So you’ve transitioned to teaching online independently (or you’re still thinking about it) and it feels wonderful. You can work on your own time, deliver authentic lessons, and you don’t have to worry about faceless “suits” changing your service agreement. But once you’ve made the transition, you realize there is a lot more to teaching online independently than just teaching. The skills are there, and so is the ambition, but you’ve got no (or few) students. It’s crucial to have strategies in place to market yourself as a TEFL teacher.
Market Yourself as a TEFL Teacher
You could be the best EFL teacher in the world, brimming with knowledge, patience, and charisma. However, without the right marketing, you’ll never get the number of students that you deserve.
This is why you need to add another element to your game. While teaching independently grants you more reward, there is more work to be done, like marketing.
Marketing is crucial for businesses to thrive. You have to promote what you provide. It sounds simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Be too modest, and you’ll underestimate your worth. Push too hard, and you’ll scare potential customers. There’s a fine line between being persuasive and being a pest.
Now, you have to find the students to convince them to join your school and pay for your service. Unlike public schools, you won’t have help from the department of education or your county to attract students. Rather than being just a teacher, you have to become a brand that craves exposure. In an industry that is saturated with English teachers, you have to stand out. Here are 7 actionable marketing tips to be a successful independent ESL teacher!
1) Use Social Media to Your Advantage to Market Yourself as a TEFL Teacher
Let’s start with a conglomerate of tips. The amount of things we can say about social media is endless. How beneficial it is for globalization, businesses, and how negative it can sometimes be for our mental health, and so forth. I will try to keep this short and sweet (ish). Here’s how and why you should use social media to your advantage.
Show Your Face
Let the students know who you are! By using pictures of your own face on whatever platform you’re using, your students will familiarize themselves with you. The more the student knows about you, the less daunting it is to begin their journey in your classroom. This is especially the case if they’ve seen your big smile before entering the classroom. A happy teacher is a more marketable teacher.
While you’re smiling and marketing yourself as both a person and a teacher, you’re indirectly advertising your services. The more relatable, enthusiastic, and creative you come across in your content, the more students will be eager to join you. It’s a chance to market yourself as a TEFL teacher and as a person without forcing them to read your biography.
Design a Logo
Design a distinctive logo, plaster your face on your profile, and you will create an image for your business. A simple yet sophisticated logo goes a long way in establishing credibility in your business when you advertise online. Without a clear image, you’ll just be some shapeless entity on the internet with no point of recognition.
Make It Personal but Professional
The ways you can engage with current and potential students on social media are endless. You can engage with others through pictures, infographics, polls, videos, and more. Creating content is a fantastic way to gather interest and haul in an audience (more on content creating later). This can be done to create a more personal relationship between yourself and your students without crossing professional boundaries.
While you don’t want to be relentlessly impersonal, you need to maintain a professional relationship. Despite the fact that you’re engaging with students outside the classroom, you’re not transgressing the teacher-student dynamic.
Which Social Media Platforms Should I Use to Market Myself as a TEFL Teacher?
Remember that when you market yourself as a TEFL teacher, you shouldn’t dilute your content too much. Don’t expect to reach 1 million Instagram followers, 1 million YouTube subscribers, and 1 million LinkedIn connections simultaneously. The more you spread out your content, the less you’ll be able to interact with your students. This would eliminate the personal aspect of social media and undermine what we’re trying to achieve.
That is not to say you can’t use more than one platform, but be careful. Some platforms go hand in hand, like Facebook and Instagram. Because Facebook owns Instagram, you can share things simultaneously on both platforms. But maybe you can’t reach your audience via Facebook, or maybe you want to use LinkedIn. Maybe you want to use a more visual social media platform. We have an entire article to help you decipher which social media platform is best for you, but here are some quick pros and cons. Which one should you choose to market yourself as a TEFL teacher?
Pros: Almost 3 billion users, and you can engage with a huge audience with a Facebook business page through pictures, videos, polls, and more.
Cons: The Chinese market is huge for ESL teachers, but they don’t have access to Facebook. WeChat can be a great alternative to reach the Chinese market.
Pros: It’s hip with the younger demographic and it’s visually stimulating. It also has business account options that provide analytic features. You can simultaneously post things on Facebook via Instagram to decrease workload.
Cons: A younger audience, and you’re limited in your marketing aside from images, videos, and infographics.
Pros: It appears more professional, and you could have more influence if you’re teaching Business English to an older market.
Cons: Confined to an older demographic, less visually stimulating.
Pros: Provides room for creativity, a young demographic, and international users. It could be an opportunity to attract Chinese students as it is a Chinese company.
Cons: Restricted to videos.
2) Build A Multi-Regional Website
While you can use a freelancer website to gain an edge in finding students, you’ll have to compete with other teachers. Not only that, but you’ll face restrictions such as pay restrictions and how much the company taxes you. By creating your own personal website, you get all the freedom you desire.
With a website, you can seriously market yourself as a TEFL teacher and communicate what you provide. Your website could include things like; a welcome page, video introduction, ‘about me’ section, qualifications, experience, etc.
But how can you market to a demographic which can’t read what you’re promoting, or even find it for that matter? Geoblocking and the language barrier will make things difficult for you. If you’re teaching very young students, you’ll rely on their parents to locate your website. With older students, you’ll have to be sure they can even locate the website. If you’re teaching multiple nationalities and all ages, you’ve even more ground to cover.
There are many ways that you can create a multi-regional website. From optimizing SEO to supporting region codes, there are many factors to consider which might hinder the process for both yourself and your potential students. Read about how you can create an internationally accessible website for your TEFL career.
3) Creating Content to Market Yourself as a TEFL Teacher
Maybe you hate making videos, or maybe you dislike writing. Fortunately, there are so many ways you can create content to connect with your audience. Whether you’re a blogger, a vlogger, or a breathing meme generator, there are ways that will appeal to you.
You could create videos that help students remember tips on how to overcome obstacles in English. Or, you can post tongue-twisters to entertain students while practicing their pronunciation. You could even create a sample lesson to let them know what your service is all about.
If you don’t want to spend time creating things, you can even post relevant ESL memes on your profile. Who doesn’t love memes? Even billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk posts memes on Twitter, and we respond to his tweets as if he’ll see them (if you’re reading this, Elon, please retweet). When Elon Musk posted a meme about Dogecoin, its value jumped by 68%.
Before I digress any further, the point is not to underestimate engaging and relatable content. The more you engage with people, whether it be clicks, likes, or shares, the more visible you’ll become to others. Not only this, it will get your students laughing while also giving them insight into English colloquialism and cyberculture.
4) USP – Define Your Niche to Market Yourself as a TEFL Teacher
While the demand for ESL teachers is evergrowing, the TEFL industry is still saturated with general English teachers (myself included). This is why you need to reevaluate what you can offer. To market yourself as a TEFL teacher, you need to highlight a unique selling point. Defining your niche is a marketing strategy in itself to make yourself highly sought after by students.
Sure, you’re fluent in English, which is a fine and desirable feat. But, how would you advertise yourself online differently? You need to market yourself as a TEFL teacher that provides unique services. For example, I studied literature, so I would market this to help students who want to improve their literary skills. You could teach English within the business, fashion, or engineering context. There is no shortage of options in the English For Specific Purposes canon.
Do you teach advanced grammar? Or have your eye on Teaching Business English? Are you the swiss army knife of teachers? Market what you offer. Demonstrate any experience, qualifications, or certificates that you have in these fields and showcase it. Don’t underestimate your past experiences and start acting like a specialist. Or have your eye on Teaching
5) Good Customer Service is Great Marketing
Now, this is ethics and marketing rolled into one. It goes without saying that you should be good to your customers (or anyone). This can mean having a customer-friendly policy or being punctual, and so on. Open communication will lead to more faith in your brand and productivity in the long run. The more trust you build, the more loyalty you’ll get in return (and they’ll recommend you to others).
Take this one step further and allow students to rate and review your services online. In turn, these positive reviews can be used to advertise your services. According to studies, 84% of people trust online reviews as much or more than personal recommendations.
6) Bundles and Package Deals
Rather than only charging students per hour, you could promote package deals. Package deals could be marketed in a way where the student saves money if they pay for more lessons in advance. This will also guarantee you a more stable income, establishing the student’s future lessons in your timetable.
For example, the student will pay $12.50 per hour but for a minimum of 10 hours of lessons instead of $15 for only an hour lesson. They save $25 whereas you’ve guaranteed more lessons with them. It’s a win-win situation.
Creating a tailored course or lesson package will create a goal for the student. Depending on what they’re studying, there’s a clear direction they’re heading if they know the course objectives. This will also sustain their motivation if they can visibly see their progress throughout the course. Guaranteed lessons and increased motivation lead to a more productive classroom.
7) Free Interest Lessons
Free interest lessons are an effective tool to market yourself as a TEFL teacher because it’s low risk for the student. If you’re willing to rely on your skills and delivery to gain students without charging them beforehand, you ooze trust. In turn, you’ll have more trial students and more converted students if they enjoy the lesson. Parents of younger learners will also know what they’re getting out of the service.
They should be shorter than your standard lessons, and this is beneficial for both the teacher and the student. For the student, it’s less of a commitment. For the teacher, this can be a needs analysis, and it won’t undervalue time spent working if it’s only 15 – 20 minutes.
Market Yourself as a TEFL Teacher Today!
Those are our 7 actionable marketing tips to be a successful and independent ESL teacher! If you’ve forgotten what was mentioned or are too lazy to scroll up, here’s are the tips to market yourself as a TEFL teacher;
- Use social media to your advantage
- Build a multi-regional website
- Content creating
- Define a niche
- Good customer service
- Promote package deals
- Offer interest lessons
While being enthusiastic and personable are fantastic traits in teachers, they won’t set you apart from the herd of teachers. While many teachers will join groups or create profiles on social media, the grind doesn’t stop there. Fortunately, the items on this list are simple adjustments that go hand-in-hand to increase the hours on your timetable as an independent teacher. You must seize the day and go the extra mile to reap the success that you deserve and stand out among your rival teachers! While teaching for companies exempts you from these duties, you’ll find that the rewards are greater with effective and consistent marketing. Remember, “Without labor, nothing prospers”.
Can you share tips that have helped you? Let us know below, our readers will love to learn about them!