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Independent English Teachers Share Their Strategies for Finding ESL Students

four successful independent teachers and the title "Independent Teachers' Guide to Finding Students."

Do you want to be your own boss? As an ESL teacher, you have a number of career options. You can become an independent English teacher or start your own online teaching business as a teacherpreneur. Many teachers want to take the leap but are concerned about finding and retaining new students. While finding ESL students can take time and dedication as an independent online teacher, it’s definitely possible with a little guidance – take it from the many online English teachers who’ve made it happen! We interviewed some of these Teacherpreneurs to find out their strategies for finding online ESL students and building their client base for teaching English online.

If you’re ready to take the leap and become an independent online English teacher, check out Teacherpreneur Academy! Get the training, resources, and community you need to start your journey.

Alejandro Olivares in front of a world map.

Alejandro Olivares, from Venezuela, an independent teacher and tutor in Argentina

An experienced English teacher, Alejandro has worked for language institutes while simultaneously growing his independent teaching business, offering private classes to students both in-person and online.

What’s the primary way you find ESL students as an independent teacher?

When I was in Venezuela and I was starting out as a teacher, I had two main ways to find students: posting on Mercado Libre (a popular e-commerce marketplace) and through the recommendations of my friends and relatives. Years later, I created my LinkedIn account and this social media channel was also good for finding students. I got my last four students using my network on this platform. I’ve also tried using websites such as Tusclases and Superprof, but I haven’t gotten good results so far.

Learn how you can use social media to get more students as an independent online teacher.

What’s your best advice for other independent teachers who would like to find students?

  • Be patient. Being an independent teacher is not easy, but if you want to manage your time and rates with freedom, it’s the best way to do it.
  • You have to slowly start creating a network.
  • You must constantly market yourself. In the end, this is what you should do if you want to be your own boss.
  • Always remember that your work speaks for itself. If your students like how you teach, they will recommend you.

Read more about Alejandro Olivares’ experiences as an independent teacher in Bridge Voices.

Deborah Meli, smiling and wearing a headset.

Deborah Meli, an independent online Business English teacher from Switzerland

For the past 18 years, Deborah has thrived as an independent online English teacher in her home country, where she specializes in helping professionals with their Business English needs.

How do you usually find students as an independent teacher?

  • The primary way is by advertising online on business platforms.
  • Having your own website is beneficial.
  • Investing in flyers and business cards, which one can distribute either in mailboxes or business centers, also works.
  • Another good way is advertising on supermarkets’ public bulletin boards – and it’s free!
  • Sometimes, we forget or underestimate the power of viva voce. So, it’s important to tell your students to spread the word.
What’s your best tip for other independent teachers who would like to find ESL students?

Focus on the right audience and keep it simple when it comes to delivering the message about what you offer. You don’t want potential clients to have to guess what you offer.

Read more about Deborah Meli’s experiences as an independent online Business English teacher in Bridge Voices.

Andres Bermudez standing in front of a waterfall.

Andres Bermudez, a language school teacherpreneur in Mexico

A multilingual teacher, Andres has been running his own online language school in Mexico. Aside from teaching English, he also gives Spanish and Chinese lessons to kids, teenagers, and adults.

What’s your main way of finding ESL students as a teacherpreneur?

My primary way of finding students is through my Facebook page. I also post different flyers or language content in several language learning or teaching groups.

What’s your best advice for other teacherpreneurs who would like to find students this way?

  • They should post to groups of interest about learning languages. Also, they have to feel passion for finding students and teaching and to never forget their own purpose or why they are teaching.
  • They must stay hungry and create different strategies since there is no recipe for how to be successful.

Read more about Andres Bermudez’s experiences running a language school in Bridge Voices.

Suchismita Dutta standing in front of a river.

Suchismita Dutta, from India, a digital nomad and independent teacher in France

Suchismita has been working as an EFL teacher through the online marketplace, Preply. Working with learners around the world, she has also made teaching IELTS exam preparation her niche.

What’s the primary way you find ESL students as an independent teacher?

I have registered myself as an online English teacher on various teaching portals or marketplaces and this is how I meet interested students who wish to learn with me. Currently, I am teaching EFL and conversational English to a Colombian student based in Sydney, who expressed the desire to learn with me through a teaching portal.

What’s your best advice for other independent teachers who would like to find students this way?

  • Every website requires its teachers to post a self-introduction video and mention their teaching skills and methodology. The key to finding students is to create a good self-introduction video and present yourself in the best way possible.
  • Some websites don’t even require prior teaching experience, but a certification in English teaching is a plus if you have one.

Read more about Suchismita Dutta’s experiences as a digital nomad and independent teacher in Bridge Voices.

Finding ESL students can be daunting, but with a bit of online legwork and the right support system, you can grow your student base!

Become a member of Teacherpreneur Academy and leverage the training, resources, and support to build a steady portfolio of students and grow your business.

Back in her hometown in the Philippines, Krzl worked as a writer at a TV station before moving to Chile. After she completed her TESOL certification, she worked for language institutes and then decided to become an independent English teacher to business professionals. When she’s not giving classes, she’s either surfing along Chile’s long stretch of coastline, traveling, or practicing photography by the beach.