Teach English Online Image

As you know, the digital revolution has been massively disrupted.

In the ELT world, this has meant that learners are looking for solutions to their problems online. This, in turn, has created opportunities for those wanting to teach English online.

In this article, you are going to learn how you can do this too. More specifically, you will learn:

  • the different ways to teach English online
  • what you need to get started
  • how to make the transition into online teaching
  • tips and advice so that you do this successfully

If you have any questions, the best way to get my help is to download my free guide and then reply to the email I send you.


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How to Teach Online


The Different Ways to Teach English Online

There are three main ways that you can teach online:

  1. Work for a company
  2. Advertise your services on teaching platforms
  3. Go independent

I’ve never done number one. I’ve had experience with number two. And I’m all in on number three.

I got started teaching English through a platform for teachers. I created my profile, made a video, and set my prices. I soon got a lot of new students and received great reviews.

When I started, I didn’t have any training or prior teaching experience. I had just got back from travelling and needed something that I could do from anywhere (my wife – girlfriend at the time – was in her final year of college and I’m from the UK).

I believe there are two main reasons why I was successful on this platform:

  1. I took the time to write a good profile
  2. I got in early

The biggest problem with teaching through an online platform is the sheer number of teachers there. Once people find out about new platforms, they get bombarded with new teachers.

Tips for Teaching on Platforms

If you want to advertise your services on these platforms, then make sure you stand out. Think about how you can be more specific with what you’re offering (your teaching niche), how you can get this across through the platform, and then how you can utilize the community to get seen.

At this time, there are no specific platforms that I particularly recommend, but a simple search will yield many examples.

How I Started Teaching Online Independently

Teaching Website

I started online lessons in Spain.

Going independent was the best decision I have made in my entire working life. I’ll tell you how this happened…

After finishing college, my wife got a scholarship to teach English in Spain. I enjoyed my initial teaching experience, so I got certified and we moved to Spain together.

I got a job teaching in two companies and, in my second year, in a language school. I also offered private lessons during this time. Here is how I got my private students:

  • I designed a basic website that highlighted what I offered
  • I put up fliers around the city and posted on local classified websites
  • People got in contact with me and I taught them privately

I was earning much more in my private lessons than I was in my teaching jobs. And during the last year in Spain, I decided to try something else: I offered online lessons in addition to my face-to-face lessons.

Soon after starting online lessons, my wife and I decided to move to America. I didn’t have a job lined up, so I decided to make a go of teaching English online as my full-time job.

Within 2-3 months, I had a full schedule (20-25 hours per week).

I was content with this for a while, but then I started to offer other things in addition to my one-to-one lessons.

Before I talk about the different ways to earn as an online English teacher, I want to highlight why I recommend going independent.

Why I Recommend Going Independent

Doing your own thing online gives you control over the following:

  • your business
  • what you teach
  • how you teach
  • your earning potential

One of the reasons why I left the original platform was because they changed a few policies. I didn’t have any control over this. If you are investing time and effort into offering value for your learners, it’s wise to do this on a platform you own (more about this later).

Going independent means that you can decide to teach exactly what you want to teach. When moving online, all barriers are broken down. You can target any learning market in the world. If you want to focus on IELTS preparation, then you can. You aren’t restricted by your location.

It also gives you control over how you teach. I enjoyed my time teaching in Spain, but I had to follow specific lesson plans and use methods that my bosses wanted me to use. When you are your own boss, you can follow your own teaching path and decide how you want to deliver your lessons.

Last but not least, teaching English online independently gives you control over your earning potential. My lessons started at $25 p/hour. Over the following two years, I raised my prices to $60-70 p/hour to reflect the demand for lessons and the added value I was offering. And now, I earn a passive income through my courses.

It’s worth stating at this point that this isn’t for everyone. You will need to put in the work if you want the rewards. But if the above appeals to you, then read on to learn more…

How You Can Earn as an Online English Teacher

Most people think about one-to-one lessons when they consider teaching online. And this is for a good reason. However, there are other ways that you can earn, as I explain in this video:

In summary, you can teach English online through:

One-to-One Lessons: This is what I recommend starting with. It’s easier to get people to sign up for lessons, there is no planning needed until you sell a lesson, and the lifetime value of your learner is high.

A lot of teachers stick with this for the long-term.

Group Lessons: This is more challenging to get going because you will need to find a number of learners who can take lessons at the same time (and pay up front for them). However, you can earn more per hour by teaching group lessons.

Offer Writing/Speaking Feedback: You can help your learners without having to meet face-to-face. For example, you can correct writing tasks through Google Docs or correct speaking through SoundCloud.

Products: You can sell ebooks or anything from your site. This is easier to do than ever. However, you will need to create something that people want and market this correctly. This is more passive than the three options above.

Courses: This is where I put all my focus at the moment. You can create video, audio, or text-based courses and sell them from your website or other platforms.

Affiliate Sales: Instead of selling something you make, you can sell courses that other teachers make.

Advertising: If you have a popular website or YouTube channel, you can earn from advertising on these platforms.

How to Get Started and What You Need to Teach English Online

The biggest challenge you will have is getting students into your lessons and courses.

This is the foundation on which a successful online teaching business is based. Without paying students, you don’t have a business.

Here is what you will need:

A Website

Your website will be at the center of everything you do. This is where you will have information on what you offer. If you set things up correctly, then it will persuade learners to take lessons with you.

Luckily, designing your own site is much easier to do these days (see the video below).

No matter how you design it, the most important thing to get right is your copywriting and/or videos. The words you use will determine if a learner takes a lessons with you.

Here are some quick tips for your website:

  • Know who you are talking to and what their struggles are
  • Talk directly to these people and tell them how you can solve their problems
  • Tell them what to do

The last part is crucial. You need to make it easy for your learners to request your services.

Here is a video that talks about the options you have when building your website:

More Resources on Designing Your Site

I have put together a free step-by-step tutorial on setting up your site with WordPress. Click here for that. And I also go into all of this in-depth inside my course.

A Teaching Niche

It might seem counter-intuitive, but you want to exclude certain learners from your lessons.

Remember: teaching online allows you to potential target every English learner in the world. When you get more specific with what you offer, certain learners will resonate more. Here is a quote that sums this up:

“When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.”

You can get specific by teaching a specific area of English, by teaching in a certain way, or by targeting specific students.

A Strategy to Bring Learners onto Your Site

Once you have a site that is optimized for learners in your niche, it’s now time to bring learners you are targeting onto that site.

There are many ways to do this. I split these up into short and long-term strategies.

Short-term strategies include posting on classified sites, working your contacts, and advertising. These strategies bring in students straight away, however, they are time-intensive and aren’t passive in nature.

Long-term strategies are more passive but take time to yield results. These include blogging, making videos on YouTube, using social media, and SEO.

To highlight this, here is a graph that shows the number of views that came from YouTube search within the first year of my channel.

YouTube Growth

YouTube search growth during the first year

For the first four months, nothing really happened. But since then, things have grown dramatically. This has continued in 2016.

A lot of the long-term strategies require patience and consistency.

Lesson Plans and Materials

The materials you use for lessons will largely depend on your niche.

The good news is that there are so many free resources that you can use in your online lessons these days. Many big companies have started to provide online resources to meet the demand, and individual teachers have shared their lessons plans with others.

A simple search will yield countless results. To keep these organized, I recommend using Evernote. And if you would like to see lessons plans on this blog, click here.

Legal Stuff

I can’t offer specific advice here as I’m not a legal professional.

What I would recommend, however, is to speak to someone who is an expert in your local area. Ask them whether you need to start a business, how to pay taxes, if you need to register anything.

I started out self-employed and then I registered a business. But this is just my experience.

Other Stuff

There are a lot of useful tools, apps, and resources that will help you teach English online. I have written about my favorite apps here and here.

For me, this is the fun part.

You find the best app to use so that your learners can pay you. You decide on which platform will suit you and your teaching style. You write up a cancelation policy.

You can figure all this out before getting started, or more preferably, find solutions to specific problems you have.

Making the Transition into Online Teaching and Other Tips

Build Teaching Business on the Side

You can build your teaching business on the side.

If you want to move into online teaching, know there are different ways to do this. These are:

  • a slow transition
  • a medium transition
  • a fast transtiion

If you have something that is working for you currently, but you see your future teaching online, then a slow transition would work for you. If you are currently without work and want to get started ASAP, then a fast transition is more preferable.

This article goes into this in more depth.

Here are more tips if you decide to teach English online independently:

Earn While You Learn

One of the most common questions I receive is whether someone is ready to teach English online.

The answer is almost always “yes.”

We all need to get started somewhere. And there is no better way to learn how to solve your learners’ problems than by teaching them.

If you don’t have any experience, be honest with your learners and price accordingly. As you build up your experience, you will offer more value. When you offer more value, you can charge more.

If you have experience teaching in traditional settings, then try an online lesson. You’ll soon get used to the tools at your disposal.

Connect with other Teachers

I was a lone-wolf when I first started. I saw everyone else as competition.

However, my teaching business grew dramatically once I started connecting with other teachers. Going back to your niche, we all offer students something different. There are over 1 billion English learners. There is no competition if you set things up correctly. And you will only benefit by connecting with others.

Teaching online can be quite isolating. Meeting others who do the same thing makes it feel more real. And the support and advice I have received from other teachers have been a huge factor in my success.

Have a Long-Term View and Be Proactive

I have helped hundreds of teachers move online through my mentoring and program. Those who have succeeded have:

  • taken a long-term view
  • kept improving upon what they offer learners
  • been proactive and made changes to their marketing strategy

No one will set things up perfectly straight away. In fact, things are never perfect.

It’s easy to get down if things don’t go to plan within the first couple of weeks. But if you are proactive and make positive changes, then you will get there.

The chart above showed the growth of my YouTube channel. It could have been easy for me to give up after the first three months. However, I stayed consistent with posting videos and constantly improved my videos. And now, I have a lot of momentum going for me.

What to Do Now

If you haven’t registered for your free video training, do so here.

And if you are ready to get started, then consider my step-by-step course and community. This gives you everything you need to succeed.

Thanks for reading.