Taxes teaching online

Setting Up a Teaching Business and Don’t Know What to Do About Taxes? Watch This…

People constantly ask me about how taxes work when building a teaching business.

I also get questions regarding registering a business and becoming self-employed.

Here is my best advice…

Watch on YouTube.

Disclaimer: I’m not a legal expert. This video shares my experience when it comes to taxes and business registration. That’s why you should…

Talk to Someone 😀

Set up 2-3 meetings with an accountant in your local area, explain your situation, and create a plan moving forward.

Most offer a free initial consultation and will help you according to your situation.

Like I said in the video, I was putting off making some changes as no one likes to deal with taxes.

However, now that I have clarity on what I need to do, I can move forward with confidence.

My Experience

I started out as a sole proprietor. I did this as I wanted the easiest way to get things off the ground.

As my business grew, I decided to incorporate.

I did this through Legal Zoom (aff link) and registered an s-corporation (I think this is mainly a U.S. term).

This was based on the advice from my first CPA.

Software Recommendations

I use a couple of programs to help me track income and expenses and run payroll.

WaveApps: this is free and you can connect your bank account(s) or upload your statements and then categorize your incomings and outgoings.

Gusto: I use this to run payroll (to pay myself!) so that the right amount of tax is applied and gets paid automatically.

Video Setup

I need to turn the levels down on the mic, otherwise, I really like it.

Here is what I used to film this video (aff links):

iPhone 7+ – it’s an amazing camera

Microphone – need to turn down those levels!

Tripod – I got the smartphone holder too

Over to You

What type of business entity do you have? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading.

hustle-lifetyle

What Do You Want Your Teaching Business to Look Like? – Hustle vs Lifestyle

After the birth of my daughter, I took 10 days off.

This gave me time to get away from my business and reflect on how far I had come. It also gave me the opportunity to think about what I want my teaching business to look like moving forward.

In my latest video, I go through the two ends of the spectrum: hustling vs lifestyle.

This is an important concept to understand as you build your own teaching business. Here is the video:

My Teaching Business (from Lifestyle to Hustle)

At first, I was content teaching 20-25 hours per week.

I did a bit of marketing here and there, but students kept finding me through my website and through referrals.

For the first two years, I didn’t have the desire to expand and do other things.

But in 2013, things changed.

I suddenly had all this motivation to make a real difference and to increase my income. That’s when I started making online courses.

The change of mentality was key. The desire to grow my business started this new phase.

Hustling vs Lifestyle

You will hear both arguments from entrepreneurs. There are those who will tell you that you’re not working hard enough and from those who will argue that you’re working too hard and that you should work smarter.

This is where anxiety can creep in. That guilty feeling that you should be doing something else with your time.

The key is this: it all depends on your goals and what you want to get out of this.

If you want to speed things up, then you need to put in the work. You need to work smart and hard.

If you’re happy with where you are right now, then great.

If you say, “I’m going to work smart from the outset and make it a lifestyle business,” then know that it’s hard to work smart without getting experience first.

I know how to create a good video because I’ve made over 1,000 videos in total. I’ve had the practice to get good at it and the experience to know what works.

Scaling, Long-Term, and Confidence

Long-term, if creating a lifestyle business is what you want – for example, working 12 hours per week while earning a good income – then look at ways to scale.

Creating online courses is a smart way to do this.

Know that your goals might change over time. Mine did. I had no idea that I would want to have a list with 100,000 English learners when I first started this.

You might want to hustle now, slow down, hustle again. It all depends on you and the situation you find yourself in.

Be open to change as you set out on your journey. But also be confident about what you want to get out of this. This will help you deal with that guilty feeling.

Over to You

What do you want your online teaching business to look like? Has this changed over time / can you see this changing?

Want to Teach English Online?

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vanessa-joy

Beyond One-to-One Lessons: An Interview with Teacher Vanessa (Watch This!)

Vanessa Joy has built a very successful online teaching business.

She teaches one-to-one and, recently, she opened a new subscription program.

In this interview, she shares how she managed to have all this success in such a short amount of time. You’re going to love this.

Thanks for watching.

Interview Takeaways

Making Mistakes

Teaching English online there for those who commit to it. Yes, you’re going to make mistakes at first. Who doesn’t?

The key is to take action and learn as you go.

Vanessa also talked about the importance of taking courses (she is a TEOC member, after all!) and learning what you need to do to get this right.

Safe Environment

Vanessa’s goal is to give her learners a safe environment. A bad comment on one of her videos isn’t the end of the world and she’s surprised by the lack of nasty, YouTube style, comments.

She’s also a serial banner!

Getting Students and a Clear Marketing Strategy

Vanessa uses email marketing to fill her schedule and sell her courses.

In summary, this is how it works:

  • Give something away for free
  • Create content and send learners from your content to your free download
  • Create automated emails that build trust and sell your lessons

Click here to learn more about how to do this.

Subscription Program

Vanessa has gone all in and created a monthly course for learners.

Doing something like this is a big commitment. Vanessa was prepared for this and is creating the type of materials that she was creating for free anyway. As you can tell, she’s on top of it all.

Resources Mentioned

Over to You

Has this interview inspired you? What have you learned?

Let us know in the comment section below!

Want to Teach English Online?

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I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

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tips-teaching-english-online

Teach English Online: 16 Powerful Tips to Help You Earn a Living Doing What You Love

Teach English Online Tips

Thanks for stopping by!

Teaching English online independently is a way for you to earn more, teach the way you want to teach, and work from anywhere in the world.

You can choose your schedule, target learners who you love working with, and scale your business over the long-term.

Sounds great, right?

The problem is this: without online marketing know-how, it will be difficult for you to fill your schedule. You’re also going to need a plan of action to ensure that you make progress with this over the long-term.

This post will give you 16 powerful tips to help you get this right.

And if you are serious about doing this, take my free video training (sign up at the bottom of the page).

Let’s dig in…

1: Get clear on your teaching niche and how you teach

To teach English online successfully, you will need to do think about your teaching niche.

Some teachers are super-specific here. For example, you can teach IELTS speaking preparation to learners from Brazil through your own method.

Others offer general lessons to anyone who wants them. Either way, you’ll need to gain clarity on what your niche is.

Your teaching niche includes the following:

  1. what you teach
  2. how you teach
  3. who you teach

The clearer you are with this, the better you’ll be able to resonate with learners. You’ll be able to tell specific learners, with confidence, that you are the teacher for them.

You might not get full clarity straight off the bat. In fact, this will be an ever-evolving process. But consciously going through this – thinking about your current skills, what you enjoy, and who you would like to work with – will lead you in the right direction.

Don’t let this stage stop you from getting started. Get teaching as soon as you can (more on this later).

Take a look at this for an example of a teacher who got this right.

2: Create a website that is set up for conversions

teach-english-online-post-website-example

My website is at the center of everything I do

To sign online students up for your lessons, you’re going to need a website.

Most teachers set their website up incorrectly. They set them up for browsing, not for conversions. They have all this information for people to read, but there is no clear action to take. Learners land on their site, take a look around, and then leave, never to return again.

When creating your site, set it up for conversions. Know what action you want your learners to take and convince them to take it.

The action you choose depends on your current goals. But it usually means one of two things:

  1. downloading something for free
  2. signing up for a trial lesson.

Both of these allow you to follow-up with anyone who takes action and you can…

3: Send learners through a funnel to build trust and desire

What’s a funnel?

Let’s look at an example:

I make lessons on my YouTube channel for intermediate English speakers. At the end of each lesson, I include a call to action (CTA).

My CTA is a book that I give away for free. The learner enters their name and email address and I send them my book.

From there, I send further emails that give them useful lessons. I also build desire for what I offer (in the past, one-to-one lessons – these days, it’s my audiobook and online course).

I then present my offer and convince learners to sign up.

Why is this important?

Because if you send learners you don’t know you yet straight to your offer, you conversion rate will be very low.

Learners take lessons with teachers that they know, like, and trust. And giving away free content and following up through email is the best way to reach that stage with your learner.

This means you will need to…

4: Get an email list from day one

Email marketing is the best way to sell your lessons and build an audience over the long-term.

I use email in two main ways:

  1. To send specific subscribers through a welcoming / sales funnel (as we just learned)
  2. To send content and product launches to my subscribers

I won’t go into the finer details of why this is all important here, but know this: 95% of sales come from English learners who are on my email list.

Here is how to get started with email.

5: Use social media in the right way

Social media has changed everything. You already know that.

But for independent teachers, it means that we reach English learners through content that we create. For free.

Social media can be overwhelming. What’s more, online platforms are noisy places. That’s why, when we’re clear on our niche, we can cut through the noise and resonate with the type of learners we want to teach.

Additionally, use sites that you enjoy using. There is no need to join them all. In fact, if you do, then you’ll spread yourself too thin.

Finally, make content that is natural to the platform. Go to minute 3:05 in the video below to learn what this means:

6: Focus on what you do best and what you enjoy

When building an online English teaching business, you might get overwhelmed with all the different ways you can market your lessons.

For example, you’ll hear people say that you need to blog, start a podcast, join every social media channel, make videos for YouTube etc.

You don’t.

Go with what you enjoy doing and focus on that right now. For example, I have a Twitter account, but I never use it. If I spent time using it, it would work for me. But I prefer to spend my time making videos and writing blog posts.

7: Connect with your learners

creating-videos-teaching-english-online

Even if it’s just one, get a video on your site

Going back to your website, make a connection with your learners.

The best way to do this is through video. Your potential students want to know who you and see you in action.

It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get something up there. A simple one-minute welcome video on your homepage can make a huge difference.

If you’re apprehensive about putting yourself out there, read this.

And if you want to learn how to create videos read this.

8: Get teaching as soon as possible

Maybe you have years of teaching experience. Maybe you have never taught before.

Either way, get teaching online as soon as possible. Make this a priority.

The earlier you get started, the better. A lot of learners are looking for conversational lessons and error feedback. This is something you can offer right now. And if you decide to take formal training, you’ll have context for the theory.

If you’re an established English teacher, get used to teaching one-to-one online using the tools available. Ask a current student if they want to jump online with you and take things from there.

9: Always be improving

This goes for teaching and marketing.

With teaching, take relevant courses, read blogs, read books, watch videos, get feedback from your learners and other students, and review your own lessons.

With the business side of things, learn how to market your online lessons, take action, and then refine.

A benefit of digital marketing is that you get constant feedback on what works and what doesn’t. For example, if you advertise on Facebook or Google, it tells you how many people clicked on your ad and, if you set it up correctly, how many people converted.

If you don’t get the results you want at the first time of asking, make changes. For example, ask yourself how you can improve your ad headline, image, text etc., how you can the page people go to when they click the ad, and how you can improve the sales process.

Don’t say, “This doesn’t work.” Say, “What do I need to change to make this work?”

10: Set a deadline for when you want to do this full-time

deadline-picture-for-teach-online

Set goals with deadlines

If you’re serious about moving online, set a deadline.

Say, “Six months from today, I will be teaching English full-time online.”

Without a deadline, you will keep putting things off. You won’t make it a priority in your life. Don’t do this someday – have a specific date in mind.

With this date, you can then set yourself mini-deadlines. These might include:

11: Know that you will need to hustle to get learners at first

Earlier, you learned that learners click the link at the end of my YouTube video to download my book. From there, they go through a specific sales process.

This all happens on autopilot.

Thousands of learners watch my videos every day. Hundreds download my book each week. But it took me a while to get to this stage.

Making videos on YouTube is a great example of what I call a long-term marketing method. You won’t get results in the first few weeks or maybe months, but once things start gaining momentum, you will attract learners passively over time.

At the beginning, however, you will need to hustle to get learners.

Get that email list set up and then:

  • help learners on a one-to-one basis in groups on social media and include a CTA
  • get in touch with old students or anyone you know who would benefit from your lessons
  • post on relevant websites offering your services

This is just the tip of the iceberg. But know that you will have to work at this to make it effective.

12: Don’t worry about getting your pricing right straight away

pricing-online-lessons-teaching

Don’t get stuck when pricing your lessons

“How much should I charge for my lessons?”

Many teachers get stuck here. But let me take the pressure away…

… you can be flexible with your pricing. What I mean by this is that you can:

  • increase your prices
  • offer different prices for different learners
  • offer discounts

In 2014, I doubled the price of lessons for new students. I had a high demand for lessons at the time and the price increase didn’t affect my schedule. In fact, charging higher prices is a way to attract learners who buy based on value rather than cost.

If you are flexible with your pricing, don’t include numbers on your website.

As for what type of salary you can expect from teaching English online, this varies greatly. But know that you can scale this to wherever you want to take it (more on this soon).

13: Don’t worry about bad apples

A big concern for new online teachers is not getting paid for their lessons – that a learner will take a lesson and then disappear without paying.

Always ask for payment up front and explain to your learner that their lesson is only reserved once you receive payment.

You’ll get learners that request a trial and don’t show. And learners who come to your trial lesson without any intention of paying for future lessons.

This makes you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of. Here is what to do:

  • see if there is anything that you can learn from this experience and make relevant changes
  • forget about it and concentrate on the bigger picture

Certain learners will try and get as much free help as possible. How you respond to this depends on you. I talk more about free vs paid lessons here.

The key is to not let it affect you.

Here is a video that talks about this in-depth:

14: Make connections

In 2013, I made it a priority to connect with as many teachers as I could.

When I was starting out, I saw other online teachers as competition. But one day, I got on Skype with a fellow teacher and we talked about what was working for us and what we were struggling with. From then, I made it a priority to connect with as many teachers as I could.

Connecting with other teachers helps you in several ways:

  • you can learn from others and get support from those who have been there and done it
  • it helps online teaching feel less isolating
  • you get your name out there and your content shared widely

There are countless groups on Facebook to join. Just make relevant searches, join them, and get involved.

15. Save time by using ready-made lesson plans (and get organized!)

A common question I receive is this, “What lessons plans can I use in my online lessons?”

What resources you use depends on your niche. If you’re teaching IELTS preparation for example, then you’ll need materials specific to this.

For general conversational lessons, there is so much out there. For example, Film English has lesson plans based on short films. Breaking News English has in-depth resources based on latest news. Do a search for ESL Ted Talks and you’ll find countless plans. And if you want ready-made lessons that are interactive, check out Off2Class.

Over time, you’ll build up your own library of resources. Use Evernote to help you organize them.

16. Know that there are many ways to earn

Teaching English online isn’t just about one-to-one lessons. You can also:

Over the long-term, most teachers look for ways to earn more of a passive income. This has been my experience too.

It’s worth thinking about what you want to create over the long-term so that you can the necessary steps now to achieve those goals.

BONUS: Take action and get started as early as possible

Earlier, we talked about the different ways to make this transition.

No matter when you want to make this your full-time thing, start today.

Look at your goals (and your deadline for achieving this!) and then be smart about what you should focus on right now. For example, if you want to build for the future, start growing a following by email and social media.

Put stuff out there, learn, and make changes.

Online teaching has changed my life. I am in control of how I teach, when I teach, where I teach, and my future earnings.

Sign up below to learn how you can do this too.

Want to Teach English Online?

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I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

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Teaching Online

Tips and Resources to Help You Bring Learners into Your Lessons and Courses

Recently, I’ve been going live on Facebook 2-3 times per week to share information on how to better market your lessons and courses.

As a side note, if you’re struggling to make videos, consider going live.

There’s something different about pressing “go live now” instead of recording a video and then uploading it. For me, it brings out a different style of presenting. It also helps me get something out there. I highly recommend you try it.

Anyway, back to the video….

… in this lesson, I go through various tips and strategies that will help you better promote yourself as an online teacher. I talk about affiliate programs, checkout software, focusing in on your niche, creating micro-content, and other useful tidbits.

Useful notes below.

Producing Micro-Content

A TEOC member asked if it’s necessary to create new blog posts frequently in order to attract learners.

My answer?

No, it’s not necessary. What you can do instead is this:

  • Create micro-content on social media sites
  • Add a call-to-action (CTA) at the beginning and end.

The old way of writing an article and posting links on social media isn’t exactly dead, but it’s not as effective as it used to be.

Facebook and other social sites want you to create native content. They want you to upload videos to their platform.

Users want this too. Think about how much more likely you are to watch a video on Facebook rather than click a YouTube link.

Use this to your advantage by creating micro-content on these platforms. And remember to include a relevant CTA.

(Learn how to use email with any CTA you have)

Over the long-term, you’ll most likely want to include blog posts too. This way, you will be found by Google. But as I say here, this takes time.

New Checkout Software, Getting Help From My Wife, and My New Affiliate Program

I’ve had a couple of problems recently with people trying to register for my course.

This was an old problem that I thought had gone away.

Certain people were getting a timeout message when they submitted their order. They couldn’t register and I was missing out on new members. I tried to talk with my hosting account, software people, and hosting service, but they couldn’t pinpoint the problem.

On a related note, I also wanted to add an affiliate program for my courses.

I tried one piece of software, but it was a nightmare to set up. The support was decent, but it was overly complex and confusing.

My wife knew I was struggling with these problems (I was sighing a lot, apparently) and asked what was wrong.

I told her about it and said that there is this software that, although expensive, looks like it could solve everything.

She told me to go for it.

So, I did.

It took a couple of hours to set everything up. I’m very pleased with the initial experience and now I have an affiliate program.

There are two main takeaways here:

  • If you are currently stuck with something, talk it through with someone. Although my wife told me what to do, just talking it over with her made me realize what I needed to do
  • Investing in the right products, services, and people helps you grow faster and makes life easier. Don’t put this off.

As for my affiliate program, get in contact if you would like to join.

A New Success Story and Lessons About Niches

A couple of days ago, I got an email that made my day.

It was from a teacher who had gone through my course and had something exciting to share. Here is part of what she said:

“The course has focussed me on finding a niche, and as a result I have hit some important financial and personal milestones.

I come from an RAF family – my father was one of the first six link instructors in the UK – and as a journalist I specialised in writing about flight simulation. Also, I am an Accelerated Learning trainer, a Master NLP Coach, an Advanced Reading Instructor and CELTA qualified. When I started putting all these skills together to teach a senior airline pilot, we struck gold.

He was the only one of 100 pilots tested last month to be given level 6 in his aviation English exam (EALTS). I also helped him secure his dream job for a Saudi Airline on an amazing package. He is championing me to colleagues with similar aspirations, and so now I am teaching a handful of pilots, all by referral. I couldn’t be happier about this.”

Ingrid focused on what she was specialized in and brought all this together. This focus on what she does best resulted in one of her clients fulfilling his dream. When this happens, you’re going to get referrals.

If you’re struggling to resonate with learners, think about what your strengths are and what interests you, and then find ways to create lessons and teach those who you are going to best connect with.

New Video Training

Last week, I put together a new video training series.

I highly recommend you go through it. It might be exactly what you need to get your teaching business off the ground.

Click here to get instant access to the videos.

Over to You

Please share any thoughts you have in the comment section below.

Oh, and if you have a lesson plan that you want to share with the world, get in touch here.

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

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Reasons Students Dump Their Teachers

The Three Biggest Reasons Students Dump Their Teachers

Reasons Students Dump Their Teachers

The following is a guest post by Ryan Viguerie. Take it away Ryan…

“So why did you choose me?”

Every student who walks through my door for the first time hears this question.

I’ve been a private teacher for about eight years so I’ve heard a lot of different reasons.

Usually – not always, but usually – it’s because of a problem with their previous teacher.

You see, I’m not the cheapest teacher in Prague.

Which also means I’m usually not their first choice.

But when cheaper doesn’t work out, they come to me, and then I hear their complaints.

And these are the biggest – the ones I hear over and over again.

Learn from other teachers’ mistakes, make your students happy, and keep the cash rolling in.

COMPLAINT #1 – “We just talked”

Students tell me all the time, “I just need to talk more.”

But then they complain about their former teacher and say, “All we did was talk.”

What’s going on?

I think the problem is what they want to do is talk, but what they want to pay for is lessons.

It probably feels weird to describe the highlights of last night’s hockey match, evaluate the physical merits of the new secretary, complain about your lazy kids…and then hand over some cash for what felt like an hour chatting with a friend.

SOLUTION: Show Them The Plan

Before the student has bought any lessons, and we’re talking and having coffee for the first time, I pull out a piece of paper that says “Lesson Structure.”

I explain that this is the structure I follow in my lessons.

It’s nothing fancy or groundbreaking, but it communicates right away “I have a plan. I know what I’m doing. You’re paying for more than just conversation.”

Here’s what it looks like. Feel free to rip it off or adapt it to your style.

Minutes

1-5 warm up – easy conversation

1-5 review vocabulary from previous lessons

30-40 discuss article/video/topic of the day

5-10 record and discuss new vocab

1-3 plan for the next lesson

It’s a balance.

You’ve got to give them what they want, but wrap it in something they feel good paying for.

COMPLAINT #2 – DEAD GRANDMOTHERS

One of my students likes to tell the story of a former teacher who often cancelled lessons at the last minute.

After a while, the teacher began to run out of reasons, so he started to use the dead grandmother excuse.

Then he started to run out of grandmothers. But that didn’t stop him, he just kept going…and so did the dead grandmothers.

Other variations of this guy are the teacher who –

  • Is chronically late
  • Cancels often
  • Shows up hung over
  • Walks into a high-priced law firm wearing ripped jeans and dirty sneakers
  • Sits down and asks, “So what do you want to do today?”
  • Hits on his female students and makes them feel uncomfortable

SOLUTION 1 – Upgrade Your Wardrobe

If you look like a teacher…if you look successful…if you look like you’ve got your life together…it’ll carry a lot of weight.

Be a disheveled poet, rocker, cool guy in your free time. But when it comes time to pay the bills, leave the house in your ironed shirt and expensive shoes.

SOLUTION 2 – Teach From A Base

Being two minutes late is one of my bad habits.

But that suddenly came to a stop when I started teaching from my apartment.

I discovered it’s incredibly hard to be late when you’re already there.

But if you live in a haunted house or your pet iguana doesn’t like meeting new people, you could set up base in a coffee shop. Get an account at calendly.com and mark the same chunks of time every week as ‘available.’ 

COMPLAINT #3: “Neverending Story”

For some reason, my Czech students have taken the title from this 80s fantasy movie (and incredibly cheesy music video) to describe their main frustration with English: slow or no progress.

Here’s a better analogy from “How To Learn A Foreign Language” by Paul Pimsleur:

“Learning a foreign language is like filling a bucket from a slow-running tap. If you keep looking in to see if it is full, you grow more and more impatient. You may finally kick it over and walk away. But if the bucket has notches that show when it is one-quarter full, one-third full, and so on, then you can take pleasure in watching the water rise from notch to notch. The filling time is the same, but the psychological effect is different.”

So how do you put notches on the English bucket?

SOLUTION – A Vocab Notebook

As soon as a student agrees to buy one of my lesson packages, I tell him, “Your first homework assignment is to buy a notebook.”

Then every lesson I make him write down the new words.

Soon he’ll have pages and pages of visible proof of what he didn’t know before he met me.

About Ryan

Ryan is from the US but has lived in Prague since 2004.

In addition to teaching, he also runs the website Teacher-Creature.com

If you think there’s a need for a similar site in your city and if you’d like to be one of the first teachers on the site, you can write Ryan at office@teacher-creature.com.

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

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2015 Review

2015 in Review – And What I’m Going to Do in 2016

What an amazing year!

If you read on, you’re going to hear all about it…

… because this post will look back at 2015 – what went well and what didn’t – and look forward to 2016.

I do this to see what I have done over the past year and to set new goals for the upcoming year. And you will (hopefully!) get something from this lengthy post too.

To give you some context, here’s a quick recap of my story:

  • In January 2011, I started working full-time on my business, teaching one-to-one English lessons online.
  • In May 2013, I started this blog.
  • In April 2014, I started making video courses for English learners.
  • In August 2014, I released TEOC.
  • And in November 2014, I released The To Fluency Program and rebranded my site for English learners.

In my last review, I wrote down my goals for 2015. Those were:

  • To build bigger and better audiences.
  • To post content on a schedule.
  • To keep building and growing my courses.
  • To automate and outsource.
  • To find a routine.

One thing that I’ve learned is that publically stating what my goals makes me accountable. I also have them written down in various places and remind myself of what I want to achieve and why. This keeps me focused on what matters on a daily basis.

If you’re looking to make the transition into online teaching – or if you are already teaching online – I recommend you go through this process too.

In fact, I’ve created a guide and worksheetto help you with this. It’s a 5-step plan for achieving your goals in 2016. And it’s free…

Click here to download now

2015 in Review (What I’ve Done)

2014 was all about trying new things.

I started giving group lessons, created a course for English learners on WizIQ, launched TEOC, and then launched The To Fluency Program.

Last year, I focused on improving these programs and improving my marketing funnel. Doubling down on what I had already built.

However, there was one big change…

Rebranding (To Fluency) and Starting Again on YouTube

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.34.15 PM

Because I rebranded my site for learners, I had to start all over again on YouTube.

Video was at the center of nearly all my content in 2015. I published nearly 100 videos on the TF channel. Subscribers have gone from 0 to 4,000. Total views are now over 150,000. Over 1,000 people have subscribed to my email list directly from YouTube. Not a bad first year.

Halfway through the year, I made a big change: I started uploading videos straight to Facebook. Facebook is a big player in video content now, and they prioritize native video (video uploaded to Facebook) over YouTube links. Users prefer watching a video on Facebook instead of having to go off the site/app.

This means that I am now essentially building an audience through video on both these platforms. Although this means that my YouTube audience isn’t as big as it could be, I prefer it as I can potentially reach more people. It doesn’t affect what I want to focus on: building my audience…

Building a Bigger and Better Audience

This was one of my goals for last year. And the years before that. My main focus is to grow my email list (as stated numerous times on this blog), but also build on other platforms (like YouTube and Facebook).

I’ve done well in this area for both my teaching site and my English-learning site. Email sign-up rates are increasing all the time. My new book for English learners has proved to be very popular (this is free to download, more on this later). And because my audience is increasing elsewhere, more people are joining the email list.

But it’s not just about the number of people. It’s also about the quality of people and what you do with your email list.

If those on your list never have the intention of buying what you offer, you don’t have a business. And if you don’t work your list in the right way, people won’t pay attention. This is the same for social media.

This year, I have been far more active with email. I put people through a welcoming series of emails (automated) that differs depending on what they download. During this automated series, I ask many questions and respond to every email I get.

I have moved email service providers too. Email marketing can get very sophisticated, and because I have two products that are selling well, I can maximize conversions using this new software. I will have a post on this coming in the early part of this year.

New eBook and Audiobook

5SP Premium - Rezied

I wrote a new book this year.

It’s a quick read but it’s proven to be very popular. The book can be downloaded for free, but there is the option to purchase the premium version for $7. This includes the audiobook, a couple of PDF reports, and two video lessons.

This alone isn’t going to make a lot of money.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been very pleased with the sales from this.

But the $7 purchase does three things:

  • It shows the value that I can offer in my course – building up desire
  • It makes the first transaction easier (just $7 instead of the $250 for the course).
  • It’s easier to sell to current customers than new ones.

15% of those who buy the audiobook have gone on to take my course. I’m very happy with this figure.

I’ve run experiments advertising the book on Facebook. Sales for the premium version covered the costs – the profit comes from the upsell. I am going to optimize the sales funnel for this and advertise again in early in January.

I’ve Grown My Courses

TEOC

In 2015, I added a lot to both courses. New videos, tutorials, worksheets.

Sales have been great (I hit my goal of making six figures in sales) and I’m getting great feedback and seeing inspiring results.

A big reason for my sales numbers has been down to…

Automation and Scaling Systems

I’m really pleased about this area.

I have automated a lot of what I do and I have started to scale what’s working.

You see, once you have a system that works – I’m talking about a product/lessons and sales funnel – the next stage is to scale it. As I mentioned before, I’ve experimented doing this through Facebook Ads and I’ve reached the stage where I’m getting a great return on this advertising spend.

I did a couple of presentations in 2015 where I said that “Online teachers don’t have a traffic problem, they have a conversion problem.” What I mean is: once you have a sales funnel that works, you can buy traffic.

That’s why your marketing system is vital, whether you offer one-to-one lessons, books, courses, or anything else.

To help me get this point across, I ran a test with an opt-in page for my free book. I changed the headline and nothing else. This roughly doubled conversions.

All things being equal, this one change should have doubled sales.

Always be testing and experimenting. There is always room for improvement.

Content Schedule

My goal was to post articles and videos on a regular basis. For this blog, I posted once a week – taking a couple of breaks of 2-3 weeks. For English learners, I’ve made roughly two videos per week.

This is more than double what I produced in 2014.

For the first three months, I am going to cut back on this slightly, but with something else in mind (see my plan below).

Things I Have Struggled With

My Routine

The biggest struggle for me this year has been trying to get things done on my limited routine. A little context: my wife started teaching at middle school in January. She has to get up at 5:45 AM. On most days, my son wakes up at the same time. Therefore, I have my son from 5:45 AM until I drop him off at daycare at 9:00 AM.

Sometimes – like this morning when he refused to put on clothes for 20 minutes! – I feel exhausted when I come back home to work. I also pick him up at 4:00-4:30 PM and have him for an hour before cooking dinner. This means that my working day is around 6 hours on a good day. I get about four hours in over the weekend. I would LOVE more time, but this is my situation right now.

One benefit of this is that I have a clear separation of work and family time. And because I have limited time, I am focused and get things done. Spending as much time as I do with my son is a blessing.

I have managed to change my routine slightly this week, but I still have limited time to work.

Little Problems

The bigger you grow things, the more problems you face.

My checkout page wasn’t working properly for a couple of months; I’ve received some nasty emails from people who wanted a refund after the deadline is over; there have been countless small things that have gone wrong.

Sometimes, I let these issues affect my mood. Even though I have a very low refund request rate, when someone does ask for a refund, it can affect me. This is the rollercoaster of being an entrepreneur.

However, I know I can do better. I shouldn’t let the small things affect me and just roll with the punches. To be honest, I have done a lot better in this area over the past few months. For example, there was one person who was, well, being a HUGE pain. I decided not to waste time and energy on this situation. Additionally, I’ve had a few trolls this year and they haven’t affected me one bit.

Having problems like this comes with the territory. One change I made was to set up systems so that I deal with things like this at a certain time. This means that a snarky email won’t interrupt an article I am working on.

Hiring

I made a video on this recently. I want – actually, need – to bring others in.

I have made some progress on this, but not enough. I’m stuck between bringing someone in who can do a lot of things and outsourcing certain tasks to specific people.

This has risen to the top of my list in the new year.

Personal Development

My limited schedule has meant that I haven’t taken as many courses / read as many books as I would have liked. This is an important area, summed up perfectly by Jim Rohn: “Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development.”

I feel guilty if I spend part of my day reading or taking a course. This is because it’s taking time away from producing something. However, learning is important if I want to keep growing.

Prioritizing health is also important. When I feel energized, I feel enthusiastic. And enthusiasm is contagious. When I give lessons that are full of energy, my learners respond. I’ve done well in this area, but still want to improve upon it.

Things I Have Learned

Here are a few things that I have learned or have been reinforced in 2015.

  • Spend 80% of time maximizing and scaling what’s working and 20% on new projects.
  • Most online teachers don’t have a traffic problem; they have a conversion problem. Traffic can be bought once a system works.
  • Use social media site natively.
  • Momentum is vital. The first stages are like pushing a rock up a hill. It takes hustle to get things moving. That’s why consistency is key.
  • Once you have momentum, you’ll see the compound effect come into play.
  • Sticking to your values and being honest means you will win over the long-term.
  • You have to enjoy what you do.
  • Working for yourself allows you to grow as a teacher, a marketer, and a person.

Goals for 2016

Here is what I want to achieve in 2016:

  1. Double course sales
  2. Build a team
  3. Grow my email list by 500%

These are big goals but ones that I’m confident of hitting.

At this stage, I don’t have a full year plan for how I am going to achieve these goals. However, I have a plan for the first three months. I will reassess based on where I am at the end of the first quarter.

My projects for the first three months include:

  1. Close enrollment for TFP and then open it again / launch a new course for learners. (This is an experiment to see if opening and closing enrollment for my course is more optimal compared to having it open year-round.)
  2. Outsource tasks that I’ve wanted to outsource for some time.
  3. Fine-tune my current advertising campaigns.
  4. Create high-quality and shareable content. (For the last few months of 2015, I was posting three videos per week for English learners. I’m going to reduce this to two, but create videos that are longer – and a little different to what I have been doing.)

On a personal note, I am making health and fitness a priority this year.

Like I said before, when I eat healthily, exercise, and meditate, I feel energized and enthusiastic about work. I did quite well in 2015, but I wasn’t consistent. I am strategizing on ways to be consistent through the entire year.

(One way I’m doing this is going to the gym with my wife and son. We get to exercise and my son has a lot of fun in the play area. And, as a bonus, I am going to listen to audiobooks / podcasts while I exercise. Birds and stones.)

Most Popular Posts of 2015

Lesson Plan Christmas Shelby

  1. Christmas Lesson Plan (Guest Post by Shelby Fox)
  2. Interview with Teacher Diane
  3. Using Google Drive to Collaborate with Learners

Have a lesson plan that you want to share?

Click here and send me your outline.

Over to You

If you got this far, thank you for reading!

I also want to thank you for being part of this blog. I’m very grateful to have you here.

Now it’s your turn. How was your 2015 and what are your goals for 2016?

Leave your comments below!

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Chris Rush Guest Post

Five Ways to Use LinkedIn to Get New Students for Your Tutoring Business

The following is a guest post by Chris Rush. He is a fellow online teacher and TEOC member. Take it away, Chris…

When I first started teaching online, I was bursting with excitement.  I was ready to build a website, create a business, and make a huge difference in the world, all by working from home.  It seemed too good to be true!  There was just one teeny tiny obstacle in the way:

I didn’t have any students.

At first I started freelancing, which allowed me to build some online experience (and which I still recommend for those just starting out), but I wasn’t teaching my own students.  I was a contracted teacher, and as such, I was teaching at strange hours and earning only a fraction of what learners were paying for their lessons.  I tried posting my profile on a few of the ‘find an English teacher’ websites, both the free and the paid ones, but it just seemed like a crowd of teachers offering lower and lower prices in an attempt to compete for students.  

After a lot of time and frustration, it got me a grand total of zero lessons. My luck wasn’t any better on social media either.  Sure, buying some Facebook ads to get people to download my free ebook was growing my email list, but it wasn’t actually leading to clients.  My excitement was long gone.  I had a dream of making an impact in the world, but I was making hardly any difference at all.

Then I launched a LinkedIn strategy.  And everything changed.

LinkedIn, it seems to me, is amazingly undervalued in social media strategy.  It has 100 million members all over the world, and people who use LinkedIn are professionals who are often in a position to, primarily, need English and, secondly, have the ability to pay for quality lessons.  I’ve had much lower instances of people asking for free help (and in turn getting negative with me if I refuse) since switching my primary marketing efforts to LinkedIn.  I’m going to share with you the five best ways to get students using LinkedIn. Using these strategies has generated for me thousands of times the return on my time investment more than any other social media platform.

Before we get into the strategies, I offer you a disclaimer and a prerequisite.  First the disclaimer:  Nobody likes a spammer.  I’m going to talk about how to grow your LinkedIn network (and, therefore, your base of possible students), and your first point of contact with a connection should never be a sales pitch.  Not only is it sleazy, it’s against LinkedIn policy.  People buy from those whom they know, like, and trust, and it takes time to build a relationship.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  Secondly, the prerequisite:  to use these strategies properly, you must know your niche — the type of learner you’re targeting, and the key is to be as specific as possible.  I’ve seen English teachers resist this because they feel like it somehow limits their base of potential students, but marketing messages that are highly targeted are always more successful than ones that are broad.  So let’s get started!

1. Cater your Profile to Potential Students

Many people use their LinkedIn profiles as online resumes, and that’s great — if you’re looking for a job!  However, a profile optimized to show your work history is definitely not the same as one that’s designed to attract English learners, and you need to create your profile with that in mind.  Your personal headline is a great place to start.  For most people, it just has their job title, but this is usually the first thing that a potential client sees after your name and photo.  It should be simple and results oriented.  Mine is “Coaching Business English Online to Give you more Opportunities in Business and Life.”  It says what I do, and it promises a result for you if you hire me.

A profile hack that very few people take advantage of is creating call to action links right on your profile using the “Projects” section.  For me, one of my projects is my free sample session (and by the way, never refer to it as a “free sample session,”  because that doesn’t appeal to anyone).  Instead, make it into an irresistible offer.  My ‘free sample session’ is actually a link to “Schedule a Free Personalized English Action Plan, a one-on-one session where we make a step-by-step plan to improve your English in the next six months!”  When someone clicks on it, it takes them right to my free (and highly recommended) booking system, Calendly.  It takes an interested prospect about 15 seconds to book a session with me, and it integrates with Google Calendar so I’m guaranteed to be available.  And because you can drag sections of your LinkedIn profile around, this link is right at the top.  

2. Grow your Network

Having an optimized profile, unfortunately, won’t do much good if nobody sees it.  In order to get people to see your profile, you need a large network, and that means joining groups (strategy 4), and sending connection requests.  This is where having a well-defined niche comes in.  Have an idea of the type of people you want to target, and then search for them.  See what works (who signs up for your sample lesson) and adjust accordingly.  I search for people with one specific job title in one specific country (remember when I said to be as specific as possible)?  

Sending the connection request is another place where people make mistakes.  When sending connection requests, almost everyone uses the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”  How impersonal!  This is your first point of contact with a possible student, and a little effort goes a long way.  It only takes a minute to write a sentence, use their name, and mention that you’d like to connect to them (do not try to sell them anything).  Sometimes, though, you can get lucky and the person will want to buy from you immediately.  I’ve gone to bed after sending out a big batch of connection requests and gotten up the next morning to see sample sessions on my calendar — it’s like Christmas!

3. Publish!

‘Internet Marketing 101’ has long advised that you use social media to drive traffic to your website.  Well, LinkedIn’s publishing platform is turning that on its head, and giving new writers immediate access to an audience of millions.  If you’ve got an optimized profile and grown your network to (at least) several hundred prospects, it’s time to start publishing. Every time you write a post, it notifies everyone in your network, and your posts stay at the top of your profile where they’re immediately accessible to your connections.

 It’s an amazing way (perhaps the best way) for you to distinguish yourself as a leader in your field.  Being recognized as a thought leader is when the real revolution happens because that’s when 1: You don’t have to chase clients anymore — they come to YOU, and 2: they will happily pay you a premium price.  My initial break happened because a CEO (that doesn’t read business English blogs) saw my third ever post and contacted me the next day asking for 500 English lessons for his employees, and paid the price I asked!

4. Join Groups

You should join as many  groups as you can.  The limit used to be 50, but now it’s even higher since LinkedIn recently changed how subgroups work.  Joining groups helps grow your network (since every member of the group is added to your network) and it allows you to build trust.  Instead of joining groups full of other English teachers, you should join groups full of your prospects.  This is where both the disclaimer and the prerequisite come into play.  You need to know your niche to find the right groups, and then once you join them, you should never post about English lessons.  

People will see very clearly that you’re an English teacher — there’s no need to remind them. Instead, focus your efforts on offering helpful and relevant content specific to their field or industry.  Set up a google alert and RSS aggregator for keywords related to the industry of the group, and every day you’ll have a list of potentially helpful articles from across the internet to share.  Offering value in this way can build an incredible amount of trust and goodwill, and you can be sure that when someone in the group needs English lessons, they’ll come to you.

5. Share ‘top of mind’ Content

In addition to the publishing platform, LinkedIn also has a Facebook-like ‘news feed’ where you can post status updates, photos, videos, articles, and links.  You should take advantage of this strategy to share relevant information that’s perhaps not important enough to become a published post.  This is where you can express some of your personality, as long as you make sure your updates are professional and not overly promotional.  Very few people buy on the first contact.  It usually takes many repeated points of contact, and you want to make sure that when they think of English lessons they immediately think of you. 

Chris RushLinkedIn helped me go from a struggling freelancer to a successful Business English Coach, and it’s already helping me take the next step in my success. 

Chris Rush is an Online Business English Coach.  Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Want More?

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Three Mistakes I Made When I Started Teaching Online

When I first started teaching online, I made a lot of mistakes.

Luckily, I have learned from them.

And I want you to learn from them too. So, watch the video below and learn which mistakes you should avoid and what to do instead.

Watch in HD!

Not Connecting with other Teachers

I was a lone-wolf in the beginning.

When I saw other teachers doing the same thing as I was, I felt anxious. “What if my students see this teacher? They’ll leave me.”

However, we are all unique.

What you can offer is different to what any other teacher can offer.

Different learners connect with different teachers.

And, when we come together and share resources, our stories, our struggles etc., then we – us online teachers – can grow together.

Not Putting Yourself Out There

Moving online can be scary.

You need to put yourself out there. Use images. Promote your lessons.

This was daunting for me at first. I know it’s daunting for other teachers too.

I have talked about this before here.

But it’s something we need to do in order to connect with learners and convince them that we can help.

The good news is this: you can take baby steps…

The first picture on my site didn’t really show my face. I don’t think I even told people my last name. But I realized that it wasn’t that bad and started to do new things.

You will constantly be pushing yourself as an online teacher. And every time you do this, you’ll find that it’s not that uncomfortable to leave your comfort zone.

Not Starting an Email List Sooner

Email is powerful.

I won’t go over the reasons why you should start an email list again. I’ve done that here.

Just promise me that you will make this a priority.

Here is how to set one up.

Over to You

Are you making the above mistakes? What mistakes did you make when you first started?

Let me know if the comment section below.

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Advantages and Challenges Teaching Online

The Advantages and Challenges of Teaching Online

The following is a guest post by Elena Mutonono. You can find out more about Elena at the bottom of the post. Take it away Elena…

This weekend my almost-three-year-old son had his first language lesson … online. My son is growing up bilingual in a largely monolingual country. He goes to an American pre-school, talks to the majority of our friends in English, knows the entire English alphabet already and is learning to read… in English.

Since my mother tongue is Russian, I decided early on that I would talk to him in Russian only so he becomes fluent in both languages. As he is getting older though I’m realizing the challenge of keeping him bilingual and finding a face-to-face professional teacher who wouldn’t mind driving across the town to work with him for 30 minutes.

That prompted me to begin looking online. Being an online teacher myself I realize how insanely hard it is to teach teenagers online, not to mention kids! But I decided to send out my request to several teachers, and received two brave positive responses. We ended up going with one of them.

The lesson turned out to be so much more than I expected: my son was engaged, enjoyed meeting a new teacher and talking to him in Russian, showed all of his toys to him and even learned some letters of the Russian alphabet. Obviously, there were a number of limitations to such an online teaching experience, especially for a two-year-old, but in my case there was no other choice. The teacher did an excellent job, and he is definitely hired.

Diving into the Online Teaching Environment

I began teaching online in 2008 when a good friend from my hometown (about 70 km away) asked me to help her with pronunciation and fluency training. It was a similar situation where we had no other choice. I couldn’t be driving to my hometown every week, nor could she come all the way to see me for lessons.

So she installed skype, and we thought we’d give it a try. It worked. She began learning online and really enjoying the additional bonuses of such format: she was saving a lot of time and could have her lessons directly at her work place at the end of her working day. 

After a few years, I was laid off, and so again I had no other choice but to begin growing my online clientele. At the time I only knew one-to-one teaching via skype, but I would soon learn many more formats and become an expert in the business aspect of online teaching – something I’d never imagined myself doing.

The Similarities with Face-To-Face Teaching

Teaching may take different formats, but the essence of it still remains the same. According to the dictionary (dictionary.com), teaching means imparting knowledge or skill, or causing somebody to develop a set of skills or knowledge.

No matter where, what, who and how we teach, our goal is never the method for the sake of the method, it’s always imparting the knowledge and developing skills using whatever method appropriate for a specific age group and available at a specific time.

As experienced teachers, we know that there is a difference between teaching a child, a teenager, a College student, an adult or a senior. There are challenges and there are advantages. And certainly there is our own preference factor. But no matter how, our intention is always on helping the student achieve his/her results.

Online Teaching: Most Common Fears

When teachers consider switching to working online, there’s a series of questions that they keep asking themselves, and those questions are usually prompted by, what we will call, the fears of the unknown:

What if my Internet is down?

This certainly does happen, but it doesn’t make online teaching less reliable that way. Think of the times when you taught regular classes and you weren’t feeling too well, so you had to call in sick for fear of contaminating disease. When you teach online minor colds or temporary sickness/disability will not always keep you away from the classroom. Interestingly, colds happen more often than the Internet/power outages.

What if Skype doesn’t work?

In my 5 years of online teaching I only remember 3 epic skype outages. The first two made me panic. The last one was a breeze because by then I had a back-up plan (Google Hangouts) and was able to use it quite successfully.

What if a Student misses his/her class?

There are different ways of getting in touch with your students, and with the rise of portable devices, and phone-based internet services, my students can send me a quick text message if they are stuck in traffic or if there’s an emergency. Also, after a few months of teaching I knew I had to come up with specific terms and conditions so students wouldn’t “get used” to canceling their lessons all the time.

Today when a student signs up with me, he/she gets a document with terms and conditions, and he has to abide by them, and that means that no skipping-lesson excuse except for emergencies listed in the contract is considered valid. So the so-called no-shows are very rare.

How can I talk to a student whose mother tongue is different from the target language?

This one may sound like it’s tricky, but it isn’t for seasoned language teachers. If you know the mother tongue of your students you’ll be able to teach them from the beginner level. If not, you’ll just be there to help them develop their fluency.

Do I use ____________ (camera/headphones/microphone/iPad/iPhone, etc.)?

You can use all of the above, or very few of the above (just a headset and your computer). It depends on what you’re comfortable with and what your student can work with.

How do I teach a lesson?

The most common mistake is to think that once you begin your online teaching career there’s a set of many tools that you will need to learn how to use. It is true that over time your knowledge will most likely go beyond the use of Skype and Google, but you don’t need to know it all before you start.

My advice to beginning online teachers is to be as simple as you can: call via skype, use the chat window as your board and turn on the camera if you want your student to see the props that you have put together for the class. You can email the worksheets and the homework assignment prior to the lesson and use the relevant tools to make this process a simple one.

Most of these fear-based questions have to do with the technicalities, but they have nothing to do with the teaching itself. If you know how to teach, all you need to do is learn a bit about the basic online tools available for online teaching, and begin using them.

In What Ways is Online Teaching Superior to Teaching Face-to-Face?

Though there are some limitations to the online learning environment, I can think of at least 5 ways in which online language learning, for instance, can be superior to a classroom lesson. Naturally I’m biased, but I think that a lot of teachers are so put off by the fears and the slight learning curve involved that they forget about the generous benefits of online teaching.

Greater focus on listening comprehension skills. If you’re an online language teacher, working online with video camera off will prompt your students to be more alert and attentive, and thus develop their listening skills much faster than in a traditional classroom environment where listening is aided by other types of communication.

Greater focus on learning. In a traditional classroom, there are lots of distractions that may take away your student’s attention and then will take time to bring it back. It’s more difficult to do so online when a student is working on a task, talking or writing.

Wider range of materials, easily accessible on all devices. Having taught online for 5 years, I find traditional classroom somewhat limiting when it comes to retrieving information and accessing a wider range of assignments within seconds. There are plenty of resources on the internet, and that makes your materials more versatile and customized.

Better quality student support. Being online means you are more available than in the classroom and/or during your office hours. You will obviously have to develop some guidelines so you’re not writing/responding to emails non-stop, but better support means better results.

The time saving and comfort factor. There is no commuting involved into online teaching. It’s comfortable, convenient and easy for everybody involved. That increases the happiness factor, which makes the environment more conducive to teaching and learning.

The Challenges of Online Teaching

There are several big challenges to online teaching as well, but it doesn’t mean that they cannot be overcome. With the right training and basic marketing skills, you will be able to tackle those as well. Here are just the top two that I mostly write about when I participate in forums.

  • Finding and retaining new students.
  • Developing your own brand.

One of the best answers to these two issues is writing content. Content will bring people to your website, content will answer your readers’ questions, and content will prompt them to book your services rather than anybody else’s. Creating content takes time and practice, but as you keep looking and trying different means of conveying your unique message, you will find your voice that will speak and win the heart of your future customers.

I hope that this article has inspired you to test out the waters of online teaching and enjoy the pleasure that comes when you move your expertise beyond the walls of a traditional classroom and impact the lives of people all over the world.

More about Elena:

Elena Mutonono transforms traditional teachers into online teacherpreneurs. Visit www.elenamutonono.com for details and deals.

Want to become an independent teacher who is in control of their income and their teaching? Join TEOC today!

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