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How to make sure you get paid as a freelance EFL Teacher

You've done all of the hard work; you've set up freelance, you've marketed and you have your own students now. Congratulations! But what happens if they don't pay you?

This is a fear with many freelancers, across many industries. The upside is that as a someone who works from themselves, you can choose your own terms of payment making it easier to avoid situations where you are out of pocket.

Contracts

The safest way for you to set yourself up and to ensure some legal protection is to draw up a comprehensive contract.  I would recommend hiring a legal professional to do this and always ensure that it is signed by both parties (you and the student) before you start teaching.

Your contract should include details of the service being provided, the costs of that service and the payment terms. This makes it clear to your student what is expected of them. It also gives you something to fall back on if they later do not pay. 

Invoicing

If you are lucky enough to secure a...

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What do my £100/hour EFL lessons look like?

I posted a reply to a question in a Facebook group for teachers over a year ago. The question was about hourly teaching rates as freelancers. I answered honestly; mine now varies from £35/hour to £100/hour depending on what I am teaching and how many lessons the student books in one go. I was swamped with replies, DMs and friend requests. All of those people wanted to know how I charged that kind of top-end rate.

The answer is simple; I ask for that rate and I offer a service that matches that rate in terms of value for my customers.

Let me be really clear here, I only sell a few lessons at that top rate and many more at my lower rates. Most of my students book packages now and all of my packages work out at lower hourly rates. The idea is it is better value for the students to bulk book lessons. This also suits my business model as I get larger payments and certainty over student bookings and numbers in advance. I also actually only offer 45 minute lessons, so the...

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5 places to find students as a Freelance English Teacher

 

The 5 main places I find my freelance students:

  • My existing network 
  • Online freelancer platforms for teaching and other services
  • LinkedIn
  • Social media groups
  • Specialist course providers in your niche

In the video I talk a bit more about how I use these places to find students and how they could work for you and your teaching niche.

If you have any questions, come and ask them in our Facebook Group - EFL Teacher Advice and Support.

If you are thinking about becoming an online or freelance teacher our ebook is a good place to start;  Getting Started in Online and Freelance Teaching Ebook

 

Written by Claire Collis, Founder and Managing Director of The ELT Skills Academy

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Am I qualified to teach EFL online?

 If you have considered teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language) online, you've probably wondered this. In fact, this is one of the questions I get asked most frequently, but it is a question that does not have a simple answer.

It all depends on where and who you want to teach. Let's go through these:

Where 

Yes, you want to teach online, but have you thought about where online? For a company or for yourself?

If you are planning on working for on online company or agency, then you will need to meet their criteria on qualifications. You can either ask them directly to find out what they look for or ask people who work for them in Facebook groups for TEFL Teachers. It can be difficult to find out what some of these companies are looking for specifically, as a rule of thumb if it isn’t clear to candidates what the recruitment criteria are then there is a good chance that the company isn’t clear itself.  This can be an indicator of unusual or fluctuating...

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Master these 10 skills to boost your freelance EFL teaching business

So, you're confident in your teaching skills and have started your own teaching business. Congratulations! That's awesome. Is it growing as much as you thought it would? Are you earning as much as you expected to be by now? For a long time my own answer to these questions was no.

Freelance teaching was the first business I set up myself and I really didn't know what I was doing. In fact I didn't even consider it to be a business. I was wrong and learning to think of, and treat it like a business helped me to bring in far more revenue. Over time, through trial and error and hard work I built an online teaching business I am proud of. 

These 10 skills had the most impact on my business.  Without them I would not have been able to grow the business or earn as much.

  1. Consistency: This one is the key to making everything else work. Nothing else on this list matters if you do not stay consistent. It is also the one I struggle with the most. You need to be willing to show up...
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I want to teach online but the pay seems really low...

 

"I was so happy! I was offered an online teaching job! Then the pay rate turned out to be incredibly low. Well below minimum wage here!"

I hear this from EFL Teachers who are trying to transition to online teaching all the time! Unfortunately, it is true that many online employers offer far from ideal pay rates, but that doesn't mean you can't earn a rate that feels more "worth it" teaching online - you just need to approach getting your students in a different way.

 

Today, on a 1:1 strategy call, the teacher I was working with told me about the surprisingly low pay she had recently been offered for an online teaching job. I say surprisingly because this was one of the lowest rates I had come across yet - less than £4 per an hour once you took currency exchange and transfer fees into account.

This is a well-qualified, EFL Teacher with years of experience teaching in traditional classrooms, who wants to transition to online teaching so she can work from home and...

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Using an Automated Scheduler as a Freelance Online Teacher

When I first started out freelance and online teaching organising my own class times, contracts and payments was straight forward. I didn't have many students, so it didn't take much time. Then, when my teaching started to pick up I felt like I was frantically trying to schedule and reschedule online lessons, send out contracts, chase payments and organise email addresses and contacts for video calls. It was overwhelming and was eating into the time I could be enjoying!

I did some research on cost effective options and, after a couple of free trials with a few pieces of software, I purchased Acuity Scheduling.  It took a little while to get everything set up, but now it saves me so much time and energy! I wish I had started using it sooner. The photos shows some of the appointment types I have created for my lessons.

I have integrated it with Zoom (video conferencing tool) and Stripe (online payment system) and uploaded the service contract my students must sign. This means...

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Top 10 Things to Consider When Starting to Teach Freelance

 

It can be daunting setting up on your own. I left my job without a real (read - any) plan for how to make my freelance, online teaching work for me. I built a stable, profitable business eventually but, I could have made life a lot easier for myself I had had considered these things before I quit my old job!

  1. Why do you want to be freelance? To travel, to spend more time with family, to have more control over your own earnings? What ever the reason, having a clear picture of the goal you are aiming for makes getting through the tougher times a bit more bearable.
  2. Who do you want to teach? Working for yourself you get to choose who your ideal customers are. If you don't want to teach kids, then don't. If you really enjoy teaching under 5s then you can focus on that. It is important to consider this whatever the answer or you will lose your motivation and drive over time.
  3. Where do those potential students and customers look for their teachers? So you know who you want to...
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Why I Switched to Freelance Online Teaching

You might think that choosing to become a freelance English teacher is a lot of hard work, for very little in return. I thought that for a long time, but I also craved travel and wanted to see the world.

Having a teaching contract seemed safer. It appeared to be more reliable work, even with a rolling zero-hours contract. What sort of crazy person gives up a well paid job, with colleagues they like and no real idea of how to make money from their teaching by themselves?! Yep, that would be me!

I spent years squeezing as much travel time out of my contracted days off as possible, but I was still restricted by how long I could go away for. There were other options; I could have taken a contract in another country and explored there. I could have taken shorter term contracts to random destinations as and when they came up. I looked at these types of jobs over and over again and eventually realised that I wanted more flexibility than was possible working for somebody else.

But how are...

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