Let’s imagine the following: You’re just getting started as an online language teacher but don’t have enough students yet to make a living. However, you’re keen to leave your home country and start travelling.
The most obvious solution is to go to a country with low living costs. Thailand and especially Chiang Mai are very popular among digital nomads in general. However, there are lots of other options. Finances are important but going to a place you’re not excited about just because it’s cheap, is probably not the best way to get started as a digital nomad online teacher.
If you don’t earn much yet, you should definitively avoid travelling around too much. This may have been your dream, but hey, you’re not a tourist, you’ve got work to do. And unlike a tourist, you don’t have to return home, you have all the time in the world to travel wherever you want to.
And here comes your chance. There are many countries where you can stay for 3 – 6 months with a tourist visa. That’s a pretty long time and you can use this time to make some money offline.
Making money with online language events
“Language event” sounds quite sophisticated but what I mean is actually something very simple. The idea is that you create an event on Facebook and invite people to join.
Let me explain to you with an example what I’m talking about.
I have a Peruvian FB friend who organises such events. She offers Spanish for Foreigners, English and Portuguese and although she’s not a native speaker of English and Portuguese, people come because they need language practice. She charges a small fee and people pay her in cash once they get to the event.
She created an FB group to promote her events:
I went to one of her Portuguese events in Lima. It took place in a park, so there were no extra costs involved. However, you may certainly invite people to a café as well.
How to find participants
When your destination is a big city, you will most likely find local language exchange groups on Facebook. Join those groups and introduce yourself. Do this before you arrive. Try to make some contacts. When you’re a native speaker of a language which is high in demand in your destination country, it shouldn’t be difficult.
In most language exchange groups, it should be okay to post a link to your newly-created group and your events. However, read the group rules carefully before you do so.
Sure, people are looking for language exchange partners and not for a paid service but we’re not talking about expensive classes here. Depending on the country, you could charge 3 – 5 US$ per person for your language event. That won’t earn you a fortune but it’s enough for your next dinner.
InterNations might be another possibility to promote your events or at least connect with people who might then be able to help you. InterNations is a network I’ve only recently joined so I’m not yet that familiar with it but it looks promising, so why not have a look and give it a try?
Have other talents?
You don’t have to restrict yourself to language-related events, of course. I’m not familiar with Asia but in Latin America, people tend to be very open and social and they’re used to informal settings. A lot of things work through recommendations instead of typical marketing as we learn it in West Europe or the US. Take advantage of that.
I will give you another example:
I have a Canadian friend here in Lima who offers workouts on three evenings a week and Saturday mornings.
She’s not the only one. When you take a walk along the coast in Lima’s suburb Miraflores, you will see quite a few of those groups doing fitness training or yoga, for example. Sure, the conditions in Miraflores are perfect for such kind of events but I’m sure you will find suitable parks or places on the beach at your chosen destination, too.
As you can see, money doesn’t always have to be earned online, the offline world still exists. Personally, I think that such events are also a great way to get to know people when you arrive at a new destination.
And when you move on to your next country, why not offer another digital nomad to take over your group? That way, the events would continue and who knows, you may come back after a couple of months and take over again.
Have you ever tried to organise a (language) event abroad? Or would you consider doing this? Please don’t hesitate to write in the comments and tell me what you think.
I’m totally aware that you’re not allowed to work with a tourist visa and when you do it in a public location, you certainly run a greater risk than when you work quietly from your AirBnB. So keep this in mind because I won’t be responsible when something goes wrong.