This is a guest post written by my colleague Chris Rush, an online teacher of Business English. At the time of the interview Chris had been teaching online since 2012, but in 2016 he decided to take on a new challenge of growing his students’ database on italki.
I’m always really interested to learn how others grow their business on other platforms, and I thought this story might be helpful to you as well. One lesson I learned from this story is even when you’re in a big market place you need to stand out. It’s the same whether you have a website or whether you choose to set up your profile elsewhere. What are your takeaways from this story? read and share in the comments! Thank you, ~ Elena
[The post was updated in March, 2021].
As someone that’s been teaching online for a few years, I’ve developed a pretty reliable method for getting students. LinkedIn has been my social network of choice when it comes to how to promote myself, but recently I thought I would try an experiment.
After a tip from another online English teacher I decided I would try italki. For those of you who don’t know, italki.com is the world’s largest marketplace for language teachers and learners. You can teach any language you want. Just create a profile, set your prices, and learners will find you. It’s free to create a profile, and italki gets a certain percentage commission on your sales.
While LinkedIn is great, it takes time to build relationships. You have to send lots of connections, and then nurture them through messaging campaigns (which can’t be automated). In the end, it’s not all that different from building authority through a reputable blog: When you’ve got it, it’s a great feather in your cap, but you can’t establish yourself as an authority overnight. It just doesn’t work that way.
Being a teacherpreneur is very much like running a little company. You’ve got to decide on your strategy, build your list, make your website, manage social media, and publish awesome content (regularly). The payoff is worth it, but it’s an investment in dozens or hundreds of hours before getting the results. It’s daunting and many (or most) give up somewhere along this journey.
#teach #online and go from zero to $2k in 90 days. Find out how.Click To Tweet
Well, if the standard teacherpreneur route is like running a company, then italki is like having a booth at a flea market. There’s not enough room for blog posts or websites — all you get is a little table to show off your wares (in this case an intro video and a few paragraphs of profile), and the marketplace, italki, provides the traffic.
And you do get traffic, starting on day 1. Every day, students interested in purchasing lessons from a teacher will see your profile. For those without a blog, a website, or a social media following, this is a huge advantage. Remember, this is a flea market. The English teacher next to you may have a blog and a big email list, but in this place, their table is the same size as yours.
I tried to take advantage of this by crafting my video and profile as carefully as possible, and now I’m going to share the results of 90 days on italki, starting from absolutely nothing.
The First Two Weeks: Low Prices and Low Confidence
I was officially an italki teacher on April 1, 2016, a Friday. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I set my prices at $20 per hour. In my first full week, I had 6 trial lessons (a shorter lesson at a lower cost), and converted 3 into paying students. So I went from zero to 3 students in just a week!
In my second week, things started to happen much more quickly. My first 3 students booked their first regular lessons, and in addition to them, I taught 13 trial lessons, and converted 7 of them into paying students — over 50%! Plus, I had two students buy regular lessons without even having a trial.
After doing 16 trial lessons in two weeks, I was starting to get used to it. I was gaining confidence in myself and in what I was offering — after all, people were buying lessons and leaving positive feedback. It was time to raise my prices!
Become an #online #teacher in demand in just 90 days. Find out how!Click To Tweet
Weeks 3 and 4: First Price Increase and More Students Than I Could Handle
Many teachers have a hard time raising their prices. On italki, I didn’t. It’s a marketplace, and there are scores of teachers. Students have no obligation to commit to just one.
They can (and many do) take lessons with multiple teachers at a time, or frequently switch from one teacher to another. In this environment, I didn’t feel like I would be “leaving anyone hanging” by abruptly raising my prices, so that’s what I did. Up they went to $30 per hour.
This had 2 results that confirmed I was doing the right thing: The first is that more than half of my original paying students were happy to pay the new, higher price, even though the service they were receiving was exactly the same. Secondly, the higher prices did absolutely nothing to stop the influx of students. In fact, I was drowning.
In my first week I taught for 3 total hours, and in the second week it jumped to 13 hours. In week 3, I taught for 20 hours, and the fourth week was 24.5. Everyone’s threshold is different, but I learned in weeks 3 and 4 that this was just too much teaching. I needed naps every afternoon and I was tired all the time.
The good news was that it was the end of the month, and time to get paid. My first payment from italki was for $858.10. My valuable lesson from 30 days was to teach less and charge more, so it was time for another price increase.
Weeks 5-12: Second Price Increase, Sustainability, and Scalability
By this time, I was no longer intimidated by selling my services in trial lessons. In fact, I was really enjoying it. Although my closing rate at $40 an hour is much less than it was at $20, I was still selling enough to have a net increase of students.
And after such a busy first month, I took a much needed break in my second month, severely restricting my teaching hours and taking the time to catch up on some other things (like list-building and content creation)!
In my first 4 weeks on italki, I made $858 teaching a total of 38 lessons. In my most recent 4 weeks, I’ve made $2,223 teaching 71. At roughly 3.5 lessons per day (call it 5 hours of work) I still have time to build my business on the side.
That means doing all of the teacherpreneur small company things like creating content and determining strategy — the things that will make it possible to do more than teach.
Conclusion: How to Stand Out
At the flea market, you’ve got to have your table set up in a certain way if you want to catch a customer’s eye. All the details are important because potential customers don’t have a lot of information to base decisions on.
Not making eye contact as people walk by? They’ll keep walking. Don’t have your items organized in a neat and logical way? They’ll go to the next table. The positive side of this is that it only takes a few tweaks to really make your table stand out.
I’m stretching the analogy, but it’s hard to overstate how much of an impact your italki profile has on your bottom line, for better or for worse.
If you want to have a profile that attracts students, here’s what you need to keep in mind:
#1: Focus on the benefits:
In both your profile copy and your video, resist the temptation to talk about yourself too much. It’s natural to think “well this is introduction is about me” but really it’s not — it’s about your students, and how they’ll benefit from taking lessons with you. What makes a handmade coffee mug attractive isn’t how it’s made, but the thought of drinking hot coffee out of it on a cold morning!
#2: Define your audience:
Your profile will be way more effective if you choose a specific audience and speak specifically to them. You may think you’re reaching more people, but the reality is that trying to speak to everyone makes your message bland and uninteresting.
Think about the flea market. You’ve got the lady that knits cute oven mitts, the guy that stitches leather journals, and the potter who throws those vases. That’s who you want to be — the specialist that people come to when they need what you sell. Nobody visits the table of the person trying to sell a little of everything.
#3: Make a darn good video:
You don’t have to be a professional videographer to make a video that will make you very attractive to students. Make eye contact with the camera, have a neutral background, and make sure you speak slowly, loudly, and clearly. Studio time not necessary.
Obviously, there is a lot more to say on how to make a great profile, so I’m going to pull back the curtain and give you an insider’s tour of my own italki profile! This is the exact profile that got me the results above, and it gets me more students every day.
By following the advice in this post, you’ll be able to maximize your student engagement even if you don’t use italki. It’s a few simple steps that could make the difference between having the booth that’s jammed with people just waiting to buy from you, or having the one three tables down, all alone, looking over at the full booth and wondering how they do it.
Chris Rush has been teaching business English online since 2012. In addition to teaching on italki, he runs Better Business English for learners and also helps English teachers make the transition to teaching online. Please check out the links to connect with him if you have any specific questions.
Hi Chris and Lena. Great post – thanks for this. I didn’t realise you’d only been on iTalki since April Chris – you are quite the advocate and I’m glad it’s working out for you. I really like the “flea market” analogy! Just something that I feel deserves clarification – you mention that you received an initial payment from iTalki. What sort of relationship exists between iTalki and the tutors on the platform? You’re not salaried or anything I’m assuming. Is the relationship based on the assumption that all tutors have a business or self-employed status in their respective countries, so that the funds handled by the platform are then subject to any deductions for taxes and national insurance? I’m just curious about this point. Otherwise, thanks for an interesting article.
Hi Cara, thanks for the kind words! Yes, your assumption is correct. Italki makes it clear that payments are subject to the taxes in each teacher’s home country. But yes, that’s the reason I’m such an advocate….as someone who’s been doing this for so long, I was wondering why I had only heard negative things about italki. I’m here to tell the other side of the story!
Hi Chris. Okay, great thanks for clarifying that point and for sharing your side of the story.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
How what resources to you use?
How do you level your students?
How often do you tutor them?
Do you tutor more than one student at a time?
Where is the best site to get TEFL or TESOL certified?
I look forward to your thoughts and feedback
For the first two questions I recommend Off2Class — they provide curriculum as well as a comprehensive placement test.
Students book lessons on italki as frequently (or infrequently) as they like, though I recommend once per week as a minimum.
On the italki platform, all lessons are one on one, and as far as certification, I did mine in person so I can’t speak to any of the myriad online certification programs that exist. Best of luck to you!
Chris, Thanks for the post 🙂 I was wondering (perhaps some of the teachers would like to ask the same question): now that you’ve got your online teaching up and rolling via italki, what’s the point of “building” something of your own? I’m sure some would say, “Gosh, I wish I could just charge $40 an hour and work only 5 hours a day.” What’s the point of having/keeping a website, writing content and doing list building if you’ve got the amount of money you want (and have an option of even increasing what you charge)? Thank you!
Lena, that’s a great question, and I think the answer comes down to the desire of a particular teacher.
Speaking for myself, the goal is to build something that will allow me to create income without being in front of the computer at certain exact times (the way I need to now with teaching lessons). For some people, 5 hours of online lessons a day would be great — and maybe for others who already have a regular job and would like to transition slowly, 2-3 hours will work. I’m sure there are people with more endurance than me who could teach 6 or 7 lessons per day and that would work for them. Really there is no *need* to build anything else — that’s what I like about italki.
The point is that doing this allows us to create a lifestyle we design, rather than feeling “stuck” working an unpleasant job. What that ultimately looks like will be different for everyone.
Hi Elena and Chris! Thank you for sharing this helpful, honest information about what it’s like to teach on italki. I have also been wondering if it’s worth posting a profile there with a narrower focus than the average online tutor. I’ve been teaching online since 2014 and have noticed in the past year that the many tutoring marketplaces have directed Google traffic away from my website, but my posts, Instagram, and other sources continue to bring learners to my site.
I would agree with Chris… it seems like you could teach full-time on italki, but you have no idea how their commission rates could change (like Udemy), or if their algorithm will change (like Facebook). So the best bet is to always be building your own presence and authority on your teaching website because that will always bring you traffic! And that way you can scale your business in the way you’d like.
Thanks again! 🙂
Kim, that’s a great point that I’m very aware of but couldn’t get into here. For that I have another analogy 🙂 I think of it like building your house on land that you don’t own. Because you’re right — italki or any other platform could change how they take commission, or make you pay out of pocket to reach learners, or even go out of business — the whole thing could become impractical or impossible at any time.
Just like you mentioned about web traffic, Google could change its algorithm and a traffic-dependent site is suddenly on life support.
This is a whole other blog post, but for anyone whose livelihood is based online, the #1 priority really should be email collection. That’s the only thing that can’t be taken away from you by someone else!
Hi guys! I have a question to Chris. Do you think there’s a market for non-native English teacher? In my case, I’m Ukrainian and I don’t have any experience in living abroad and international teaching.
And one more question…how do you get money on this platform? Do they send it to your paypall or bank your account?
Denis, if you don’t mind I’m going to answer to this, too! I’m actually originally from Ukraine, and I started my business in Ukraine (more on that in my up-coming book the Numbers Game: https://www.elenamutonono.com/the-numbers-game/ I think you can start from teaching in Ukraine and offering the services to Ukrainians. Perhaps individual classes may not work as well, but there’re other formats to teaching online (keep your eyes peeled for this Friday’s post on how I made $2k without teaching skype lessons). You need to discover your niche and how you can help your market. Doing just generic lessons won’t work. And obviously you have to start building your list (!) In terms of payment, you can use local Ukrainian Banks, i.e. I was using Privat Bank, but then again you would need to cash it regularly. I lost several hundreds of dollars when Crimea became Russia, but it’s a different story. I’m not sure how you can set up your payments for italki so they work in Ukraine, but I know a number of people from Russia who work on italki, so I think there’s a way around it (as always). Good luck with your teaching!
Thanks for your question! I do think there is a market for non-native teachers. Italki outlines their qualification requirements here:
So you need to demonstrate that you’re at a C2 level to teach. I think if you create your teacher profile using the methodology I described, you can definitely have success!
As to the money question, italki pays teachers twice per month into PayPal and Skrill accounts. There may be other ways to get paid but I’m not aware of them.
Lena, thanks for your recomendations for me. They are really valuable ) I’ve been wathcing you and reading your blog since last year and I can really notice your progress )
It’s interesting that what you started doing 2 years ago already in the US, I started doing in 2012-3 in Ukraine and Russia, learning from gyus like Parabellum and Ushanov.
I developed 1 product (actually 3, but only one was succesfull, that is course in pronunciation), but in 2014-5I decided to switch to another project and I quitted my English one for almost a year or so.
Now, I wanna come back )
Chris, thanks for filling me in on these details. I want to focus this year more on developing my courses in grammar and pronunciation, but I’m also interested in trying to take online several international students to see who it works.
Sounds good, Denis!
Hey Denis. Actually I first created my course in 2012, but I had difficulty making it available to a large crowd. How has your pronunciation course done? How many students do you have in it? In “The Numbers Game” https://www.elenamutonono.com/the-numbers-game/ I talk more about this experience, I hope you can read it. I found it difficult to offer my products to the Russian market, but I might give it a try again, I already have a unique idea. Thanks for sharing your experience and for following me, too!
Thank you for sharing this information. It was very useful for me.
I am a Spanish teacher on Italki. I’ve changed my profile description and video. And I feel it’s much more professional now.
I would like to increase my prices but the other Spanish teacher are cheaper or have the same prices as I have. I don’t want to become too expensive.
What should I do?
Thank you for your time.
Hi, Sofia! Great to see some steps in the right direction. Changing prices is a process, and it starts with knowing why your potential students need to buy from you, not other teachers. This is where the idea of focusing on one aspect of teaching becomes important. When you know what exactly you’re teaching and why you’re better than others you will have enough confidence to raise your prices. When however you look at the price only, not the value, it’s difficult to stand out. Here’s a post that might be helpful: https://www.elenamutonono.com/2016/07/01/niche-finding-online-teachers/
Great article and thank you for sharing your experience. Not many people would be so generous to share their success story 🙂
Right now I live in Europe, but I have lived in Canada for 14 years, finished highschool, and worked there. Besides that, English language is my great love and I feel it as my native tongue. Without false modesty, besides a minor accent, you would never know that I am not a native english speaking person.
Can someone like me, without a teaching degree, give lessons online? Do they accept teachers of my profile on italki? I would love to try, but I am lacking confidence, not in my english language skills, but teaching skills.
Thank you again for your article, and any future tips you may give us!
Hi Milica, Thanks for stopping by! I’ll respond, too, just to give an opinion. I think they have two categories of teachers on italki, some of them are “professional,” while others are just tutors. You can definitely try – it is going to be a fun experience. However, if you feel like teaching long-term I would recommend getting a certificate or at least taking some courses on “how to teach.” It may just be my opinion, but I remember teaching somebody as a high school student, and I ended up having more questions than the student. It may not be necessary for your students, but I think it will be necessary for you if you want to provide the best results for the students.
Do you have to interview or do they just review certifications and degrees?
I have a MA in TESOL and state certification. I’m guessing that works, correct?
No, Jamie. You just upload your certificates and they approve them.
I started out with a bang on iTalki. I had three trial lessons who all booked 2 more lessons each. Then I lost my momentum. The next three trial lessons did not rebook. On day nine, today, the whole thing came to a screeching halt. I do not have a single lesson on my calendar. What happened?
Barbara, I’ll contact Chris to see if he could give you his perspective. Since I have always taught through my website, it’s hard for me to speak of the italki experience, but I’ve coached italki teachers who have had similar problems.
One thing I know from experience that increases loyalty is the way you structure your consecutive lessons. I’m a big advocate of customized programs, and whenever I taught anyone and they booked 5 lessons or more, I would send them a program – a syllabus with a focused agenda for the next 5 weeks.
The person knew what exactly I was going to cover in the next 5 weeks, and I had no problem retaining that client. Pricing and the copy of your account profile can also play part, but I would advise you to focus on the program. Here’s more on that subject: https://www.elenamutonono.com/2015/11/06/your-students-want-results-learn-about-the-best-tool-to-deliver-them/
The first thing to remember is that you’re starting from scratch! If you’ve been on italki for 9 days and only had a handful of lessons, you’re not going to have very many positive reviews. Give it some time! In the first few lessons encourage your students to leave written feedback, since it’s optional for them.
The other thing I’d suggest is that you encourage students to buy a package of lessons after the trial, not just one. Life gets busy, and even students who honestly mean to buy another lesson forget, then a day turns into two days which turns into a week and then they’re long gone. When students get a package it encourages them to get into the routine of lessons with you, and it’s always harder to break a routine than something you just did once or twice. Plus, you can build a lot more rapport over five lessons than just one.
Finally, remember that refresh button! Every time you refresh your teacher profile, italki puts you on the top of the teacher list. When you’re busy with a full schedule, it’s easy to stay on top because you’re constantly in the system. However, when you’re new and don’t have many students yet, you’ve got to refresh your profile manually. Do it often — every few minutes while you’re at the computer.
Try these strategies and have some patience with yourself, and I think you’ll see the arrow start to point up again. Remember, it won’t happen overnight!
Thank you Elena and Chris for sharing this article. I am starting my own business online and could not have found better guidance and motivation.
Thanks, Martha! All the best to you in your new endeavors!
That’s great, Martha! Remember to stay connected to fellow teachers, and to follow the advice of those who have been there before. So glad this helped!
Hi Chris/fellow teachers,
Thank you so much for sharing your experience, it’s very insightful and motivational.
I’m on my 2nd week on italki and have decided to increase my rate however I’m worried about losing my students or not being able to sign new ones. During my first week I taught 5 hours to 6 students (5 of whom booked again), and I have 12 hours booked for 13 students this week with currently just 1 hour booked for next week. One of my students has booked a package of 5 lessons.
I started off with the very low rate of 9$ per hour – because I felt there was a lot of competition but now I see the competition seems to be more at the lower end where I currently am. So I’d like to increase my rate to 20$ per hour on Monday however I’m a little nervous about it. I’ve thought about offering the same rates to my current students for 2 to 4 weeks to show my appreciation and keep them on-board, but, if you do get a minute to reply, I really would appreciate your opinion.
Here’s my profile: https://www.italki.com/teacher/3969240
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read/reply to this!
PS. Your thoughts on Celta vs Tesol would also be much appreciated, as, although I have been doing this for several years, due to work commitments I did not have the time to complete a course up until now. Thank you!
Apologies! I made a mistake above! I have 14 lessons booked for TEN students this week – only 5 of them are new students with 1 trial and 2 instant.
My name is Elena Mutonono, I’m the owner of this creative space for smart online teachers and coaches, and thank you for reading and commenting! How long have you been teaching online? It’s totally normal to feel scared when you’re trying to raise your prices. My take on it: if you don’t know WHY you’re raising your prices (other than, I need to pay my rent), it’s really difficult to communicate that with confidence.
When we can’t market ourselves to ourselves, we can’t market to others. If you’re telling yourself, “I’m afraid people won’t pay me more than $9” then they won’t. However, when you say (knowingly, of course, it’s not a mantra), “I’m charging $20 an hour because I know exactly what value my clients will get from me,” you won’t have an issue.
This comes from knowing your core, the deeper reason for why you’re doing what you’re doing and of course from experience. It also is possible to do when you work within a niche.
I’ve looked at your profile, and in my opinion it’s too generic and as such it can’t appeal to a specific crowd. This is the mistake I used to make, too, I thought, oh, if I just teach 15 things, surely people will work with me, but what ends up happening is you have lots of low-motivated students or you enjoy working, but have to wear yourself down marketing yourself to everyone.
Veronika Palovska (who’s a copy writing coach) and myself ran a workshop on how to write to the heart, not to the head. Your profile outlines your biography and everything you can possibly do, but it doesn’t really connect to your dream client. I recommend you watching this seminar in our library and getting the workbook to make corrections to your copy. Here it is: https://www.elenamutonono.com/smart-library/speak-heart-not-head/ (you’ll have to sign up if you want to watch, the first week is free).
P.S. Do you have any other degree? Why would you need TESOL certification? If you have never taught English then by all means take any of the courses, although I can’t tell you which one, I have a linguistics degree from a University. But if you already have a degree, I would encourage you to invest into learning about how to turn your online teaching into a business.
Many thanks for your reply and the advice.
My background is in business where I’ve helped various different companies with their business development, marketing and sales goals, so it would be nice to connect with business people and focus on that but I feel that I’m not established enough on italki for me to be picky at the moment, so, for now, I’d like to build my client base and then definitely focus on a certain type of student. I will watch the seminar, thank you for the link.
With regards to the Tesol/Celta qualifications, I don’t have a teaching degree, it’s just something that I’ve always done on the side. I’ve now left my crazy full-time job and have a lot more time on my hands so this is something that I definitely want to do now.
Thank you both so much for taking the time to give advice to perfect strangers, it’s great to be able to talk to others with more experience!
Hi, Sandy, so glad you enjoyed the article!
Looking at your italki profile, the sky is the limit. In my opinion, you’re greatly selling yourself short at $9 per hour AND at $20 per hour.
However, in order to reach the full potential of italki, you must get out of the Community Tutor group and become a Professional Teacher — and that of course means getting either a TESOL or CELTA certification.
Honestly, my advice to you regarding that choice would be to do whatever is fastest and cheapest, especially if you already have years of teaching experience. You just need the piece of paper that allows you to be listed as a professional on italki.
Being listed as a professional (and charging premium prices) will expose you to a higher clientele that will be more rewarding to work with, and who will do more with what you teach them.
Regarding your immediate situation, it’s difficult to advise you because I only know italki from the professional teacher side. However, my instinct is to tell you to go for it — charging more usually leads to less stress and more freedom. However, that’s only for the short term. Long term should be focused on joining the ranks of professional teachers.
Hope this helps!
Thank you for the fantastic advice, it’s most appreciated. Yes, the goal is to get the qualification as soon as possible, and then I, too, will feel more confident when I need to increase my rates. I will go for it as it’s really not worth the hassle and the time spent preparing at that rate and hopefully it will work out for the best!
Thanks once again!
Hi, Do you guys have plans of starting your own online school in the future? We wish to be your possible teacher provider someday :). Anyways, such a wonderful blog, really helpful for teachers like us. If you have plans, please let us know. We would be happy to be part of your success. God bless you both.
Hi EJ! Thanks for your kind words. I’ve managed an online school with teachers in the past, and I no longer want to do that. Creating a smarter system with different learning formats and training teachers to do the same is what I do these days. I know how taxing 1:1 lessons are, and I would rather teachers change the way they teach than find tons of students and get overwhelmed with work. All the best to you!
Such a great blog, including all the useful extras in the comments section. The video walk-through for creating a great iTalki profile isn’t working. I would really like to see that.
Hi Ana! The video is something Chris Rush has put on this website, so if you wish to watch it, you might want to contact him either through social media or through Off2Class since he’s been working with them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PJGTwL6C_g Good luck!
I can’t seem to watch the video. Can you send a link?
Hey Natalie! This is Chris’s video, so I’ll see if I can contact him. Thank you!
Hi Elena and Chris,
Thanks for writing such an inspirational article. I have currently completed my TEFL certificate and would love to teach online at Italki but my problem is – where do I start?
I have never had any experience teaching English and even though I am now officially qualified, I am not experienced. I have thought about using Off2Class as I love the look of the website, since I am not really sure where to begin.
I have also read about a lot of online resources teachers use during their lessons, such as Google Docs, Calendly and Moodle, and wondered if you used anything similar for your classes.
Also, do you think I should start out as a community tutor first just to get a feel for teaching before jumping in the deep end?
Any advise you can offer would be invaluable!
Thanks for your time.
Hey Andrew! Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate your comment. I think you’re right about learning the ropes by offering something for free. Several free consultations will help you feel more confident when you begin teaching full-time. I would recommend starting your own social media platform so you don’t just draw some random freebie hunters from free facebook forums, but find people who actually resonate with your message. I think some of the materials in the Smart Teacher’s Library, such as The Road map, might be particularly helpful. Knowing your niche and your core message will help you stand out from the crowd even as you begin teaching on italki. Re. the tools to use, if you create a social media account and would like to meet with people for chats, you could use Jotform to invite people to sign up: http://www.jotform.com For booking I use Acuity Scheduling (that’s my affiliate link). I love it, and a lot of my clients are using it, too. Thanks for reading and let me know how things go for you!
Thanks for your time Elena. In that case, I will follow your advice and teach as a Community Tutor on Italki first, before becoming an online teacher.
I also appreciate you sending the online links – I will certainly check them out 🙂
I can’t access the videos where you explain how you created your start up eye catching profile and video? Link doesn’t seem to work!
Hey Jo! You might want to reach out to Chris via social media. In the meantime, I’m going to take down this element until it’s updated. Thank you!
Thank you dear for sharing this informative article. I have also started my own online tutoring business and this article really helps me to grow my online teaching business.
Robert, thank you for stopping by and reading. Wishing you all the best in your new adventure!
Thank you for this excellent and informative article. I’m currently working on building my own course and brand image centered around teaching English specific to people working in the service industry. Using a platform like Italki sounds like the ideal area to hone important skills and perfect the message that I want to send. Thanks again
Eric, not sure if italki is a good place to perfect your message or even build a brand. The only thing it teaches you is working in 1:1 format without doing much marketing. it’s a good place to get started, but you can’t rely on it to build your clientele or even find your ideal client. Those are different goals and there are different strategies for each.
People very quickly overlook how important clear, calm and concise communication is. When trying to teach English to someone who doesnt understand it like a native, its very important to demonstrate your competency through confidence, but also substance. They need to be able to challenge you to gain their own understanding, ive seen too many people try to bulldoze their way through a lesson and quickly lose students!
Thanks, Becky! Are you teaching on italki?
Content is very useful. I was just looking for such kind of information and I found it here in this post. Thank you for sharing & helping.
Glad you found it helpful! Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks for these awesome tips Elena. I recently started online tutoring and your tips are really helpful.
Eric, glad you found them helpful. Thanks for stopping by!
Hi Elena & Chris,
Thanks for sharing so much value and insight in the ‘Teaching English Online’ arena.
The first question I have is how much of this is still current now in 2020? I’ve taught and tutored online and off, for quite some time, as well as other online marketing/coaching, which I’m currently doing.
2nd. Did I understand correctly that it would be best to have a dedicated website for this vs using Italki? And should “this website” be niche specific?
I have yet to sign up with them, create a profile, etc, but I’m just trying to figure out what my next best move should be.
Your reply will be greatly appreciated.
1. If you need italki specific advice it’ll probably work better if you connected with Chris, via social media. But I think this advice is still pretty accurate — you do need to niche down, or find your focus, in order to stand out. That applies to everything, and right now maybe even more than 4 years ago.
2. When you’re talking about “this website” — do you mean your own website or italki website? No matter which road you choose (italki or your own website) you will need to figure out the niche.
It might help to figure out what your ultimate goal is. Do you want a scaleable business? Do you need cash? Do you want your website to help you with your local services? Lots of questions here and of course the answers differ.
The Online Teacher Summit this year (starts in 2 days) is on building authentic communities online — that is, if your end goal is something of your own. It might be a great way for you to learn about growing your community so in the future you can have your own business.
As Elena said, your next best move depends on your goals.
I would say that, generally speaking, it’s best to own your platform (your own website), rather than rely on a platform like italki. It also allows you to sell your own programs rather than just lessons, which is something Elena helps a lot with.
However, going that route takes patience and consideration. There’s a delay between when you start working and when you start earning, and it can require trial and error. Many (or most) teachers who go this route are unsuccessful. Ultimately, it’s no different from starting any other business: not easy! However, the rewards can be considerable, and this is what Elena specializes in helping teachers with.
For a lot of teachers, they’re perfectly happy teaching a few (or many) hours a week on italki or other platforms, and for a variety of reasons don’t wish to make it anything beyond that. You can decide what’s best for you.
Given that 4 years have passed and I don’t really know what the landscape is like on italki these days, I’d say the advice is still sound, but of course results may vary. I do know that there are teachers who are currently doing very well on italki, so the opportunity is there!
Thanks for these awesome tips Elena.
Great article! To clarify, do you teach online independently, meaning you are not affiliated with a college (like an adjunct Professor) but self-employed?
Also, is this teaching opportunity/platform you speak of only for language teachers or any discipline.
Thanks in advance for your response.
Hello Chris and Elena. Thank you for this very helpful article. During my research, I also found another page that seems to have plagiarised a lot of this article. It takes sections word-for-word and it took at least one section but split it into bullet points. I don’t know if that bothers you or not but I thought I would bring it to your attention.
Here is a link if you are interested. For example, search for “professional videographer” or “raising prices”.
Hey Steven! Thanks a lot for the heads-up about the plagiarism. Have you sent them a note too, letting them know that you are aware of their sneaky ways of creating content? I will definitely contact them and tell them to take the post down. I appreciate your vigilance and thank you for knowing which article is the actual source and which one is a counterfeit.
Thanks for pointing this out — he’s actually a former student of mine when I ran a course for italki teachers! I’ll contact him!
Thanks for sharing such an informative blog with us. It was a good read.
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