ or if you want versions for iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/author/nik-peachey/id1025276573
6. What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a series of lesson plans based around images. The idea of these plans is to help develop students' speaking and writing skills through personalised tasks that encourage empathy and creativity. I try to make my materials about more than just developing language skills or the use of technology. I think it's important to develop the person too and empathy is an ability that we really need more of in the world at the moment. Once I have enough plans together I want to pull them into a book with some explanation about how teachers can create their own plans, encourage more empathy and creativity and how they can use digital tools to enhance the learning process. That's still a bit of a way off yet, but the plans are available at: https://payhip.com/peacheypublications/21
7. How do you promote or market your books and resources?
Mostly through social media and blogging. I offer great deals to people on my customer list too and most of the people who buy one product go on to buy two or three more. I've built up quite a big social media following and network of contacts (around 120k connections) through the various free blogs and curation sites I manage and this is my main avenue for promotion. I've tried paid advertising on both LinkedIn and Facebook and never had good results so I've given up on that. Perhaps I just didn't put in enough time or money.
8. Do you do everything yourself or do you hire people with specific skills to help you?
I do everything myself these days and get my wife to edit when she has time.
9. Where can we find you on social media?
You can find me on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nikpeachey/
My blog is at: https://quickshout.blogspot.com/
I curate Tools for Teachers and Leaners at: https://www.scoop.it/t/tools-for-learners
I share news and learning technology related articles at: https://www.scoop.it/t/learning-technology
I'm on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/NikPeachey
10. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
An understanding of how to work really hard. The pedagogical understanding of how to develop materials for learners. Some understanding of what teachers and students really want and need in order to move their practice forward.
11. What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
The most difficult thing is learning to sell myself and promote my materials every day. I've crossed lines that I never thought I would and sometimes I get sick of my own self-promotion, but if I'm not prepared to do it, nobody else will so...
12. I talk to many teachers about their fear or doubt in trying something new or "putting themselves out there". What advice would you give to these teachers?
I would say for sure to do it. There really is nothing to lose but your fear. There are two risks you face when putting yourself out there. 1. Nobody notices, in which case you were worrying about nothing 2. Lots of people notice, in which case you could be well on your way to success. In the end though, it comes down to the old saying, "It's the things you don't do and the risks you don't take that you end up regretting." I don't want to get to the end of my career and be thinking about what I could have done - I fear that far more than failure - I want to get to the end of my career and believe that I did everything I could to make the most of the skills I had.
13. Is there anything that you would like to add?
Lots of people say things like "Do what you love and the money will come." This isn't true. By all means do what you love, but do it because it fulfills you. If you want the money to come, you also have to have a business plan, understand the value proposition that you offer and be prepared to work really hard at selling what you do.
Thank you so much Nik for providing a glimpse into what you have had to do to become a successful teacherpreneur!
Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started? Here are some ways:
1. Read more than 60 inspiring teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. Download The Essential Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit - 50 pages packed with information to get you started as a teacherpreneur at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca
3. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
4. Download The Social Media Make-over Checklist for Teacherpreneurs at www.teacherpreneur.ca
5. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
6. Set up a private coaching call with me https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pages/book-a-coaching-session-with-me
Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. I spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong and have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs. I now work as a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; coaching teacherpreneurs, travelling at any time of the year and applying the science of positive psychology to all my work. Contact me at [email protected]
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