I’ve heard many people express this idea before, yet some are skeptical. In reality, it’s very much possible to teach English online and get paid. Many treat it as a side job before venturing full time. If this is something in your radar, then peruse this article and see how you can get started.
Why Go Online
For the skeptics who always conform to the walls of a classroom, online teaching may sound foreign. However, with some effort, it could open a world of irresistible opportunities such as;
- Flexibility to work remotely, meaning the office (or rather the classroom) can be either your home or a hotel balcony.
- Ability to organize classes according to your time schedule.
- Building your confidence and experience as a live tutor.
- The prospect of interacting with students from different cultural and backgrounds.
- Supplementing your income so that someday, you could teach independently through your own online business – who knows, right?
The only disadvantage I could think of (while writing this article) is that there are too many options out there, some resources have gone outdated and those who are actually doing it, aren’t sharing enough information on how to go about the process.
Hence (again) why I’ve put together this article for you. Now, let’s start with the most common method that people use to teach English on the Internet.
#1 Online Tutoring Site
English tutoring sites are basically marketplaces where teachers would post their profiles and deliver virtual classes when their services are requested. Often times, they are created solely for ESL (English as Second Language) teaching or they can also be combined with other subjects on the same platform.
The good thing about these sites is that they already have online traffic – specifically students – who are actively searching for tutors so this is something to leverage from. On top of that, if you are really good, students can leave positive reviews that could boost your reputation.
However, the downside is that, you’ll be competing with thousands of teachers who are also offering the same type of service. That is to be expected in online marketplaces nowadays, but it shouldn’t deter you from using these platforms.
On your end, it’s important to have some of these things ready to ensure smooth online communication. Keep in mind that online tutoring are conducted live so your familiarity with certain technical setups can be a plus point.
- Invest in a good quality webcam and microphone.
- Install the latest software for computers so that they are compatible with most programs.
- Get a high-speed and reliable internet connection.
- Learn how to use video messaging services such as Skype, Viber, Hangouts and Facetime. They are usually free to use.
Most tutoring sites do not impose any application fees, which makes it almost risk-free to join, but qualification requirements could vary. Some don’t need experience and some would only accept those with master degrees.
The application form will mention this so make sure you read through the criteria carefully. Other things that would be asked of you are;
- A complete teaching profile, backed with the necessary documents.
- A video sample to show your actual self.
- The range of price you expect to be paid for the service rendered.
- A PayPal or bank account number for accepting payments.
- And your compliance to the site’s teaching policies and terms of service.
The payment structure also varies from site to site and here is what you can expect to earn (prices are all in USD) from some platforms that are offering English language as a subject.
- Italki – Allows you to set your own pricing. Trail rate could be less than $10 while the hourly rate range between $12 to $45 on the average.
- Cambly -Pays 17 cents per minute or $10.20 per hour on a weekly interval (time is tracked during the virtual chat session)
- Chegg – All tutors are paid a flat rate of $20 per hour.
- Skooli – Skooli tutors earn more at $25 per hour.
- Tutor Me – Pays a flat rate of $18 per hour.
- Verbal Planet – For every 45-minute of class, tutors can earn between $10 to $20 per lesson.
- Preply – Works on a commission-based model (between 18 to 33%). The more classes delivered, the less commission you pay.
#2 Teach Through A Personal Website
A less common method, but one that is more effective for the long term is to teach through your own website/blog. Many people don’t get into this route because it requires both teaching AND marketing skills to work together in order to produce results.
By default, tutors only know how to teach, hence where marketability is required, they rather place the responsibility to someone else (i.e. schools or tutoring sites). Remember, these places have a lot of tutors to manage and it is in their best interest that each tutor gets a fair exposure. What this means to you is what I mentioned earlier – competition.
On a fairground, it will be challenging to stand out, especially if you are a newbie. This is one of the reasons why many English tutors fail to get students to sign up for their services. To avoid such disappointment, it’s crucial to create Plan B that is, build your own teaching site whereby you can have more control over traffic, pricing (keep the profit yourself) and even sell your own book online.
Ever heard of niche blogging? In this case, the niche will be teaching English and your new job – a blogger 🙂 Given your professional background, I am guessing that the transition shouldn’t be too difficult. Brainstorming ideas and writing is probably your second nature already, so the next step is just to learn some web skills.
- Firstly, get a domain that best describe your blog. It shouldn’t cost you more than $15 per year. I always recommend choosing a name that ends with .com because it is more easier to remember.
- Second, connect to a WordPress hosting. In any case, NEVER use free blogging platforms like Blogger because the features are limited and you risk having to start all over again when there’s no good backup system in place.
- Third, spend some time to learn about online marketing. Remember, this is the skill that most people lack and if you want to acquire students from the internet space, you need to understand how Google works and build up your knowledge on keyword research.
Once the site is fully functional, there’s actually several ways to make profit from teaching English.
1) Promote products related to learning English via affiliate programs. Any type of reviews you write about books, teaching platform or software can reward in commissions, ranging between 10% to 70% per sale. Affiliate offers can beef up your website content in the initial stage because it gives plenty of ideas to attract targeted traffic.
If you are adventurous enough, you can also create YouTube videos or podcasts to attract different segments of the audience.
2) Write about how people can improve on their English skills and sell it as an eBook. This can also be used to increase your subscribers list.
3) Offer teaching services one-to-one. That way, you can continue to help the student at different stages of learning and, keep most of the profit.
4) If you want to make better use of your time, consider creating online courses instead. It’s a great format to generate passive income without involving to much time commitment once the lessons are in place. For students who are not comfortable or don’t have access to live chatting, this could be a good alternative.
Sounds like a busy website, uh? Well, you don’t have to do all of them. Pick one that you are interested and explore the options. If affiliate commission pays well, keep up with it. If you find more value selling your own products or services, focus on that instead.
What Is Your Teaching Goal?
The online space clearly has more to offer than just a typical classroom and given what I’ve just explained, you certainly have more than one choice to teach English online and get paid. Yes, it’s a lot more work with all the software and blogging. But that’s exactly why it’s more rewarding because once you get the exposure, the opportunities to reach your career goals – whatever they may be – are endless.
I hope this article has opened your mind to new possibilities, ideas and maybe awakened that little entrepreneur in you. It’s never too late to start something exciting in life and if you are interested to bring teaching to the next level, please check out my recommended platform for more tools and training resources.
What are the questions or thoughts that come over your mind when reading this article? Share them with us in the comment below.
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I completed an online TEFL Certification with i-to-i a few years ago.The thought of having my own website to create my own online business for teaching TEFL never even crossed my mind until now. So, thank you for this valuable insight! I’m super exited about this!.
I haven’t used my qualification because I am not ready to teach overseas, and most online TEFL tutoring websites require a certain amount of experience from the tutors, if I’m not mistaken. Will have to check on that.
Sujandar Mahesan says
I have seen so many online article about earning money online, but this is a new way of earning. Earning money by teaching English sounds really interesting and fun to me. Out of all the choices published in this article I like Skooli better because it gives a flat rate of $25 which is great for me. I’m going to give it a try. Thank you for the information.
Jayde Butcher says
Oh this is amazing, you really can do just about everything online nowadays. I’m doing a uni degree for teaching so this could be perfect for my training and help me get some good experience, I love this idea of teaching online and you’ve opened my eyes to new opportunities. So thank you!
Raven Michele says
Wow Cathy, this is an amazing opportunity I never knew about. This is actually a real life job and I have an opportunity to do this if I choose to. I never knew you could teach English online and get paid for it, nor did I know about anything such as italki. All this information is going to be useful as I now have a new perspective on my career path as a teacher.
Chawn Bracey says
English is my first language and I would like to think that I am pretty good at it. For that reason alone, I have thought about teaching English online. The main reason I have considered is because I am big on personal growth. Having the opportunity to help someone learn a new language is pretty appealing to me.
Patti B says
I really tried to tell a couple of teacher friends of mine who retired to do other things. The thing is, they really liked teaching and they cared about their students. This could be something I feel is very doable and it may give them back the pleasure of teaching. Will certainly share this idea with them. Thanks!
The post was excellent and can really help people who are starting out. To be honest, I thought of creating a website myself and teach from there, but at the time, it looked like it’s really time-consuming. That’s why I took the “easy” way, by going to already established sites where I can offer my services.
What I didn’t take into account was how much time I will spend on making myself stand out from all the other teachers. Thinking about it now, I would rather spend the effort on my site, instead of trying to beat all the competition.
By the way, what do you think of sites like Skillshare and Fiverr? I’ve seen people offering English courses there. Is it worth a shot or should I start planning on my own site?
Hi Nick. Fiverr, being an older platform certainly have more traffic volumne than Skillshare, but Fiverr is more task and cheap service oriented. I am not sure how much you are willing to teach for the range of $5 dollars and it makes you question your worth.
As a smaller platform, I think Skillshare has more good quality traffic. People who visit the site are more willing to spend and stay longer (key point there) to improve on their knowledge and skills.
Build up your own site anyway because it will take time to gain authority. Once you are more established, you can funnel audience from Skillshare to your site to maximize your profit.