So, you have built up your CV either by working freelance for one of the many teaching companies that advertise online or, you may have taught your way around the world and now feel it’s time to put away the suitcase with an online career beckoning but how and where do you advertise for students?
If you have decided that you are no longer going to work for one of the many international language schools or companies that employ online English teachers then you really only have two options open to you:-
- Register on an online marketplace that connects English students and TEFL teachers
- Work as a freelancer and find the students for yourself
Here are some of the best and most established routes to build up a portfolio of students and create a vibrant and independent TEFL teaching career.
- Online marketplaces and teaching platforms – set up a profile and fix your rate and your hours. You will need to work quite hard to promote yourself as the platform will be full of other people doing exactly the same thing as you. Look at Verbling and Preply but there are lots of others but these are probably two of the most popular sites for TEFL teachers to advertise on. They are paid sites so make sure you put thought and care into your profile and understand how the charging or commission structure works as it does vary across these sites
- Social media – this is a great way to reach young learners but it can be quite overwhelming so just pick a couple of platforms and set up a decent profile that you update regularly and monitor on a daily basis. If people add comments or posts which are not responded to then they will quickly lose interest. Social media is all about immediacy so limit yourself to a couple of choices. The most popular platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok. They all work differently and most people have their favourites so work with platforms that you are comfortable and familiar with. Think carefully about what you are offering as some platforms may be more appropriate than others, for instance, if you specialise in offering Business English to young professionals then you are more likely to find students on LinkedIn or Twitter. Social media is a great way to share content as well as having an online presence. You can pop on short creative posts that pique people’s interest, it can be so much more than just a simple advertising board. Offering some free guidance on your page with thoughtful commentary for English students will attract more viewers to your profile and increase your market reach
- Paid advertising – you can advertise on Facebook and Google and this can be hugely effective but you do need to know what you are doing as it is very easy to waste money simply because you are not sufficiently targeted. Take some advice from someone in the know or spend a little time studying the different types of advertising so you can really make your spend work for you. Facebook Blueprint is a great place to start with lots of short courses which will show you how to set up Facebook adverts which deliver for your business. Google has a similar system called Google Skillshop, in fact, most platforms will offer easy and accessible instruction to help people access advertising that really works for them. Accurate targeting is crucial because remember, you are aiming at people located all around the world who may be in a particular location, have specific interests or be of a certain age. If you use advertising correctly then it can be hugely valuable at hitting home right into the heart of your target market
- Build a website – a simple link to your website is a great way to tell people about you without having to clutter up profiles or posts with lots of information which can sometimes serve to put potential students off. Don’t make the website too big or overly complicated; if students can’t find their way around it easily then they won’t even bother trying and will just click onto the next teacher. Have a homepage which explains in simple terms who you are and what you offer – this might be a nice place to include a link to your introductory video. All you need is enough information to act as a hook for people to want to learn more. Next have an ‘About me’ page which will be a mixture of your background and previous teaching experience but also some personal references to your character and interests. Don’t include your CV in full here but again, include a link so people can click through and look at it if they want to. Incorporate a blog which can also personalise your website and allow you to keep it updated and refreshed with new information about what you are doing and your current teaching projects. Remember, if you have opted for paid advertising then you will also need to create a landing page which is like a summary page which people arrive on when they click through from one of your advertisements. Take advice on how to get your website up the rankings with good SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. Websites don’t just magically appear at the top of the rankings
Tips to make yourself stand out from the crowd
- Whichever medium you use to advertise yourself, create a strong but simple introductory video, you can embed the link on all your freelancer profiles and your website. Videos will make your offering stand out from the crowd but it needs to be professionally done, short and succinct otherwise it could be positively detrimental
- Be very targeted and specific in what you are doing; there is a huge online world out there full of TEFL teachers and you won’t even appear on the radar if your presence is weak or generic
- Really major on your customer service and student focus – always reply to enquiries quickly and with thoughtful detail