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ESL Blog: How Do I Get Private Students Online?

ESL Blog: How Do I Get Private Students Online?

How did I get students online for the first time?

It started back in 2017, a colleague of mine was too busy in his day job and asked me if I can help him teach his students. During that time, I was not that busy, so I accepted the offer. I only had a headset from CDRKing and an A4Tech webcam. I remember that I agreed to be paid for 150 PHP for 40 minutes of class through Skype. After that student, I started to get my private classes.

Teach Yourself

I had some experience in Social Media Marketing, and in sales so selling myself to students is not that easy. The hard part is making a business model out of you. In order for me to get students, I need to be different from millions of ESL Teachers. Thus, I took a couple of certification such as Cambridge and TESOL and teach myself ways to teach students online. I also need to learn how SEO works outside the US. In order for you to get your own private students, you need to teach yourself skills and how to market yourself as a service.

Find your Niche

My personality is quite different from other teachers thus I need to find a niche. I set the expectation from parents or students that I am not a bubbly teacher with pony and puppy on my screen. Most of my classes involve pushing students to get higher scores in TOEFL or in IELTS and they do get the score they want. I barely accept low-level students without any goals. I am confrontational and strict to my private students and most students that I get want or need that kind of approach. 

Brand and Social Media

Social Media plays an important role in how you get students. Chinese people don’t use Facebook, they use QQ and WeChat. Do you want to get your own students – you need to be available on their platforms. Every nationality has its own set of SNS platforms. Utilize it, post your introduction, prices and sample lesson and classes. Add your students on WeChat or QQ and post daily lessons. SNS is a great tool to connect with your students. Moreover. since you are your own company, you need to build a brand, you just don’t teach English now you are creating value. These are your clients who are paying you good money (check my previous blog about pricing yourself).  Your students’ improvement and experience will drive your sales, use that to promote yourself.


I think this is the most important, I know a lot of teachers who just rely on this alone. If your students manage to improve their English and appreciate your effort most likely they will refer to your friends or colleague. This usually works best with parents, since they usually hang out and talked to each other and bragging about their kids’ English. I usually get a message from the parents asking if I have available time to teach their friend’s kids. I had this student for seven months and refer his cousin to me, then that refers to another parent. Be very careful also with this, word-of-mouth works both ways, if you did something unsatisfactory to one student, expect all other students will know. I had my fair share where I lost a group of private students because of the action I made ( that is another story for another time).