What Does it Really Mean To “Make a Living”?

“… anyone working in a field that they are passionate about is destined to succeed in their financial goals.” “… anyone working in a field that they are passionate about is destined to succeed in their financial goals.”

Cory Moon

Mar 29, 2017

I have been teaching private guitar for around 12 years now. But I have only been teaching private guitar as my full time job for just over six months, at the time of writing this. After focusing my efforts on teaching privately full time, I am convinced that I (at the very least) can make a living as a private instructor.

When I first starting teaching at a local music academy 12 years ago, I said to myself: “If I could only do this full time, I’ll have it made!” Until recently, I didn’t think I could achieve this goal outside of teaching in a university. I didn’t think I could make a living as a private teacher.

Everybody’s financial goals are different. What it means to actually make a living is relative to what everyone wants out of life. Some people want to make millions in their lifetime, some just want to get by and do what they love, others value the experience with their students more than anything else. No matter what your goals are, I truly believe that your passion in private instruction can bring you to your goals.

The four points I want to make when considering what it means to make a living in this field are this:

  1. You are the only thing in your way
  2. If you’re starting out, it will be slow at first
  3. You’re best marketing is word of mouth
  4. Don’t under charge

My first point is a powerful one. If you aren’t making enough money right now, or if you’re unhappy with your current employment status, the only thing in your way is the person in the mirror.

No one else is going to get you making real money doing what you love — other than yourself. You can do it. I promise. (Disclaimer: DO NOT quit your full time job immediately, I suggest reading Quitter by John Acuff for detailed guidelines on finding the right time to quit your job and pursue your passion).

Second, if you are just starting out as a teacher on your own, it’s going to be slow at first. That’s OK. These things take time. My next point will explain why.

Third, your best marketing method is word of mouth. You can buy an ad on the TV, radio, and highway billboards, but your first customers are likely going to be people that you already know. Your next customers will be people that know the people that you already know. So on, and so forth.

Do push on social media to get the word out that you’re teaching, but always remember to give your best to your customers so that they pass on more business to you.

Your marketing strategy should be to care. If you give a great service and experience to your students, you are likely to get repeat customers and referrals to your new business. This is the best and most proven way to scale in this business. Do good work and always be courteous, it pays!

Last, do not undercharge. I can’t emphasize this enough. Your time is valuable. The book The Go Giver gives us ‘The Law of Compensation’ and that states: “Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.” It discusses the importance of impacting large numbers of people.

However, you may also consider that it may be less stressful and easier to manage less customers at a higher rate for private lessons. But, whatever you decide, don’t undercharge your students.

I am fully convinced that anyone working in a field that they are passionate about is destined to succeed in their financial goals, or any goals that they may set in their lives. These are just a few points that I hope will help you along the way.

Cory Moon is a guitar teacher in Oklahoma City and the owner of GuitarLessonsOKC. Cory holds a bachelor of arts in guitar performance with advanced studies in improvisation and contemporary music theory, and has vast experience in performing.

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