Did you know that historically January brings in over 50% more Outschool class enrollments than any other month? Whether you hope to grow your online educator business, take on more students, offer new class topics, or even new class types, a strong performance in January can help you start your year off on the right foot.
As an online educator, it’s important to look at how to increase business while providing the best service possible for learners and their families. To help, we’ve reached out to veteran Outschool educators to find out how they plan for January and what strategies have been most successful.
Class types for January
As you prepare for January enrollments, it’s important to begin thinking about what class type is best for the topics you plan to teach.
If you teach traditional academic classes (math, reading, etc.), language learning, collaborative learning classes based on developing relationships, or sequential curriculum, consider creating a semester course. These classes meet at least once a week for eight or more weeks and allow learners the opportunity to complete interactive projects and dive deep into the subject matter.
According to Melissa L., an ELA/IEW educator on Outschool, scheduling semester classes in advance allows families time to register and prepare.
“I schedule classes months in advance to ensure I have the time to market them to homeschoolers (my target audience) and because the classes I teach require families to purchase materials ahead of time. For me, it is easier to plan out the school year by posting my fall classes in March and my winter/spring classes in October. At Outschool, my job is more than just as an educator. I am also a marketer and customer service representative. It’s important to me to ensure that I’m providing the best all-around experience for families and that starts before learners even enter my classroom.”
Curious about which classes are performing well for educators? Check out the most in-demand class topics at Outschool.
If you have a topic, specific skill, or project that is longer than a one-time class, but not as long as eight or more weeks, a short-term class may be just the thing for you. Classes that meet for seven weeks or less are perfect for intensive courses or “boot camps” for learners who want an accelerated course of study. Try creating a camp-style class or multiple short-term courses as an alternative to one long semester course for families who would prefer to break up their learning into shorter sections.
Bonus: If you already have a semester-long course available, consider breaking it down into multiple short-term courses for families that may want to focus on one area of study or who may not be able to meet for a full semester.
Instead of a group learning experience, you may choose to offer any of the class formats above as a 1-on-1 course. These types of classes allow you to customize your class for a single learner. In addition, a 1-on-1 course can be used to complement or expand on your existing live courses.
1-on-1 classes aren’t just for tutoring. Check out these options that educators are including in their teaching toolboxes:
- Tutoring: One-time reinforcement classes for core academic subjects are popular but aren’t the only tutoring you can offer. Many families are looking for a 1-on-1 meeting covering a subject their child is passionate about or is curious about. This may include video games, drawing, cooking, or a life skill.
- Private classes: Instead of offering a 1-on-1 class that only meets one time, think about creating a multi-day class that uses a set curriculum and meets multiple times. This is great for ESL learners, homeschooled students, and anyone interested in strengthening a skill.
- Test prep: The beginning of the new year typically ushers in an increase in learners seeking test prep help. If you have experience teaching the SAT, ACT, US Milestone, GSCE, or another standardized test, January is a great time to start offering these classes. Don’t forget that even typical classroom standards such as grade-level math and reading are in demand during this time of year.
- Ongoing 1-on-1: Another option to consider is a personalized ongoing course. For learners struggling with a subject or looking to develop a skill over time, this offers them the opportunity to meet 1-on-1 so that the material is customized for their needs each week.
Tammy Wenhame, an ACE Educator on Outschool & licensed Elementary Instructor, has experienced the benefits of offering 1-on-1 classes to learners.
“I put up January links in September and already I have enrollments [in October]. I am tutoring grammer three times a week 1-on-1, and it is actually a full curriculum class for each learner—not reinforcement, more like a private class.”
With over 1400 5-star reviews, it’s no surprise that Tammy’s approach is working well for her and her learners.
Bonus: Do you have a popular multi-day or short-term class? If so, consider offering a private course for learners who want to know more about a topic or need additional help outside normal classroom hours.
Sometimes you have a topic or idea you want to offer every week. If that is the case, consider creating an ongoing course. These courses offer a new topic each week with no set end date. This format works well for themed clubs, art and music classes, and social groups. Most importantly, ongoing classes are designed so that learners can come and go as they please.
Just keep in mind that this format is not appropriate for classes where meetings build on knowledge, skills, or assignments from previous weeks. This includes book clubs, where learners are expected to have read up to a certain point in a book, or classes that follow a sequential curriculum.
Families with busy schedules, families with preschoolers, and learners who attend after-school clubs on Outschool often prefer the ongoing format to help their learners make friends or learn the basics.
Kellie Thompson, a dedicated educator on Outschool with over ten years of teaching, shares that you should “start scheduling January classes which [already] have learners enrolled that can continue, such as ongoing or multi-day/one-time classes that have a funnel.” Learn more about class funnels to start ramping up those re-enrollments from existing learners.
Another popular class type is the one-time class option. One-time classes, classes that only meet once, are a great way to get started on Outschool and lend themselves well to a curriculum designed around a project or singular skill. We recommend teaching a one-time class when you’re new to Outschool to help you get familiar with the platform, start connecting with prospective families, and test out different topic ideas.
Unsure what type of one-time class to create? Use these tips as a guideline to get started:
- Holidays: Because Outschool is a global platform, every day is a holiday! Use a holiday calendar like this one to create a holiday-themed course. (Don’t forget to review Outschool’s class content policies to ensure that you’re creating an inclusive holiday class.) Check out our seasonal calendar for more information about when to list your holiday classes.
- Introductory classes: Do you teach a subject or skill that requires multiple weeks of instruction but want to give families a taste of what to expect? Offer a one-time introductory course as a stepping stone to longer-running courses.
- Skill-based classes: Drawing, cooking, baking, and other skills-based classes work well as one-time offerings. Consider taking one of your successful multi-day classes and breaking it up into several one-time classes. This way, you can open up the opportunity for more learners who want to stay for the entire course and those who want to fit into one or two classes that interest them.
Tina Hugall, a veteran history educator on Outschool, has found a lot of success using these strategies.
“I create a lot of intro classes for my longer-term multi-day and flex classes. That seems to be going well.”
With over 700 5-star reviews, it’s easy to see why Tina’s approach is so successful!
Flexible schedule classes
If you’re low on time or are already taking on a full load of live classes, you may want to think about adding flexible courses, or “flex” classes, to your schedule. Flex classes provide asynchronous learning opportunities consisting of recorded video sessions, classroom discussions, assignments, and additional learning tools to encourage interaction and provide feedback. Unlike live course types, these classes don’t include any face-to-face learning time so your curriculum must clearly outline how learners will interact with you and the material.
After talking with our educators, one thing is clear: Flex classes can be a great way to grow your following while working on live classes.
When to schedule January classes
Now that you know more about what classes you can offer in the upcoming year, the next step is to get your classes scheduled. The timing of when you list your classes could be crucial to your success.
Tips and strategies for increasing January enrollment
While holiday classes are good for the short term, your business goals should be for the long term. Below are 5 tips to help you get started on the right path:
Create and request new listings early: If you want to offer a core academic class, there is no time better than the present to plan out your idea, create your class listing, and get it posted for families to see. Families are always looking ahead when registering for classes. For classes that begin in January, consider listing classes as early as September. Once January rolls around, you’ll probably want to begin planning and preparing classes for the fall. Set yourself up for success by learning how to navigate seasonal shifts in online learning.
Expand your teaching horizons: While Outschool does have requirements for certain types of classes, it’s important to follow your passions. Consider offering a class, or series of classes, covering material that you enjoy sharing. Not sure what to offer? Check out what’s popular on Outschool, which classes are currently in demand, and current topic requests for additional inspiration.
Schedule sections at least 4-12 weeks in advance: When scheduling your classes, you want to give yourself enough time to market them and let families know about what you’re offering.
Pick a time that works for you and for families: Because Outschool is a global community, there is a balance between what times work best for you and when families take classes. If most of your learners are in a different time zone, understand when to schedule classes during the day. If you’re unsure what times are best, check out the best times to schedule classes here.
Market your classes online: In addition to Outschool marketing your classes, you can increase your chances of success by marketing your classes outside of Outschool. Find the best places to share information about your classes and build your reputation with families in order to spread the word and keep families coming back for more.
Create multiple types of class listings: Just because you’ve only taught ongoing classes in the past doesn’t mean that you can’t try something new. Consider taking some of your most popular classes and creating new classes based on what’s working for you. As educator Ben Corey mentioned, it’s okay to pivot and make changes along the way!
Ways to increase bookings
- Create a marketing plan: Whether you’re looking for marketing strategies to grow your business, where to market your teaching business, or how to build your reputation online, it’s important to make sure that you create a plan and start spreading the word about your classes. Don’t wait until your classes are posted either. Reach out to your friends, family, and online communities to see what type of classes and subjects families are looking for.
- Upload your certifications to participate in Outschool’s ESA program: Currently, Outschool is participating in the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account and North Carolina Scholarship Account programs, with more states rolling out soon. (Unfamiliar with ESA? Check out these articles about what the ESA program is and how you can help families pay for your classes with state scholarship funds.) Upload your certifications to be considered for each state.
- Become an ACE Educator on Outschool: Outschool created the ACE Teaching Framework to help educators define outstanding learning experiences that inspire a love of learning. By completing ACE Framework learning opportunities, you have the chance to earn an ACE Educator photo frame that will be displayed along with your photo on your profile page. Earning ACE Educator status can also qualify you for additional perks from Outschool, like being a featured educator or organization on the logged-out Outschool home page.
- Create a unique course: Are you someone who knows random facts, every detail of a book series, or how to teach a complicated subject in a way that even a kindergartner could understand? If so, go ahead and turn your knowledge into a class. Think outside the box and create an interesting, fun, or mind-boggling course about a subject not currently being offered!