These days, there are lots of great ways to make money online. There are writers selling online ebooks for a fortune on Amazon, and there are Instagram influencers who make all their money from taking cool pictures and getting sponsored by the brands they represent. And there are many people who run an entire business themselves online. You’ve been thinking about doing this recently–specifically, running your own online ESL business. After all, there are learners available worldwide, from children whose parents want them to learn English to businesspeople in companies who want to improve their careers with an additional language.
Maybe you’ve taught before. Maybe you haven’t, but you have some experience working remotely. Whatever your starting point, you can start your own online ESL business–and here’s how.
Get the necessary experience and certifications
One of the first things any new client needs, if they want to sign up for your ESL classes, is the knowledge that they can trust you as a teacher. There’s a reason why so many companies pay more if you have a CELTA degree, and that’s because they know you’ve got both experience and a great degree. We’re not saying you have to shell out all the money to pay for the certification, but we are saying that you need some relevant experience and certifications if you want to be taken seriously. There are so many people out there already teaching ESL–so what makes you the best?
Start by getting some teaching experience online with a company like VIPKID. They pay $14-$18 an hour, which is pretty good for an online job, and because they’re looking for many teachers now, chances are they’ll hire you. Once you’ve had that experience, you can add it to your website’s ‘about me’ page (which we’ll get to in the next section). Suddenly, you have proof that you’ve not only taught ESL but also that you’ve also done it remotely, which shows you’ll show up for appointments on time and know how to use important equipment such as headsets.
Additionally, think about getting a certification. We’ve already mentioned CELTA, but there are plenty of other alternatives that are less expensive. If you plan on becoming a digital nomad, then think about taking a course abroad. It might cost less than in the States, and you can start building some business connections immediately to balance out your online work with international students you teach at cafes.
Work on your online brand
Whenever any business is built online, making its brand stand out online is hugely important. You don’t have a physical office your clients can walk into, which is why your website is your metaphorical office. Create a beautiful, minimalist website. Create different pages that explore your career and education (the ‘about me’ page), provide sample video lessons, and, of course, a blog section that will improve your SEO. Selling an ebook or providing other free materials is another great way to show students you know what you’re doing. For example, providing an exercise for free on business English is likely to get some companies interested in your training their staff.
And don’t forget: make your website mobile-friendly, so that someone looking you up on their phone won’t be turned off if it loads wrong or it takes forever to fill out forms requesting more information about your lessons.
Another part of your brand that you have to consider is your social media presence. Curate your social media profiles on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook so that they match the aesthetic of your website. Make connections in your industry, because that’s how you’ll learn from competitors and get some new clients. Use all the right social media tools to save time, such as Social Gone Viral, to deal with the logistical side of social media (they help you buy Instagram followers and likes so that you can focus on your actual content).
As of April 2018, Facebook had an estimated 2.2 billion monthly active members, which goes to show just how important improving your online brand can be.
Engage with your customers and get feedback
Once you’ve gotten all the experience and certifications you need, and set up your website, it’s time to start engaging with your customers. Reach out to them on social media and cold email companies that you think need English teachers. Once you’ve started teaching, you can ask your students to leave positive reviews and share your website with other people who want to learn ESL.
Considering that an estimated 1.5 billion people are studying English worldwide, there are plenty of students you’ll get simply from word of mouth and good reviews.
By completing these steps, you can start your online ESL business. Why have you decided to start teaching ESL?