How to Start an Online English Teaching business

Starting your own online English teaching business isn't as hard as it seems. Go to the IRS website and just start.

A Comprehensive Guide to Launching Your Own Online Teaching Business

Starting your own online English teaching business isn’t as hard as it seems. Don’t get overwhelmed by reading tax laws or regulations around LLCs and marketing info and business plans.

Just start.

How To Do It

  1. First, go to the IRS website. Apply for your EIN number. That is an employer identification number .
  2. Then, go to your state’s website. Register your business in the state you most often operate it. I know this is difficult for nomad teachers, but just pick where you most often work.

A smiling woman teaching from a laptop using a headset

And, that’s it! Congratulations. You run your own business now.

The demand for learning English has grown exponentially. As technology advances and distances shrink, more and more people want to study online. Consequently, there has never been a better time to start your own teaching English online business.

Once your business is set up, these are the steps you can take to grow it.

Step 1: Define Your Niche and Target Audience

First, it is essential to identify your niche and target audience. I suggest being pretty specific about your niche so you build authority on that subject. This will help you find students. If you have a website for your business, it will also help you build topical authority on one subject. This ensures you rank highly in Google Searches for anyone searching for an online tutor.

Are you passionate about teaching kids, college students, business professionals, or speakers of a specific language? Understanding your niche will help tailor your services, marketing strategies, and materials to meet your audience’s specific needs.

Step 2: Marketing and Social Media

But, remember, your audience will likely not be searching on Google alone. In fact, many tutors have more success by focusing on Weibo or Wechat to build their business. This really depends on where your students are based. If you want to teach students in the Middle East, get comfortable using Snapchat Many Saudi students, in my experience, use Snapchat. If you want to teach Chinese students, start a Weibo account immediately. People in China use Weibo and Wechat to find tutors.

Step 3: Figure out how to accept payments

Next, you need to decide how you will accept payments for your lessons. There are many ways to accept payments. You can use Paypal. For this, you should set up a Paypal business account. But, if you decide to teach students in china, you have to set up a way to accept payments from China.

Step 4: Obtain Fancy Qualifications

To build credibility and trust with your potential students, it’s crucial to have the necessary qualifications. Acquire a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification. These courses not only provide valuable teaching techniques but also open doors to more opportunities in the online teaching world.

Step 4: Set Up Your Teaching Space

Create a professional and inviting teaching space at home. A quiet, well-lit room with a clean and clutter-free background will make a positive impression on your students. Invest in a reliable computer or laptop, a high-quality webcam, and a headset with a microphone to ensure clear communication during lessons.

Step 5: Choose an Online Teaching Platform

Then, you have to decide if you are going to completely solo market yourself or if you will start off by working for a teaching platform. These ESL platforms let you post your bio and build your own student base. You set your own teaching rates. There are several online teaching platforms available, each with its unique features and benefits. Some popular choices include iTalki, Preply, and Verbling. You can read more about these three platforms on my posts about freelance teaching.

Research each platform to find the one that aligns best with your teaching style, target audience, and payment preferences.

Step 6: Create Engaging and Effective Lesson Plans

Crafting engaging and effective lesson plans is vital to attract and retain students. Incorporate a variety of teaching materials such as videos, interactive exercises, games, and real-life scenarios. Tailor your lessons to suit the individual needs and learning styles of your students.

Step 7: Advertise Your Services

To build a steady stream of students, you’ll need to invest time and effort into marketing your services. Utilize social media platforms, create a website or blog, and produce valuable content related to language learning. Consider offering free trial lessons to attract potential students and collect positive reviews and testimonials.

Tips for building your ESL business

Finally, here are some extra tips for building your ESL business. I taught English online as a freelance teacher for years. most of my tips are common sense. Provide a personalized, top-notch service and your students will tell other students about you. This is the best way to build this kind of business.

Remember, you don’t need a thousand students. In fact, your bookings wouldn’t be able to handle that many. Instead, you just need a handful of students who you really enjoy teaching.

Provide Exceptional Customer Service

When building a teaching business, word-of-mouth everything. That’s why I suggest going above and beyond to give your students individualized attention. Students want to feel seen and personalized supported while learning. So, building relationships with them is crucial. Do this by sending period emails, getting to know them well, and giving detailed feedback after each lesson.

Set Competitive Pricing

Determining the right pricing for your services is important.

I suggest starting with low rates and then raising them. Having said this, it is important not to set them too low. First of all, you don’t want to burn out. The rates should be high enough that you feel motivated and satisfied at your job. Second of all, low rates signal low quality to many students.

Students who want to pay for private tutoring also want the best. If they wanted to be cheap, they would learn English in a myriad of free ways. Think of how easy it is to learn English through gaming, watching videos. They aren’t doing any of that because they want to pay for something more personalized.

Keep Growing and Evolving

The world of online teaching is dynamic. There are always new tools, methodologies, and trends emerging. I suggest joining some networking groups to stay updated with the latest advancements. This isn’t just for tech, either. It’s important to keep up with new research in language acquisition, too. Scientists are continuously learning abbout the human brain and the new findings affect how we should teach.

In conclusion…

Starting your own teaching English online business can be a rewarding endeavor both professionally and personally. By following these steps and maintaining dedication and passion for teaching, you can build a thriving online language teaching business that empowers students to achieve their language goals while bringing fulfillment to your own life. Embrace the digital era, make the most of technological advancements, and embark on a journey that will positively impact the lives of language learners worldwide.


Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.