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Build Your Brand as a Teacher – Start an ESL Podcast!

This guest post is by Lindsay McMahon, founder and co-host of the successful All Ears English Podcast. Lindsay and her team build online courses, apps, and technology and host live events to change the way the world learns English by focusing on “Connection NOT Perfection.”

You love teaching English as a second language. Perhaps you have a great job teaching at a wonderful school. However, with the rise of technology and a changing economy, you have the chance to go beyond just working in the classroom. You can build your own brand and reach millions of listeners with your unique style of teaching.

You may balk at the concept of a personal brand. Many teachers enter ESL to avoid business and marketing. When I decided to enter ESL, I did not want anything to do with business. However, you do not need an MBA to carve out a personal brand for yourself as an ESL teacher. You can do it with a podcast! I know because I founded the ESL podcast All Ears English, which has been downloaded more than 200 million times since its launch in 2013.

Your own ESL podcast will not only expand your job opportunities in the industry, but it could also serve as a way for you to gain your own client contacts if you ever want to branch out from your day job. Plus, it’s fun!

In this article, I will show you what an ESL podcast is and why you should consider starting one of your own.

What is an ESL podcast?

In technical terms, a podcast is a series of audios that you upload to a hosting service. These audios become available on multiple platforms such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts at the time you schedule them. The platforms allow you to acquire subscribers or followers who receive updates automatically when a new episode is published.

Podcasts are usually free to anyone to download, but recently, major players in the industry have started to introduce ways to charge for your podcast. However, in ESL, I believe that the main benefit of a podcast is that it allows the whole world to listen to your audios for free and makes it easy for you to reach a broad audience.

The beauty of a podcast is that, in a busy world, followers are able to consume your audios on demand at a time that is easy for them. They can also multitask while they listen. Many of our listeners consume our episodes while they are washing dishes, walking the dog, or commuting to work on the train or in the car. This is a major advantage that podcasts have over videos when it comes to learning English. You can also publish your individual audio files on your website if you choose, but you don’t need to have a website in order to run a successful podcast.

All Ears English Podcast

Lindsay McMahon and Jessica Beck with All Ears English Podcast listeners in Tokyo in 2018

Why start an ESL podcast?

Having your own podcast opens numerous opportunities to build your name in the industry and to build a brand if you choose to. Below are just a few of the reasons you should consider starting your own podcast.

1. It’s your digital business card

Many people write books that serve as their digital business cards. Launching a podcast can do the same thing. If you are more of a speaker than a writer, consider this route instead. Having your own podcast gains you instant credibility. You can point your professional contacts to your show to display your expertise. You can post a link to your podcast on your LinkedIn profile. You can put the link in your professional email signature. Your creation sets you apart from your colleagues because it shows your commitment to the industry outside of your job.

2. It allows you to expand your network

How can you have an awesome conversation with leading experts on brain science, AI technology, or trending methods in language learning? Invite them for an interview on your podcast! There is no easier way to expand your network and talk to interesting people than to host them on your show and introduce them to your audience.

3. You get to build your own audience

With the technology available today, you have the opportunity to build a worldwide community of learners. You can offer free tips, tricks, and mini-courses to build an email list. You will be able to use this list to launch future courses and paid materials. You can survey or interview your audience to understand what they need. What will you do if your school closes due to budget issues and you have to teach independently? No problem! You have an automatic base of enthusiastic fans to offer private lessons to.

Connecting with your audience adds color and excitement to your work. Maybe one day, you will even host live events for them. The possibilities are unlimited. One of the benefits of having an audience built through a podcast is the opportunity to bring listeners together and host live events. At All Ears English, we have hosted multiple live events in person to help our listeners take their English to the next level as a community.

All Ears English Podcast

Lindsay McMahon and Michelle Kaplan with listeners of All Ears English at Power English Weekend in New York City in 2018

4. You can accumulate your own body of work

There is something magical that happens when you accumulate a volume of your own work and store it in one single place made available to the public. The All Ears English Podcast has more than 1500 episodes available for free to anyone who wants to listen from anywhere in the world. When you launch a podcast, your work is no longer hiding in the files on your computer hard drive. It is available for the whole world to use! You can call on this material in your classroom lessons or your private lessons. It elevates you in the eyes of your students. It is your work with your stamp on it. This kind of thought leadership and ownership is what will win in the new economy.

These are just four of many reasons you should start a podcast as an ESL teacher. Now that we know why it’s a great idea to start a show, how can you get started? Starting anything successful requires some forethought and insight.

The All Ears English Podcast has now been downloaded more than 200 million times since our launch and along the way, we did a few things right. I will show you what helped our show become successful and how you can use these tactics to give your podcast the best possible chance of success. In my next article, I will discuss the four crucial components of a successful ESL podcast.

Not quite ready to start your own ESL podcast but interested in incorporating them into your classroom? Take a Micro-credential course in Teaching English Using Podcasts to learn more! 

As the founder of All Ears English, Lindsay is an education technology entrepreneur in the field of ESL. She's also an experienced English teacher who strives to help clients reach their communication goals in order to achieve their dreams.