A step-by-step guide to starting a profitable online teaching business

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So, you’ve decided to leave your full-time job and set up an online teaching business. Congrats! You’ve taken the first step towards creating freedom. 

But now you might be wondering what steps you should take next… because there’s a lot involved in starting a business, and you’re new to this!

I get it, teacher. I went through the same thing when I set up my first language school. Now, as a business coach, I’m here to help you start a profitable, sustainable and enjoyable online teaching business. And that begins right here!

Here are 9 steps you should take to start your online language teaching business.

Step 1: Decide who you want to work with

Before you say it, my dear teacher, the answer is NOT anyone who wants to learn the language you teach!

The most successful online teaching businesses focus on helping a specific group of people. Because the more focused you are, the higher your chances of standing out. 

Want an example? I’m a business coach for language teachers because I’m a qualified and experienced English teacher turned trainer turned language school manager turned biz coach (it’s a lot, I know!). I could theoretically coach other teachers, but I’m best suited to YOU!

So, who are you most qualified to teach? Here are some things to think about:

  • Who have you worked with in the past? 
  • Who are your current students?
  • Who would you love to work with? 
  • Who aligns best with your passions?

This will help you find your perfect niche and target audience!

Step 2: Research your audience

Ok, so it’s not enough to choose a target audience. You also need to figure out if there is actually any demand for your services in this market. Because no demand will mean no sales! 

You can do that by searching online for competitors (competition isn’t a bad thing – it shows there is demand!) and inviting your ideal students to take surveys or interviews.

DON’T wait until you have all the answers to start taking action, though. You can (and should) continuously listen to your people and adapt your offers and marketing strategy.

Step 3: Choose your business name

You’ll need a name of some sort so that your audience can recognise you. But it doesn’t have to be perfect – you can always change it later! 

A lot of teachers choose names like ‘English with so and so’. This is fine, but it won’t stick out in a sea of competition. 

So I challenge you to think of something unique. What are you talking about in your content? What’s your niche? What do your ideal clients care about? Try to be creative!

Step 4: Decide where you’ll market

Step 2 should also have given you an idea of where your target audience is hanging out. THIS is where you want to be marketing your offers. 

Don’t just create an Instagram page or a TikTok account because they’re popular. It’s no good wasting time creating content for a platform that your ideal students aren’t on.

My advice? Start with one or two channels and build them up before anything else. There’s no rush. You can run a profitable teaching business with just a few marketing channels. 

Once you’ve chosen your platforms, create accounts and start following people in your niche and people who post content that will help you in your entrepreneurial journey. 
Hint: you can find me on Instagram here. 😉

Step 5: Decide what you’ll invest in

Brace yourself! When you enter the online teaching business world, you’ll find tons of people trying to sell you services to help you get started. 

YES, many of these courses and products are useful… but NO, you don’t have to buy them all – especially at the start! 

The first six to twelve months are about building the foundations of your business, which means making investments that will drive your business forward right now. 

Priorities at the start should be things like:

  • A contract that protects you and your students 
  • A platform where you can host your lessons (like Zoom)
  • An invoicing system that makes you look super professional 
  • An email platform that sends lesson and payment reminders to students
  • A design tool like Canva to make fancy lesson materials (but the free version is also great)
  • A business coaching program to guide you in the right direction, like my course, the Rocket TakeOff!

Step 6: Package your classes

If you’re serious about running a profitable teaching business, you need to start thinking like an entrepreneur and not a freelancer. 

That means no longer offering one-off or pay-as-you-go classes and creating course packages. Whether you bundle them by hours, weeks or months, charging in blocks gives you a more stable income and your students a more structured learning path. 

Oh, also, NEVER teach anyone before they’ve paid. It’s only a matter of time until someone’s email ‘stops working’ when the invoice arrives. Convenient, eh! 🙄

Step 7: Plan your processes

Create contracts: If you take one thing away from this post, make it this! Contracts are SO important in your business because they protect you from losing money, dealing with red flag students, and, in extreme cases, legal action. 

Automate bookings: Why waste time arranging lessons with every student when tools like Calendly can do it for you? These allow your students to see your availability and book slots directly, which will save you sooo much time and energy.

Choose a payment processor: PayPal, Stripe, Square – there are tons of payment processors to choose from. Figure out which one works best for you and your clients, depending on where you and they are based. 
Decide your sales process: Will you offer a free call to new leads before they decide to sign up? You don’t HAVE to, but it’s effective when you’re still building your reputation and don’t have much social proof.

Step 8: Create your assets

Many coaches claim you should build a website before you launch your teaching business. But let me be clear… 

You DO NOT need a website to sell.

Honestly, creating one too early is just a waste of money because it takes time and experience to fully understand who you’re targeting, what you’re offering and what your brand personality is like. 

Instead of rushing to build a website, why not make a simple course introduction document on a program like Canva? This is FAR cheaper and easier to edit and update as you grow.

Step 9: Plan time for your business

The last thing you need to think about as you set up your online teaching business is your schedule.

What do I mean by that? Well, to create sustainable growth, you’ll need to work ON and IN your business.

Working ON your business means anything you do to move it forward – like posting on social media, creating new offers, hosting events, etc.

Working IN your business, on the other hand, means planning, teaching and serving your clients. 

It’s easy to get stuck on the hamster wheel of classes when you’re busy, so reserve some time each week to market your business so your leads don’t dry up!

Woohoo! I think you’re just about ready to start your online teaching business.

I hope you’ve found this helpful, teacher. If you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Instagram at @ola_coaches_teachers

Or, if you need my support in setting your business up for success, consider the Rocket Take Off!

To your success, teacher!