Online Teaching: How to Convert Trial Students into Customers

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Online Teaching: An Interesting Option

I’ve always thought that online teaching was an intriguing option. In particular, for those people who wanted to live a digital nomad kind of life. Traveling the world while working online is pretty appealing! It was one of the options I considered quite seriously, before ultimately deciding to return to my home country of Canada after 10 years teaching in Korea.

The other group of people I think online teaching could work for are those who are tired of teaching English abroad. They may want to return to their home countries but aren’t sure about the work situation. You’ll also need to check out Life After ESL: Foreign Teachers Returning Home. Getting a few students going with the the online teaching before going home, and then continuing it once there could be a nice way to have some initial money coming in. At the very least, it could be an excellent way to avoid living in the parent’s basement! Use your skills gained from teaching abroad and make it into a job back home.

If there are people out there who are teaching English online, I’d love to hear from you! Perhaps we could set up an interview or a guest post. Please share your knowledge with us!

What follows is a guest post from Kris Jagasia, who I met through Linkedin. He’s very knowledgeable about online teaching and I think you’ll appreciate the wisdom he’s sharing with us about converting trial students into customers who are paying for lessons from you. Thanks Kris!

How to Convert ‘Trial’ Students into Customers

My name is Kris Jagasia and I work on product development for an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher tool called Off2Class. In this role I have the opportunity to meet all sorts of ESL teachers. From solo ‘teacherpreneurs’ to curriculum managers and everything in between!

Lately I’ve been coaching a lot of online ‘teacherpreneurs’ on how to build their independent businesses. Today I’d like to relay some thoughts specific to ‘conversion’. That is, once you have someone who’s interested in trying you out as a tutor, how do you close the sale? How do you convert students for online teaching?

How do I find students?

Almost every online teacher I’ve met with seems to have one question at the top of their minds: ‘how do I find students?’ On the other hand, I’ve never had an online teacher bring up conversion. ‘How do I convince students that I am the best choice as a language coach’ has never come up! To me, conversion is just as important as finding leads.

Conversion is half of growth

online teaching level test

Recently, Off2Class released a free ESL Placement Test. It can easily be found on the Off2Class website. The original goal of the placement test was to provide teachers with a way to set a level diagnostic for students. However, I’ve noticed an interesting strategy emerge. Many teachers like to send the placement test to prospective students before their first ‘trial’ session together.

After their students complete the test, our tool produces a Gap Analysis (which outlines their ESL weaknesses) and an Individual Learning Plan (which outlines the lessons required to address those weaknesses). In their consultations, teachers will walk their students through the personalized plan they’ve crafted to address their students’ unique language weaknesses.

This level of personal attention is an extremely powerful method of building trust between you and your prospective students. Trust will be formed because you’ll be showcasing a tailored approach to your students’ needs (rather than generically trying to sell yourself based on your experience and qualifications).

Many of our teachers have reported a huge boost in their conversion rates by using this placement test approach on marketplaces such as italki and Verbling. So much so, that we even hosted a webinar on the subject for the italki teacher community. The best part of this strategy for busy online ESL teachers is that you can use it at scale (i.e. easily-repeat it). You can send the placement test to prospective students with a couple of clicks. Your student’s Gap Analysis and Individual Learning Plan will be waiting for you when you’re ready for the trial lesson. Just share your screen and impress your student!

About Kris Jagasia


Kris Jagasia is a co-founder at Off2Class. He is primarily responsible for product design and testing and in this role he gets to work with hundreds of independent online ESL teachers. You can reach him by leaving a comment here or by using this contact form.

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