Teaching Online: How to Make Money While You Travel
Travelling the world takes one of two things: time or money. Though there are plenty of ways to get time on your hands, money is far harder to come by! The solution is finding a way to make money while on the road, but how? The answer is simple, teaching online as you travel!
Regardless of your availability, location or even experience, online teaching is the best option for bringing money into your accounts as you travel! In this article, I’ll show you how you can get started right now and how this industry can keep you on the road indefinitely!
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Why Do I Need a Job?
Let’s get things straight, travelling isn’t cheap. When you add up the price of accommodation, food, transport and one too many drinks, it quickly becomes a very expensive hobby. Being broke is the biggest reason that many of us are forced to cut our travels short, or worse, not travel at all!
Therefore, the only way you’ll be able to fund your endless travels is by making some money on the go. As challenging as that may sound, there are plenty of ways to do it.
Alternative Methods to Online Teaching
Though this article focuses on the joys of online teaching (which I’d argue is the best and easiest option), there are still plenty of other creative ways to make some money as you travel.
Essentially all methods revolve around working online one way or another. Whether it be investing in cryptocurrencies or copywriting an article, each task will require access to the internet.
The problem with these methods is that they require a certain amount of skill and a considerable amount of time. In the case of cryptocurrencies or NFTs, they also carry a significant amount of risk, as well as having to spend your precious travel time tracking market values.
The best solution is to have a job with minimum effort, a flexible schedule, zero risk, and maximum payoff. Too good to be true? Think again.
Why Online Teaching is the Answer to Long-Term Travel
The solution to these seemingly impossible-to-meet parameters is teaching a language online as you travel. It ticks all the requirements while also giving travellers the freedom to travel the world around them!
Let’s look at exactly how online teaching is the solution to your travel finances!
No Experience Needed
Of course, many of us don’t have any past teaching experience, and most wouldn’t have any idea where to start! But don’t let that put you off, it’s much easier than you think.
You don’t need to have a masters degree and 10 years of experience (though it’s beneficial if you do). There’s no problem with starting afresh and learning the craft along the way. If you’re a native speaker, you’re already at an advantage!
While some students require a more in-depth look at a language and require detailed explanations of grammar points and a structured lesson plan, others are simply looking for conversation practice. Many students just want to interact with a native speaker so they can improve their English fluency and maybe learn a few new vocabulary words along the way. That’s something anyone can do!
As many students just want to polish their oral abilities by tweaking their pronunciation and adding new vocabulary to their repertoire. In that case, you don’t necessarily need to prepare anything in advance! You don’t need to have stacks of materials or chunky textbooks. Information can be provided on the spot as the moment arises.
Of course, if you’d like to give students a more in-depth experience then that’s completely up to you. Some students have particular goals or requirements which might call for more resources. That being said, for conversation classes, you could turn up to class 5 minutes beforehand and have a simple chat whilstgetting paid for it!
A Flexible Schedule
Having to work a 9-5 isn’t feasible if you want to travel, but that’s the beauty of online teaching, there’s no schedule. YOU create your own schedule!
You have full control over when you work, for how long and how often. If you don’t want to work on a particular day, then don’t. If you want to have 10 hours of classes to make some quick cash, then you can do that too!
As travellers, it’s important to keep some time free to actually travel. As such, you can pick and choose the hours you work to fit within your travelling schedule. You can stay in a particular spot for an extra day or two so you can earn a couple of hours to fund the next leg of your journey.
Charge Your Own Prices
Nobody wants to work for chump change. There’s no point sacrificing your precious travel time if it isn’t worth the money. Luckily, with online classes, YOU set your own prices! You can charge as much (or as little) as you want!
If you’re an experienced, highly prepared teacher that can teach children or focus on niches such as IELTS testing, then you can charge even more!
Just make sure you don’t get too greedy! The higher your prices, the less likely you’ll be to get classes, especially as there are plenty of cheaper alternatives out there.
The prospect of having to personally craft materials for each student can be quite daunting, but in reality, it’s a one-time deal. Once you’ve created your PowerPoint presentations, flashcards or even worksheets, then you’ll have them forever, and be able to reuse them at any point.
As soon as you get a new student, you’ll have the materials ready to go, and you won’t need to waste your time preparing in advance!
So you want to be an ESL teacher, but don’t know where to start? We’ve all been there!
Let’s explore some tips for becoming an ESL teacher!
There’s no question that you will be able to earn some cash by teaching online, the real question is how much money? Well actually, there is no limit… theoretically speaking.
There are some limiting factors, such as the number of hours you’ll be able to work and, if you’re working through a company, the amount of commission they take from you. That being said, you’re still able to charge your own prices and work as many hours as you want, so how much money you earn is really down to you.
How To Calculate How Much to Charge for Online Lessons?
It can be quite tricky figuring out how much you should charge as there are many things to consider. If you work for certain companies, they will have a set price for their classes, and there’s nothing you can do about it. However, working as a freelance teacher or on a teaching marketplace (more on that later) will allow you to set your own prices.
There are many factors to consider, including…
Kids or Adults?
Generally speaking, working with children takes far more skill, preparation and, most important of all, patience. As such, children’s classes are generally charged a higher price, maybe even twice as much as a typical conversation class!
Parents are willing to pay higher prices to ensure their child gets the best education possible! Additionally, parents are more likely to want long-term classes rather than the odd one-or-two, meaning that you’d have a steady stream of cash with each customer you’d have.
Private teachers typically cost more compared to teaching a full class. This ensures that the students receive the teacher’s undivided attention and also allows the lesson to be tailored around them.
That being said, you could charge each student individually in a class. So despite charging each student less, you’d accumulate more money with a greater number of students.
The benefit of running your teaching empire is that it’s pretty inexpensive to do! There’s no need to pay for an office space and you have no products to buy. How much your business costs to run is ultimately down to you.
If you feel the need to buy up to standard equipment or invest in some helpful materials, then it’s worth taking that into consideration. If you want to earn some more qualifications for your future teaching career, then that will have to be covered too.
Personally, I found the biggest bill to be the electricity to run my laptop throughout my classes. Though as a traveller, you won’t have to cover the electric bill anyway!
It’s also important to consider what exactly your targets are for teaching online. Do you just want to make enough money to keep yourself on the road? Do you also want to be able to build up some savings along the way? Or are you hoping to have a full-time salary out of this?
Though you might have already figured out a decent price to charge, it’s also important to consider what your competitors are charging. Online teachers aren’t exactly in short supply, and if your prices are too expensive then students will have no problem finding someone else.
You might also find that you’re not charging enough! Plenty of other teachers will charge way more than you do and they still seem to get plenty of students. Don’t be afraid to charge what you think you and your time are worth.
Why do so many people choose to be ESL teachers? What are the pitfalls?
Figuring out how much to charge for classes for one thing, but the most important factor is how much YOU are worth. This kind of self-assessment can be pretty tricky!
To put it bluntly, an unqualified, inexperienced, non-native speaker doesn’t have much value, technically speaking of course. A highly experienced native speaker with a myriad of qualifications will be much more valuable, and thus you can charge higher prices. People are willing to pay for quality.
That’s not to say that an unqualified teacher is necessarily a bad teacher, though you have to see it from a customer’s perspective. Who would you rather have as your teacher?
Though having qualifications isn’t necessary for teaching online, it certainly goes a long way! The most accessible and easily attainable qualification is TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). This can be earned completely online and is relatively inexpensive compared to the other options. Some schools and even governments will require it as a minimum to find a job in a given country!
If you had more time and money to play with, then you could also consider a more in-depth qualification (and therefore more expensive) such as CELTA or DELTA qualifications.
If you really wanted to go all out, a master’s degree in TESOL would also go a long way! Though as travellers, you wouldn’t have time to commit to these more intrinsic options.
Thankfully, the dreaded “Must have at least 3 years experience” parameter doesn’t exist with online teaching. You could literally start at zero! That being said, someone with 10 years of experience with no qualifications will always look better than a masters graduate with zero.
Though it’s not as simple as just how much experience you have, it’s also about what kind of experience you’ve had. The more clients you’ve taught, the variety of settings and your own personal achievements also go a long way to show your value as an educator.
Where a fresh new teacher could charge between £10-13 an hour, an experienced, well-established teacher could charge about twice that much!
What Types of Online Classes Are There?
Teaching is not a simple one-stop-shop, there are several different types of classes and students to teach! You could be a jack of all trades or you might prefer to stick to one given niche, that’s something that you’ll have to figure out!
This is where the real money is at. Private classes allow you to charge more for the exclusive experience that you provide. It also means you have a closer connection with your student and can alter your class to fit their particular needs.
This generally means that there is a bit more work involved. You will have to tailor lessons and materials around your students, which could take time.
Group classes can take pressure off a student and also give an opportunity to collectively charge a number of students at once. It also means that lessons can be more standard and lessons won’t need to be tailored around a student’s specific needs.
However, fewer people are willing to spend their money on a shared experience and have less personal focus.
The best way to get yourself some real cash and a constant stream of students is to carve yourself out a particular niche. This could be English related to business, finance, engineering, or any area which has very specific vocabulary and terminology that professionals might need to be aware of.
In many ways, this is the biggest earner, as finding high calibre teachers around there’s specific areas can be rare. As such, it’s not uncommon to find some classes go for £50 an hour! For that price, you better know your stuff!
The flip side is that you might limit the number of students that will be interested in the classes you provide.
One of the biggest demands on the online teaching market is exam preparation. The parameter for many students who want to study abroad or adults hoping to get a visa for an English-speaking country is to pass an English language proficiency test, so they need help to do it!
The most widely accepted tests are TOEFL, the IELTS, the CAE, and the CPE. Students will require specific help to pass these tests, or simply want assistance with improving one area. By learning and understanding these tests and how they’re carried out, you’ll have an incredible advantage and a steady stream of students coming your way.
As it’s such a niche area of English teaching, and a pretty vital one at that which requires a top-notch service, classes can usually be charged between £22-35 an hour!
One of the best practices for teachers is to offer potential new students a trial class either for free or at a discounted price. This is a great way of attracting new customers and giving them an incentive to see what you have to offer.
Some teaching marketplaces will force you to offer them, and different platforms will take a different level of commission on these. For instance, Preply takes a 100% commission on first classes while italki doesn’t charge any.
In a time when online teaching is starting to reach new heights, which kind of classes are best, online or in-person?
Now that you know you want to teach online, the next question you have to ask yourself is if you want to work for yourself or a company. Both have their pros and cons, so let’s look at each option.
It would be ideal to be your own boss. The biggest benefit is that you would keep every penny that you make and would not be subject to a company’s regulations or strict parameters. It would also fully ensure that you manage your own schedule, as some companies might want you to work around them.
The major problem with this (particularly for a travelling teacher) is where you’re going to find new students. How will potential new customers find you? You could promote yourself on other websites and use social media to get your name out there, but how much attention do you think you’re going to get?
It’s all well and good once you’ve got yourself a student, but as soon as that student stops the class (which they often will), you’re left with nothing.
Working for a Company
In a post-COVID world, people have learned that working from home is indeed a viable option. This has been the case for a while with online teaching! There are plenty of online companies which run regular school-scheduled classes for students all around the world.
For these companies, you are essentially working an ordinary 9-5 where you’ll have a regimented schedule and a set amount of cash you can earn each time. This ensures that you always have students coming your way and a steady and quite reliable stream of cash too.
The problem with this form of teaching is that it leaves very little time to actually travel! The hours are not flexible and you would have to work around your company.
The overall best option for travellers is finding an online teaching marketplace. By working via one of these platforms, you’ll have a constant stream of students who will browse the site for teachers and will hopefully come across your path.
These platforms essentially act as a middleman or an agent on your behalf, funnelling potential new students in your direction where they will hopefully be intrigued enough to take an initial class with you. These marketplaces also allow freelancers to set their own rates.
This option also gives you a certain level of financial security. All transactions will go through the company, meaning the student must pay upfront, and if for some reason they don’t turn up to class, that money is still yours.
The disadvantage is that these services are going to cost you. These companies will work on a commission basis, charging you a certain percentage on your classes. This could be as little as 15% to a staggering 50%. Also, as it’s a marketplace, there are plenty of other competing teachers on the sites that your students might prefer to work with.
Each platform has its own different features and will charge different levels of commission. While some will charge next to nothing, some can get as high as 50%.
What Do I Need To Start Teaching?
To start teaching online, there are a few basic things that you’ll need. However, for the most part, they’ll be things you have already!
First and foremost, you’re going to need a computer, or as you’re on the road, preferably a laptop. The next tricky parameter is getting a stable wifi connection! This can be a pretty tricky task as many travellers know. If you’re going to be doing this on the road, then you need to be damn sure that your connection will be stable enough to have classes online!
Other than that, everything else is optional! If you want to spend more money on better cameras or state-of-the-art headphones then that’s up to you. Also, if you want to purchase materials or even pay for some added qualifications, then you’ll have to cover the cost of that too. Then you’re good to go!
Can I Really Teach Online?
The beauty of this industry is that ANYONE can do this. No matter how qualified you are, how little experience you have, what language you speak or where you’re from in the world, you can become a teacher today.
It’s a career that you can easily learn to do, and a job that you can do in whichever way you want. You can become your own boss, work your own hours and teach the curriculum you believe works best. More importantly, while you travel around the world, teaching online is by far the best way to keep making money while living life on the road.
Thank You for Reading! Check Out These Other Helpful Links!
Thank you so much for reading Teaching Online: How to Make Money While You Travel! Now check out these other helpful articles!
A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.