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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Struggling with Video Thumbnail

What I’m Struggling with Right Now

In one of my recent updates, I talked about how pleased I was with how 2015 was going so far.

Sales for my courses have been great and I’m very proud of the positive results people have been getting from my training.

This video is a little different.

I go through three things that I’m struggling with at the moment.

I hope you find this useful for your own online teaching journey.

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What I’m Struggling With at the Moment

Outsourcing

I have outsourced a few tasks this year, but I want to do more.

The problem I’m facing is that I am apprehensive about having others do things that can be interpreted in different ways.

Hiring someone to do transcribing was an easy decision – the transcript is either right or wrong

But customer service, video summary writing, and social media commenting are examples of tasks that can have many different outcomes.

The way we communicate with our learners through email, social media, sales pages, videos etc. is vital.

But I am reaching a stage where I’ll need to pass certain tasks on.

What I’m struggling with is having someone do this without my voice being lost.

New Courses

I made the decision to focus on my current courses this year instead of creating new ones.

I know that as my audience grows, more people will buy my courses.

But I also want to create new products because I know that they will be valuable and it will help me bring in more income.

What I’m struggling with is knowing how these courses are going to fit in with the ones I already have.

Looking at Stats

I’ve found myself checking stats too often during the day.

I go and check Google Analytics to see who is on my site, Facebook to see new notifications, and YouTube to check my stats.

I got out of this habit a few months ago by using StayFocusd and RescueTime.

I thought I had broken this habit. But I guess it’s time to use these tools again.

Over to You

No matter where we’re at with our online teaching, we’re always going to face obstacles.

I try to see these problems as challenges that I have to solve. And when I solve them, my business will benefit.

That’s why I’m committed to getting over the struggles that I’ve laid out in the video above.

What are you struggling with right now?

Leave comments below. Thanks for reading.

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

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2015 Thus Far

A Quick Review of 2015 (Thus Far)

In this video, I talk about how I am progressing with my goals for 2015.

I will have a full review at the end of the year, but I have been strategizing a lot recently and thought the time was apt for a quick update.

Below you can find the notes from the video.

Build a bigger and better audience

This means to have more English learners who subscribe to my emails, subscribe on YouTube, follow me on Facebook etc. It also means having a more engaged audience. I have changed the way I use social media and email marketing over the past few months. I am looking for conversations, engagement, and interaction in addition to numbers. I have been focusing on Periscope recently for this reason.

Content Scheduling

In 2014, I didn’t have a plan for how often I would post. I changed that in 2015 and, thus far, have kept up with it. I have published at least one video every week for English learners and, except for when I was running a promotion or having a website, I have posted weekly on this blog. Creating content (articles, videos etc.) is how I reach more people in an organic way. Having this schedule stops me from putting things off and makes sure that I post on a consistent basis.

Building and Growing My Courses

I have two courses. One for English learners and one for English teachers. I was thinking about creating a third one as a separate brand, but I decided to double down on what I already had. I’ve been busy this year with working with those inside the courses, improving my sales funnel, and adding to the courses. I’m really happy with how things have gone in this area.

Automation, Outsourcing, and Analytics

I have been using a lot of apps to automate processes and to become more productive (see apps for online teachers). I have also outsourced various tasks including lessons and transcripts. This has been a huge help as it frees up my time. I need to improve upon of the analytical side of my business. I want to have a better overview of where sales come from, for example.

Routines and Timeblocking

My days are quite limited. I only have from 9-4 to work on my business. I sometimes get an hour in the evening and the odd hour here and there at the weekend. Therefore, making my hours more productive has been a priority and I feel I’m achieving this (note: I have been focusing on my health and find this makes a huge difference). I have also become quicker at doing certain tasks. For example, I’m making videos more quickly, not procrastinating as much over small decisions, and generally being more efficient.

Over to You

How has your 2015 been so far? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Build Teaching Business on the Side

How to Transition into Online Teaching while Working a Full-Time Job

Build Teaching Business on the Side

Each month, I speak to dozens of teachers about making the transition into online teaching.

While some are able to work full-time on their new business, others have other things – jobs, young children, university, travel etc. – that get in the way.

I often get asked questions like, “Should I quit my job and just go for it?”

In most situations, I don’t recommend doing this. I believe the better option is to build your online teaching business on the side and then make the transition when the time is right.

Before I talk about how to do this, I want to start with a story.

How I Transitioned into Online Teaching

When I was in Bilbao, I created a website called Inglés Bilbao. Although I was teaching in a language school at the time, I wanted to get some private students to earn extra money on the side.

I stuck up fliers throughout the city, posted on classified websites, and invested about $50 in Google Adwords.

After a few weeks, I had a group class of three (earning $50 an hour), and 3-4 other private students ($32 an hour – but usually 90-minute lessons).

As the year progressed, my website started to show up in the rankings and I got more and more requests. I received plenty of referrals, too. If we had stayed in Bilbao, I would have gone full-time with this. But we moved to Valencia and I started the process again.

In Valencia, I added a page for Skype lessons and expanded my reach to other cities in Spain and Italy.

To finish the story: I realized the potential for online lessons and started a new site that wasn’t restricted to Valencia. I built this up while I was living in Spain and then started full-time when my wife and I moved to the U.S.

I managed to build these sites and build up my online presence while working a regular teaching job.

And you can do this too.

How to Transition into Online Teaching

Hopefully, my story highlights that there are ways to get into online teaching without having to quit what you’re doing now.

Although there will be situations where ‘just going for it’ might be the best approach, I feel that for most cases, building something on the side and transitioning when the time is right is the safest option.

Here are some tips to make this process work for you:

Set a Date When You Want to Make the Transition

When I knew I was going leave Spain and move to the U.S., I had a specific goal (20 hours of online teaching) with a specific deadline (January 2011).

If you have something going on at the moment, it can be very easy to have a ‘someday’ mentality and keep putting things back..

For example, after reaching my initial goal, I had plans to expand my online business (products, courses etc.) but I kept putting this off.

It wasn’t until I started setting deadlines again for my specific goals that I actually made progress.

Write down when you want to make the transition and set a deadline for this. Create breakthrough goals too. This helps you break things down so that you can build momentum.

Use Project Management Software

Getting things down on paper (yes, I know, software isn’t technically paper!) takes the pressure off trying to rely what’s in your head.

I use Asana for every new project I embark upon. To give you an example, I’m writing a free ebook for English learners that will fit into my email responder. There is a lot to do here. However, all the tasks, ideas, files etc. are organized inside this app.

I highly recommend using Asana or a similar app to help you stay organized and on top of things. After going through your plan of action, create separate projects in your software and give deadlines for each one.

Build Your Online Presence and Your Audience

You will need an online presence if you teach online. The earlier you start building this, the better.

Don’t get overwhelmed with having to create a Facebook page, YouTube channel, Instagram account etc. right from the get-go. Instead focus on the basics: get a website/web page up there, a business email account (this will come with your hosting), and an email marketing account.

Start bringing people onto your site and into your audience and write for this audience on a consistent basis through email and/or a blog post.

What you write about will ultimately come down to the type of English you want to teach and who you want to target. Understand the problems your audience has and be valuable by solving these problems.

Get Teaching

Write down times during the week when you are available to take lessons. Then, get teaching.

You will learn so much from giving lessons online, even if it’s only one hour per week.

It makes everything real. It helps you practice what to say in a trial lesson. It will make you a better online teacher.

Use the methods that I used in Spain (I go into much more depth with this inside TEOC) and bring in your first learners as soon as possible.

Find Time to Work on This

A job, partner, kids, friends, hobbies, TV, sports… there is a lot going on in our lives that make it hard to work on building your business.

That is why I recommend taking a look at your schedule to find slots during the week that you reserve for this project.

For most, this will be mornings, lunchtimes, evenings, and weekends. You might find time during your working hours too – for example, if your student cancels, get to work. But I recommend setting boundaries, otherwise, your work could suffer.

There might be weekends when you spend hours working but, over the long-term, you will want to make it sustainable.

Beware of Legal Implications

I receive messages from teachers working for certain companies telling me that their contract states that they can’t do their own thing while working for these companies.

In fact, I heard from a teacher that one company bans anyone doing their own thing one or two years after leaving. Crazy!

You don’t want to find yourself in trouble further down the line. Therefore, know if you are legally allowed to do this while working your current job.

In most cases, it’s fine. But it’s worth checking.

Enjoy it and Celebrate Your Successes

There are times when I do get stressed about my online business. When I do, I just ask myself, “How can I do this while having fun?”

Switching off from it all helps too. Turn off notifications and set boundaries for when you do your work.

Celebrate your successes no matter how small. And enjoy it. This is a lot of fun and I’ll never take the freedom that comes with having my own online business for granted.

Over to You

Have you made the transition into online teaching? Are you currently making this transition?

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading!

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Batching Tasks

Batching Tasks when Teaching Online

There is so much to do as an online teacher.

This includes the teaching, planning, admin, responding to emails, creating content, website setup etc. And with all this comes a lot of distractions.

In this video, I talk about how batching tasks will help you become more productive and focused.

Useful Links

How to Organize Your Time

How to Become More Productive (there is a link to the project management software I use)

Over to You

Do you batch tasks? If so, how do you do it?

Thanks for watching!

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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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Organize Time Teacher TESLO

Organizing Your Time As an Online Teacher: What to Focus on and How to Get Things Done

Get things done

Don’t get stressed. Get organized!

When you have your own online teaching business, things can get a little hectic.

There are lessons to teach, marketing to be done, admin to be taken care of, planning, strategizing, advertising, posting, connecting, and whole bunch of other things to spend your time on.

And sometimes, you just sit there in front of your computer screen. Clicking.

As I have expanded my online teaching business over the years, I have had to get organized with my time to ensure that the important things get done; things that are actually going to move my business forward.

In this post, I want to share with you what currently works for me when it comes to organizing time, knowing what to focus on, and actually getting stuff done.

And it all starts with a plan…

Set Your Goals and a Plan of Action

Goals

My goals for 2015.

In my 2014 summary post, I talked about the big goals that I wanted to achieve in 2015.

Having a goal to aim for gives you clarity on what you want to achieve in your teaching business. And once you have this goal, it means that you can plan on what actions you need to take in order to get there.

So, think about your goals for the next 3, 6, 12 months, and then break up this goal by deciding what smaller projects/tasks are important.

So, as an example, let’s say you’re just starting out with your online teaching business and your goal is to have things up and running within three months.

From this, you make a plan to find your niche, create your website, and get some students into your lessons as soon as possible.

You can then break up these projects into tasks; for example, coming up with a site plan, buying a domain name, getting hosting etc.).

Give these tasks a deadline to be completed, and then make them a priority during your working hours.

Doing all of the above ensures that you are working on things that are going to help your teaching business.

Start Timeboxing and Batching Tasks

Time Boxing

Don’t leave things open

When you leave your days open, you allow your emotions, your energy levels, and other people’s agendas to dictate what you do.

This is how you end up spending two days exploring a new social networking site after reading about how one guy made $6,000 in five days (I’ve been there!), and completely ignoring what you should be doing.

Instead, plan out your days and weeks based on your goals and your plan of action, getting as specific as possible.

This is called timeboxing.

For example, every Monday at 10:30 I work on a new post/video for English learners for one hour. And on Wednesdays at 14:00, I work on my course for English teachers.

This is why teaching during a certain block of time helps too; it means that you can focus on teaching at a specific part of the day and spend the other part of your day working on everything else.

Also, try batching tasks (like sending emails) so that you’re not always moving from one task to the next. This helps you get into a rhythm and be more productive.

So base your daily and weekly work schedule based on the goals and plan of action that you come up with.

I even make some time on Fridays to reevaluate my long-term strategy, which stops me from thinking about the big picture when I should be getting things done.

Time boxing can be a little strange at first, and you might be thinking that it’s too regimented; but it has worked wonders for me.

Additionally, your schedule will evolve over time; I’m constantly changing things up on a weekly basis.

Focus and Avoid Distractions

Use apps to help you stay focused

Use apps to help you stay focused

Time boxing won’t work unless you can focus on the task in hand.

This is a constant struggle for me, and for nearly everyone I talk to who are working for themselves.

One thing that has helped greatly is the Stayfocusd app for Chrome. It works like this: you enter the URLs of the sites that you don’t want to visit while working, and ban them for a specific period of time.

When you try to go to a blocked site, you get a blank screen telling you that you should be working. This helps you refocus on your task.

It was amazing when I first started using this how often I would automatically go to my email or The Guardian or Facebook or Youtube, or even The Weather Channel.

I soon realized that I did this whenever I came to a sticking point with what I was doing; when I needed to really think about something in more depth.

Additionally, avoid other distractions by muting your phone, letting others know that you’re working, and by listening to music/putting on noise canceling earphones.

Having a deadline works wonders too. I’ve done this for my two big courses, and there is nothing like restricting your time to get you focused on what needs to get done.

Get Organized and Trust Systems

Three Productivity Tools for Online Teachers

My post on productivity tools

It took me a while to take the plunge and start using apps that I knew were going to help me. I’m just glad that I ended up getting them!

I talked about Asana and Evernote in this post, and the more I use them, the more I realize just how valuable they are.

Asana is the hub of everything I do: I use this to plan my projects, write down all my tasks, collaborate with my students and those who are getting mentoring from me, and to write down all the ideas that come into my head throughout the day.

Using applications like these takes a huge weight off and helps you focus on what’s important in that moment.

Outsource Where Possible

Chris Ducker Book

A great book on outsourcing

As a perfectionist, I find it difficult to pass tasks on to other people. But I’ve started doing more of this recently.

Last year, I was trying to do too many things that I wasn’t qualified for, or tasks that were repetitive and take up a lot of time.

For example, I started work on transcribing 40 videos for English learners, but soon realized that it would take me forever. I ended up paying someone to do this, and spent my time on other parts of the course that I was creating.

If you are new to online teaching, then you might be bootstrapping right now and doing everything yourself. Two things on this:

– You can always improve what you do now (logo, web design, welcome video etc.) at any time – so don’t feel like it has to be perfect right away (you should see some of my old sites!).
– Outsourcing doesn’t have to be expensive – there are plenty of things you can get done on Fivver, for example.

Here is a great book on outsourcing by Chris Ducker to help you get started with this.

Separate Work and Play, and Get Distance

Something I really struggled with last year was work vs play.

I spent too much time, especially in the evenings and at weekends, not really working and not really relaxing. I was watching football while trying to write an article, for example.

But over the last few months, I have managed to separate the time I spend working and the time I spend not working quite effectively. There are many tips for this (like working only at a specific location), but for me, having a work schedule and time boxing have been the deciding factors.

Getting distance from your work is important; it helps you come back fresher, more motivated, and with more creative energy.

Additionally, when you have specific times when you can get stuff done, you become more focused as you realize that this is the only time you have to do it.

Over to You

All the of the above is still a work in progress for me, but as I mentioned, I have made huge improvements with organizing my time so I’m more effective and productive with what I do.

Please leave any tips you have on this topic, or any thoughts you have on this post, in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading!

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