Get rich by sharing your knowledge

Iona Bain

They say that knowledge gives you power — but now it seems that sharing it can also give you a hefty income. A new army of online tutors are making up to £200,000 a month by imparting their wisdom on everything from dog grooming to rapping.

These gurus are tapping into a digital learning revolution that took off in the US in 2011, when Stanford University started offering free Massive Open Online Courses, known as MOOCs. The number of students signing up for at least one MOOC more than doubled last year, from 17 million to 35 million worldwide.

In the UK, new subscribers to the Open University’s FutureLearn, its free online tuition platform, have increased from 800,000 in 2014 to about 3.4 million. The Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey joined the online education service MasterClass last year, with courses also offered by Serena Williams, Christina Aguilera and Annie Leibovitz.

Udemy, one of the UK’s biggest digital classrooms, says that its eight most successful teachers earned £4 million — an average of £475,000 each. Many of the site’s top earners have given up their day jobs and one is travelling the United States with the proceeds from her courses.

The site’s most popular British tutor, Rob Percival, made more than £1.6 million since launching his first course in web development in June 2014. The 35-year-old Cambridge graduate has created 13 courses, allowing him to quit his job as a maths teacher to make £200,000 in a month. He says: “I’m fairly lucky because I have an unusual skill set — I’m a web developer, a teacher and an entrepreneur, and not many people tick all those boxes. But those skills are central to teaching this course. It’s not just about dull programming — I’m selling a whole lifestyle, an opportunity to make money on your computer in your own time in your own way.”

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