Specific Countries

The Smart Way to Target a Specific Country With Your Online Lessons

No matter the reason a learner has, I always experience that sinking feeling when I get told that they don’t want to continue with lessons. But, I soon move on and either find a new student to take that time slot (the power of having an email list), or as I have done recently, reduce my teaching hours to work on other projects.

It happened to me this week: one of my students from Russia told me that he couldn’t continue. He thanked me for the lessons that I have given him (he has taken conversational English lessons for the last two years), but said that he just couldn’t continue.

His reason?

The following graph explains why:

Exchange Rate Ruble

Russian Rubles per $1 USD (xe.com)

The price of his English lessons have gone up by two thirds since July due to the exchange rate between the dollar and the ruble (Russian currency). He was hopeful that the ruble was going to bounce back after an initial decrease in value (he’s a financial analyst), but you can see that recently it has depreciated quite rapidly over the past few weeks.

A couple of other Russian students have also dropped lessons over the past few months for the same reason, saying that they would like to take lessons again after a potential correction.

What can we conclude from this?

It is risky when you only target English learners from a specific country

Luckily, I hadn’t set everything up just to target Russian students. I get learners for my lessons and courses from many different countries. But if I had set everything up for learners from Russia, then I would be having some problems right now.

When thinking about your teaching niche, know that there are risks involved if you only target learners from a specific country. If you live in the country you target, then these problems are minimized and maybe non-existent as you’re paid in the same currency. But otherwise, relying on the exchange rates and political situations to remain stable is risky.

The Smart Way to Target Specific Countries

There are certain ways that you can target a specific country (or countries) without building your whole teaching business around this country.

Here are some examples:

Create Landing Pages

Instead of building your whole website around one country, you can create landing pages (specific pages that learners land on) for specific countries. You can send learners from, let’s say Brazil, to this specific page through your marketing efforts, and on this page, you can have information that resonates with with these learners.

Your website can be more general and resonate with learners in other ways (teaching style, common problems etc.).

Youtube Playlists

Instead of creating a Youtube channel dedicated to learners of a specific country, you can create playlists instead. Videos for this playlist can go into depth about the problems these learners have, with videos that solve these problems.

Posting and Advertising

The quickest way to bring students to your site (or to your specific landing page) – and then into your lessons – is through posting, networking, and advertising. And all of these methods can be used for targeting specific countries. For example, using Facebook ads, you can specify in which countries you want your ads to be shown.

(Note: Inside The Teach English Online Course, you will find videos and resources based on finding your teaching niche, creating a landing page, using Youtube, and also posting and advertising to bring learners into your lessons.)

These methods mean that you can target learners from one country (or more) without putting your teaching business at risk when political situations and exchange rates change.

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Mark Barnes Interview

Student Centered Learning, Social Learning, and Twitter: An Interview with Mark Barnes

There was an article popping up in my various social media feeds the other day called, “Why Everyone Should Be On Twitter.” I then realized it was by Mark Barnes, another fellow presenter in the TTO MOOC. I then read some more of his stuff, asked him for an interview, and a couple of days later we met on Google Hangouts.

In the interview discussion we talk about student centered learning, narrative feedback, social learning, why teachers should be on Twitter and how best to use this platform.

Below the interview I break down what was discussed and relate this to ELT.

Here is the video interview:

What We Discussed

Mark was a teacher for 20 years, and left the classroom two years ago to focus more on his writing and professional development. Let’s start with..

Creating a Results Based Environment

Mark talks about how he was a “traditional teacher” for the first ten years of his career, but after taking some time to research motivation, he decided to do something different. His biggest focus for this was the final result: learning.

To achieve this he created what he calls a chaotic environment, one where kids are working on different things, have long-term projects, and use different technology to head towards a goal and learn whatever the objective is at that time.

“The most important thing of all was I eliminated traditional grading… I’m tired of measuring kids learning and punishing them if they don’t turn something in… that turned out to be something really exciting.”

Narrative Feedback

Mark talks about a system that he pulled from other systems called SE2R (Summarize, Explain, Redirect, and Resubmit). This is using descriptive feedback to eliminate subjectivity and comparisons. It gives the student to go back and revisit prior learning.

“I think that education should be about mastery learning and not punishing kids with grades.”

We then go on to discuss the tools that we can use to achieve this.

Social and Mobile Learning

Mark then goes on to talk about social and mobile learning and how we should find ways to incorporate the devices our students have into their learning.

“We are heading to a place, very soon, where every kid will have a mobile device.”

“Educators have to face it, and they have to prepare for it.. I have to be ready to use it myself.”

There is then some great advice given in terms of how to do this: watch online videos and actually use the devices and applications that you want to use. And learning how to use these tools will take less time than you think.

Twitter

Mark’s article went viral this week. And he gives a couple of reasons why everyone should be on Twitter (click here for the full list):

1. Free Professional Development: Twitter has an advantage in that it is very professional. Following other educators and following specific chats gives you access to advice and resources in your industry.

2. Kids are moving to Twitter from other platforms.

When joining Twitter, it is important to follow these discussions, find “How to Use Twitter Videos,” follow people in your industry (more specifically, find one person who you look up to and follow who they are following), and post with hashtags when first starting.

Relating this to ELT

Throughout the interview I related what Mark discussed to ELT. Here are some ideas I talked about and more on reflection.

Traditional Marking and feedback: The language schools that I worked in liked exams, and it seemed like half our time was spent on either studying for an exam, taking an exam, or reviewing an exam.

I really like the idea of trying to achieve mastery in learning, especially in our industry. Having running feedback, using Google Drive for example, means that we can ensure that our students stop making mistakes that seem to be engrained. This is something that I have implemented through creating audio resources for my learners.

Repetition is such an important part of learning a language. It is our job to make this fun and engaging.

Student Centered Learning: Although we didn’t talk about this too much, it is really important that we help our students find their intrinsic motivation. This is what I believe to be at the core of a results based classroom, especially when talking about online ELT.

An easy way to do this is to make the lessons centered around the interests of your learners. For example, I have one learner who is an athlete (running, rogaining, skiing, and biking!). The materials we use are centered around these topics. By doing this, we talk about things that she is interested in and she also learns the language that she needs to know.

I recently posted a video for my online learners that talks about how to read interesting things and how to subscribe to blogs (click here to watch it).

Social and Mobile Learning: As I mentioned in our discussion, I convince my students to change the language of their devices into English, and use these devices to read, listen, and watch things in English.

This really helps when it comes to getting the input needed to make progress in English. People are going to use these devices; as educators we need to think about ways to use this to our and our student’s advantage.

Twitter: Mark has given me the motivation to follow more discussions on Twitter and to use this platform for professional development. If you follow Marks advice, you will get so much out of this platform.

Resources Mentioned in Our Discussion

You can follow Mark on Twitter and check out his blog: Brilliant or Insane.

Here are Mark’s books:

Role Reversal

The Five Minute Teacher

Teaching the iStudent

And, here is the website Learn it in 5.

I also mentioned the Twitter discussion #ELTchat, you can find out more information about this here.

Mark talked about Daniel Pink and his book Drive (I’ve just ordered it – I’ve been wanting to get this for a while now), and research from Alfie Kohn.

Over to You

I would love to hear your feedback on student centered learning, social and mobile learning, and narrative feedback. Here are some questions:

How do you keep a narrative feedback with your learners?
How are you incorporating devices into learning?
How are you bringing out your learners’ intrinsic motivation?

Please leave your comments below; I really appreciate them.

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SEO for Teachers

SEO for Teachers: How to Get Your Website Ranked Highly in the Search Engines

SEO for Teachers

It takes less work than you think

Wednesday, 25th April was a strange day for me. And for countless other people too. When I checked my website analytics I thought there was a mistake. I was used to getting 500+ visits a day to my website, the vast majority of these coming through Google search. But only 98 visited. What was going on?

I immediately went to an SEO (search engine optimization) forum to see if this had happened to others. General chaos. It seemed like everyone had lost traffic to their site. There was anger and frustration, and people didn’t really know what was happening.

I checked my analytics the next day and the traffic hadn’t come back. I went back onto the forum and people were talking about a big nasty penguin (the update that Google made to their algorithm was called, “The Penguin Update”).

The search traffic that (I thought) I relied on to get new students, they told me on the forum, wasn’t going to come back any time soon. I was feeling lost and wasn’t sure what to do. I was reading comment after comment from people who had their income slashed overnight due to this one update. I was feeling their pain and nodding along to the posts full of anger. But out of nowhere there was a comment that changed everything.

The comment went something like, “If you base your entire business model on one form of lead generation, especially when this is something as volatile as SEO, then you only have yourself to blame.”

I was firstly in denial, but after a couple of days of comment repeating in my head, it started to really resonate. And it was then when I used different methods to get learners to sign up to lessons with me.

What I Was Doing Wrong

SEO for teachers

Steadily building and then.. DROP!

Once I got some composure back after the initial shock, I took a little time to think about what to do next. I also thought about whether all the SEO work that I did was worth it.

Although I was bringing in 500 learners a day to my site, the percentage of those converting into paying students, quite frankly, terrible. I was getting massive traffic, but I wasn’t getting them to do what I wanted them to do. Why was my conversion rate so low?

– Was what they were reading not good enough?
– Were they coming for the wrong reasons?
– Was I doing a bad job of converting them?

Yes, yes, and yes. I was writing content that was written for the search engines (to make it come higher up in the rankings); I was targeting search terms that weren’t really connected with what I was offering, but instead for terms that were easy to rank; and my conversion tactics were very basic at this stage too.

But what did I learn from this? And should teachers use SEO as a tactic for getting students?

SEO for Teachers

Bringing learners onto your site through the search engines can be incredibly profitable. That is why I spent so much of my time and energy into making this happen for me at the start. But what I was doing to get higher rankings was what caused my sudden drop in rankings.

The good thing about SEO these days is that, on the whole, the things that you should be doing for your website anyway are the same things you should be doing to increase your rankings. There are just a few extra things that you need to put in place first.

Here are some guidelines on what you should do to if you want your website to rank highly (note: I have used these exact tactics to get 2,500 visitors a month to this site through search engines like Google).

Use the Right Search Terms

One of the search terms that brought in the most traffic for my English learning site was “Present perfect simple.” I saw that I could rank highly for this if I did the right (which are now the wrong) things. My hope that it when English learners came to my site that they would see that I offered lessons and want to take them.

But the search term wasn’t exactly targeted. And also my method of converting students at that time was pretty uninspiring. So, it all starts with the right search terms for your niche. And to get this right you have to write about things that are relevant to your audience and what you’re offering.

When I looked at my analytics, my paying customers were coming through search terms like, “Learn English Skype.” Which was exactly what I was offering. This is an example of using the right search terms.

Think about what keywords are relevant to your site and then create content based on this.

Optimize Your Website

To ensure that your site ranks highly you need to optimize it for the search engines. Some people go too far with this and their website looks like it has been written for robots. There are ways to achieve readable and engaging copy while at the same time including what you need to include to optimize your site.

There are certain things that you can do that are quite easy to implement; this includes: having a quick site, the right plugins, a clear menu, and having keywords (the search terms people use) in your title and text. This is much easier to do now when using WordPress, as the themes that I recommend have all of this already built in.

Write Great Content

This is a must for anyone with a website, and not just for SEO. Google’s job is to have the best content at the top of the search results, and they have some pretty smart ways to calculate what is good content and what isn’t (note: they are getting better at this all the time.)

It is your job to write really engaging content on your site. Assuming that you are targeting the right keywords, then this is the area I recommend spending your most time and creative energy on.

If your content is excellent, people will share it, spend more time reading it, and will link to it. When people do this, they are telling Google that your content is worth showing in their search results. And your website will climb up the rankings.

If it Feels Wrong, Don’t Do It

My initial thought back in 2010, when I read that having links pointing back to your site is the most important factor when it comes to ranking, was, “Well, let’s get some links!”

I quickly found ways to automate this process and have hundreds of links pointing to my site. That is why I got the infamous Google Slap. What I was doing didn’t feel right, and I ignored anyone who said that it was going to come back and haunt me.

Now, I just concentrate on having my website optimized, write the best content I can, and share what I write in the right ways. If you build it and share it, links will follow.

The 80/20 Rule

What it comes down to is this: being high in the rankings can do amazing things for our teaching business. Getting targeted visitors through Google and other search engines means that you can expand your teaching business by hiring other teachers and/or offering different courses and products.

But it takes time to get to this stage, and if you try to force it, you will most likely get penalized in the long-term. The amount of time I spend doing or thinking about SEO is very limited now, and what brings me results is what I should be doing anyway (writing my best stuff, sharing it, connecting with others etc.).

It makes me cringe thinking about what I used to do, and the drop in rankings was a blessing in disguise as it helped me realize that I was focusing on the wrong things.

So, take a long-term view and relax knowing that if you do the right things that your site will climb up the rankings, bringing in targeted organic traffic. And more clients/sales along with it.

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Teaching Update 2014

My 2014 Goal Update + 80/20, Batching, and Focus

Teaching Update 2014

In January, I wrote a post looking back on 2013 and also talked about my English teaching goals for 2014. Writing down this helped me process what I wanted to achieve and created some accountability. I also hoped that it would inspire others to get into the world of online teaching.

In the post, I stated that I wanted to focus my creative efforts on podcasting, videos, and building my email list. In addition, I talked about starting group lessons and creating a teaching guide. Here is my progress with this so far:

2014 Goal Updates

Please note that all but one of my goals below are related to English teaching.

Building My Email List

I’ve made a big effort to increase my email list numbers this year. The results have been incredible (a 1000% increase in subscribers). The main reason for this increase was because I started giving things away for free.

I wrote a 16 page book/guide called, “The Five Keys to Becoming Fluent in English.” This turned out to be really popular and was shared extensively by those who read it. In addition to this book, I’ve also given webinars that have proven to be really popular too, and when someone signs up, they get added to my list. I love the excitement of a live event with 200/300+ people watching, and it is great to help so many people at the same time.

Having this list has meant that I can directly reach my followers (and potential students), and this way of communication is much more effective than social media.

(Note: Subscriber numbers are not the be all and end all. A community needs to be served, and to do this you have to continually send quality content. This is true for your emails and what you have on your website.)

(Here is a guide on how to start your own email list)

Group Lessons and Courses

I started group conversational lessons in March and love these types of lessons. I have 2-4 students in a group and we discuss a video/article that I send to them before the class. It works well for students who want structured speaking practice but can’t afford the one-to-one lessons.

Getting students for group lessons has proved more challenging than one-to-one. The main reason for this is that people want to learn at different times. But as my community grows, I will be able to do more of these lessons.

I also started another course in May on WizIQ. There were a total of five live presentations along with other learning materials and assignments. The course went really well: I managed to get 28 learners to sign up and the feedback I got was very encouraging.

I’m doing the same course again this week, and then maybe a couple more times this year. The biggest problem with getting learners to sign up is the timing of the lessons; even though the lessons are recorded, most students want to be able to take them live and interact with me and fellow learners.

I plan on taking the content of this course and putting it into a video course. This will also make it easier for me, as once I have got the content recorded, my only role in this is to market the course, interact with the learners, and keep things ticking along.

Other Products

I’ve also experimented with different products and services. I created a guide for IELTS learners that helps them with their writing and ran an advertising experiment using Facebook Ads. I managed to get five sales, with four out of those five going on to buy another product or service.

The next step is to improve the product (adding a premium package) and go through the sales page and marketing plan to improve it. Once I have done that I’m going to start promoting it again. I’ve got ideas for other products too and will most likely release these in a few months.

Podcast and Videos

I enjoy making videos but they take a lot of energy and time to produce. I was making long videos that were quite creative and I found it quite draining. I decided to take a break from video production to focus on other areas, and I will look at doing them again in the future once I have a system in place and a specific type of video format in mind.

I want to be able to fire out as many quality videos as possible without taking too much time. Therefore, I’m going to brainstorm ideas and start producing again once I have a good system in place.

As for the podcast, I am getting closer and closer to the recording stage. I’ve thought long and hard about what I want my podcast to be about and how it can fit into the overall picture. I was initially going to include my wife in the podcast and create conversational audio. However, we are currently finding it hard to get an hour or so to sit down and record (the nine-month old is the main barrier to this!).

So I have decided to go ahead and make a podcast that focuses on the mentality and methods for English learners who want to reach a high level. I’ve written the plan and a list of episodes, and I’m going to throw myself into this project in this fall (after 3 1/2 years of living in America, I’ve started saying fall instead of autumn. And although I thought it would never happen, I find myself saying soccer instead of football!).

A Teaching Online Guide

My guide on how to teach English (or any language) online will be ready in July/August/September. It is going to be a video course that comes with other learning materials and will cover all aspects of online teaching (focusing on one-to-one lessons, but also including group lessons and course creation), including: setting up, website design, platforms, finding niches, marketing, branding, and much more.

(if you’re not already in my community, click here to join my mail list and to receive updates about this course.)

Things I’ve Learned

During the first part of this year I have also invested a lot of time and energy into my own development. I’ve taken various marketing courses, read many self-development and teaching books, and I have become very commitment to what I want to achieve long-term.

One thing that I noticed was that earlier this year I was spreading myself too thin. I was taking on all types of projects, starting new ones all the time, and didn’t have a clear plan of action.

To overcome this I decided to leave a few projects aside and concentrate on only one or two at one time while setting up systems for everything else. The course that I gave on WizIQ is a good example of that: I put a lot of time and effort into it in April and May, and now I have the course written and I have a marketing plan in place, I can now spend most of my energy on other projects.

I’m also batching my work. Batching is when you dedicate blocks of time to work on similar tasks. For example, I generally reply to emails during a 20 minute window in the morning, create the plans for my lessons on a Friday/Monday, and take my one-to-one lessons at one part of the day (between 12 and four). I’ve found this helped me focus, and made me more productive and creative.

And finally, I now do a 80/20 analysis once every two months. The 80/20 rule (or Pareto principle) states that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. Relating this to marketing, for example, we can say that 80% of sales come from 20% of marketing efforts. This is one of the reasons why I slowed down my video production and put my focus on building my email list. I also explain this rule to English learners in my courses and lessons so that they understand how important it is to concentrate on doing things that actually make a difference to their progress.

Over to You

If you are doing your own thing too, let me know what you’re working on at the moment. And if you are someone who would like to teach online, tell me what you are currently doing to get started.

Thanks for reading!

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Google Hangouts Post Artwork Featured

Using Google Hangouts on Air for Teaching English

Google Hangouts Post ArtworkI had my first experience using Google Hangouts on Air this week. I’m happy to say that it was successful both in terms of the presentation I gave and the technical side of things. I did A LOT of research and testing to ensure that everything went smoothly.

There are a lot of ways that you can mess things up as it’s not as intuitive as you would think. But, once you have done it once, you will be able to get things set up in minutes.

I’ve written this post to tell you about my experience, and also to give you step-by-step instructions so that you can do it too.

What is a Google Hangout on Air?

A Google Hangout on Air (HOA) lets you stream a video live on Youtube to an unlimited amount of people. Basically, it allows you to host your own webinar. It also records the live video and adds it to your Youtube channel.

It was perfect for what I wanted to do this week: host a free lesson/presentation on my website as a way to introduce a new course that I’m going to teach in April.

Google Hangouts on Air is free, easy to use once you know what to do, and allows you to embed the live video on your site. Here is what I did to get around 140 people watching my presentation live on my website.

Get learners to sign up

I created a squeeze page (a page where people can enter their email addresses to sign up) on my website. This is what it looked like:

Webinar Squeeze Page

When someone entered their details, they were automatically subscribed to my mailing list, and then received an automatic message about the lesson. Increasing my mailing list is a big goal of mine, so having people opt-in was really important. It also gave me the ability to remind everyone about the free lesson before it went live, and to send the recording of the lesson to those who missed it.

In total, I had over 1,000 people visit this page, and out of those, over 350 people signed up to the webinar. I’m going to look at ways to increase this conversion rate in the future.

Setting up the event

You need to have a Google Plus profile and a Youtube channel to be able to host a HOA. Setting both of those up is pretty easy to do, and if you need help with this stage, a quick Google search will give you what you need.

You also need to link your channel to your Google+ profile to host a HOA. Think about whether you want to host the hangout from your personal profile or a page that you manage. I hosted mine from my JDA English page.

Create a Hangout on Air, not a Hangout

This is probably the most confusing part. A lot of people have made this mistake (I nearly did too). Don’t create an event, but instead do the following:

Create a Hangout

Select the option below from the main menu on your Google Plus account.

Hanogut Screenshot

Click “Start a Hangout on Air

HAO Screenshot

Then you’ll see this

HAO Form

This is where you enter the details of your hangout. As you can see, there is the option to start it now or later. During my research I read that you couldn’t schedule a HOA for a later date; I guess this is a feature that they’ve just added. However, I decided to get everything set up an hour before my presentation so I selected “Now.”

The reason why you shouldn’t create an event (and choose the hangout option) is because there is a difference between a regular Hangout (where you can chat live with up to nine other people – perfect for one-to-one lessons and group lessons) and a HAO (where anyone with the link can watch your event live – for presentations and big live lessons).

When setting it up, I only shared it with myself (I didn’t make it public). This gave me time to get everything ready. Once you fill in the details of your HAO, you will see this screen.

The Event Page

HAO Event Screen

Your live event will be streamed on this page, on your Youtube channel, and you can also embed the video on your site. I didn’t make the event public because I wanted people watching on my website. More on this later.

You can add a trailer for the event, and there is also the option for people to ask you questions. See the blue start button in the bottom left hand corner? Click this to open up the hangout on air control room (this won’t automatically start the hangout).

The HAO Control Room

Once you click the blue start button, it will ask you if you would like to invite others (I skipped this step), and then you’ll see your lovely face staring back at you. What I did next was mute my microphone and turn off the camera. Here is what you’ll see:

Control Room

There is a big green button at the bottom; don’t click this until you’re ready to start your broadcast. I got to this stage about an hour before the lesson so that I had time to embed the video on my site.

Embed the stream on your site

You can do this before you start. All you need to do is to click “Links” in the bottom right hand corner and grab the code. I modified it a little by making the video a little bigger.

Check settings

As I use an external mic, I went into the settings to select the right one. Make sure that your webcam (if you’re going to show your face) is working correctly.

Screen share

I decided to do a presentation for my live event, and I created this in Google Drive. When creating your presentation, make sure that you use widescreen, and open up the presentation in a new window. Choose this screen to share. You can open up your teaching notes as these won’t be shown on the video. I more or less wrote my entire script in the teaching notes.

Start Broadcast

Once you have everything ready, start your broadcast. I did this about 15 minutes before the time of presentation without turning my microphone on. I wanted to make sure that it was working properly, and got feedback from those who came early.

When it was time to start the presentation, I turned my microphone on, asked for feedback to ensure that everyone could see and hear the video properly, and then began.

Live Chat on the Page

If you decide to have people come to your live event on Google Plus or Youtube, there is the option to leave comments. But, I wanted something a little more interactive. So, I embedded tlk.io next to the video on my website.

I came to the event about 30 minutes early to chat with others and to build the excitement.

Recording the event

Your HOA will be automatically recorded for you and uploaded to your Youtube page. The video will be unlisted, but you can make it public or private if you wish. Additionally, you don’t need a new embed code; it’s the same video link as the live video.

Because I went live before I started the presentation, I cut the video using the editor in Youtube so that it starts right when I start talking. I then sent out the link of the recording to everyone who signed up.

Going Forward and a Question for You

The whole experience was amazing, and I have to admit that I got a big buzz from doing a live online event. I’m glad that I tested it out first, but if you are going to run a test, I recommend setting up a test page and Youtube channel. One of my students told me that he was browsing through Youtube when he saw that my channel was live, and decided to watch my test. He only caught the end, and luckily missed the part where I was moaning at my wife because she wasn’t paying attention to the test stream!

I’m definitely going to do more of these live events and have other ideas for both this site and my teaching site. I want to do more lessons, live interviews, product launches, and spontaneous hangouts.

I’m also going to test making the hangout public on Google Plus (the step I skipped) as I’m sure that a lot of people would have signed up to this and shared my event. But, you do lose the ability to sign people up to your list.

I now have a question for you:

Are you thinking about using Google Hangouts on Air for your students? If so, what ideas do you have?

Leave your comments below. If you would like more information about setting up a squeeze page, marketing your live event, and setting up an email list, then send me a message.

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Drew Badger from English Anyone

Get Sold (Guest Post by Drew Badger from EnglishAnyone.com)

Drew Badger from English Anyone

When talking with Drew Badger, it is soon obvious just how knowledgeable he is about marketing.

He has built a successful online course that solves a big problem for English learners: becoming conversationally fluent. He also has a very successful Youtube channel with over 200 videos.

In this post he shares what he believes to be the most important skill in business. This is great stuff for anyone looking to get into the world of online teaching and product creation.

Take it away Drew!

Why Most Businesses Fail

Aspiring entrepreneurs usually fail because they build businesses backwards. They spend time coding websites, printing business cards, thinking up killer company names, designing products and a thousand other things that, while potentially helpful in the long term, just aren’t necessary when starting and proving a business.

Not all businesses need websites. Not all businesses need physical stores. What all of them do need, however, is paying customers. So why not focus all of your attention on getting those first?

Starting Backwards

I know the story of business failure intimately because I lived it when I first ventured online. I had this great idea for a book that could help Japanese children learn the alphabet in a few hours. I was convinced it was genius and spent the next year and a half designing the book, creating its illustrations, and even founding a company to get the book into online stores. In the end, I had a beautiful book available on Amazon.com, but very few sales.

The odd thing is that I thought this failure meant I was doing everything right. I was incredibly frustrated, but undeterred because I assumed I was supposed to fail many times before I found success. If I could just work harder and come up with a better idea, I believed, I’d eventually reach the Promised Land.

Follow (Only) the Leaders

It took another two years – and many more failures – before I finally questioned the assumptions of the path I was on and decided to do something different: follow only the advice of those who’d actually built successful businesses.

Money is a funny thing. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it, so it’s easy to be lead astray by well-meaning individuals who’ve never built successful businesses. I know I certainly had been. It made perfect sense to visit a baker if I had questions about bread, or consult a doctor if I had concerns about health, but, until only recently, that same logic never transferred to the realm of things financial.

What I had begun to learn while studying great entrepreneurs was that the source of this disconnect in my brain was the mythology of business in popular culture. I take full responsibility for my failures, of course, but I was finally uncovering the foundation of the paradigm that stacked the odds of success heavily against me.

The Dangerous Myth of Success

The story of the dreamer who created something in a garage/basement/dorm room and turned it into a wildly successful business, though inspirational, carries with it two hidden, and extremely dangerous, messages. The first is that a clever individual created something independent of a problem requiring a solution people were willing to pay for. The second is that people should sell a product or service after creating it. (Yes, you read that right.) Together, these messages mutate the idea of business in the mind of the entrepreneur from the simple act of profitable service into a complicated trial by fire promising years of pain and struggle in return for little hope of success.

With the help of those who’d gone before me, I’d finally broken the spell the myth of entrepreneurship had cast on me. Entrepreneurs should be serving a market by addressing a need – like solving a painful problem – and selling their solution before creating their product or service.

If this sounds at all alien to you, or even downright impossible, that’s understandable. It certainly threw me for a loop when I discovered it. But when I considered the alternative, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Get Paid First

To make things a bit more concrete, here’s how my book example would have looked had I known then what I know now. First, I would have gone to teachers and parents and asked what problems their students/children were experiencing. I would have dug deep until I found something that was really holding them back. Whatever that would have been, I would have worked with them to design the ideal solution while cultivating a customer base primed to purchase what I’d create.

Next, I’d make an offer to those most eager for the solution to receive it faster – and/or with more favorable terms – in exchange for the money to fund the creation of the product or service (which is entirely possible if you’ve built up enough trust, and have a desirable enough solution).

Contrast this with the path I took only a few years earlier. That one brought frustration, confusion and uncertainty while this one virtually guarantees success. Much, much faster.

The True Nature of Selling

The way of the successful entrepreneur also makes selling so much easier because you’ve solved a problem you know people are willing to pay for. With your market! That means there’s nothing to push onto customers. In fact, they’ll be begging you to sell your solution to them! Honestly, great salespeople only want to sell things to people eager to buy them. Wouldn’t you rather shoot fish in a barrel, too?

If you’re still with me, your homework is to master the formula of solution to painful problem → sales → product/service from the best. I want you to join the mailing list of Perry Marshall, one of the greatest information marketers in the business right now, AS WELL AS the mailing lists of three other leaders in completely unrelated industries. Search Google until you find pages with email opt- in boxes (those little forms where you put in your name and email address to instantly get access to some beneficial gift). Open all of the mails you receive, study their systems, notice how they write, read between the lines and get sold!

[divider scroll_text=”Info About EnglishAnyone.com”]

Disappointed by the failure of my book, I turned, as most beginning entrepreneurs do, to the next “can’t miss” idea. EnglishAnyone.com began as a way to leverage the lessons I’d created for the classroom. It’s since become my English lesson laboratory and personal business school.

EnglishAnyone.com helps students speak fluent English clearly, confidently and automatically. We have over 200 video lessons available on YouTube, and produce a premium, monthly video course called Master English Conversation that uses our innovative Fluency Bridge method to help learners who struggle to speak finally become fluent.

By Drew Badger.

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Online Teaching Projects

What I Achieved in 2013, Projects in 2014, the Baby Effect, and Bill Gates

Online Teaching ProjectsFirst of all, Happy (belated) New Year to all my wonderful readers!

I receive many emails from fellow teachers each day, and love hearing about your situation, what you want to achieve, and your successes. Keep the emails coming!

2013 was a great year for me. On a personal note, our son Thomas was born in August and having him has brought us so much joy. Things have obviously changed a lot since then, but as you’ll see later in the post, having a baby around the house can actually improve productivity!

The best decision I made professionally was to focus on making and cultivating relationships; I have made some great connections with other online teachers which has led to some really incredible opportunities and new learning experiences.

Here is a summary of what I have achieved and learned in 2013.

I improved the lessons that I gave:  I always talk about how going freelance gives you the ability to experiment and grow as a teacher. Well, I took my own advice and added some new features, experimented with different techniques, and made my lessons even more specific to each learner.

I now give my students personalized audio every week that focuses on them getting past their common mistakes. I recommend that they listen a couple of times a day, every day. My students love it, and it means that they can hear my lovely voice wherever they go!

I started making videos on Youtube: I now have five videos on Youtube and the response so far has been really positive. I love making the videos (although it does take a lot of time and can be frustrating, especially when you forget to record the audio!) as I can throw all my creative energy into each one.

It has definitely given me more exposure and I have had many lesson requests from leaners who found me on Youtube. I have also noticed that my videos are shared much more than my blog posts.

I got serious with email: I started a free email course that received nearly 500 subscribers. Most came from a guest post that I wrote for Vocabla. I created an automated email course that subscribers received each day for 30 days. I tried to make it as informative and inspiring as possible, giving away a lot of value (marketing speak) and responding to each email that I received.

I have now made it about 20 emails over 30 days as I got some feedback saying that an email a day (which included action to be taken) was too much. As I gave out some really great information and responded to each email, I feel that I have a lot of dedicated followers. When I now email my list with new posts or videos, I get a lot of feedback and shares.

I have also received a lot of lesson requests from this list. The soft-sell approach has worked really well in this case.

I started this blog!: Starting this blog has not only allowed me to teach online, but to help me get my thoughts on marketing and teaching organized. Writing has been wonderful for me in general. I try to write a little each day whether it be a new post here, on my teaching site, or writing other materials and plans.

I made some really great connections: Connecting with other teachers has been incredible. I started this whole online thing with a lone wolf mindset, and thought that other teachers were competitors (keep away from MY students!). But, connecting with others has brought me into a whole new connected world. As I mentioned, this has brought new opportunities (such as being part of a wonderful MOOC on Wiz IQ).

To use social networks, you have to be social: I used to just copy and paste my links into Facebook groups, on Twitter, and Google Plus. But, to really get a lot out of these networks you have to adapt your message, ask questions, and interact.

I also try to make my artwork standout instead of just using a simple picture (or no picture at all). Visuals are becoming so much more important now due to the vast amount of posts that people see each day.

My son has made me more productive: Having a baby and stay-at-home wife around the house has forced me to change my working habits. I get up A LOT earlier than I used to (I got up at 5am this morning), take care of the morning type stuff, and then get to work. I have about three hours in the morning to do my non-teaching work, with an hour break changing/playing with/looking after Thomas the baby. I then usually teach from 11am to 4pm, and after that it’s family time again. I get a an hour or so at about 8pm to read a few things and do a bit of this and a bit of that.

Before Thomas came into our lives, I was nowhere near as focused. Having a baby not only makes you more productive (by having less time to work on things, I get them done instead of procrastinating), but it also has given me a big boost of motivation to move my business onto the next level instead of just coasting.

Which helps us move on to the next section: 2014!

What Will 2014 Bring?

I have a lot of projects planned for 2014, all of which are focused on finding different types of income instead of just one-to-one teaching.

I love my one-to-one lessons and I have learned so much about the problems that students have through these lessons. I now feel that I have enough knowledge to branch out and enter the world of podcasting, group courses, and other products.

Podcasting: I have the microphone, the recording software, and, as I’ve been told, the voice to make it big in the world of podcasting! I also have a very willing and American sounding wife who will bring an entertaining dynamic to our new shows.

We want to create a fun show for intermediate speakers and up that is based on conversational English. The inspiration has come from many other podcasts, but mostly from Notes in Spanish (If you’re learning Spanish, I highly recommend this podcast). I received an email from them the other day that said that they have had over ten million downloads. TEN MILLION! It blew me away. If we can get just one percent of that in the first year, and a certain percent of those buy our product, then, well.. let’s not get carried away. Instead, I’m looking at it as an adventure and it’s going to be a lot of fun!

More videos: I love making videos and I’m going to experiment with different ways to approach this. For example, I want to make more videos that help learners take charge of their learning. I also received a request from a student to introduce more vocabulary. So, there is a lot to be explored.

I don’t currently monetize my videos on Youtube, but I may look at doing this in the future. At the moment, I use it to drive people to my email list and as a way to better connect with English learners.

More email focus: I’m going to make my email list a priority again this year. 2013 was when I truefully understood how important it is to have people subscribed to your email list. I’m going to offer more freebies and specifically target areas that are included in my niche.

I also redesigned my site so that users know the one action that I want them to take: to sign up. My design before had buttons everywhere and this led to confusion. My sign up rates have doubled as a result of this change.

More niche focus: Niche, niche, niche.. I think this is the most used word on this blog. But, it’s so important, and I’ve found myself falling into an even more targeted niche over the past 12 months: a language coach. I love language learning in general, and I’m also interested in the personal development world, so a lot of what I enjoy writing about now is how English learners can improve through self-study.

I’m also staying with my exam preparation lessons as as preparing students for exams makes the lessons more focused and it naturally has an end point. In a lot of cases, it also makes a huge difference to the lives of my students. Seeing pictures of my formerly frozen Russian students sunbathing in Australia also gives me the sense that I’m doing something worthwhile!

Group lessons and MOOCS: I’m currently putting together a group course that focuses on the change of mindset that is needed for learners to make progress and how learners can do this on their own (with a little help of a certain teacher through online lessons 😉 ).

Doing courses such as these will help me scale my income and will ultimately mean that I can teach less hours.

Continue this blog: .. and complete my guide. I have the first draft more or lesson finished, but there is still a lot to do. I want it to offer A HUGE amount of value (marketing speak again). I’m not putting a date on it, but if I had to guess… no, I’m not even going to give an estimate.

There’s a lot there. Enough to make me want to curl up into a ball and watch reruns of Friends all day. But, let’s bring in Bill Gates to help me get my focus back:

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

I’m going to change ten years to one yearand voila, I feel much better. In fact, if I look back to what I achieved in 2013, the majority was done in the second half of the year (after Thomas was born), and was all due to a change of mindset.

The three hour window that I have each day to do my creative work and marketing doesn’t seem that much. But, over a year, I can get a lot done. So, instead of feeling overwhelmed with my projects and then doing nothing, I just focus on what I can do right now to keep myself going in the right direction, and try to enjoy the process as much as possible.

And, if you are starting to think that this focus can be applied to learning languages and that I’m going to include this advice in my self-study course, then you are most certainly correct!

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Time for Email

Using Email to Bridge the Gap Between Offline and Online and to Grow a Following

I’ve mentioned many times how important it is to have an email list if you teach online or have a website. But, what if you don’t teach online?

Well, if you currently teach in a traditional setting, you should seriously consider getting in on the online action and start an email list. Not only does this set you up for the long term professionally (and personally), but it also opens up a whole world of opportunities to make your lessons creative, more engaging and relevant, and more effective.

Email remains the most powerful (and safest) way to connect with your students, past and present. Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, if used correctly, are great communities that teachers should be using to engage with past, current, and potential students, along with other teachers. But, using a platform that you don’t own to build your most important contact list is risky. Additionally, these platforms can’t compare with email when it comes to engagement.

When discussing what it is like to teach online, Mau Buchler, in his recent guest post, talked about why it’s important to work your connections (ex-students) when trying to find clients for your online lessons. I’ve been able to do this to a certain extent, and it has proven to be a very effective way of finding students to teach. In fact, along with referrals, contacting ex-students has proved to be the best way to fill in the gaps in my schedule.

However, I have missed out on countless opportunities because:

  • I didn’t kept a record of the students that I connected with during my time in Spain.
  • I should have started an email list for my website as soon as it went live.
  • I didn’t keep a special list for all those who got in touch to take lessons.

Everyone who starts to collect subscribers for their blog always seem to say, “I wish I had started doing this earlier.” I feel exactly the same way. I’m not one to dwell on the past, but thinking about all those students who I have lost contact with makes me feel like I wasted a big opportunity.

Mau’s post got me thinking about how we can all keep a better record of all those English learners that we come into contact with and make the most out of this list. Let’s start with those of you who don’t teach online, focusing on why you should be doing this to make your classes more effective and to build up a following for your future.

I’m really excited about sharing these ideas with those of you who work in traditional classroom settings.

Teaching in a Traditional Setting

(Note: I recommend that you speak with your language school/employer first before implementing these strategies.)

There is nothing quite like creating special teacher-student relationships. When there is an understanding, chemistry, and progress, the connection can last a life-time. But, in most cases, students come and go and we lose touch.

Maintaining these connections, for both personal and professional reasons, is best done through email. There are two main ways to collect email addresses when teaching in a traditional setting:

  • In your personal email address book.
  • In a specialized email delivery service.

The first option is free and easy to do, but has many limitations. The second option is a little bit more complicated (and usually costs a little money), but has the features you need to make use of the methods listed below.

There are different ways to get current students onto your list. Signing up your one-to-one students should be straightforward, while your group lessons offer more of a challenge. But, with this challenge comes the opportunity to make your lessons different, exciting, and more effective.

Bring Online Activities and Communication to Offline Lessons

Imagine a class of 10 adult learners that meets with you twice per week in a language school. It’s a traditional setting in the sense that you work through a textbook, set homework, and meet in a classroom. However, your classes are different because you find a way to engage with your students online by using an email delivery service.

This opens up so many possibilities to make your classes extraordinary, opening up a new world of online resources and activities. Because I teach one-to-one online it’s easy for me to send the best resources to my students and set online tasks. Using email within this traditional classroom setting makes bridging the gap between the offline and online world much easier, and helps you easily communicate with your students outside of the lesson.

Homework could include pronunciation exercises, videos, online exercises, listening practice, writing practice (sent directly to your email and corrected online), and you could use countless other online resources.

With email you could send reminders about homework (or even automated reminders about lessons), get in contact with your students who have missed a lesson, send out pre-lesson tasks, and much more. With an email delivery service you can send out materials and homework at a specific time.

Imagine that you are in a class and you say, “Okay check your phones. You should have just received your homework.” And there it is, a minute old in their inbox.

In my upcoming webinar at Wiz IQ I’m going to be talking about how you can use email and other online resources to help your students work on their pronunciation outside of class; this will include how you can use the best online resources, send audio files specific to your students, and have the ability to evaluate and leave feedback of your students pronunciation, all done online and in your own time. Being able to communicate through email is vital to be able to do this.

Teachers don’t have to be restricted by just using the resources that can be brought into class. Email can help you introduce a new world and engage with your students on a different level.

Keep in Contact With Your Ex-Students

It’s summer and your class of students are now moving on. You don’t know if you’ll get to teach them next year. But, because you have their email addresses, you can keep in contact and share information with this group.

Let’s say that you now have 120 emails from your time teaching that year. Here is what you can do with this list:

  • Keep everyone updated about where you are in the world and what you’re doing professionally.
  • Let them know about the new blog you started and ask them to share it with their friends.
  • Invite them to join your new Facebook group.
  • Let them know that you are offering one-to-one lessons over the summer.
  • Inform them that you are now teaching online and that you are looking for new students.

The online world is full of opportunities for language teachers, and if you are considering entering this world, your ex-students are the first place to start. They are your initial followers, the ones who you have already inspired. Having them in an easily accessible email list makes your ability to capitalize on this much easier and much more effective.

For Those Who Teach Online or Have a Website

From November 2011 to April 2012 the amount of visitors to my site increased dramatically. I was getting 13,000 unique visitors per month, the vast majority from Google. I had a stream of enquiries about my English lessons, but I didn’t receive as many as I should with all those numbers.

My visitor numbers dropped severely in April. It was the month when Google made a big change to the way it ranked websites in their search results. To say that my site didn’t fare too well is an understatement: my visitor numbers dropped from 13,000 per month to just 1,500. Looking back, it was one of the best things that happened to me as it changed the way I approached getting new students and how I spent my time.

During the big traffic months the vast majority of visitors came to my site, got the information they wanted, and then left. I didn’t do enough to engage them – I didn’t feel that I had to due to the number of visitors I was receiving. There was no real reason for them to come back to my site (unless they bookmarked it!).

Freebies!

Imagine if I had offered them something for free in exchange for their email? Instead of just coming for information, I could have engaged them by giving something valuable away, and then followed this up with informational mails on a weekly or monthly basis.

When you give away something for free by email, and this thing is incredibly valuable, the whole relationship between you and your visitor changes. I wanted to test this by giving away something quite remarkable, so I recently started a new 30 day email English course that tries to turn average English learners (of the someday/too tired today mentality) into motivated, pumped up, learning machines. They receive an email each day (sent out automatically) from me with advice and challenges. I respond to every email I receive and offer them the opportunity to practice speaking and have it evaluated with having to be present in real time.

The response that I’ve received from this has been incredible and it has already made a big difference to those who have taken the course. They are a little surprised that they are getting this for free. It takes me 5-10 minutes each morning to evaluate the submissions I receive, although it took me some time to initially create the course.

The best thing about it is that these people all came from a guest post on another website. Instead of reading that post, coming to my website, taking a look around and then leaving, 150 people signed up to take the course. In return, I built (and am building) a following that trusts me and wants to know more about what I do.

First Dates and Email

A good analogy is dating: in most cases you can’t ask someone to enter a relationship with you on the first date. You have to build things slowly so that they get to know you and trust you. My goal is to get students to sign up for online lessons and future courses that I offer. They are much more likely to do this once we have been on a few engaging dates.

Once the learners have gone through the initial 30-day course, I then have the ability to send emails to them. If I choose to, I can send them information about my lessons, information about different products I recommend, and news about any future courses that I may offer. Any information I send them will be full of free valuable information. Trying to hard sell your course early on in your new relationship will, like dating, get you nowhere.

An email list also allows me to divide the list by country, by how much they engage with the content, or by other criteria. Personally, I’m going to separate this growing list into different countries and adapt the messages accordingly. I’m also working on doing a similar course specifically for those in my niche.

Think about how you could start building your list. How could you get people to sign up? How could you engage with your audience by email? How could you benefit from having such a list? How could you use it with your current students both in traditional and online settings?

(Note: To see a good example of a website that has built up a good email following, check out Real Life English.)

Recommended Email Providers and Resources

The only one that I can truly recommend is Aweber (affiliate link) as it’s the only one I’ve had experience with. It’s pretty straightforward to use but will need a little time to set things up and understand the ins and outs of it. It’s $19 a month (for the first 500 subscribers) with the first month being $1.

Mailchimp is another popular choice because it’s free to begin with. But, that obviously limits what you can do. And, you could always use your regular email account, especially if your goal is to just to keep a record of your contacts. Just bear in mind the limitations.

I also recommend pushing people to sign up for your Facebook groups and other online groups as this is where the sharing happens. As I want to focus on building my list I’ve been pushing more and more people to email first, and then once they have signed up, I ask them to join my other online groups. I also ask them to share the course with others once it is completed.

For those who want to look into email further, here is an informative podcast that gives an overview of using email: Pat Flynn on how to win using email (part one of two) | part two

Over to You

I would LOVE to hear from you regarding your experiences with email, your general thoughts on this post, and what ideas you have for using email in both traditional and online lessons.

As always, please share this post if you enjoyed it. Speaking of email, sign up below if you aren’t already a subscriber!

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Online Learning and Group Lessons (Guest Vlog by Jason R Levine)

Today we welcome our second guest poster to the blog: Jason R Levine.

Jason and I have been collaborating on a few things recently, and I really wanted him to share his knowledge of online teaching here at TeachingESLOnline. So, below you’ll find a video that he kindly put together that gives some great advice for us online teachers.

A lot of you may already know about Jase (Fluency MC), especially if you connect with other teachers on social media. He is probably the most prolific poster I know, and his ESL raps and songs have had millions of views on Youtube. He has recently become an ambassador for Wiz IQ where he trains English language teachers.

In the video he talks about his transition to online teaching, why it is important to make real connections, the future of online learning and teaching, and much more.

More specifically, you’ll learn about:

– What he first thought about teaching online and why he now loves it.
– Why we should pay attention to how people are learning in social media spaces and how to take this to the next level.
– His first MOOC and what he learned from it.
– How to get started teaching online and the mind frame needed.
– Why it’s important to make real relationships and be open to people’s needs and interests.
– The difference between one-on-one and group lessons.
– The future of online language learning.

The Video

As I’m currently looking to build on what I already do by offering more than just one-to-one lessons, I took a lot from this.

One thing that really stands out for me is the point Jase made about building real relationships and learning from your students (see my last post on connections about my thoughts on this).

I see my current students as the ones that are dictating what is going to be included in my future courses. This is because as I learn more about those in my niche, I can better shape my courses to meet their needs.

I would love to know your thoughts on what Jason discusses, so whatever you have on your mind, leave us a comment below.

More About Jason

Jason R Levine (Jase, for short) has fifteen years of experience in ELT as a teacher, teacher trainer, and materials writer. He is the creator of ColloLearn, an approach to English language learning based on the songs he writes and performs as Fluency MC.

Online, Jase maintains the ColloLearn YouTube channel and the Fluency MC Facebook page.

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Why Connecting With Others Brings You More Students and Makes You a Better Teacher

One piece of advice that I give to teachers starting out in this online world of teaching is to create true connections with English learners, students, and fellow teachers.

My approach to reaching out and connecting with others online has changed dramatically over the past couple of years, and it’s only recently that I have truly come to realize why this is so important when doing what we do.

However, things were much different when I first started out.

When I created my website and started teaching online back in 2008/9, I felt that there were only just a handful of people doing something similar. I did a little research into my “competitors,” and I had a sudden rush of panic when I found a website that was trying to achieve something similar to me.

I came across sites that had better marketing plans and designs, and I mistakingly thought that there was only a certain amount of room for creative teachers who wanted to move their make their mark online.

It took me a long time to reach out to my fellow onliners, and for many years, I remained isolated.

In addition to being disconnected from my fellow teachers, I didn’t put enough effort into setting up my site in way that visitors could connect with me. I was very apprehensive about putting information about myself on my site and on other platforms. This meant that I wasn’t giving English learners the ability to make that important initial connection.

But, after receiving a lot of referrals a couple of years ago, my confidence as a teacher started to grow, and this is when my mentality changed. I started seeing the wonderful things that resulted from making meaningful connections, and I went from being a lone ranger to someone who felt supported by like-minded people.

If you are involved or want to be involved in online teaching, read on to learn how connecting with others will help you find more students, improve your teaching, and make you feel part of a greater collaborative community.

Why and How to Connect With English Learners and Students

On Your Website

Your website is a place where your potential students come to find out more about you and your lessons. When visiting new teaching websites, I far too often see a message that is impersonal and one that makes no attempt to resonate with the English learners who visit the site. I see the same mistakes that I made being played out over again.

Instead of going through the problems, desires, and solutions, many sites focus on features and facts. In addition, sometimes there is no face or name to be found anywhere.

But, as I have learned, students want to connect personally with their potential teachers before signing up. They want to know that there is a real person behind the information who is dedicated to and effective in what they do.

To ensure a high conversion rate you must make connecting with your learners a priority. This can be achieved by including information about who you are and by injecting your personality into what your write. Include pictures, and if want to take that extra step, videos.

It might be hard for some of you to take this step (like it was for me), but it is such a vital part in you becoming a successful online teacher.

Elsewhere

Once you have worked out your message and feel confident about putting yourself out there, the next step is to connect with English learners on different platforms.

Don’t just post things with links back to your site, but instead think about ways that you can connect in meaningful way. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend hours communicating with English learners on forums, as sometimes just showing that you are care about what you do is enough.

To highlight this, I want to share a little experiment that I did this week on Facebook.

I looked at the new likes that I had one of my Facebook pages and added those in my target martet as friends. Around 40% accepted my request, and those that did received a little message from me. This message was very basic and just thanked them for liking my page and asked them a quick question about their learning.

From the ten people that I contacted, two messaged me back asking for a trial lesson.

What I found interesting about this is that they had both known that I offered lessons before I sent the message. But, the friend request and message most likely made them feel connected to me and gave them the nudge they needed to take the initial step.

This is just one small example of why I believe it is important it is to ensure that you are connecting with learners in your niche, and I’ll be experimenting with other methods in the coming weeks.

Your Current Students

One of the things that excites me most about teaching one-to-one online is that you become much more than just an English teacher. In my case, I am also a friend to my students, a mentor, a motivator, and a language coach. There are also days when I feel that I am a life coach!

To be able to be all of the above to online English learners from around the world is what I love most about my job. The connections that I make aren’t just important in terms of the relationships that we share, but also an integral part of ensuring that my students make the progress that they desire.

This connection can’t be made with every student, and that is why I suggest choosing a niche that has they types of English learners that you enjoy working with.

In addition, I also strive to help my learners make a connection with the English language. When I start working with a new student, I go through the process of finding the resources they need to make English relevant to them and give the information and motivation they require to immerse themselves in the language.

Finding the music, television shows, podcasts, articles, and other resources that are relevant to your student, and introducing these materials into your lessons, is the key to your learners fully connecting with the language, which in turn resuls in a burst of motivation and progress.

Why You Should Connect With Other Teachers

Through this blog I’ve been able to make some great relationships with other online teachers and with those who want to move their teaching online.

As mentioned in the introduction, I was very hesitant about doing this for the first couple of years; I guess it came down to me thinking that it would be exciting to do everything on my own.

But I’ve learned that connecting and collaborating with other teachers is just so much more rewarding and has helped me grow as a teacher. I feel incredibly excited about what working with others in the same industry is going to bring over the next months and years. This change of mentality was the driving force behind the creation of this blog and my renewed motivation for creating something that really matters.

I have learned so much from connecting with my fellow teachers, and I have come across so many great resources that have improved my lessons.

But, there is much more to it than that. These connections also make me feel that I am part of something bigger. Speaking with other teachers who share my passion for online teaching, and ELT in general, gives me the extra motivation to continue what I’m doing and to keep growing as a teacher.

Over to You

I would love for you to share your ideas in the comment section below about how you currently connect with English learners. Speaking of sharing, if you have enjoyed this post, I would be so grateful if you could share it with others.

And finally, I love hearing from my fellow teachers. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch and connect with me.

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