3 Ways teach english online

The Three Ways You Can Teach English Online in 2019

In this video and article, we’re going to explore the three ways in which you can teach English online.

I’ve been an online teacher since 2008. I’ve been fully independent since 2011 and I have built up a popular English-learning brand (see here). And in that time, I’ve seen this space explode.

Watch the video and read below to learn more about how you can teach English – or any language – online.

The three ways you can teach online are:

  • through a company
  • through freelance websites (teacher marketplaces)
  • by going independent

Let’s explore these three options. While we do this, think about how much control you want to have and how much time you want to invest in finding students.

Teach for Online Companies

In the past, this wasn’t an option for most. The pay was terrible and companies didn’t treat their teachers well.

Things have changed, however.

The pay has increased and this whole space has changed dramatically (mainly due to China).

The main advantage of working for a company is that you don’t need to worry about finding your own learners. You show up and teach.

But you don’t have as much control as the other two options.

Your pay is restricted, you have to teach in a certain way, and your position isn’t necessarily stable.

Additionally, there is a big supply of teachers now and most companies look for native speakers from specific countries.

This is perfect for those who don’t want the stress of finding students and just want to show up and teach. Try Vipkids, Dada, and TeachAway.

Join a Teacher Marketplace

This was my first experience of teaching online.

I joined a freelance teaching platform, created my profile, uploaded a video, and then started teaching.

And that’s what you would need to do if you wanted to go freelance on one of these sites.

You have a lot more control here compared to working for a company. Generally speaking, you can:

  • set your own prices
  • teach in your own way
  • only take on students who you want to work with

As students are already on the platform, you don’t need to do too much work to find them. Having said that, you will need to take action and interact with learners in the beginning to build your reviews.

The biggest drawback is that you’re in direct competition with other English teachers. Students here are more likely to browse around and look for the best prices (not always).

This is a great option if you want more control but you don’t want to build everything yourself. Try iTalki and Verbal Planet.

Become an Independent Online Teacher

This is what I’ve been doing since 2011.

At first, I taught solely one-to-one. Then, I introduced group lessons. But over the last few years, I’ve focused on my fluency program (online course).

Going independent gives you full control over everything:

  • your teaching
  • prices
  • your sales pages
  • how you invoice your learners
  • and what you offer – for example, online courses

Building your own platform protects against a company that ditches you or a platform that suddenly changes its pricing structure (happened to me).


… there is much more work involved.

To learn more about what’s involved and how you can go independent, read this article.

You’re fully responsible for getting your own students.

As you can see, there’s a balance between how easy it is to get started and how much control you have.

Going independent is great for those who want more control and the opportunity to scale in the future.

Which One Will You Choose?

Let me take the pressure off by saying this: you don’t have to commit to one for life and you could do a combination of the three.

For example, you might want to get a part-time job while you build your own thing on the side.

Here’s an article I wrote on making this transition.

Do some more research on the above and decide which one – if any! – is for you.

Thanks for reading!


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

email marketing challenge

YouTube Pop

Here’s How to Make Your YouTube Channel Pop (Case Study)

In this video and article, I’m going to:

  • share my YouTube analytics
  • show the three times when my channel has popped
  • go through a simple strategy which you can implement to grow your YouTube channel

My YouTube Channel and the Three Times It Has Popped

I started the To Fluency channel in late 2014.

As you can see, I have seen growth year-on-year:

Year-on-year YouTube

This has been through consistent video uploading and small incremental improvements.

(note: YouTube channels can grow exponentially. At first, it’s like pushing a rock uphill. But once you gain momentum, things start to happen.)

The monthly view is interesting:

You can see three distinct periods when my channel popped. When YouTube started pushing out certain videos to new audiences.

The first time this happened was in 2016. I made a few videos at the start of the year which were focused on goals and motivation.

The second time this happened, an old video suddenly started getting lots of traction. YouTube recommended it to new audiences. Watch it here:

But it wasn’t just random. A few months earlier, I had updated various YouTube videos. For this one, I changed the thumbnail (made the text bigger) and changed the title.

We’ll come on to why this works later.

The third pop came about because I made a few videos that I knew had the potential to do well.

You see:

YouTube is all about giving people what they want and playing the algorithm game. You don’t have to do this all the time or go to extremes but know that it’s important to do if you want your channel to grow faster.

You need videos that are going to reach new audiences. Videos that are going to bring in new subscribers.

Not every video has to be like this.

But make these videos part of your overall strategy.

The video I made was this one:

It has a strong title and a strong thumbnail. It’s on a topic that I know people in my niche like.

YouTube recommends videos that:

  • people click on (high CTR rate)
  • people like (watch time)
  • are engaging (comments, likes, shares)

This video had all of the above. Here are the stats for this one:

It’s received three major pushes (I’m hoping for more!).

It has brought in over 13,000 new subscribers. It’s brough in a lot of new course sales.

I’ve recently made a part two for this. I’ll explain why in the next section.

How to Make Your Channel Pop and Grow Faster

With all that in mind, here is how to make your channel grow faster.

Be Clear on the Action You Want People to Take

This isn’t directly linked to channel growth but it makes smart business sense.

Are you going to rely on YouTube’s monetization? Or are you going to use YouTube as lead generation?

I do both.

I monetize my channel and use YouTube as my main source of leads for my programs.

Find Out What Works and Do More of That

When I made my latest batch of videos, I knew what people wanted and gave them more of that.

Some of the videos that I thought were going to do well didn’t.

But some of them did.

Take a look at your YouTube stats, see which videos have been the most popular, and do more of that.

If you don’t have a channel yet, look at what’s working for others.

Update Old Videos

This is what lead to my second pop.

I took various older videos that had performed well and updated the thumbnails, headlines, descriptions.

From there, post the video to your community tab and share it elsewhere to give it that boost.

Be Consistent and Make More Videos

Make more high-quality videos and be consistent with this.

You’ll notice that a lot of the bigger channels might post once per week.

They have reached the stage where they can do this and still grow. But first, you need to earn the right to get to this stage.

To speed this up, make more videos.

Promote Your Videos

Post your videos on Facebook. Use your email list to grow your audience. Tell people about your channel.

Additionally, use YouTube as a community and get yourself out there.

Comment on other people’s videos and collaborate with others in your niche.


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

email marketing challenge

Active Campaign Pricing

ActiveCampaign Pricing: Which Tier Do You Need? (Good News!)

Thinking about getting Active Campaign but you’re not sure which pricing tier is for you?

Watch the video below (or read the summary) to learn if you need to go Pro or beyond or if the Lite version is adequate.

Join ActiveCampaign here (affiliate link)


Spoiler alert: for online teachers and creators (individual or small teams) the Lite plan is sufficient.

In fact, compared to the competition, what you get on this plan for the price point offers incredible value.

It includes the powerful automation tools – and the basic features – starting at just $9 per month.

I’ve been using Active Campaign since 2015. I switched from a popular email marketing platform which I found to be severely lacking.

The difference was night and day. The best way to sum up ActiveCampaign is that it’s simple yet sophisticated.

You can easily get your basic email autoresponders set up and grow into the other features as and when you need them.

The biggest feature for me is the way in which you set up automations. Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Active Campaign Example

It’s visual and you can drag and drop various actions on to the automation.

Note: to learn all about the power of email marketing go through my 5-step plan for email marketing. Click here to join.

The features on the Pro plan and higher are for businesses that need more complex CRM solutions.

What we’re trying to do is the following:

  • Send our audience a free gift
  • Send follow-up emails (automated) to sell our services
  • Send emails to our audience to launch something new / send new content

The Lite version of ActiveCampaign does all of this and much more. You can also use site tracking and send out automated emails based on certain triggers.

For example, if someone reads a specific blog post, you can follow this up with similar content for them to take a look at.

If you understand the importance of email marketing and are in one of these two camps:

  • you don’t have an email list
  • you have an email list but want to try something new

I highly recommend ActiveCampaign.

Here’s my link to try it out.

Teaching Group English Lessons Online | Rates, Software, and Finding Students

I received the following question recently:

“I’ve been teaching English online for two years giving one-to-one lessons. I’ve tried so many times to give group lessons but it hasn’t worked. My questions is: how do I get students interested in group lessons?”

In this post, you’re going to learn:

  • the benefits of offering group lessons
  • which software to use
  • the challenge of giving group lessons
  • how to get more students to sign up

Watch the video and then read the article below:


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

email marketing challenge

A group lesson is where you teach two or more students at the same time (in real time).

When I first got started teaching online, the connection – and software – just wasn’t good enough to have more than one student meeting at the same time online.

But a lot has changed since 2008!

Back in 2014, I experimented with some group lessons. I met with 3-4 students at a time using Zoom. The connection was good and I enjoyed the dynamic of having more than one learner in the lesson.

The biggest benefit for both the student and teacher is price.

Let’s say that you teach one-to-one lessons and charge $25 per hour.

Having 4 students pay $15 means that:

  • the student is paying $10 less per hour
  • you – as a teacher – earn $20 more (4*$15 = $60)
Advantages of group lessons
It’s not all rosy, however!

Use your calculator to work out potential earnings for your online group lessons.

In addition to price, I also think that group lessons are more fun. Having various students in the lesson means added interaction, less teacher speaking time, and more dynamism.

Most group lessons run over a 10 week period and have between 2-6 learners in the lessons.

Let’s talk about the software you can use before getting into the challenge of finding learners.

Software to Use to Teach Group Lessons Online

I highly recommend using Zoom.

Yes, there is a limit on the free plan to 40 minutes for group lessons.

But the software is perfect for what we want to do here. It’s the best connection out there, has live chat, and you can share your screen and annotate. You can record the lesson too.

It’s worth the upgrade if you want to have one hour lessons but if it’s not in your budget, keep your lessons to 40 minutes.

When it comes to taking bokings, I recommend Calendly.

Here you can:

  • set a time for your lesson
  • take payment
  • limit the number of students who can join

We’ll talk more about other software you might need in a moment. But first, there’s something we need to overcome.

The Challenge of Getting People to Buy Your Group Language Lessons

It all sounds great, right?

You get paid more per hour and the lessons are fun.


… there is a problem. It’s much easier to get someone to sign up for a one-to-one lesson than a group lesson.

The lower price helps to combat this somewhat. But here’s why it’s more challenging:

  • the student can’t pick a time to suit him/her
  • most teachers want to keep learners separated by levels and niche – this reduces the demand for your group lessons
  • many want a personalized lesson instead of having other students in the class
  • learners have to commit to a series of lessons

But don’t get too disheartened.

Here’s what to do to get more sign ups: Get across the benefits of group lessons, having a system in place, and promoting it to the right type of people.

(This is something you’ll learn in my premium course – learn more here).

Benefits include the price of the lessons, interaction, and the learning outcomes from the group lessons.

Highlight this in all your marketing materials.

One factor in your favor here is that there is real urgency and urgency sells. If your group lessons start next Monday, learners have to sign up before then to take part.

To increase your signups, create a landing page so people can sign up (include the calendar that you created) and then promote it.

Promote it by:

  • creating an email list and sending out a promotion
  • sharing the link to your group lessons on social media
  • advertising

Your email list is key. If you don’t have one yet, start one now. Send out various emails on the weeks leading up to the start of your group lessons.

Takeaway: get across the benefits of group lessons, create a landing page, and promote this landing page.

Why You Might Want to Focus on One-to-One Lessons First

If you don’t have an email list yet or if you’re at the beginning stages and don’t have a large following, it’s best to hold back on group lessons and focus on one-to-one instead. That’s because you’ll need several students to fill up a specific time slot.

Once you have built an audience, then start these type of lessons.

Or you might want to focus on online courses instead.

Let me know your thoughts!


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

email marketing challenge


The 6-Step Plan for Creating, Selling, and Scaling an Online Course (2019)

(Note: this article contains affiliate links – if you’re considering purchasing any of the resources I recommend, I’d be grateful if you do so through my links 😀)

Since 2015, the main revenue source for my business has been through the selling of online courses.

You’re here probably because you’ve been thinking about creating your own course. Or you’re in the initial stages of doing so. What I can say is this:

Creating and selling online courses is the number one way you can scale your teaching business. If you get this right, it can be very lucrative and can potentially change your business and your life.

However, there is work to be done.

This article will take you through my 6-step plan so that you can create, sell, and scale your own online course(s). So that you can start this journey.

There are two stages to this:

  1. Launching a course that is successful (people buy it and like it)
  2. Scaling it

Watch the video below and read the article to learn about my strategy and how you can implement this too.

create and sell online courses


Click the button below to get access to the free PDF. I'll also send you some bonus tips on creating courses that sell.

Step 1: Build an Audience – You Won’t Make any Sales without a List

Do this now.

Sign up for email marketing software (this is what I highly recommend) and build an audience.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. You need an audience to launch your course to (step 4)
  2. You can get feedback from your audience as you’re building things out

Think about this as money in the bank. The more people on your list, the better. But don’t just go chasing numbers. Attract the right type of people. People who would be interested in a course created by you.

To build your audience, offer something for free. A free PDF – like this one! – is perfect. Then, promote this free PDF on social media and elsewhere using my social media + CTA strategy.

Here is a picture of one of my YouTube videos on my To Fluency YouTube Channel:

Notice the two call-to-actions (CTAs)? The video is pure content and I let the CTA’s take care of the rest.

Here is an in-depth article I wrote that goes through how to use email marketing.

Build an audience on social media too. But know that the majority of your sales are going to come through email.

Continue building this audience as you go through the other steps.

Step 2: Create Your Course

Now, it’s time to create your course. Here are the different stages of this:

  • Choose a topic
  • Write out the modules and lessons
  • Create the slides for videos / write out your presentation
  • Record the videos
  • Edit the videos
  • Create further resources

The first part of this isn’t as intense. You’re coming up with ideas, finalizing them, and writing your first draft.

If you’re unsure about a topic for your course, start with common problems / desires your audience have and how a video-training course could help.

Look at what others are doing for inspiration. Consider if you want to create a flagship course or mini-courses.

Then, go with what you think is best. Know that you can pivot or change things up at a later date.

When it comes to modules and lessons, I like to do this in bullet-point format. After this, you’ll be creating slides (PowerPoint / Keynote) or writing a script.

Then, it comes time to record. This is where things get intense. You might want to do this slowly, slowly, but I think it’s best to blast this part out.

Timeblock your way to recording success and gain some momentum.

If you’re unsure about what you need to record videos, check out my recommendations here.

Think about how you want to present your videos and what equipment you’ll need.

It’s out of the scope of this free guide to go into depth here, but choose your editing software of choice and maybe hire out some of the technical stuff.

Edit those videos, export them, and put them in a file.

Here’s some additional stuff you can add to your course:

  • Worksheets (most courses have these)
  • PDF summaries
  • Feedback
  • Audio downloads

You might want to hold some of this back for potential bonuses.

Alright, that was easy. You have a course. Time to upload it somewhere. But where?

Step 3: Host and Sell Your Course on One of these Platforms

This is all about a balance between control and ease.

There are four main options here:

  1. Host it on your own website – MemberMouse + WordPress
  2. Host it on a student marketplace such as Udemy
  3. Host it on neutral ground – Teachable
  4. Delivery your course through something like Gumroad or Selz

Putting it on your website gives you the most control over everything. You can choose your own price, colors, theme, checkout process, affiliate software… I could go on.

But it can be a pain to get this set up. For example, you need to install WordPress plugins, configure them, and install website security certificates.

If you’re looking for something pain-free, Udemy is a good option. All you have to do is fill in templates and upload your videos.

But you’re restricted on pricing (they are constantly running crazy promotions) and how you can communicate with your customers. This option gives you the least amount of control.

If in doubt, use Teachable. It’s a great middle ground and they’re constantly giving their creators more control over every aspect of creating a selling a course.

Check out the features they offer here.

Once you’ve made that decision, it’s time to finalize a price and write your sales page.

Pricing is tough. You’re never going to just magically hit that sweet spot. But know that you can:

  • Increase your prices
  • Offer discounts
  • Offer multiple packages

It’s much easier to increase your prices as you go. In fact, this can be a good marketing strategy.

You can increase your prices over time.

You can give everyone on your list one last chance to get in at the current price.

Again, take a look around and see what others are charging and make a decision without dwelling on it too long.

With your sales page, make sure you focus on the benefits of taking a course and not just the features of the course.

Be sure that the visitor knows what the result will be after going through everything. For example, “After taking this course, you’ll know exactly how to make engaging videos and you’ll get the support you need to ensure you get this right.” Or something like that.

Tie features to benefits. For example, “You can download the course in audio format so that you can easily listen to it on the go.”

If this is all overwhelming, you can hire a copywriter to do this part for you.

Step 4: Launch Your Course

Things are getting tasty now. You’ve come a long way. It’s now time to launch.

Set a date for your course release, build up some anticipation – share your progress on social media and send out teaser emails – and then get ready for a crazy and draining week.

Practically, this is what I recommend:

  • Launch for a period of five days
  • Offer an incentive to buy during those five days (discount/bonuses/closed for a period of time)
  • Send an email every day it’s open
  • Answer questions as soon as possible
  • Be prepared by writing the emails ahead of time
  • Try not to check sales every 5 minutes

Know this: most of your sales will come late on in the week. The “Last Chance” email will be your most profitable email.

Be sure to send a “Last Chance” email

Promote things on social media too. To take things to the next level, advertise.

It’s important to be excited about your course. If you’re not excited about it, others won’t be.

Important: give people a good incentive to buy during your launch. There must be some urgency. You can close it down for a while after launch. Or offer a discount for early birds. Or offer bonuses.

After launch, take a break. You’ll need it.

Step 5: Automate the Sales Process

If things go to plan and your course sells well – and people like it! – now it’s time to scale.

Don’t play this down. You’ve got something that more people want. You’re in an amazing position if you get here.

Take advantage of it.

The first step is to create a funnel. This is where you:

  • Offer something for free so that people join your email list
  • Send out automated offers / emails that sell your course for you

This is key. It’s how you’re going to scale. Take care of conversions before you drive people to your site.

This is your new sales funnel

There are two main funnels you can create. You can:

  1. Offer a personalized deadline for each individual subscriber (use this)
  2. Use the P.S. method

The first option is similar to when a clothing retailer offers 20% off your first order. You enter your email address and have a limited amount of time to take the offer.

This works well. You can offer similar incentives to those you offered during your launch. It gives people a reason to buy within a specific amount of time.

The second option can be automated or part of your regular emails. This is also known as the one-email per day method (you don’t have to send emails every day).

The key to this is sending emails with that offer value and link to your course. For example, you could talk about three types of YouTube videos to make and then say, “By the way, to get an in-depth guide to this and more tips, join my course today.” Or something like that.

I recommend testing different funnels to see what works.

Step 6: Drive Traffic and Grow through Content Marketing and Advertising

Once you have your funnel, it’s time to get leads.

The main way to do this is to create content with a call-to-action (CTA) – as you learned in step one.

Here’s what is great about this stage: you know that the content you create is going to lead to sales. Especially, when you know your numbers.

There are two main ways to grow:

  1. Content marketing
  2. Advertising

When I make a video on YouTube, I know that a certain amount of people are going to download my free book. From there, I know that a certain percentage of those new leads will go on to buy my course.

Here are some of the ways you can create content:

  • blog
  • post on social media
  • podcast
  • create videos on YouTube
  • guest post / podcast

The more people you reach, the more course sales you will make. Create a content strategy that will help you reach as many people as possible.

Advertising can potentially allow you to scale quickly. It’s difficult to get this right first time. Know that you need to optimize everything so that you get the right type of leads going through your sales funnel at the right price.

Over to You

Let me know if you have any questions about implementing this strategy. I’d love to help.

And if you haven’t done so already, get your free guide and receive more information about how you can start selling your own courses.

create and sell online courses


Click the button below to get access to the free PDF. I'll also send you some bonus tips on creating courses that sell.

LeadPages Sites Review

LeadPages Sites Review: Is this New Website Builder a Game Changer?

(Note: links below are affiliate links.)

I’ve been using LeadPages since 2013 to create landing pages and to integrate opt-in forms on my websites.

I was excited to hear that they have now added LeadPages Sites to all plans. This is a website builder that focuses on conversions.

Can this rival WordPress and SquareSpace? Watch this video to find out (or read the article below).

Get your 14-day free trial here!

Who LeadPages Sites Is For

The main selling point on LeadPages Sites is providing templates that focus on conversions.

Many businesses make the mistake of creating a website that looks good – you know, lots of fancy sliders and images – but one that doesn’t convert. When this happens, visitors will browse but won’t take action. Not good.

LeadPages Sites helps you attract more leads and make more sales.

It works like this:

  • You customize one of the templates that LeadPages provides
  • Then, you link this to your domain account (GoDaddy, for example)
  • LeadPages will host it for you

Here’s an example of a template.

LeadPages Example Template
Here’s an example of one of the templates

You can:

  • drop other widgets onto your site
  • change the font style and the color theme
  • add new pages
  • embed opt-in boxes and online booking calendars
  • set it up for SEO


… you can’t add blog posts (yet).

That is the one downside that might affect your decision. There are some workarounds. For example, you can install a WordPress blog on a subdomain. If that works for you, great! If not, you might want to consider WordPress instead.

Go here to read their response to my comment about blogging capabilities to learn more.

Other Things to Consider

What’s interesting is that LeadPages has included this new feature to all their existing plans.

If the blogging issue doesn’t concern you, I think this is a great option as you can build a website, implement all their conversion tools, and use other features such as A/B testing to give your conversions a further boost.

Like I said before, I’ve used this platform for years now and highly recommend it. Their support is great and responsive too.

You’re not going to get lots of fancy features with LeadPages Sites. Instead, it’s going to help you focus on what matters: generating leads and sales.

If you’re considering it, why not give it a try?

You can take a 14-day free trial here.

Oh… and be sure to take our 5-day Email Marketing Challenge to learn how to create automated email campaigns that convert.


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

email marketing challenge

teach english online

How to Teach English Online: The Ultimate Guide (2019)

teach english online(Updated for 2019)

Since I started teaching English online in 2011, I’ve seen this space explode.

There are many reasons why online teaching is so appealing.

It opens up a lot of creative opportunities for you as a teacher, giving you the ability to go down your own teaching path and teach the way that you believe is best for your students.

Teaching English online takes away the geographical restrictions. You can access any English learning market in the world, which gives you more leverage to charge what you feel you deserve.

And of course, moving online allows you to teach from home or from anywhere.

If teaching online appeals to you, this article will give you the information you need to thrive in this space.

I focus on helping teachers or teachers-to-be do this independently.

Before I share my best tips, know that there are different options for you.

(Note: some of the resources I link to in this article are affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you sign up to a service at no extra cost to you.)

Watch the video below and/or read the article below:


There are three main ways that you can teach English (or any language!) online:

  1. You can find an online teaching job (check out VipKid – U.S. and Canadian residents only)
  2. You can post your profile on freelancing websites
  3. You can find your own paying students

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


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

email marketing challenge

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 positive reviews.

When I started, I didn’t have any training or prior teaching experience. I had just got back from traveling and needed something flexible.

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

  1. I spent time crafting my teaching 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 inundated with new teachers.

If you advertise your services on these platforms, make sure you stand out.

Be clear on who would benefit from your lessons and why. State what you can offer (your teaching niche) and use the platform to get in front as many potential students as you can.

Going independent was the best professional decision I have made. 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 attracted private students:

  • I designed a website highlighting 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

Why Going Independent Might Be for You

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 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.

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. Additionally, it comes with extra stress and you have to research taxes and everything else.

If you want an online job, check out VipKid (if you’re based in the U.S. or Canada).

But if you want to go independent, then read on to learn more!


You will have to include the following in your initial setup: a VOIP service, a payment gateway, a cancellation policy, and although not a requirement, a headset.

Let’s start with the software we need to have to be able to connect with English learners from anywhere in the world.

Connecting with Your Students

teach English online using ZoomFirstly, make sure that your computer and internet are fast enough and working as they should be.

There is nothing more frustrating than having a bad connection when teaching.

To be able to connect with students online, the best option is Zoom.

I have moved my students from Skype to Zoom as the connection is better and it has fewer problems.

If you’re looking for a simple solution – something that everyone has heard of – check out Skype. You are limited by what you can do, but the connection has improved a lot over the years and most students have experience using this.

Note: if you want to teach your lessons using your phone, this is possible.

You can use both Zoom and Skype, as well as other platforms such as Messenger or WhatsApp.

Receiving Payment for Your Online Lessons

PayPal is the obvious choice for receiving payments; it has been around for a long time and most online teachers use it as their tool of choice.

I have used PayPal for years now, and after researching other options, I still use it.

(Note: if you’re going to create and sell online courses, you might want to use something else in addition to PayPal.)

Getting started is really simple: after signing up, you can easily place payment buttons on your website (more about your website later), and send invoices directly to your students through email.

When you send invoices, your students will receive a link where they can enter their payment details. This money is then transferred to your PayPal account, which in turn can be withdrawn to your bank account.

PayPal typically charges around 2.9% + $0.30 for every transaction, but withdrawing to your bank account is free. (These fees may vary depending on your country.)

A drawback of using PayPal is that it isn’t available in all countries. This link has information about the countries where it is accepted.

A Strong Cancelation Policy

Writing up a cancellation policy is something that every teacher needs to do.

Keep it simple and stick to it. This will cover your back when students cancel or don’t show to your arranged lesson.

Just having a policy isn’t enough; you have to clearly explain this policy to your students, and make sure that they understand what the consequences are when a lesson is canceled, or if they don’t show.

Good Audio

A headset isn’t obligatory, but it certainly helps. Instead of a regular headset, I use the following: these earphones and this microphone.

The value you get from these items is fantastic; the earphones, although very cheap, are really comfortable and they have great audio. The quality of the microphone is incredible, and many professional podcasters use this for their shows.

If you prefer a headset, I’ve heard great things about this one.

In most cases, Apple earphones (or the equivalent) will be sufficient.

When I first meet with my students, I suggest that they use earphones or an external microphone too.

This increases the effectiveness of my teaching, and also my enjoyment of the lessons.

Tax Implications

I’m not a legal or tax expert.

Talk to a professional and ask about legal and tax implications where you live.

Here is a video on this:


Being an independent teacher means bringing in students yourself.

In this section, I’m going to break this down and give you some short and long-term strategies.

There are many things to consider; let’s start with the question of who you are going to teach and what lessons you are going to give.

Your Teaching Niche

Being clear on your teaching niche is the key to thriving to bringing in new students.

It’s not just good enough to say that you teach English online.

Get clear on the following:

  • who you teach
  • how you teach
  • what area of English you teach

Let’s say you want to focus on teaching conversational English. Great! But how are you going to teach these lessons? What type of learners do you want to teach? What materials are you going to use?

Having clarity here helps you give the best lessons you can and it helps you attract the types of learners you want to target.

Having said all that, don’t let this stage put you off from getting started.

Your niche will evolve over time and it’s impossible to know what type of teacher you’re going to be without any teaching experience.

There are many reasons to work towards becoming specialized in teaching a certain niche (more about this here), but one of the key reasons is making sure that you are targeting students who can and will pay you what you want to be paid.

This brings us nicely to the next point…

A Pricing Structure

pricing online lessonsThere are two different questions to answer when coming up with your pricing structure: how much do you WANT to earn? And, how much CAN you charge for students in a certain niche?

The answer to the first question will vary depending on your circumstances, expectations, and earning goals. Answering the second question helps you find the niche that fits your income needs.

The going rate for many established online schools is anywhere between $15 and $50 an hour (charging more is possible).

To charge these sort of prices will involve you having to think about what type of students you should target, knowing where to find them, and then converting them into paying students.

As well as having your base rate, you should also offer packages at discounted rates. Offering an incentive will bring in more students, and having students sign up for more than one class improves your retention rate and makes things easier for you.

You should also think about how you want to approach giving a trial lesson. When starting out, I recommend giving away free trials.

Yes, you will attract some freeloaders. But you will also get experience.

Implement paid trials once you have more experience and higher demand for your lessons.

For more about pricing, click here.

Sell Courses Too!

At this stage, it’s worth noting that there are various ways that you can bring in an income when you teach online.

Over the past few years, I’ve focused on selling my online courses

Here are six ways to earn money as an online English teacher:

A Teaching Website


My website is at the center of everything I do

Having a website is a must for the long-term.

This online presence will become the center of all of your marketing efforts.

There are a host of options when it comes to getting your own teaching site. From my experience, and after doing a lot of research, I have whittled it down to three:

1. Have someone to build a website for you.

2. Use a drag-and-drop template based website builder (my recommendation is Weebly), and create your own site.

3. Use WordPress, and again, build the site yourself (see our free step-by-step guide on getting started)

If you want to reduce the starting costs, options two and three are the best. Both of these options will cost you between $3-10 a month if you keep things simple, and you’ll need to buy your domain name separately (use Godaddy for this).

Weebly is great for starting out. I used a similar website builder for my first site but moved it over to WordPress in 2012.

WordPress has become the platform of choice for web designers, and I can’t recommend it enough. There are certain things that you have to learn, but using our guide will help you get started.

For more information on building a website, see this post.

Create a System that Will Convert Learners

teach online system

A system that works

A big mistake I see teachers make is that they create their website without any type of sales system in mind.

A learner will land on their site, take a look around, and then leave.

What we want to do is to create a system that will convert learners into paying students.

We can do this by setting up our site so that our visitors take action by:

  • requesting a trial lesson
  • downloading something for free (and adding learners to our email list)

Choose one of those options and create your site so that this is what they do.

For example, when a learn visits my site I encourage them to download my free book.

Once they download this book, they get added to my email list. I send them useful content and information about my lessons and courses.

If you focus on giving one-to-one lessons, you can tell your learners to request a trial lesson with you.

Put a big CTA (call-to-action) on your homepage, about page, blog posts… any page that you create.

Once you have this system set up, you’re ready to bring learners on to your website.

How to Find Students and Build Awareness

I always get asked the following question by teachers who want to teach online: “How do I get students?”

There are certain things that you can do to attract students now, while other strategies will bring in students over the long-term.

The most important thing is to know who your target market is and where to find them.

Being able to define your audience is the first step.

This is often overlooked, but knowing as much as you can about potential students will help you bring them to your website and convince them that they will benefit from taking lessons with you.

Most marketing strategies that are effective in this field can be grouped into two different groups: short-term and long-term.

Short-term strategies include things like advertising and bring immediate results.

This is perfect for when first starting out, or whenever you need to quickly fill your schedule.

Some of these methods cost a little money, but there are many ways that you can do this for free. For example, you can post on sites like Craigslist and offer your services.

Long-term strategies don’t have such an immediate effect, but once you have these established, your initial work will bring in students for the months and years ahead.

These strategies include creating content on your site, improving your site’s search rankings, uploading videos, and using social media.

youtube teach english online image

I love creating videos on YouTube

For example, I create videos for my YouTube channel. At the end of every video, I tell my learners to download the book that I mentioned before.

There are some videos that I made back in 2014 that still bring in a constant stream of students.

How much content you create to help you build up a passive system depends on your goals, where you currently are with your online teaching journey, and what you offer.

You may only want to use short-term methods. That’s fine. But be open to new ways further down the line.

I can’t talk about getting new students without mentioning referrals.

Referrals are the most efficient way to fill your schedule. You should concentrate your efforts on trying to get as many as you can.

Just ask your current learners if they know anyone who would also benefit from your lessons.

Connections and Community

When I started teaching online, I initially had the mentality of being a lone-wolf; I tried to do everything on my own, worked in isolation, and hardly ever asked for help.

But, I have recently changed my approach and have connected with many fellow ESL/EFL teachers. This has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me. 

Since I have connected with others, it feels more like a group effort. I can now bounce ideas off others and ask for advice when I need it.

And, my long-term goal for this website is to create a space where online teachers can connect and work together to succeed in online teaching.

To find other teachers, use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. Put yourself out there and start creating relationships.

(Click here to follow me on Facebook)

Materials and Resources for Online Lessons

The type of materials that you will use in class very much depends on your niche and teaching style. There are some online courses that you have to pay an initial fee to have access to. However,

There are some online courses that you have to pay an initial fee to have access to. However, there are many great free resources that I have found through my contacts.

Here are three examples: Film English (lesson plans based on films), Breaking News English (lesson plans based on news articles), and for something more structured, Off2Class.

I’ve used the above sites and many others for my general English lessons.

What’s the best way to find these resources? Go on Twitter or the other networking sites and connect with teachers.

Tools You’ll Need to Teach Online and Other Considerations

I use Google calendar to keep my lessons organized, and several spreadsheets to record what I have done with my students and for other admin tasks.

I save my lesson plans to Evernote.

I use WaveApps to track the financial side of things.

I run my email list through Active Campaign

… I could go on and on. For more on this, check out my resources. These tools make our life easier and make teaching online fun.

A quick note on getting started:

This is often the hardest part.

My best advice is this: don’t wait to be perfect because that will never happen.

Teach to get experience. Create videos to learn how to make better videos. Start marketing your lessons now.

And read this if you want to learn more about making this transition.

Thanks for reading. Please share if you found it useful!


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

email marketing challenge