I was contacted by an ajarn reader with a simple question - "I'm looking to teach private students perhaps ten hours a week but how can I market myself? What works for other teachers?"
I thought this would be a good topic to kick around. Private students can be quite a lucrative source of extra income if you manage to hit it right. But how do you go about finding them?
It's been a good while since I taught private students at home but I found that once you had attracted half a dozen students to come and study with you, then word of mouth generally did the rest. If students genuinely enjoyed the lessons and felt they had learned something, they couldn't wait to tell friends, colleagues and other family members. It wasn't long before I was turning students away because I just couldn't find the time to teach them. A couple of nights a week and the odd Sunday morning I didn't mind, but I wasn't willing to teach every single evening and give up a good portion of my precious weekend.
To get the ball rolling, once I had set up a room in my house as a study room, I made friends with the local 'songthaew' drivers. These were the guys who ferried residents from the far-flung corners of my housing estate to the main road. I got some good-size stickers printed with my name and phone number and the courses I offered, and then paid the drivers 200 baht a month to put the stickers in the area where the passengers sit. Those stickers brought me in a fair chunk of business.
I also see a lot of 'private teacher' ads in the area around BTS Prompong. Just off the main station is a bookstall called 'Book of World" where for about 50 baht a month, you can put a flyer on their notice-board. Go down to street level and both Villa and Fuji Supermarkets have prominently displayed notice-boards with 'apartments for sale, maid wanted, and the odd private English teacher for hire. These notice boards have always struck me as a fantastic option for teachers to tout their services with so many Japanese housewives walking around that area.
So if you teach private students, what works for you? How have you built up your own little private teaching empire? And what are some of the perils and pitfalls of the business?
Send us your comments below and help out another teacher.