How I Started My Online English School

If you’re gutsy enough, going freelance may be a thing for you. The road may be tough but you’ll find it much rewarding.

When I was starting out as an ESL teacher, I didn’t have much concern about marketing. All I did was to be the best teacher that I could. One major advantage of working in an online school is being free from eternally looking for paying students.

I am not discouraging you working under this arrangement. In fact, you can be more financially secure if you work with online companies. But, I decided to take a big leap and go my own.

Let me share a brief chronology of my own journey.

1. Brainstorming


Most of my “aha!” moments come when I’m thinking alone. Photo by Pixabay.

It taunted me in the morning and haunted me in my sleep. My online school was what I always thought about. “What will be a good name for it?… how about the logo?… any nice colors?”. These were just a few questions I asked myself. Finally, I came up with “zenith” which means “at the height of something”.

When you’re bothered because of too much excitement, don’t let the adrenaline wait. Go for it. best ideas come when we’re at the height of motivation.

Since I wanted to focus on business, the name Zenith Business English surfaced. I thought that having a name completed half my battle, but I was wrong. It was far from over.. so far.

2. Establishing an Online Presence


Freelance online English teachers have to be mindful of SEO strategies to boost their professional web page. Photo by Pixabay.

In modern times of today when technology is ever- changing, making oneself known  through websites and blogs is imperative.

One bottleneck for me was the painful fact that I didn’t know how to build a website. As I wanted it to look very professional, I thought of hiring a website developer. But I didn’t want to spend a lot for a start- up.

I was hovering around some free hosted web services and finally found I searched for ready templates related to academic institutions, put a little magic on it, and that was it. The system looked complicated at first. It took me two weeks to make myself comfortable with all its features. What a pity! I was such mentally slow but my little success was worth the heartaches, and not to mention some finger cramps. After finishing 75% of the website, I thought of a good logo. I thought of letter Z inside a square with an optical mouse on its tail might look great. After several tries one afternoon, I finally came up with the one below…


As of this writing, my website has undergone a lot of revisions already. It is always tedious to revise but I just bear in mind that changes are for the better.

3. Looking for Students


Marketing is an art. If you want to be good at acquiring paying students, you have to explore all avenues to make your services known. Photo by Pixabay.

In my desire to get students immediately as I was too excited, I posted a profile of myself in some language exchange websites. As a way of marketing, I thought that offering free lesson packages would attract people. Yes, I did get a couple of students in the process. I gave them some free lessons but everything just didn’t work out well. One student said that he was too busy he couldn’t continue while the other finished the course but told me she couldn’t continue. Why? She just didn’t have means to pay. She had money but couldn’t figure out how to pay by PayPal or credit card. So my efforts were just put in vain. I was frustrated. On the lighter side, it was an eye-opener for me.

Advertisements should be done through proper channels. Placing ads in a high- traffic website doesn’t necessarily mean capturing your market. More often than not, efforts of doing so are simply just put to waste.

Freelance online English teachers must post their profiles using the right avenue that is through online English platforms. What I did was prompted by haste without careful thinking. In language exchange platforms, registered individuals don’t usually intend to pay. The design of the platform is for people to teach their native language to those interested and in return learn the latter’s language.

Remember that in language exchange platforms, registered individuals don’t usually intend to pay. The platform is designed for people who would like to teach their native language to those interested and in return learn a second language. If your purpose is just to make friends with people all over the world, that might be the right spot for you. As for me, not really.

4. Expansion


Even just a thought of expanding a business makes everyone leap. When we’re contemplating of doing this, we have to be fully prepared. Don’t get into endeavours haphazardly. Photo by Pixabay.

Business expansion is usually the hardest. I have the inspiration, good teachers, and quality materials but not a good bunch of additional students. I recently tried facebook marketing. Well, the video ad reached a lot of people, but believe it or not, out of the more than 7,000 reached by the ad, only 18 people took the time to click the “like” button. Another reason for frustration huh? The cost was not too expensive after all so I just moved on with a light heart.

Some bad experiences are just blessings they add up to our experience. No matter what happens, we’ll  live to tell the tale.

So far, I’ve had at least 25 paying students at one time. Not bad yet not satisfying still. I guess I need to strengthen my strategies like asking for referrals from existing students, sending messages to former students and a lot more. The majority comes from Latin America. There is a large English market in Brazil, for one, that remains untapped. English institutions in that country are quite expensive and time consuming as they require physical presence in a class. Thus, offering online English lessons via Skype or Whatsapp will most likely boom.

Take a leap now and try.




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