Published 19th October 2015

The draws of being a freelancer in any industry are endless, work when you want, nobody telling you what to do, and you can set your own salary, and teaching English is no different. However there are some downsides. How do you go about being a freelancer? And, what if work suddenly dries up? Here we’ll give you the low down on being a freelance English teacher, what it takes, and how to go about getting started.


Though the idea of freelancing might be tempting, it requires a great deal of self motivation, you’re a one man business and you must be prepared to put in the work to be successful. If you’re not great at time management and love procrastinating it might not be for you. But for the motivated amongst us it can be the perfect career opportunity.


There are no set rules or protocols when it comes to being a freelancer, but when you arrive in a new country to teach, it’s always good to first find a regular teaching position. This isn’t just to provide financial stability until you build up your client base, but also to give you some local credentials. Even if you have bags of experience at a reputable institution, if that institution is 2000 miles away it doesn’t mean much in your new locality.


Once you’re settled and have some experience it’s time to start putting yourself out there. Many students from your school might ask you to do private tuition outside the classroom; this is many a teachers’ first foray into freelancing. Beyond that word of mouth, advertising on Gumtree (or the local equivalent), putting up flyers in the local universities and using social media are all great ways to gain clients. The good thing about freelancing is that because it pays better, you often need fewer students than you might think to make a living, even two hours a day can provide you with enough for a moderate lifestyle depending on where you are.


Teaching over the internet via Skype is an ever expanding market for the freelance English teacher. Though often agencies connect students with teachers, meaning it’s not technically freelance, you can choose your hours, sometimes set your rates, and use your home as your office!


There some important things to remember about freelancing in another country; visas, health insurance and tax. When you work for a school these matters will often be taken care of, but as a freelancer you’re expected to do it yourself. However, with a little motivation and self determination you could be freelance English teaching and reaping all the benefits of working for yourself.