It’s the big question when you’re starting out: how do you advertise as an online English teacher and get students? The online world is a big place and there are a lot of language learners out there looking for teachers, but where do you find them?
Teachers have three options when it comes to working online:
- Work for an online teaching company.
- Use an online marketplace that connects students and teachers.
- Go freelance and source students yourself.
Working for an online company is a great way to get started and build up experience. It’s why we recommended starting off this way in our previous post about how to find your first online TEFL job. But if you’re aiming to maximise your earnings and have full control over when and how much you work, then you want to focus on #3.
We won’t lie, there’s a lot of work involved establishing yourself as an online English teacher. The rewards really make it worth it, though, so read on to find out about some of the best ways of finding students online.
Online marketplaces and teaching platforms
A good middle-way between working for an online company and being completely freelance is to use an online marketplace. These websites allow you to create a profile, set your own rates and hours, and find students.
You’ll still need to promote yourself within the marketplace – with lots of other English teachers to compete with you need to stand out if you’re going to attract students. Creating a strong introduction video can be a great way to do this, but you’ll also need to put careful thought into how you price your lessons. If you go in too high then you might find yourself struggling for clients.
Verbling, italki, and Preply are three popular marketplaces for EFL teachers to advertise on. Each one takes a commission, so make sure to find out how much this is and what their requirements are.
Social media is a fantastic way of reaching and engaging with English language learners. Don’t make the mistake of stretching yourself too thin and setting up profiles on every social media platform out there, though. Quality is better than quantity.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok are all platforms that can work great for online English teachers. Different content is required for each one, which is why it’s not feasible to try and maintain a presence on all of them – that would be an entire job in itself! Instead, do a bit of research into the users of each platform and focus your attention on those where you’re most likely to reach your target students. For example, if you’re aiming to teach Business English then LinkedIn and Facebook are where you should be, rather than TikTok, which has a very young user base.
Using social media is a great way to share interesting content and get creative. You’re not there to say ‘hire me to teach you teach English’ constantly – ‘buy, buy, buy’ messaging isn’t going to get you far. Instead, you’re building your brand by sharing useful resources, tips, and thoughts, all while giving prospective students a sense of you as a person and teacher. This then leads to them hiring you!
Facebook and Google Ads are two popular forms of paid advertising that can really yield results – if you know how to use them correctly. It’s incredibly easy to waste money if you don’t know what you’re doing, so make sure to get clued up first!
Facebook Blueprint is a great place to start, with lots of short courses you’ll be guided you through how to set up Facebook ads that deliver for you. And Google Skillshop will similarly help you with Google Ads.
With effective ads you can target English language learners – whether they’re in a particular country, of a certain age, or even have specific interests. This means it’s possible, with clever targeting, to reach internet users who are actively interested in learning English and improving their skills.
Targeting, while essential to the success of paid ads, is just one part of it. You also need to create the ad itself, something potential students are going to want to click on to find out more. This is where some basic marketing know-how will serve you well: think about the purpose of your ad. The very basic marketing funnel involves three stages: awareness, consideration, and conversion. Learning about each stage will help you better understand how to create ad campaigns that will ultimately lead to conversions.
And don’t forget about the landing page! Your ad is going to encourage them to click, so where does that click lead them? This leads us to…
As a freelance English teacher you really need your own website. This is where potential students will be able to find out about what it is you do, so think about the sort of things they’re going to want to see. Here’s what we recommend including as a minimum:
- A homepage, which clearly and succinctly explains what it is you offer.
- An ‘About me’ page, which tells students a bit about you and your personality. You can also include your CV here, or have it on a separate page.
- A blog, to share your thoughts, resources, and information for students.
You can also create a landing page, as already mentioned, which is specifically made for the people you’ve targeted through paid advertising. There’s lots of information online about how to make a good landing page and why you should be using one.
Don’t think that after you’ve created a website you can sit back and wait for students to come to you. If only it were that easy! Unless you’re an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) pro, your site is unlikely to immediately rank on Google in a significant enough way for you to get organic traffic – although you absolutely should endeavour to make your site as SEO-friendly as possible! This means you need to be putting in the work to direct students to it – through the likes of social media and paid advertising.
Not sure how to get started with creating your own website? Our 40-hour Teaching English Online course will help guide you through it.
Gumtree and other classified ads websites
Another option for advertising is to use classified ad websites to post about your services. Gumtree and Craigslist are popular sites with region-specific listings.
These sites can be a good way of targeting students from specific areas of the world. Search for the local listings for specific countries/areas – these will likely be in that country’s language (tip: use a web browser like Google Chrome that will translate for you) – and post your ad in the relevant section.
You can post your advert in English, or – if you have the skills or can get someone to do it for you – translate it into your students’ first language. This makes it much easier for students with beginner to intermediate levels of English to understand exactly what it is you’re offering as a teacher. Always think about how to make your marketing as easy and clear as possible!
Interested in finding out more about teaching English online? Check out our Definitive Guide to find out everything you need to know – from what qualifications you need, where to find jobs, and how much you can earn.