Regardless of whether you specialize in the GRE or TEFL, teaching online has quickly become the new frontier for teachers looking to make more money or increase their flexibility.
Plus, with companies like online teaching behemoth VIPKID raising nearly $3 billion in funds, it’s pretty obvious that online education has gone mainstream.
What does this mean for tutors and teachers?
If you are currently a tutor (in any subject), then the world just became your oyster. The barrier to entry into teaching online has never been lower and the available technology + widespread publicity driven by companies like VIPKID means the stigma to learn online has been eliminated.
Now is the perfect time to:
-Start tutoring from home
-Looking into starting your own online tutoring business
-Increase your income with some online teaching hours
Is it for everyone?
Before you start building your home office, it’s important to note that online teaching (and learning) is not for everyone and there are some disadvantages to going virtual. The primary issue is a lack of face-to-face interaction – even with the ability to see your student via a screen, there is no substitute to in-person interactions.
In addition, if you teach a subject that requires frequent work on a whiteboard or scratch paper (like math or logic problems might), then you will find it difficult to accomplish the same level of instruction online.
There is good news, however, as there is demand for online tutors from pretty much every subject:
–Teach English with VIPKID
The list goes on, but it’s safe to say that even tutors in obscure subjects won’t find it too difficult to find an online audience.
How can you get started?
Let’s go over a few different scenarios and explore how each can get started with online tutoring.
You’re a freelancer looking for your first online student
There are a few different channels you’re looking for students but don’t want to work for an established company:
-College job boards (both online and on-campus)
-Reddit groups like I Need a Tutor
-Facebook groups specializing in your subject
Note: while it’s my personal opinion that it pays off in the long run to freelance, you may need to offer discounts or promotions when just getting started.
You want to work for an established company that provides you with students
In this scenario there you would search for jobs through traditional means:
-Indeed job board searches
-Apply directly to tutoring companies
Note: while this is definitely the path of least resistance, expect there to be a trial period where you either have to prove your abilities or build up reviews from students.
You want to start your own online tutoring business
In this scenario you are really swinging for the fences and will need to combine the go-getter attitude of being a freelancer with the business acumen of an entrepreneur. Unsurprisingly, this is a multi-step process.
First, you will need to at least setup a website advertising your tutoring business. The process for this is outside of the scope of this post, but here is good step by step guide from WPBeginner.
Second, you need to determine what tools you will use to schedule and interact with your students – a good place to start is a free tool like Google Hangouts.
Finally, you will need to find students just like a freelancer in the first scenario, but in this case you can use other tactices like paid Facebook and Google ads as you have a website to send them too.
In my opinion, new tutors should not try and build a business without first being a freelancer – there are just too many moving parts and unknowns that can become overwhelming. The good news is that pivoting from freelancer to business is quite easy once you have a few students as you’ve already accomplished the hardest part of the process!
Is online teaching for you?
There are two sides to this argument: if you are just getting started with tutoring I’d suggest pursuing online options first – I believe that is where the industry is heading and there are an abundance of opportunities.
However, if you are already doing in-person tutoring, don’t mess up a good thing and try and convert your students to online OR dump them in pursuit of online learners. Instead, slowly ease your way into the online realm and do a few hours a week online before you consider making the transition.
About the author:
Quincy is the founder of ESL Authority – a site aimed at making teaching abroad (and teaching online) accessible to everyone.