online teacher: A man standing up, teaching a class. A digital product is on the black board, three students are sitting taking notes and using notebooks.


Online Teacher: The Go-To Guide To Teaching Online Classes

Have you ever thought about working as an online teacher? Learn how to do business and earn money with online courses.

Barbara Santos

09/25/2020 | By Barbara Santos

Have you ever thought about working as an online teacher? A lot of people are more open to online learning, as the advantages of this methodology are becoming more clear. That means there are growing opportunities for those who have valuable knowledge to share.

According to Statista, 49% of global students took an online course in 2015. It’s safe to say that number is a lot higher in 2020. 

If these numbers alone aren’t enough to show you that teaching online is a great source of income, think about your own information consumption habits. When you have a question, chances are your first instinct is to go online.

In fact, Google has become a great ally to most people over the years. Access to knowledge is so much easier and simpler today that it has transformed the way people see the world around them.

Think: If you have a more specific question, chances are you’ll turn to YouTube to learn. Have you ever thought about how valuable this information is?

If there are people with questions, there are also those who help them with answers. And that is exactly where distance learning comes in.

You already have the most important thing in your hands: knowledge!

So, how about getting a head start and start exploring other ways of teaching? we’ve brought you all the basic information you need to explore other ways of teaching online!

Why you should start teaching online

One of the biggest reasons for teaching online classes is the fact that distance learning has democratized access to education. Of course, face-to-face classes have great benefits, but the challenges of attending such classes are greater for a lot of reasons.

The student may be interested in a course that is very distant from their home and the teacher needs to take care of several other details, such as the location of the class, equipment, etc.

In the case of online courses, this is not a problem at all. The student can watch classes according to their schedule. And, if it’s a live class, it can be recorded so they can watch it later. That is, for both sides, online classes mean comfort, flexibility, autonomy, and saving money.

So,  if you think this career may be right for you, let’s check out the step-by-step on how to get started?

Share knowledge as an online teacher

If you already are a teacher, certainly you’ve spent a good amount of time studying and specializing.

An advantage that you have in the market of online courses is your knowledge. You know how to deal with students, have got didactical techniques, and are articulate. Your classroom experience, in particular,  will surely be very helpful.

The audience who consumes educative materials online is pretty similar to your students. They are there to learn new content. However, there’s a fundamental difference in your success as an online teacher.

The difference is that the person who looks for your online courses does so because she really wants to learn what you are teaching. There is a primary interest of the student, who seeks that specific knowledge.

Whereas not always students at schools are interested in all the content you have to offer. Therefore, it’s possible that interest in traditional education might be smaller. This happens because many students are in the classrooms just to fulfill their schedule.

But regardless of the subject you teach, know that educational material is always welcome!

It is noticeable that there are many distance learning platforms. Many universities have invested in the creation of distance learning courses. According to data from the Babson Survey Research Group, the number of students taking online courses grew to 5.8 million in the USA in 2014.

So, if there are online courses it’s because there is a demand for them.

Several people prefer to study online because of the convenience of being able to learn something new from inside their houses. Not having to commute to the learning center is a big advantage. This allows for better organization and use of time.

Plus, more affordable prices are attractive for both the teacher and the student. When you are an online teacher, you can save with the location, the commute, and the time spent to teach.

So, you can have great educational material at a lower price. And for this reason, the online course is sold at a more accessible price.

To choose distance learning is also beneficial with regard to the type of material that the user can consume. It’s possible to take classes anywhere, as long as you have Internet access. Not to mention that there is access to content from all over the world. Teaching online makes you expand your knowledge to places you never thought about going.

Therefore, share your knowledge with those who are thirsty to learn more.

But how can you do this?

How to start teaching online classes

The 8 main steps are:

1. Determine the content you’ll teach

Odds are the first thing that popped in your mind when you read this article’s title were regular school/college subjects, such as Math, History, Biology, Spanish and related subjects. 

Well, that’s one option for teaching online, especially if you have worked as a teacher before. You can focus on what you’ve learned when earning your degree. 

Becoming an online teacher of the subject you already teach or have taught in schools, requires adjustments, as the same methodology may not be ideal for distance learning.

Another option is thinking outside the box. It’s not like the subject you teach is the only thing you can do. You can and should explore different fields of knowledge.

Anyone can start a career in the digital market. There is no age limit, nor specific educational background to creating your own courses. You can teach other subjects that are not necessarily the subjects you teach. If you have knowledge in other areas, it is possible to use it too.

If you are a Geography teacher but have excellent knowledge regarding using stars for orientation or you even know excel as an artist, your online course can be about that.

If you have a green thumb, why not try to create a gardening course? Great at Feng Shui? How about teaching it to others? Do you have a great eye for decoration? You get the idea. The sky’s the limit. 

With different choices of content, you can better explore your own knowledge. But if the chosen subject is what you’re already used to teaching, it will be even more specialized and complete.

We know that everybody has a passion and a subject they love to talk about. So, use your imagination and consider spreading your knowledge and making a living doing what you love.

Once you analyze the best subjects to address in your online classes, it’s important to understand if these topics are something a relevant number of people are interested in.

Fortunately, there are several tools that can help you in this regard.


Google Trends

With Google Trends, you’ll be able to understand the main trends and their evolution over a certain period of time in different locations.

The tool is completely free and all you need to do is write questions related to the topic of the course you have in mind to find out if people are looking for and talking about it.

online teacher - trends


 You can also compare different topics, as seen above. Learn more about Google Trends on this post.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a tool that can easily help you find the search volume on Google for a certain term.

Using our example of creating a course about gardening, it would be possible to understand how many times a month, on average, this subject is sought.

For example:

The term “Vegetable Gardening” is more commonly searched than “Outdoor Gardening”.

online teacher - keyword

As you can see, the average monthly searches for vegetable gardening is higher:

online teacher - keyword 2

Thus, it’s possible to conclude that there is a considerable volume of searches and that it can be an interesting subject to address.

Of course, that is only one of the things to consider. It’s also important to analyze whether there are many competitors in your market talking about the same subject as you. To help you on this topic, visit our post on monitoring competition.

If you are still not sure about the topic of your online course, we have created content that can help you define the subject to be addressed. Read more in our post with tips for choosing a niche for your business.

2. Understand your students’ profile

Just like in the classroom, you need to know who your target market is. In the digital market, this is known as a buyer persona. (Do you want to learn more about buyer personas? Read our post about How to create a buyer persona for your business.)

You need to understand the needs and desires of your students.

And how does one do that?

Research! Think about how your online course can have a positive impact on a person’s life.

If you’re in the classroom, your research can be more specific. Talk to your students and understand their problems in your area.

Remember the questionnaires that you had to do on field research for College?

Especially those for the undergraduate disciplines?

They are great materials for you to use. Redo those questionnaires to understand the pain of the students and the people around you.

Also, make a survey with your coworkers. Getting tips with other teachers can be very beneficial. They can help you identify the real problems of students with whom you have no direct contact.

If you haven’t worked as a teacher before, talk to your friends and family and even consider using social media to understand your potential customers’ needs. 

But don’t be stuck only to the students at schools. You can create educational materials for people of different ages.

The important thing is to define which audience you are targeting. That way your material will be very specific. In addition, you will be able to use the most appropriate language for your persona.

3. Structure your classes

To consume online educational material cannot be tiring. The internet is a fast communication channel. So, come up with materials that people will be pleased to read or watch.

Layout the issues so that you can teach complete content. However, it is important to separate it into topics.

If you’re using your bachelor’s degree as a starting point, you can base your course on the chapters and how each subject learned was divided. Think about how you would divide all the subject during the year. From there, make a plan to put it in digital format.

If you choose to be an online teacher of content that’s not in the school curriculum, divide your course strategically. Think of ways to catch your student’s attention so that she will always want access and consume your material.

How your content is divided depends on the length of the course. But remember to come up with interesting topics that complement each other.

Set space aside in your material so that students can ask questions. And don’t forget to answer every question!

Another interesting option is making online tests for the user to see what he has already learned in your classes. You can provide additional material for those who get a good score in the tests. This will increase their desire to do the activities.

And for your course to really stand out, use real-life examples, they’ll help students to absorb more content.

4. Choose the format of the classes

It’s important to remember that the interaction in an online course is different from the classroom, as students are not physically present in real-time.

Being an online teacher provides new types of interaction. You have the option to choose and test different teaching techniques and languages.

Do you know the different media you can use? Here are some of them:

  • Video lessons are great to improve students’ engagement. This is because videos are easily understood and the content is easily consumed. And because you can see the teacher, the class can be very dynamic.
  • Ebooks are digital books that can be read using multiple devices (computers, tablets, mobile phones). That’s why your material will be within easy reach.
  • Specialized and educational manuals are guidelines that you can make available to users. With this kind of material, it is possible to establish your authority and specific knowledge on the subject.
  • Webcasts are similar to video lessons but they are streamed live. In addition to all the advantages of videos, the teacher gets an instant interaction with the students when using this media for her lessons. The questions can be solved instantly.
  • White papers are shorter content. You can use them to talk about only one topic. They are great choices to introduce quantifiable information.

But know that you don’t have to choose just one media for your online course. Test, choose more than one option, and see what your audience prefers.

Plus, take advantage of the media you like best. Some people are great at recording videos. Others prefer to write their content.

There’s no right or wrong. Choose what best suits you and your buyer persona.

5. Be the teacher students admire

At school, there are always those classes that make you want to take a nap and those that you don’t one miss a minute of. Of course, you should focus on the latter. 

In this aspect, we will focus on the video format, since it is the format in which the student will attend classes as if they were in a classroom.

To be an online teacher that captures students’ attention, you need to train your oratory and posture.

Training in front of a mirror is great for those who have no experience speaking in front of a camera. Another good practice is to do some tests with the camcorder itself and then analyze what can be improved.

Remember to go straight to the point and don’t beat around the bush. That can make students lose interest. 

If your content is more complex to understand, ask someone else to review and analyze whether your explanation is clear enough for the student. Here is an article and how to be more confident when recording videos.

6. Record your lessons

This topic is specific to someone considering videos as the best format for online classes. It’s also what we strongly recommend for online teachers.

Class recordings don’t have to be made by a video professional. You can do it yourself.

Ideally, you should have basic shooting equipment at hand: camera and microphone. Even your mobile will do it, if the image resolution is okay.

For the microphone, we recommend a lavalier microphone, so that there is no noise that could compromise students’ learning.

Everything else can be improvised, such as the recording location and lighting.

On this subject, we also have complete materials that will help you in the entire process of recording and even editing your videos.

You can check them out below:

How to use a teleprompter for videos like a pro

How to shoot a good video 

Editing videos

7. Put your classes online

Once you’ve recorded all of your classes, you need an online platform to host it. For that, you can look for a Distance Learning platform that hosts your course and delivers it in the best way to your students.

This platform is known as the Learning Management System or LMS. Online classes are hosted on this system, which should include communication tools, content delivery and assessment tools to facilitate the teaching and learning process.

There are free options, such as the Hotmart’s Members Area which offers several features to help you deliver the best experience for your students.

To make learning more fluid, classes should be divided into modules. They are ordered sequentially and contain all course materials and activities.

Most online courses adopt the asynchronous model. This means that students attend classes and carry out activities at any time, without being all together.

8. Ask for feedback

Remember your course needs to evolve over time, so be open to feedback as this will help you grow and earn your student’s trust.

Don’t wait to ask for feedback after they’ve completed the course. Ask for it throughout the course if possible.

By reaching out to students, you can make changes where needed, and make a positive impact, as they’ll see you are committed to making sure they get the most of your classes. 

Consider creating a forum, or even talk to them on social media. The key is reflecting on your teaching and never stop looking for ways to improve. 

Watch this TEDtalk to get a bit of inspiration on tackling the online teaching market, check it out:



Dedicate time 

If you’re a teacher who teaches only in one period of the day, you can dedicate the rest of your time to preparing your online material. If you teach full-time, you can do that on the weekends. And if you’re already retired or haven’t worked as a teacher, take the time to study before getting started. 

But don’t make it about just another obligation in your life. Be sure to invest in a subject that brings you joy when creating your course. 

We assure you, teaching something you love will make all the difference in achieving success in your online business. 

You’re going to be an online teacher and entrepreneur, so think like one:

  1. Write down your goals. Know what and who you want to reach with your online content.
  2. Organize your schedule. If you have another job, set aside some time to focus on your course. 
  3. Have a lesson plan. Follow lesson scripts so that your material is complete and it is not repetitive.
  4. Always keep yourself up to date. The digital world is fast. Stay tuned to what’s new. Having innovative content will make you stand out from the others.
  5. Avoid accumulating tasks. To leave it all to the next day can be a problem. Divide your tasks so that they can be carried out according to your planning.

Being a teacher is no piece of cake. But remember that obstacles come with every profession. 

At first, you might think of digital courses as a way to make extra income. But gradually, you may end up realizing that it will be a milestone in your professional life.

The most important thing now is to get started!

Create digital content, promote it, and distribute it.

Perform tests with a first module, even if it’s free, only to get to know the market better. But get started!

With the results of these tests, you can see what has worked to your audience and what you still need to improve. After the first attempt, I’m sure it’ll be easier to create other digital products.

Let’s get down to business!

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This article was originally written in April 2017 and has been updated to provide more accurate and complete information with the help of Marina Guimaraes.