stationery businessMeet Erin Manning.  This teacher turned design entrepreneur, focuses on stationery, wedding invitations, birthday parties, galas, and other events.

Your Side Gig?
Stationery at LulaBelle Design.

Tell us a little about your work.
I work from home part-time and occasionally do substitute teaching at a local school district for supplemental income.

What led you to work outside the classroom?
I was frustrated with the direction that the schools were headed. There was no communication between administration and staff. The students are expected to uphold insane standards on behalf of their teachers’ evaluations, and they’re no longer allowed to be kids. There’s too much pressure to perform to standardized tests, and not enough time dedicated to exploratory and social learning. They have no coping skills or problem solving, common sense skills.

What advice do you have for other teachers who want to do what you do?
Build up a really good portfolio before you start the business side of it. It takes a while, but it’s so worth it.

What's the biggest mistake you've made and what did you learn?
I accidentally forgot to bcc a group of over 200+ brides in a promotional email. I now triple check every email I send out.

If you could go back and give your 20-year old self some advice, what would it be?
I would change my major.

If your FUTURE self in 20 years could look back at where you are today, what advice might the Future You offer the Current You?
Set aside dedicated work time each day.

Which resources do you rely on the most?
I am on YouTube a lot to learn new things about the design programs I work with. I rely heavily on dafont.com as well as social media sites for networking.

When are you the happiest?
When I’m designing a new suite and working closely with a bride to help her create the perfect complement to her wedding day.

Do you have a favorite quote or expression?
“If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.“ ~Steve Jobs

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do, be, or try?
I would definitely invest more of my education into art and graphic design.

What are the 2-3 most important work-related purchases you've made in the last year?
My Cricut, website hosting, and Adobe Suite

What are specific resources you use and recommend?
I’ve just started using Canva, and that’s made a difference in promotional pictures.

You're being shot at dawn; what's your last dinner request?
Surf ‘n' turf. Medium rare steak and snow crab legs with mashed potatoes. Dark chocolate mousse for dessert.

What's your next goal?
I have a goal to book more gigs this year and be more active with marketing strategies.

Anything else you'd like to share with other teachers who want to follow in your footsteps?
Teaching is a necessary job and vocation. But if you feel like it isn’t for you and you get caught up in the politics and hoops you have to jump through instead of investing your time and energy in the students, it may be time to take a step back. Which is always easier said than done I know but, if you stay in it, you’ll get burnt out, and that ultimately does more harm than good.


This teacher profile is part of SimpleK12's Extra Teacher Income series, where we interview educators about the things they're doing outside of the classroom, for both enjoyment and also a little bit of cash. To read more in this series go here, or to suggest your own story and a possible profile, go here.

If you have any questions for Erin or anything else related to this topic (and there will be more extra teacher income profiles and stories coming soon), please leave them below in the Comments.

For a different extra teacher income story, check on what Heather Brandon  (blogging and educational consulting) is up to.

Or, follow along with full-time college prof, Dustin York, and his many side gigs.