How to Know When Language Teaching Online is Right for You (+ What to Expect When You Start)


There’s been many significant milestones in Lindsay Does Languages, starting to teach online was one of them. And it wasn’t an easy choice to make. So how do you know when teaching languages online is right for you?

Starting language teaching online isn't always easy. There's a few things to expect that no-one likes to talk about. Let's talk about them.

To begin with, I was already undercharging for my face-to-face lessons. I’d started things experimentally as a way to boost my income when I was working a low-paid job as a Learning Support Assistant and I was scared that if I raised my rates, I’d stop getting new students wanting to learn with me.

And that super low rate was when I was using extra time (+ petrol money) to get to these people’s houses – how could I possibly charge the same price, let alone more, to teach people online from the comfort of my own home?

I made the same mistake. I had started by dipping my toes in the water with online teaching, which wasn’t the mistake, but which led to the mistake of charging too little for my time and effort.

But it wasn’t all bad. Sometimes, you do have to give a little more than you get to see if something is right for you.

And as the amount of students coming my way increased, so did my prices.

So not only was I spending less of my well-earned dinero on petrol to get to student’s houses, but I was also earning more too, and finally getting fair pay for my work. Win win.

This extra time allowed me to have more time to devote to building my online presence and find other ways to increase my income, such as group lessons, digital products, and online courses.

The benefit of online courses is that you don’t have to trade your time directly for money. This means you earn more and serve more students, which is pretty cool.

After launching my first online course in October 2015, I reached a point where teaching online wasn’t just earning me as much as teaching offline – it was beginning to earn me more.

Moving my business online had allowed me for both flexibility of time and growth of the business.

Not only that, but the flexibility of time and increased income made it really easy for me to take time off to travel both for personal trips but also for work-related trips to events like the Polyglot Gathering and LangFest.

I’m also fitter than I’ve ever been, with a work schedule that I’ve decided upon based on when my boss wants me in the office, aka when I know I work best, allowing me time each day to get out and move my body.

And without a stop-start commute through traffic each morning, I have time to dedicate to learning languages each day too. Woop!

None of that would be possible if I hadn’t moved my business online.

But how do you know if you’re ready to do the same?

Well, if the following describes you down to a tee then this is so what you need right now:

-you’re bored of your current teaching OR you’re ready to start teaching but don’t want to get stuck and bored after 3 years in a traditional school setting

-you want flexibility of your own income and growth

-you want more freedom of your own time

-you want to travel and not be stuck in one place by your job

That’s not to say that by throwing up a website and a contact form you’ll have students flooding through the doors.

You may be ready to teach online, but you also have to be ready for the work to get there.

What to expect

Red tape a-plenty

If you’re new to the business side of things, then this can be a huge stress.

When I’ve seen online courses in the past that talk about teaching online, they focused on the lesson content, the getting students, and the fluffy stuff that means nothing if you’re not running a legit business.

So when I initially drafted out the model for the Online Teaching Starter Kit, I knew I wanted to start with the business basics. In the first unit of the course, you learn how to find your niche and how to figure out who your ideal student is, how to set your pricing and what to tell the tax man, as well as how to create a business plan to propel you in the right direction. I got you covered.

Tech problems

What would technology be if it didn’t mess up once in a while? And yes, you’ve tried turning it off and on again.

You are likely to experience frustrations and trouble with tech, whether it’s Skype cutting out during a lesson or your social media scheduler sending things out twice. Don’t sweat it, it makes you and your brand look human.

Oh, and if you’re really worried about this side of things – heads up, there’s plenty of tech training videos to walk you through everything you need to know in the second unit of the Online Teaching Starter Kit.

No students

Unless people know who you are they’re unlikely to find your website and ask you (stranger who they know nothing about) to teach you.

You need to get the word out there, build an online presence, and connect with other people doing what you’re doing.

It could be that you decide to write a blog, share videos on YouTube, create a community on Facebook, or a whole other range of things that will help to get you noticed online.

(Sidenote – this stuff is made super easy for you in the third unit of the Online Teaching Starter Kit.)

People asking for free

Have you ever tried to wangle a free dessert out of the waiter because your meal was 5 minutes late? We all love something for free.

And free teaching is one of those things. Heck, you can’t blame people for trying.

But you have to be strong and stick to your guns. Remember, you’re running a business, not a charity. It is a good idea to have something that you create and share with your audience for free, for example I have the Little Language Library full of free worksheets and language starter guides and other good stuff.

Offering this in exchange for an email address so that you can continue to connect with people and provide them with free valuable information is great because that means you’ll be top of their mind when they are looking for the paid-for services and products you have.

One time students

Once you’ve got to the point where students are approaching you and actually want to pay you rather than get everything for free, you’ll be looking to keep them learning with you.

With more and more people teaching online, it’s important to build lessons and packages that go that bit further to help you stand out from the crowd.

Do you send audio recordings to your students to help with pronunciation?

Do you create vocab courses for them?

Do you correct their written work in between lessons?

When you realise how many opportunities are out there for ways to give your students a better rounded learning experience, it can become overwhelming knowing exactly what to give them that works best for both them and you.

In unit four of the Online Teaching Starter Kit, you learn how to track student progress, communicate effectively in between lessons without it taking over your life, and to put into practice ways you’re giving that bit extra that other online teachers don’t even know exist.

All work, no money

Teaching online can be tough. It takes time to create awesome lessons for students. From the planning, to the resources, to the actual teaching, and making notes after. And it can feel like you’re working solid for not enough reward. We’re talking dolla dolla.

Once you have a stable set of students, you’ll want to expand your offerings beyond services to include products too.

This is an essential part of establishing a stable and sustainable income for your business in the long-term. Of course, you could create and sell physical products such as your teaching resources, or paper books.

But chances are, you’ll want to start with digital products. Not only is this a growing industry, but it’s also takes the pressure off of how many copies to get printed etc if you were to go down the physical products route.

That said, it’s tricky knowing where to best start. The final unit of the Online Teaching Starter Kit shows you how to expand what you offer with group lessons, online courses and other digital products.

100 Creative Ideas for Online Language Teachers

If you want to see examples and get templates of how to use Google Drive + get creative with all aspects of your online language teaching, you can now get the entire ebook, 100 Creative Ideas for Online Language Teachers. Yay!

If transferring your teaching online is blowing your mind a little bit, 100 Creative Ideas for Online Language Teachers is the ebook for you.

With Creative Ideas to use within lessons as well as organise + promote your teaching, the ebook + online bonus content including templates, videos + examples is a must for all online language teachers.

Click here to learn more + get your copy now.

What is holding you back from starting your online language teaching business? Share in the comments!

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About Lindsay Williams

Why hello there! I'm Lindsay and I do Languages. I blog, vlog and teach all things language. I blog about languages right here at Lindsay Does Languages, and about travel over at Mundo Trundle. If you're looking for language learning inspiration then stay a while. You might find just what you're looking for. :)