How Drew Used YouTube and Advertising to Land Online Students

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What is your background in education?  How did you start teaching?

I have a bachelor’s in philosophy, and have been a teacher or coach in many capacities over the years because I love helping people learn, but I have no formal degree in education. (You don’t need one to get started as a teacher online.) I started teaching English in the classroom in Japan on the JET Program because I wasn’t able to get a visa to just study Japanese gardening. (I did pursue gardening here on the side, though.)

When did you begin teaching online?  Did you ever work for an online school or just go straight into doing your own courses?

I began teaching online by creating my own courses back in 2010, using YouTube for marketing and promotion.

Do you remember your first online student?  How did it all come about?

I’ve never worked as an online teacher for any company, and only had a few private sessions with learners through Skype a few years after I started These were great, but I much prefer building systems lots of learners can take advantage of whenever they like.

You’re based in Japan, any tips on dealing with students’ time zones from around the world?

I live in Nagasaki, Japan, and since I only sell courses, I don’t have to worry about time-zones. But if you do teach one-on-one, much sure it’s when YOU want to do it. You should have something you can sustain comfortably, and not be chasing people on different parts of the planet if you’re up when you’d rather be in bed.

How do you recruit students or how do they find you?

YouTube, SEO and some advertising. I don’t recommend anyone go looking for learners if they want to build a strong brand as a teacher.

You are well-known on Youtube for your English videos, how big of a role do those play in your business (either recruiting, developing material, or helping you become a better teacher)?


drew youtube page


YouTube is our bread and butter. Our videos have helped students discover us, and they’ve also been a great way to both communicate with many learners and refine how we help people learn.

What advice would you give teachers looking to make the jump into online teaching?  Should they work for an online school first?  Have at least some classroom experience?

Whether you work for a school or do your own thing, learn sales and marketing. This will teach you how to differentiate yourself/your brand, and help you serve your market better. Don’t decide to be just another online English teacher. Focus. Vocabulary? Grammar? Learners in a particular area, or with a specific problem? Ultimately, you need to decide if you want to be an entrepreneur or a teacher. A teacher does the actual job of teaching (or creating lessons), while an entrepreneur focuses on how to solve a particular problem in the market (like how to help people overcome shyness). Decide what your end goal is and work back from there.

What do you think online education will look like in 10 years?

There will be much better technology (both for learning and for providing lessons), more online learning of all kinds, more video learning specifically, and more prominent brands in particular niches. English language education is a huge umbrella with many opportunities still left untapped, so THINK BIG and use leverage – the real power of the net – to help as many people as you can!

Related: SkimaTalk on the Future of Online Teaching



  1. 5 Places to Get Your Start Teaching Online Courses | ESL Authority - […] looking to learn or improve on a subject search for videos on YouTube.  With a bit of research, entrepreneurial…

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