Preply – So…when does it get good?

I have been a Preply tutor for almost five months, and as I’ve said before, it was an instant success. As with anything in life, some people may have an experience completely different from mine. The other day I was asked if the platform gets any better. Here is a post tackling this question.

I guess all ESL teachers tried their best at online teaching. The initial thrill of creating a profile, quickly changes into agony and waiting for the first notification about students being interested in our services. Preply facilitated this process, as I was instantly bombarded with messages and trial lessons. I raised my prices on the second day and even hid my profile to avoid being overwhelmed. However, I understand the feeling of the website not being worth it. I had the same feeling about Superprof and Tusclasesparticulares (to a degree). I was on Superprof for months and received five messages in total, three of which were spam.

How do you make Preply worthwhile?

I don’t think that there is a golden rule that would help you become a success story. In my case, my Preply profile got picked up by the gods of algorithm and stayed on top. Additionally, I managed to turn all my trials into regular lessons, which definitely helped. Once I got into the rhythm of teaching my new students and developed a routine, I reopened my profile and waited for more trials, this time with one, maybe two students per month.

I analysed my statistics and realized that during my first month on Preply, I worked the most (44 hours) and earned the least! Now, I work about 10 hours less and make about 100 euros more than before. I use these 10 hours extra doing other things, for example, teaching or relaxing.

As you can see, in March 2022 I worked 44 hours, which includes 9 hours of trial lessons! If you aren’t familiar with the Preply policy, all trial lessons are free. In April there was a dip in hours and earnings, as I took a week off. I came back in May and taught 35 hours, including 2 hours of trial lessons. In June I taught 33 hours and two hours of trial lessons. Additionally, in May I started making 75-100 euros more a week by teaching group lessons. This is not reflected in the earnings shown on the graph above.

I must admit that I’m happy with this trend. When I scrolled through my calendar (March and April) and saw the number of hours I used to work, I felt a sense of relief that I finally see an improvement in my earnings to hours ratio.

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Reduce the number of trial lessons

The first thing that discourages people from teaching on Preply are free trial lessons. They are exciting, but realistically – how many new students a month should you aim for? I am up for one, maybe two new students a month. If all of your students are new, you will make peanuts. That’s why setting your prices high is essential to feel like what you do, makes sense. Of course, the higher the prices, the fewer new students you will get. However, this will allow you to put more energy into the current students. Also, they should know that the more expensive the class, the higher the quality of lessons. They aren’t only paying for classes, but also for your qualifications, experience and preparation time.

So, how do you create a successful trial lesson? I have written about this before (My very first trial lesson on Preply) and have been using this lesson plan with all my new students. I only adapt the demo lesson (15-20 minutes of the whole class) depending on students’ needs and requests. This lets me reduce my preparation time to a minimum. Once you feel confident teaching your classes, it will show and students will want to be with a professional who puts some thought into the lesson. After a few months on the platform, I have heard some horror stories of tutors who do NOT prepare anything, so students will appreciate your professionalism.

Increase your rates

Once you are happy with the number of regular students, increase your prices and don’t be afraid to change the hourly rate for your regulars! I remember reading on Instagram (I think it was Ola Kowalska’s profile, but I couldn’t find the post to save my life!) a tip to raise your prices by 20% every six months, and I live by this rule now. I messaged all my students a month in advance, informing them about this change. I was a bit nervous at first, but all of my regulars took it well and agreed! Students will appreciate your honesty and the time you give them to change the tutor if necessary. Show some respect, and you will get the same respect in return.

Another interesting thing I noticed after increasing my rates was the type of students who decided to book classes with me. Now that my hourly rate is 2.5 times higher than when I started, I realized that I’m typically booked by corporate students (paid by companies), business students and students who want to prepare for their Cambridge exams. They are much more serious, book lessons a month or two in advance and tell you exactly what they want. Plus, they want to pay you more for your expertise.

Be patient

Patience is the key. Don’t expect to see crazy income in your first month of teaching. In fact, the more you teach, the more opportunities you will get. After teaching over 60 hours on the platform, I received an email saying that only 50% of all tutors stick around for longer than 60 hours! Many of them get discouraged after teaching hours of free trial lessons, or crazy commissions, and look for their luck elsewhere. I must say that I saw a huge turn after those 60 hours. I was offered to become a group teacher, which gives me the possibility to choose the time and classes depending on my availability. If you are interested in becoming a group tutor, read Group lessons on Preply and decide for yourself.

Another opportunity was an offer to participate in the very first Preply online conference and give a short 25 minutes presentation on any topic. I decided to pass this year but may give it a go in the future. It is a good way of gaining exposure and becoming a Preply partner (if they enjoy your style, that is).

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So when does it get any good?

As anticlimactic as it may sound, you can be successful on the first day or in a few months. What you need is a lot of patience and luck. Additionally, it will be much easier for you to become a top tutor if you show your expertise and treat your students with the respect that they deserve (no matter their hourly rate!) Prepare for hours of unpaid work and high commissions and once you have some regulars, ask for reviews. At the same time, don’t be afraid to quit the platform if you don’t see it as a good fit for you. There are so many other websites on which you can be successful immediately, and which follow different policies that you agree with, for example, Italki, Lingoda, iTutor…etc.

Do you teach online? Have you ever taken classes online? What platforms do you use to teach online?

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