Interview Justin Murray

Justin Murray on Connecting English Learners, Building an Audience, and Solving Problems

What would you do if Facebook deleted your group with over 120,000 English learners?

That happened to Real Life English (RLE), and one of the co-founders, Justin, joins Teaching ESL Online to share this story, and to give us an insight into how the RLE team built a very popular site for English learners.

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What We Discussed

Justin started by introducing Real Life English as follows:

“It’s a global community of English learners and speakers dedicated to help people all around the world speak English through real life conversations, real people, and real learning materials.”

RLE got started with a party in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Justin, and his cofounder Chad, wanted to teach English in a way that would help people to live it. And after they saw how popular the parties were, they decided to start a blog.

For nearly two years now, they have been posting content (videos, podcasts, articles etc.) 4-5 times a week. One of their former cofounders started a podcast and a Twitter account. And talking about the podcast, Justin said:

“If you keep doing something over and over again, you get better.”

We then talked about the Facebook group that they built to over 120,000 members. But out of nowhere, their group was deleted.

“If you build your house on Facebook, they can always take it away from you.

This is why it’s so important to build your own blog/website and email list.

We then talked mored about Facebook, specifically organic reach (how many of your followers see your content when you post). Justin then went through the difference between a Facebook page (business page) and a Facebook group.

Justin’s former cofounder started their Twitter account and employed different tactics to grow their following (currently at 70k), using tools such as Tweepi. They also use Hootsuite to schedule their tweets.

They have a free ebook for learners and this has helped them grow their following. Focusing on email marketing has been a big part of their strategy from the start.

Justin and the team spend most of their time interacting with learners through email, and prioritize this over social media.

We moved on to talk about the different products they have sold. They have offered an audio version of the ebook mentioned before, a course called Fluency Plus, and a product that goes with their podcast. I’ve seen one of the podcast lessons, and it’s incredible how detailed and in-depth they are.

The RLE team are now in Chile in a startup incubator. They are shifting their mindset to try and understand what learners really need, and to build a business around this. And the problem that they are trying to solve is to help learners connect with others and use their English in a way that feels real.

You can learn more about Justin and Real Life English here.

Over to You

What was your biggest takeaway from this interview?

Leave your comments below!

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  • Esteban_CR

    I am wondering why Facebook shut down their group page?… :/

    • It is scary, and luckily RLE had built up their own site and following.

  • Nice interview! I love the energy of their podcasts and newsletter. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

    • Hey Vanessa, Thank you for watching and for your generous comment!

  • HI
    I enjoyed your interview. I know one thing now…I will be broadening my outreach not just with FB.
    Struggling with emailing subscribers. Any more ideas on this…?

    • Justin Murray

      Hey Pam, Thanks for the feedback and for watching. To give have a better conversation about this, what strategies are you using to gain e-mail subscribers?

      • I have gone through past students that I have taught in the last 5 years. Many emails were fatal, so I only got 16 or so there. but I did send out a shout out and I got a couple of reads on those. Now I have launched on FB (one day I got 1003 likes one one of my ads…but I haven’t gotten emails to connect with. Any thing I can do to improve?
        im4esl.com Online English with Teacher Pam

        • I’ve just sent you an email about this Pam.

  • Cara Leopold

    Interesting stuff. I just wrote the draft outline of my first podcast today and then listened to the end of this interview where Justin talks about his. For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been planning to produce short podcasts of me speaking in natural, relatively spontaneous spoken English for learners in my niche (listening skills). I based an online 1-2-1 class the other day on a short recording I made for a learner and the results were pretty positive. I will definitely check out what Justin and his colleagues and have been doing with their podcast. I also thought there was definite potential for monetizing a recording by making a detailed analysis of the transcript for learners to work on so I’m really pleased to hear this has worked out for the RLE team.

    • Be sure to share your podcast once it’s live.

      • Cara Leopold

        A very tentative initial ‘go’ : https://soundcloud.com/cara-leopold/caras-fast-natural-english-podcast-episode-1
        First time using Audacity for recording and editing-I’m sure there’s a ton of other features on there to learn about. I’ve edited out the worst of the lip smacking only for now, as I want to keep things nice and natural with plenty of hesitations! Now I have to figure out what exciting topics I have up my sleeve to monologue about! Thanks for the encouragement anyway.

        • Cara Leopold

          Sorry I thought I was just pasting the link – I didn’t click on embed!