How to get private, online, ESL students from China for your own tutoring business is often the wish of many online ESL tutors that want to become online freelance English tutors. In this post you will discover five key elements to help you start marketing yourself as an online English tutor successfully, in this ever expanding industry.
How to find Chinese students from China to teach English online, privately:
- Develop a business plan.
- Stop banging on about ‘niche’.
- Learn how to advertise private tutoring in China.
- Understand Chinese Culture.
- Create a Unique selling point.
It has often been the belief from many that the big firewall from China stops foreign tutors from being able to market themselves online to potential Chinese students … but this article is going to blow that myth apart!
In 2021, China changed rules for foreign English teachers teaching English online to Chinese students. You can read more about that here but in a nutshell that does not apply to private, freelance tutors.
In this post we will explore the core elements that will help you to find and teach privately, Chinese students online.
1. Develop a Business Plan
It may surprise you to realize that so many tutors go into freelancing without even creating a business plan, even though freelance tutoring is a business. And because of this, they are unable to compete successfully in a globally growing marketplace, end up working for very little and having to eventually give up the hope of teaching English online, privately.
Avoid that and spend a little bit of time creating a business plan because part of that planning will help you to develop your unique marketing plan and quite a bit more. We have one specifically designed for English tutors and Teacherpreneurs available here.
Once you have completed your tutoring business plan, you need to think about content. Content creation is a huge factor in being able to connect with your audience online. Chinese students love content and are huge consumers of social media networks. This includes Tik Tok, Zhihu, Wechat, Little red book, Douyin, Kuaishou, Billbii and Douban. But some of these will be impossible to access if you are outside of China.
Thankfully there is SEO and even though there is the great Chinese firewall, most professionals and business owners in China have a special licence to pass the Chinese firewall for education and commerce and yes that includes facebook®.
As you can see from the screenshot below from one of our tutoring sites’ analytics, the country that viewed (and consequently) made the most amount of bookings in this month (January 2021) was China.
Not only does this blow the myth of the ‘you can’t market to Chinese people in China because of the firewall’ out of the water but it also blows those spammy marketers who keep telling you that you don’t need a website to set up an online tutoring business, into another stratosphere too!
Set up correctly, a website will work for you when you cannot, it will make you money when you sleep and it could be the start of an amazing brand story, very much like one of ours, featured below.
2. Stop banging on about 'niche'
I think that part of the attraction of our successful content marketing used in this strategy was that it did not contain the word ‘niche’ in it and that is because that is such an OVER USED strategy that even people that can’t speak English very well but are also fed up with hearing it. Which brings me to my next point.
What Chinese students want amongst all is results. They want to have confidence that you can get them the results they want. This you achieve by your content marketing and your website. Your website is your shop window and also with SEO, it is your secret marketing machine.
The biggest mistake that is made by marketers is that they market their methods instead of their results. Calling yourself a niche teacher, means nothing to a student and the explanation of that to a foreign student will just confuse them more and dissolve your marketing efforts.
Instead market what is in it for them. What you will help them achieve. I have found this to be hugely successful and one of my ESL brands has over 52K followers and 51K paying, monthly students and that is all because of my content marketing.
A top tip when buying your domain, is to buy a .com domain and also a.cn domain for China. You can mirror your website on the .cn domain and pay a small amount to a translator on a platform like fiverr to translate it for you.
This is exactly what we did but we still get loads of traffic to our.com website from China too.
Niche has it’s place in helping you to create viable products and services for your online tutoring business but it should’t be the basis of your marketing strategy.
3. Learn how to advertise private tutoring in China
Create a mix of original, interesting and relevant content that serves your Chinese students first. We have mentioned content creation and search engine optimisation but there are also the products and services that you sell, which is why a website is so important. Google tells me that I get views every single day from my China on my website, hosted in the UK. But Social Media has been my biggest levitate.
As well as social media and SEO, using your own products as advertising is a great idea. These are what differentiate yourself from other English tutors that want to offer private tutoring to Chinese students.
By creating your own digital products, your own courses and class memberships you are proving to Chinese parents and Chinese students that you are firstly not a fly by night, dodgy English tutor because there have been a few. And also that you are a professional because you have invested time and effort, more than most, to create unique and interesting learning content to improve their education and learning experience. That is something most Chinese students are very keen to pay for.
Chinese students and Chinese parents love educational content. The more the better. Many Chinese parents dislike the over simplistic lessons on Chinese platforms. As teachers we know that Chinese platforms do that to inch out, teaching materials over a ‘curriculum’. Parents know this too. If you can offer more you will be on the home win.
Why? Because in order for those ‘people’ to become your clients you are going to have to show them what value you can give them. What will they learn? How will they learn? What is your style of teaching? All these things matter which is why marketers that tell you that posting on Social media, writing blog posts, creating youtube videos and doing few other things to showcase your teaching talents, also have no idea what they are talking about.
4. Understand Chinese Culture
You don’t have to know everything about Chinese culture but spend a little time each week learning something about that culture and then incorporate that into your content creation and marketing. We have a complete 365 Content Creation course and ready to use templates for private ESL tutors available here.
Chinese people are very proud of their culture and if you can show that you are willing to learn about their culture they will greatly appreciate that.
One very important factor to note is that in Chinese culture it is not uncommon at all for Chinese families to pay for an entire year of private online tutoring. And many Chinese platforms charge Chinese parents and Chinese students a small fortune for doing so.
Knowing this gives you an unfair advantage. You can create educational learning plans in the form of a membership for Chinese students but offer it at a cheaper price than Chinese platforms. Not hard to do.
5. Create a Unique Selling point
Because you would have created these English learning resources yourself, you have increased your UPS (Unique selling point). That doesn’t mean that you have to charge a fortune for it but it does make your services more unique which will enable you to convert more private Chinese students. If you have completed any Teaching English as a Foreign Language qualification, you should be able to write a lesson plan. If you don’t yet have any qualifications we have a partner offer that offers a TEFL for $19 here.
If you have completed your tutoring business plan as in the first point, you would have an idea of digital products that you can sell online that can then harness a service towards it because we so nicely included a special section for you in that Teacherpreneurs Business plan. In our Teacherpreneurs Digital Business Plan, we have included a huge variety of products and niches that you could explore. But with no website, you have no presentation to convince Chinese students to learn English with you.
In the Teacherprenuers Challenge, we show tutors and coaches how do exactly this and also a lot more, in just 30 days. You don’t have to have a complete set of 365 days of lessons, courses and workbooks to offer Chinese students to learn English with you online but if you have a few and they are nicely presented, you will build better trust and confidence. Trust and confidence translate to conversions. Conversions transform into sales. Sales digest into Income.
Although having experience and qualifications to teach is great, it isn’t enough to create your own online tutoring / coaching business and it is not going to help you to find private Chinese students to teach English online. For that you will need to learn new marketing skills and most importantly you will need to learn how to sell online.
Any of our products below will help you because we practice what we preach and we do this every single day!