Are you wondering how to teach English online full-time?
Some of you began teaching online to eventually turn this opportunity into a full-time gig. Or maybe you started teaching purely as a side hustle and want more.
While some teachers are super successful and can teach English online full-time and really reel in cash, some are not as lucky.
So, what’s their secret sauce?
Before we reveal all the secrets, let’s begin by looking at whether or not you really can teach English online full-time or if these full-time teachers are the exceptions to the rule.
Can you teach English online full-time?
In short, it depends!
I know that isn’t the best answer to this question but let’s dive into it some more.
Firstly, it depends on the type of online teaching you are doing.
Are you working with an ESL company or are you marketing yourself and teaching on a marketplace platform?
It also depends on who you are working for. Does the platform book your classes for you or do students or parents book your classes?
Finally, the term “full-time” means different things to different people.
What is full-time to you? The meaning may depend on where you live and your income expectations.
Teaching English online starts as a part-time opportunity for many. But there’s an opportunity for it to grow.
As your profile, schedule and reputation build, your hours and bookings will also increase.
Many strategies for turning online English teaching into a full-time income come from a shift in mindset.
Here are 4 strategies along with 5 practical tips to help you become a full-time online teacher:
- Treat it as your business
- Develop your brand
- Grow & shift your mindset
- Five must-know tips for teaching English online full-time
1. Treat it as your business.
One of the most important shifts that help people teach ESL full-time is treating it as your business.
But what does that actually mean?
Picture yourself as a true independent contractor—someone who controls their schedule, time and where you work.
When you see yourself as the CEO of your business, you can start to look at ways to increase your income and generate multiple income streams.
Here’s the truth:
Many of us are bound to our company’s booking algorithm, making some people successful and some not as much.
However, when we see it as our business, we start to see how we can work at marketing and investing in what we want out of it.
Many things are in our control to create a more robust profile on our platforms.
- Marketing: I had to learn how to market myself as an online teacher. We can work on the image parents see and make it unique and attractive. Don’t rely on a low-quality camera and poor editing skills. Invest in your business or ask someone to help you create a quality profile that is attractive to potential students and clients.
- Personal Development: Work on yourself as a teacher. Are you giving the best classes to your students? While we might think we are offering the best classes, it is always good to learn more, grow as an online teacher and become even better! Look into whether your online company offers workshops or additional training. These can be extremely beneficial as you build your business.
2. Develop your brand.
Teaching ESL online full-time requires some thought about your branding as a teacher.
Those that can turn online ESL teaching into a full-time job get very specific on their brand, what they offer and how they can best help their students.
I’m not talking about logos, colors and fonts. While those are important things to a business brand, you don’t need to worry about that stuff if you just want to teach English online with a company.
However, if you want to create an independent teaching business, these branding elements can come later.
Whether you are working for a company, like VIPKid or Gogokid, or a marketplace platform like Outschool or the online English teaching marketplaces like iTalki or Preply, branding is key so you can stand out and build a fully booked schedule.
Now let’s talk about what goes into growing your brand as an online ESL teacher.
Ask yourself these questions to begin thinking about what makes you different:
- What makes me unique in the classroom? What is my “superpower”?
- What do parents love about me during feedback? Pronunciation? Humour?
- What about my personal life could I highlight in all of my classes to help students remember me?
- Is there a particular area of learning English I can become an expert in or highlight in my teaching and feedback to my students or their parents?
If you focus on branding yourself, you will offer unique and valuable lessons for your students. Being memorable will ultimately increase your bookings.
3. Grow and shift your mindset.
When considering how to teach English online full-time, your mindset plays a big part in your success.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you believe that you are capable of turning this “gig” into a full-time time job?
- Are you focused and determined to put in the work?
- Are you willing to push forward even when it’s difficult?
- Are you patient enough to work through low bookings to achieve what you are worth and capable of?
If you answered yes to these questions, you’re moving in the right direction to full-time online teaching!
You can earn a full-time income if you’re willing to put in the effort.
The key to earning a steady income as an online English teacher is a schedule full of classes.
The reality is that it takes time to build this up.
Don’t expect a full-time schedule right from the beginning if you’re only working for one company.
I’ll let you in on a little secret:
Most companies don’t guarantee bookings from the first day, so we need to diversify by working with several online teaching jobs!
How do you diversify?
Well, one thing you can do is apply to multiple online teaching companies.
Choose 5-6 online ESL companies that you like and send out those applications.
You should aim to work with at least 2 online companies when starting.
Also, choose companies with varying peak hours.
If all the companies you work for are based in China, there is not much opportunity for expanding your working hours because you are limited to peak teaching times in one time zone.
Find companies that offer lessons to students in countries with different time zones like Korea, Thailand, or European countries.
5 must-know tips for teaching English online full-time.
Now that you have focused on teaching online as your business and are working towards branding yourself and diversifying your income, let’s talk about some quick and actionable tips for teaching English online full-time.
1. Open up more hours and availability.
If you want to teach full-time, you need to open up full-time hours from the beginning.
Show your potential students and families that you are committed to working and available for classes.
Don’t forget to consider teaching off-peak hours.
Many companies have available booking slots before and after peak hours.
In the beginning, it will be essential to be available at all times to maximize your chances of getting new students.
2. Take time off and avoid burnout.
Trying to teach online full-time is going to take work.
It can be a slippery slope to the dreaded burnout when working for multiple companies or taking on so many extra hours.
You don’t want to be a burnt-out online teacher who loses their enthusiasm for lessons. Students can sense this. They may not be as eager to book lessons with you again later.
Be sure to take time out. Leave room in your schedule for holidays too.
Your mental health as a teacher is important.
Burning out from online teaching is a reality that can happen if you are not taking care of yourself and taking time off when you need it.
3. Surround yourself with like-minded people.
We can’t do this alone and we need support to teach English online full-time.
Join Facebook groups of like-minded teachers who are trying to reach their goals of full-time online teaching.
Connect with a few online teachers who have similar objectives and encourage each other to reach your full potential!
4. Give quality feedback on your classes.
Never underestimate the value of your feedback to your students and their families.
Focus on providing quality feedback, so your students know where they need to improve. Give them practical steps to take between taking your classes.
You will see a high retention rate if your students are making progress with your classes!
5. Make connections and keep engagement high.
If you want to retain students, you need to focus on connection and increasing engagement in your online classroom.
The student needs to feel valued and want to come back to learn from you.
Try to make learning English interesting and fun for your students.
The first few minutes of your class are crucial for creating a connection and building a strong rapport before jumping into the lesson content.
Ask them about their lives and interests – you never know what you’ll learn!
Build a full-time schedule today.
You can do this!
Teaching English online has many benefits and it is a great time to get into the industry.
Becoming a full-time online English teacher is totally possible.
You just have to hustle a bit, shift your perspective, diversify by applying to more online English teaching jobs, invest time and have a strong desire to build your business.
Your branding, reputation and relationships with students matter.
The better you are at connecting with your students, the more excited they’ll be to book lessons with you later.
It’s time to start building your profile and schedule to make this into something full-time.