Once you become established as an ESOL tutor, your next goal will be to drum up clients and get enough of these students to create a viable business for yourself.

As a teacher, you have everything you need already at your disposal, from your own classroom to all of the school’s resources, to the students themselves.

As a tutor, you will have to take on the responsibility for organising yourself in all of these elements, the most pressing of which will be marketing your teaching services to prospective students.

While this might seem like a potential source of anxiety and uncertainty, especially when you need students to have a job in the first place, it doesn't have to be.

If you look at it from another perspective, as a tutor you get to pick and choose the type of students you teach - most of which will be willing learners, as opposed to school - and how many you want to teach at one time.

You will also get to decide your schedule, including the planning of lessons, how much you charge your students, and where you teach them (in person, or through and digital platform such as Superprof).

As to how you can find students in the first place, we will explore a variety of methods in this guide, including both offline and online marketing strategies.

Using local marketing to get the word out

Posters on a wall
Posters can be a great way to spread the word about your classes.

If you feel technologically illiterate, or you would just rather cover every base and get your name out there in your local community, then local marketing is a great option for finding students.

By local marketing, I’m referring to methods of advertising which only require minimum usage of the internet, and technology.

Printed word

First up, we’re going to take a look at one of the most traditional methods of getting the word out there about a service you are offering: printed word.

The category of printed word includes everything from having an ad published in the newspaper, to printing out your own flyers, or handing out personal business cards to interested parties.

While this might seem unfashionable in a world in which the majority of communication often takes place through the internet, you'd be surprised how effective a well placed flyer, or newspaper ad can be in attracting new clients for your business.

Just think of all the times somebody has been taken in by a colorful poster or flyer on a noticeboard by a university campus, and been inspired to follow up about a particular class or service.

Especially if you place your flyers in prominent places for non-native English speakers to see, you will start to see results fairly quickly.

If you're currently living in the UK, your best bet is to ask if you can put up your posters on the local university campus, or another learning institution attended by non-native English speakers.

If you are living abroad, you will likely enjoy a lot of success by posting a flyer with a prominent British flag and colorful design stating that you offer English classes, since people are always looking to scratch up on their English skills.

Word of mouth (attend events)

Another way you can get the word out about your business is through word of mouth.

First and foremost, you should spread the word amongst your friends and family, to see if anyone in your social circle knows of anyone looking for English classes.

If that doesn't work out, then you can try attending events where there are likely to be many non-native English speakers, and you can offer your services and hand out business cards there.

If you know a second language, even better. You can ingratiate yourself with the native speakers of that language at an event, before mentioning that you give great English classes in case anyone is interested.

Offer free ‘sample’ classes

The last effective way to find new students without resorting to the internet is to give free ‘sample’ group classes.

Perhaps an odd-sounding proposition, given that your objective is to make money as a tutor, not give away classes for free, such sample classes can provide invaluable when it comes to tempting prospective students into taking classes with you.

When you give someone something for free, they will likely feel that they owe you something. With that logic, if you were to set up a free group class aimed at non-native English speakers somewhere nearby, you could not only show off your ability as a tutor but also get the word out there.

Online marketing methods for Tutors

Computer, laptop, and other gadgets.
Online marketing is an efficient method for advertising your business.

If you’ve exhausted all of the above methods without much luck, or you'd prefer to build an online presence from the start, then online marketing can be an extremely effective way to get yourself and your tutoring business out there.

There are many ways you can advertise your business online, and dependent on factors such as qualifications and experience, you can attract a large number of students who will make your business viable.

Sign up as a tutor on Superprof

If you’re interested in signing up to a website that will help connect you with students, and provide a seamless video experience through which you can give classes, then you should consider signing up to Superprof as a tutor.

We have a range of tutors teaching all manner of subjects, as well as a large number of eager students looking to learn, so if you decide to become an online tutor, Superprof is a great platform to help you do so.

Set your own rate, plan your classes how you like, and then sit back and deliver the class from the comfort of your own home. If that sounds good, then you needn't look further.

Publish an ad on a tutoring directory

An alternative way of finding students online, is to publish an ad on a general, or tutoring, directory.

This method is essentially the online equivalent of publishing an ad in the newspaper, so you can expect more people to see it, especially if you post your ad to a specialised tutorship directory.

Simply provide a description of the services that you offer, how you prefer to teach (in person, or through Skype for example), and what you require of the student.

Leverage social media

These days, if you aren’t using social media to promote your services, you are probably missing out on a lot of traffic that you could be directing towards your business.

Of course, there is a right way to market on social media, and just stating your services over and over again isn’t likely to yield the kind of results you’re looking for.

People tend to enjoy a good narrative, and social media is an incredible platform to tell a great story.

If you have a way with words, you can craft an excellent spin on why taking your English classes will benefit the student, and what they stand to gain from the experience of taking them with you as opposed to anyone else.

You could even go a step further, and create a whole brand around yourself and your journey teaching English, and/or your experience learning foreign languages.

The good thing is, even if you don’t know how to write a copy that sells, you can hire a copywriter to do just that. Or contract the services of a social media manager who can use their knowledge of SEO (search engine optimisation) to get your posts viewed by as many people as possible.


Laptop, coffee, and a notepad
Blogging can lead to more students as you build an audience.

Finally, continuing on with the idea of creating a brand, not just a business, you could consider creating a blog or YouTube channel, in which you build up your image and provide plenty of free value, so that people might be interested in taking your classes.

If you have a really in-depth knowledge of the English language, which I assume you do as an ESOL tutor, then you can create a blog simply covering elements of the language that you find interesting, and target it to non-native English speakers.

Or if you’ve studied a foreign language like Spanish for example, and you know why spanish speakers struggle producing certain sounds in English, you could make a blog post detailing how to tackle this issue.

Likewise, you could create a YouTube channel in which you talk about issues and challenges faced by those learning English as a foreign language, in the hope that people learn something and are inspired to take a class with you.

While at first you might have just a small number of readers or viewers, over time, if you stick with it, you can create a space for your business in the market and have all the classes you could possibly want.

Who knows, maybe your business could even expand and you could monetise other services such as your blog posts or YouTube videos for an extra source of income to supplement the tutoring.

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Sam is an English teaching assistant and freelance writer based in southern Spain. He enjoys exploring new places and cultures, and picking up languages along the way.