Home / Teaching English Online: Finding Your Niche

The world of online education is vast and varied. People all over the world are learning English for a variety of reasons. Children are learning the basics, teenagers are preparing to study abroad in an English-speaking country, and adults are trying to get ahead in business by improving their English. Some are learning for particular purposes, such as medical or aviation. Students prefer to hire teachers who can specifically cater to their needs, so teachers must find their niche within this enormous market. We’ll walk you through how to find yours, from the beginning of your teaching English online journey to targeting specific learners!

Getting Started: what you need

The following are the prerequisites for beginning your online English teaching career:

A 120-hour TEFL certificate from an approved course provider

A reliable internet connection

Also required is a computer/laptop with a high-quality webcam.

However, depending on the employer, there may be some additional requirements, such as:

A bachelor’s degree in any discipline

Background investigation (mainly if working with children)

If you are a non-native English speaker, please provide proof of your English proficiency.

Nationality (typically UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) (typically UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa)

Specific experience (e.g. some platforms specialising in teaching children will ask you to have experience working with children)

Smiling african-american guy in earphones studying foreign language online


Gain initial online teaching experience

When you begin teaching English online, it. It is critical to have realistic expectations. As a newly qualified teacher with no experience, you won’t be able to fill your schedule right away, nor will you be able to find students out of thin air.

Our recommendation is to begin by working for an online teaching company. This is the simplest way to gain initial teaching experience, with much of the hard work done for you, such as finding students and even lesson planning. You will gain confidence, skills, and an understanding of the online teaching landscape, preparing you for future endeavours.

Indeed, preparing as a freelancer will pay better than teaching for an online company. However, establishing yourself as a freelancer with teaching experience will take much work. Success in online teaching does not happen overnight; it takes time and effort!

Broaden your experience

Numerous online teaching companies specialise in teaching various types of students. It’s a good idea to apply to several jobs; this way, you’ll have more work and will be able to broaden your experience.

You may have a particular idea about your niche, but casting a wide net can be beneficial when gaining experience should be your priority. Many students tell us they only want to teach adults because they believe children are more challenging. While discipline can be an issue with younger students, adult students can be much more demanding clients, so this may be a bit of a misconception!

Websites like italki and Cambly are excellent places to gain experience working with various types of learners. They both have large student populations that want to learn and improve their English for multiple reasons.

Take advantage of this opportunity to practice teaching students of various ages and abilities. You may be surprised by what you enjoy and excel at.

Consider your strengths

Once you’re comfortable with your experience, it’s time to assess your strengths and research.

What types of students do you enjoy teaching? Are they children, teenagers, or adults? Have you preferred teaching beginners, intermediates, or advanced students? Are there any nationalities with whom you have found your work particularly well?

Consider your own non-teaching experience. If you have previously worked in a business setting, you will be well prepared to study Business English. Have you recently graduated from university? Your speciality could be academic English. Have you ever hired someone or been a part of the hiring process? You could concentrate on English for job interviews and applications.

Young Asian businesswoman work at home and virtual video conference meeting with colleagues business people, online working, video call due to social distancing at home office

Promoting your services

You must reach out to your target market once you have identified it. If you decide to go into freelance teaching, your success will be determined mainly by your teaching abilities (of course!) and your ability to market yourself.

First and foremost, you must establish a website. Your website will be designed to meet your target market’s needs, demonstrating your relevant skills and experience. If you need help knowing where to begin, our 30-hour Teaching English Online course will walk you through the steps.

The next step is to advertise. Lots of helpful tips and ideas can be found in our previous blog post about how to promote yourself as an online teacher.

The most important thing to remember when promoting yourself is to be specific. Being vague about what you’re offering or spending money on ineffectively targeted advertising will not produce results. You must consider how best to appeal to the students you want to hire, where they spend their time online, their needs, and how you communicate with them.

Child safety is an essential consideration if you want to focus on teaching children. Many parents would prefer to use an online company with safety protocols. If this is the path you want to take, something other than freelance work may be for you; instead, focus on working for online companies that specialise in teaching children. However, it is still possible to increase your earnings; as you gain experience, you can apply for higher-paying roles inaccessible to newly-qualified teachers.

Additional income streams

Lessons are only sometimes the only source of income for online teachers. There are additional ways to make money and stand out if you have specific skills or are willing to learn them.

This can include developing supplemental material to sell to students, creating online courses for students, and even creating YouTube videos. All of these options rely on your ability to create valuable content that people want to buy and build a large audience, so you’ll need to focus on lead generation and email list building.

These additional income streams are better suited to experienced online teachers with a solid reputation. But considering your long-term goals is always a good idea, especially if you must work on other skills to get there.

You can succeed as an online teacher with planning, patience, and hard work – the opportunities are out there waiting!

Are you looking for more information on online English teaching? For everything you need to know, consult our Definitive Guide.

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