How do I attract and find new students?

findingAs a new teacher on italki, it can be hard to find new students. Without a long session 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.

In our experience, successful teachers have done the following:

  • Create a professional 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, professional profile picture, and a video introduction.
  • Write a detailed and specific 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?
      • GOOD: I am a native born English woman and a professional online English teacher. I have an honours degree in Literature and hold a CELTA Certificate. I can teach TESOL, IELTS and help with test preparation. I specialise in Business English. 
      • BAD: i am a teacher looking for english students please contact me!
  • Lower initial price – Many teachers have also told us it is worthwhile to lower your price 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.
  • Contribute to the Community: Help students with corrections and questions – Participating in the italki learning community by helping with Notebook Corrections, commenting in the various language Discussions, and helping Answer language related questions help potential students know you are active and have language expertise on the website. As teachers, your comments, posts and corrections are accompanied by an icon indicating that you are a Community Tutor or a Professional Teacher.  Your potential student may not be the person asking a question, but may be a person who is reading your answer or comment to the question.  This is true for discussions and notebook entries as well.

    • 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.
    • DO NOT: make posts just to advertise your class prices, as this counts as spam and is against the italki Community Guidelines
  • Invite students to follow you – Potential students that are following you will see your actions in their activity feed; they will see the contributions you make.  However, remember that most italki users are already following many people and get many many follower requests, so it will be understandable if they don’t want another.
  • 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.  This will help readers know more about who you are as a teacher.
  • Login 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.  When you follow a potential student, activity updates will appear on your Dashboard under the Social Updates tab.   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 session 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 ITC on your sessions 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 sessions or, even better, a series of sessions in a package, you help the student by giving them deadlines and a clear focus.
  • 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.

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.

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 teacher 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
    • 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 buys their first ITC.
  • 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 capable, legitimate teacher, and that you’ve taught many students successfully before.