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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  • Philip d.

    Read with interest – Philip (http://www.onlineenglishteacher.com).

  • Cole Schober

    Solid article, Jack.

  • Hi Jack,

    I enjoyed reading your article and yes, it certainly resonates with me. You are certainly correct when you point out that people will need to step out of their comfort zone. I had had to do it so many time since teaching online, yet it has almost always been worthwhile. I’ve had to learn to use video-editing software, deliver webinars live to people across multiple timezones, manage an increasingly complex calendar and still find time to connect with other teachers.

    The one thing I truly love about online teaching is connecting with positive-minded people who are enthusiastic about what they are doing. Every online teacher has to be a little independent, a little bit of an entrepreneur and a little bit of a risk-taker. This tends to make successful online teachers the kind of people I like to hang out with.

    • Thanks for your comment, James. Figuring out time-zones, especially when it’s the time of the year when they go forward and back, is something that I haven’t yet mastered!

  • Angie

    Hi Jack,

    With the utmost respect, I feel it is quite misleading indeed (and potentially detrimental to aspiring online teachers as well – that is giving false hope) when you say there is NO competition, regardless how a person sets up their business, as you say.

    There will always…, always be competition, that is unless you’re teaching some off-the-wall subject that is so profoundly obscure, nobody could possibly conceive otherwise.

    Competition will continuously be there. It just depends on how much, where it’s coming from, and what form in which it comes. However, it will ALWAYS be there. Now having said that, and being into IM since 2005, I have delved in deeply with online marketing, and from what I’ve learned constantly is – competition IS a good thing!

    You WANT that! You want to know your industry is alive and kicking. You want to know that you can grab and share ideas from your competitors. You can use them as way to gauge what you’re doing right or wrong, and/or, see what they they’re doing, but just improve upon their business model and add your own unique twist, etc. etc. etc. the list is endless….

    So saying there will be ‘no competition’ is very misleading and misguided, if I may respectfully say. 🙂

    Angie

    • It wasn’t meant to be interpreted so literally. Everyone knows that online teaching is booming and it’s only going to continue. And as you say, this is a good sign.

      However, the point I intended to get across was that if you set things up correctly (niche, website, pricing, message, marketing plan, lesson delivery etc.), then learners are going to choose you as a teacher, even if there are other teachers who charge much less than you.

      • Angie

        Thanks for taking the time to reply Jack. I understand where you’re coming from, it was just that one comment which stood out to me, thus my subsequent response. However yes, I do wholeheartedly agree with your initial intended message.

        Thank you for replying.

        Angie

  • Cahalsi

    Hi Jack,

    I´ve been working on setting up my own language academy for a year now(online & in company courses). I recently read an article which mentioned that while setting up a business, things can take 2 or 3 times longer than you initially planned/hoped for. I guess my own experience of managing IT projects should have made me aware of that. I´ve never worked on an IT project that was finished “on time”. It´s truly difficult for a human to accurately estimate how long a project can take to reach completion. There are simply too many factors to consider. So I think persistance is definately an important quality to nurture and develop in order to succeed.

    Thanks, Charles