A common fear when you start thinking about setting up your own language business online is that you are not going to make enough money, or not get enough clients. But for this to even be a thing to consider, you need to work out what ‘enough’ means. How much money (per week/month/year)? How many clients? And what deadline are you setting yourself to achieve those goals?
Most people are pretty black and white when they think about these aspects; some people think they will make absolutely nothing at all (overly pessimistic), and others think they will be swimming in money in no time (overly optimistic).
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in-between. It is definitely possible to set up a language teaching business online and learn techniques including marketing and sales that will help you achieve those goals – it’s just that it will take both time and hard work. Unfortunately, a lot of people just aren’t willing to put the effort in and won’t have the patience to wait for those results to come.
Of course, you do need enough money so that you can live comfortably. You need to work out how much you need, set yourself a timeframe and a plan to reach those goals. But if you can’t survive financially for a while without a job, a better method is to start (like I did) by running your language business as a side-hustle.
Online language teaching as a side hustle
A side hustle is when you set up a business alongside your normal job. This will allow you to start small and try it out. Your business can grow organically, while you learn as you go along. Then, if you feel that you have sufficient income from your side hustle and things are going well, you can take the step and turn it into a full-time job.
It might mean joining a course, a programme, or working with a business coach to learn the skills and get the guidance needed to fast track your personal and business development.
And it might mean defining a milestone when you will decide that maybe this isn’t working and it’s time to tweak, change direction, or scrap the plan altogether.
The most important thing when you’re side hustling is to find time for your side hustle. Here are six steps for how to do it.
1. Identify blocked out times during your week
Grab a piece of paper (or create an Excel sheet) and write down the days of the week (Monday to Sunday) and all 24 hours of the day, as a calendar. Start by blocking out all the hours of the day when you have commitments. If you work 8-4pm, block that out, but also block out any time it takes for you to get to and from work. If you have children that need to be picked up from school, or any other family commitments, block that out too.
2. Make adjustments
Ask yourself if you could make any adjustments in your blocked out times. Can someone else take over responsibility for something you are doing? Can you rotate with someone? Could you start work earlier and leave earlier (or vice versa)? Could you take a longer lunch break? Get creative and see where you might be able to tweak things. If you can make those adjustments, fill them in on your calendar.
3. Add slots for lifestyle and health
Make sure to add at least seven or eight hours of sleep and time for exercising. Block out mealtimes and also add in blocks for rest.
4. Identify when you can work on your side hustle
Look at your calendar. How much time is left? You might see some time early in the mornings or later in the evenings, perhaps some time at lunch too.
5. Reflect on how this makes you feel
Now is the time to honestly ask yourself how this makes you feel. Think about what trade offs you are willing to make to give you more time for work without 100% sacrificing all of the other things that matter to you. It might be that you can go for a 30 minute run instead of spending an hour in the gym. Maybe you could get up one hour earlier? Or spend Saturday mornings working on your business? Of course, you shouldn’t trade off all your personal things, but you can probably make some slight adjustments. If you are happy with the time you have, then great! Don’t make any adjustments.
6. Stick to your schedule
When you have carved out some time for your side hustle, it’s really important to stick to it and not let it slide. Protect your time for side hustle, and make sure you work on it. Put your calendar up somewhere you can see it, or put a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget. Put your phone on silent while you are working so you don’t get distracted. If you live with someone, it’s also important to tell them about it, so that they respect your time.