TEFL & Social Media: How to market yourself?
There are many TEFL opportunities out there in the classroom and online. A lot of TEFL teachers start out by working for a company to build up their knowledge and experience. It can also be useful to take advantage of any training the school or company offers, especially if you are new to TEFL. Gaining experience is important and working for someone else can be the easiest way to do this when you first start your TEFL career.
However, once you are a more confident teacher, you might want to build up your own online (or classroom) TEFL teaching business. This consists of you finding your own students and deciding your own timetable and the prices you charge per lesson. You will be responsible for organizing everything from payments to marketing and will have complete control of your work.
Why run your own TEFL business?
- you have more control over your timetable. Teach when and where you want!
- you can specialize in what you want to (Business English, English for Professionals etc)
- you can charge your own rates which aim to be higher than what you would make working for someone else
- you can choose which teaching methodology you want to use in your lessons
Setting your own rate is probably the number one reason that teachers choose to go it alone and run their own teaching business. You can charge more (in some cases, a lot more!) than what you would make working for someone else. If you have the qualifications, the experience and the marketing know-how, then you can generate your own clients.
How to market myself as a TEFL teacher?
Social media is a huge part of our lives whether we like it or not. It’s only natural that we have now started using it as a way to improve our professional lives too. Whether you are on board with social media or not, you will need to utilise it, and utilise it well, to build up the buzz around your classes. Word of mouth alone will only go so far and this relies on having a lot of connections, so you will need to think about marketing yourself online. This is especially true if your teaching business is based online – you need to utilise the power of social media!
Create a professional page
You might already have some social media pages but you should create new versions of these for your professional career. Keep things relevant to them and professional. Your students won’t want to see your old university pictures or your thoughts on last week’s elections. This is especially true if you are marketing yourself as a teacher for young learners. Parents need to see a professional teacher for their children.
Keep your professional and personal profiles separate. It’s best to keep the students on the professional one only and keep your personal profile private. Many students may ask to follow you on social media, so having a professional profile is a good idea so you can provide them with a page to stay in touch with you. This will keep them happy instead of you having to say no and ignore their friendship/ follow requests!
Create your own brand
You will need some sort of name for your business. It can simply be your name with “online” or “English” added with it but it should be something that you consistently use across all social media. You are selling yourself as a brand and this needs to show across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. Ensure that you link all of your platforms so that students can access them all and follow them all.
Creating your own brand also means creating a logo for yourself. Don’t make it too complicated. It should be something simple but instantly recognisable for your students. Ensure you use this when putting out any posts or accounts. This will make your business seem more legit and professional. You can also utilise this logo for any materials you make so your learners know that they are using your materials when doing their classes.
Put out content
An important thing for you to do is to engage with your potential learners and existing students. It’s not enough to expect them to find your information and want classes, you need to make them want to spend time with you in the classroom! It’s always a good idea to create your own TEFL content – this could be mini lessons on vocabulary or pronunciation guides! Students will see them, enjoy them and want to continue learning with you in a lesson.
Ensure that you create content regularly, as this will gain you more traction and more followers on your pages. The more followers you have, the more people you can reach! If you only post every few months, your social media won’t get the traffic it needs. Think about making videos, writing blogs or even memes to attract more students!
Also ensure that the quality of your content is high and professional. If you make videos or reels, ensure you have the appropriate space and use good lighting and the right background space. If you want your work to pay off, it’s worth investing in the right equipment – a good camera, microphone, props etc.
Build a professional website
You may use your social media to attract students and build your online presence, but you can’t go wrong with a traditional website too. This will enable your students to learn more about you and how to approach you. Ensure that it is professional looking and includes your experience and qualifications.
Another important thing is to put professional photos of yourself that show your face. Students want to see you! This is also true if you want to hire other teachers to teach for you. Create profiles for everyone who works for your business so that students can get to know the team. Once the website is up and running, work on getting an automatic booking system where students can see your availability and book lessons with you directly.
Reviews are essential for any product, and you are the product in this case! You can gather reviews on Facebook, Google or on your website. Reach out to any former students and ask them for a review. The more you have, the more people will trust you as their teacher. You can also gather student testimonials and success stories to highlight on your social media stories. If you have a student who used their English skills to get a new job or who passed their entry interview for university, then share their story!
LinkedIn can also be a valuable tool for connections with other teachers and potential students. People can “vouch” for your skills on LinkedIn and this can help boost your profile. LinkedIn is a more professional site so ensure that you keep it professional – it has potential to reach out to older students and students in the business sector.
Join relevant Facebook groups
Many people ask for teachers on Facebook. If you are active in these groups, you can respond to their questions and direct them to your website or other social media profiles. Ensure that you keep the answer informative and useful- you don’t want people to think you are spamming and create a negative online presence!
This is being more active with your marketing, rather than waiting for students to find you. Especially when you’re starting out, it’s important to be proactive and advertise yourself wherever you can and when you see opportunities. Ask your friends and family to also share your social media so that you get a good start.
Choosing the right platform for your target market
There are so many options on social media and it can be difficult to know which one will work best for you. You need to think about who you are trying to aim your business at. For university students and young professionals, Instagram is a good platform to reach this generation. If you are aiming to teach Business English and want to attract companies, then LinkedIn is more appropriate for this market.
Remember to look into each type of platform and think about what would work best for you. If you want to concentrate on making TEFL videos, then Youtube is a good idea for you. If you want to make shorter videos, then TikTok is worth considering. Also consider the pros and cons for you of using Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. It is good to use multiple platforms but only if you are able to dedicate time to them. If having too many platforms means you won’t have time to run them properly, then pick one or two where you can really utilise them for your marketing.
Listen to your students and engage with them
Using social media can help you connect more with your students. It can also be used to get feedback from your students and find out what they are looking for. You can use polls and surveys to connect with your learners. This could be to ask them what kind of content they would like to see on their sites. You could also ask them more about their motivations for learning English so you can offer tailored classes that attract more students.
Engagement is also important. Encourage your students to comment on your posts so that you can engage with them. This could be asking them to answer an English question or asking them to share a learning experience. The more likes and comments you have on your posts, the more popular it will become. Don’t forget to comment back on some posts and connect directly with your learners!
Whatever platform and method you use to market yourself on social media, it’s important to utilise it to grow your business. Increasing your online presence will let students get to know you better and see what you can do for them. The more people that like or follow your page and the more reviews you can show, the more people will trust in you and your business. Remember that, as the teacher, you are the product you are selling!