If you are thinking of converting yourself into a freelance TEFL teacher you will need to think about marketing. You will need to go out and find students - at least initially and it may take some time to build up a good clientèle. Although if you're a good English teacher your reputation should spread by word of mouth you will still need some way to start things off.
Some freelance English teachers start up by "stealing" students from the school where they used to work. Teachers will need to make their own decisions about the ethics of this, and in some counties it may be illegal.
Opinions vary over whether you should go for niche marketing and aim for a particular group, or go for the shotgun approach and claim that you are a specialist in "everything". The probability is that a more targeted approach will produce better financial results in the long term and in this case your marketing methods will depend on the market you select. The most lucrative market for freelance teachers is the business market and this article will concentrate on that sector.
It is not only necessary for you to be a good teacher but also to give the appearance of being a good teacher.
If you are trying to "sell" yourself as somebody specialising in giving expensive classes to executives you should not appear out of place in their offices. If they wear a suit and tie or have some similar dress code then you should share that. Studies have shown that people make an initial evaluation in only a few seconds, and you should not waste this opportunity by appearing casual or unprofessional. If you are in doubt about a first meeting remember that it is difficult to be too smart in business.
Remember that your competition may be a staff teacher from a local school, and your smarter appearance may be all that it takes to give you the edge.
You should also bear in mind that, as a non-employee, you should maintain this appearance after the first interview. This will also improve your chances of getting additional work at the same establishment.
Get professionally printed business cards. These can be obtained relatively inexpensively over the net.
You may decide to try handing out leaflets advertising your services. High-quality colour printing material is expensive, and the return on such distributions is a lot less than 1%. Given the high cost and low return on such materials it's probably better to go for low-cost single colour sheets.
As receptionists and secretaries may present a barrier, it's often difficult to get your material into the hands of the people who may actually be interested in your services. One solution is to identify rich housing estates and drop literature off in the post boxes of the most expensive-looking houses.
Create a website with appropriate search terms for your activity. Remember that business people are increasingly liable to search the web for services and that once you have expended the initial time and effort of creating a site the on-going costs should be minimal. Perhaps the cheapest way of creating a site is with "Google Sites", Much more creative products can be generated using professional services but good ones tend to be expensive.
One way to cheaply promote your site is through local newspapers. Nowadays newspapers frequently allow readers to make comments about news stories and also to include a link to their webiste. Assuming that you make a valid comment about the article there would seem to be no reason why you shouldn't link back to your webiste. Other papers encourage you to link back to a facebook site.
Another route is via the creation of a blog at your local newspaper. Your comments then link to your local blog which also links back to your website. Obviously you will also need to crate some genuinely interesting content on that blog.
Apart from your professional appearance and paperwork, something else which can make you look professional and different from the average guy on the street is a distinctive logo on your business card, web site and on any materials which you create for clients.
While some recommend naming your company, others maintain that you better off using your own name as creating another name for potential clients simply weakens you your brand image.
Do not be afraid to charge at the top end of the local scale. Being expensive shows that you have confidence in your product and will also give your client more confidence in you.
- (You will find more information in charging here)
Ensure that your existing clients and your associates are aware that you are looking for clients (if you are.) Try to maintain contact with other freelancers so as pass on out-of-area contacts and contacts which arrise when you are fully booked. Your colleagues will hopefully return the complement.
You will gain little by forwarding potential clients to local schools as they will be unlikely to reciprocate.
Consider joining the professional network linkedin. Encourage your clients to join and recommend you.
Try to maintain a list of satisfied past and present pupils who will agree to give you a (good) reference. Similarly, if possible and appropriate, keep in touch with ex-pupils both to use as examples and to promote your teaching.
Freelance teachers training A site dedicated to helping and giving advice to freelance teachers.
- New Scientist:Secrets of interview success
- Example site which produces business cards Note that Teflpedia does not endorse commercial sites and this is for reference only, users should check the web for themsleves.
- Google sites homepage
- Freelance pricing at FT Training An interesting article on calculating your prices at Freelance Teachers – Training