La Tela di Carlotta
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How to become a private teacher (of almost anything) in the real world

Oct 22, 2014

A few days ago I was thinking about beginnings. How difficult it is to start a project from zero and how the first years are always going to be a real challenge.

If you choose to start an indipendent business, you’re probably like me: I wouldn’t want to be employed or work for anybody but myself. I want a job that allows me to manage my time as I see fit.

These are the first three lessons I think anybody should learn to start something of their own.

Think professionally and use your judgement

In any (any!) business-related decision, think professionally. If you wonder whether to make your own business cards or invest a bit of money to have them made, think professionally: have them made!

Thinking professionally doesn’t require years of experience, but it does require good judgement, which always shows in the small things. When you tell people you’re a private tutor, is it more professional to say “grab my number and send me a whatsapp” or give them a nice-looking business card? Use your judgement.

Invest (not just time)

To make money you have to spend money. Not a lot, in this case, only enough to build a professional image (keep reading, I’m getting to the practical stuff).

Care for details

I’ve always been detail-oriented and since the very beginning it’s the details that have set me apart in everything I’ve ever done.


Ok, this is all theory, but I’m a really practical person. If I wanted to start my business today, this is what I’d do.

Create a one-page website

A website is the first thing I’d get done. How? Well, I’m lucky because my husband does that for a living, but you can make one quite easily using one of these two services.

  • WordpressIt’s free, but as everything that is free, it’s all DIY (which might be more difficult for a web beginner). As always, starting is the most difficult part, but you can find lots of guides on the internet like this (very complete) one.
  • SquarespaceThis is what I use, and it’s so easy even my grandma could do it (well, no, not really, but almost). It takes care of everything for you, domain, design, server, technicalities and their customer service is good enough. Unfortunately, I had a rough start with using Squarespace as I was using it on Safari, but since I switched to Chrome it’s working perfectly.It costs $8 per month billed annually and, if you have no clue on how to make a website, it’s worth it.

Domain

Do you think it’s more professional to have a domain like www.name.wordpress.com or a personalised one like www.name.com? Hope you picked the latter. Having your own domain gives you a professional image at a very low cost (€10 per year on namecheap.com or slightly more if you get it through Wordpress).

If you decide to go with Squarespace, though, the domain is included in the price. Now you only have to choose a name: when in doubt, go for something like www.namesurname.com. Easy, classy and always true ;-)

Design

Simplicity is key. Forget flowers, cars, hearts, butterflies (or if you can’t, just use them for your personal blog).

All you need is one (one!) simple white or plain-colored page, with defined blocks that you can scroll downwards, big titles, easy-to-read font (helvetica is always a good option) and little, informative text. All you need is an introductory block, one with the services you offer, one with prices (transparency is usually well received) and one for contacts. To make it more lively, pick nice, high quality images to alternate with the blocks.

If you decide to use Squarespace, you’ll find lots of templates like this. Modern, fresh and functional. If I were to redo my professional website today, this is the template I’d use.

Business cards

So very important! Even in today’s digital world, I find business cards are still a must-have. But do have them made by a professional. I’ve always used MOO and it’s never disappointed me: you can choose between many designs and styles (which I’d recommend) or if you know a bit about design you can create your own.

A personalised touch

Think about a detail to give on the first class. Something simple, but elegant.

If I were a private teacher, I'd choose a classic Moleskine notebook (Moleskine is elegant, yet modern and aesthetically beautiful. Think professionally!) and a transparent folder where to put the photocopies I hand out, and I'd personalise them with my logo, which I'd print out on round stickers (again through MOO).

If I were a personal trainer, maybe personalised papers where to write down reps and a pen with my own name and phone number. Well, you get the gist.

Ads

When everything’s else ready, ads are the last step. I wouldn't print a fliers, I'd always prefer to promote my business through:

  • Word of mouthTell everyone, and I mean… everyone! Family, friends, acquaintances. Give them your business cards and tell them to have a look at your website. Tell the baker, the pharmacist, the swimming instructor. Give them a business card. It’ll go places.
  • Google AdwordsGoogle ads is great. After you have a fresh, clear and transparent website, buy some online ads and you're all set!

Have you ever created a small business from zero?Where did you find ideas and inspiration? Would you do it again?Let me know in a comment—because some experiences are much more useful if shared.

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Terrible twos
The organs of the body: workshop for kids
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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Nov 6, 2020 • 16m
La rabbia, le urla dei genitori e una storia tibetana
In questo episodio sono stata ispirata da una storia tibetana a parlare di rabbia e del perché urliamo quando siamo arrabbiati. Riconoscere i perché e analizzare le mie reazioni quando urlo è stato per me il primo passo per imparare a gestire la rabbia. Nell'episodio menziono questo articolo: Spiegare come funziona il cervello aiuta i bambini a controllare le loro emozioni. Mi trovi anche su www.lateladicarlotta.com e su Facebook e Instagram come @lateladicarlottablog.
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Instagram

I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.