We are joined by Tara Cull, an independent ESL teacher who is achieving great success in her niche, English for Landscape Architects.
Tara explains how LinkedIn has been an indispensable part of her online marketing and outreach strategy.
[00:00:17.940] – Paul
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the podcast, where we discuss tips and tools for teacherpreneurs. My name is Paul Sallaway and this week we’re going to talk about using LinkedIn to find private ESL students. And joining me to discuss that topic, I have Tara Cull. So Tara is a fellow antipodean from Australia. It’s a pleasure to have her on the podcast today. Hello, Tara. Thanks for being a guest.
[00:00:50.670] – Tara
Hi, Paul. Thanks for having me today. Nice to speak to another Australian.
[00:00:55.860] – Paul
Yeah, we can understand each other’s accents pretty well.
[00:00:58.230] – Tara
It’s true. It’s true. You don’t listen to a lot of Australians all the time. It’s good.
[00:01:03.690] – Paul
So can you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and where you’re from, where you are now and your experience with independent ESL teaching specifically?
[00:01:13.440] – Tara
Sure. So I’m from Australia, from originally from Melbourne in Australia, and I’m currently living in Montpellier, which is in the south of France. So it’s always sunny, sort of .. and in the two years that I’ve been living in France, I’ve been teaching English. Now, in my first year of coming here, I was teaching general English, I was teaching kids and I was teaching adults as well. But what I did start doing was I started teaching kids through an art focus.
[00:01:48.300] – Tara
So I started to see how instead of doing grammar lessons and doing general English, they were more engaged when I was doing art activities. So I did that a lot with the kids and I had a lot of success with that. And then I started getting some interest from some adults who were also artists as well, and they wanted to improve their English. So I started doing that and I started to see that teaching in a niche was really interesting because you could really focus on particular topics, I guess, and a little bit about me in terms of my background.
[00:02:28.320] – Tara
Before becoming an English teacher and becoming a teacher, I was also a landscape architect and I did that for nearly 15 years. And when I moved to France because I didn’t speak French it’s not something that I could necessarily do. And so after about a year of teaching and realizing, OK, there’s there’s something here with niche teaching, maybe I could move towards teaching landscape architects and architects. So that’s kind of when I started thinking about this as a possibility and an option.
[00:03:03.540] – Paul
I see. All right. Well it’s a good thing that we’re on a podcast and not on video, because that way people can’t see that I’m green with envy of you living in the south of France right now.
[00:03:19.450] – Tara
It is a very nice place to live. That’s for sure.
[00:03:21.210] – Paul
I’m sure it is, yeah. So your’re in the niche … your main niche is teaching English to landscape architects, is that right?
[00:03:32.550] – Paul
Yes. So I teach landscape architects and architects and also even urban designers and people who work within the industry as well a little bit who have a similar understanding. So at the start of twenty twenty, I really made the decision, I’m going to do this. And I, I did a challenge, I did a teacher entrepreneur challenge. A twenty one day challenge with, with James Liu.
[00:04:05.040] – Paul
I know that one. Yes.
[00:04:06.280] – Tara
Yep. And that was really good in that it sort of got me in the direction that I wanted to, to be. It made me understand what my niche would be and how I was going to enter into the market, I guess. And then I also did another challenge with Helen Pritchard, which is about how to use LinkedIn. These two challenges together, I guess, really pushed me to start using LinkedIn as a way of finding students, because for me trying to find students who are architects and landscape architects was was quite a challenging thing to do on on platforms.
[00:04:46.450] – Tara
And I didn’t really have any success anyway. So that’s when I decided that I was going to turn to LinkedIn and start posting on there.
[00:04:55.780] – Paul
Right. OK. And so you would say then that that that strategy of really focusing on a very specific niche has been financially a lot better than what you were doing before?
[00:05:10.950] – Tara
Absolutely. I think for me, I’ve been able to charge almost 10 times. Maybe not 10 times, maybe six times what I was charging as a general English teacher. And the thing is, when I had my LinkedIn account, I had people within my network who were landscape architects, who were architects. So they knew that that’s what I was doing previously before I became a teacher. And so I was able to have an idea of who was in the industry, what what’s happening in the industry.
[00:05:48.140] – Tara
And then what I did was I started posting on LinkedIn about what I do.
[00:05:56.090] – Tara
So, for example, I would post something about language that’s related in the in English to landscape architecture. So what are some of the technical vocabulary that you use? What are some of the ways that you need to write better, for example? And and I guess the way that I use LinkedIn, the great thing about LinkedIn is that you can when you search for people, you can search for people in a geographic location and then you can search for people within a profession and also a language as well.
[00:06:36.680] – Tara
So I started connecting with people who I thought possibly might need help with their English. I didn’t really say anything, I don’t send direct messages or “hey, this is what I do”. I just connect with people and I leave it up to them to say if they want to connect with me or not. And if they don’t, that’s OK.
[00:07:02.540] – Paul
Right, so you just made that initial connection, as you would with, you know, anyone in your industry, and so you took a very softly, softly approach to building that relationship, is that right?
[00:07:15.770] – Tara
Exactly. So. When I first started out, I was a bit apprehensive about doing that because I didn’t, I wasn’t 100 percent sure how I could use LinkedIn. But I guess after doing the challenge with Helen Pritchard, which really gave me the confidence to to follow her method. So, I connect with 10 people a day and that’s it. I don’t send any messages. And then also I interact with people within my network as well. So if somebody says something and or they put a post on it, I like it.
[00:07:49.790] – Tara
I might make a comment on it. And I don’t do it in such a way that I want them to notice me. I do it because I’m genuinely interested in what they’re doing. And so that kind of builds a relationship with people and more that I’ve done that the more that I’ve interacted with people, the more that has come out of it. So, for example, when I first started posting on LinkedIn, somebody connected with me and noticed that I was teaching English to architects.
[00:08:23.030] – Tara
And at this point I only had one or two students, I think. But they really liked the posts that I’d been putting out. And they they thought it was really interesting. And then they asked me if I would be interested in teaching in a university in Thailand. So that was really interesting. And so I had and I had an interview and I was able to then they they offered me a job teaching English for architectural communication at a university in Bangkok.
[00:08:55.400] – Tara
And so I’ve been doing that ever since August, which has been really good.
[00:09:01.010] – Paul
So that was an unexpected benefit of the whole process as well.
[00:09:04.910] – Tara
Yeah, absolutely. An unexpected benefit. And and I guess to when when you when people see you as an expert in something, they will really come to you and say, it seems like you’re an expert in this. What can you tell me about it? And and one thing that I did do when I did Helen’s challenge was I changed my headline. So very often people with LinkedIn make their profile about themselves. “I do this. This is what my specialties are”. Whereas Helen’s way of looking at it is that you make your profile about who you would like to attract and you tell them exactly what you can do for them.
[00:09:47.150] – Tara
So I make my profile helping architects and landscape architects to improve their confidence with one to one coaching. So I tell them exactly who I help, exactly how I do it, and I go from there. And then also my about section is talking to them and saying, do you have problems with this?
[00:10:08.360] – Tara
And the way that I crafted that, I guess was I I spoke a lot to people. So having worked in the industry as well, I called up past colleagues, people that I’d worked with. I said, you know, when you first started working, what was some of the challenges you found with speaking English? What what do you feel now? What are some of the things that you would tell people in your position? And and they gave me such great input and advice.
[00:10:40.620] – Tara
And actually, one of the people that I spoke to, we have a lesson once a week now as well, and she’s she’s been living in Australia for 10 years, but she still feels like she could advance her English. And I think that’s the great thing is when you when you position yourself as an expert in something, even really advanced English speakers will come to you. Because they want to be better than the their native speaker counterpart to their colleagues, and so they think it’s a real advantage, I guess.
[00:11:15.860] – Paul
That’s right, that’s what I that’s that’s a really that’s a really good point that you just made. When you position yourself as a as the authority, as you know, as the voice of knowledge and experience, then, you know, people like people are going to come to you and they’re going to be prepared to pay more than they would pay for, like, you know, general run of the mill garden variety English lessons, aren’t they?
[00:11:41.720] – Tara
Absolutely. And and I guess one of the things that I realized is that. You know, the value that I bring to my students, it’s not a per hour basis, it’s what can I bring to them for the rest of their lives? Because some of the people that I’ve worked with either didn’t have a job or they were looking for a job and now they have a job and they have the confidence to be able to continue to get jobs further on in their lives.
[00:12:15.160] – Tara
And to feel more confident, so I almost feel like working with them for me is like a kickstarter. I give them the permission to be like, yes, I can be better at this.
[00:12:28.630] – Paul
Right. So this is this is something I want to ask you about. So the actual like the the lessons or the services that you provide. So it’s it’s partly, it’s partly about practical things like grammar and vocabulary, if I understand correctly. But it’s also there’s a coaching aspect to it as well. Is that right, where you’re kind of like giving them the motivation and the guidance to continue on the path of personal development? Is that accurate?
[00:12:58.690] – Tara
Yeah, that’s accurate. So I’m very much I guess my experience with teaching English has always been teaching it in a practical sense. So and I guess I take that a lot, too, from my own language learning, I, I know for myself, I don’t like to sit down and do a grammar exercise. It doesn’t help me to speak better. And so I use a lot of my own personal experience to bring into my teaching.
[00:13:24.130] – Tara
And I guess then I also realize that they’re the sorts of people that I attract who don’t like to do grammar exercises. So the way that I structure it, I do a program. So it’s a 12 week program and I sell that as a program. And so in the first part, we talk about cultural differences. It’s always what we talk about in the first few weeks and we talk about business culture. So if I have a student in Australia who comes from China, we talk about the differences between living in China and living in Australia.
[00:13:58.810] – Tara
There’s a book that I read which I recommend to everyone because it’s just changed my life. It’s called “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer and she has a mapping tool in that book where you can map your culture against the culture you’re living in and you can understand a little bit about the communication differences. And for me, that lesson is always when the penny drops for a lot of … they understand. So we do that a lot at the start.
[00:14:34.090] – Tara
We we do cultural differences, business, culture, and then from then we do practical situations. So we might do things like. Writing emails, practicing telephone calls and meetings are a big one as well. We practice being in a meeting. One of the lessons in the program, I actually give them a presentation about work that I did, and then I get them to critique me and say, you know, this is good or this is not good.
[00:15:02.760] – Tara
And that one’s also a good lesson, too, I think, because it empowers them with what I’ve been doing to them, like giving them feedback and that sort of thing. And yeah, for me it’s so good because I’m so passionate about it and and I can see they’re passionate about it. And it’s I just feel like we’re on equal ground.
[00:15:23.430] – Paul
And so like coming from a coming from a landscape architect background yourself. So you understand the context or the situations that you’re that your clients are in every day of their working lives. So like we were joking before this this podcast started, I wasn’t actually sure what a landscape architect did. I took that to Google it. So I’ve learned something today. So a landscape architect, as I discovered you basically like design the exterior environment, is that right? Like playgrounds, parks, gardens, that sort of thing?
[00:16:04.560] – Tara
Yes, that’s correct.
[00:16:05.880] – Paul
So I would obviously be a terrible person to try to teach a professional landscape architect.
[00:16:14.190] – Tara
I think yeah. I think it’s harder to teach somebody when you don’t necessarily have the expertise.
[00:16:19.290] – Paul
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, you’ve got to I think you’ve just got to understand the context of of where they’re going to be using the language. So and so this is what I say to people who are really, you know, who are maybe struggling to to find a niche or struggling to decide on a niche. One of the things you should do is think about like your own life experiences, think about your your educational background.
[00:16:44.580] – Paul
And maybe maybe you worked in a hotel for six months, you know, when you’re when you were when you were a kid. And that’s that’s that’s a qualification to to teach people about hospitality, English, you know. So I think a lot of people sell themselves short in terms of like leveraging their own experiences, life experiences.
[00:17:06.570] – Tara
[00:17:07.380] – Paul
That’s what I would really encourage people to do.
[00:17:11.430] – Tara
And I guess too the good thing about being in a niche is the more the deeper you go into the niche, the more you understand the problems. And so you really you can go even deeper than what you would you would if you would just teach in general English. So, for example, in in one of my sessions, we talk a lot about jargon and how architects use a lot of jargon. And then we talk about how do you improve it and how do you make your language simpler.
[00:17:42.690] – Tara
And I guess that’s not really something I would have done in a general English class all the time, because you can’t go specifically into that subject area. And and also just from my experience of because as I was saying to you earlier as well, I do teach agricultural scientists. And even though that’s not my background, the I guess the way that I would look at that as another possible niche is because I can speak French. I understand some of the challenges that they have and why some of the why some of the the the mistranslations happened.
[00:18:23.970] – Tara
And so you could you can also look at a niche in terms of what language do you speak and which language can you target, I guess.
[00:18:31.590] – Paul
Yeah. Yeah. And just to just to double back a little bit before you mentioned about cultural differences. And that’s something that I actually really enjoy teaching English in Japan, because the the the business environment in Japan is quite different to what we would be familiar with in Australia. So, you know, in Australia, I think the business culture is a lot more casual than than it is here. And therefore that the way that people interact is is a lot different. So I really have a lot of fun around around around that and explaining cultural differences and trying to get my students to role play in a situation where, you know, they might be having a meeting with with people in Australia.
[00:19:19.500] – Paul
And it can be a big eye opener, I think, for a lot of students.
[00:19:24.480] – Tara
Have you read the culture map?
[00:19:26.130] – Paul
I haven’t, no. I’ll have to check it out.
[00:19:27.840] – Tara
I highly recommend. She she makes a lot of comments about Japanese, the difference between Japanese and say American culture and American culture and Australian culture. And she refers to there’s one thing that I really enjoy and she says there’s two types of cultures. There is the coconut culture, and there’s the peach culture and the coconut culture is one where it’s difficult to get to know people at the start but once you’re in, it’s OK. And then there’s peach cultures where it’s easy to get to know them at the start.
[00:20:02.750] – Tara
Then there’s a really rough inside and it’s hard to to break into. It’s very fascinating. A lot of the research is really fascinating.
[00:20:11.390] – Paul
It’s an interesting way to break it down. Just out of curiosity, what is the business culture like in France? Is it like closer to the you know, the maybe the casual style of interaction or is it more formal? Like I’m imagining I mean, I think in Germany, maybe that’s kind of another another place like Japan that has a fairly formal business culture. I could could be wrong.
[00:20:34.970] – Tara
Well, when you when you compare it to Australia, definitely it’s more it’s it’s more formal compared to Australia. And when when I did map myself, when I mapped Australia against France, we’re on the opposite end of the spectrum, very often.
[00:20:51.740] – Tara
There’s one one key thing that she talks about is, is if a culture is egalitarian or hierarchical and and obviously I think Australia is much more egalitarian and then you have some cultures which are more hierarchical. And so actually working with some of the students that I work with in Thailand as well, it’s really challenging for them to speak up in a lesson, for example.
[00:21:15.890] – Tara
And and so I have to teach them at the start that it’s OK to challenge me or say certain things, so so, yeah, there’s a lot of things, and I think it’s missing from English teaching sometimes.
[00:21:29.780] – Paul
Yeah. And I think that this is this is where teaching advanced students or upper intermediate to advanced students, this is the value that you can that you can really bring to those type of students, I believe. So when people when people are first learning a language and they they they’re learning grammar rules, they’re learning pronunciation, they know they’re learning basic vocabulary, that’s that’s all great to get a functional a functional understanding of the language. But but when you when you get to those high levels, I think a lot of it is about like knowing what type of language is appropriate for different situations.
[00:22:08.230] – Paul
And and you can really you know, you can set up some challenging situations for for people, you know, that can give them an example of say, hey, you know, you’re in a meeting and and your boss has just challenged you to to to justify some, you know, some proposal that you’ve just made. You know, let’s let’s role play that so. Yes, so there’s a lot of things there’s a lot of cultural aspects to teaching upper, intermediate and advanced students where you can add value to to what you’re providing.
[00:22:42.810] – Tara
Yeah. Then kind of going back to how do I use this in terms of LinkedIn and posts and things like that. A lot of this, a lot of what I learned, a lot of what I teach in my lessons I will talk about on LinkedIn. So if I have a lesson with a student and we’ve been talking about cultural differences and they say this really made a difference to me, then I’ll post about that on LinkedIn without saying who they are or what their name is. But. I’ll talk about those experiences and really share some of those things and hope maybe someone else identifies with that, because I guess I see it from a way in a way that I’m trying to show people what is possible, because they don’t always know that it is possible.
[00:23:30.350] – Tara
They don’t know that there’s an English teacher out there that can teach specifically landscape architects and architects. They’ve never thought about it before. And so you’ve got to use your LinkedIn space to tell people that. And so I’ll post about it quite often. And sometimes I do see teachers will post things on LinkedIn that is general English, even if they have a niche. And and I think that doesn’t necessarily help them to be seen as an authority, because if you’re using somebody else’s lessons or you’re using general information, it’s not targeting their real problems..
[00:24:14.030] – Paul
Yeah. I’ve had this, I’ve had this conversation with a few people about the, the, the sales funnel in that there are there are people who at the top of the funnel who don’t necessarily even know that they have a problem. And so sometimes you need to point out that actually yes, you do have a problem. There are people who know that I’ve got a problem, but they they don’t know a solution exists to it. And I’d say, you know, maybe that’s the case with people who are in very specific vocational niches where they’re really looking for what they really know, that they need to improve their English for a specific context.
[00:24:50.930] – Paul
But they don’t know that there are teachers out there that that specialize in that niche. So I think that’s you know, you’re in that space, in the sales funnel where you have a big opportunity.
[00:25:02.090] – Tara
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, if if you’re the only one speaking about this or a few of you, then you’re really going to be talking to them. And we were talking about it earlier. If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no-one, because you’re not targeting very specific problems that people have. And and that is exactly how I felt when I was learning French. When I first came here, I thought, why am I learning about what my favorite color is when I don’t really need to say that I want to say other things.
[00:25:35.900] – Tara
Yeah. And so I even was telling saying to my teacher, this is what I want to do and this is how I want to do it. And so she teaches me that way.
[00:25:46.250] – Paul
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think that’s so true. Like you mentioned something to me earlier about making the language, you know, relevant to relevant to your students, relevant to their everyday everyday needs. So. Well, yeah. Like, you know, I’ve had Japanese lessons here and and sometimes I just want to say, you know, I want you to teach me how I can really tell off someone, you know, if they if they if they if they tick me off, you know, the Japanese doesn’t have a lot of swear words.
[00:26:17.270] – Paul
So, or if there are they’re not telling me. So but there are some cases like that where but you need or you want language for a specific task and and just you know, just the general English lessons of “this is a pen, this is a chair” that is not very motivating.
[00:26:39.360] – Paul
So so in addition to LinkedIn, what other things have you sort of been doing to to build awareness of your of your brand? I think you’re on Instagram as well.
[00:26:50.910] – Tara
Yeah. So as well as having LinkedIn, I also have Instagram. And I guess for me that was a decision that architecture, landscape architecture is quite a visual profession. So I needed to have something as well that I could show images and and pictures and things like that on in that sphere as well. And I’ve found through Instagram, I’ve also found other people that are building networks around architecture and landscape architecture. And by doing that, for example, I was able to speak to someone in their group and speak to the members of their group.
[00:27:32.340] – Tara
It’s a a group of architects who graduates and they are wanting to transition into work. And so I’ve been able to speak to some of those people. And I’m also a member of this group now, too. So I kind of get an understanding of where they’re at. And so through doing the Instagram, I also like sometimes doing stories on Instagram as well and doing little quizzes because I think people can see the real side of you, which you can’t necessarily do as much on LinkedIn.
[00:28:04.980] – Tara
Some people do. Do you really go into showing themselves? But I feel more comfortable doing it on Instagram because I know that’s where most people do that.
[00:28:16.170] – Paul
Yeah, I think so too. I think that’s I think that’s one of the best ways you can use Instagram, is to show people that you are a multi dimensional person. You’re not that you’re not all just business, business, business 24/7 that you’ve got you’ve got a life and, you know, interests and, you know, you live you live in a neighborhood and these sorts of things.
[00:28:38.370] – Tara
Yeah, exactly. And I guess for me, too, I’m not necessarily a big extrovert. I don’t like always showing myself and doing all that sort of thing. So it’s been a big sort of step out of my comfort zone. Time for me. And the more I do it, the more I feel comfortable. But it’s it’s a big, big thing having to put your life out there. And I sometimes get frustrated by this idea that I have to be on social media and I have to put a YouTube video and I have to do this so that I realize, you know, it’s sometimes it’s part of the process and you just have to do it.
[00:29:14.640] – Paul
Yeah, I. I know exactly where you’re coming from. I guess for me is like following Gary Vaynerchuk on on YouTube and watching some of his presentations where he just kind of like was saying, you know, get over it. You know, you’re not that important, get over it. Just just put it out there. It’s not that bad, you know. Yeah. And it’s and it’s true. Like, I’ve started doing a lot of that myself as well and and you get used to it.
[00:29:49.300] – Tara
[00:29:50.310] – Tara
I actually did, I did a live on LinkedIn, not LinkedIn on Instagram. And I didn’t want to, I thought, no, I don’t really want to do this, but I’m going to do it. And I did it. And afterwards I like lay on the floor “Oh my God, I can’t believe I did that. That was so hard”.
[00:30:06.570] – Tara
And then I thought it was terrible, the worst thing ever. And then I got next day I got a message in my inbox. I’d really like to do English lessons with you. And I’m thinking, “What the hell? That’s so weird!”
[00:30:19.740] – Paul
[00:30:20.710] – Tara
Yeah, yeah. The way that you feel about how you come across isn’t necessarily how somebody else sees you. So I guess you just have to try and show up as you are and be natural. Be yourself. Don’t worry about all those things.
[00:30:36.780] – Paul
[00:30:41.760] – Paul
So speaking of LinkedIn, do you have any “dos and don’ts” that you can that you can share with the listeners?
[00:30:47.430] – Tara
Oh, yes, I do. And sometimes this is a bit controversial, actually.
[00:30:51.840] – Paul
Oh good. I like controversy!
[00:30:54.210] – Tara
I think the first one is know your audience and who you’re looking for. So do some research in terms of what are their problems? What do they really what keeps them up at night? What makes them feel like they’re lacking confidence? And where do they live? What language do they speak? All those sorts of things? What do they actually want? Why do they want English lessons. So know who they are so that when you do your post and you know what you’re writing, you’re speaking to them. You’re not just saying here’s some English lessons. I hope you find it helpful.
[00:31:30.030] – Tara
I think one thing that really helped me was I did a client avatar, so I actually work with a business coach, which also is another piece of advice, I would say is if it’s not a business coach, maybe it’s a mentor or somebody who can be an accountability partner or something like that. And so her advice to me was to do an ideal client avatar.
[00:31:55.820] – Tara
And and so what I just did was I drew a stick figure on a piece of paper and I said, “what do they, how do they feel”? “What do they what do they see”? “What do they want”? And I wrote a list of all those sorts of things, so I got a better idea of who am I speaking to. Because even within my niche as well, even with the niche of landscape architects and architects, I didn’t want to even speak to everyone in that niche.
[00:32:25.700] – Tara
So I even niched it down even further. So I would say, understand your ideal client avatar. And then my last thing for “Do” would be, be yourself, don’t be don’t think that you have to be smiley and all this things like just be yourself, because however you are, somebody will like that. You don’t have to be like the most famous YouTube teacher who’s got a big fake smile on their face, right?
[00:32:57.640] – Paul
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s that’s something I’ve discussed with people as well. So like some people who are some people are very naturally extroverted and flamboyant and but if that’s not you, you know, don’t don’t try to be that because.
[00:33:12.010] – Tara
[00:33:12.790] – Paul
Not everyone’s looking for that.
[00:33:14.710] – Tara
Exactly. And it’s also something that you can’t sustain for all the time. You just got to be yourself. And, you know, I think you’d be surprised sometimes the people that you attract and somebody who might like somebody bubbly and smiley doesn’t won’t like to work with somebody who’s quiet, but somebody who’s quiet wouldn’t like to work with that sort of person. So you just have to be yourself.
[00:33:40.310] – Tara
In terms of “Don’t”. I would say and it’s my personal preference, but some people will say “send a message when you send a message on LinkedIn, tell them who you are and what you do”.
[00:33:53.310] – Tara
But for me, I just think, what do I want? If if I’m on LinkedIn and somebody sends me a personal message, I don’t want to connect with them because I think, what are they trying to sell me so I don’t connect with them. Some people say that you should. Some business coaches have said to me, you should introduce who you are, what you do. But for me, it’s makes me nervous, it makes me feel like it takes up so much time and I don’t have time to waste.
[00:34:23.950] – Tara
I don’t want to waste time stressing about this stuff.
[00:34:26.260] – Tara
So I would say don’t send a message in and and try and seem like you’re selling them something. But do what works for you if you want to do that and you think it works, do it.
[00:34:41.680] – Paul
So when you’re in your initial contact request, do you even raise the topic of English or using English in the industry.
[00:34:53.170] – Tara
I used to do that. So when I first started being on LinkedIn, I did. I said, “Hi, my name’s Tara and I’m an English teacher. I teach English to architects”. But now all I do is just connect because my headline says exactly what I do. And I feel like if people need you for that, they will reach out to you.
[00:35:13.930] – Tara
Because when I first started doing it, too, I had I was sending messages to people and they would get they would get back to me and then I would have a session with them. And it just it wasn’t working, I didn’t I felt really uncomfortable about the situation. I didn’t really know how to to do it. And so I decided I was going to change the way that I did it so that it worked for me.
[00:35:45.030] – Tara
I guess that’s a good point. So the way that I do it is I have I put all my prices out there as well. Everyone knows how much I cost. Everyone knows what they’re getting. They know what the what the lessons are. The program is everything. Right. So by the time somebody contacts me, usually they know they want to work with me. So I don’t necessarily get as many people contacting me as I did in the start.
[00:36:09.900] – Tara
But also, I’m not wasting my time having 30 minute sessions with people.
[00:36:13.800] – Paul
Right. So the people that do come to you, they’re already they’re already qualified, you know, in the in the in the marketing sense, they’re self qualified in that they they’re not going to have this you know discussion about “Can you give me a discount”?
[00:36:27.540] – Tara
[00:36:28.910] – Paul
They’re not going to haggle over prices. They know what you do and what you charge and that is what it is. So it’s you know, that that initial discussion is is about what? Just how they can use English to improve their their lives?
[00:36:44.880] – Tara
Yeah. So the initial discussion is just how lessons will work together, what day we’ll work together, the the practicalities of how do I record the lessons as in what documents do we share, all those sorts of things. So and for me that is so much better because I was wasting lots of time. I was stressing about this thing and it’s just not something that I wanted to do. So I really, re-thought, how can I make this easier for me?
[00:37:15.600] – Tara
And so that’s why for me, it’s always have your prices out there. You know, when I if I approach somebody with anything, I want to know how much it costs to work with them.
[00:37:26.130] – Tara
For some reason. For some reason. Also, teachers are a bit apprehensive about charging more than twenty five dollars an hour.
[00:37:37.680] – Paul
Yeah. And I don’t I don’t understand that. I think that there’s no there’s no it’s not written down anywhere that you can only charge this amount. I think that what you what you can charge depends on like “A.” What your target market is and and “B.” What what value you can provide for those people. So…
[00:37:58.080] – Tara
Exactly. Yeah. So I would say it’s important that you put it out there. That’s for me an important thing. And that has been my opinion from the start, because by the time people come to me, even though I’m not getting as much as maybe what I would have when I was teaching general English, my time is much more precious and I’m getting the value for my time now. So I don’t necessarily need to have that many people coming to me.
[00:38:30.190] – Paul
Right. So you’re getting you’re getting fewer students. But they are they are paying more for your time. So they’re valuing your time a lot more. And I guess that I now I guess you’re getting also a lot of referrals as well from those from those premium students as well as that, right?
[00:38:46.440] – Tara
Exactly how it works. And it’s funny, like I teach less students, but I make more money. So which is what you want in the end. And also I have so I have the university as well. And I have been teaching in a business here in France. So that’s kind of my staple. And then I have my one to one students coming in as well. And the more the more that I do all that, it kind of it all feeds into each other.
[00:39:14.760] – Paul
So I get and I guess it would be fair to say that you find the lessons a lot more enjoyable to teach than than teaching. You know, “This is a pen. This is a chair”?
[00:39:24.900] – Tara
Yes, absolutely.I love I absolutely love it. And I’m very passionate about plants, for example. So I get to talk a lot about plants, which is great. Getting paid to talk about plants is a dream.
[00:39:39.450] – Paul
All right. Well, so this is the part where I ask you if you have, like, one pearl of wisdom that you would like to share with the audience. So when I was when I was in university, I had a lecturer and they always at the end of his lecture because I guess he thought people were falling asleep through most of it. He would say this is the one “pearl of wisdom” that I want you to remember from this session.
[00:39:58.950] – Paul
So. So do you have a “pearl of wisdom”?
[00:40:02.010] – Tara
Yes, I would say firstly, we’ve already spoken a little bit about it, but go deep into your niche, understand your niche, and also don’t just give up after only two or three months of doing it. So I know a lot of teachers who tried to do the niche and said it’s not working and then they gave up. So my advice would be don’t give up after just two months. I’ve been doing this since May, and, you know, it was slow to start with and it’s still not where I want it to be, but I’m not giving up because I know that each day that I work on something, it’s getting better and better and better.
[00:40:42.430] – Paul
Right. And you can see you can see momentum, right? You can see progress.
[00:40:46.380] – Tara
Exactly. I can see momentum. I my understanding of my niche is even better. I feel like I’m a better English teacher. Everything that I’m doing is is getting better and better. So, you know, just keep at it and and don’t also I think don’t pick a niche because you think it will make you the most amount of money. Like don’t work with doctors and engineers because you think that’s going to be the best.
[00:41:12.840] – Tara
People will want to work with you because you are passionate about what you want to do, because people learning English, are not robots, you know, OK, I need to get this information and and just learn. They are also very well-rounded people who have lots of ideas about lots of subjects and and things. So you don’t just do something that you’re that you think will make you the money, do something that you’re passionate about and don’t give up. So that’s my parting wisdom.
[00:41:43.320] – Paul
That’s excellent. Thanks for that, Tara. That’s that’s awesome advice. So just to to finish then, can you tell us a little bit about can you tell us tell us a little bit about what you’re working on now and how people can connect with you if they want if they want to get in touch?
[00:41:59.570] – Tara
Oh, yes. So you can connect with me on LinkedIn, obviously. So just my name, Tara Cull. You can send me a connection request and don’t send me a message because I won’t respond to the message. LOL. No, I will I will respond to the message. But it’s OK. I also have a website. So archienglish.com.
[00:42:20.940] – Paul
I’ll put a link to Tara’s website on the on the podcast show notes on my blog. So that’s the best way to find her. Her website.
[00:42:30.750] – Tara
Yeah. And in terms of what I’m working on next year, I’m taking on an extra university subject. So I’m working on how can I make that better. So after doing it for this semester, I want to think about how I can make it better. And then I’m also wanting to. Use or make a community, I guess, for people who are learning English and who are architects and landscape architects, I’ve been looking at different ways of creating a network.
[00:43:01.740] – Tara
There’s an application called Mighty Networks, which I’m looking at. I’m trying to move away from Facebook, I prefer to sort of have it in a centralized system.
[00:43:11.430] – Paul
How about LinkedIn Groups? That’s something I really wanted to ask you. What’s your experience with LinkedIn Groups?
[00:43:19.500] – Tara
Yeah, I haven’t had a lot of success with LinkedIn Groups. I feel like there’s people in there, but there’s not much happening in the groups.
[00:43:28.320] – Paul
It’s a bit of a ghost town.
[00:43:29.790] – Tara
It’s a ghost town. There’s like tumbleweed in there. There’s not really much happening.
[00:43:34.870] – Tara
You I guess the good thing about groups is you could be a member of a group and then you can see people within the group who might have a similar understanding. Or if you have a niche and you were in that group, you can see those people. But I don’t find that many people talk in those groups.
[00:43:57.240] – Paul
I’m sorry. When you when make a post or an article, you could specify that you like that you want to broadcast to people in the group, can’t you? Have you tried that? Have you tried that approach?
[00:44:10.740] – Tara
No, I haven’t actually tried that, but maybe I could have a look at that. Yeah. Or the other thing I was going to say actually before there was another “Don’t” that I was going to say.
[00:44:23.100] – Tara
And one thing that I have seen recently is “Engagement Pods”. Which is an engagement pod, is when people all come together and they all say to each other, they’re going to like each other’s posts, comment on each other’s posts, But and I say this a lot on LinkedIn recently where the lots of people and they all just all the same people post and comment and like and to me, that’s not really helping you because those arepeople that are not your target clients are liking your posts and it’s not helping you.
[00:44:57.970] – Tara
So it’s got to come organically. You’ve got to get people in your network who are in your niche to engage with you on your posts, not the other teachers or people from an engagement pod.
[00:45:12.010] – Paul
Right. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, I, I see a lot of these like hacking tips for like YouTube and you know, and Facebook and, you know, just, just don’t do it. I think because you know, these companies, they’ve got a lot of people employed to to really like stamp out this kind of, you know, hacking behavior. You’re not going to you’re not going to be able to game the system. And as Tara said, you’re going to you’re probably going to get the wrong kind of audience out of it anyway.
[00:45:42.040] – Tara
So exactly. Yeah. You want to build authority in your own audience, not with other people who it’s not real. You want it to be real engagement. It gives you an idea too. You want to know if what you’re posting out there is is speaking to somebody.
[00:45:59.110] – Paul
Great advice. All right. Well, thanks, Tara. Well, you’re welcome. Thanks for making the time today.
[00:46:09.100] – Paul
So and so. Remember, listeners, so if you want to catch more of these great interviews, you can you can listen to them on the Babelteq blog. That’s B, a, b, e, l, t, e, q, dot com.
[00:46:29.350] – Paul
And you’ll also find lots of other articles which include helpful tips and tools for teacherpreneurs. So until next time. Thanks, Tara.
[00:46:41.650] – Tara
[00:46:43.270] – Paul
And bye for now.
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.