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So you’ve completed a course (preferably with The TEFL Institute…) and are now a certified TEFL teacher. You have access to job boards and may have a contact or two who could help you find work in a school. But what if you want to go it alone? Every year, thousands of new TEFL teachers try self-employment and go online, building their client base, setting prices, and, most importantly, managing their workload. It sounds fantastic. Everything except tax self-assessments is a topic for another blog post. But how do you build that clientele as an English teacher? The online world is the place to be, and there are many great ways to get your face out there as a TEFL teacher. It can be unsafe, so we’re here to provide you with the best advice possible on how to market yourself as a TEFL teacher.

Online marketplaces and teaching platforms

Using an online marketplace is an excellent way to bridge the gap between working for an online company and being completely self-employed. You can create a profile, set your rates and hours, and find students on these websites.

You will still need to market yourself in the market – with so many other English teachers to compete with, you must stand out to attract students. Creating a solid introduction video can help, but you’ll also need to consider how you price your lessons. You may need more clients if you initially set your sights too high.

Three popular marketplaces for EFL teachers to advertise are Verbling, italki and Preply. Each one charges a commission, so find out how much they trust and their requirements.

Social media

If you listen to the news, you might believe that social media is the bane of our existence. However, it is an essential tool for building a client roster, and the benefits will become apparent as soon as you master it.

Which social media platforms produce the best results?

Teaching english in Vietnam

Instagram 

In recent years, Instagram has evolved into a more versatile platform. Previously, you could only share images, but now you can also share videos, reels, and business accounts to reach out to more people.

Reels work similarly to TikTok – or Vine if you’re of a particular vintage. These short video clips are great for connecting with audiences because they are easily digestible for the idle scroller and easy to find if you use hashtags and Instagram’s audience tools, allowing your content to appear for interested people in languages.

Uploading images, for example, remains a tried and true method. Again, hashtagging is essential, but it’s also a simple way to advertise your rates, credentials, and the type of work you’d like to do.

Follow accounts with similar ideas and large TEFL companies as any social media platform. Being a part of a community produces far more results than remaining isolated from the rest of the TEFL world.

Making Instagram competitions is always a winner. You could offer a discount to one of your followers who shares a post you’ve created. That’s an excellent way to attract attention. Attractive images and interactivity are always a good idea; however, it is critical to only upload pictures of students with their permission!

Facebook 

Setting up a Facebook page is another excellent way to build an audience. You should include photos, contact information, and examples of your work here. Facebook will also tell potential clients how quickly you respond to messages, so keep Facebook Messenger open and ready to answer any questions.

Set up a Facebook group once you’ve established a client base. Your students can communicate with you, ask questions, and receive updates here. Joining groups is also a good idea: at the time of writing, the ‘TEFL, TESOL & English Teachers: Resources and Jobs’ page had over 168,000 members, and it’s one of numerous TEFL industry jobs that will keep you up to date on industry trends while also connecting you with other teachers and, again, potential clients.

YouTube 

Call us biased because we’re big news on YouTube, but the world’s most popular video-hosting website is a fantastic resource for both TEFL teachers and aspiring TEFL teachers.

YouTube stands out in terms of client acquisition. For starters, you can use the platform to deliver the lessons you want to give students – or you already do.

Twitter 

it’s more challenging than Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube, but there’s still much to say about finding an audience on Twitter. Again, hashtags are crucial. If you want to follow other TEFL teachers or institutions, use hashtags like #TEFL, #TEFLTeacher, and so on. Finding that community is critical because you can form friendships and partnerships as part of a sizeable online culture.

We recommend keeping it brief and coherent to cut through the noise on Twitter. Links to your Instagram and YouTube pages are required. Twitter is especially beneficial if you can upload short clips demonstrating an English principal or advertising your services as a teacher. These days, video reigns supreme.

It’s critical not to get sucked into “the discourse” on Twitter. Maintain the professionalism of your professional page. So, avoid arguing about TV or politics (we know it isn’t straightforward…).

Paid advertising

Social media is an excellent way to build an audience if you want to be a self-starting TEFL freelancer. However, if you can afford some paid advertising, you may be batting away clients with a stick because your workload has grown too large.

Paid online advertising has the advantage of being targeted at a specific audience. If someone is looking for TEFL materials online, for example, they are more likely to find you through paid advertising than through an organic social media post.

So, how does paid advertising to manifest itself? Let’s look into it.

teaching in class

Google ads 

Google Ads are the way to go if you want someone to search ‘TEFL teacher’ and find you on the first page of the results.

Your Google Ad may appear in people’s browsers based on what they’re looking for using a combination of cookies and algorithms. Furthermore, the traditional Google search still has enormous power; getting your name among the top results will get you business.

Not only that, but it conveys a sense of professionalism. Having Google Ads shows you care about finding customers, and potential clients will likely be impressed by how easy it is to see you.

Another advantage of Google ads is that you can see the data in real-time; how well your advertisement is performing, how many views it is driving to your website (we’ll get to that) or social media pages, and so on – it a combination of market research and dictating the market at the same time.

How much does it cost? Google Advertising is worth investigating if you want to build a client base quickly.

Facebook ads 

How many people will be on Facebook in 2022? It is 2.9 billion. Not everyone who comments on your pictures from your night out is your auntie.

As previously stated, Facebook is an excellent platform for growing a TEFL business, and hundreds of thousands of members are active on TEFL discussion groups.

So, especially in that context, Facebook advertising makes sense. It’s specifically targeted, so people interested in TEFL, such as pages about Teaching English, are more likely to see your name when browsing. This opens up a lot of opportunities for your company to grow.

Create a website

You will need to create a website. For various reasons, it is a must if you are running a TEFL business. For starters, it’s a statement of intent – potential clients will be reassured by a well-designed website that includes a portfolio of your work and contact information. Another reason is that you can centralise all of your content; for example, you’ll set up an email address, link to your social media pages, and give clients something to read if you’ve piqued their interest with a social media post.

In addition, your website can function as a booking system. You can set your prices and publicise them on your website. Having a domain name in your name is advantageous.

So, you want to create a website. But should it be hosted on a platform or hosted directly by you? And what is the primary source of traffic? Let’s talk about it.

Have you hosted or self-hosted?

Do you want to be a part of something bigger, or do you want to stand out on your own? That is the query.

There are advantages to being one of many names. For starters, you won’t have to build – or hire someone – the infrastructure that will support you. It’s all finished. People are already flocking to the internet if you work for a company but set your hours and prices within that structure.

You’d choose the look, have ad analysis at your fingertips, and, as previously stated, everything can be in your name and centralised to that one website.

Write blog posts

Okay, great; you’ve created a website. What should I do now?

Maintaining a blog is a significant plus for maintaining site visits, asserting your voice as a TEFL teacher, and providing your perspective on the industry. The TEFL Institute of Ireland publishes a weekly blog – you’re reading it right now – and it’s an excellent way for us to discuss significant trends in the TEFL industry, promote something we’re proud of, or answer frequently asked questions about teaching English.

A blog allows you to have guest posts from industry friends, advertise something new you’re doing, or establish your “voice” that you use with clients to inspire confidence.

We’re not suggesting that it should be like LiveJournal in the mid-2000s; no one wants to know which pop-punk albums you like and in what order. Keeping a TEFL-related blog, on the other hand, pays off.

Gumtree and other classified ads websites

Finally, classified ad websites like Gumtree, Craigslist, and others exist. You could put an ad in the paper for English lessons back in the day, but everything is now online.

Posting a classified ad is less glamorous or exciting than having a website, but sites like Gumtree are still beneficial. After all, people visit these classified websites with a specific goal: if they want to learn how to teach English as a foreign language but need to know where to begin, what better sight than your name and business popping up?

Whether selling your sofa or starting a business, these things are valuable. Facebook, Google, and the like are fantastic, but there’s nothing wrong with increasing the number of eyes on your business by posting classified ads online.

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