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A book for online language teachers who want to stop selling hours and build a small business so they can hustle less and create more.
Paperback and digital copies available at Amazon.
A book for online language teachers who want to stop selling hours and build a small business so they can hustle less and create more. Paperback and digital copies available at Amazon.
43 backers pledged $2,319 to help bring this project to life.
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Flowers in the Frost: the Untold Stories of Online Teaching

$2,319

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Flowers in the Frost: the Untold Stories of Online Teaching

Flowers in the Frost is my new book on Smart Online Teaching. Weaving real-life stories of a teacher-turned-online-teacherpreneur with fresh and in-depth advice on how to find your place in the crowded online teaching market and succeed on your own terms, I share the highs and the lows of my journey toward fewer hours, more creativity and more income. 

I needed a book like this in 2016 when I said "no" to more hours with low-motivated clients. I needed a book like this when I hit my first snag on the road and had no idea I could make it. The "gurus" who were flying private jets to the Bahamas were too far and mighty to convince me I will survive and thrive, and the people like me -- well, they were at the same place as me, wrapped in fears and insecurities, wondering if any of the investment will pay off. 

This book is an inspiration for those who want to build an online teaching business but doubt if it's worth the effort.

Isn't it enough to blog?

Since November 2014 I've been blogging about smart online teaching and coaching language teachers to work smarter by working fewer hours and making more impact online. Despite hundreds of workshops, newsletters, social media posts, and coaching sessions I still sense that the message of working smarter remains a mystery for a language teacher who continues selling hours for money.

Though the thought is appealing, they ask the same questions:

  • Can I start my business and make it?
  • How do I use social media?
  • What if I have no experience in marketing?
  • What if people don't like what I offer?
  • How can I be unique?
  • Do I have to be aggressive with my marketing?
  • Where do I get the money to invest into my business?
  • Do I have to compromise my values when I teach online?

I've addressed these and other questions a number of times, but I've always felt constrained by the volume: 

  • This blog post can't be more than 1,000 words.
  • This Facebook live can't be longer than 20 minutes
  • The newsletter is too wordy. Let's cut out 1/3.
  • Can I make this workshop shorter?

Even as I write this, I'm constantly aware of my limits, how hard it is to communicate in an ADD culture of the Internet. While the constraints force me to communicate clearly, some life experiences can't be put into a 20-minute video, nor can they fit into a 1,000-word post.

I've realized that instead of over-teaching I just want to sit down and chat over a cup of coffee.

But I want to chat for a while. For as long as you can listen. Because the journey into smart online teaching doesn't end with 10 clients at $25/hour. 

It takes all your passion, your grit and your will. 

It moves you through the traps of scarcity and perfectionism.

It numbs you with failure and doubt.

And to overcome, you need a lot of inspiration and a lot of pep talk. 

At your most vulnerable moments of your online teaching journey you don't need more information. You need to know that you will make it, and your work will be worth it.

This is how the idea of writing this book came about. This is an opportunity for me to capture my audience's attention for a longer period of time. This is an opportunity to speak without the filters of algorithms, promotion folders and SEO. This is my chance to invite you on this journey, without distractions.

There are 13 chapters, each addressing a specific aspect of smart online teaching. Every chapter starts with a real-life story that is then woven into the context of a non-fiction part (the tips and strategies). Here is the table of contents (titles subject to change):

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Teacher's Moral Injuries
  • Chapter 2: Important Mindset Shifts
  • Chapter 3: The Long Journey
  • Chapter 4: Staying Ahead of the Market
  • Chapter 5: Experimenting with Formats
  • Chapter 6: Creating a Product
  • Chapter 7: Growing your Tribe
  • Chapter 8: The Impact of your Writing
  • Chapter 9: Combating Perfectionism
  • Chapter 10: Combating Fear
  • Chapter 11: Why Coaching
  • Chapter 12: Leading your Community
  • Chapter 13: How to Keep Going
  • Conclusion

The initial, working title was The Smart Game: How to Work Smarter Online when You Teach 1:1. Though it's more fitting for a non-fiction book, the title wasn't giving an inviting vibe of a conversation over coffee, nor was it pulling people in to sit down and read.

Inspired by Khaled Hosseini's masterful title of A Thousand Splendid Suns and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, I wanted my title to sound just as creative and tell its own story. In the process of writing the first chapter, the new title emerged. Here's how:

Here's the excerpt from Lesya Ukrainka's poem Contra Spem Spero!

... through all my tears I still shall laugh,

Sing songs despite my troubles;

Have hope despite all odds,

I want to live! Away, you sorrowful thoughts!

On this poor, indigent ground

I shall sow flowers of flowing colours;

I shall sow flowers even amidst the frost,

And water them with my bitter tears.

Read the full version.

  • June 7 - September 20: writing + editing 
  • July - August: branding + cover and marketing template design by Veronika Palovska 
  • September 20 - September 30: copy-editing + formatting
  • October 1 - 15: ordering the proof copy + making edits/formatting
  • October 23: Launching the book (you can back with $10 and join the Launch Party online!)
  • October 23 - December 23: Delivering paperbacks to the backers
  • October 23 - February 28: Delivering special coaching packaging (group and individual)

I've been writing one chapter a week since the beginning of June. Summer vacation and kids' activities have slowed me down on some weeks, but now that the kids are back at school (who's excited?!) I hope to finish off by the third week of September.

I write each chapter and then send it off to my coach, Trisha Traugher, to read, comment, and make suggestions. Then I go back through it, make changes, re-write paragraphs, add/delete for clarity. Trisha then does her final check, and we move on to the next chapter.

I've asked her to share what she thinks of the book so far:

Obviously, I was so excited to work with Elena on this project. I’ve probably read nearly everything Elena has written for her Opted Out community--voraciously. And when Elena mentioned that she wanted to go in a slightly new direction with her latest book, I couldn’t wait to see it take shape.  But all that anticipation didn’t prepare me for the way Flowers in the Frost would touch me as a reader, a teacher, and an entrepreneur. 

Starting an online business is something you can’t undertake without hope.  And you’re going to have to build some serious resilience if you want to stick with it long enough to succeed. Elena’s latest book is just the thing if you’ve been working on your dream for what seems like a long time now and you want to find the motivation, the hope and the new strategies you need as you continue to grow as an entrepreneur.

The online teaching business can feel like an especially lonely place when you’re someone who insists on bringing your values to the work you do.  How many times have I looked at one of those standard strategies for growing my business and thought, “If this is how you win the game, I’m not sure I want to play…” What’s so inspiring about Elena’s story, her way of doing business, and her new book? It’s the way she’s been creative and brave enough to look at the world of online business and imagine something different. It’s the way she gives you permission to listen to your values and try something new yourself.

Trisha was my client for over a year, now I hired her to help me with this project. Her business, Vagabond English helps book-lovers connect their reading with writing to make lives more meaningful and memorable. 

Here are some of my book "backstage" screenshots:

We keep all of our work files in one folder on Google drive, to minimize the hassle of exchanging Word Docs.

This spreadsheet keeps me focused:

And this is just one random page from a chapter, with Trisha's notes and my response. There are many more in each chapter. Sometimes editing is more exhausting than writing, but in the end it's worth all the effort because my writing becomes more specific.

Oh, and do you want to see how the branding process works? Here is a detailed breakdown: Behind the Scenes of FitF: Branding the Book

My writing inspiration #amwriting

Inspired by my tea and the magic cup to boost my creativity
Inspired by my tea and the magic cup to boost my creativity

 #enchantingmugs from Henneke Duistermaat -- thank you for backing this project!

Click the image to read chapter 4 now:  

Chapter 4: How to Stay Ahead of the Market
Chapter 4: How to Stay Ahead of the Market

Project cost breakdown:

The amount we are raising is going to cover the design and branding of the book, the formatting, proof-reading and copy editing services. If we raise more, I'm going to boost the marketing of the book + invest in another coaching session(s) with Trisha to help me re-read the entire book. 

As with every project on Kickstarter, it's all or nothing, which means we need to work hard to reach our goal :) We hope this book compels you to spread the news on social media, do small group fundraisers (if you're an online English teacher, think of using this campaign as your fun assignment ;), support our work and share it personally with at least 1 person who you know will benefit from it.

I'm happy to offer my coaching services at reduced rates (see below) to see this project become a reality. 

Approximate budget:

  • Cover design + branding $750
  • Proof-reading + editing $350
  • Marketing (ads, promo campaigns, events) $200
  • Formatting and amazon-readiness $200

Kickstarter Rewards (aka "Black Friday in August")

It may not be a "Black Friday" just yet ;) but any level of support you choose to make this project your own comes with amazing rewards, bonuses and savings. 

There's no smarter time to receive the book bundle, the coaching, our most popular video training Dare to Be Different + a gorgeous workbook, designed by Veronika Palovska, the one and only Opted Out Planner for Smart Online Teachers, and even my copy-writing services.

Your support means a lot to me. If you can't donate you can still share this project on social media. Your small acts of love have an impact much greater than doubt and indifference. For that I thank you in advance.

Now let's get to the goodies:

Donate $10 and you'll get:

  • An early bird digital copy
  • An invite to a live Launch Party in my Opted Out group.

50 spots 

Donate $25 and you'll get:

  • An early bird digital copy 
  •  1 paperback copy mailed to you
  •  Dare to Be Different Bundle: a recorded workshop on how to find your niche + a workbook

Savings: $15

Unlimited spots

Donate $50 and you'll get:

  • An early bird digital copy 
  •  2 paperback copies mailed to you
  • Dare to Be Different Bundle: a recorded workshop on how to find your niche + a workbook
  • An invite into a Group Coaching Session (Q&A + hot seat) 

Savings: $40

75 spots 

Donate $100 and you'll get:

  • An early bird digital copy 
  • 1 paperback copy mailed to you
  • An invite into a Group Coaching Session (Q&A + hot seat)
  • Opted Out Planner for Online Teachers (Digital)
  • 1 40-minute coaching session with moi, 1:1 

Savings: $85

10 Spots 

Donate $300 and you'll get:

  • An early bird digital copy 
  • 1 paperback copy mailed to you
  •  2 group coaching sessions (Q&A + hot seat)
  • Opted Out Planner for Online Teachers (Digital)
  • 2-month 1:1 coaching experience (includes 2 1:1 coaching sessions, 60 min)
  • a 2-month pass into a Smart Teacher's Library

Savings: $200

Only 5 spots available

Donate $500 and you'll get:

  • An early bird digital copy 
  • 1 paperback copy mailed to you
  • 2 group coaching sessions (Q&A + hot seat)
  • Opted Out Planner for Online Teachers (Digital)
  • 2-month 1:1 coaching experience (includes 2 1:1 coaching sessions, 60 min)
  • A 2-month pass into a Smart Teacher's Library
  • A 1:1 virtual retreat (1.5 hrs, task-focused)
  • My copy writing services (I'll re-write your home page OR your services page OR your welcome email sequence). 

Savings: $300

Only 2 spots available

We're fully funded (Yay! and Thank you!!!), so our new stretch goal is $2,000

Everyone who pledges $75+ will also get the FitF coffee mug

Elena Mutonono (moi) is the writer, the creative idea generator, the smart online business strategist, the owner of the Smart Teacher's Library and the left side of the brain for the Opted Out community of online teachers and coaches (aka strategy, numbers, etc.).

Veronika Palovska is the writer, the brand strategist, the graphics and web designer, the chief co-librarian at the Smart Teacher's Library and the right side of the brain for the Opted Out community of online teachers and coaches (aka artsy templates, branding, logos, pictures).

Sondra Jackson is the Virtual Assistant, the Social Media Admin Ninja, the Asana list-maker and the bridge between the left and the right side of the team brain (to keep creativity from over-spilling thus making sure that Elena and Veronika get some sleep).

Trisha Traughber is the writing coach, the online business owner, the first reader of the Flowers in the Frost, the adventurous conspirator, and, in the words of Twyla Tharp, she's the cheerleader for my creative urge.

Together we believe that teachers and coaches have great treasures to offer, and they can build lasting impact and enjoy their lives full of creativity and passion through their unique businesses.

Risks and challenges

I have created and launched a variety products (e-books, courses, programs) in the past 4 years. I've kept my deadlines and communicated with my audience about my progress. The only issues that might occur are technical (the format may not look right, the paperback proof copy may have some issues). To ensure timely project completion I've given myself plenty of time between the completion of the book (September 20) and its launch on Amazon (October 23). I have a team of people who have worked with me on a number of projects already, and we are committed to stay the course with this one! If there are any delays, I'll definitely keep all my backers in the know. Thank you for trusting me with this project!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Digital copy + launch party invite

    I'll send you a digital copy of my book 2 weeks before its official release and invite you to a closed live launch party to chat about the book and answer any questions about teaching smarter. There will be 3 prizes raffled for those who show up live!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Paperback copy + Dare to Be Different

    1) An early bird digital copy; 2) A paperback copy mailed to you; 3) Dare to Be Different Bundle: a recorded workshop on how to find your niche + workbook

    Note: a shipping fee ($5-8) will be added to your contribution

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    2 paperbacks + Group coaching (Q&A)

    1) Early bird digital copy of the book; 2) 2 paperbacks; 3) Dare to Be Different (recorded workshop on finding your niche) + workbook; 4) an invite to a group coaching session (smart business Q&A)

    Note: a shipping fee ($5-8) will be added to your contribution

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Smart bundle: 1:1 coaching + book

    1) an early bird digital copy, 2) 1 paperback, 3) group coaching (Business Q&A), 4) Opted Out Planner (digital), 5) a 1:1 coaching session (40 minutes) to gain focus and clarity for your business (recording + notes before and after session)

    Note: a shipping fee ($5-8) will be added to your contribution

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    VIP: 2-month coaching + book + goodies

    1) an early bird digital copy, 2) 1 paperback, 3) 2 group coaching sessions, 4) 2 1:1 sessions (60 minutes), 1 a month; 5) Opted Out Planner (digital), 6) 2-month unlimited forum support, 7) 2-month access to the Smart Teacher's Library

    Note: a shipping fee ($5-8) will be added to your contribution

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    One of a kind >> Super Smart

    1) early-bird digital copy, 2) 1 paperback copy, 3) 2-month coaching (includes 2 60-minute sessions 1:1 + support), 4) 2-month access to the Smart Teacher's Library, 5) Opted Out Planner (digital), 6) A 1:1 virtual retreat (1.5 hrs task-focused meeting on social media or content strategy) + followup + notes, 7) My copy writing services (I'll write your home page, or your welcome email series, or your services page).

    Note: a shipping fee ($5-8) will be added to your contribution

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    Limited 1 backer
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    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (32 days)