Such messages, and the information within them, can often get blipped in our desperate attempts to keep our inboxes down to a manageable number of emails. Therefore, when my fellow writer, Paula, said—
I have been out of touch, as I moved and got busy, etc. Would you mind answering my question for me again... How does one go about signing on to teach on one of these (online) sites?
— I could commiserate!
Therefore I'm posting the answer here for whenever people need the information.
Why teach online?
The best reason is that you'd like to pass on information you think other writers would appreciate while making a little extra cash.
An obvious byproduct is that teaching online helps you promote your work via the Internet. Your name, bio and writing credits get posted on the hosting organization's website and are used in advertisements along with links to your website, books and blog.
A second byproduct is that you develop a network of future class participants and writing professionals on whom you call when you've got a question related to their expertise.
Lastly, it's a hoot to meet people from around the world. I've had students in Australia, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa.
What's an online class?
An online class is one in which the instructor posts lessons, each of 3- to 6-typed pages, that are then read by participants via a class website created by the organization that hosts the class. The instructor usually then answers questions and offers feedback on any writing exercises contained in the lessons.
The number of lessons and time period of the class are negotiated by the instructor and the workshop coordinator for the hosting organization. Classes can be posted daily for a week, three times a week for two weeks, twice a week for a month, etc. Classes can also include scheduled chat sessions where the instructor and participants meet to talk online.
The host can be a nonprofit writing association; an online workshop school, either a for-profit or nonprofit; or you can offer the class yourself by creating a YahooGroups class website and then advertising for students.
I've taught for:
• Women Writing the West
• Yosemite Romance Writers
• Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance Writers of America
Here are some other organizations:
• Savvy Authors
• Gotham Writers
• the Online Writer's Studio through Stanford Continuing Studies
Fees range from about $20 per student to $500, depending on the length of the class and the prestige of the hosting organization. Instructors take home about half the gross, or if they host the class, the entire sum. If the higher fee looks tantalizing, remember that they're often for classes that are 6- to 8-weeks in length and require instructors to have impressive credentials.
Even if the fee per student is not huge, you can, once you've developed the curriculum, market the class to a variety of different organizations, which allows the initial time investment to pay off.
What kind of classes can you offer?
You can offer anything you think writers might like to know:
• a certain historical period and location, such as Elizabethan England
• a certain skill genre writers might find useful, such as how to evaluate a crime scene for mystery and thriller writers
• anything related to writing, such as character development, dialogue, critique, how to create romance, etc.
• anything related to the business of writing, such as how to write tantalizing Twitters that get people to check out your website
If any of you have more to add regarding information or experience, please feel free do so.