How to Find Online English Students: A Guide for Freelance Teachers

This is a guest post featuring Gabby Wallace of Go Natural English! We covered a lot of ground in our interview. Check it out and then read her guest post on how to find online English students. Take it away, Gabby!




Check out the interview for more of Gabby’s story!


The Biggest Challenge of Freelance Online English Teachers

If you’re a good teacher, why aren’t you getting more students to sign up for lessons with you?

Do you want to know how to find online English students? You have the skills. You have the materials. You’re ready.

I assume you are a good teacher because most freelance teachers are. Most of us want to help our students while gaining the freedom that freelance online teaching gives us.

So, the biggest problem that often presents itself is how to find online English students. How do we show the world we are good teachers? How do we get students to believe in us and sign up for our lessons?

That is something we did not learn in our ESL Teacher Certification class! Unfortunately, the programs that prepared us to be good teachers don’t often prepare us to be good freelancers. That leads to self-doubt in our teaching abilities, when it’s actually our business and marketing skills that need work.

As teachers, we learn how to work in an environment where students are supplied to us. If you work for a tutoring company or a school, you don’t really have to think about how to get students to sign up. You don’t have to worry about that, but then you give up a lot of freedom in terms of your pay rate, schedule, and in the end you’re working to build someone else’s business, not yours.

Now, let me share how I was able to get students interested in my lessons and build my own successful online English tutoring business.

How I Found my Students – My Journey with Go Natural English

Before I had any students booked for tutoring, I spent a lot of time showing them who I am.

The Begninning

In 2011 I was working full-time as a teacher in Japan and had no idea how to find online English students. I loved being in Japan but I didn’t have any time or money to actually enjoy my life abroad. That led me to think about what I could do to still do the work I loved and also have more freedom, time and money to have the lifestyle I wanted.

So, outside of my regular job, I started creating video content — tips for learning English to help my students. I posted the clips on YouTube, Facebook, and shared them via email with my students and colleagues.

After a few months of this, viewers started messaging me to ask for me to be their tutor! I had students from China, Brazil, Turkey, Russia and all over the world seeking me out. It was amazing that I didn’t have to worry about finding students because they were coming to me! I had figured out how to find online English students!

Even though this was back in 2011, the strategy remains the same and it is still very possible to achieve success if you are consistent and don’t give up. You can create content with YouTube like I did, or use another channel like podcasts.


Today, Go Natural English is a YouTube channel with over 1.2 million subscribers and a multi-6 figure business and still growing. One of the most important things you can do to attract students and build your business is to create content that shows who you are. Showing who you are is critical for how to find online English students!

Now I run my business virtually while I travel the world. It’s allowed me to live my dream lifestyle. I genuinely am passionate about teaching and inspiring others. I’ve been able to do this through teaching ESL, and now with that success to show, I am helping online teachers like you.

Tools Advice: Top 3 Resources to Get More Students

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the different online tools out there. If you want to know how to find online English students, you need tools for 3 things. I’m going to tell you which 3 things and which 3 tools I recommend.

Graphics and Images

First, you need to be creating digital content if you’re a freelance online teacher. The good news is, you don’t really need any special tech tools to start creating content. I started recording videos with my smartphone and an internet connection. However, it can be really useful to create images and graphics that make you look more professional online. For example, you should design images for social media posts and thumbnail images for videos. I use because it’s simple and looks good. It’s also free to start using and has a pro account for more features.

Payments and Scheduling

Second, you need to have a way to collect payment, schedule and host your lessons. Up until now, you had to do each of these separately. Piecing together three different sites to get paid, scheduled and host lessons is a pain and there’s too much margin for error. I’ve been using with success to do all of that in one place for a super affordable rate. It really saves time and makes it easy to just focus on carrying out your lessons instead of getting lost in different technical aspects of working online. It’s free to create an account and try it out.

ESL Lesson Content

Third, you need a plan and materials for teaching your students. It takes time to market your lessons, and can take even more time developing materials and a curriculum for your students. All the lesson creation can really slow you down, so it’s important to reach out for helpful resources. A lot of teachers are successfully using pre-made materials from Off2Class, and I highly recommend trying them out! You can still pick and choose to customize the best lessons for your students. It can save you a lot of time and allow you to concentrate on what you’re good at — actually teaching and helping your students!

Mindset Advice: What I Wish I Had Known When I started

It’s counter-intuitive, but you need confidence when you’re starting out, even if you feel like you haven’t earned it yet. Looking back to when I was getting started as an online ESL teacher, I can honestly say that my biggest mistake was something totally under my own control — my confidence.

I wish I had really believed in myself from day one.

I want you to know that I believe in you. Now you need to believe in you! I believe if you know who you are, what your strengths are, how to be of service, and do the right thing always, you will be successful.

Now you know that you’ll need to spend some time marketing yourself as a teacher. If “marketing” doesn’t seem exciting to you, just think of it as teaching your potential students about who you are and what your lessons can help them with. If you’re a good teacher of your subject, you can teach people about why to work with you! In the end, it’s all about education and teaching — and you’re already good at that, so let’s get to work!

About the Author

Gabby Wallace is the founder of Go Natural English, an ESL teaching business and a YouTube channel that has gained over 1.2 million subscribers. Today she uses what she has learned through her first business to coach teachers, helping them to create their own online businesses. She has helped countless other entrepreneurs to develop their online marketing and to create successful online courses, gaining them more freedom, and more rewarding financial and personal work.

She has been featured as a speaker on many stages and podcasts for entrepreneurs and has delivered a TEDx Talk on how to reach big goals through small steps.

To learn more, visit


  • Investoram says:

    March 7, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    You can also contact schools that you’ve been involved with in the past even if you don’t live nearby. These can be a good starting place to find tutoring students for Skype lessons. As your business grows, you can continue contacting more schools and even branch out to schools all over the world since your tutoring can be done online.

    • Kris Jagasia says:

      March 14, 2019 at 9:51 am

      That’s a great idea ‘Investoram’ where are you tutoring?

    • majed says:

      September 13, 2021 at 8:28 am

      this article just made my day!
      thanks a million

      • Regan says:

        September 14, 2021 at 7:33 pm

        Hey, it makes our day to hear this. Thanks for checking us out here and reading the article.

        • Sadiq says:

          September 13, 2022 at 3:34 pm


  • Alexis Scott says:

    November 14, 2020 at 4:43 am

    Hi! This is a wonderful article on freelance ESL teaching. I really want to get into the online aspect of tutoring because I only tutor in person. This is, by far, the most informative post that I have read. I blog about my tutoring business and how I started as well. Thank you for sharing your tips, and I will be using these to start my online business. I am also about to go watch your YouTube channel. I would love to do videos like that, and I have been thinking of doing it. Can you share how you started doing those videos and how you got so many subscribers on YouTube?

    • Kris Jagasia says:

      November 15, 2020 at 4:46 pm

      Hi Alexis, thanks for stopping by. What kind of students do you focus on? I think the idea of having a very-focused student niche helps with a lot of things, but most importantly, helps focus your content-marketing initiatives. For example, to build a YouTube following, you’d have to be very focused on what type of students you’d like to subscribe to your channel. It would be very hard to build a following around ‘learning English’. There are already so many YouTube channels that focus on that with tonnes of content. But what about, ‘Turkish students who need English to get a job in Fortune 500 company’? Or something like that? Relatively old post, but this interview holds true today.

  • dlsu dasma says:

    July 30, 2021 at 6:06 am

    What a great article. Lots of helpful info. Thanks for sharing.

    • Chris says:

      August 2, 2021 at 1:27 pm

      Glad you found it helpful!

  • steven blackwell says:

    August 27, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    Great site!

    • Regan says:

      August 27, 2021 at 5:11 pm

      We are glad to see you here Steven!

  • English Tutor says:

    July 7, 2022 at 3:42 am

    You’ve written it so nicely, and you’ve come up with some great ideas. This is a fantastic post!

  • Sadiq says:

    September 13, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    My name is Sadiq, I have 20 years teaching experience online and regular based system. I want to find online students.

  • Zach Smith says:

    October 5, 2023 at 9:14 am

    I am a Celta certified English teacher, but have not gotten a job yet for English teaching. I am looking for online students, and will be using “off2class” for my lesson building. I taught lessons during the Celta course, which was taken online. Could I put my Google slide lessons online to find students? The Celta course did not offer any instruction on how to find a job, much less how to freelance.

  • Moses Minang says:

    January 18, 2024 at 2:52 pm

    Wonderful content. I feel light reading this and see a whole lot of opportunities ahead

    • Christine Chan says:

      February 16, 2024 at 10:40 am

      Hi Moses, thank you. We’re so glad you’re enjoying these blog posts!

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