How did biochemistry teacher Bethany Lau go from shopping for props at the Dollar Store to making a full-time living working from home?
You’re about to find out…
Now we’ve previously profiled a PE teacher, an elementary school librarian, and even creative foodies who have been able to take their passion and make a living online with it but we’ve yet to profile a biochemistry teacher… until now that is!
Bethany Lau has been supporting, inspiring and educating teachers around the world. And now she works from home, with multiple income streams and over 150 top rated teaching resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Sure, Bethany may be ‘just another teacher’. But she’s on a drive to share and connect with teachers around the globe in a way that could revolutionise the in-classroom experience.
So keep scrolling… Bethany (more fondly known as Mrs Lau) shares with us how she became a teacherpreneur, and some tricks and tips for those of you who are heading in the same direction.
The Biochemistry Activity Bundle
Bethany creates teaching and classroom resources for high school science teachers, and her best selling resource is her Biochemistry Activity Bundle – a set of instructions and questions that students work through to create four different types of molecules.
“There are a few reasons why I believe it is so successful. Biochemistry is traditionally one of the toughest units to teach in high school biology. My resource makes teaching biochemistry way easier! My activity is fun and interactive for students and not too expensive for teachers.”
Science is typically full of words like “polysaccharide” and “triglyceride”. But to the high school student, these names mean nothing. Their eyes glaze over at the first attempt to teach a more traditional PowerPoint lesson.
So, over the past few years Bethany has developed an idea to have students actively create molecules, one by one, using a model.
A teacher she worked with had been using an activity with beads and pipe cleaners to represent proteins, so Bethany decided to figure out how she could represent the other types of molecules herself. And this took some serious creativity given the lack of resources available at the school she worked at.
“That year, I didn’t even have lab goggles. I started going to the dollar store every day after school to wander the aisles and try to think of ways to do something, anything, besides PowerPoint. And I came up with different combinations of pipe cleaners, beads, and paper clips to symbolize different parts of these molecules.”
In summarising the success of her teaching resources, Bethany says
“I believe my resource is successful because it solves a big problem (biochemistry is hard to teach!) in a fun and unique way, a way that no one else came up with!”
Be The Solution!
Bethany’s key strategy – the foundation of all her entrepreneurial ideas – is to be the solution. Every product or service that she offers adds value, because it helps to solve a problem.
“If you want to build a business, you need to find a problem and solve it in a unique way. What’s the toughest topic in your discipline or grade level? Work on coming up with a way to teach that topic in a unique way, in some fantastic way that no one else has come up with. Businesses are about solving problems.”
Finding the problem and offering the ‘solution’ has been an effective strategy for Bethany. With multiple online product offerings and educational packages, she’s managed to earn an income entirely online.
“My own income in the past year has come entirely from my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Science with Mrs. Lau, unless you count selling off junk in my basement as income!”
She does plan on going back to teaching when her kids reach elementary school, but for now, “Mrs Lau” is focused on building her business at home.
“I’m also creating t-shirt designs for kids and babies at my website, Baby Beaker Designs. I started this brand because I found a need in little kid clothing for unique science themed clothing. I’m having fun creating clothes my science-loving son loves and I’m selling them online at the same time!”
If you want to build a business, you need to find a problem and solve it in a unique way. – @sciencemrslau via @ateacherpreneur
Insider’s Scoop for Attracting Loyal Customers
Bethany shares some key tips for attracting and retaining those loyal paying customers.
The first step is attracting potential customers. And a big part of this is a professional-looking website that keeps users clicking.
And the hard truth is, this usually comes at a cost. But, Bethany sees this as an investment.
“Be willing to put a little bit of money into your business, besides the loads of time you’re going to put in. Buy your own domain name. Pay for stock photos and quality clipart and website themes to make it look like a professional website. Time is money and sometimes paying someone to make a website for you is worth the money, especially if you don’t know how yourself.”
Once you’ve attracted interest, offer a free sample of your product and get those email addresses!
Bethany uses a couple of platforms to drive traffic (Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram), but her email list is by far her most important resource. For this she likes to use Convertkit (email marketing for professional bloggers).
“In the past few months, I’ve done a lot of reading and research on email lists and I discovered I was doing things all wrong. I use Convertkit to send quality useful material to all of my subscribers at least once a week.”
Unlike many ‘online merchants’, Bethany makes a point of not selling directly to her mailing list. Instead, she sends them valuable reads and resources.
“I send value. That truly is the key to all social media or email marketing. Give, give, give, and people will see you as an expert, a sort of colleague in a way, and they may decide you’re a good source for purchasing materials for their class.”
She also keeps a regular blog to offer her followers (and others) added value on relevant topics.
Give, give, give, and people will see you as an expert. – @sciencemrslau via @ateacherpreneur
Related reading: 500+ New Subscribers in 5 Days?
At this stage you’ve attracted, created interest, and offered free value that’s led to a purchase. The next step is keeping that customer coming back for more.
“Reputation and return customers mean everything. Repeat customers (and their friends!) are what build the backbone of a successful business.”
According to Bethany, the most important thing for you to do at this point is to make sure you’re giving them high quality.
“Focus on the quality of whatever you produce, whether it’s teaching resources, t-shirts, ebooks… whatever it is, it has to be quality. If you create subpar products to get them out fast and make a fast buck, you won’t make that fast buck.”
Repeat customers (and their friends!) are what build the backbone of a successful business. – @sciencemrslau via @ateacherpreneur
So, What Solution Are YOU Offering?
It’s that time again, when the reading ends and thinking begins.
Start thinking about the solution that you offer your customers or clients. What value is your edu-business offering, and is it worth buying?
Need some help? Well, fortunately ‘help’ is all over the place.
“I love it. I have listened to so many of his podcasts and I can’t wait for the next one to come out each week.”
Or, if you’re ready, join the Teacherpreneur Academy Facebook Group to take your Education Business to the next level.