The summer has come and it’s a great time for people to relax, get out of the house, have barbecues, travel and enjoy the great outdoors. However, the summer season can be a challenging time for freelancing teachers because many students, especially younger ones, are on summer vacation and bookings normally decline for a couple of months. However, there are several things that teachers can do to buffer themselves from the negative effects of this slow period. Smart teachers can even use any extra free time the slump creates to their advantage. Here are some suggestions on how to cope with and maximize the summer months.
For example, as a freelancing teacher, you can use this opportunity to take your own vacation. Why not? Bookings are down and it’s better to take a vacation at this point than to wait for a period, like September, when you should be giving the maximum number of lessons at the highest price possible. If you decide to do this, you should plan it well. First, you should talk to your regular students and tell them you are planning a short break and won’t be available for lessons during that time. Second, you should block out that time on your italki calendar and remember to be careful when setting your availability after that so that you don’t accidentally reopen hours that you need to keep closed for your vacation. Also, it is wise to make sure the “instant lesson” is turned off. You can even disconnect at this time by turning on “auto-accept.” That way, you will continue receiving lesson requests after your vacation but won’t need to be constantly connected to accept or decline requests.
The summer lull is a great opportunity for you to encourage your long-term regular students to book more lessons by offering them a nice discount. You can also take this opportunity to reconnect with students who haven’t booked lessons in a while by including them in the offer. To do this, you should use one of the six available lesson plans to create a “Special Package” on the “lessons and availability” page of your italki profile that will only be available to these select students. It is a good idea for you to keep this package “unavailable” and tell your special students to reach out when they are ready to book the lesson package. Then you can open the option and close it when the student is finished booking the package. This will make your regular students feel appreciated and will encourage them to keep learning with you long into the future because, after all, everyone loves a discount. This will also encourage those former students to take another lesson with you and remind them why they enjoyed your lessons in the past.
You can also adjust your calendar to open lesson slots in areas of the world that you normally don’t pull students from in order to offset the decrease in lessons from your normal target area. For example, if your normal working hours make you available mainly to Chinese students in the evening, you can adjust your hours so that you are available to South American students in the evening. This may require you to split your day in two parts, or wake earlier and end your day earlier. However, this is actually a great opportunity to experiment with different time zones and markets. You may find that your profile appeals to a new or different market or that you like your new schedule better for some reason.
Another way to use cope with the summer slump is to use the extra time productively. Use this time to work on projects that will benefit you in the future when your schedule returns to normal. For example, this would be an excellent chance to create new lesson plans or update existing ones. You can experiment with new topics and teaching resources. You can also use this spare time to update your italki profile, course descriptions, and profile video. It also wouldn’t hurt you to update your other social media accounts and profiles you use to promote your teaching. Lastly, you can use this time to update your skills by enrolling in online certification courses. You could become certified in specific skills such as teaching business English or teaching ESL to children.
With good planning and initiative, a resourceful teacher can turn the summer low count into a set of opportunities. You can use these opportunities to reinforce your relationships with current and former students while requiring new ones. You can use the time to improve your teaching practice by upskilling and updating your profiles. Best of all, you can use this time to relax and take a short break of your own!