Whether you’ve just been hired by an online teaching company or are branching out on your own, you need to approach your new teaching position as a personal business. Like any other business, teaching English online requires reaching out and selling yourself to students, building up clientele, and keeping them loving the service that they receive. Don’t expect this to happen overnight. Students from all over the world have an increasing number of options when it comes to choosing an English company and specific teacher, so making yourself stand out is definitely a crucial element of success- and I don’t mean just by offering the lowest rates. After all, teachers deserve to be compensated fairly for their work in order to support themselves. Getting students for your online business will take a while, but I do have some tips for kickstarting the process and getting you well on your way.
If you have been hired by an online company, you will have the opportunity to introduce and sell yourself to clients via their portal. If, however, you are trying to branch off on your own, you’ll need a plan of attack for getting people to know that you’re out there. Creating ads in online classifieds and freelance sites is a great way to quickly and easily reach people who are searching for tutors. To go beyond this and offer an insight into your services- one that goes beyond the word limit of an ad box- build a website. Systems like WordPress are easy enough to use, even for us minimally tech-savvy folk. Regularly contributing to your blog or service page will keep getting your name out there and, if you use the right SEO, will send potential students your way.
Make a Good Impression
First impressions make even more of a difference when you are trying to quickly and adequately present yourself to a student. Often times, companies will request that you film a 15 to 30 second video introducing yourself. Seize this opportunity and use it for all of its worth. Have great lighting, look presentable, and have interesting things to say. Be energized and always have a smile on your face. This video is a chance for you to invite potential clients to try out a lesson with you and choose you as their educator. Think of it as creative cover letter.
Build a Relationship
Your relationship with your student starts the second you have contact. Whether that be via email, chat, or when you turn the camera on, your aim should be to develop a personal connection. Students will always prefer a teacher that creates a personalized learning experience that works for them. The ability to understand your student and putting forth a genuine effort into making the class right for him/her will be noticed and appreciated. Remembering details about your students’ likes, dislikes, and hobbies also facilitates a sense of genuine care and connection. Organizing such information into a basic Excel document or notebook will really come in handy when your numbers start to increase. Your reputation will spread by word of mouth between your clients and any friends that they have who are looking for an ESL tutor, which provides a great opportunity for you to expand your clientele. Never underestimate the power of your current students’ happiness: satisfied customers (and their parents) are sure to spread the word about their fantastic English teacher.
Be Consistent, But Creative
This applies to pretty much every area of the lesson. Most people will appreciate a lesson structure so that they can become accustomed to your classroom. Parents in particular will expect this for their young English students. Stating the objectives of the lessons orally and through a visual like a Powerpoint is a great way to show that you’ve prepared and will be offering a quality learning experience. This does not mean, however, that you should fall into a boring routine. Being creative and innovative with your activities and props is what keeps people coming back for more. With children, I’d suggest something like having a designated song time for each lesson. This doesn’t mean sing the same song every day for a year, but it allows the student to look forward to a fun section of the lesson. With adults, I like to interpret song lyrics and discuss metaphors or have discuss articles and current events from newspapers or journals. There’s plenty to go around and things and things are constantly changing in these areas.