Hey guys! If you’re wondering about solid work-from-home job opportunities, and teaching online specifically, check out my wife’s review of her VIPKid experience right here!
There are about 78,941,2901 companies/organizations/programs/ways for you to make money online, from home. Teaching English is one of them. So if you’re self-aware and decisive enough to narrow it down that far, you only have 40,5212 options to wade through.
The list goes on. So how do you choose one, and are they reliable? What’s it actually like?
Me, I’m not much of an overthinker when it comes to making decisions. If you are, I’m sorry but I will in no way be able to satisfy your “But how do you choose?!” question. This is how I chose VIPKid: it was one of the first ones I heard about, it pays one of the highest rates, and there were enough YouTube videos of teachers giving tips, forums of people discussing methods, and merch out there that I could say with a fair amount of certainty it wasn’t a hoax (and if it was, it was so elaborate that those scammers DESERVED to dupe me).
So I filled out an application, my process began, and I learned a few big things very, very quickly.
NUMBER 1: It is pretty tedious to get your start. Budget two weeks just to complete your hiring.
The hiring process has several stages:
- Application (easy, quick)
- Interview (simple, but nerve-wracking). Basically, you are given a PowerPoint ahead of time and you need to teach that PowerPoint as a 10-minute demo lesson to another teacher, who is pretending to be a 5-year-old Chinese kid. The teachers are really kind and fun, but I didn’t know that going in and I was scared out of my mind!
- Certification. “Congratulations,” they say. “You’re in!” They say. And it’s true, only you can’t start teaching anyone until you’re certified in each individual level you want to teach. So you have to study the material and teach another mock class. And another mock class. …and another mock class. When they say “you’re in,” what they mean is “You have the job, and you can’t lose your spot at this point.” You have as many tries to pass the certification test as you need. For me… that was three tries (embarrassing, I know).
- Background Check (painless. …hopefully)
- Contract (straightforward, but involved). You read the contract, sign on the dotted line, and throw a party. …but hold on to your party hat and leave the nacho cheese in the oven to stay warm, because you also have to upload three images of yourself and a 15-second intro video that goes on your profile. Parents use this video to decide if they want to book you to teach their kid. Talk about high pressure! You have two days to sign your contract, and you can’t submit it without this video! So I’ll be honest with you. I took a really, really lame video in order to meet the deadline, but did not open any slots in my schedule until I changed it. And you can change it at any time.
That process took me about 2, maybe 3 weeks. If you’re more driven than me, I’m sure you can do it faster. You may rock your certification mock class and only need one shot. If you do, please call me—I need to learn something from your teaching.
NUMBER 2: Your bookings are not guaranteed… but you may be surprised by how many kids need a teacher!
VIPKid does not assign students to you once you’ve gotten certified. For lack of a better way to put it, VIPKid is more of a platform in which teachers get certified and post their profiles, and in which parents find teachers for their kids.
Your profile contains your three pictures and your intro video (as detailed above), your teaching experience, and a short paragraph you write to introduce yourself. You then have a calendar in which you open slots, so that parents know when you’re available and can book you if they so choose. And then… you wait.
Apparently, some people wait a very long time. Some people gave up before they ever got a substantial amount of bookings.
This was not the case for me.
I waited until after I had replaced my lame intro video, and then I opened some slots. Then I waited. I waited for six days with no bookings, but then… like magic, I got… 20?!
This is a screenshot of my third week of classes. Every slot I’ve opened has been filled, and every week since has been that way.
I’ve gotten 41 5-apple reviews (yep. We do apples instead of stars), and I’m having no trouble getting bookings. Why?
Truthfully, I cannot promise you this experience. I don’t know the magic formula, but here’s a bit about me that I think may have contributed:
- I took the time to make a quality intro video.
- I have a bachelor’s degree, which isn’t required by VIPKid but may have given me a leg up.
- I got TESOL certified (and you can too, for a mere $5. Check Groupon for International Open Academy’s 120 Hour TESOL Course. And no, that doesn’t mean it takes 120 hours).
- I participated in some of the opportunities VIPKid offers teachers to help them get in front of parents. More on that in a second
Maybe that’s why I’m succeeding. Maybe I got lucky. Maybe my timing was good – with the holidays near, maybe other teachers took some time off and I snagged their kiddos out from under them. Truly, I don’t know.
It could happen to you! Or it could be more difficult than that.
NUMBER 3: VIPKid offers tons of ways for you to increase your chances of bookings!
If you’re not getting bookings, you can do more than sit and wait! Every so often (as in… twice since I started, a month ago) VIPKid will offer some opportunity for you to complete a task that parents will see, which may increase your bookings as they see your face, hear your teaching, and see your profile.
The one I did was called “Ni Hao You Doin’?” and while the name was cheesy as could be, well… so was my video. Basically, VIPKid asked teachers, on a completely optional basis, to create 1-minute videos of themselves—things they like, where they live, anything personal that would help parents and students know who they are and potentially decide to book them.
Yes, creating a video is a lot of work. So is teaching, and so is waking up in the morning and making your bed. You have to decide what it’s worth to you.
NUMBER 4: It’s early mornings, high energy, and you are legitimately hanging out with amazing kiddos ACROSS THE GLOBE!
The teaching hours I’ve set for myself are from 5am-8am, every day. Eastern Standard Time is 13 hours behind China, so my options as a teacher are between 7:30 PM and 8:30 AM. Yours may be a bit different if you’re in a different time zone, but it is likely to be a night-or-morning situation for you.
Admittedly, the hours have been by far the most difficult part for me to adjust to. It’s early morning and you’re going at 110%, processing and eliciting and smiling and encouraging and correcting and playing and listening closely and being dramatic and smiling until your face twitches.
Especially before my first classes, I was very nervous. I didn’t know if they would like me, if I would be able to teach well, if they would understand, if the curriculum would turn out more difficult for them then I was prepared to support them through, a million ifs.
But then I said hello, and the girl said hello, and she had this big grin and she was so excited, and it really melted away.
I cannot get my mind around how incredible of an opportunity this is.
NUMBER 5: VIPKid’s mascot… is a dinosaur… named Dino.
And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments 🙂