We are joined by online ESL business owner and Facebook Group Administrator, Rich Tweten.
We do a deep dive into the challenges of starting your own freelance online ESL service.
In the podcast we discuss:
- Factors to consider when choosing a niche.
- Planning your business model.
- The two “P’s” that get in the way of a lot of new business owners.
- How to build a personal ESL brand.
- The two different approaches to growing your business.
- What to expect as you grow your independent online English teaching career.
Join Rich Tweten’s Facebook Group: Online English Teachers – Independent, Fulfilled & HIGH Paid!
Or if you need student leads, visit his landing page: Boat Full O’ Leads
[00:00:24.600] – Paul
Hello, everyone. So welcome to the second episode of the BabelTEQ podcast, where we talk about tips and tools for teacherpreneurs. And in today’s podcast, we’re going to talk about how to start your own online ESL business. So this is a topic that I know a lot of people have questions about. And I’m very proud to say that today I have a great guest to help us understand more about how to launch a successful freelance online business. Our guest is a man who has built his own successful online teaching business, and now he has a fast growing Facebook group to help others do the same thing.
[00:01:08.880] – Paul
Today we have Rich Tweten. So hello, Rich, thanks for being a guest.
[00:01:14.570] – Rich
Hey Paul, how you doing? Thanks for having me.
[00:01:16.910] – Paul
[00:01:17.730] – Paul
So can you start by telling the listeners a little bit more about yourself, where you’re from, where you are now, your experience with independent ESL teaching specifically?
[00:01:28.840] – Rich
[00:01:30.300] – Rich
I’m from Victoria, British Columbia, beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Beautiful. I believe you’re from Australia?
[00:01:38.910] – Paul
Yeah, but I have I have been to Victoria, though. Years and years ago. Don’t ask me how long ago. That would be an embarrassing answer.
[00:01:47.040] – Rich
When Bird on a Wire was being filmed maybe with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.
[00:01:51.810] – Paul
I was there in nineteen ninety four when the Commonwealth Games was on. So there you go.
[00:01:55.740] – Rich
Oh cool. Cool. I remember that time. Yeah. It’s, it’s a beautiful little island. I guess I was living there for quite some time. I lived in Vancouver for 11 years. That’s where I had my personal training business. And really that’s what I got into the internet was back in nineteen ninety nine. So. I would never believe I’d be saying quite a while ago now.
[00:02:26.800] – Paul
You were one of the early movers then back in those days.
[00:02:29.300] – Rich
Yeah, I wish I made some different moves, though. I’ll say that, you know, I have some friends who are multimillionaires now and…. But that’s their path. In terms of my upbringing. Yeah, it was there on the island and I lived in Vancouver. It was about two thousand and ten in September when I moved to China. And I just wanted a big change. And that was definitely a change. And it was in China when really I got immersed in online English teaching.
[00:03:09.360] – Rich
So I kind of went from personal training and I would meet a lot of my future clients through the Internet. At that time. It was all about SEO and local business results. That’s how I got the majority of my clients. It was great because I didn’t have to go to the business. I never really enjoyed doing that. But back to topic.
[00:03:34.410] – Rich
Yeah, I went to China and I got a lot of experience teaching in schools and doing demo classes, helping to build a school from only five students to a little over two hundred while I was there. And I fell in love with it and a lot of ways living in China and working in China. But it came to an end. And now I’m in Cambodia after about a year break in Canada and I got incorporated my sole proprietorship. So I live over here legally, thank God, especially because of Corona.
[00:04:08.460] – Rich
Otherwise it’d be a lot more difficult for me right now. There are good things about paying tax people. And anyways, yeah, I got into online teaching when I was back in Canada. That was in two thousand seventeen and actually I, I had well I still have a friend, Ruby, who’s in Chingdao, and I would teach her and her teachers, which was a lot of fun.
[00:04:37.710] – Rich
And I started my plan for building my company back in twenty seventeen before I even had a real quote, online English teaching job, which came shortly after.
[00:04:51.770] – Rich
So that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. There’s so much to go into.
[00:04:56.190] – Paul
OK, well, so I’m sure that you’ve picked up a lot of good tips and tricks along along the way. And if you’ve been down this road more than most of us. I think that you and I both agree that picking a niche is one of the most fundamental things that everyone needs to do in order to build a sustainable, scalable new business. So what advice do you have for people who might be struggling with choosing a niche, a business niche right now?
[00:05:33.590] – Rich
Right, and that can be a bit of a struggle, sometimes people just think to themselves, well, I enjoy teaching English and I we get that a lot in the group. Like, I think I should be teaching adults and little kids, for instance. Well, do you understand how difficult it is to get new clients through the Internet alone, even if you’re speaking directly to one crowd? So if you think you can start speaking to adults a little and then parents of kids who may want you to teach their kids, if you think you can do that altogether, it’s really, really tough to do, it’s not something I would recommend.
[00:06:18.050] – Rich
You need to be actually really picky in terms of who you’re going after. Like, for instance, I teach little children and I go after the parents of Chinese parents, of younger learners, and I speak directly to them. I choose not to confuse it by starting to speak to these people and those people. You need to be very clear in terms of who you’re going after. And also, when it comes to niche, you need to enjoy teaching those people just because you hear, oh, I want to teach IELTS because I could make a lot of money.
[00:07:01.040] – Rich
That’s a great segment of the learners market. If you’re not going to enjoy teaching IELTS even if you are positioned to then don’t do it, don’t go for that just because you hear about people making a lot of money doing it. You’ve got to know that when you’re teaching these types of people that you’re going to want to keep doing it for a long period of time, you know what I mean?
[00:07:28.280] – Paul
Passion should be a part of whatever you do because you’re going to be spending a lot of time doing it.
[00:07:32.970] – Rich
So, yeah, like people told me before, well, jeez like you’re going after, like a large percentage of the English learners market going for parents of kids, you know, that we all know, like Dada, ABC, Magic Ears, Gogo Kid, BlingABC. Like there’s a reason why most of their students are young. Right. And people think, well, if you go after those young people, you know, it’s not niche enough, it’s not niche enough.
[00:08:06.500] – Rich
And yeah, maybe they have a bit of a point, but you just need to stand out that much more and you need to have a big following. And that really helps too. And I’m working on that. But I have a small company. So anyway, OK,
[00:08:22.750] – Paul
So when people are getting started and they’re thinking about their niche what other kinds of goals should they be setting themselves, for example, in terms of should they be thinking about the structure of their lesson offering?
[00:08:37.670] – Paul
Should they be deciding on groups or one to one how many students they want to have pricing strategy? Like what are some of the practical things that people should think about when they’re when they’re starting their business?
[00:08:52.280] – Rich
Well, I’ll use this as an example again. I’ll like, are you going to do a group, IELTS class? Probably not. IELTS is most likely going to be one on one. Sometimes you have to think about how you’re going to market your business first, actually, like if you’re going to do pay per click marketing through Google AdWords, for instance, are you really going to promote one on one classes? Like, are people actually going to be able to afford that or want to pay that? Facebook Ads, like honestly I would only recommend group classes for something like that, because otherwise you’ve got all these competitors who are selling these cheap courses, group classes where students don’t have to pay much per head.
[00:09:45.120] – Rich
So you have to kind of think about how you’re going to market the business, like if you’re going to be growing it organically where you have a lot of followers and your student acquisition costs are zero. Well, you could afford to make a lot of mistakes, but if you’re running a pay per click campaign, you’re paying for clicks like seventy five cents above then, you know, you gotta do group classes.
[00:10:09.000] – Paul
So you really have to think about your business model. That’s what I think you’re saying. So you have to think about what your cost of acquisition is going to be and what you need to charge to make that profitable for you. So, yes, those are all those are all valid points.
[00:10:27.180] – Rich
You have to think about what you’re going to be comfortable teaching. And if you like teaching kids, you know, then do it. If you like teaching adults do it. But go for a particular type of adult, like, for instance, I use this whole Canada thing. You know, perhaps if I was going to teach adults, I would think, well, what about those adults who want to go to Canada? Maybe now’s not a good example, but, you know, you’ve got to think about things like this.
[00:11:03.300] – Rich
And so they want to go to Canada. They want to learn everyday English, like how to talk to a taxi driver, how to talk to a person who’s taking your suitcase at the hotel, this and that. Well, that’s a bit of a niche right there.
[00:11:23.570] – Paul
So, yes, think about think about the context that people are going to be using English for.
[00:11:30.750] – Rich
And you have to kind of use your strengths to your advantage as well. Like, you know, if you have particular strengths that’s going to help you sell your service, then think about that as well. So there’s a lot of little things to think about besides “Hey, this is a hot market right now”.
[00:11:49.020] – Paul
Right. Right. OK, well, let’s talk about two of the self made enemies of new business enterprises, I think. For people just starting a business. I call them the two “P” enemies for people starting a business and they are “patience” or lack thereof and “perfectionism”. So I wonder if you can elaborate a little bit on how they get in the way of people trying to make a success out of their business, lack of patience and an overly perfectionist mindset.
[00:12:24.510] – Rich
Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, when I started this business back in twenty seventeen, I had patience for it. And generally I’m not that patient a person. But what got me through the beginning, the all important and very difficult beginning stages. When you’re doing the research and you’re just getting on to the groups and you’re learning how it works, is falling in love with the project, not thinking about the money as much? Because, you know, whenever I get a post in the group and I want to make money quick, like we had one the other day, I just kind of fizzle.
[00:13:06.190] – Rich
I can understand why people want to make money quick. Maybe things are pretty rough in the online ESL industry right now. People are having a hard time getting enough classes, even getting a job. I understand the lack of patience. I totally understand. I get it. I know how tough it can be working for one of these companies, you know. But the thing is, you’ve got to fall in love with your project. And assuming that you do that, then you’re more patient.
[00:13:39.120] – Rich
You have to think about every little step and look back and smell the roses and go, hey, wow. What I’ve done up to this point in time was very difficult to do. And there will be a lot of people doing that. And I feel great about that. And I’m going to take this next step. I might not even make any money, but man, that’s going to feel great when I get to that point. And it’s not that far off from here and I’m falling more in love, more deeply involved with my project.
[00:14:11.730] – Paul
And I really think that helps to to become more patient with it.
[00:14:17.980] – Paul
Right. You’ve got to you’ve got to really enjoy the process then
[00:14:22.000] – Rich
Oh, it’s paramount, it’s paramount. If you don’t enjoy marketing, you know, you’re going to have to hire out some marketing company. Forget it. It’s too much money.
[00:14:34.910] – Paul
And you should give the process some time to work itself out as well. So, like I’ve spoken to people who are just starting out like a new niche and they said to me. “Well I tried to find some students for my niche and I couldn’t find anyone. So I gave up” and I asked them, like, how long did you actually spend? And the answer was “ah, I spent three days”.
[00:15:03.490] – Paul
Three days, really? You know, I mean. I mean. You’ve got to be realistic about time frames, I think. Sure.
[00:15:14.870] – Rich
And people need to understand that it is important to stick information up there and it’s important to try to get a response because the only thing you can really trust are actual results. And once you’re looking at your for instance, your Google Analytics stats and you’re seeing what’s going on, then you’ve got something there. But then you have to optimize. Right. It’s called you got to just get it up there. You’ve got to test it. You’ve got to optimize it and try to make it better, you know, and then you’re going to be going back into the funnel again. Your sales funnel I’m referring to, you’re going to be continuing to oh, let’s try this headline. You know, I know there’s a problem here at the top. The promotional video could be that much better. Well, let’s optimize that now. Damn it. That’s going to take more time. I’m so impatient you can be like that. You’ve got to treat it like a little project. And every little every little success you need to celebrate.
[00:16:11.170] – Rich
It’s so important. And I think the most beautiful thing is when you don’t have to be there and you get a demo that’s been booked and you didn’t even have to hold their hand through the process, especially because in my case, they’re Chinese. That was really big for me.
[00:16:27.700] – Paul
So that means that means your sales funnel is working then as well. All this work you’ve put in to set up the sales funnel
[00:16:34.210] – Rich
In order to get a lead, yeah. Then you need to create a customer, which is the next thing. What was the other topic?
[00:16:40.490] – Paul
So so we talked about perfectionism. So sometimes perfectionism gets in the way, gets in the way of people actually making progress.
[00:16:49.540] – Rich
I’m going to give a good example about this though. You know, some people really suffer from it. I know I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but so, you know, earlier on I learned that excellence is what you’re really after. It can never be perfect enough. And a lot of the time we look at our own work and we go, oh, there’s a mistake here. There’s a mistake there. But, you know, nobody else can see the mistake.
[00:17:16.390] – Rich
It’s like, oh, my God, look at my shoes. They’re so ugly. Oh, my God, everybody is going to see them and they’re going to think I’m cheap because I can’t afford good shoes. But then nobody looks at your shoes because everybody’s concerned about themselves. And so a lot of the time when you’re really concerned about stuff, you think it’s a big issue. It actually means nothing to anybody else. So what I like to tell people now is take a good look at this part of your business and ask yourself, is this something that’s really going to affect your viewers, your audience, in a negative way?
[00:17:50.830] – Rich
And if it’s not, keep going because it’s slowing you down.
[00:17:55.260] – Rich
So I don’t so don’t don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good enough”, I think. Is what you’re saying that right?
[00:18:02.260] – Rich
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I remember like my my one of my mentors, Dan Lok, D-a-n L-O-K, he’s just phenomenal. And I don’t call him a get rich guy. He’s got so much awesome info. I met him back in nineteen ninety nine and he coached me and I paid the money for that in two thousand and four only for a month. He was more of a friend to me actually, but also a coach I guess.
[00:18:29.830] – Rich
But I saw one of his videos and you could see the camera man right there in the mirror. And I was like, oh my God, if it was me at the time of watching that, I would have re-did the video. I’d call everybody back. Come on, we got to come back and we got to do this again, because I can’t edit it out. But he doesn’t care. He just says, stick it up there. Nobody else cares that much about that.
[00:18:49.990] – Rich
Keep going. And he gets a lot of work done because of that. He’s not too picky about things, things that don’t really matter to your target audience. It doesn’t matter as much about what you think.
[00:19:02.260] – Paul
OK, so so momentum then is more important than getting everything perfect at every step of the journey. Maybe next up, can we talk a little bit about two different growth strategies that people might have when they’re thinking about their business? So one being passive growth strategy, which is like word of mouth, just hoping that you get picked up on the Internet maybe. Or the friend tells a friend, so passive growth versus an active growth strategy of actually like using paid advertising, social media outreach, maybe pay per click.
[00:19:42.540] – Paul
So can you tell the listeners a little bit about those two types of strategies, passive versus active and maybe what’s worked for you?
[00:19:53.110] – Rich
Sure, well, most of the time, people like to talk about the bad things, not the good things, they like to spread information that pissed them off or things didn’t work out when dealing with this company. People are normally hard pressed to spread good news about things you can’t rely on word of mouth.
[00:20:17.210] – Rich
We all hear it’s the best form of marketing, but we can’t rely on that. Like, as I mentioned, I lived in China for a while and I had a T.A. named Janet and she became a client of mine. And we do a group class together. And I encouraged her in the beginning, hey, you know, let’s do this little group with the kids and they can talk to their friends. And I can give you an incentive.
[00:20:41.060] – Rich
You know, I can offer you so much money if you bring me somebody who buys from my company a package of lessons. Not much happen, but I appreciate anybody who comes to me through word of mouth, whether it’s online or I know them offline through somebody else. But you can’t expect it. You can create incentives, you know, incentivize programs to encourage that. And I think that’s a good thing to do. But you have to have a way beyond the passive approach of getting leads on a continual basis, really, because in the group, sometimes we get people, “oh no, it’s all word of mouth and I’m set for life now”, it’s not the way it works.
[00:21:27.470] – Rich
If there’s a major disaster, such as Corona, what happened, for instance, a lot of people lost a lot of clients because of that. I know. You need to still have a way of getting leads through the Internet, people that don’t know, people that, you know, the offline world. There’s a point for both, but it’s kind of like, yeah, thanks. I appreciate the gesture when you bring something, somebody to me, but you need to have a way of getting leads on a continual basis.
[00:21:56.570] – Rich
And that’s the other avenue.
[00:21:58.550] – Paul
Right. So what kind of what kind of active promotional strategies do you recommend or what’s worked for you? Is it things like Facebook ads, LinkedIn outreach, Google ads?
[00:22:15.260] – Paul
What kind of things have worked well for you in that regard?
[00:22:18.860] – Rich
Yeah, not pay per click, just organic marketing. LinkedIn. LinkedIn has worked pretty good for me. Twitter has worked. And it’s not just about the Chinese. Sometimes people think of only about the Chinese. Not at all like there are. There are Filipinos. They’re not all poor. Filipinos chime through. You’ve got, you know, Asia’s big. You got Taiwan, you’ve got South Korea. But yeah, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram is warming up a bit.
[00:22:55.790] – Rich
Facebook, yeah. Facebook is great. And actually through this group I’ve got a few of my own English students. Now, the group that I run, because they’re not all Westerners and even if they are, people know people. So but if it wasn’t for the credibility, if it wasn’t for people seeing some videos of myself teaching and if it wasn’t for that, then it wouldn’t be as easy. So, yeah, people can go about it the organic way and but you have to build a following.
[00:23:32.630] – Rich
That’s the hard part. That takes time. And it does take a lot of patience. But the great thing about it is student acquisition costs will be nil.
[00:23:43.780] – Paul
And I think that’s a good segue into my next question, which is about Brand. And so my my personal definition of what a brand is, is that a brand is the things that people say about your business when they recommend you to a friend. So, for example, maybe like some that has a friend and she knows that this friend has got a kid who wants to or he needs to take English lessons.
[00:24:09.180] – Paul
They might say, you know, I think you should take lessons with Rich because dot, dot, dot, dot, fill in the sentence. Right. So that’s whatever whatever the rest of that conversation is, whatever, whatever that dot, dot, dot is, that’s that’s your brand. That’s what people are saying about, about you. That’s my personal definition. So what do you think people who are just starting their business can do to build that kind of a personal brand?
[00:24:35.510] – Paul
What are some activities that people can do?
[00:24:37.950] – Rich
Well, number one, if you’ve never worked in the industry, get a job, get a job and discover what the three biggest things are that students just love about you, like, why are they having such a great time in class . Why do they keep coming back? It’s really hard to discover this when you don’t have a student of your own yet as an independent. So if you work for a company, you can really discover what your teaching persona should be, what it is, and what are the three biggest things like for me on Zany? I’m kind of crazy and colorful and I’m electric and high intensity, but I’m also serious. And the parents like the serious part, too.
[00:25:23.360] – Rich
And I think after you get so many testimonials and reviews from parents, even if they’re coming to a company that you work for, you learn a lot from that. And when you can honestly say, OK, these are the three biggest reasons why students love learning with me. Well, there you go.
[00:25:43.490] – Rich
Now, that should be reflected in your brand, in your brand identity, in your sales funnel, in your marketing materials.
[00:25:54.930] – Paul
So I know I know what your personal style is, I guess is what you’re saying. So I know what your style is, what your strengths are.
[00:26:03.240] – Rich
Your teaching persona, you know what that is, and nail it and then highlight it like make it even more dramatic, like boom. You know, don’t be afraid to what’s the word I’m looking for to magnify it like don’t be afraid to be different is what I’m saying. Don’t just wear like a little white shirt with a black tie.
[00:26:28.640] – Rich
It’s just like boring for me, you know, but I don’t know some people who teach IELTS. Maybe that’s the thing. But I always try to kind of make yourself ten times what it is that people love about you when they learn from you. Right.
[00:26:46.880] – Paul
I think if your if your target is is very niche also, that that makes it a bit easier to build a brand for yourself around that niche. Like if I like to find if my niche was like teaching English to radiologist’s, for example, that’s that’s a pretty niche market. So I could start maybe I could start a blog on like English for radiologist’s and giving examples of vocabulary that they could use and scenarios where they could use different types of language structures.
[00:27:22.080] – Paul
So so I think you can build a brand for yourself using like a using expert knowledge. In other words, like creating this perception that you have expert knowledge around around your niche.
[00:27:35.330] – Rich
Sure and you probably already did a bit of research to discover that there are radiologists looking for a service that you provide and you can’t just guess, like, you know, the Google keyword planner I’ve been using for a long time. And some people are with it. Some people are against it. But it does give you a decent idea in terms of what people are looking for and just being in groups to and just kind of being there in the thick of it.
[00:28:06.920] – Rich
You can kind of get an idea for like what’s in somewhat of a demand and maybe the demands not being met. So you would know that radiologists are interested in hiring an English teacher before you put all the work into it.
[00:28:22.040] – Paul
Sure. Yeah. And I think this is where something like LinkedIn could be a really valuable tool as well. If you if you are going after a vocational Natus, you can try to make try to make connections through LinkedIn and then get get get a get a conversation going. Like what kind of what kind of problems are you having with using English in your in your profession and through that, through that kind of outreach and making contact and making conversations with people.
[00:28:49.520] – Paul
I think you can you can do some good research about what’s a viable niche and what isn’t.
[00:28:54.710] – Paul
But yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of vocational niches out there that I think would be would would be viable to go after.
[00:29:06.900] – Rich
Oh, yeah, exactly.
[00:29:08.030] – Rich
And sometimes we just think, oh, you’re doing keyword research for SEO purposes. Not exactly. You can use it just to discover what people are looking for. And of course, you can have a look at the competition. You can get an idea about things you know don’t always be asked. A lot of the time on LinkedIn, I find that people are just looking to make money like they’re looking to get a new client. But you can utilize LinkedIn just to get facts on a potential target audience for a particular niche that you want to own.
[00:29:44.240] – Paul
[00:29:45.140] – Paul
LinkedIn and Facebook groups, I think are two great ways of doing market research. People might be wondering now if starting a business is really worth it, considering that there’s definitely some time and some effort and at least a little money required to get that, get that plane, get that plane rolling down the runway and get the get the business started. So what so what should people expect in the medium and longer term if they if they do get their business moving and they start to get some momentum?
[00:30:19.500] – Paul
So what what kind of what kind of experience should they expect in the medium to longer term? Does it does it get easier?
[00:30:28.340] – Rich
Well, it definitely gets easier, the beginning is hard because it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and I do think a lot of people get overwhelmed. Like, for instance, when a teacher comes into our group, they see all this information which deals with everything from how to start a company like what we’re talking today to specifics in regards to copywriting and sales funnel development and video promotion and all this.
[00:30:59.970] – Rich
And what I want to do coming up is I want to basically say, well, here’s your roadmap to going solo. And I just have one clear video on the ten different topics units. And they can step inside and they can just go, OK, I can see the big picture now. It’s not as intimidating as before. And yeah, it’s in the beginning is quite overwhelming. But as you get more organized and things kind of fall into place and you get one thing done, as I said before, then you move on to the next thing, A, B, C, D, you become a lot more satisfied.
[00:31:38.460] – Rich
You you can start to see some results coming in and people are kind of paying attention. They might go to your front page, maybe it’s your squeeze page. They enter their information. Wow, I’ve got a lead. Now I’ve got a contact
[00:31:52.340] – Rich
That feels great and then you just kind of OK, well, now let’s make it better. And so it definitely gets easier if you’re successful. But if you just refuse to try to, you know, make the conversion better by improving your content, if you if you don’t try to get more followers, like if you just stop trying, it’s horrible. Like, you just got to keep going and keep going. My old Chinese boss told me that you just got to keep going.
[00:32:23.460] – Rich
And it’s what I did before. My past business is what I’m doing now. You can’t get overwhelmed and you just have to put everything in this little file cabinet.
[00:32:31.650] – Rich
Here’s A, B, C, D, and just not get overwhelmed. I think that’s a real big problem.
[00:32:37.740] – Paul
So I think, like in any in any business, part of part of managing a successful business is setting up systems, putting systems in place like you know, like how do you how do you invoice a client? Like, how do you how do you keep track of your schedule? Like, how do you how do you how do you keep all this all this information. So it’s all those systems. I think once you’ve got them in place, I definitely make life easier as you go down the down the track don’t they?
[00:33:05.460] – Rich
And it really helps to stay organized. And you want a portion of the business to be like auto running. You don’t want to set yourself up to perform tasks that you’re really not going to enjoy doing and you really don’t have to do them. Like that’s what, for instance, auto responder emails or for. Yes, they’re a lifesaver and they’re very important. But if you have to do everything manually, that’s a nightmare. Sometimes you have to do manually, but you don’t have to do everything manually.
[00:33:39.420] – Rich
And there’s artificial intelligence that a lot of online companies are incorporating into their courseware for a reason, but it will never overtake the human aspect of online English teaching. I believe but that’s a different topic.
[00:33:52.170] – Paul
That’s that’s a that’s another podcast episode.
[00:33:58.140] – Paul
So like in the long term. So, like, let’s imagine that I start an online teaching business. It goes great. I get more and more students. Eventually it might reach a point where I have more students than I can actually accommodate my schedule.
[00:34:14.020] – Rich
Oh yeah. Yeah.
[00:34:15.640] – Paul
So then I’ve got a couple of choices. Maybe I could stop raising my rates to like thin out the herd so to speak. Or, or I could look at hiring other teachers to work for me and I can take a more of a management role in the business.
[00:34:31.680] – Paul
So those are those are also things that you could expect from the from the longer term. Would you agree?
[00:34:39.270] – Rich
Yeah, you need to be pulling a lot of leads, though, like you want to fill up your schedule. You know, I hear all the time about teachers. Oh, I’m so proud. I do 20 classes a day. That’s horrible for me.
[00:34:57.680] – Rich
God, it’s tough if you want to really give them the Bango Gusto. And if you’re doing that energy, you can’t do 20 classes a day. So coming back to what you were. Yeah. So what what. Coming back to what you’re talking about. Yeah. You do want to have a contractor in place. If you have enough leads, if you can’t take a demo on for instance, then you can pass off somebody to a contractor, help that person’s life and you can take a commission most likely for every lesson.
[00:35:35.660] – Rich
Or you can perhaps auction off leads like a lot of people are looking for leads, but there’s not a lot of providers. I’m not sure if you noticed that we teach people how to get leads. If I have extra leads coming up, then I’ll probably auction them off if we can’t take care of them. But yeah, like, who wouldn’t want to have a company where you have more passive residual income coming in because you have an overflow of leads.
[00:36:05.840] – Rich
You can’t take care of them all and then you have contractors working for you. But people need to realize they want to get paid for the demos. Teachers are used to getting paid for their time. If you would PrePly and you give a free one hour demo. I’m not reallyfor hot for that, But,you may want to think, well, for instance, how can I influence teachers to do free demos because I can’t afford to pay them when most of the demos don’t convert, for instance, because if you’re selling two or ten demos, you’re doing pretty good.
[00:36:41.860] – Rich
But if you have to pay twenty dollars, for instance, an hour, twenty five an hour, that’s coming out of your pocket. So why not just say, well, hey, if you get a client, you can take that client with you when you decide to leave my company and you just pay like a fee for that. And wouldn’t that be awesome for the teacher who can keep the student and the student who doesn’t want to lose the teacher, and it makes them feel more like they have their own company.
[00:37:07.180] – Rich
There’s always a little ways around things, but I’m totally proponent of passive residual, absolutely passive as it could be.
[00:37:14.220] – Paul
So. So there are lots of there are lots of ways that your business could evolve. In other words, So that’s something that’s a prize to to to think about as well. After, after you’ve been doing this for little for a little while. So is there anything else that you that you’d like to talk about before we kind of wind the interview up a little bit.
[00:37:39.480] – Rich
Really, the thing that I want to permeate through people’s minds who are teachers watching this and perhaps they haven’t started to build their own company yet, maybe they have maybe they need to improve things further in order to get the conversions they want, in order to get more students. But it’s just don’t get overwhelmed and, you know, just. Listen to people who have been there and done that and take it with a grain of salt sometimes, but really you have to test, test, test and you have to work hard to make things better for the people that are actually traveling through your sales funnel.
[00:38:22.820] – Rich
It’s all about the customer. It’s all about customers and prospects. It’s not about what teachers think is good. A lot of the time you can ask for opinions. You’re going to get all sorts of opinions, but you really just have to put something up there on the Internet, test it out by having your target audience test it out, go through it. Don’t feel bad if you don’t convert right away and fix it and just make it better and better.
[00:38:48.200] – Rich
Don’t get overwhelmed. Be patient. Keep going. Don’t worry. If money doesn’t come in for six months, you’re in it for the long haul most likely, and build it as you work for a company is a really sensible thing to do and use a lot of the information you get from another company to help you build your business as well, right?
[00:39:11.390] – Paul
Yeah, that’s that’s what I tell people, too, is that, you know, if you’ve never if you’ve never done this before, then it might be worth getting a job with one of the companies. For like three months, six months. And think of it as like boot camp. You’re learning, you’re learning the ropes. You’re learning the business before you before you branch out on your own is very important.
[00:39:31.970] – Paul
So, um. All right. Well, to just to finish up then, is there anything that you’d like to tell the listeners about your business or how they can connect with you?
[00:39:44.330] – Paul
Maybe you could tell us a little bit more about the Facebook group, which is which you are administering. And I think that’s that’s growing at an amazing pace at the moment. I think you’ve got over 7000 members now?
[00:39:58.600] – Paul
You have seventy four hundred. It’s been growing quick. And I would love it if everybody inside was actively building their own company. But that’s a perfect world. That will never be the case. But we have a lot of helpful contributors such as yourself, Paul. There’s many in there. And yeah, I started it by December 13th of last year. Twenty nineteen. And actually in twenty eighteen I started a group for teachers, but I never really went through with it because I was just thinking about getting another contractor.
[00:40:36.770] – Rich
That was kind of my purpose for building while not even building and just starting that group. But this one kind of sprouted and I think Covid have a lot to do with that because there’s a lot of people who are never teachers before who are becoming online teachers and there’s the offline teachers that are going online. And of course, because of what’s happened in the world, a lot of companies are treating their foreign staff worse and they are more motivated to go independent because of that.
[00:41:07.910] – Rich
It’s been a joy. And what I’m doing right now, I’m pretty much satisfied with my small English teaching business. I really only like to work a couple hours a night teaching students. My goals aren’t that grand in that regard. I’ve really been focused just on building the group and coaching the teachers, really. And in the future, I plan to put together my own video based course, my own branding teacher in Canada, and I’ll be marketing probably through a pay per click primarily.
[00:41:44.510] – Rich
And of course, I’m putting together all the videos that are going in, the units called Your Road Map to going solo. And then there will be the road to going solo, which will be my VIP group, which is going to have all the details. But there’s a lot of great complementary information in our group and I’m pretty proud of it. I wasn’t really expecting it to grow the way it did, and now I’m just making sure to keep it good and not to lose its focus.
[00:42:14.990] – Rich
And it needs to remain absolutely glued to its mission, even if I come across as being a bad guy sometimes.
[00:42:23.760] – Paul
OK, well, thanks. Thanks for letting us know about that, Rich. So, all right, well, we might we might wrap up this this interview. So thanks very much for taking some time in your busy schedule.
[00:42:37.610] – Rich
Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me. It’s a great way to start my Monday motivation.
[00:42:44.010] – Paul
Monday, guys. Hashtag motivation Monday. OK, so yeah. So if you you’d if you’d like to learn more about tips and tools for Teacherpreneurs, don’t forget to check out our blog at BabelTEQ.com. And we’ve got plenty of articles in the in the blog there and and podcast episodes as well. So thanks very much. And thank you Rich and …
[00:43:14.180] – Rich
Thanks for having me, Paul that was great. It was fun.
[00:43:16.940] – Paul
Till next time. Thank you. Bye bye.
The author of this post lives in Japan with his wife and family. He has taught English part-time (online and off) for more than a decade. He is passionate about WordPress consulting, online marketing and using the power of the internet to help people achieve their dreams.
He thinks that until you’ve tried sashimi tuna with wasabi, soy sauce, hot sake and a cold beer chaser, you just haven’t lived.