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Teaching English online is potentially one of the best ways to earn income online as a teacher, the majority of those reasons I will discuss in this article but one of the biggest is that the industry of teaching English online (ESL) has exploded and it is forecasted to continue growing at the vast rate that it already has done. This has enabled many people to earn a full-time income online by working from home by teaching English online to foreign students.
By 2025 Forbes estimates that online learning will be worth over $325 billion. So, if you are interested in knowing more about how you can earn an income online within this fast developing industry, working as an online ESL teacher, then this article is going to be really helpful for you.
Who can teach English online?
For years, teachers have struggled to get a decent salary for their years of studying in traditional brick and mortar schools and now that many infrastructures of schools all over the world have changed, so has the role of teachers in traditional physical classroom’s. That being that many teachers are expected to deal with budgets, financial forecasting and other duties all related to policies but many of those tasks having nothing to do with actual teaching – sound familiar?
But the biggest change is seen in the salaries of those teachers; With all those extra tasks and the additional, too often, extreme pupil classroom behaviours that then trigger another load of administrative tasks many teachers have been looking for another way to service their years of graduate and post graduate educations.
Many have turned to the world of online English teaching or ESL as it’s more widely known in the industry.
ESL teachers come from all areas of life but many seem to be:
- Stay at home parents.
- Graduate students
- Professionals from other industries
- Digital nomads – people who like to travel as they earn online without limitations
- Previous brick and mortar teachers
So how do you get started?
Getting started in the ESL industry
The first decision you need to make if you want to teach English online and make a full time income from doing so is to decide what type of English students you are going to teach and how.
In my many years of teaching English online, I think I have more or less taught all the different combinations that are currently possibly and this is just another example of how diverse teaching English online is. I have taught both children and adults, individually, in groups, seminars and virtual classes ( that’s an entire class in a school taught uniquely by webcam). I have worked for companies, ESL online school platforms and now I teach my own private clients mostly and I also consult for larger companies as an educational consultant.
Currently the main options for teaching English online falls into the following categories:
- Teaching online classes for a foreign language school.
- Teaching for an ESL platform (I will explain what that is).
- Teaching uniquely for yourself with private clients – Independently
- A blend of all the above.
If you just want to make a part-time income by teaching online, just pick one of the options above however to make a full time income by teaching English online, I would suggest a blend of two or more options above until you have gained enough experience and then I would personally advise teaching Independently as it is the only option that allows you to grow an income to the point that you can earn a lot more of a full-time income by teaching part – time. Yes you read right. When you work Independently you are able to earn more by working less.
If you are only interested in teaching for yourself have a look at my course here. It takes form A to Z of creating your own online teaching business and includes extensive digital marketing training.
Teaching online classes for a foreign language school
Teaching for an ESL platform
What is an ESL platform?
An ESL platform is a company that specialises in providing only online English lessons to foreign students or clients.
Equally graduate students like stay at home parents who have decided to continue their both their professional and academic post graduate experience are also part of the merry pool of very talented teachers now teaching online. So competition is naturally high, this is why, if you want to gain a decent lesson rate, expereince is key. Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience yet, I am going to explain how you can get some.
What are the pros and cons of working for an ESL platform?
If you work for an ESL platform you are always employed as a contractor. So you are self employed. This obviously means that you are liable for your own tax, pension contributions, healthcare contributions etc. You will most often be given a six month rolling contract after you have passed the companies ‘on-boarding’ process. That is similar to an induction.
Points to note are that whilst ESL platforms do get the bookings for you, your rate of pay may not ever increase much if at all and ESL platforms are renowned for taking on teachers but not having enough bookings for them.
Lesson plans are always prepared for you by ESL platforms however sometimes that can be very thin or not suited really to the clients / students level so you need to think on your feet or have a little library of lesson additions.
Working as an online English teacher for ESL platforms in China can have limited working hours. In 2020, new rules and regulations were brought out by the Chinese Goverment and ministry of education surrounding ESL platforms employing foreign English teachers. You can find out more about that here. But for children it is 3.5 hours per day from 6pm – 9.30pm Beijing time, term time and more in the holidays and at weekends and for adults there is no restriction however lots of adults are work in the day. Whenever you communicate with a Chinese ESL platform, reference to hours are always in Beijing Standard time, so be mindful to note that. The pay rate can be anything from $2 per lesson to $14.
When you work for an ESL platform you don’t get sick pay, holiday pay or maternity pay.
Most ESL platforms have a ‘ratings’ system. This is how they claim to manage quality control however often parents and students can misuse this system by not understanding that results have a definate impact for the teachers bookings.
Ratings affect bookings, pay rate and contracts so they are very important in the ESL world. It is important to understand also that the concept of teaching and learning for Asian students is very different to other countries in the world. If you work for an ESL platform, your first point of call for every lesson is to keep the clients happy by providing the teaching ‘they want’ not what you think should be taught. This is often a steep learning curve for new online English teachers.
Know that also most companies have strict policies surrounding this and other elements when working for them with their clients.
What qualifications do I need to apply to an ESL platform?
In China all online ESL platforms require:
- A Ba degree (any subject)
- A TEFL or TESOL from a recognised body.
- A CELTA is not obligatory but if you have one you will get a higher lesson rate.
- A DBS check – police check
- At least one years experience of teaching.
- A computer, a headset with mic and a good computer camera. See our amazon recommendations here of what are the industry standards.
- Props for teaching. See what I use here.
Teaching for yourself Independently
- You can choose your own hours of work.
- You can truly teach students from all over the world which,
- Gives you a better scope of Income.
- You get to choose what and how you teach.
- You can create additional resources such as ebooks, courses and specialist sessions to boost your online income, totally passively. I have done this with my own range of books that are award winning and sold through amazon and Barnes and Noble.
- You can decide how much you get paid and how much you charge
- I currently have over 10,000 students in my online business.
One of the reasons that I started teaching privately was because I wanted to teach more adults after teaching children for a number of years. I also love creating resources and love writing a good juicy lesson plan that students really loved. In addition policies for ESL platforms are always subject to change and change they do often and sometimes I have found that those changes just did not suit me and quite frankly the pay was awful and unreliable!
How to get private students to teach English online?
Teachers that want to go Independent often assume that once they have created a website and a facebook page, then clients will come running, thirsty for your services as an online English teacher. Whilst this may be a dream come true eventually, it won’t start like that. To really successfully get private students you need to have a carefully structured plan of attraction marketing. In the Teacherprenuers course, I teach this whilst showing that with the right strategy you can achieve results that convert into bookings very quickly. In fact I converted over 5000 private students into my online course, in just four weeks.
Your virtual classroom
- CRM & All Tracking Software
- Email Auto Responders
- Funnel Builders / website builder
- Landing Page Software
- Pre-Built Funnels & Campaigns
- Calendars + Virtual online classroom
- Course creator
- Online payment
- Seminar Software
- Ecommerce for all my additonal products
Automated processes and techniques that work
I can get anything from 150 – 600 emails currently per day asking for lessons and to be accepted onto my course, so I opted to create systems and processes that I built to automate every piece of the process. because I did not want to respond to that many emails each day – can you imagine how much time that would take? So that is what I did. If you want to learn what I do then take my Teacherpreneurs course.
If you want to try creating the processes, solo by all means, be my guest as the information in my course took me years to compile and will save you months of work not to mention saving you money. But here is the software that I use. If you want a 14 day trial of this, you can use this link here.
As the name of my course states when you teach Independently, a part of you has to think and act like an Entrepreneur, which is why the course is called Teacherpreneur. Fundamentally, it is about giving a teacher with their specialist knowledge of teaching; all the tools, resources and training to become an Entrepreneur. Fused together, you arrive at the point of a Teacherpreneur.
A big mistake I see time and time again with Independent teachers is that they create a website with little to no understanding of why a lead page or funnel would be better at the start.
Marketing, building funnels and landing pages and creating pricing plans that are cost effective are key to making sure that not does your business actually start getting paying clients but also that you continue in doing that.
For example, on one of my lead pages I offer my students a FREE book that I have written and the first lesson of my course for FREE. Inside of my book there are Calls to action, which engage my prospective client to learn more about services. Think of attraction marketing, as feeding a new born. Nurture and encourage them. Train them to follow the pathway that you have created for them.
Along with that, I give them access to FREE taster lessons which I am monetised for on other platforms. This builds credibility towards people that don’t even know you. And that it is important. Do not expect people that you do not even know, to become your paying clients until you have fully committed to a strategy that allows them to get to know, like and trust you. This is rule no.1 of online marketing.
Lots of Independent teachers also do not know how to convert visitors into loyal paying customers and that is where my mini brand training, within the Teacherpreneur course also helps teachers really start to make themselves stand out from the crowd of other teachers. This is key to the longtivity of your business.
Hopefully this article will give you a deeper insight into the world of online teaching and you can start to think about the transition and whcih pathway you want to take.
What you could do now is take our free 45 minute online Discovery training. You can access it directly here.
And as always, please share if you have found this useful!