How to find online EFL students

Online English group classes

Are you thinking about going freelance but concerned about how to get students? Or have you gone freelance but struggling to find enough students?

Many ELT teachers have very little marketing training and so the prospect can seem daunting. However, rest assured that you have likely done a lot of the hard work already.

A very popular and successful method of marketing is called content marketing. This is where you create useful and relevant online articles, videos, podcasts etc. to raise awareness of your classes. You can adapt content that you have already created and start attracting new students.

We will now take a look at what you need to think about when creating or collating your content.

Who do you want to teach?

One of the benefits of being a freelance teacher is that you can choose to focus on the area you enjoy teaching most.

It is a good idea to be fairly specific and consider the following questions:

1. Which area do you want to specialise in? e.g. IELTS, conversation classes, English for aviation, etc.

2. What age group do you want to teach? Adults, teens, young learners etc.

3. Where are these students located? Worldwide, local to you, Spanish speakers, etc. 

Thinking about these questions will help you to focus on what content will be useful to use. 

What problems does this group of learners have?

Once you have decided who your target audience will be, you can consider what their needs may be and how you can solve their problems.

For example, one thing that Spanish-speaking teenagers studying for the FCE are likely to want, is a lot of speaking practice focussing on improving their pronunciation. 

So, that would be the focus of your content: showing how you can offer a solution to your learners’ problems.

Why should they choose you?

Next you need to consider what makes you different from someone else who is offering the same lessons. 

This is where you need to do a bit of self-promotion which can feel awkward but again it’s all about showing the learner that you are the right teacher for them! 

You can then make sure this message comes across when posting your content. 

Where can I post my content?

You need to consider where your content will be hosted. 

Ideas of where you could post content:

  • YouTube
  • Your own facebook page
  • Instagram
  • TikTok 
  • LinkedIn groups 
  • Reddit
  • Your own website/blog
Again the decision of where to post should be based on where you think your target audience would be. If teaching business English you are likely to be thinking about opportunities to post on LinkedIn whereas if you’re teaching a younger audience you may want to consider platforms such as TikTok. 
These choices are not exclusive and you are likely to want to post to a number of different places. 

How to help learners find your content?

Once you’ve created and posted your content you want to make sure as many learners as possible will read it.

Some ways you can do this are:

Start building up a mailing list

 If you ask people to sign up to a mailing list then you can send an email out when you have posted a number of useful articles or videos, providing the links to these.

There are a number of free mailing services which can help organise this. Always make sure you have permission to email first if you are planning to do this.

Social media

Use any followings you have on social media to spread the message about your new content. To make beautiful looking posts there are a number of great free design tools

Paid social media ads

You may want to reach a completely new audience and social media ads can be a cost-effective way of doing this. If you can encourage people to follow your social media or sign up to a mailing list then you will be able to continue to communicate with them in the future.

WhatsApp groups

You may want to create a group for all of your students and let them know when you have created content. The content is likely to be useful for past and present students as well future students and this is a nice way of maintaining contact and offering extra resources for your students. 

And finally, deliver quality lessons

By delivering quality lessons and useful resources, your students are more likely to do all the hard work for you by telling their friends and family about your classes.


We wish you the best of luck with your online lessons and get in touch with any further ideas in the comments section below!