Interview with Teacher Diane

Interview With a Location Independent Online English Teacher – Teacher Diane

Teacher Diane is someone who I have been following online for the last year or so.

So, it was a nice surprise when she reached out to me to connect. I soon realized that I wanted to give her the platform here at Teaching ESL Online to share her story and the valuable advice she has for other online teachers.

In our interview, Diane shares with us her experience of being a location independent online English teacher, and how she has managed to build up a large student base.

As you’ll see, she has some creative ways (and tools) to teach her lessons and make videos for her followers.

Here is the interview (watch in HD):

If you would like to teach English online, click here.

What We Discussed

Diane started teaching English five years ago, firstly in Brazil and then in Chicago. After two years of teaching in the language school in Chicago, she got the travel bug and decided to start her own website so that she could teach and travel at the same time.

Making the Transition

Diane was a little hesitant at first, but started with an old student and realized that she could do more online than in the classroom – screen sharing, links etc. – and she found that is was more comfortable to teach at home.

Diane uses a Wacom Tablet for her teaching, writing and drawing on this tablet. Her learners can see this on their screens along with her webcam.

She also uses the tablet to make her very unique videos for Youtube; here is an example:

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Bringing Learners onto Her Website and Into Her Lessons

Youtube has been one the best sources of students for Diane, and she places a link at the start of each video and also in the description box under the video to bring people onto her site.

We then talked about putting ourselves out there on video, and how it can be strange to hear your own voice at first. I know this can be a concern for teachers when starting out, but this does become easier the more you do it.

Diane now schedules her posts on Facebook and batches this work every Sunday. She has three types of posts: a question post, something humorous, and then a post with a link back to her website.

She uses Facebook to build her brand and also to give more exposure to her videos and other materials.

Planning Lessons and Hiring Other Teachers

Diane has a tailored approach to her lessons where she is specific to each student, although she does have certain students who fall into a similar category. She has build up many resources over the years.

Diane has contracted other teachers to help with her workload, hiring teachers who she has met on her travels.

Plans for the Future

Diane’s plans are to focus on marketing her website and learn more about SEO and social media marketing.

She plans to create other sites for specific types of learners (English for doctors, for example). And in the long-term, she wants to write a grammar book and open a language school in the US.

Summary and Over to You

It’s great to see how successful Diane has been with her online teaching and her site does a great job at converting learners into paying students.

One thing that I took away from our interview is this: if you put quality stuff out there, work hard at it, and stay consistent, you are going to get rewarded.

At first, it might seem like you’re doing a lot for small reward; but as you build up momentum, you’ll start seeing some really good results, and have opportunities to hire others and expand just like Diane has done.

Please comment below to let me know your thoughts on this interview. I’m really interested to read what you have to say about this.

About Diane:

Diane is an English teacher from New York with over five years of experience teaching English to students from all over the world.  She is the Founder of teacherdiane.com, a website that provides personalized English lessons on Skype.  You can watch her English grammar tutorials or follow her Facebook group, Learn English on Skype.

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  • Robin Peace

    Thank you for sharing this interview. I found it interesting that Diane started her teaching on skype by continuing lessons with a student who had been in her ‘physical’ class. That seems a natural way to get started.

  • Cleona Patterson

    Engaging videos, well done Diane!

    • It was a lot of fun!

    • Teacher Diane

      Thanks Cleona!

  • Great interview! I am still on the periphery with online teaching…mostly I want to use it, initially at least, as she has, with students who return to their country but want to continue learning with me after they go back. (Right now, I teach Japanese people in Atlanta, face to face.)

    As you know, Jack, I have been trying to find a hardware/software package that lets me draw and “write” (as opposed to type) during lessons (so that I can do diagrams and doodles to illustrate concepts)…so I’m interested in the Wacom tablet. Diane, if you are reading this, can you share more about it…? Does the student need any special software to see it? How exactly does it work…is it like a ipad where it is independent of a computer, or do you hook it up to a regular desktop or laptop, or….? Do you use a pencil-like stylus, or…? Thanks!

    Also very interested in the fact that she has hired some teachers! That’s something I’m very interested in exploring, because obviously, the idea of passive income is pretty cool, but also different learners “click” with different teachers, so having a choice of good teachers seems like a great strategy. I’m curious what sort of arrangement Diane has with her “contractors.” (I assume she gets a small cut of their hourly fee…?)

    Also curious whether she has explored small group classes.

    And curious what is the most common lesson schedule…. one hour once a week, one hour twice a week, etc…? Do people ever sign on for more than one hour at a time…? What are pros and cons of different arrangements…?

    I have a question for you, Jack. When you do an interview like this, what causes the person who is speaking to be featured in the video…does that happen automatically based on the mic being used, or do you control that as the moderator? Thanks for a great video!

    • Hello Liz. From my experience, a lot of learners want two lessons per week, sometimes more. I recommend offering a discount for learners who take more than one lesson per week.

      I use Hangouts on Air to record the interview (http://www.teachingeslonline.com/google-hangouts-on-air/) – and yes, it features the speaker based on who is speaking at the time.

    • Teacher Diane

      I will try to answer as many of these questions as possible:

      – I have the Wacom Bamboo Splash Tablet (http://www.amazon.com/Wacom-Bamboo-Splash-Tablet-CTL471/dp/B0089VGPII/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421965382&sr=8-2&keywords=bamboo+wacom+tablet).
      It comes with software to install the art program, “ArtRage.” I plug it
      directly into my Mac. You can type within the art program using the
      Type tool if you’d prefer that to writing with the pen by hand. I use the Wacom tablet in addition
      to Skype video chat. When I want the student to see what I am writing, I
      share my screen. The student can then see what I am writing along with
      my face in the corner. You
      could also use the tablet with other video chat platforms that allow for screen sharing or have their own art features.

      – I allow my teachers to choose a price within a certain range, and they keep 60% of the student payment.

      – I have tried a small group class on WizIQ, but marketing was difficult for me, and the class was smaller than I would have liked. I would like to explore this more in the future.

      – Lesson schedules vary. I would say that one or two hours per week is the most common.

      • Thank you for all the information, Diane!!! It’s very helpful!

      • Using the same thread… Diane, what are the technicalities of wiring the payments to other teachers? Do you use PayPal? Is there a fee?

        • Teacher Diane

          I send the payments to my teachers using PayPal as well. I only incur a fee if the currency is different, so it’s better for me to work with teachers who accept USD.

          • Cool. So you get all the payments and then wire it to them, right? One more thing, if the teachers charge different rates, how do students buy their lessons? Do you have discounts for bulk lessons?

          • Teacher Diane

            Yes, I receive all of the payments and send the teachers their payment at the end of each month. After the trial lesson, the teacher tells me the rate she wants to charge, and I adjust the student rate. Sometimes I offer discounts for purchasing ten or more lessons.

          • Thanks a million! I’ve been willing to give that a go for quite some time.

  • Amazing to see you guys interacting.

    I first reached out for Diane to get some tips about her fantastic booking system and noticed that she offered free trial lessons, so I passed on Jack’s advice of charging a small amount to improve her conversion rate.

    I was really glad to know that that alone improved it by about 20%.

    Feeling proud for somehow helping put you guys together.

    • Hey Djalma – Long time, no speak! Thanks for passing my advice on to Diane, I was very happy when she reached out to me.

      • Can you share some details about “her fantastic booking system?”

        I don’t offer free trials either… Instead, for my classes and one on one lessons (face to face, not internet in my case), I do offer a free, 15-minute, “consulation.” It has been a good solution for me. I get to get an idea of their level and personality to see where they’d fit and what type of materials and teaching methods would work best, and they get to get an idea of my personality and teaching style and location and feeling of my classroom. I like doing this before either of us have committed a full hour (or more) with each other.

        • Teacher Diane

          My booking system is synced with Google Calendars. Students are able to view the teacher calendars in their own time zones. They purchase credits and then use the credits to choose a time on a teacher’s calendar. You can check it out here: http://www.teacherdiane.com/calendar/diane.

          • Genius! And, may I ask, do you use Paypal? I am not a huge fan of Paypal, and have been looking at using Square. Do you have experience with either or both, and a preference?

          • Teacher Diane

            Yes, my website is integrated with PayPal. I’m not a huge fan either, but don’t have experience with any other platforms.

          • Square seems like it could work well. I spoke to someone there in customer service who told me that you can accept international currency and it converts it …I forget what the charge was, but it was very small. The bad news is aNOTHER person there told me it was NOT possible. And I haven’t had any student overseas yet so I haven’t been able to try it yet. I know that here domestically in the US, everyone I know who uses it, LOVES everything about it.

            It’s also possible to send invoices by regular old email, to make it easy for students who might be intimidated by the Paypal process (even tho it’s easy). And supposedly it’s “safe”

            Anyone out there use it with international billing?

    • Teacher Diane

      Hi Djalma! You were right. Charging students a small fee for a trial lesson helped to eliminate the students who were just looking to take advantage of the free lesson with no intention of signing up. In the past some students would tell me at the end of the trial lesson that they didn’t have a credit card (or any other method of paying for lessons)! By charging a small fee, I at least know if a student has a credit card that he/she is willing to use!

  • Thiago Veigga

    What a great interview and I loved your site!
    It’s great to see what she can do with that tablet.

    • Thanks for commening Thiago – glad you liked the interview!

    • Teacher Diane

      Thanks Thiago!

  • Informative interview! I am online English teacher as well, but I work for a company, you have got me thinking about starting my own business teaching online.

    • Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions about getting started.

  • Débora Carvalho

    I’m glad I found your website and your channel on youtube! I currently live in Boston, but I am from Brazil and I’ve taught English for 3 years in my country! That’s something I love doing and I couldn’t see any chance of doing it again since I’m living in the USA.
    I’m taking some classes about teaching on line! I’m pretty excited to do it!

    • Teacher Diane

      Hi Debora! You should definitely give it a try. I have a lot of experience working with Brazilian students online!

    • Hello Debora. Thanks for your comment – please get in touch with me if you have any questions about getting started.

  • Lisa Jayne Wood

    Some really useful advice. Inspiring… Great videos and what lovely handwriting!

    • I’m really envious of her handwriting!

  • Sharon Bunker

    I am an online student with the university of phoenix I need to interview 2 teachers from different areas Is there any one on here that can help me

    • Sharon Bunker

      Thank you for answering me.
      1. The role culture plays in schools
      2. Changing demographics in public schools
      3. Effect of language diversity on instruction and student performance
      4. Role of inclusion in a regular education classroom
      5. Separation of church and State
      and
      6. Tolerance and Sensitivity towards diversity in schools.

  • nixf01

    Loved this interview, thanks so much for sharing. And sorry to be boring but.. I’m jealous of Diane’s handwriting too!

  • Teacher Josue

    hello Jack, I am currently an entrepreneur in teaching online, I live in Honduras (Central America) and would be glad to hear some tips about building my own online teaching business. Is there an email where I can reach you for further questions? Thank you very much!!!

  • Teacher Josue

    Hello Jack, I don´t know if you got my message, but I don´t see it posted here. I am a classroom teacher but getting started with teaching english online using skype. I currently live in Honduras, Central America. I have some questions, could I reach you through an email, please?

  • Catherine Happe

    Really great video, very informative and inspiring. I´m also trying to get started online after teaching in the classroom for years!!

  • Mariam

    This was very beneficial. Thanks!

  • Dave Beech

    Check out this site, http://startesolteaching.com/i-create-site-can-i/ , I’m a ‘regular’ ESOL tutor but I’d like to move into online work. This link takes you to a company who are great at showing you how to do it. They’re more about internet marketing than ESOL but the principle is the same; build a site, build a following, build a business. They’re also very helpful if you’re not exactly an IT whizz, like me. I’ve been part of this community for about 9 months and I’ve found it really helpful.

  • Adejare Amoo

    Great, educative and informative train the trainers session. Thanks Jack