This post is written with Australians and New Zealanders in mind but is equally useful for teachers worldwide. We use affiliate links (at no cost to you, see our Disclaimer) but base all recommendations on first-hand experience.
The most common challenge to teach or tutor English online is obvious: how to find students. After years of freelancing, here’s 5 tips to find students online.
How To Find Students for Online Teaching and Tuition
1: Identify your potential students.
If you are looking for private students, the first question that you should ask is this:
“Who do I want to teach?”
When I first began offering private tuition to supplement my in-person teaching salary, I would have answered with: “Anyone who will pay me!” – but this approach can make life more difficult.
Without having a clear idea of who your student will be, the harder they are to find. If you tutor children, think about who the parent/s of your students will be and where they might be found.
While you can broaden your search as you go, it is helpful to start with a more targeted group to begin. For example: primary school age students. We will use them as our example here.
2. Start with your existing networks.
If you’ve taught or tutored in the past, can you reconnect with these students or parents and let them know that you are tutoring online? Do you have friends and/or family with children in the age group that you’re looking for? Do you have friends and/or family who work, volunteer, or socialise with people who may be a potential student? Let them know you are tutoring online.
Write a list of everyone and anyone who may be able to connect you to a potential student, then reach out. The easiest way to find students is with people who already know, like and trust you.
3. Build upon your existing networks.
If you’ve already got a few students, offer them (or their parents) a discount on tuition or incentive to refer new students to you. Parents know other parents with similar aged children, and adult students move in networks that often contain many other English learners – particular if you specialise in test preparation or with learners from a particular profession or background.
4. Join online groups.
Once you move beyond your personal networks, you will want to look for places where groups of your potential students or their parents meet: Facebook groups, online forums etc.
The thing is, while tempting, don’t simply join the group and start advertising your tuition. It is a great way to get yourself blocked. Instead, introduce yourself to the admin/s of the group and let them know that you tutor students of this age group and ask if it is OK to give any advice around challenges their children might have.
Or, just keep an eye on the conversations that parents are having, and if you think that you can help their children with any learning related challenges, make contact via DM to let them know that you tutor. Don’t be pushy and be genuine.
It’s not an overnight strategy, but by building relationships and trust, you can build an ongoing network of parents who can engage your services or refer you to other parents who are looking.
With adult learners, the same strategy can be employed by building these relationships directly.
5. Join post-a-profile/set-your-own-rates sites.
You can also find students online on sites where you post your profile and students contact you. The problem is overcrowding, with 17,000+ English tutors on Preply alone!
But, don’t worry! I’ve compiled a regularly updated list with 15+ smaller post-a-profile sites in Asia and Europe among over 50 international online teaching companies, as well as over 25 Australasian tutoring companies to help with how to find students online. Check it out here.
5 tips to stand out on post-a-profile sites:
- Have a professional photo taken;
- Keep language simple and sentences short; consider translation to multiple languages;
- Keep your potential student in mind and write your profile as if speaking to them;
- Describe how you can help your students, rather than just a personal biography;
- Use keywords and phrases that students might be searching for, such as “IELTS for university” rather than industry terms (ELICOS, EAP).
How To Get Students for Online Classes: In Summary
With your potential student in mind, start with close networks and move outwards in your online student search. Build relationships and trust, incentivise your students to refer more students to you, and above all, be patient. While there are a number of more complex ways to find students to teach or tutor online, these 5 tips will put you ahead of many other online tutors.
Want to find out more about how to find students online? Considering your own private/freelance tutoring business? Get in touch for 1:1 coaching.
Kate (GradCertEd TESOL) studied a TESOL certificate in 2010 and has been teaching English ever since. Tutoring ‘freelance’ for many years before starting an independent teaching business, she began Teach English Online to support Australians and New Zealanders to do the same. Just starting out, want to apply to one of the 300+ global companies or build your own small independent teaching business? She can help.