I’ve already mentioned that working for VIPKID is a great way to earn extra travel money. After all, Forbes listed it as one of its top work-from-home companies of 2017!
For those of you who don’t know, when you work for VIPKID, you teach Chinese children English online. From the comfort of your own home.
I work for VIPKID to make extra money while I focus on my writing career. I work about 15-20 hours per week for the company, but you don’t have to put in that much time if you don’t want to! It’s an easy job to do for an hour or two before the regular work day or for a few hours on the weekend.
But my absolute favorite thing about working for VIPKID is that they make it really easy to make as much money as possible.
Each class is a half hour. You’ll start out at an absolute minimum of $7 per class, or $14 per hour. But you’ll probably end up making more than that. A lot more.
Here are tips from me, a VIPKID employee, about how to maximize your earnings. The more money you make, the more time you can spend on that big vacation next year, right?
1. Make a great introduction video
When VIPKID hires you, they require you to make a profile so that parents can decide if they want you to teach their child.
In the beginning, you have no hours logged or parents’ recommendations to make you stand out from the crowd. The profile is your main way to entice people.
An important part of the profile is your introduction video. This video is only 15 seconds long, but it still makes a big impression.
Make sure you look nice. Wear a nice, solid-colored shirt. Brush your hair. Maybe dab on a little makeup so you don’t look washed out.
Next, make sure you speak slowly and clearly. For this reason, you probably won’t have time to say much!
Third, use props to make your video more interesting. Speaking clearly and using props are two things you should always do in class, so doing these things in your introduction video gives parents a good idea of what you will be like in class.
To give you an idea of what props to use, here is a transcript of my video:
“Hello! My name is Teacher Laura. [Holds up sign saying ‘Teacher Laura.’] I like to read books, [holds up my favorite book] and to play with my dog! [Picks up dog and waves to camera with his paw.] See you in class!”
Ah, yes, the dog. I really think incorporating my adorable corgi into the video grabbed people’s attention! If you have a cute animal or anything else that will make your video stand out, use it!
2. Start and Finish on Time
Arrive to your online classroom on time. If you are more than a couple minutes late, you aren’t considered “on time.”
Each class is meant to run for 25 minutes. If you finish between the 25 and 30 minute marks, you’re considered to have finished “on time.”
If you arrive and finish on time, you actually get a cash bonus!
For each class where you’re prompt, you earn an extra $1. That’s $2 per hour. If you started at $14, you just jumped to $16 per hour!
This tactic is probably the easiest way to earn extra money with VIPKID.
3. Be available during peak times
There are two hours per day that the most students want to book, or “peak times.” These hours are 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Beijing time.
I’m writing this in December, meaning those peak times are 6:00 AM – 8:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. In the spring, those hours will change to 7:00 AM – 9:00 AM. That’s because we undergo Daylight Savings Time, but China doesn’t!
In my experience, peak hours almost always get booked. If you open yourself up to those two hours, you’re sure to end the morning with some money.
4. But open up other time slots, too!
Don’t count out other time slots, though. I also frequently have students book 5:00, 5:30, and 8:00 AM classes. (Once again, remember that those times will change in the spring thanks to Daylight Savings.)
To make as much money as possible, I’ve even opened up my availability to teach classes at 4:30 AM and 8:30 AM. Those classes aren’t as popular, but I usually gain three or four classes per week during those times.
Of course, I know not everyone has the availability I have. Do what works best for you. Just know that the more time slots you open up, the more potential you have to earn money.
5. Teach at least 45 classes per month
VIPKID wants every student to be able to learn at a time that works for them. So the more classes a teacher can teach, the more VIPKID rewards the teacher.
If you teach between 30 and 45 classes per month (that’s just 15 to 22.5 hours) you earn an extra 50 cents per class.
Once you hit 45 classes per month, that gets bumped up to an entire extra dollar per class, or $2 per hour! You just went from earning $16 per hour to $18 per hour!
An extra buck might not seem like much, but that’s at least $45 extra per month, or $540 per year.
6. Get students to continually sign up for your classes
If students like your classes, they’ll keep signing up for them. Then you won’t have to worry about whether or not your time slots will get filled. You’ll know to expect your regular students.
Remember, steady clients means steady money!
To retain students, try to make your classes as fun and valuable as possible.
Prepare beforehand so you don’t waste time or seem unprofessional. VIPKID creates the curriculum for you and provides PPT slides. Take a few minutes the night before to look over the lesson so you know what you’ll be covering.
Use props to keep kids interested. This way, they don’t get bored just staring at the computer. I bought a few small white boards, a puppet, and letter and number flash cards that are really useful in classes. And they were cheap to buy!
After each class, teachers are required to leave feedback for the students. While the VIPKID staff reads this feedback to assess the student’s performance, parents also read what you write to know how their kid is doing.
If you just write things like, “Good kid,” or “Should practice,” parents might see that you’re not putting in much effort or providing helpful tips.
Write something like, “Johnny did great today! He can read and write very well, and he’s gaining confidence. He should practice pronouncing the long /i/ sound.”
Parents will see you’re invested and want to keep their child learning with you.
7. Convert Trial Students
There are two types of VIPKID students: Permanent, enrolled students and trial students.
Potential customers have a certain number of free trial classes they can take before deciding if they want to officially sign up as a VIPKID student.
If you convert a trial student into a permanent student, you earn a $5 bonus! This only applies to you if you were the last teacher the child worked with before signing up. If you taught the kid, then they had two lessons with other people and signed up, sorry, you don’t get that $5 bonus!
So be sure to take trial lessons just as seriously as major course lessons. They could actually end up making you even more money. And if you’re the one who convinced them to sign up, they might become a regular student of yours, which means even more money!
8. Open up last-minute time slots
When setting your schedule for the week, you can check a box next to a time slot that indicate you’re open to last-minute bookings, or bookings made within 24 hours of the class time.
Don’t worry, VIPKID doesn’t let a student book within less of an hour before that class. You won’t be completely blindsided by a new class!
When a student makes a last-minute booking, you make an extra $2 for that class. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound like much. Keep in mind, though, that you’re also getting paid for a class that wouldn’t have filled up otherwise.
My second week of teaching, I decided to try opening up last-minute bookings. I had four kids fill those slots within 24 hours of class time, so I made $44 that week I wouldn’t have made otherwise!
9. Refer friends
VIPKID rewards you for referring people to their company! If the person you refer actually gets hired and starts teaching, you earn cash.
You make at least $50 per referral. The company frequently runs special deals that allow you to earn even more during a certain timeline, though. For example, the holiday bonus this year is $150 per referral!
What would you do with the extra money you could earn by working for VIPKID? Backpack around Europe? Relax on an exotic beach? Comment below with ideas for how to spend your travel money from this side gig!