How to Become an Online Teacher

Three Things You Need to Do to Become a Successful Online Teacher

How to Become an Online Teacher

Working closely with online teachers has given me a great insight into what ultimately makes someone a success online.

Having a plan in place is crucial and, recently, I discussed the importance of building trust with learners online.

But in this post, I want to highlight three things that you need to do to ensure that you reach your goals, allowing you to take control of your teaching and income over the long-term.

Let’s get straight into it.

Commit to Your Goal

When I made the transition into online teaching, I was fully committed to making it work.

My goals were different back then; I was very content teaching around 25 one-to-one lessons per week. I had no set plans to teach group lessons, create courses or earn more of a passive income. But I was pretty single-minded about reaching this initial goal.

There were so many ups and downs in the early days: the high of my first student; the low of my second student going AWOL after a couple of weeks.

I also had problems with my website – I knew nothing about coding or WordPress in those days – and these early setbacks and challenges can make a big impact on your confidence. It’s easy to give up when something goes wrong. It’s easy to think that each setback is a sign that it won’t work for you.

But the good news is this: if you are committed and consistently do the right things, then you will achieve your goal. It’s just a matter of when.

If you have this mentality, your YouTube subscribers, email followers, and lesson requests will keep increasing. And if you manage to build some momentum, then there is the potential to see exponential growth.

On the other hand, if you take small setbacks to heart and don’t have the mentality to keep improving and keep consistent, then things will most likely not work out for you.

I’ve seen some teachers achieve their goal of having a full schedule in a matter of weeks. Some take longer. Others never get there. Everyone is different and there are many factors at hand. But those who end up being successful are those who are committed to making it work.

When you have this mentality, it shows in the way you communicate, on your website, and in your videos. It’s contagious and something that learners will pick up on.

Commit to your goals. Commit to overcoming obstacles along the way. And commit to your improvement as a teacher and and as a marketer.

Connect and Collaborate

As I mention in my webinars and interviews, I was a lone-wolf when I first started online.

Whenever I came across another site offering online English lessons, I would worry about my learners finding it. Competition made me anxious and I thought that there was limited room for online teachers.

But I have since learned that there is no competition if you set things up correctly.

I saw massive growth in my online business once I started reaching out and collaborating with other teachers. It was incredible to connect with others who were doing something similar; we learned from each other and also offered support and advice when it was needed.

I’ve been part of two wonderful mastermind groups over the past year. Sharing my goals, and being held accountable for them, has given me the motivation and the commitment to keep progressing. And I’ve gained so much from seeing how others are achieving their goals.

Since first putting myself out there and reaching out to others, I’ve seen an online community of independent teachers grow stronger and stronger. There is a definite sense of togetherness and collaboration. And this is only a good thing for us teachers and our learners.

So, get out there and make connections.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

When I made the decision to expand my business, I had to get out of my comfort zone.

At the time, I was comfortable with my income and daily routine. In fact, I’m very comfortable right now, too. But it’s important to be always moving forward otherwise things can quickly go stale.

If you’re new to online teaching, then you will most likely have to get out of your comfort zone too.

Why?

Because it involves doing things that are different. The majority of teachers won’t know much about making videos, online marketing or creating a website that converts.

I knew very little about these areas back in 2010, but I invested in myself and made the commitment to make it work.

Along the way, there were many instances of when I had to get out of my comfort zone. But each time, I’m glad I did. Sometimes things worked out (great!), sometimes they didn’t (I still learned something).

And today, as I look to grow a large audience and move into new areas of online teaching, I need to keep doing things that are a little bit scary. I need to keep experimenting.

Because as the popular meme states, this is where the magic happens.

Over to You

Moving online is a journey with so many future possibilities but, as I mentioned, there are certain things that you will need to do to make it work.

In the comment section below, please share your journey and let me know if this post resonated with you.

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Build Trust English Learners

Six Ways to Build Trust with English Learners Online

Build Trust English Learners

Let’s say you have a website, you know your lessons are valuable, and you have a marketing plan that will bring English learners onto your site and social media channels.

It all sounds great, but….

You won’t get paying learners/customers if you don’t gain the trust of your audience.

As teachers, it’s vital that we make our potential clients confident that we are going to deliver for them. And working online makes this more challenging.

Luckily, there are many things that we can do to build trust online, and that is what I’m going to explore in this post, starting with first-impressions.

Make a Good First Impression

First impressions matter.

When learners land on your homepage, click play on YouTube or see your promoted post on Facebook, they instantly form an opinion about you.

If they get a bad impression, they leave/stop watching/ignore your stuff. Therefore, your website should be visually appealing and look professional.

This is because when a learner lands on your site, your design is crucial for getting him/her to stick around and learn more about what you do. People can judge a website in milliseconds.

Now, it’s important to point out at this stage that you may not get this perfect first time. But you should always be taking stock and looking at ways to improve upon what you have.

In addition to your getting the look right, you have to engage your audience with content that is going to impress them.

If you solve a problem that your learner has, then they will want to learn more from you. Having content that is useful will help you build a teacher/student relationship, and this will result in more sign-ups for your lessons. This goes for content on your site and elsewhere.

I have also learned that the way in which you present your content helps too…

Make a Connection through Video

So, now that we know a good-looking website with useful content, let’s move on to the best way to get your message across.

From my experience and research, there are two important factors here: personality and video. Learners want to know the person behind the content and they want to see that person in action.

When I advertised my one-to-one lessons more prominently on my site, my conversions increased once I included a video on my booking page. And since I started focusing on YouTube for my new brand, I’ve received many more requests for lessons without plugging them in any way.

What I recommend is having video across your site. This is easy to do these days and, if your first videos aren’t perfect, you can always replace them at a later date. Again, this is striking a balance between perfection and getting started.

And don’t be scared about sharing small details of your personal life here and there. This shows that you are a real person and it will help you make a better connection.

Be Consistent

Consistency plays a big role in gaining trust, especially if you are building an audience over the long-term.

As I revealed in this post, I lost a little momentum last year. I wasn’t consistent with new videos, posts, and emails, and I know that I lost the interest and trust of some of my learners because of this.

When you’re consistent with your online lessons, email responses, blog posts, YouTube videos, social media posting etc., your learners and potential students see you as someone who is trustworthy and committed to what you do.

And when it comes time to advertise your lessons or launch a new course, people will know that you’re going to deliver on your promises.

Communicate

As I expand my online business, I am looking to outsource my work more and more.

One area that I want to keep under my control as long as possible is email communication. This plays a crucial role in building trust and, ultimately, getting more sign ups.

I use TextExpander to help me with this, but I spend about an hour a day responding to emails and comments.

Giving a response within 24 hours shows that you care and that you are someone who takes customer service seriously. And we all know that when buying something, customer service plays an important role in our decision.

In addition to building trust, reading comments and emails helps you better understand your audience. In my series of automated emails that go out after someone signs up, I ask a variety of different questions. These answers have given me great insight and they have helped me build better products and courses.

Give, Give, Give

No one likes to be taken for a ride.

And, unfortunately, there are many learners out there who like to take advantage of teachers who offer things for free.

An example of this is the trial lesson. Learners have been known to request a free trial lesson even though they have no desire to pay for future classes.

A potential problem with this – in addition to giving free lessons all the time! – is that you can start to feel exploited, making you less likely to give your time to help others.

However, there are two types of people that matter to us online teachers: those who will potentially pay for your lessons and courses (the potentials); and those who will never pay for anything (the nevers).

Don’t let the second group put you off, and instead, make it a win-win-win situation by giving as much as possible.

You win because you build trust with the potentials and also feel good about helping others. The potentials win because they receive great content, trust you, and then go on to take lessons. And the nevers win because they get really good content.

That doesn’t mean that you have to give lots of trial lessons – over time you will learn to filter free trial lessons, for example – but you do need to give in order to build trust and to receive in return.

My favorite way to give is through my blog posts, videos, and social media posts. Interacting with learners, as discussed before, is another way that you can give to receive.

Use Testimonials and Add Social Proof

There is only so much that you can say about yourself to build trust. That is why getting others to do this for you is crucial.

The most common way to do this is through testimonials and/or case-studies. With my online courses, I have never directly asked for testimonials. But if I receive an email from a happy customer, I ask them if I could use their email as a testimonial on my site.

With one-to-one lessons, asking is much easier. The best time to do this is at the end of a good lesson.

Going back to a point I made earlier, a video testimonial is much more powerful than a written one. However, they are harder to get.

In addition to testimonials, you can also build trust by showing off your numbers. If you have a substantial amount of Facebook fans, Youtube or Twitter followers, put something on your site so that people can see this.

Over to You

Please leave your experience of building trust in the comment section below and, if you have further tips, please share them!

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3 Apps for Online Teachers

Three Amazing Apps for Online Teachers (Part Two)

3 Apps for Online Teachers

A few months back, I wrote an article looking at the benefits of using Evernote, Asana, and LastPass as an online teacher.

Since then, I have started using other useful applications, and today I want to share three that I’m sure you’re going to love.

These apps have helped me save time and become more organized; one has even helped me improve my writing.

So, let’s jump right in and start with my favorite.

Text Expander

Click here to check out TextExpander

This application has saved me a lot of time, and I can’t recommend it enough.

It works like this: you assign snippets to commonly used text and pictures, and when you type out those snippets, they transform into the pre-assigned text.

Here is a quick video showing how it works:

 

As an example, I get asked the same questions from English learners over again. If someone asks me to help them with their grammar, I have a 5 paragraph response with relevant links that I like to send. All I need to do is type ;tfgrammar and then personalize the email.

I have around one hundred snippets for URLS, stock email responses, email signatures, codes, post outlines, YouTube descriptions, and much more.

TextExpander is a Mac application – PhraseExpander is the Windows equivalent – and syncs across all Apple devices.

It works in every writing application, so you can use it when responding to emails, writing blog posts, and posting on Facebook.

The more snippets you add, the more you’ll get out of this application, and I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s $34.95 for a lifetime license.

Sunrise Calendar

Click here to check out Sunrise Calendar

Sunrise Calendar is the best online calendar I have come across.

It syncs with other applications meaning that you can have everything on one calendar. For example, it syncs with:

– Google and Apple Calendar (iCloud)
– Facebook events
– Asana
– Evernote
– LinkedIn
– tv Shows
– sporting fixtures (I integrated it with Preston North End’s fixtures, in case you were wondering)

Due to these integrations, I can avoid double booking myself without having to check different sites. As an online teacher, this is invaluable.

Personally, I love how it integrates with Asana, showing the different tasks I have for each day. If you use a different application for task-management, there will most likely be an integration for that too.

There are lots of little things that make the application so useful, for example, you can respond to Facebook events within the app.

It’s easy to use, looks great, and works on all devices. And it’s free.

Grammarly

Click here to check out Grammarly

With all the articles, social media posts, and emails that I write, I often make silly mistakes.

Grammarly, a grammar checker that works best through the Chrome extension, has made writing much easier for me. It claims to spot ten times the mistakes than common word processors, and from my experience, I have found that to be true.

This is what it looks like within WordPress (with the Chrome extension):

Grammarly Within WordPress

16 Advanced Issues!

When you click the red correct button, a pop-up window appears with suggested corrections and explanations, and you can make changes within the pop-up.

In addition to checking your writing, it detects plagiarism and helps you improve word choice with vocabulary suggestions.

I’ve improved my writing quite significantly since first using it. And as I mentioned before, having something highlight silly mistakes and typos has made a big difference.

It’s not perfect and can’t be compared to a professional proofreader or editor, but it’s fantastic if you need something that works wherever you write.

There is a free and a paid version available.

Over to You

Have you used any of the applications listed here or in my first post? If so, share your experiences using them.

Additionally, if you have any app recommendations for online teachers, please share them below!

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Starting a New Brand

Building a New Brand for English Learners (and Why I Started Again)

Last autumn, I stopped posting content for English learners on the website I started back in 2010.

The reason?

I was going in a different direction with my teaching and wanted to build a new brand that matched this.

I created my first site, JDA English, to promote my online lessons. When a learner landed on JDA English, the one thing I wanted them to do was to sign up for a trial lesson.

However, 2014 was the year I made the transition away from one-to-one lessons into selling online courses and group lessons.

And this is where To Fluency was born.

In this post, I’m going to talk about how things have progressed but, firstly, I want to go through the naming process.

Naming the New Website

One of the biggest reasons why I started a new brand was because I wanted a name that better fit my vision.

The name of my original site came from my initials. Although I wasn’t thrilled about it, I went with JDA English because I wanted to put focus on me as a teacher.

But with the change of direction, I felt I needed something new to get excited about, and that is why I made a fresh start.

There is a history behind the name To Fluency that I haven’t talked about before. In 2008, my wife and I started work on a website where language teachers and learners could meet, and we called it To Fluency. Teachers would be able to post a profile, set their prices, and have learners sign up with them. The lessons would take place in a virtual classroom hosted on the site.

The website never got completed – although, it came pretty close – and I let the domain name go, only to buy it again last year.

I feel the name helps get the message across that learning English is about the journey, and that there are certain things that learners should do on this journey to fluency (more on this later).

One thing to note is that it doesn’t have English in the domain. Having this would have been preferable but it wasn’t a big enough issue for me.

Making the Transition

In many ways, creating this new website was like starting all over again.

For example, I had to create new social media pages and a new YouTube channel. For anyone who has tried to build these profiles, you will know that it takes a bit of time and consistency.

If I had over 10,000 subscribers on YouTube, I would have thought twice about making the change. But when I started the new site, I had 1,000, and although I knew it would be a lot of work, I decided to go for it.

There were many things that made this transition easier. This includes:

– having my old social media profiles to share posts from To Fluency
– having over 5,000 learners subscribed to my email list
– having good traffic to my old site that I could redirect to my new one

Looking back, I made a couple of mistakes when making the transition.

Firstly, I lost a bit of momentum in the months leading up to the launch of the new site. There were times when I didn’t send out an email to those on my list for a few weeks. And secondly, I didn’t build up any excitement before launching.

Because of this, my email open rates dropped, and it has taken a few months to build them back up again.

But having an email list has allowed me to bring over followers from my old site to my new one, and this is another reason why prioritizing email is important.

My Goals for To Fluency and a Quick Update

To Fluency is all about helping English learners make fast progress to fluency in a way that is fun and sustainable over the long-term. I talk about learning methods, motivation, goal setting, and getting into the habit of learning English.

Over the past seven years of teaching, I have learned that lessons can only get a learner so far, and more needs to be done outside of the classroom. Those who make progress are the ones who use English on a daily basis and make English part of their lives.

The feedback I have received from my videos has been really positive, and I’m excited about seeing how far I can take it.

From a business standpoint, income comes from the To Fluency Program (an online course) and although not substantial right now, YouTube advertising.

In my yearly review post, I talked more about my goals and what I want to achieve with this brand, including:

– building my audience
– selling more courses
– posting on a consistent basis

Things have started strongly in all three of the above areas.

I’ve put a lot of focus on YouTube and videos in general. Video marketing is getting more important and powerful each year, and I have a structure so that I can crank out videos on a consistent basis.

I’ve just hit 650 subscribers on YouTube, with 90 coming in the last week alone. I’m really pleased with this, especially because I only started posting videos on a consistent basis in January of this year. My new goal is to hit 10,000 by the end of the year.

At first, it can feel like you’re doing a lot of work (new videos, social media posting etc.) without gaining any momentum. But if you stick at it, things start to click, and that is what I’m seeing now.

Additionally, I’m putting my efforts into areas that are working (80/20 principle). Therefore, I’m concentrating on three social networks while keeping the others ticking over, going all in on video, and spending time communicating with my audience through email and elsewhere.

Over to You

Having a substantial email list gave me a head start with this new adventure, but as I mentioned, it was like starting again with YouTube and social media.

I’m starting to see everything come together, and momentum is building. The ride has been enjoyable so far, and I’m looking forward to building my brand over the coming months and years.

Are you building a brand at the moment? If so, share your experiences in the comment section below.

And if you haven’t done already, click here to get your free guide to the tools and resources you need to teach English online.

Thanks for reading!

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If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

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