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Dipping Your Toe Into the World of Online Teaching: 5 Tips for Getting Started and How to Earn Money

If you’re thinking about teaching online but you’re unsure if this is going to be for you or not, I have some good news:

There are several ways in which you can test the waters to see if this is something you want to pursue.

This isn’t an all or nothing thing. You can continue what you’re doing now while allocating time and energy to your new side hustle.

In this article, you’re going to learn:

  • the different ways you can earn as an online teacher
  • what you can do to start teaching online
  • extra tips to help you get this right

Here’s the video (read on for the article):

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How to Earn Money as an Online Teacher

Here are six ways you can earn money as an online teacher:

1: Offer One-to-One Lessons Online

This is the most popular way to teach online. You meet with one student on Skype or Zoom and give a lesson.

This works for language, music, math, science and any subject.

The benefit of teaching one-to-one lessons is that it’s easier to build up an income in faster time compared to most of the other options available.

The downside is that you only get paid when you are physically – well, virtually – teaching.

You can do this independently, on a third-party platform, or through a company.

Here’s a video on this:

2: Offer Group Lessons Online

This is where you’re using virtual platforms but instead of meeting just one student, you’re meeting two or more students.

The benefit of this is that you can leverage your time more. Generally speaking, group lessons pay better than one-to-one tuition.

The downside is that you need to find a group of students who are going to commit to a series of lessons at the same time.

Here are some tips of you want to do this:

3: Create and Sell Online Courses

This is where I put most of of my focus Since 2014, the bulk of my teaching income has come from the courses I offer.

The upside is obvious: you can scale your teaching.

Once you create your course, you’re not limited by the amount of hours you can teach. Theoretically, there are no limits to the amount of course sales you can make.

The downside is that you need to build a large audience and create a valuable course in order to make this work.

Luckily, I have a six-step plan to help you get this right:

4: Sell Digital Products

While you could place online courses in this category, I feel that deserves it’s own category.

A digital product could be:

  • a book or audiobook
  • worksheets
  • audio files
  • flashcards

5: Asynchronous Services

This is where you don’t need to be present with your student. Instead, you offer services that can be completed according to your schedule.

This could include:

  • Writing corrections
  • Speaking / singing feedback
  • Exercise form critique (personal trainers)
  • Website feedback

This is a good alternative to one-to-one teaching, especially if you can’t find dedicated teaching space.

A great resource for this is Google Documents.

6: Platform Monetization

There are many teachers who rely on this as their main source of income.

There are three main ways to earn through platforms such as YouTube:

  1. placing ads on your videos or website
  2. having companies sponsor your content
  3. memberships

This is something I’m building on. I explain more here:

How to Get Started as an Online Teacher (If You Want to Take Things Slowly)

With how you can earn an income in mind, it’s important to consider how you’re going to get started with this new adventure.

If you don’t think that making the jump into this as your only thing right now is the right decision – but you also want to explore this – then, think of it as your new side hustle.

Here’s an example of me doing this within my business:

In 2014, I wanted to start creating and selling online courses. At that time, I was teaching one-to-one lessons and bringing in new students at a high rate.

Instead of focusing all my time on course creation, I treated it as a side hustle.

I worked on it in my spare time and kept my classes going. This meant that I wasn’t risking my income.

If this is the path you would like to take, here is what I recommend (in addition to speaking with a local professional regarding taxes and business setup):

1: Create a Presence on Social Media

You don’t have to go all-in with this. Instead, create a new account and start posting content relevant to the audience you would like to attract.

If you have a phone, you have everything you need to get started.

My personally recommendation is Instagram. This is because videos are limited to one-minute – you can create micro content on your phone.

Instagram Stories are a great tool for teachers too.

Connect with other people in your industry and build some momentum on the platform you choose.

Here’s a video I made on this:

YouTube is a little more involved and in order to succeed on that platform you’ll need longer form content.

TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are other alternatives.

2: Teach a Few Online Lessons (Maybe for Free)

This is something I recommend you do early on. For two reasons:

  1. You’re going to find out if this is for you or not
  2. Your initial lessons could snowball into a full schedule from referrals

If you don’t think you could attract someone in your network to your paid lessons right now, consider giving a few free lessons.

Maybe you could do this in exchange for social media help or even for this new student to start sharing your content.

3: Start an Email Newsletter

Here’s the idea with this one:

You send out daily, weekly, bi-weekly lessons by email. You also include these lessons on your blog.

Over time, your website gains traction and you build a true audience.

Email marketing is powerful and I think every teacher should start this as soon as possible.

Learn more about this here:

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4: Set Dedicated Time to Getting Things Set Up

Let’s say you set up a new account on Instagram and also send out a weekly newsletter.

Here’s what to do next:

  1. Figure out how much time this is going to take
  2. Set dedicated time to getting this done

Shayna, who owns the popular site Espresso English, got started by working on email and blog lessons in her lunchbreak.

Here’s an interview we did on this:

5: Set a Deadline to Make the Transition Once You’re Ready to Do So

If you get some momentum with online teaching and can see it replacing your current situation, consider setting a deadline to make the full-time transition.

Having a deadline will make you take action and move towards this goal.

You can say, “By [enter date] I will be doing this full-time.”

This allows you to create a plan of action to ensure that you get there.


There are various ways in which you can earn an income as an online teacher. If you’re looking to build for the future, I highly recommend starting an email list now.

If you want to teach one-to-one, start teaching a few lessons as soon as you can.

You don’t have to dive right in. Instead, follow the tips above and dip your toes in first.

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

Well, hello there! I've been teaching online (independently) since 2011 and I'd LOVE to help you do this too. Curious about working from anywhere in the world and on your own terms? Just click the button below to get started!

how-to-teach-engish-online