Different Ways To Teach Online & Make A Living Doing It!

To make money teaching online, it all starts with a bit of ‘thinking outside the box.’ This is true whether you’re a high school teacher looking to make the leap into a virtual classroom, or someone who hasn’t ever worked on a lesson plan. The most important factor is taking your skill set and applying it in a way that helps others. There are many different ways to teach online – from virtual classroom instruction and pre-recorded video courses, to lessons and tutoring. The internet has opened up a diverse amalgam ways for creative thinkers and doers to make money, and today we’re going to look at how that applies to world of teaching.

No matter which of the different ways to teach online you pursue, keep a few basics in mind:

  • Make the expectations of the course clear from the beginning.
  • Interact with students regularly, and encourage interaction between students if possible. Don’t just get on camera and preach to them.
  • Ask for and respond to feedback.
  • Have a good wrap up activity/lesson/assignment for your student(s). Leave them feeling positive, encouraged, and motivated to continue their pursuit of learning.

Virtual classrooms

You’ve likely heard about online high school and college courses. The idea of ‘distance learning’ in the education field is relatively new, evolving with the increasing popularity and speed of the internet. This type of learning is more popular now than ever, with one in four students now taking online classes.

In essence, teaching an online course to students is similar to teaching the same course in person. But both the teacher and the student have more flexibility, as they aren’t contained within traditional school hours. This is particularly helpful for college students with jobs, families, or other major commitments that dominate their schedule.

Students and instructors generally interact through a virtual portal connected to the school or university. Assignments are submitted via the portal, with feedback and updates happening there as well. Lessons can be posted by the teacher, downloaded by students, and completed when their schedule allows.

How to break into this field:

  • Ensure you have proper certification to teach the desired subject matter and level.
  • There are many online job boards where schools post remote teaching positions.
  • Speak with your current employer, if you have one, about any possible remote positions in the district/school/university.
  • Keep in mind that student dialogue is equally as important here as in the classroom. Keep student-to-instructor, student-to-student, and student-to-resources dialogue and accessibility top of mind. Strong interaction is key!
  • Refer to Teacher Indie’s vast resources for online teachers.

Teaching lessons online

Musicians and skilled trade professionals may want to pursue giving online lessons in their field. Guitarists, for example, can join a site for online instructors or create their own business and website. The biggest benefit here is that nearly everything can be taught online these days, from music to carpentry.

We have resources pertaining to this as well-

How to break into this field:

  • Create a lesson plan. Do some Google research on what others in the field are doing, how they are presenting the material, and their general approach to doing business. Obviously, you don’t want to copy them precisely – but a little guidance never hurts.
  • Craigslist and other classified outlets are great free ways to advertise your services.
  • Post flyers at local shops related to your field. i.e. a music shop, hardware store, etc.
  • Networking, networking, networking – go to happy hours, meet ups, hang around the shop. Do anything you can to get your name out there and your business card in people’s hand.
  • Create a series of YouTube instructional videos, including contact information and a special deal for those that sign up for further lessons.

Make an online course

If you’re looking for the easiest way to scale your online teaching career, online courses are the way to go. Of the different ways to teach online, online courses are the most ‘do-able’ for those who have never taught before. Many sites such as Udemy, Teachable, and Skillshare make it easy to create and host your course. Many even offer marketing assistance for a fee.

It is important that you have something very in-depth to teach, otherwise getting the public to buy your product will prove to be challenge. If you’re serious about doing an online course, I recommend purchasing a couple cheap courses via the site you wish to host on to get a basic feel for the format and depth. This can also help you get a feel for how to go about presenting your material, things to avoid, mannerisms of the hands and face, and other subconscious stuff that may not be top of mind when crafting the program.

How to break into this field:

  • Create an in-depth outline of your specific field of expertise. Draw out a lesson plan, research the most appropriate platform for your scenario, and follow specific instructions to create an engaging and informative course.
  • Invest in and create materials to make sure your course is fun and interactive, despite the fact that you aren’t live teaching the material. On-set exercises, demonstrations, graphs – basically anything that would be useful in a physical classroom environment can also be useful here. Anything you can do that minimizes the impression of you lecturing the entire time is good.
  • Develop a marketing plan based on what has worked for successful online courses in your field.
  • Creating an online course can be a great complement to your business and marketing plan for those already teaching lessons online. 


Tutoring online is a great way to earn extra money (or finally give that pesky day job the boot). There are a number of sites available for tutors to create a profile and work to attract and host students. Existing students need help in just about any given subject, from math to science to reading. The cool thing about tutoring is that each student’s situation is different (some more than others!), giving you a chance to personalize and keep things interesting both for yourself and the students.

If you’ve tutored in person, setting up a profile via Chegg Tutors or another site and jumping in should be relatively painless. Apply the same skills, techniques, and learning platforms as you would in person. Listen closely to the student’s specific needs, and work as hard as you can to help them. Here is a big kicker – because your base of students is not restricted to your town or area, referrals can happen worldwide. You may have a good experience with a student in the United States, who leaves a review that attracts a student from overseas. All while you’re tutoring from a hotel in Thailand or beachside in Mexico!

How to break into this field:

  • Sign up for an online tutoring site or create your own webpage.
  • Sign up for platforms such as Skype and Google Talk/Hangouts.
  • Develop a marketing plan.
  • Obtain necessary materials for your subject matter.

While it can take a while to build business, all of these different ways to teach online can be profitable and enjoyable. Also, all of them have the added perk of allowing you to work from wherever you want, as long as you’ve got good broadband internet and streaming capabilities. Check out our additional resources on this site for setting up a website, business, and even tax help.

Ray is the founder and creator of Teacher Indie. He is an award-winning entrepreneur who has created online education businesses that have appeared in publications such as Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc Magazine, Buzzfeed, The Boston Globe and many others. His goal is to help teachers from around the world get online and gain the financial independence they deserve.

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