Earn while you travel: Teach English online!
With the internet in developing countries improving every year, it’s now easily possible to teach English online and earn a good living while you travel the world! Read on for some tips from our teachers about how to do this…
Part I – Build.
Tip 1 – Money in the bank.
This is hugely important! When you first start to teach English online, it’s initially pretty difficult to make a profit. Aim to break even at the end of the month, if there is anything left over – bonus! If you have a little nest egg tucked away, it takes the stress and worry away as to what is going to happen if your online business takes a while to kick off.
Tip 2 – Pick a city. Settle.
Online English teaching is a growing business and there are many others trying to do the same as you. Delay your travel plans for the first few months and settle in a city where cost of living is cheap. Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok are two great options where studio apartments can be found for as little as $200 per month. Airbnb is an obvious but great starting point, contact the apartments you like the look of, and enquire as to what the monthly rate will be if you stay for three months. Ignore the rates listed, you should definitely get a better rate if you say you want to stay for three months. In Bangkok I stayed at an apartment advertised at 1000THB ($30) per night, but negotiated a three month rate of 10,000THB ($280) per month – quite a difference!
Use your first three months to reach out to students. If you register with an online agency, use this time to develop your lessons and plan a strategy to stand out from the other teachers. If you want to have your own website you will need to decide on your marketing and advertising strategies. Both options have positives and negatives, online agencies will take a big commission of around 15 – 30%, but you won’t have to worry about advertising. Building your own website means that you keep all of the money you earn, but you have to build an easy to use website, plan your own marketing and pay for your own advertising. Remember, although millions of people want to learn English, you still have to find a way of reaching them; also, many people now want to teach English online, so you have to find a way of standing out from the crowd.
Tip 3 – Test the net.
When you teach English online, two key words can come to rule your life: reliable internet. If your internet connection is poor, so is your lesson. You could be the greatest teacher in the world but if the call keeps dropping, or the student can’t hear your voice, then your student will not be booking you again. Before you even consider moving into an apartment or hotel, find out if it is a private or shared router. If it is shared find somewhere else, if it is private, ask to test it – firstly run a speed test, then call someone you know from Skype. Basically, test as much as you can, the quality of the internet will make or break your business.
Part II – Travel!
Tip 1 – Research.
Your three month tourist visa is expiring, you have regular students and are making pretty good money…it’s time to hit the road! From now on you will be living the dream; work for a few hours a day, cover all of your travel costs and explore the world – just don’t forget the importance of the internet!
Finding hotels with good enough internet for a high quality video Skype call is harder than it sounds. You will have to do your research and accept that from time to time things will go wrong. Travelling without pre-booking hotels will not be possible if you have lessons booked, so if you want to backpack you will have to plan it is a holiday. Before booking a hotel, check as many different review sites as you can, booking.com is a useful starting point as they now show a wifi rating out of 10. Google is also very useful, enter the hotel you want to book into the search along with key words like ‘fast wifi’, ’’slow wifi’, ‘skype’, ‘private router’ etc. If you see more than one person commenting on slow internet, find another hotel.
Remember that the hotel is basically your only overhead cost, so try to find a nice balance – if you are getting lots of lesson bookings, spend more on a nicer hotel with private routers. If you are having a quiet period, stay in budget hotels.
Tip 2 – Airbnb.
If you want to guarantee good internet connection and have a more authentic local experience, consider using Airbnb. A great tip is to book 7 or 28 days at a time and get a discounted rate, you can then experience living and working in a different place every week or month. Imagine a week in Bangkok, a week in Ho Chi Minh City, then Hanoi, Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul etc there’s really nothing to stop you travelling the world in this way either.
Tip 3 – Enjoy yourself!
It is very easy to get a bit stressed out when things don’t go to plan. There will come a time when despite your hours of careful research and emailing of hotels and apartments, you will arrive to discover the internet is terrible or even worse, not working. Like most things in life, sometimes you just have to accept that despite our best attempts, things just won’t always go as planned. Take a breath, step out onto the streets and go and have an adventure. Remember no matter how bad things might seem, it’s still better than looking out of an office window on a cold, grey Monday morning! The key is simply to enjoy what you are doing and be happy…if you are unhappy then you are doing something wrong!
Teaching English online while travelling is an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable lifestyle, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys working with people, has a passion for travel and enjoys adventure! There are not many jobs that give you the opportunity to live and work anywhere in the world with a good internet connection!