Are you looking to sell your products or services to the growing homeschool demographic? Before jumping in, consider these facts about how homeschoolers shop and how you can best position yourself as a vital solution in their educational journey.
What is the homeschool market today?
There were an estimated 3.1 million homeschooled students over the 2021-2022 school year, but these numbers are likely lower than we think, as not every state requires registration or reporting. With a growth of 2-8% per year, homeschooling is not going away soon.
If sales of my homeschool book were any indication, parent interest has stayed steady and even peaked at various times of the year – especially after a notable bad news event surrounding the state of public schools.
The homeschool market formally includes those who have pulled their kids out of public or private education to fully direct learning. This is not the only segment buying homeschool products, however. With many virtual schoolers considering themselves "homeschoolers" and hybrid, micro-school, and co-op participants also enjoying homeschool materials, you can see that the 3.1 million estimate shared earlier is just a starting point.
The possibilities for selling to these independent learners are endless.
What does this mean for you?
You probably have a product or offering already quite perfect for the homeschool market. After all, homeschoolers are a lot like any other group. They want quality, effective, and engaging learning products to make life easier for the family and keep students on track to accomplish educational and developmental goals.
It doesn't matter if you sell a personal finance learning game or have a series of Latin workbooks you published on Amazon. If a traditional student would find them useful, there are homeschoolers out there who will also love them.
Why do you need to market to homeschoolers?
If there's little difference in what homeschoolers want compared to the rest of the world, you may wonder why you need to target them at all. It's because we rely on specific channels to get our information and (in most cases) really do love to be called out as homeschoolers.
Homeschooling is a sacrifice. While I go into a lot of detail in my book on how anyone can homeschool, I don’t pretend it’s easy or without giving some things up. Take my family, for instance. We are a household of 7, running two businesses, keeping up a homestead, and shuttling the kids to all their speech and debate tournaments while balancing the chemistry homework and online art classes.
What am I giving up? A lot. I rarely have lunches with friends, I don’t have a Netflix queue, and date nights with my husband are rare. We don’t complain, as we have willingly and happily traded in a lackluster education and time away from our kids for meaningful dinners where we chat about Plato and work hand-in-hand with our teens to help them get college ready.
I love the homeschool life.
I love being an entrepreneur.
But I would be put off if any company glosses over the fact that we put in thousands of hours to help our kids learn and grow. I wouldn't feel that company knew me (or our lifestyle) at all.
That’s where you have a big opportunity in how you market to homeschoolers.
How homeschool marketing gets it wrong
Some of the less-evolved marketing advice out there still features “tropes” such as that we all wear denim skirts or we are barely keeping it together in the mess and chaos of parenting. It may completely skip over the fact many of us are accomplished professionals or academics who wear smart pantsuits and that our husbands may be doing the bulk of the teaching.
Homeschooling looks so different from family to family. We do it for different reasons to achieve different goals. If there are any factors we share, we likely are:
We love to learn alongside our kids, even just to research and investigate the next great curriculum we purchase. We sometimes read what they read, even if we aren't teaching it ourselves. Most of us have taken courses or participated in a conference or event to level up our teaching or administration skills so we can do better for our kids.
It takes a certain amount of daring to yank a kid from a free public school where everyone in your community sends their kids to try something that's not always looked upon with grace. Even in areas of the country where homeschooling is more accepted, we all have that one aunt, uncle, boss, or friend who doesn't support our homeschooling decision, and we have to go against it every day of our lives. That takes guts.
Despite that tired trope of the “overly protective homeschooler who doesn’t let the kids out of the house and won’t share common spaces with those who don’t believe just as they do, we are very welcoming people. We promote a culture of acceptance in much of what we do, including with other homeschool parents. We know we don't always share the same values or ideas, but we share a passion for seeing our kids succeed. We are open to things that put that passion into action, and that may just be what you are selling today.
How bad homeschool marketers hurt business
So, if you’re hearing from a marketer that you need to niche down, approach the homeschool community “carefully” because of our distrust, or recreate the wheel to be branded just for us, you may be wasting your time. With the expansion of school choice, ESAs, and virtual/micro-schools, learning is becoming more blended and integrated into everyday life.
A siloed approach to "those homeschoolers" may cause you to miss out on all the sales from people like me (and my peers) who are homeschoolers but don't necessarily need to be put into our own little box. We like what other moms like. We want our kids to grow into lovely people that can get along well with others. We want to succeed in life and business.
How can you help us do that today?
Jumpstart your homeschool marketing plan
Given this info, what’s the first thing you should do to reach out to this vast group of inquisitive and dedicated homeschool families? I recommend a few things, including:
1. Look for existing overlap.
You may already speak a homeschooler's language and don't need to change much about your website, product names, or materials. It may simply require a few tweaks to be more inclusive to homeschoolers and then get your name out to the places they shop.
How we help: A brand audit can get you a list of what you are already doing well, so you can focus on the growth areas, saving you time and money without additional brand confusion.
2. Consider on-site SEO.
Guess what’s not going away? Search. Moms and dads use Bing, DuckDuckGo, and their phone search tools in addition to Google, but if you do things right by Google, the rest typically falls in line. Instead of rewriting all your content or creating tons of new materials, a few SEO tweaks, including unique graphs, data, and expert quotes, can take your blog posts and articles to the next level for the keywords you want to target most.
How we help: Homeschool SEO can be an easier win for brands because the competition is usually lower for key terms.
3. Reach homeschooling families (everywhere).
One of the first places marketers think to look is homeschooling conferences, homeschooling publications, and homeschooling Facebook groups; these are still great places to consider. But I don't solely hang out in those spots, and neither do most homeschool moms and dads. I like to see homeschooling materials in the broader world, where I shop, chat, learn, and socialize. If you can get into these places organically, you have a better chance of being heard.
Depending on what you sell, there are likely a dozen or so "marketplaces" you haven't considered, including those for niche educational styles, such as those used by the gaming community, homesteaders, and those who travel extensively.
How we help: Knowing where your target audience is already hanging out can help you boost sales because there aren't 100 other educational companies vying for attention there. We can identify the places your customer already shops.
Ready to meet the homeschool community?
Take just 20 minutes out of your busy day to see how a strategic homeschool marketing plan can help you sell to more parents and educators without a significant shift in branding. We will identify two areas of audience growth to focus on right now! Set up a call with Linsey here.
Homeschool marketing FAQs
How much money does it cost to market to homeschoolers?
Marketing your product or service to the homeschool community will have a similar cost to promotion to other educators and parents. One benefit to reaching this smaller group is that they value personal connections and grass-roots methods. If you can earn their trust with a solid offering, you may not have to spend as much money as big companies.
How much does an average homeschooling family spend on books and supplies?
According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), homeschooling families spend an average of $600 per student per year. This is far less than the average cost to publicly educate a student, or around $16,446.