30 insider tricks educators wish they knew before starting at Outschool
Grow your online teaching business at Outschool with advice from educators about what they wish they knew as new online educators.
Insider Tricks

Updated 12/04/2023

Succeeding with an online teaching business takes time and effort. But what if educators like you shared their thoughts about what they wish they knew when they started teaching at Outschool? Thankfully, educators in our Outschool community groups are always swapping tips and sharing their biggest wins with their fellow entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered 30 of the most common pieces of advice we see shared by veteran educators for any teacher just getting started or looking to grow in a new direction on Outschool.

In this article, we’re looking at 30 tips, tricks, and strategies to help you:

  • Get started
  • Build your online business
  • Market your classes
  • Manage your virtual classroom

Let’s jump right in!

Getting started

Maybe it’s your first day teaching online, or you’re just in the process of listing your first class. Here are a couple of suggestions from educators about what they wish they knew that could help you start on the right foot as an online educator.

1. Be prepared

Have extra material ready in case your class ends sooner than you expected. Additional materials might include using icebreakers at the beginning of class, socializing, games, or a bonus lesson to pass the time.  On the other hand, if you cannot fit all of the lessons into the scheduled time, think about how you can get that material to learners after class.

2. Practice makes perfect

Sign in 30-15 minutes before your class begins to manage issues ahead of time. You don’t want to discover that your internet is down or Zoom needs to update only a minute before class time. You can also check to see if Outschool is working properly if you notice any system errors.

3. Know your audience

Although it’s normal to play silly songs, use puppets, and offer coloring pages for younger learners, teaching high school topics requires you to adjust your teaching style. On the other hand, games such as these approved third-party tools are a blast with older learners but may be stressful for little ones who need parental help. Understand who you are teaching and how they prefer to learn. No matter what, make sure that you’re creating an environment that is inclusive, and age-appropriate.

4. Anticipate as much as you can

Many learners on Outschool have been in an online class environment before, so it’s up to you to stay one step ahead. Make sure you’re comfortable with and know your way around Zoom before your first class. Understanding how to navigate the app will help you feel prepared so that you can focus on teaching. Educators suggest that, in general, it’s best to: 

Building an online business

Now that you’re prepped and ready to go, it’s time to switch gears and look at your online teaching as a business. One tip we hear from educators is that you have to approach being an online educator with an entrepreneurial mindset

With that in mind, here are some tools and tips educators wish they knew when they started teaching on Outschool.

5. Take a business coaching class

Outschool offers business coaching for new educators or those who want a refresher on best practices. Consider joining an upcoming cohort to gain insights into building your online teaching business.

6. Be patient and stick with it

Like anything worth doing, building an online teaching business takes time. While some educators make a full-time income teaching solo or have even started organizations and manage their own team of teachers, you get what you put into it. Whether you want to teach part-time or full-time, plan on investing extra time at the beginning of your journey to find what works and connect with your first learners.

To do this, you can develop systems for your business that give you time to create quality lessons, build community with your learners, and reflect on what’s working and what you can improve. Just remember, Outschool isn’t a get-rich-quick or set-it-and-forget-it-earning opportunity. You are an educator entrepreneur here, and you should feel empowered to set goals and make an action plan for your success.

7. Create multiple types of classes

Make your business scalable by offering the same topics in different ways. For example, you may have a multi-day class about astronomy that builds off knowledge each week, but can you take some of the ideas from those classes and make them one-time meetings? What about taking the most interesting ideas from each class and turning them into ongoing classes that don’t build on the knowledge that will let learners come and go as their schedule allows? 

For more on the types of classes you can offer, be sure to check out these sample class listings.

But…

8. Schedule your time wisely

When you’re worried about getting more enrollments, it’s easy to open a bunch of sections and offer multiple times and types of classes all at once. And depending on your subject, casting a wide net may work! Just make sure that you schedule sections at times that work with your schedule so that you do not miss a meeting if a learner registers last minute.

9. Relationships matter

For some of your learners, this may be the only social interaction they get all day outside their families. For others, your classroom may be the only place they can feel like and be themselves. Make sure you create a safe space for everyone to build strong relationships. Families take notice when their kids’ needs are being met.

Want to know more about creating outstanding learning experiences for learners? Become an ACE educator today and inspire a love of learning that inspires confidence, curiosity, and connection for all learners.

10. Customer service

As an educator entrepreneur, customer service is just as important as your time spent teaching in the classroom. This includes having open communication with families and occasionally offering transfers, refunds, or rescheduling. It can be helpful to post a note on your profile page about how you handle these things and think about offering a one-time pass policy for missed classes as a courtesy (and to avoid encouraging it from happening again).

11. Understand your worth

While offering a class for $1, the minimum amount on Outschool, may get you a learner or two, it will not build a long-term income. Instead, set your price based on what you think it’s worth. Keep in mind that you know how much time went into the lesson planning, teaching, and feedback, so don’t sell yourself short.

12. Use the “Next class” option

Did you know that you can alert families to another class by adding it under the “next class” dropdown menu on your class editing page? Outschool has made it easy to help you guide families to the next class in a series of courses or to another class on the same topic. You already know that your learners are already enjoying what you’re teaching, so give them more of the same.

13. Learn about payment processes and taxes

As an independent contractor, it is up to you to keep track of how much you’ve earned throughout the year. The good news is that you can easily access that information through your educator dashboard. According to educators, this area may be new if you’ve always worked for a corporation or at a brick-and-mortar school, so take the time to learn about tracking payments and how to pay your taxes accordingly

Marketing

One area of business that is often discussed in the Outschool community is the best ways to market classes. Below, we’ve included the tips most frequently suggested on how marketing best practices.

14. Use relevant keywords

Keep your listings clear and concise, and make sure that you’re using keywords in your listings that parents are looking for. Acronyms and buzzwords related to your topic or area of study are great, but families may not know the lingo. Help families find you online by thinking about what words and phrases parents may use in their search.

15. Understand SEO

Once you have a couple of keywords in your listings, try expanding them out to other areas you can promote your classes. Search engines like Google and Pinterest use keywords to optimize the results you receive, hence the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Writing your listings so that they are easier to find or promote increases your chance of getting seen by the right audience. If you have a website or Facebook business page, you can increase your SEO to drive families to your profile and class listings. Just be sure that you are adhering to Outschool’s communication policy to avoid driving families away from the platform.

16. Use social media intentionally

As you may know, while many educators find success at Outschool without ever having to market their classes off the platform, others have done well marketing on various social media channels. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use paid advertising, although some educators do. Some educators say that instead of paid ads, they make mini-lessons for Instagram Reels or TikTok and they may share subject-related content or offer discounts to gain attention from followers.

Speaking of discounts…

17. Provide coupons and discounts

Coupons and discount codes are great for introducing new learners to Outschool or enticing current learners to join new class listings but use them wisely. Don’t undervalue yourself, per the recommendation above, and make sure that you make class-specific or situation-specific coupons so that you can keep track of who’s using them and when. If you’ve not created an Outschool coupon before, be sure to check out this article about how to promote your classes with coupons.

Psst…bonus tip: Don’t offer your classes for free! Not only is it against Outschool policy (there is a $1 minimum), but according to successful educators on the platform, it doesn’t usually help your business. List your price for the amount you feel it deserves. 

18. Make funnels

Using funnels is a great way to retain learners and keep them coming back for more. Consider intentionally creating classes that can be taken back-to-back or subjects that lead into related topics or subjects. For example, if you teach a one-time introduction class on dinosaurs, you can create an ongoing class that focuses on teaching about a different dinosaur each week. You already know that the learners from your one-time class enjoy that topic, so why not give them more of what they’re looking for?

19. Market locally

In addition to marketing on social media and via word of mouth, some educators also market their classes to local area schools and homeschool groups. If those are not available near where you live, consider posting flyers in your local community center, library, or coffee shop. You never know who could stumble across your information!

In the classroom

Now that you’ve taken the steps to get started, built your business, and marketed your classes, now it’s time to go live. Once you’re all set up and ready to go, it’s time to focus your attention on the day-to-day in-class dynamics. Figuring out the best ways to get enrollments when starting depends on when you start teaching, what classes you teach, and to which age group you are teaching. 

Below are the most recommended strategies for finding success in the Outschool classroom.

20. Curriculum

On Outschool, you can teach topics around your experience, interests, and passions. Some educators use a pre-made curriculum while others make their own. When putting together your curriculum, use Outschool’s class content policy as a guide to ensure that you are creating classes that are “unbiased, inclusive of all learners, and intentionally designed to represent diverse viewpoints fairly and accurately.” If you are using a premade curriculum, just make sure you are adhering to Outschool’s copyright policies

21. Adapting

Not every class or topic will be a hit right out the gate, but it’s important to keep trying. Check out Educator Insights to see what’s popular and what families are actively searching for. According to Benjamin Corey, a veteran educator on Outschool and founder of Benjamin Corey’s Creative Curriculum Cooperative,

“Running a successful business on this platform can require the willingness to constantly pivot, which sounds exhausting, but these pivots can bring joy and success if we choose to embrace them. A pivot is an opportunity to tap into creative areas one might never think to bring into their Outschool classroom.”

Benjamin suggests that knowing how to pivot in class and in your online classroom is a key to success as an online educator.

22. Plan ahead

Families are constantly looking ahead to see what classes are available. Try to schedule sections at least two weeks in advance. For longer, semester classes, you may want to plan on promoting those 3-6 months in advance. Many successful educators say that they plan out all of their courses 6 months in advance, and then list them according to demand or seasonal interest.

You can choose when you teach, but observe what times work best for your learners or are generally popular on Outschool to try and maximize enrollments. Remember that seasonal shifts in school schedules and holiday breaks can change what time of day many families use Outschool, so keep this in mind when planning ahead.

23. Use video

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is pure gold! Consider adding a video to your profile page so that families can get to know you and see your personality. For even more engagement, post videos to each of your class listings to highlight what is being taught and showcase the reasons families should join. Learn about the 5 facts you should share in a video intro and how to promote your classes for even more helpful tips.

24. Be reliable

Outschool families rely on and value consistency and follow-through. Try to avoid canceling classes just because there is only one learner or only a few learners enrolled. When you teach a class to one learner, you have the opportunity to really give your all.  Teach your heart out to the learners that join to build a reputation as an educator who cares. As an added bonus, you may find that parents are more responsive in giving feedback or leaving a review for your effort.

Daniel Grissom recommends teaching “to one learner, two learners, or three learners, but two months later, three months later, it could be a sold-out class. It might be half a year later.” Building your online teaching business takes time and you’re in it for the long haul, so keep offering classes and collect lots of positive feedback along the way.

25. Send feedback

Let families know what their learner was doing in class by seeing feedback after their class has ended. Even just a couple of lines about what they did, how they did it, and words of encouragement can go a long way. Messaging families also gives you a chance to share upcoming class information or funnel learners into the next class of a series.

26. Respond quickly

Communication is key when it comes to working with families. Be polite, courteous, and respectful as part of your customer service strategy. Answer questions and concerns within 48 hours and if someone is not courteous to you, let Outschool know. Respect goes both ways.

27. Involve everyone

While there are situations when learners should be muted, such as during a lecture or when listening to the instructions for a game or experiment, it’s important to keep learners engaged during class time and not just lecture the entire time. You can do this by calling on learners individually, giving them time to say “hello” at the start or end of class, or letting them know that they can ask questions throughout the lesson.

28. Reviews

Families want to see what others think of your classes but don’t obsess over them. Instead, focus on being the best educator you can be and offering the best service to your Outschool families first. If you’re unsure how to ask for parent reviews, consider including the request in your feedback after class when it is fresh on their minds. Remember that parents look at the number of reviews and feedback from other parents as a deciding factor when choosing classes for their learners.

29. Take notes

If you find something that works for you, be sure to write it down. Over time, see if there are any patterns to your success and start focusing on those areas. According to the Pareto Principle, “80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes,” so maximize your outcomes by focusing on what is helping you succeed the most.

30. One final tip…

Be yourself! While this may be the final tip on the list, it might be one of the most important. Don’t worry about what others are doing or teaching about. Focus on your niche, your online business, and teach what you’re most passionate about. If you’re more comfortable teaching preschool learners, do it! Do you like art, science, or a specific subject within a broader area of learning? Focus on that. Learners feed off educator energy, so share what you’re most excited about. 
Want to know more about getting started, growing your online teaching business, and marketing on Outschool? Check out Outschool’s Educator Library for more information.

More from Outschool

The Spring 2024 Educator Outlook is here!

Explore Outschool’s latest predictions to help grow your online teaching business this spring.

Top 10 tips for learner retention

Master the art of learner retention to increase profits for your online teaching business.

Categories

Teach on your terms

Set learning free