Can you make money teaching English Online? A new “Teachers” Perspective. I have always been curious about teaching English online Can it really can provide enough money for me to one day quit my current day job and live a life of location independence.
I mean, after all, that is my goal. To one day quit the rat race and live a life of location independence and own my own time.
I have been optimistic about 2020. In January 2020, I planned my entire 2020 vacation travel schedule. Got my time off approved, and purchased all my airline tickets. This was going to be a great year of travel.
I also started my blog, I planned to review airlines, and new destinations to share them with the world. 2020 was going to be an amazing year! Well, we all know what happened next.
I still had some optimism, that my travels may continue towards the fall and the winter of 2020. But over the last few weeks, I slowly realized that 2020, and leisure travel was just not going to happen.
I am humbled, and grateful during this time my employer provided me the option to work from home. I know many are not in my situation, and I really am grateful to be in the position I am in.
Let’s hope that anyone that may have lost their job, gets something better soon. These are tough times for many.
My Start- Teaching English Online:
With my travel plans crushed, and my state going back into lockdown mode. And binge-watching all the worth-while travel vlogs on YouTube, I decided to see if I can get hired with VIPKID.
VIPKID is an online teaching platform that hires independent contractors. They are hired to teach English to children who are primarily based in China.
With my current job, my schedule is typically 6 am to 6 pm Monday-Friday. I decided to challenge myself to see if this online teaching gig can provide a sustainable income. And hopefully, one day help me support my goal of quitting the rat race and become location independent.
If you are interested in joining VIPKID (after you read this post), click this link for my referral code. I can help you along the way.
Requirements to get hired with VIPKID (Current as of July 2020)
- Bachelor’s Degree or higher (In any field)
- Eligibility to work in the US or Canada
- You are not living in California (CA has always had tough laws for businesses)
- At least one-year teaching experience ( You do not have to be an actual licensed teacher)
How much does VIPKID Pay?
One word: complicated! VIPKID recently changed their pay and incentive structure. They are pretty much hiring all-new independent contractors at $7.50 per 25-minute class.
All new teachers will receive a .80 Cent participation bonus per class. So, to recap, you will start off making $8.30 every 25 minutes ($7.50+ .80), or $16.60 for 50 minutes. You start earning more money per class once you reach certain milestones. For example, when you complete 20 classes in a month, you are bumped up to $1.20 vs. 80 Cents per class and so on.
There are other incentives, like short notice bookings. (Which means that a parent booked use less than 24 hours) in which you receive an extra $2.00 a class. I love those. There is also a $5 incentive if you teach a trial student, and they decide to enroll in your class.
Teaching English Online- The Word on the Street
I was officially hired with VIPKD in mid-June but did not open any of my slots for bookings until late June/Early July. From what I read, this was a mistake.
VIPKID usually highlights new teachers to help them get bookings. By not opening slots for bookings, I most likely hurt my chances of getting additional students. So, if you get hired, please make sure you open slots right away.
I also found out (through social networks) that this is not the best time for VIPKID Teachers. With many brick and mortar schools currently closed, and the high unemployment rate in the US. Many have turned to online teaching to help provide an income stream.
Many VIPKID teacher groups have teachers complaining about the low amount of bookings. Some even reporting how it took up to 30-60 days to get their 1st booking!
To get perspective and an understanding of teacher sentiments, I joined a VIPKID Facebook group. This did not last long. I had to leave that group after a week due to all the negative posts. I made a decision a while ago, not to surround myself near any negativity. It’s a disease, that can be contagious.
Oh My… The Hours
Since you are teaching students who primarily live in China, you will need to adjust to Beijing Time (BJT). Beijing is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and 12 hours ahead during daylight savings time. Since I live on the west coast, those peak times (the ones with the highest demand for teachers) are 3 am to 6 am Monday- Friday.
My job requires my full-time attention from 6 am-6 pm Monday-Friday. For me to make any money, I needed to start opening classes at 3 am. I also open classes from 6 pm to 10 pm during the weeknights.
Weekends are a lot easier. But to meet the peak time demand, you will have to wake up at 3 am on Saturdays and Sundays. You will also need to work throughout the night to help maximize your potential earnings. It can be tough on your body. Physically and mentally.
Teaching online is not a guaranteed income stream. Just like any self-employment job. Somedays you may have a lot of bookings, the next day or weeks you may have zero. You have to be ok with the potential emotional rollercoaster.
Many VIPKID teachers are not seeing any decline in bookings. These are typically well-established teachers that have built a base of regulars of the past three years. I strongly believe it will take time. You just must be consistent and open available slots to parents.
How much am I making Teaching English Online?
Note- I have only been teaching since the end of June 2020. July will be my 1st full month.
Since this is a bit of an experiment for me, I pretty much open all the slots that I can, which sometimes means my alarm goes off at 2:45am.
My 1st full week, I had 32 classes booked (Saturday-Friday) which is 16 hours. In my second week (Saturday-Friday), I had 33 classes booked, just over 16 hours that week. In my 3rd week, which is coming up, I currently have 25 bookings scheduled (not completed yet).
Hopefully, more will be scheduled as the week progresses, and hopefully, parents do not cancel. That happens often, and if they cancel more than 24 hours before the class, you do not earn any money.
In the 1st two weeks, I have taught 65 classes and have earned approximately $625 so far this month. If my schedule stays on course. If I can maintain 15 hours a week. I can make approximately $1200 a month for approximately 65 hours a month or 16 hours a week.
I am not sure how I stack against others, but this is not a competition. Some teachers who have been with VIPKID for years, teach well over 250 classes a month. These teachers will earn up to $5K a month, every month (Yes, a teacher showed me his pay stub). And some teachers are lucky to get 5 bookings a month.
It will take time and patience for this gig to be sustainable. But in my opinion, you can easily earn a decent side hustle income stream.
This is particularly true for teachers who are already remote and living in SE ASIA. These teachers can easily optimize their schedules to Beijing time. By doing so, they can increase their earnings, and truly make a living teaching online.
Will I continue Teaching English Online to earn Additional Income?
When you join VIPKID, you sign a 6-month contract. As of today, I’m planning on fulfilling the 6-month contract with VIPKID. I will continue to test these waters to see if this can be a sustainable income for me in the future.
Being an independent contractor comes with risk: Your hours are not guaranteed, and the company can shutdown at any moment. You just must be mindful of the risks associated with being self-employed.
My Plans With the Money I make Teaching English Online
Since my page is about travel and personal finance. It is always important to have a plan, and do your best to execute that plan.
Here is my plan with this additional income stream.
- 50% of this income will go right into VTSAX. I get paid from VIPKID on the 4th of every month.
- 30% of this income is for taxes (Yes, you still have to pay taxes). If your self employed you should be paying taxes quarterly. So I will save 30% of my income to ensure I pay the IRS every quarter. This will be interesting since I already have a W2 job, and I am actively seeking ways to reduce my taxable income.
- 20% of the income will go to my high yield savings account. My high yield savings account is the money that I plan to live off of when I make the move. My high yield savings cannot sustain me until I retire. But if teaching online can provide me $2K a month. my high Yield Savings account will provide me a nice emergency fund.
Are you interested In Teaching Online?
What are your thoughts? Is this something you are doing already, will do, or want to know more about? Again, if you are interested in VIPKID, use my referral code, and I can help you during the interview process