I finally finally officially left the English school I was working at part-time (a small part), so now I'm 100% self-employed! Whoo hoO! It's a great feeling.
So where's my money coming from?
*I still sell my pronunciation book once in a while, and I finished my second book-- a grammar book! :D I just printed it up this week. So I've sold it to 6 students so far, and I'm going to start it with others once they finish their current books.
*I still get requests for scientific translations or corrections, but not as many as I got at the end of last year / beginning of this year (I think that coincided with when people turn in their Master's theses / have final exams / prepare papers for conferences?). I make an average of about 250 reais a month on that, which covers my half of the rent and "condominio" bill (like an HOA) (Yup, another benefit of a small town).
*I have one 3-person group at a company 2 mornings a week. That's the only time I need the car to get to work.
*I spend the bulk of my time teaching from home. It's going well. I have 27 hours of scheduled classes a week. About 41% of those hours are with groups of 2 or more (so more than half are still private 1-1 classes). 3 of those hours are TOEFL, and I charge more for my TOEFL classes because grading their practice tests is so time-consuming. I stopped offering reposição (make-up classes), so that helps my schedule a lot. I make plenty of money from my private classes to pay for my relatively simple, childless, small-town life.
The problem is that I have way more people calling than I'm willing to schedule. I currently have a waiting list with 12 classes on it (I say 12 classes and not 12 people because some of the classes are potential pairs). At the beginning of the year, I was saying "yes" to everyone, but I was getting way too stressed out, so for my own sanity, I put a moratorium on new students until someone quits.
But I hate having a waiting list. I feel like it's potential money that I'm just throwing away / ignoring. Also, when I deny people, I also deny all of their potential contacts. But I really just don't know what to do. Here are the options I've considered and the problems with them:
1. Just schedule more people, and teach 10+ hours a day.
Nope. Tried that. Almost had a nervous breakdown. Right now, my comfortable, "I can still teach really well and do other things in life" limit is about 6 hours of actual teaching a day (that doesn't include prep time).
2. Cancel some individual students and accept some of the pairs on the waiting list.
While I do make more money per hour with pairs, not all students are created equal. For example, one pair on the list is a husband-wife team. But the wife is a bigwig surgeon in the hospital, so I know that her schedule's gonna be a mess. Plus, they want to bring their 18-month-old baby to class. The mother said it was because she wants to expose the baby to English (because they're planning to move abroad and she's worried the kid will have a hard time with English), but that's a crock. I'm the linguist, and a baby moving to a new country at 2 years old will have no problem learning the language. I know it's just because they don't want to pay for a baby sitter.
So the point is, so far, none of the couples on my waiting list are worth canceling any single private students at the hours that the couples want.
3. Work a few more hours each day, and hire the maid on for more time.
Right now, the maid comes only 1 day a week for like 4 hours. It's a huge help, but I still do the majority of the housework and house-related things...and when I say "majority", I mean "practically everything the maid doesn't do". (You try living with a 24-year-old Brazilian guy in med school who grew up with 2 full-time maids and see if you can convince him to make a chores schedule.)
So this idea is kind of tempting, except I just still really feel uncomfortable having a maid one day a week, let alone more. But I make much more per hour than my share of the maid, and she cleans faster and better than I do. So I'm trying to balance my personal morals against the country's morals, as well as against economics.
But also, I kind of like being 33% house wife and 66% employed. It's a nice balance. Not sure if I'd like the extra income more.
4. Rent out an office space with more room, and have only group classes (or very expensive private classes).
If we stay in this city for Alexandre's residency, this is my plan. But he graduates in November, and we'll find out about which residency programs he gets into between November and January. Soooo... there's a good chance we'll move to a big city in 5-7 months (yippee!). So I don't want to invest in essentially opening a business that may be around for less than half a year.
5. Hire another teacher as a sort of partner, either just for referrals, or to actually work here from home with me.
This would work if the teachers in this area didn't totally suck. Call it high standards, but I just haven't met anyone here yet who I'd be interested in working with as a business partner. The teachers I've met who are actually well-trained and have good English (and who didn't make asinine comments or ask ignorant questions about America) weren't even interested in teaching private classes outside of their school jobs, let alone branching off into a private business. So I guess being really good at your job is kind of irrelevant if you don't have any motivation or initiative, or if you're scared of taking any kind of risk.
If we do end up moving away, I'll have the problem of where to refer my current students, because so far, there is literally no one qualified who wants the job. Really amazing. I'm thinking about teaching some people over Skype from the new city.
....So yeah. Is that it? Are those my only options? Do you guys have any ideas on how to not let my waiting list go to waste?