Experienced Online English teachers working for big corporate ESL companies are looking into branching out and finding their own students as independent English tutors.
An industry which was once dominated by large corporate ESL companies is being disrupted, and will have to reinvent itself should It want to flourish once more.
The problem that faces many big corporate ESL Teachers is that going completely independent seems risky. Marketing your own teaching practice and finding students, is an extra job in its own right.
In this article, we will walk through all the ways in which you can market yourself and attract students to join your own successful and independent online English freelance business.
So, if you’re tired of applying to ESL companies knowing they take a big chunk of your hard-earned cash. Follow this step-by-step guide and start the transition to becoming an independent English teacher today.
This article assumes you have online teaching experience and all the necessary qualifications to do the job and to teach English to foreign learners. If you don’t have a TEFL certificate yet, you can obtain one here!
Why should I become an independent English teacher?
Set your own rates
As an experienced EFL teacher, you are probably aware that not many teaching companies pay over $25 per hour. As an independent teacher, you’re much more likely to earn $30+ per hour teaching.
When Independently teaching and running a business, you can set your own rates. The rates you set can be a truer value to the skills you bring to the classroom.
Of course, there are a few big EFL companies that are not controlling the pay of online teachers. Preply and Amazing talker are examples of new innovative EFL platforms. They have recognised that online English teachers need more freedom and control over the rates to charge. Instead of charging teachers a fixed commission, they take a percentage.
Manage your own schedule
Often English teaching platforms give you a minimum amount of teaching time which you are contracted to teach. Should you fail in keeping to the strict schedule or change your timetable, money can get automatically deducted.
Managing your own schedule through direct communication with your students means rescheduling is a lot less stressful and tedious. Also, instead of talking to a scheduling computer, you can talk to a real person!
Be your own boss
Ultimately, being the boss means you have more freedom, and accountability for decisions. If you want to teach a certain way, go ahead it’s your business.
From independent English teacher to LTD business owner to PLC
Becoming an independent English teacher is the beginning of a long-term journey. It’s normal for things to start off slow, but once your teaching business takes off, you may need to start hiring extra hands and faces to help take on classes and deal with the admin side of things. Eventually, you may start a LTD. company and then end up on the stock exchange… The only way to achieve all of this is by starting the journey.
Do English teachers have niches?
Students learn best when they are passionate about a subject and invested in what the lesson is about. If a subject the student loves is taught in English, BOOM! You are teaching two subjects in one lesson. Teaching this way creates a niche.
If you are a Graphic Designer by trade and teaching English on the side, why not teach Graphic Design in English?
If you can speak multiple languages, why not teach using multiple languages?
Teaching in different ways and incorporating what you know, creates a unique experience, unlikely to be replicated by the competition.
How to independently find students
Without students, there’s no one to be taught and no money being made. So here is how we find students;
Bring over existing students
Before we talk about acquiring new students, it’s important to mention your current students.
Do you have connections with who you currently teach, and can you bring them on board to your new independent business venture?
Some students will want to continue lessons with you when you move, so if it’s ok with the platform, company or agency; take them with you.
Sometimes you have to pay a release fee, other times they are ok with you taking on private lessons.
Be careful with this though, as most of the big ESL companies that I’ve worked for have strictly prohibited taking students off the platform. Out of professional curiosity, it’s not good practice to break policies.
Create your own ESL website
As an independent and professional English teacher, you need a website. Your very own website should be thought of as an investment and asset for your independent teaching practice.
Websites don’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Many websites have drag and drop features or plugins such as elementor. Anyone can build a website these days.
This website is hosted with BlueHost.com they are super reliable and one of the biggest website providers on the internet. The hosting packages usually come with a free domain.
There are many freelancing platforms that are available for you to advertise your teaching services. The most popular freelancing platforms are Upwork and Fiver. It may take a while for you to become established and start charging the value you are worth, but once you get ratings and build a name for yourself… Work will start coming to you on these platforms organically.
If you’re looking for students to teach, Facebook can be a great resource.
There is a lot of competition among independent English teachers on Facebook, and this can be seen on their pages, but don’t let that put you off from creating your own group as you may offer something slightly different from your competition. Once you have a group on facebook which advertises your services as an independent teacher, students can join and enquire.
Alternatively, you can also search for English-language learners who are interested in finding a tutor. There are many groups and pages dedicated to language learning, and you can post a message offering your services. With a little effort, you should be able to find plenty of students to teach on Facebook.
Students may also find you via mutual contacts. Facebook is a very cost-effective way to build brand loyalty and reach potential customers as well as build awareness among your connections.
LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with potential students who are looking for remote English tutors. By creating a profile and even a page; by writing a brief summary of your teaching experience and qualifications, you can reach out to potential students who are searching for independent English teachers such as yourself.
In addition, LinkedIn also allows you to post articles and other content related to the English language, which can help you attract students who are interested in your teaching style. With a little effort, you can easily find students to teach on LinkedIn.
If your website and all social media accounts have been set up, it’s time to look into what SEO can do for you. Organic search is the best way for students and parents to find you because it doesn’t cost anything and it’s essentially free marketing. Neil Patel is a guru at SEO!
With paid search, you can target advertising to certain demographic groups. The problem with paid search is that it’s expensive. Paid ads can be purchased from the following; Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Microsoft.
If paid search is done correctly, it can make your business thrive. if done badly, it can cost you a lot of money.
Best video platforms to teach English online
It’s great to give students the option of where they would like to be taught.
I try to stick to the following platforms: Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Whatsapp
How do I get paid as an independent English teacher?
One of the reasons you teach is so you can get paid. A majority of students that Independent teachers will teach will be from abroad, so a few payment options will have to be considered as well as possibly opening the main business account to track all ongoing and outgoings.
With payment options, processes will be seamless for you and your students. Here are a few easy and reliable ways for students to pay:
Payoneer was created to cater for freelancers as well as business owners who deal with international transactions in most currencies. Payoneer is my preferred payment method as it is easy to use, cost-effective, and reliable.
This payment company has established itself as one of the most solid when it comes to maying payments. PayPal enables students to make payments through currency conversion. Be considerate when using as fees are slightly higher than the rest.
Monzo is excellent for everyday banking and the business account gives full control over all the hard-earned money. You can set up notifications for all ongoing and outgoing funds as well as invoicing and accepting payments by all major credit cards.
Wise helps control finances when working or travelling abroad. Wise can send and receive payments from more than 30 countries globally. On average, the rates are way cheaper than leading banks and faster as well. which makes Wise a favoured company to work with.
Is becoming an independent teacher a good career choice?
Becoming an independent teacher is an excellent job choice, but it’s not for everybody. The hardest thing about starting a new venture is getting yourself out there and advertising what you do on every platform, consistently. When you are not teaching you will probably be finding students or working on admin duties.
While teaching solely requires a lot of motivation, being an independent teacher and your own boss is the gateway to an exciting career that can expand into something bigger. Sticking to ESL platforms and accepting commissions and fixed schedules doesn’t have to be the norm.
The skills that you will be learning while on this venture, are transferrable and you may end up in a completely different industry.
Not every independent English teacher is successful in starting their own online business, but following the steps in this guide will help you put the best foot forward – Enjoy every moment, meet lots of new faces and hopefully, teaching online will be the best thing you ever did!