How to attract the perfect students to your online teaching business

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Finding students for your language classes can feel a bit like searching around in the dark. You know there are people out there who need your services but how can you make sure they see you!?

And more importantly, how can you make sure they CHOOSE you?

Since becoming a business coach, I’ve helped hundreds of teachers answer these questions and attract the right students to their businesses. And today I’m going to share some of the most important lessons with you. Ready?

Let’s start with something super important…

Market research. I know it sounds boring and you’d rather not have to do it, but here’s the truth: if you don’t know who you want to work with, you won’t be able to shine the torch that helps them find you (aka great content). 

So, before you even think about advertising your courses, start by defining WHO your ideal students are. But don’t just stop at ‘adults’ or ‘people who need business English’. 

The most effective ‘niches’ that teachers can choose are far more specific than that. They identify a common problem that a group of people have. Because – lightbulb moment incoming – your students don’t JUST want to learn the language… 

They want to learn it to solve a specific problem. 

Here are some examples of brilliantly specific target audiences:

  • Adults who have just arrived in a certain country. 
  • Mums who want to learn a language as a hobby. 
  • Teenagers who are going to study abroad. 
  • Professionals working in the travel industry. 

See how much more specific that is? 

When you niche down in this way, it becomes easier to send a powerful message that draws the right people to you like a lighthouse in a dark and stormy sea. 

But before you can start marketing, you need to build your lighthouse (aka the offer that solves their problem).

Deciding what to offer as an online teaching business owner

This is often one of the biggest mindset shifts that teacherpreneurs need to make when they move from teaching at language schools to starting their own businesses.

In order to send the right message and attract the right students to your teaching business, you need to create your lighthouse – aka an offer they actually WANT. 

What I mean by that is instead of simply offering 1:1 classes you tailor to each and every student, create packages of lessons that last a certain amount of time and help them achieve a specific goal. 

Even better, you could think about creating a one-to-many course that helps you impact MORE students and scale your language teaching business to new heights.

This method doesn’t just save you time and make you more money, but it also attracts more of the right students to your business because your message is clearly aligned with their goals.

You’ve created your new teaching business offer. Now what?

My favourite part… marketing!

Take it from someone who’s helped hundreds of teachers attract students to their language classes: it’s so much easier to promote yourself and your teaching business when you know: 

  1. Who you’re speaking to
  2. What problems they are facing
  3. How your offer helps solve them

These things will help you decide WHAT content to share to send the right message to the right people. 

But in order for your content to work, you also need to know where your ideal students are sailing.

Are they on Instagram? LinkedIn? YouTube? Do they like to read blogs or do they prefer listening to podcasts?

Think of marketing channels a bit like different oceans. If your students are sailing in the Atlantic, you’ll have a hard time reaching them from the Pacific.  

So, not only do you need to share good content that leads to people enquiring about your courses (more on that later), but you also need to do so in the right places. 

You can do this by making it part of your market research. Ask your students where they consume content so you can make sure to build your lighthouse and shine your light in that ocean.

I know that you might be expecting some specific advice on where you can find more students, so…

Here are 4 highly effective tools you can use to attract more students to your language classes.

1. Social media

The most important thing to remember about social media is that it’s a marketing channel, not a teaching tool. 

I see so many fabulous teachers creating content that teaches the language instead of solving the problem their audiences have, which just leads to disappointment when they get more interest from other teachers or freeloaders rather than genuinely interested students.

That’s why it’s so important to create content that addresses the problem that YOU help them solve. The more specific your content, the brighter your light will shine.

2. Host a free webinar (or a paid workshop!)

This is one of my favourite ways of getting in front of your ideal students, and it’s also one of the easiest ways to start attracting the right people for one simple reason: people love free stuff! 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Choose a topic that solves a specific problem your dream students have 
  • Decide where to host it and set up a registration process that gathers email addresses
  • Promote your workshop on your social media channels at least 10 days in advance
  • Create the content, run the workshop and gather great testimonials!

So many teachers experiment with free trial lessons. I get why – people love free stuff and we assume they’re going to have one and then stay with us forever. But it can be exhausting and not exactly effective. So an alternative would be running a paid workshop! I describe this strategy here.

  1. It’s a wonderful way of trying out your first 1-to-many offer
  2. It’s basically paid market research on what your audience may want to buy from you in the future!

Really, what have you got to lose?

3. Referrals

This might sound obvious, but so many teachers forget to – or feel like they can’t – ask for referrals from their students. 

Well, you can and you should because social proof is one of the most powerful sales techniques you can use (and even better – it’s not sleazy!). 

As consumers, we are more inclined to trust a product or service that someone we know (and trust) has given their stamp of approval. 

So, don’t be afraid to ask your many happy students to recommend you to their friends. In most cases, you’ll find they are delighted to because they know it will help you AND their friend. 

You could even set up a referral system where you offer an incentive to successful referrals – like a free hour added onto their course or free access to a resource you usually sell.

4. Speak about your offers

Be honest: when did you last actively promote your courses on your social media channels?

If the answer is ‘I can’t remember’ then, my dear teacher, you’re not doing it enough. I get it. Many teachers find sales and marketing icky and gross. They don’t want to come across as pushy or inauthentic, and that’s truly wonderful. But the answer to not being salesy isn’t to not sell at all! 

There are tons of ways you can speak about your offers in a natural and authentic way. You could: 

  • Mention that you’ve got an opening on your stories 
  • Share student success stories with your audience 
  • Post about what working with you looks like (e.g. your process)
  • Share information about something you’re working on

Whichever methods you use, remember: you’re not there to just offer free advice. You’re running a freelance teaching business that HELPS your ideal students solve a problem.

And if you don’t tell them how you do that, how will they know you can help?

There are tons of ways you can attract students to your teaching business, and this is just the beginning. 

If you’re looking for more ideas on what to do, read this article on 8 ways to market yourself as a language teacher