The Biggest Challenge of Freelance Online English Teachers
If you’re a good teacher, why aren’t you getting more students to sign up for lessons with you?
You have the skills. You have the materials. You’re ready.
I assume you are a good teacher because most freelance teachers are. Most of us want to help our students while gaining the freedom that freelance online teaching gives us.
So, the biggest problem that often presents itself is how to find students. How do we show the world we are good teachers? How do we get students to believe in us and sign up for our lessons?
That is something we did not learn in our ESL Teacher Certification class! Unfortunately, the programs that prepared us to be good teachers don’t often prepare us to be good freelancers. That leads to self-doubt in our teaching abilities, when it’s actually our business and marketing skills that need work.
As teachers, we learn how to work in an environment where students are supplied to us. If you work for a tutoring company or a school, you don’t really have to think about how to get students to sign up. You don’t have to worry about that, but then you give up a lot of freedom in terms of your pay rate, schedule, and in the end you’re working to build someone else’s business, not yours.
Now, let me share how I was able to get students interested in my lessons and build my own successful online English tutoring business.
How I Found my Students – My Journey with Go Natural English
Before I had any students booked for tutoring, I spent a lot of time showing them who I am.
In 2011 I was working full-time as an English teacher in Japan. I loved being in Japan but I didn’t have any time or money to actually enjoy my life abroad. That led me to think about what I could do to still do the work I loved and also have more freedom, time and money to have the lifestyle I wanted.
So, outside of my regular job, I started creating video content — tips for learning English to help my students. I posted the clips on YouTube, Facebook, and shared them via email with my students and colleagues.
After a few months of this, viewers started messaging me to ask for me to be their tutor! I had students from China, Brazil, Turkey, Russia and all over the world seeking me out. I was amazed that I didn’t have to worry about finding students because they were coming to me!
Even though this was back in 2011, the strategy remains the same and it is still very possible to achieve success if you are consistent and don’t give up.
Today, Go Natural English is a YouTube channel with over 1.2 million subscribers and a multi-6 figure business and still growing. One of the most important things you can do to attract students and build your business is to create content that shows who you are.
Now I run my business virtually while I travel the world. It’s allowed me to live my dream lifestyle. I genuinely am passionate about teaching and inspiring others. I’ve been able to do this through teaching ESL, and now with that success to show, I am helping online teachers like you.
Tools Advice: Top 3 Resources to Get More Students
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the different online tools out there. Basically, you need tools for 3 things. I’m going to tell you which 3 things and which 3 tools I recommend.
First, you need to be creating digital content if you’re a freelance online teacher. The good news is, you don’t really need any special tech tools to start creating content. I started recording videos with my smartphone and an internet connection. However, it can be really useful to create images and graphics that make you look more professional online. For example, you should design images for social media posts and thumbnail images for videos. I use Canva.com because it’s simple and looks good. It’s also free to start using and has a pro account for more features.
Second, you need to have a way to collect payment, schedule and host your lessons. Up until now, you had to do each of these separately. Piecing together three different sites to get paid, scheduled and host lessons is a pain and there’s too much margin for error. I’ve been using Chatalyze.com with success to do all of that in one place for a super affordable rate. It really saves time and makes it easy to just focus on carrying out your lessons instead of getting lost in different technical aspects of working online. It’s free to create an account and try it out.
Third, you need a plan and materials for teaching your students. It takes time to market your lessons, and can take even more time developing materials and a curriculum for your students. All the lesson creation can really slow you down, so it’s important to reach out for helpful resources. A lot of teachers are successfully using pre-made materials from Off2Class.com, and I highly recommend trying them out! You can still pick and choose to customize the best lessons for your students. It can save you a lot of time and allow you to concentrate on what you’re good at — actually teaching and helping your students!
Mindset Advice: What I Wish I Had Known When I started
It’s counterintuitive, but I think you need more confidence when you’re starting out, even if you feel like you haven’t earned it yet. Looking back to when I was getting started as an online ESL teacher, I can honestly say that my biggest mistake was something totally under my own control — my confidence.
I wish I had really believed in myself from day one.
I want you to know that I believe in you. Now you need to believe in you! I believe if you know who you are, what your strengths are, how to be of service, and do the right thing always, you will be successful.
Now you know that you’ll need to spend some time marketing yourself as a teacher. If “marketing” doesn’t seem exciting to you, just think of it as teaching your potential students about who you are and what your lessons can help them with. If you’re a good teacher of your subject, you can teach people about why to work with you! In the end, it’s all about education and teaching — and you’re already good at that, so let’s get to work!
If you’d like to learn more with me, you’re invited to come to my online presentation that’s coming up soon (it’s free to attend). Learn how to get #booked with new students at https://gabbywallace.com/booked where I’ll teach you in more detail about how to attract your ideal students to your online tutoring.