I am absolutely thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview one of our amazing CEO Teachers®. She helps students get positive AP exam results with her clear and concise teaching style. Beth Hall from Coach Hall Writes has taken her amazing interest and expertise in AP writing and has turned it into a real business. I'm excited to share just a little bit about what life can look like as a CEO Teacher® in the upper grades. I feel like many times we don't get to chat with people that are middle school or high school teachers.
Beth is an AP writing and language teacher from Arkansas and for those who don't know, AP language stands for advanced placement. So it's an advanced class typically for high school juniors. AP writing and language is where they focus on non-fiction, which is not really what people think of when they think of high school English. People assume content like poetry and novels, but instead, Beth teaches using letters and speeches and how to write AP language argumentative essays, and how to do the research. She prefers this type of instruction because a lot of students actually need those skills in order to be successful in their future college careers.
Basically, students take a three-hour exam, so there's an hour of multiple-choice and then they have two hours and 15 minutes to write three essays. Not exactly an easy test, but depending on the score that they earn, they can qualify for college credit. And that really depends on which college or university they go to. But for a lot of students, it means saving a little bit of money because in the state of Arkansas, the state department of education pays the fee for the test. So the students are not out any money. In other states, they do have to pay for the AP exam. But the fee for the test is a lot less than a college course. So it's a way for students to potentially graduate high school with some college credits, that way they are ahead of the game when they start college.
The truth is that not all AP writing teachers are created equal. And just because as a student you decide to take an AP writing class, or you qualify to take the AP essay writing class doesn't mean that when you finish and you go to take that AP exam, you're going to be able to pass it. So many students have to look elsewhere for some additional AP writing help.
Beth saw the need for those students looking for additional help and created a YouTube channel called Coach Hall Writes. She started that back in February of 2019. And does weekly tutorial videos during AP writing and testing season. And it's not just for AP essay writing either. Beth is working hard to make passing the AP writing test accessible for students regardless of their educational background.
I'm so drawn to Beth’s story because I just wish this would have been a thing back when I was in school because it would have made life a lot easier, even college classes and getting credit to save money in the long run. There just aren't enough, great quality teachers putting in the extra effort. That's really what it takes from you to help students, even students that aren't necessarily in your physical classroom. Having a greater impact and reaching additional students around the world. When Beth created her YouTube channel it started as an additional resource for her students. But also because she wanted something new too. She was feeling a little bit stuck because it was her fifth year teaching at the time and she is a lifelong learner. And because she had taught the same text over and over and gotten good results, she felt like she wanted something different.
So she actually did something really kind of unique that year. It's called a passion project because she could tell her kids were getting burnt out. And with AP kids, a lot of times they're in more than one AP class. And so they didn't have time to do anything fun because they were constantly studying. So basically she devoted one day a week where the students could work on something fun, it was during this independent time that she told her students she was going to start a YouTube channel. Originally she thought they would think it was really corny, but they actually thought it was really awesome.
And so the students did their projects and she made a YouTube channel. Initially, it was something she did with her students to help them because that year, for whatever reason, a lot of students were missing class for field trips or illness and they needed a video supplement. And then over time, more people discovered the channel. People that Beth did not know, students, and teachers started offering feedback. They were constantly referring to the way she explained things in a really clear and concise way in her videos. She had people coming back telling her that her videos were a part of the reason why they passed the AP exam, or why their AP exam results were so great. Initially, the Youtube channel was born to help her own students and it was just sort of like a hobby. But then she realized that she actually had something that was worth pursuing in terms of a business.
The first time I ever had a CEO Teacher ® coaching call with Beth I remember I was all over it. I was so excited because what she does is so niche-specific it has its own little corner of the internet, but that's what makes it so exciting. During that original coaching call, Beth was like, “Here's what's going on with the YouTube channel”. And what I love was that she really hit home in a specific area of the AP exam too. So when I asked Beth what she would say her main thing was, (because I think every teacher has that one magical thing that they're really good at and need to share with the world), she felt she was really good at what's called rhetorical analysis.
Rhetorical Analysis is when students are given a passage of nonfiction, usually a speech or a letter, and they have to analyze it, looking for different choices and the purpose of the passage. Beth felt that if she had to only teach one thing for the rest of her life, she could do that because she loves it so much. And so that's what a lot of her videos have focused on. She actually made an eBook recently and launched it about rhetorical analysis. She wanted to take all the tips from her YouTube videos and put them in one place in a different format. That way it would be more accessible to students. Because watching a ton of videos, even though they're willing to do it, is a bit time-consuming. So she thought an eBook might be a better way to get that information into the hands of more students.
I love that she has kind of taken the path to a full-fledged business not necessarily just through selling TPT products. Her fame may have come from her Youtube channel, but it has now blossomed into multiple streams of revenue. And I think that's what's so interesting. If you have a niche, YouTube is still such a powerful place to start a business. Because there aren't that many teachers out there on Youtube and the ones that are on YouTube are dominating the platform because they're putting in the time and the effort. It's almost like an online blog that you're recording these videos for. So how did she do it? How has she grown into a business now, if she originally just helped people with rhetorical analysis AP essay writing?
Initially, Beth didn't view it as a business. She just uploaded whatever videos her students needed and it worked for a little while. And then she had this realization as she was trying to monetize her channel. Right now the current standard to monetize is you need a thousand subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. Since her goal was monetization she didn't even care how much money she made, she just wanted to achieve that goal.
But she realized that since most of her followers initially were students, they only took the class for a year. So they weren't going to be really invested after their AP exam year. So she had to make that mindset shift and start focusing on not just students, but also teachers. And that really put her outside of her comfort zone a little bit because she sort of somewhat naively had this vision of ‘build it and they will come.' She originally thought, “Oh, I'll just upload videos and people will find them and it'll be wonderful.” And that sort of worked, but it was not exactly a great business plan for the long term.
So she started getting involved in different Facebook groups because a lot of AP exam prep teachers are a part of these well-established Facebook groups. She started devoting a little bit of time each day to read through the posts and figure out what people were talking about. She would comment on people's posts, especially if nobody else had. That’s when she realized that there was one skill that was relatively new in the discipline that people were struggling with. And so she made a video about that skill and got up the courage to post it in the group. And then that helped people realize that Beth Hall, the person who'd been commenting on their posts was also Coach Hall Writes with the YouTube channel. And over time she became more selective about which videos she put out there for everyone to see. She really wanted to make sure that she was engaging with people by offering her most valuable videos and over time other people started commenting in those groups. Oh, hey, Coach Hall has this video about this topic. Here's a link. She began to realize that if she wanted to be on YouTube, she needed to not only consistently upload high-quality YouTube videos, but also needed to make sure that she was meeting her ideal customers where they were.
And initially that meant Facebook for AP essay writing teachers, at least for those looking to increase their AP exam results. They're not on Instagram for some reason. Most recently it's meant branching out to Tik Tok for the AP language students. She found that they're not on Instagram to study. Apparently when they study, they go to Tik Tok.
She did a lot of trial and error to get where she is today. That is the name of the game whenever you're building a business and I love the strategy of utilizing Facebook groups. We've never really branched into that on the podcast or in our blog posts. Utilize other Facebook groups to leverage your position and really to learn about your ideal customer. You have to kind of tread lightly because some people abuse that privilege to the full extent. Different groups have different community guidelines. The number one guideline for private Facebook groups is that you cannot promote paid products. You're not allowed to promote TPT resources, or an eBook or course. It’s important to respect those guidelines. The best practice would be to offer value in the form of answering questions and helping teachers with your specific knowledge and expertise.
Beth had to figure out how she could offer value to the AP writing teachers in her community. And even though her channel is now monetized, it still counts as free information for the AP essay writing community watching the videos. Each year she sees a lot of new AP lang teachers who have a certain set of questions. And then obviously throughout the year, as the curriculum goes forward, people have other sets of questions. So she would monitor the groups to figure out what people are talking about. Then she would customize her content to their needs.
Beth set out on a mission last year to create a real customer journey. She had to ask the hard questions: Do I help teachers? Do I help students? Do I really go for the parents who are going to be paying for these kids to cram everything in a few weeks before the test? And so she really worked on perfecting her customer journey. She knew her journey would take some time and it wouldn't be immediate because the AP writing test only happens one day essentially.
Even if the students are on a block, or a different schedule, they still have to take the test in May, which is actually kind of scary for the teacher. Because your kids have been out of your class for a few months. So here's another need for students to kind of revisit everything that they learned, especially if they're on block scheduling and they don't even have that class for a few months before they're supposed to take this test. So she worked really hard on her customer journey. Bringing her ideal customer into her world and nurturing them along. She fine-tuned her offer and came up with the perfect idea for serving her community.
Because there are more students in AP language than there are teachers, the goal, initially, was to focus on students. The e-book is about 60 pages and it takes AP exam students through the whole step-by-step process of Rhetorical Analysis. So even if they've already been through the class, it starts from square one going through each of the steps they need to know. It consists of different examples and exercises to help them through that section of the AP exam.
Beth’s situation was unique, because even though she was focusing on the students with her eBook content, she had to create a high quality product that parents would be willing to buy. In the world of test prep and everything online that deals with AP exams and test prep, costs money. Right now it's at a $17 price point because that's what was competitive in the market. She looked at other test prep books and compared where hers fell in terms of the quality and the number of pages. A lot of the test prep books out there focus on the whole course, not just Rhetorical Analysis. She always felt like the other AP exam practice documents were really missing the information that she wanted students to have because they were focusing on the whole exam and she wanted something much more specialized. It's tricky because you don't want to undervalue yourself, but because it's so specialized, that was another area that she wasn't a hundred percent sure of. Her content didn't cover the whole test.
She had to make a decision, basically what did she really need to focus on with her marketing? She had to think through the journey of, here is this program for rhetorical analysis, and eventually this could be a whole line of test prep. Because she understands the AP exam world that nobody really understands, she really wanted to do something for AP teachers as well. Something a little bit separate because there are so many teachers who are very unsure when they start teaching the AP language test. So while Beth is focusing on rhetorical analysis for now, she agrees that there is room to branch out and focus on these other areas of AP test results as well. So that hopefully within five years, not only would she have a successful YouTube channel, but also a successful business utilizing her eBooks and courses. Beth’s goal is to make sure that AP teachers have the resources and information that they need to feel like they're going to be able to get the AP exam results they are looking for.
Beth’s story reminds me so much of Lisa Collum from Top Score Writing. We interviewed her a while back. She has a business in Florida and she started out as a writing teacher and she does test prep for early childhood, kindergarten through fifth grade. And now she's created an entire line of curriculum for teachers specifically and it helps them teach their state writing test standards. There's such a huge gap in the marketplace for quality test prep materials for teachers. I remember even when I was studying to be an English teacher, I couldn't find things that I could purchase to help me pass that test. With such a specialized purpose online it's so important for people to hear Beth’s story because if someone's listening and they think, okay, but what am I good at? If your niche is small in the grand scheme of education, here is what Beth has learned about going all-in with a specific niche.
Many times people choose a niche that they later realize is a little bit too broad and then they have to scale back. So by focusing on one element, like with Beth’s focus on the AP exam, but more specifically she focuses on rhetorical analysis. That doesn't mean that she doesn't make videos about the other skills on the test, but if people want to know where to go for AP exam rhetorical analysis help specifically, Beth has become the go-to for those AP teachers.
Narrow your niche because it allows you to sort of be laser-focused, especially in the beginning. And when you're starting your business, it's really easy to get distracted. It's really easy to say, I could do this or I could do this and I can help this person and this person and this person. Instead stick with what you’re good at because that gives you the confidence to feel like you’re an expert from the beginning. Not that you have to know everything, but share the info in your wheelhouse. It's actually easier for your customers as well, because they know what they will get when they come to you. Whereas if you have too broad of a niche, then it sends mixed messages.
This is the mindset I teach my students inside the CEO Teacher® School. Because not very many people have this mindset going into the business world. Seth Godin talks about the smallest viable market. That's what you want when you have a successful business, find the smallest little corner of the world and run with it. Some of the coolest businesses that I can think of on Shark Tank and things like that had such a specific need in the world.
But with that comes a frustrating question that we get a lot in our communities, especially with people that are very specialized in what they do. My students say, yeah, but Kayse you teach us about search engine optimization and no one is looking for X, Y, Z yet. So how could you get people that aren't necessarily rhetorical analysis focused or something like that into your world to teach them about what you do? Zoom out a bit and find the bigger niche that you bring people in with. Because I think that's where people just assume that you can only share info about a super-focused niche to gain the attention of their ideal customers. When inadvertently, you may bring in additional customers who didn’t know they even needed you if you take a step back at first.
YouTube, similar to Pinterest and Google, is a video search engine. So when people go to Beth’s YouTube, they might not always be searching for AP essay writing or rhetorical analysis, but they might be searching for something like how to pass the AP exam or getting great AP exam results. So she creates a video on that topic that is a bit larger and less specific. And then in that video, she references some of her other videos that are more specialized. As a CEO Teacher® business owner, you can actually begin to rank for the bigger questions that people might be looking for and then direct them to the questions that they really should be asking.
After completing her market research Beth realized that the other AP exam videos on YouTube addressed the topics on the surface level. And as a teacher, she realized you would probably need 20 more videos to really tackle all these individual skills. So one of the biggest takeaways she had about search engine optimization (SEO), was that sometimes you need to think about how your customers would actually phrase their questions? And everything that Beth is doing with her monetized route of YouTube is so much bigger than people realize. It's not just uploading a few videos and hoping you get a thousand subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. It is a game that you have to play. And it sounds like Beth has got it figured out.
If you have more questions or want to learn more about Beth’s process to help her customers get the AP exam results they are looking for; head over to Coach Hall Writes on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook as well.
Want more business tips and specific strategies to grow and scale your teacherpreneur business this year? Head to kaysemorris.com/go and learn to mind map your way to more clarity and confidence so you know exactly where you’re headed on your CEO Teacher® journey and how to get there.
Want to hear the full interview? You can catch Beth teaching us all about creating an entire business from a single hyper focused niche here.