How Teaching Helps Bryn Chernoff Grow Her Calligraphy Business

As a highly sought-after calligrapher, Bryn Chernoff’s income was dependent on the time she could make for her clients. Thanks to her Skillshare classes, she’s added a steady source of supplemental income, allowing her to grow her studio, expand her team, and make more time to be with her family. For a self-employed parent searching for a flexible work-life balance, that opportunity is invaluable.

From a young age, Bryn Chernoff was obsessed with writing by hand; it wasn’t until much later in life, however, that she realized her passion could translate into a livelihood. “I was always the kid writing on everything. I even filled out my older sister’s college application by hand! There was this unique pleasure that came from it,” she explains. Bryn went on to pursue a more conventional path in computer science, but while she loved her job as a software developer, something was missing. With requests from friends for wedding and dinner party invitations piling up, calligraphy became more than just a side project, and Bryn’s business, Paperfinger, was born. Soon after, Bryn made the decision to quit her job and focus full-time on Paperfinger; “I had never articulated this as my dream,” she tells us, “but of course it was all along. It makes so much sense to me now.”

As Paperfinger grew into a thriving business, Bryn, as her own boss, had to put in a lot of hours herself.  As is true for many creative professionals, her income was dependent entirely on the time she put into it, with her own two hands.  “When you work for yourself, in theory you can have all the time off you want, but that’s not so great when it’s unpaid. Especially becoming a mom, it was such a bummer to see how limited the opportunities were for paid maternity leave in the form of grants or tax breaks,” she recalls. Skillshare came along at just the right time.

Bryn published her first Skillshare class in the summer of 2014 while pregnant with her first child. The class took off, and Bryn was able to take some necessary time off as her student base continued to grow (to date, over 11,000 students have enrolled in this first class). This was exactly the source of stability she needed. “It’s the perfect set up,” she explains, “where I was able to pour all the hard work in upfront, and let it live on forever.” Since returning to her busy schedule of client work, Bryn continues to thrive as a top Skillshare teacher, constantly building on her curriculum and engaging with her students in special ways. She’s taught four popular classes and has no plans to stop. In her own words:

“Teaching on Skillshare provides a passive income stream, and that’s the holy grail for someone in my shoes.”

Another special aspect of Bryn's success on Skillshare is her connection to her students. Bryn has been fortunate enough to turn her greatest passion into more than a hobby—to discover that as a little girl scribbling on napkins, she was actually paving the way for a brilliant career. And now it’s her turn to pass on not only her incredible skills, but her love of calligraphy as well. “Realizing that the work they did for my class was as emotionally loaded for my students as it was for me when I got started with calligraphy . . . that was the most moving experience,” she reveals. This year, Bryn deepened her connection with students even further when she hired three of those students to join the Paperfinger team.

Today, Bryn continues to find stability and fulfillment through teaching on Skillshare. Just last month, she published her latest class, Pen and Ink Calligraphy: The Art of the Envelope, in which her (adorable) daughter, now one year old, makes a cameo. We can’t wait to see what exciting opportunity she takes on next.

Learn more about teaching on Skillshare here.