What do you expect in your first year of running an online teaching business? It’s one question online teachers ask me all the time. What they want to say is, “Will I be able to make X a month?” “Will I be able to leave my current job?” “Will I be able to retire?”


I think it’s helpful to ask real online language teachers to share their stories, and this is what I’ll be doing here on the blog this summer — sharing my clients’ stories and their unique journeys. And first up is Marco Treglia from OffTrackItalian.Com. Marco and I began working together in September of 2019, and this is his journey so far. ~ [E.M.]


About Marco


first year online businessI am an Architect and Sustainability Engineer with a passion for travelling and language teaching. I bumped into teaching Italian just over a year ago, and I fell in love with it.  My mission today is to teach conversational Italian while letting them discover Italy off the beaten track. Today I offer  smarter programmes aimed to boost their conversational skills keeping my students’ motivation always high.


Where were you in your business 1 year ago? 


One year ago I was working  mainly on 1-1 lessons on an online platform. I had just realised I wanted to build something more useful for my students and for myself. I had a lot of ideas in mind such as putting together some useful material such as an online grammar course, a conversational e-book or pronunciation video course. Also, being relatively new to language teaching, I had  just discovered I really loved it!


What prompted you to do coaching and what were some immediate benefits of our work?


My daily schedule was very busy, as I am also a full time Architect / Environmental engineer. Therefore, I had little time, a lot of ideas and plenty of confusion in my head. The immediate benefit of coaching was to get out of my own bubble, getting practical advice and feedback  and also recognising  straight away my strengths I could build up on. 


'The immediate benefit of coaching was to get out of my own bubble, getting practical advice and feedback.'Click To Tweet


How is coaching different from attending webinars or reading books?


Reading books and attending webinars is great. I actually had started with that, and it was extremely helpful. I believe coaching is the next level, as it is more specific, practical and straight to the point.  It is particularly helpful because it gives you a very good steer to your business travel direction.


What were your first steps in establishing your business? What was the most challenging?


The first steps were discovering the core message behind my business understanding more about myself and my passions. This was quite fun!  I found choosing a business name  very challenging at first, but after nailing my business purpose, this was just  a much easier task. 


Looking back, what would you say takes the most time when it comes to building a business online?


The hardest part for me is to reach out to my audience and build a community around it. This is probably the hardest thing for any business! It takes time, effort, commitment and a good strategy behind it.


What are some tangible results you’ve received so far and how do they help you make progress towards your other goals?


Now  I have got a clear idea of the bigger picture. I have got a business model in my mind and on paper, I have got a clear goal and a pathway. I am sure I will have to re-adjust some of those, but for now it is great.  Also, I started selling a few programmes which are way better for myself and for my students.


What would you recommend to other online teachers who struggle with identifying their niche/core message or creating and selling their programs?


I would recommend looking into their passions and their own strengths to find out their niche. If you work with passion or you put your passions into your work it will be much easier to produce content and to reach out to the right people to work with. I would suggest to think about new formats and propose them straight away to their best clients, it is highly likely they will be more than happy to trial those!


You can connect with Marco on Instagram or check out his brand-new website.


More behind-the-scenes:


*** We started out in September by identifying Marco’s strengths and passions through a number of essay questions on niching that I use with my clients. You can access some of them in the free digital journal that comes with my Opted Out of the *Real Job* book.


*** Because Marco’s passion connects language with traveling we’ve determined that using Instagram would be the best social media for him because it allows to create a platform for powerful visual storytelling. Check out this blog post to learn more about building connections on Instagram.


*** We chose the name for his online business through a brainstorming exercise. He used Namecheap to purchase the domain and set up hosting. His website is built on WordPress (Elegant Themes/Divi).


*** While growing his community on Instagram Marco has made his online teaching less labor intensive (aka “smarter”) by moving all his 1:1 lessons in a smarter format. To learn how to do it you can sign up for my free Smart Teacher’s Kit. That freed him up to spend his evenings working on his business rather than teaching students 1:1.


*** From September 2019 to June 2020 we’ve done 6 hours of 1:1 coaching sessions. We did 5 hours from September to November, in the course of my Intensive Business Coaching program and then 1 hour in June when we continued in a mentoring format, following Marco’s 5-month break between January and May. The break allowed him to complete his to-do list and build his website. Between the sessions Marco had specific assignments that he worked on and sent to me for feedback via Google docs.


*** To help him grow his community and bring his Instagram followers on his website he created this amazing free travel guide featuring a number of unique places in Italy which are off the beaten track (obviously).


*** Want to read more stories and case studies on this blog? Check out this tag.


Do you have questions for Marco or me? Please drop them in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!


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