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 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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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!).


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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Six Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your Teaching Website or Blog

I love helping teachers create their own online platform. There are so many ideas and creative elements that we as teachers want to showcase, and building a site using WordPress ( not allows anyone to realize those ambitions without having to learn how to code.

Sometimes though, because WordPress can do almost anything, you can get caught up in the things that aren’t important. Instead of focusing on what matters, it is easy to get swept away in something that, in many cases, gets in the way of what you’re trying to achieve.

Going through the process of creating sites with different teachers, and having built many sites for myself and others, I see common mistakes being made when teachers are setting up their own online platforms.

This post is mainly for those who want their website to be a tool to get more students for their one-to-one lessons. But, I hope that it will also be useful for other ELT sites, such as teaching blogs.

So, if you are thinking of starting a new site, or want to improve your current one, here are the six mistakes to avoid.

1. Using a Free Domain Name

I strongly recommend getting your own domain name and hosting your site with Bluehost or a similar provider. Using a domain name like or not only makes you look unprofessional in the eyes of your potential students, but also means that you are putting all your content onto a site that you don’t own.

I’m pretty sure that the free blogs provided by and Blogspot aren’t going anywhere soon, but there have been too many examples of free hosting services or blog platforms suddenly shutting down, leaving their users angry and confused.

Getting your own domain name and installing WordPress ( is really easy to do and shouldn’t cost more than $60-80 per year to keep running. To get you started, here is a new trick that I’ve found: enter “Godaddy $0.99” into Google search, and you should see a link that takes you to a special landing page where you can get a domain name for $0.99 for the first year.

(NOTE: If you have or want to create a blog for other teachers, then having a free blog works fine in some cases. However, it does look better and is safer to have your own domain name and use a hosting service.)

2. Not Showing Your Audience Who You Are

When creating a website for your online lessons, you may not feel comfortable including details and pictures about yourself. I was really hesitant to do this when I first created my site, but I soon learned something really important which made me get over my fears:

Students buy into the teacher and want to make a connection with you.

They won’t be able to do this unless you put yourself out there. When creating the copy for your website, you not only need to make it about your students (more about this later), but also about you. Talk about your experience, your skills, and you as a person, and don’t be afraid of linking all of these together and packaging them in a way that make visitors to your site get excited about working with you.

To go that extra mile, make a few video that talks to your learners directly and place them on your site. Words and images can only do so much, and you’ll find that including videos will dramatically boost your conversions.

I’ve only recently started making videos. At first, I hated seeing and hearing myself on camera, but after a little while this feeling disappeared. Just try it out and let those inhibitions fade away and enjoy the creative process.

3. Getting Too Fancy

As an introduction to this point, I’d like to share with you a page that I came across recently.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you use a design as simple as that page. But, this example shows that words are the most important thing to focus on; your design should be used as a way to support your message.

Having a simple and great looking design is easy with all the beautiful themes that are now available. You can browse through the different options and choose a layout that best fits what you want to achieve.

The problem usually comes when you start realizing that there is a plugin for everything, and you feel the urge to add all of those fancy features.

Additionally, it’s easy to get carried away with the design by adding too many colors and images, and using fancy fonts.

Doing this usually just gets in the way of your message.

When thinking about adding a design element to your site, ask yourself the following: “Is what I’m including improving the experience for my visitor and does it help me achieve my ultimate goal?”

If the answer is “no”, don’t include it.

4. Not Highlighting the Problems and Learning Goals of Your Students

The best way to resonate with your potential students is to tap into both the problems of your audience (the frustrations of the learners in your teaching niche), and their English language goals. This is done through the copy that you put on your site.

I feel that the main job of a one-to-one English language teacher/consultant is to find out what those problems are, and to create a plan of action that will help the student achieve their goals.

To do this effectively you need to put yourself in the shoes of the learners in your niche and ask the following questions:

– What problems do my learners have?
– What are their language learning goals?
– What do they need to do to achieve them?

It might take some time to adequately answer these questions, but it is worth it if you really want to make a connection and have your message resonate.

Once you have gone through this, base your website copy on the answers that you come up with. Make your visitors feel that you know what it is like to be in their position, and clearly explain how you can help them finally achieve their English learning dreams.

5. Making It Difficult for the Visitor to Do What You Want Them to Do

As we’re focusing on offering one-to-one lessons and converting as many students as possible, you shouldn’t shoot yourself in the foot and waste all of your hard marketing work by making it difficult for your potential students to request a lesson with you.

In addition to creating copy that resonates, keep things simple and include a clear call to action. This usually comes in the form of a button to click that takes the user to a new page where there is a form to fill out.

Don’t confuse your student with too many choices either. Having seven different packages to choose from can create “analysis paralysis.” Make it clear which action you want your user to take, and set up your site in such a way so that everything leads to this desired result.

6. Not Building Your Subscriber Base

I’ve definitely been guilty of this one, and it has meant that I’ve had to play catch up. Not having the ability for my website visitors to subscribe has meant that I have missed out on hundreds, if not thousands of sign ups.

The reason that starting an email list and encouraging sign ups is so important is because communicating by email is much more effective than through sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Myspace is a good example that highlights how having a big following on a specific platform might be more or less useless one day.

An email list stays with you forever, and is the the number one way to engage with your audience. Having subscribers who trust you enough to give you their email address means that you don’t have to rely on external sources to stay in the minds of your potential students.

There is a place for social media, and I highly recommend that you use it to attract new visitors to your site and interact with your followers. But, it doesn’t come close to the power of email.

I use Aweber for this site and I have recently introduced it on my teaching site. To start an email list and to interact with your subscribers:

1. Sign up for an account with Aweber (it’s $1 for the first month).

2. Follow the instructions to create your list and to introduce a sign up form.

3. Place the form on your blog.

When someone signs up, they’ll receive your blog updates, general messages, or a series of emails that are pre-written and automatically sent out.

I now add those who request a trial lesson to my subscriber list. Doing this ensures that those who don’t go on to take lessons with me will receive my email updates.

Don’t wait to start building your email list; do this as soon as you start your teaching website or blog.

If you want to learn how to create your own site, then follow my step-by-step guide on how to do this using WordPress.

And, if you have any questions regarding this topic, then become a subscriber and get in contact with me. I’d love to help you get your site up and running.


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

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Wordpress Featured

Why You Need a Website and How to Get One

Wordpress Logo

WordPress (.org) is the best platform for creating websites.

Having a website is a must for teachers who want to find online students and become successful. This post will look at the many reasons why you need a website and how you can get one.

My first English teaching website took me hours upon hours of trial and error. I had no coding experience and didn’t really know what I was doing, but somehow I managed to get something up there.

It looked pretty basic and wasn’t scalable, but it got the job done. It had all the information a student could need and a contact and payment gateway (easy to implement) so people could buy lessons without contacting me first.

Things have changed a lot in the design world; everyone is now using WordPress, and I encourage you to do the same. It is much easier now to get things up and running. In addition, you won’t need to invest a lot of money in your site:

The price below show how much you’ll spend setting up your own teaching website; here is what you need:

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  • A domain name ($1-10 per year)
  • A hosting plan ($3-10 per month)
  • A theme ($0-$100)
  • WordPress (free)


There are other options (see below), but if you want a website that looks professional and is easy to use, then WordPress is the perfect option for you.

Why you need a website

To become an independent teacher with a strong online presence then it is vital to have a website. Your website is your base, the equivalent of a physical language school.

This is where you can showcase your teaching abilities and your courses to potential students, while also posting content (blog posts, tutorials, exercises etc.) for your visitors. Teaching online without having a website isn’t impossible, but it does make things a lot more difficult.

A great website gives all the information a student needs about what types of lessons you offer, and is designed and worded in such a way to nudge people into taking lessons with you.

Making a great looking and effective website isn’t as hard as most people think. Let’s now talk about what you’ll need to get yours up and running.

The process

(If you are looking for step-by-step instructions for creating your own website then take a look at my free guide – How to Build a Website with WordPress. I’ll walk you through exactly what you’ll need to get your website up and running)

The first thing to do is to buy a domain name. Thinking of a domain name can be difficult, and at first it may seem like everything you come up with has already been taken. I think that it is best to make it personal; students buy into a teacher’s story and not necessarily a big corporate website.

For example,  www.englishteacher(yourname).com is great for branding. You just need to look at how much Rachel’s English has grown over the past few years to see how powerful this can be.

To get your domain name, I recommend using Godaddy.

Once you have your domain, you have two great options: Weebly and WordPress.

Weebly is a drag-and-drop website builder that anyone can use. It is really simple to create a website that looks good and has everything you need – you can receive payments, have contact forms, and add pictures and videos. It costs around $4 a month (you can’t use a domain name with the free account), which is great value for what you get.

Weebly is limited, but if you’re looking for something super simple and don’t mind the restrictions, then it should work for you.

The other option is using WordPress.


WordPress is easily the best platform out there at the moment.

I can’t recommend WordPress enough. It’s easy to use, and creating your site is straightforward if you follow my instructions.

But, before we install WordPress (and you already have your domain name), we need to get a hosting plan. This is much easier than it sounds and it takes about 3 minutes to set up. Bluehost is my favorite as I’ve never had any problems with it and they have great customer service. (Learn more about how to get started with hosting here.)

Once you have your hosting set up you can install WordPress within one minute. You receive your log in details and from there you can create everything you want to create. In fact, here is a picture of what writing this very post looks like:

Wordpress editor

It took me a while before moving to WordPress but I haven’t looked back since. For the independent teacher who doesn’t want to set limits to where online teaching can take them, there isn’t really any other option available that is as easy and professional.

The amount of control it gives you, while at the same time taking away the need to know website coding, is incredible. You control the content, where it goes, and how it looks. The process is great fun and incredibly rewarding.

Other considerations and the creative process

There are lots of small things that you need to know when creating a website. These are technicalities and can easily be learned along the way and/or implemented using our free guide. While some are important (especially the safety issues), most don’t require that you throw your energy into them.

The process of creating a space that attracts students, creates interest, and converts leads into paying students is something that needs to be thought about, experimented with, and tweaked. Keeping it simple in the beginning will keep you sane and help you get things rolling early on. It also makes things easier for your potential students to sign up with you.

If this process seems a little overwhelming then you can always get someone to set up a site for you. But, if you are like I was, (short on money and like the creative process), then there is nothing from stopping you from doing it yourself and creating your new site. In fact, you could have things up and ready to go in just a few hours.


Free website tutorial for WordPress
Godaddy (for domain names)
Bluehost (for hosting if using WordPress)


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

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