In this article
What is a Online Teaching business?
More than 100 million students worldwide are enrolled in an online learning course, with more than 20 million new learners registering in 2021 alone. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, online learning has rocketed in popularity, with the many benefits of online learning far outweighing the potential negatives.
Online teaching is the process of educating others on virtual platforms online. Learning takes place through the use of technology, specifically computers, the internet and web-based technologies. Teaching and learning can be done from any location, such as the home, a coffee shop, a co-working space or a library – as long as there is an internet connection. Students can be from various backgrounds and geographical areas and can be a range of ages. Online teaching may take place on a 1:1 basis or in a group.
Online teaching can be beneficial to both the students and the teacher. It allows greater flexibility, increased collaboration, improved time management, personalised education and reduced costs. Online teaching involves 100% distance learning – there is no physical, face-to-face learning and no on-campus activities.
There are a variety of methods for teaching online, including:
Synchronous online learning
These are live video classes where the teacher and students interact online simultaneously. It often takes place via video conferencing or webinars and may involve a teacher and students from different areas of the world. This is one of the most popular methods of online teaching.
Asynchronous online learning
Classes do not take place in real time; instead, students are provided with content and assignments and given a timeframe by which to complete the assignments. Student–teacher interaction takes place via discussion boards and emails and students can complete tasks at different times and in different locations around the world.
Also known as blended courses, this approach uses a combination of live online classes and asynchronous classes. It can be an effective way of teaching as it allows for flexibility and independence.
This often involves pre-recording your lectures or teaching for the students to watch before class and then working on assignments and further instruction during class time.
Computer Managed Learning (CML)
CML operates through information databases that contain pieces of information that the student has to learn. It provides learning objectives, learning resources and an assessment of the learner’s performance.
Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI)
This type of learning uses computers alongside traditional teaching methods. A computer is used to present the instructional material and monitor learning. It encourages active learning.
This is a modern and innovative type of e-learning where the materials are designed and adapted for individual learners. It ensures online learning is individualised and student-centred.
As with in-person teaching, online teaching involves extensive planning and preparation. In order to work as an online teacher, you must have specialist knowledge, training and qualifications in a specific subject area. The most qualified and knowledgeable teachers in a specific subject will be the most in demand and will be able to charge the highest prices. This is why having a qualification, such as a degree or a Master’s degree, or extensive experience, is recommended.
The most common subjects and courses for online learning are:
|English as an Additional Language (EAL)||Business Management||Personal Investing, Finance and Trading|
|Cryptocurrency and Blockchain||Advertising||Psychology|
|Life Coaching||Economics||Online tutoring for specific examinations (e.g. GCSEs)|
|Software Programming||Mathematics||Career Development|
However, even if your specialist knowledge and education are not in one of the above subjects, this does not mean your online teaching business will not succeed. Teaching less common subjects or focusing on a learning niche can actually be advantageous, as you will have less competition.
The advancement in technology and the development of multiple successful teaching platforms has significantly increased the popularity of online learning, making now a great time to set up an online teaching business. Starting up an online teaching business is a convenient, rewarding and potentially lucrative business opportunity.
There are multiple ways you can choose to run an online teaching business, including:
- Work on a self-employed basis for an already established online teaching platform or company.
- Teach independently as a freelance online teacher and find your own students.
- Set up your own teaching platform and hire other online teachers, either on a permanent or self-employed basis.
- Set up your own teaching platform and work as the sole teacher.
When setting up your online teaching business, consider how you can ensure student-centred methodology, student participation and a positive learning environment. To succeed as an online teacher, you must ensure strong and reliable network connectivity (usually in the form of a reliable Wi-Fi connection) and a reliable computing device. There are multiple digital learning platforms and tools that can make online teaching significantly more accessible and successful for learners around the world.
The demand for online teachers is at an all-time high. Although online teaching may seem like an easy business opportunity, there are many different tasks you will be responsible for, including:
- Creating, planning and preparing lessons and teaching materials that are in line with the educational needs of the students and the course aims.
- Following any educational and curriculum guidelines.
- Improving learning and knowledge by planned instruction.
- Utilising online teaching platforms and presenting lessons.
- Encouraging student participation and answering students’ questions and queries.
- Assisting students with any assignments or independent work.
- Assessing learning.
- Marking assignments, classwork and homework in a timely manner.
- Preparing and marking assessments.
- Monitoring students’ progress.
- Staying up to date with new teaching methods and the latest trends in online teaching.
- Preparing quotes, handling payments and creating invoices.
- Advertising and marketing (to grow your business and encourage new student sign-up).
- Completing business and administrative tasks.
If you are thinking of starting up an online teaching business, you will first need to determine the type of business you are going to set up and the subject or course you plan to specialise in. Online teaching can be a rewarding career. In order for your business to succeed, you will need to have specialist knowledge, experience and qualifications in your chosen subject, strong communication skills, patience and good time management skills. Good technological literacy and the ability to listen, collaborate and adapt are also beneficial.
Types of Customers
The typical customers your online teaching business is likely to attract will be dependent on multiple factors, such as:
The subject or course you specialise in
This will be the most significant factor in determining your typical customer base. When online students are searching for an online teacher or an online learning platform, they will likely already know the subject and type of course they are looking for. You may find that many of your students are made up of a similar demographic or come from similar geographical areas. For example, if you opt to teach English as an Additional Language, your students are likely to be from countries such as China, Japan and South America.
The level of teaching you provide
Different subjects and topics are available in a huge range of levels and with different qualifications. Once you have decided on your chosen subject, you must then decide the level you intend to teach it at. You may also opt to offer different classes at varying levels. The level of teaching you offer will determine your typical customer base. For example, online English teachers may offer business English, beginner’s English for adults and English for kindergarteners – all of which are likely to attract significantly different students.
The type of online teaching you opt for
The teaching methodology you follow will attract different students, as some students will be looking for live, interactive teaching and others may be looking for more flexible, computer-based teaching.
Your qualifications and level of expertise
The more highly qualified you are and the higher your level of expertise, the more money you are able to charge and the more in demand your classes are likely to be. If you have an extremely high level of expertise in your chosen subject, you are more likely to attract students who are looking to gain higher qualifications.
How you market your business
Your marketing and advertising strategies will have a significant impact on the types of students you attract. For example, you will attract different students if you advertise on social media sites, compared to if you partner with and advertise through other companies.
Your pricing strategy
Online students can often be separated into three categories:
- Budget: These students are looking for the lowest-priced classes and the cheapest online teachers. Price is an integral factor when searching for an online teacher.
- Mid-range: These students are looking for a combination of quality and affordability.
- High-end: These students are willing to pay higher prices for the highest-qualified teaching and the best online classes. Price is not the most important factor when searching for an online teacher.
Your online reputation or reviews
The reviews left for your business by previous students and the reputation you have online can help to attract certain students to your business.
Equipment You Will Need
Your equipment is an essential requirement, as without it you will not be able to operate your business. There are many different types of equipment you may need, with significantly different specifications. This means that equipment can vary drastically in price.
Online teaching businesses operate remotely, which can reduce the amount of equipment you require. If you hire other teachers to work for your business, they will likely supply their own equipment. You may already have some of the equipment you require to operate your business. However, you must ensure any equipment you use is reliable and in good working condition.
Below is a list of equipment that is typically required by an online teaching business:
A reliable laptop or desktop computer
You will need a high-specification, reliable laptop or computer that can handle the amount of time you will be using it each day. Your laptop will be your primary teaching device so ensuring it is compatible with a variety of software and teaching platforms is essential. Your laptop will also need an updated operating system.
An HD camera or webcam
Your laptop or computer may come with an already installed camera; alternatively, you may opt to purchase a separate webcam. A camera or webcam is an essential teaching resource as it allows your students to see you and any teaching resources you have prepared.
Good room lighting
This is to ensure the overall quality of your lessons. A lesson with poor lighting is likely to appear less professional to students and can result in a less-immersive experience and lower student participation. You can improve your lighting by opting for plenty of natural light that is not visible on screen. However, you will likely still need to invest in additional lighting, such as lamps and a selfie ring light.
A headset with a microphone
If you do not use a headset with an attached microphone, the quality of your sound will be significantly impacted. Your computer microphone can pick up background noises, which can be distracting to your students and can create an echoing sound which can interfere with your teaching. A headset with a microphone results in higher-quality sound for your students and enables you to hear your students more effectively. You can opt for a wireless or wired headset.
Reliable and high-speed Wi-Fi
Because you will be running your business remotely, you will need to ensure your Wi-Fi is reliable and high-speed. Video calls and online teaching platforms require a strong and consistent connection, and you must ensure your Wi-Fi doesn’t cut out in the middle of a session. You will also need Wi-Fi to conduct research, prepare your lessons and run your website. Ensure your Wi-Fi has a minimum connection speed of 20 megabytes per second (Mbps).
An ethernet cable and adapter
Many online teaching platforms require their teachers to use an ethernet cable, instead of connecting to their Wi-Fi router wirelessly. An ethernet cable improves connection and reduces the risk of internet connectivity issues. If your laptop doesn’t have an ethernet port, you will need to purchase an adapter.
If you operate your own business and do not intend to work for an already established teaching platform or company, you will need to set up your own website to enable students to find your business. You could also run your lessons and provide teaching resources on your website. Ensure your website includes your contact information so potential clients can connect with you. You should also include an about page, a contact page, a blog and testimonials.
A classroom background
Although a plain white wall behind you is an acceptable background for your online classes, some teachers opt to create a specific backdrop that fits into the theme of your lessons. This is particularly popular with teachers who specialise in teaching young learners. You may opt for posters, academic signs, pictures or poster boards for your classroom background.
A secure storage system
Only storing your previous and current work on your laptop doesn’t offer you complete protection. You will likely create extensive lesson plans that you can then reuse for future lessons. In the event of your laptop breaking or being lost or contracting a virus, not having a secure storage system could result in you losing all of your work. Investing in Cloud storage that is password protected and encrypted and can back up all of your work is recommended. Cloud storage ensures everything is backed up externally to protect the information in the event of a technological issue.
An email service
Setting up an email service using your own domain may be beneficial as your business grows. A business domain can make your business seem more professional and official. Using a public email domain such as @google or @hotmail can look less professional compared to using your own business domain. You will need to make sure your email service is fully secure and encrypted and abides by email security policies in the UK.
You will likely need to issue invoices to your customers and keep them for your own records (and for when you submit your taxes). Digital invoice software allows you to create electronic invoices, send them to your clients and store them safely.
The types of props you use will depend on the subject you are teaching and the ages and learning level of your students. Some examples of lesson props are:
- Flashcards and pictures.
- Alphabet and phonics cards.
- A dry-erase board and markers.
- Scoreboard or reward chart.
There are several pieces of stationery that can be beneficial to your business and that can make it easier for you to make notes and plan your lessons. Some stationery you can purchase includes:
- Pens and pencils.
- Paper and notepads.
- A diary and/or calendar.
- Post-it notes.
Some of the other equipment you may require if you run your online teaching business remotely includes:
- A laptop stand.
- A larger desktop monitor.
- A printer, scanner and fax machine.
- A paper shredder.
Investing in high-quality, comfortable furniture can help to protect you from strain or injury. Ensure the furniture is an appropriate height and doesn’t require you to strain your neck or back. Your minimum furniture requirements will be a desk and ergonomic office chair, although you may also opt for additional furniture, such as secure filing cabinets and bookshelves.
When planning your online teaching business, an important consideration you will need to make is your expected start-up costs and running costs. Calculating your expected costs allows you to determine your initial investment requirements, your pricing strategy and your profit goals.
There are multiple costs associated with setting up and running an online teaching business. Some of these costs will be one-off initial costs that you will need to pay when you are setting up your business. Other costs will be ongoing costs you will need to pay regularly – usually weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.
Some of the costs associated with setting up and running an online teaching business are:
Your equipment is an essential purchase, as without it you will not be able to operate your business. You may have some of the equipment already and as long as it is reliable and in good working condition, this can allow you to purchase less equipment initially and expand or update your equipment as your business grows. The cost of your equipment can vary significantly, depending on the specification of your equipment. Equipment for an online teaching business tends to cost between £500 and £5,000.
Monthly and annual equipment costs and subscriptions
Your monthly and annual subscription costs could include your Wi-Fi, website, email service, your secure storage and your online teaching platform. Depending on which subscriptions you require and the specifications of the ones you choose, you can expect to pay between £40 and £150 per month.
Your business website
Your business website is an essential advertising tool, as it enables prospective students to find your services. You may also use your website as your teaching platform and run all your lessons and provide all resources through your website. Your website should be functional, easy to use, attractive and search engine optimised, to ensure it ranks highly on search engines, such as Google. Your website will need regular monitoring, updating and upgrading. You also need to make sure your website is secure, particularly if you will be collecting any customer information or banking details. You may choose to set up and run your website yourself or hire someone to do this for you. You can expect to pay between £20 and £100 per hour for someone to set up and run your website.
Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment
Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget. Although some of your equipment will come with warranties and guarantees, repairs and replacements are inevitable – particularly because your equipment will be used regularly. Some equipment will also need to be updated or replaced as new technology is released. Using the equipment correctly and performing regular maintenance and updates can extend its lifespan, but potential repairs and replacements and the finances needed for updating your equipment should still be factored into your budget.
You may choose to run a business where you are the sole teacher or hire other online teachers. You may choose to hire teachers on a freelance basis, meaning they pay you a set fee per month or you take a percentage of their earnings. However, if you hire teachers on a permanent basis, you will need to pay them at least the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour and account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay and maternity/paternity pay.
Branding is an essential expenditure for your business. It can help you to establish your business’s identity and set you apart from your competition. Branding could include creating your business’s visual identity, a logo, your business name, and creating your business website. You can hire a professional to help you with branding or do some of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the amount of branding you require.
Advertising and marketing
To ensure your online teaching business attracts students and creates maximum profits, you will need to invest in advertising and marketing. It is recommended that you spend between 1%-3% of your annual turnover on marketing. For example, if your annual turnover (or your desired annual turnover) is £50,000, you should spend between £500 and £1,500 on advertising and marketing. You may need to invest more money when you initially set up your business or when you are trying to grow your business.
There are multiple coverage options for online teaching businesses, including:
- Public Liability Insurance.
- Professional Indemnity Insurance.
- Legal Protection Insurance.
- Business Contents Insurance.
- Business Interruption Cover.
- Cyber Cover.
- Employers’ Liability Insurance (if relevant).
Insurance costs can vary depending on your insurance provider and the level of coverage you require. Prices typically start at £10 per month.
Typical Pricing for Customers
Once you have calculated the approximate costs associated with setting up and running an online teaching business, you can then determine your pricing policy.
Your pricing will depend on multiple factors, including:
- The subject you teach.
- The level of teaching (e.g. beginner vs higher level).
- The age of your students.
- Your qualifications, experience and level of expertise.
- Whether classes are conducted individually or on a class basis.
- The number of students in a class.
- Your teaching methodology.
The typical prices charged by online teachers vary significantly, typically ranging from £10 to £60 per hour. You may offer discounts if students book a block of lessons or subscribe to the whole course.
Safely Running an Online Teaching Business
Safe practices in your online teaching business can help to protect you, your equipment and your students. Many of the safety practices relating to this type of business aim to protect you from risks related to technology and the internet and to protect your students from potential harm from the content you teach or involvement in online learning.
Some of the safety practices you can implement in your online teaching business are:
Obtain a criminal record check
Even though you will not be teaching in-person classes, you should still obtain a criminal record check if you plan to teach children or vulnerable people. Although criminal record checks are not a legal requirement, they are highly recommended to protect the safety of your students.
The type of check you require depends on the country you live in:
- England: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
- Wales: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
- Scotland: Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme.
- Northern Ireland: AccessNI.
Create e-Safety policies and procedures
This is particularly important if you will be working with young learners, teenagers or vulnerable adults. E-Safety ensures your students are aware of the potential risks of using technology and spending time online and how to protect themselves online. This is particularly important as you will not be there to supervise their online activities or how they handle any independent study, resources and research they are required to do online.
Implement a payment policy
You must implement a payment model that is used exclusively and consistently. This includes a payment policy that all students must follow to get access to your course. Having a payment policy in place clearly sets out the terms of payment so all students and prospective students are aware of the expectations. It also ensures you receive payment and that your students do not attend your classes and benefit from your course without making appropriate payment.
Use a secure payment system
This is a key way to protect your business and your profits. You must ensure all payments are completely secure and are made through secure and legitimate channels. This ensures none of your payments are lost or untrackable and reduces the likelihood that you will fall victim to fraud or theft. Secure payment systems can also help to protect your and your clients’ identities and other personal information.
Protect your personal information and your social media
A common problem for teachers is students gaining access to their social media and accessing their personal information, social media posts and photographs. Don’t release any personal information, such as your address, to your students and never accept a friend request from a student or the parent of a student. You should ensure all your social media is private and that if you list a business address on your website, this should not be your home address.
Follow ethical codes
Ethical codes state the expected behaviours and code of conduct for teachers and these should be adhered to by you and any teachers you employ.
Some ethical guidelines you should follow include:
- Act ethically, honestly and with integrity in your online educational setting.
- Never abuse your position.
- Respect other people’s customs, cultures, habits and personal beliefs.
- Treat every student with kindness and respect and do not demonstrate favouritism, prejudice or partiality.
- Keep your knowledge and skills up to date.
Ensure you have the relevant knowledge and experience to teach your chosen subject
Although you can set up your business with few qualifications and no teaching experience, this is not a good recipe for making your business succeed. To give your students the best educational experience and ensure your business gains a positive reputation, ensure your knowledge and teaching skills are up to the required level and that you are constantly refreshing your knowledge. Formal qualifications and teaching experience can also be beneficial.
Recognise signs of exploitation, abuse or neglect
If you are teaching children or adolescents, it is important that you and any teachers you hire are trained to recognise signs of sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, abuse or neglect. Even though you are not having face-to-face contact with your students, you will still be spending regular time with them and may gain insight into their home life, particularly if they partake in lessons from their homes. Be aware of the procedures you should follow if you have any concerns about your students.
Install anti-spyware software and use a firewall
Spyware can monitor and collect your personal information and any information stored on your computer or electronic devices without you realising it. Some types of spyware can even detect your passwords and gain access to financial information. Ensure all your devices have anti-spyware software to protect your business and your clients. Similarly, a firewall helps to protect any information stored on your devices, such as your students’ personal information.
Properly maintain and set up equipment
Any equipment you use must be properly maintained, correctly set up and safe to use. You must protect yourself from accidents or injuries caused by equipment. You should also perform regular equipment inspections to ensure your equipment’s safety and help extend the lifespan of your equipment. Maintenance includes regularly checking for faults, regular cleaning and ensuring it is functioning correctly. This can save you money in repairs and replacements and can help you to run your business efficiently.
Conduct risk assessments
Although not a legal requirement for businesses with fewer than five employees, risk assessments can help to eliminate risks and ensure safe practices in your business.
As part of your risk assessments, you should:
- Identify hazards.
- Determine who could be at risk.
- Evaluate any potential risks.
- Implement relevant safety measures.
- Record the results of the risk assessment.
- Review the risk assessment regularly.
You should keep physical records of your risk assessments as evidence of your commitment to safe practices.
Complying with any legal requirements and regulations is essential when setting up and running your business. The legal requirements can change depending on the type of online teaching business you set up.
Some factors that can impact the legislation you need to comply with include:
- The subject or topic you teach.
- Whether you hire additional teachers.
- The educational resources and teaching platform you choose.
If you teach students from different geographical locations to yourself, you may have to adhere to legal guidelines in their country.
There are significantly fewer legal guidelines you must comply with when operating as an online teacher, compared to an in-classroom teacher.
However, there are still some legal requirements you should be aware of, including:
Comply with copyright laws
You automatically get copyright protection if you create any original literary content. Copyright prevents people from copying, distributing or making any adaptations to someone else’s work without permission. You must make sure that you don’t advertently or inadvertently copy anyone else’s work or use their work without permission. Ensure you gain any necessary permissions if you are using someone else’s lesson plans, resources or teaching materials to prevent you from infringing on copyright legislation.
Comply with invoice or receipt guidelines
You may make it standard that you send all of your students an e-receipt or invoice once they make a payment to your business. Even if you don’t make it standard, some customers may request receipts or invoices.
You must include certain information in any invoices you create, such as:
- The word ‘invoice’ and a unique invoice number.
- Your business name and address.
- The client’s name and address.
- A brief description of your work.
- The total you are charging the client and when the payment is due.
- The payment method.
Ensure your website is disability friendly
Under the Equality Act (2010), all websites in the UK must be accessible to people with disabilities. If you set up your own website or teaching platform, you must make reasonable adjustments to your website to ensure it is accessible, for example, having text-only versions of each page so that they can be read by text converters.
Ensure your website complies with guidelines
If you set up a website, there are several guidelines you need to comply with, including:
- Privacy policies.
- Cookie legislation.
- Service descriptions.
Comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA)
You must comply with both pieces of legislation when storing or sharing personal information, such as your students’ personal information, contact details and banking information. You must also apply for a Notification to Process Personal Data Licence. If you process or store personal information such as personal details and banking information, you will need to apply for a licence with the Information Commissioner’s Office and renew your registration every year.
Comply with employment legislation
If you employ any teachers on a permanent basis, you must ensure you follow employment legislation, including the Employment Rights Act (1996) and the National Minimum Wage Act (1998). You must also comply with legislation relating to recruitment, working hours, sickness, discrimination, dismissals, and maternity or paternity pay.
Register your business
You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.
Register for self-assessment tax
This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.
As part of your tax responsibilities, you must:
- Record all forms of income and expenses.
- Complete an annual self-assessment tax return.
- Register for VAT if you earn above the threshold (currently £85,000).
- Pay National Insurance contributions.
- Keep a record of your business accounts for the previous five years.
Positives of Owning an Online Teaching Business
Setting up an online teaching business can be rewarding in many ways.
Some of the main positives associated with this type of business are:
You can work from home
You will have the flexibility to work from home, work from a co-working space or another location of your choice. With more people than ever wanting to work from home, an online teaching business gives you the flexibility to run your business completely from the comfort of your own home. Not only will you not have to deal with long commutes and a busy work environment, but you can even work in your pyjama bottoms and slippers if you choose, as your students will only see the top half of you on the camera.
You have the option to travel or live abroad
Running an online teaching business gives you the flexibility to travel or live abroad, as long as you are available for your lessons in line with your students’ time zones. You can work from anywhere, as long as you have a laptop, a good internet connection, a quiet environment, and a background free from mess or clutter. Living or travelling abroad is not feasible for the majority of people because of work or financial constraints. However, teaching online allows you to run your business and earn an income from anywhere in the world.
Create your own schedule
You can choose how little or often you work. You may choose to teach set hours every week or work different hours based on your travel plans. You can also work additional hours when you are less busy in your personal life or you need a higher income. Teaching online allows you to choose your own schedule. To ensure a stable income, you may opt to commit to specific classes on a daily or weekly basis; however, you can choose these classes to suit your preferred working hours.
Interact with people from all over the world
Your students could come from anywhere in the world and teaching them gives you the opportunity to learn about different countries, cultures, traditions and customs. If you enjoy interacting with other people and consider yourself an outgoing person, or you are people-centred, teaching online could be very rewarding. Teaching online and interacting with other people can be interesting and enjoyable.
Be creative in your teaching
Because you are not in a traditional classroom, you will have to get creative with your teaching, your teaching styles and methodologies and your resources. You will have the opportunity to be creative and try many different methods until you find what works best for you and your students.
High-quality educational platforms and software
Technology, online teaching platforms and online resources have improved exponentially in recent years, particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic when the majority of learning took place online. Online teaching platforms give you access to a host of activities, resources and lesson ideas and also allow collaboration between teachers and teachers and students. Educational software is a great tool for facilitating learning and can help your students succeed and increase the success of your business.
Online teaching has high success rates
Teaching online can be an extremely effective mode of teaching. It can empower students to work more independently and efficiently and enables them to work at their own pace. Multiple studies have shown that students gain more knowledge and have a higher rate of retention in online classes compared to traditional learning.
Online teaching is more economically friendly
Studies have shown that e-learning consumes 90% less energy and releases 85% less CO2 per student compared to in-person learning. If you are environmentally conscious and would like your business to reflect your values and have a lower carbon footprint, starting up an online teaching business can be rewarding.
Relatively low entry barriers
While qualifications, training and experience are desired, they are not necessary qualities to becoming an online teacher or setting up a business. You won’t require a teaching degree, as you do with other teaching jobs, and in some online teaching jobs, the entry barriers are particularly low, for example, online English teachers may only be required to be native English speakers. If you decide to hire other teachers for your business, having relatively low qualification and training requirements also allows you to hire teachers who have lower salary expectations, which can increase your profits.
The demand for online teachers and online teaching businesses is higher than ever, making now a great time to set up your business. With more people choosing online learning rather than a traditional classroom, this means your business is more likely to attract students and succeed.
Low start-up costs
An online teaching business is a low-investment venture. You will have very few equipment requirements and will not be responsible for paying for a commercial location. Low initial investment requirements will mean you won’t require any outside investment and can begin turning a profit earlier.
It can be rewarding
People who choose to teach often love their profession and find it very rewarding. Teaching can be a rewarding and enriching profession, particularly when you see your students learn, improve and succeed. You will likely be interested in the subject you teach or passionate about your students which can make teaching even more fulfilling.
You can choose to work for yourself or an already established platform
You will have the flexibility of exactly how you want to run your business. You can choose to operate as a completely independent teacher, set up your own teaching platform or work on a freelance basis for an already established teaching platform. You can make this decision based on what best suits you and your business.
Opportunities for growth
There are high opportunities for growth. You could start small by working as an online teacher on an already existing platform and then grow your business by setting up your own website and hiring other teachers. An online teaching business can be extremely lucrative.
Pick and choose your students
You will have the opportunity to pick and choose which students you want to work with. If you don’t think a particular student is the right fit for a class, is the right ability or isn’t likely to succeed, you can decline to work with them. Additionally, if you don’t think you will gel well with a student after an initial consultation or trial class, you can make the decision that is best for you and your business.
Capitalise on your qualifications, experience, knowledge and interests
Because you can choose your speciality, you can opt to focus on subjects and topics that you are knowledgeable about and interested in. Not only will this make your work more interesting and enjoyable, but students are also usually willing to pay extra if the teacher has specific qualifications and experience in the given subject.
Negatives of Owning an Online teaching Business
Although running an online teaching business can be rewarding in many ways, there are some potentially negative aspects of this type of business.
These can include:
Relying on the internet
The internet is essential to your business and the successful delivery of your classes. Without the internet, you will not be able to operate your business. If your internet cuts out suddenly during a lesson or you are unable to connect at the necessary time, this can portray your business as being unprofessional and unreliable. Not only will you likely have to refund the student for the cost of the lesson, but connectivity issues could also result in negative customer reviews and a loss of students. Sometimes, connectivity issues are outside your control, and this can be extremely frustrating.
Different time zones can be challenging
Depending on the subject and course you teach and where your students are located, you may have to adhere to time zones in different areas of the world. This is particularly true if you teach English. This could mean that most of your classes are at inconvenient times. Online classes are also particularly popular in the evenings and at the weekend, as many students require the flexibility to work around their existing schedule. This could impact your personal life and family life.
It can be physically demanding
You may think teaching online will result in no physical strain because you will be sitting down for much of the day. However, several physical concerns could be attached to this type of job, for example:
- Eye strain.
- Back and neck pain and strain.
- Musculoskeletal pain and strain.
- Reduced cardiovascular fitness.
It can be difficult to grow your student base
Because students usually choose well-established online teaching platforms and experienced teachers with positive student reviews, it can be difficult to grow your student base. You may initially start out with small classes and empty time slots, which can have a significant impact on your profits. There are a lot of established teaching businesses and highly experienced online teachers already operating, which can make it difficult to grow your business.
It can be repetitive
You will likely specialise in a particular subject, course or topic (most likely one you are qualified and experienced in). However, this means you will likely be teaching much of the same materials and repeating your lesson plans multiple times. This can get very repetitive and dull and could result in you finding less enjoyment in your work or being less invested in each lesson.
A lot of patience is required
You could be teaching young children who require a lot of patience, positivity and repetition and this can be tiring for you. You may also be repeating lessons multiple times with different students. As some of your lessons may take place in the evenings, some of your younger students may be tired and struggle to concentrate. This can make your job much harder.
It can be time-consuming
Your working time will not be limited to the time you spend teaching. You will also need to plan and prepare lessons, prepare resources, set assignments and mark any classwork and homework. This can be extremely time-consuming and you will likely not be paid for this additional work, which can impact your income.
Online teachers earn significantly lower pay than traditional teachers. This is because of high competition and, in some subjects, an over-saturated market. You could also be teaching students from other parts of the world, where there may be lower pay or no minimum wage. Students often expect to pay lower prices for remote learning, and this could result in lower profits.
Business can be inconsistent
You may have times when you are very busy and your classes are all full and other times when you have relatively few students. Online learning has a high turnover rate, with many students only committing to their learning for a short period of time. It can be difficult to plan your finances, predict your profits and decide your working hours when your business is inconsistent. There could be times when you are less busy and this can have a significant impact on your profits.
It can be stressful
You will have a lot of responsibilities, including planning and preparing lessons, teaching, advertising, searching for students and ensuring the day-to-day running of your business. This can be stress-inducing, particularly when you are trying to grow your business. You will also have the additional stress of trying to increase your student base and ensuring your business grows and succeeds.
Some students can be difficult
Some students (or their parents if you teach children and teens) can be difficult and demanding and have unrealistic expectations of their achievements and level of improvement. They may expect you to perform miracles and suddenly make them an expert in the subject. Trying to deal with this type of student can be extremely difficult and if they are not satisfied, this could result in negative reviews and loss of business.
As you are self-employed, you won’t receive benefits such as pension contributions. You will also be responsible for doing your own taxes and organising your National Insurance contributions. You will also have a lack of job security.
Your business could fail
Starting up your own business can be risky. Many new businesses fail which could result in you losing money or getting into debt. Your business could fail for several reasons, such as high local competition, an ineffective business plan or if there is another recession or a period of financial difficulty.
Planning Your Online Teaching Business
An effective and well-designed business plan is essential to the success of your online teaching business. A business plan can help you to focus on the specific steps that will help your business succeed, plan your short-term and long-term goals, determine your financial needs and help your business to grow.
When creating your business plan, ensure it contains information such as:
- Your company information.
- Your company description.
- The services you will provide.
- Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
- The structure of your business.
- The operational plan for your business.
- The financial plan for your business.
Some of the factors you will need to consider when creating your business plan are:
What is your business summary?
Your business plan should include a detailed overview of your business, including your teaching methodology, your teaching platform, the size of your business, your licensing, your equipment requirements and your business goals.
What subject or course will you specialise in?
Consider your qualifications, experience, knowledge and skills when considering what to specialise in. You should also consider your areas of interest (as this can make your work more enjoyable) and your competition. If you are hiring other online teachers, you will have to decide whether to hire teachers who specialise in the same subject as you or whether to offer subject diversity on your teaching platform.
What teaching methodology will you follow?
As mentioned earlier, there are many different teaching methods available for online teachers, such as synchronous and asynchronous teaching and flipped learning. Ensure you research each methodology in detail to determine which one is likely to be best suited to you, which methodologies have proven to be the most successful and which are likely to attract the most students. Being armed with this information allows you to make an informed choice.
How do you plan to run your business?
Will you teach on a freelance basis with an already established teaching platform? Will you set up your own online teaching website or platform? Will you operate as the sole teacher or will you hire other teachers to work for your business? These are all important considerations you will need to make when determining how best to run your business. It is also possible to change your business plan as your business and your profits grow.
Who will your typical students be?
Your student base will likely be influenced by the subject you specialise in and the teaching methodology you choose. Identifying your target market can help you determine your advertising and marketing techniques; for example, if you want to attract young adult learners, you may opt to advertise on social media platforms.
What competition do you have?
Being aware of your competition can help you make key business decisions. You can look at what other teaching companies do well and their unexploited opportunities for growth or improvement. You could also look at whether there are any untapped teaching niches or methods of teaching that you could focus on to help you attract students.
What is your brand and unique selling point (USP)?
Creating your brand is a key way to ensure you stand out from other online teachers. Branding can help you to focus your target audience, attract students and concentrate your marketing and advertising strategies. You can create your brand by focusing on the type of teacher you want to be, your qualifications and experience, your website and your brand story. A USP can also be part of your brand and can help your online teaching business stand out from your competitors. Consider what can make you stand out and how this fits into what defines your business.
What are your marketing and advertising strategies?
Marketing and advertising are especially important when you first launch your online teaching business. Your marketing strategy needs to be effective and budget friendly. Consider your target audience and the best way to reach them.
Some ways you can market and advertise your business are:
- Build a functional and attractive website and online portfolio.
- Create business cards.
- Offer discounted rates and introductory offers to build your student base.
- Ask your students to write a review of your business online.
- Set up a referral system.
- Advertise online and in person.
What is your business budget?
Your business budget will include your start-up costs and your running costs. A budget can help you to better manage your business’s finances and maximise your profits. Determining your approximate costs enables you to calculate your initial investment and what your monthly or annual running costs will be. Creating a budget is a key part of your business plan. Once you have determined your approximate costs, you can then calculate your pricing policy and determine your profit forecast.
What are your pricing policy and sales strategy?
You need to ensure your prices are competitive whilst still ensuring you are maximising your profits and income. Consider the prices charged by other online teaching businesses. Your pricing will also be influenced by your own experience and qualifications, your platform and teaching methodology and the level of the students. Your pricing policy may change as your business and reputation grow. You should also create a sales strategy to help you maximise your sales and target your customers successfully.
What is your strategy for growth?
Your strategy for growth is the actions you will take to realise your goals for expansion. For example:
- Set up your own teaching platform.
- Hire other teachers to teach a variety of subjects.
- Target higher-paying students.
- Offer formal qualifications to your students.
Are there any potential challenges you will need to overcome?
Being aware of any potential challenges your business will face can help you to prepare for them and hopefully avoid them. This can help to make your business more successful. Challenges could include a failure to attract new students and low student retention.
What are your business goals?
Determining your business goals is an essential part of creating your business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your online teaching business and help you to create a one-year, three-year and five-year business plan.
Your business objectives should be SMART:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Realistic
- T = Time-bound
Have you complied with all legal requirements?
Consult the list of legal requirements above to check you have complied with all requirements and regulations and that all your paperwork is accurate. Failure to comply with legal requirements could have a detrimental effect on your business or could result in a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious cases, prosecution.