Why you should read this

Are you a teacher of English, working with online platforms such as VIPKid or Qkids? Do you want to increase your bookings or better manage the booking frenzy? This blog gives you the 10 ways to improve your bookings. They are strategic, user-focused and actionable.

For example, instead of just saying ‘build an attractive profile’, I suggest you ‘build a professional, unique profile that resonates’, then explain why and how you can do it. My suggestions are based on interviewing Chinese students and their parents. The free resources (templates, checklists, complete guides) after each strategy show you clear and quick actions to take.

1. Plan your slot smart

different types of public holidays in China

Why

Some companies require teachers to block a minimum number of ‘core’ hours. Or will prioritise bookings for teachers with more open slots, so it can make it more challenging to have more than 2 or 3 companies running simultaneously.

You might hear advice such as ‘open as many of your slots as possible’ after signing your first online teaching contract such as VIPKid contract. I would also suggest you ‘open your slots as smart as possible’.

For example, the first week of October is China’s National Holiday week. Most families are on vacation during that week. People are on the move. You might make all the slots available but still have low bookings simply because your students can’t use their computers to take online lessons when they are travelling. On the other hand, April is the rainy season for many cities in the south part of China. Would that encourage the parents to book more English lessons online with you?

How

Do your research to find out when are peak and low seasons for your students. Some factors to consider are: when are holiday periods, during which months are your students are more likely to stay indoors, when do their summer and winter school holidays begin and end, when are their exam seasons?

Matching your students’ calendar with your teaching calendar allows you to schedule your slots wisely. It also helps you to plan your own life better: why not take a holiday when your students also are on holiday?

Action

If you don’t have time to do all the research, I have done it for you. Please download the ‘Chinese Public Holiday Calendar’ to plan your online English teaching slots.

Email admin@improveyourbookings.com to receive next year’s template when published (free).

2. Build a professional, unique profile that resonates

build a professional and unique profile as an online English teacher

Why

You might hear suggestions such as ‘build an attractive profile’. Again, I don’t fully agree. I want to convince you to build a unique profile that resonates with your students (whom you teach) and parents (who purchase your lessons).

Qualifications and professional experience matter in China. Pay attention to how students and parents view you.

It’s all about being professional, authentic and, observant to find out what matters to your students and their parents. If you communicate your relevant qualifications well through words, photos and videos, you are making it much easier for parents to choose you and book your lessons.

How

Academic background, teaching qualification and years of experience are utterly important to make you stand out as a professional teacher. There’s much more you can do to curate a professional, unique and relevant profile.

Are you also a parent, grandparent or teacher, so you can demonstrate your experience interacting with children? Do know have knowledge about the school systems in your country which Chinese parents are hugely curious about? Do you have hobbies to make your background interesting? How do your friends describe you? If you have started online English teaching already, what do parents’ reviews say about you? Have you asked your students what they enjoy most from your lessons? Have you travelled to the country where you students live, or watched movies and read books about it?

Action

Please download the complete checklist to curate your teaching profile.

Book my workshop ‘Improve your teaching credentials‘ to get a personalised feedback of your teaching credentials.


3. Choose your platforms

English teaching platforms in China

Why

It’s a good idea to start by working with a mix of platforms for several reasons.

First, you are likely to get additional bookings and make more money.

Second is risk management. Say you primarily work with VIPKid, you might want to look at similar platforms such as DaDa ABC, 51Talk, Qkids, etc. If one of the platforms does not generate enough income or no longer fits your personal goal, you still have other options.

The third reason (probably the most important one if you teach English online) is to gradually position yourself. Different platforms have different pricing, branding, teacher requirements and student profile.

By initially working with a handful of platforms, you can progressively figure out which one fits your own goal and style best. The better the platform fit, the more you will enjoy working with it and get more bookings as a result.

How

Some criteria to evaluate platforms are: salary structure, company overview and culture, teacher requirement, teaching method and student type.

The first, and most important to many of us, is salary or payment structure. With the number of hours that you put into teaching, you will want to make sure the income can sustain your lifestyle.

Regarding the company, what is its past history and future growth opportunity? Is it financially stable? What do other teachers say?

Third, what is the platform’s requirement for teachers? Do you need to get qualifications, or do you just need to be a native English speaker from a specific country? How is the teacher recruitment, onboarding and training process? The lower the entry barrier for now, the higher the competition in the future.

Last but not least, which kind of teaching experience you will get working with a particular platform. Is it 1-1 tutoring or small class tutoring? Are you teaching adults or children? Do you have preferences?

Action

If you don’t have time to do all the research, I have done it for you. You can download the ‘Comparison of major online English teaching platforms’ to find out which ones suit you better.

Are you applying for jobs with English language teaching platforms? Book my workshop ‘Improve your teaching credentials‘ to do a mock interview and teaching demo to get feedbacks.

Email admin@improveyourbookings.com to receive next year’s template when published (free).

4. Choose your markets

English teaching markets - Japan, Korea, Mexico

Why

If you are teaching English online to Chinese students, another way to increase your bookings is to expand your teaching markets.

Have you considered teaching English online to Japanese or Korean students? These countries share similar cultures such as their emphasis on education, similar styles of learning, sufficient demand for learning English language and well-equipped internet infrastructure. As they sit on similar time zones, you don’t need to teach early morning and late night on the same day.

It will take a bit of research and preparation but if you want to get more bookings by expanding your scope, and are interested in working with different cultures, why not?

How

You can search English online platforms for Japanese or Korean students via Google, Goo (search engine in Japanese) or Naver (search engine in Korean) with the help of Google Translate.

5. Talk to parents and students

Talk to your students and their parents as English language teachers

Why

This is probably the most effective way to help you get more bookings. Communication with the users gives you insight to teach better and build deeper connections, which means more bookings for your online English teaching classes.

If you can, ask your students and their parents to tell you a few things. Why have they purchased the extra tutoring services? What is their expectation, and have you met (or not) their expectations? What have they enjoyed from your lessons? Is there anything else you can help them with? This information can help you plan your slots (strategy 1) and build a unique profile (strategy 2). If they are happy with you, can you remind them to book your lessons again and encourage them to recommend you to their friends and families?

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of communication. Talk to students and parents, read their reviews, and ask for their feedback and referrals. Gaining insights about your users creates a win-win outcome, you get more bookings and your customers become happier.

How

If you are teaching beginner-level English, you can still get valuable feedback by giving your students multiple choices.

For example, at the end of your lesson, you can ask your students to choose if the lesson is (1) fun (2) easy (3) interesting (4) a lot of learn, then gradually take it from there.

When your students’ English language level gets more sophisticated, you can ask more open-end questions and see which kind of answers they come up with. Always encourage reviews from your students and parents, read them carefully.

Schedule a one-to-one interview with a student or his/her parents if possible. That will be the most valuable time you can spend to understand users and get more bookings.

Action

If you don’t have the opportunity or time to conduct this type of market research, you can book our workshops. During our one-hour workshop ‘Understand Chinese Parents’, you will gain insights of the journey a Chinese family takes to choose and evaluate online English teachers.

Conclusion

As an online English teacher, if you are not getting bookings or have low bookings on platforms such as VIPKid or DadaABC, these five strategies will help you to increase the quantity of your bookings.

The five ways are: plan and open your slots smart; build a professional, unique profile that resonates; choose a good mix of platforms; get the right mix of markets (if necessary); talk to your students and parents to gain user insights. I hope this blog will help you get more bookings from online English teaching platforms.

My next blog is about how to improve your bookings teaching English online, by using Chinese social media such as WeChat.

Your voice

Have you tried these five ways yourselves? How are they working out for you? Do you have further questions?

I would love to hear you voice in the comment box.

Continue to read 10 ways to improve your bookings – part 2‘ to harness the power of social media to get more bookings.

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Have obstacles while launching your independent teaching path? Book my 1-1 business coaching via the link.