Learn How to Sell

Independent Teachers: Why You Need to Learn How to Sell

My thoughts on selling have changed dramatically over the past 2-3 years.

At first, I held back. I didn’t feel comfortable selling what I offered. I guess this is because most people think about the worst type of used car salesmen when they see the word ‘sales’. Or Alec Baldwin in Glenn Garry Glenross (warning: strong language).

Selling isn’t something we’re taught in school. It’s not something that we are taught in language schools. But as an online teacher, you’ll have to sell.

What’s interesting is that we’re constantly selling. When I put the case forward for going to my favourite restaurant (an Indian restaurant here in Asheville, in case you were wondering) I’m selling my wife on the experience we’re going to have.

You sell yourself in job interviews.

Kids sell their parents on staying out later.

I read a comment on the Guardian recently that was arguing against selling. He/she did a good job at selling their point of view.

The good news is that there are ways to do this in way where you don’t feel terrible about it. But first, let’s talk about why you need to sell.

Why You Need to Sell

You need to sell because no one is going to do it for you.

Having great lessons or a course that is going to change the world isn’t enough. You need to let people know how valuable your lessons are and why they should sign up.

I know this can be frustrating as the majority of teachers I talk to want to focus on teaching. But the reality is that you need to convince people to buy what you offer.

You need to sell because if you don’t, your learners won’t have confidence in your product or service.

They need to see that you believe in your product (more on this later). If you don’t talk about how amazing you are, no one will think that you can help them. If you don’t get excited about your lessons, your learners won’t. Show enthusiasm for your product/service and don’t hold back.

You need to sell because you need to earn an income.

This is obvious, but worth stating. If you want a full schedule or to have people buy your course, you need to make an effort. You need to get people fired up about what you offer. You need to make sales in order to earn a good living.

And…. you need to sell all the time.

It’s not just our lessons that we need to sell.

Want people to click a link? Sell them on it.

Want people to sign up to your email newsletter? Sell them on it.

Want people to share your post? Well, you get the picture.

Here’s one more example: I get many emails from teachers or business owners wanting me to take a look at their new app, their new site, or their product.

Nine times out of ten the email is generic and doesn’t even include my name. When I get these emails, I delete them. The person isn’t making an effort to sell me on their offering or them as a person.

But someone who has taken the time to learn about me and modifies their message gets my attention. I immediately have more faith in this person and what they have to offer.

Different Ways to Sell

Last night, I watched a live ‘scope’* from someone who I was unsure about.

He is an online entrepreneur who has become successful over the past couple of years. During the live session, I was blown away by how valuable he was – he answered so many specific questions and helped me solve a problem that I had been struggling with.

That ‘scope’ changed my mind about him as a person and the brand he represents.

There was no sales pitch during the stream. But I am more likely to buy a product from him in the future. He was connecting with his audience and selling himself through providing lots of valuable information.

This is an example offering something for free in order to build your brand.

The same entrepreneur also sells hard during a promotion. As do I. But most teachers don’t execute when it comes to getting people inside their lessons.

When I launched my course for English learners, I sent out five emails over four days. On the last day, I sent one in the morning and one just before the course closed.

It was hard to do this because I didn’t want to come across as too pushy. However, I was surprised at the amount of emails I received from those who didn’t sign up but still thanked me for the opportunity.

People procrastinate on buying stuff. It’s your job to convince learners that what you offer can help them. And you need to remind them consistently.

40% of those who signed up for my course made the purchase on the last day. 5 emails over 4 days might sound like a lot, but you’re missing out on a lot of income if you don’t push this.

How hard you sell depends on you, your audience, your product, and how much you believe in what you’re selling.

That last point is key: in order to have the confidence to sell, you need to have confidence in what you’re selling.

I am very proud of the products I have – they have helped change people’s lives. And I think this confidence shines through in my sales pages and emails.

The good news is that you can always improve upon what you have. You can improve your lessons, course, YouTube videos etc. For example, I have just added 21 new videos to my course for English learners. I plan on adding more next month too.

As you get better, improve your offerings, and see positive results, your confidence in what you offer will increase. And when someone who would benefit from your course gets in touch, you’ll have no qualms about telling them how much it will help them.

One last thing: be yourself when you’re selling. Use words you normally use and do it in a way that feels right to you.

Because as an online teacher, you’re selling people on you as a person in addition to the products you offer.

Over to You

Has the way you sell changed over time? How do you feel about selling what you offer?

Let us know below!


If so, join the 5-Day Email Marketing Challenge for FREE! Sign up to get the first lesson instantly delivered to your inbox!

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How to Build First Website

Creating Your First Website: The Tools to Use and What to Include

The first website I put up there for English learners was ugly. The colors didn’t work. The icons were generic. And the copy didn’t excite.

But it worked.

And over time, my website evolved into what it is now. I’ve made lots of small and big changes along the way. It will never be ‘finished’.

I see some teachers get put off getting started because they want perfection right from the start.

But the smarter move is to get something up there as soon as possible. Make it as good as you can make it now – but know that you can always improve it over time.

In this video, I talk about three tools you can use to design your site. Below, I have resources for you and some extra advice about what to include in your first design.

WordPress (The All-in-One solution)

My first recommendation is WordPress.

This gives you the greatest customization moving forward. The good news is that there are so many themes that you can use for your website, including one-page designs (perfect for throwing something up there quickly).

This has the steepest learning curve out of the three. But following my guide and choosing a simple template (you can change this later) will make things easier.

Here is a free tutorial on how to get started with WordPress.

LeadPages (The Easiest Way to Get Started)

Click here to check out LeadPages (affiliate link)

I use LeadPages on this site and for To Fluency. Mainly, I utilize it for landing pages, thank you pages, webinar pages etc.

However, you can use it to have your first online presence. You don’t need to buy hosting for this (although, you could host it on your site) as you can put it on LeadPage’s server. It will look like this: yourname.leadpages.net.

Once your main website is ready, you can redirect traffic from LeadPages to your site.

This is for those who want a good-looking site with minimal effort.

A Website Builder (The Middle Option)

I created my first site using Yola.

This is a website builder that is really easy to use.

Other options include Weebly (aff link), Wix (aff link), and SquareSpace.

The upside of using one of these services is that you don’t need to worry about the technical side of things.

The downside is that you give up some control and it usually ends up being more expensive.

You could always start with this option or LeadPages, and then move over to WordPress when you’re ready.

What to Include on Your First Website

In the video, I talked about having a one-page site that will give you an online presence straight away. You don’t need to worry about having a blog, a contact us page, a pricing page etc. at this stage.

You want people landing on this site to do one thing. This might be to contact you, sign up for your email list, or request a trial lesson.

Once you have your site ready, you can go through your contacts, advertise, and post in the relevant places to drive people to your new site.

This won’t take long at all.

It’s all about getting something up there, getting learners into your lessons, and then taking things from there.

(Note: I go through this process in-depth inside The Teach English Online Course)

Over to You

Do you have any questions about this process? If so, leave them in the comment section below.

If you already have a website, share your experience with getting started.


If so, join the 5-Day Email Marketing Challenge for FREE! Sign up to get the first lesson instantly delivered to your inbox!

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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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