How to find new students?

We know that as a new teacher on italki, it can be hard to find new students. Without a long lesson history, it's hard to demonstrate to students that you're a great teacher. We wanted to tell you a few ways you can raise your profile on italki.

And remember, once you get new students, following up and working with them to understand their needs and goals will help you keep students!  Read more about keeping students here: FAQ: How do I keep students?

In our experience, successful teachers have done the following to get new students:

  • Create a professional-looking profile - As students will be deciding whether to take a lesson with you based on your profile, it is very important for you to spend time optimizing your information. Good profiles should: Avoid Spelling mistakes, have a high-quality profile picture that shows you professionally and in your best light, and a video introduction.

  • Set accurate Teaching Specialties - This will make it easier for the students you want to find a teacher for beginners, children, business, or test preparation.
  • Choose "Personal Tags" that represent you and your lessons. These blue tags will get students' attention when they see you in the Find a Teacher List.
  • Write an effective Quick Introduction - After your profile picture, this is the first thing students will see when searching for you.  Include as much information about yourself and your classes as you can - What special topics can you teach?  What tests can you prepare students for?  If you have a website or blog, DO NOT include it here, but put it in your Long Introduction or "About Me" section.  If you teach test preparation or teach the language for business, DO NOT say that here, but select it in your Teaching Specialties and save words for a description of yourself and your teaching.

    • GOOD: I am a native born English woman and a professional online English teacher with 3 years of experience. I have an honours degree in Literature and hold a CELTA Certificate. I specialize in helping with job interviews and public speaking, especially by studying famous speeches.
    • BAD: i am a teacher looking for english students please contact me!  i teach tesol and ielts my site is http://mywebsite.com
  • Lower initial price - Many teachers have also told us it is worthwhile to lower your price perhaps for 5-10 lessons to get an initial set of students and feedback. Most students are unwilling to pay relatively high prices for new teachers that do not have a long teaching record. As you gain students and reputation, you can and should raise your prices. Many successful teachers have used this strategy.

    • If you are a professional teacher - Consider offering trial lessons and informal tutoring for a relatively low price (since students are only paying for your time and attention, not for developed lesson plans), and then setting higher prices for your specialized, professional classes.  This way, you can also attract the students who are willing to pay higher prices for your valuable services.
  • Contribute to the Community: Help students with corrections and questions - Corrections, comments, and answers help potential students know you are active on the website. Your potential student may not be the person asking a question, but another person who is reading your answer to the question. Many italki users just want to practice writing, but if they need more help, you can remind them of the benefits of a teacher:
    • Regular practice and dedicated, customized lessons
    • Conversation and pronunciation improvement
    • Speaking the language in real conversation is important for internalizing and mastering it.
    • DO: offer students specific advice based on your understanding of what they need and what you can offer, and kindly invite them to view your teaching profile or message you to discuss a study plan.  If they don't want to, that's ok.
      • GOOD: "... I hope that answers your question.  If you'd like to practice speaking, I'd be happy to help you develop a study plan.  Feel free to look at my teaching profile and class offerings and send me a message if you think I can help you."
    • DO NOT: make posts just to advertise your class prices, as this counts as spam and is against the italki Community Guidelines
      • BAD: "I need more students FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE *** AFFORDABLE PRICES *** LOW LOW PRICES $4!!! BUY NOW!!!"
  • Log in often - On the teacher search page, teachers are ranked according to their last login. Logging in often will make sure your ranking will be near the top. Logging in at different times of the day can also give you exposure to students in different time zones. Every time you login, you will be ranked at the top of the list.

  • Actively introduce yourself to students - Following potential students and writing messages is time consuming, but can also be effective.  As you look at profiles of students, you can see what they are searching for.

    • DO invite students to message you to discuss a possible study plan.  If they want to talk more, they can book a trial session.  Please only send a message if you believe that your teaching strengths are a good match for a particular student's needs.  This message is good because it is friendly, helpful, and most importantly, it shows that you are concerned with that student's particular goals.  Nobody likes to get junk mail, but everybody likes a personal letter:
      • GOOD: "Welcome to italki!  It looks like you're studying for a job interview in French.  I am a French teacher with a degree in Business Management, and I would be happy to help you prepare for your interview.  Take a look at my teaching profile and send me a message or request a trial session if you'd like to come up with a study plan."
    • DO NOT spam lots of random students with unwanted messages, as this counts as spam and harassment under the italki Community Guidelines.  If students think your message is spam, they will report you, and you will be blocked.
      • BAD: Sending the same message to many students that you don't know without understanding what they want or need.
  • Post your lesson reschedule or refund policy clearly.  You can write your policy in your introduction or let them know individually when they contact you, depending on what you prefer.  What is most important is that both you and the student know what to expect if there is a problem.  You can read our advice for setting your reschedule or refund policy.

  • (Especially for Professional Teachers) Write clear and detailed class descriptions - Be detailed and concrete so students know exactly what they are buying when they use their credits on your lessons or packages.  Tell the students what new words, grammar, or skills they will learn and how they will use them.  Many students don't know how to organize their time or what to focus on.  When you schedule lessons or, even better, a series of lessons in a package, you help the student by giving them deadlines and a clear focus.

  • Write an italki Article - Another way to contribute to the community and find interested students is to write about language learning. When you publish a language or culture article on italki Articles, students can see that you know and care about your subject, and can easily click to see your profile and request a session with you.  You can also respond to students' questions about the article in the article discussions!  
  • Create a custom URL - As a teacher, you automatically get benefits of Premium Membership such as the ability to make a customized or personal URL. You can share this URL with potential students so they have a memorable way of going directly to your profile without having to search for you among all the other teachers.

  • Ask for referrals from happy students - If the student is very happy with you as a teacher, they would probably love to tell their friends about you.  Especially if they've just achieved an important goal or are finishing their lessons with you, let them know that if they are happy working with you, that you would be very glad if they would recommend you to others.  Think of how you feel when you know of someone or something that you can confidently recommend to your friends.

Be helpful and respectful, and students will appreciate the offer even if they do not want to take a class. In addition to being active on italki's platform, you can also market yourself through other channels to find students.

Marketing yourself outside of italki

Please show the same respect to potential students outside of italki - do not spam, do offer helpful advice, and do respectfully invite them to view your or another teacher's profile on italki.  

Here are some tips:

  • Use your affiliate link: You can receive a bonus when new students come to italki and begin taking lessons because of your invitation!  You will receive the bonus EVEN IF you invite the student and refer them to a different teacher.  What's good for the student is good for you, and what's good for you is good for italki.
    • Learn how to create your affiliate link here
    • What's the difference between an affiliate link and a referral link?  Both will give you bonus credits for bringing new, paying students to italki.  The affiliate link will cause the bonus to be deposited to your Teacher Wallet.  The referral link will automatically "friend" the new person and deposit the bonus in your Student Wallet. 
    • Use your affiliate link to invite potential students from other websites - do not post the link within italki - it will not work.
    • Use the tips below to find students outside of italki.  Follow up with the student to see if they found a teacher and started taking lessons - you will only get the bonus after the student makes their first purchase of italki Credits.
  • Classifieds
    We have found that some teachers use classified services, like craigslist. Teachers post a short introduction to themselves, and then post a link to their teacher profile on italki. Using your italki profile can add credibility to your advertisement, just like adding a link to your Linkedin profile.
  • Social Media
    Teachers also get inquiries through social media such as twitter or facebook. We recommend posting your italki teacher profile link to your public profile on Facebook and Twitter, and encourage your friends & students to do the same!
  • Personal Blog
    A personal blog is another potential location to link to your italki profile. Again, your italki teacher profile can act as a third-party system to show your teaching history and statistics, testimonials from previous students, and your teaching credentials.

Over time, we hope that italki can become a way to verify your professional reputation as an online teacher or tutor. Your teaching profile should be able to help you convince a prospective student that you are a legitimate teacher, and that you've taught many students successfully before.

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