How to Find Your Perfect Language Teaching Niche

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It’s hard to stand out as an online language teacher, isn’t it? 

When there are so many online teachers offering similar services to you, attracting students can take much longer than you expected. Many teachers blame themselves for this. They think that there must be something wrong with them or their marketing. 

But the reality is that your potential students probably have no idea who to choose… because everyone teaches and promises similar things! 

This is why business coaches and marketing people are always talking about finding a niche. It sets you apart in a competitive market and helps potential students understand why they should choose you over another teacher. But what exactly does it mean to find your niche as a language teacher? 

Allow me to explain EVERYTHING – from why you need a niche to how to choose one. 

What is a niche?

A niche is a specific segment of a whole market that has certain needs and characteristics that differentiate it from the rest of the market. More specifically, it’s your target market – the students or clients that you are focusing your marketing towards. 

Personally, I kind of hate the word ‘niche’ because I don’t think that it does your work justice. I prefer to think of it like a ‘specialism’. You are a specialist, after all! 

Why do you need a niche?

Many freelance teachers feel a lot of resistance to choosing a niche. After all you are a teacher so you want to help everybody, right? And, if you have only just set up your teaching business, you may feel that it doesn’t make sense to focus on just one group of people. 

But what if I told you that this is actually the best way to grow your business faster? Hear me out. By specialising in teaching a specific group of people rather than anyone who wants to learn the language, it becomes easier to create content with your ideal audience in mind. This then helps them identify with what you offer. 

For example, if I was just a business coach for anyone who needs business advice, I bet that you wouldn’t look twice at my profile. But because I work exclusively with language teachers, my content resonates much more with you, right? (At least, I hope so 😁)

It’s the same for you in your business. 

The more focus you have, the easier it becomes to speak to potential students’ problems and desires on a deeper level. That, in turn, helps you position yourself as an expert – or even THE expert – they can trust.

The problem with most advice on finding a niche 

Most advice you see about finding a teaching niche suggests that areas like ‘business English’ or ‘adult learners’ is enough. It’s true that these are specialisms on teacher training courses such as DELTA. But they are NOT niches in marketing because they are way too broad. 

Within both of those groups, there’s a massive range of people searching for completely different things, which makes your job developing and selling a course much, much harder. I mean, does ‘business’ refer to IT or marketing or entrepreneurship or something else? Without context, we don’t know. 

So if ‘business English’ isn’t a niche, what is it?

The best way to think about it is in terms of the problem you solve for your students. 

Do you help engineers who don’t want to learn English but have to learn in a way they actually enjoy?

Or maybe you help retired German people learn Italian so they can immerse themselves in a culture they love on their holidays?

These niches might sound super specific. But they are actually real examples from my own clients who are making a decent living off teaching them, so that’s proof they work!

💡 BEGINNER TIP: If you are new to building an online teaching business, then choosing a niche as specific as this may not be necessary yet. It can take time to grow an audience and figure out who you most enjoy working with. So it’s fine if you want to start by focusing on a skill or broader area before narrowing down. 

How to choose your language teaching niche 

Choosing your niche doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. In fact I bet that you already have an idea of who you may want to work with, even if you don’t know it yet. Here are a few steps you can take to choose your niche. 

Which parts of the language do you enjoy teaching?

Teaching shouldn’t feel like a chore when you own your own teaching business. That’s why it’s important to think about what areas of the language you are most comfortable teaching. 

Do you love helping adult students prepare for the IELTS? Do you enjoy teaching pronunciation? Or maybe you prefer working with kids? 

I know I said these aren’t niche markets, and I mean it. But starting with broader categories like these is just the first step to narrowing down and finding your target audience. 

Who are your current students?

If you already have online teaching experience, are there any similarities that you notice between the types of students you like teaching most? Better yet, if they are learning the area of the language you like teaching, do they share similar goals, challenges or characteristics?

Speaking to your students is the best way to understand who they are and what they want, which can make your marketing super powerful and specific.

What unique skills or background do you have?

Going back to thinking about a niche as a specialism, let’s think about what your skill set is best suited to. What did you do before you became a teacher? Do you have any additional qualifications? That’s a great place to start. 

Take my client who works with engineers as an example. Before she became an English teacher, she WAS an engineer. She knows how they think, how they learn, what matters to them and what they really need the language for. Really, there is no one better suited to teaching this group of students than her. 

As for my other client who teaches Italian to German speakers? She is Italian and she has lived in Germany for many years. So again, she deeply understands her students’ needs. 

The brilliant thing about this is that we all have our unique experiences that make us great at what we do. Combining them with your skill set as a teacher not only means that you can stand out more, but also that you get to do something you absolutely LOVE!

What are you passionate about? 

Combining your passions and your work can be a great route to take if you don’t know who you most enjoy working with or what skills you can capitalise on. It’s also the best way to build a business that you absolutely love. 

There are literally billions of language learners out there, which means that you can probably find a way to combine your hobbies with your profession. 

If you like to travel, why not target your lessons towards other travel lovers?

You will obviously need to check that there is actually demand for your services in your area. It is definitely possible to go ‘too niche’. For example, you might struggle to find enough video gamers who also like yoga who want to learn Swahili. 😅

BUT once you have found the angle you will take to find your niche, it’s time to test it!

Is there a market for your niche?

Before you spend tons of time and energy on creating a brand and a message for your niche, it’s super important that you check if there is demand. There are a few ways you can do that. 

Do online research 

You can Google the thing that you are thinking about offering and see if anyone else is already doing it. Don’t worry if they are – this is a good thing. Some competition is a sign that there is demand. 

Another super useful technique you can try is searching for related threads on websites like Quora and Reddit to see what questions people are asking and the problems that they have. 

Speak to your current students 

If you are already working with your ideal students and you want more of them, ask them some questions about your offers or the message you have created. If it resonates with them, that’s a great sign! I would then test a mini version of your offer through something like a workshop to see how many people come along. 

Doing this with your followers also works if you aren’t teaching your ideal students yet. 

Test, test, test!

What I will say is that business and marketing is a bit of an experiment. You cannot expect to find the answers you are looking for straight away. And that may mean that you end up changing your niche as your business grows – which is totally ok! 

Post content around the problem that your ideal students have, and speak about your offers regularly to make sure they know they exist. Make sure that you are also tracking how much engagement and enquiries you get. That is the only way you can tell if what you are doing is working.

Want help with this? My FREE guide to using social media as a language teacher includes tons of examples of how to move away from generic language content and post things that solve a problem. 

Does everyone need a teaching niche?

Like I said before, don’t think that EVERYONE needs to have a niche as specific as some of the examples above. Especially if you’re at the start of your business journey. 

It’s the same for teachers with an influencer business model. In these situations, it is likely that your audience is too big to get super niche with your message. Instead, you may see more success from becoming the go-to expert on one area of the language, and creating products that appeal to a mass audience.

BUT! Most teachers will benefit from choosing a niche audience and understanding those people’s life goals with using the language. This will help you come up with better content ideas that aren’t just teaching the language and makes it easier to sell your online courses. 

Speaking of creating content that leads to sales… 

My marketing bootcamp for language teachers, Rocket Fuel, is launching again SOON!! If you want to finally get off the social media hamster wheel and attract a steady stream of ideal students without the overwhelm, I would love to show you how. Join the waitlist here.