Secret Side Hustle – Online ESL Teaching

black woman in white shirt at board, online esl teaching, work from home side gig, remote side hustle vipkid, cambly, gogokid, uuabc

So well like having money and making money and there are so many ways to do so. Unfortunately, those ways their from some of us of a certain hue because of various reasons. However, I’m a true believer that sharing is caring when it comes to money making opportunities! That’s why I want to share my secret side hustle with you all, online ESL teaching!

If you follow the blog, then you know I’ve been teaching at a few companies and adding more slowly to my wallet, but if you found me via Twitter, I’m sure you’re wondering wtf Online ESL Teaching is or why you haven’t heard of it before now. Because it really is a secret side hustle and black Americans have no clue what it is.

Girl, What Is This Online ESL Teaching Thing?

Through several companies, I teach English online from the comfort of my home (or a friend’s home or a hotel). I do everything from teaching children ages  3 – 12 how to speak English to working with adults who want to improve their slang and conversational skills. Companies like VIPKID and GoGoKid offer  English lessons through an online platform that uses a flipped classroom approach to teaching. It’s a one-on-one class that lasts for 25 minutes and could have anywhere from 14-25 slides.  The kids have differing fluency degrees of English ability, ranging from a child who speaks no English to a  child who can read, write, and speak English very well and even learn specialized subjects. Companies like UUabc and QKids offer similar setups but it’s a one-on-four class size. Base pay ranges from 7-11 USD per class or 14-22 USD per hour with the option for many bonuses depending on the company!

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How Can I Get Into Online ESL Teaching?

It is fairly simple to do most. If you’re a native English speaker you’ve already completed half the battle right there. God bless the privileges we didn’t ask for but were lucky enough to receive. Most companies require you to have an American or Canadian passport but some look for people who are from the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia too. With a few exceptions having a 4-year college degree is almost always a requirement for online ESL teaching. With the exception of the weekends and summertime, teaching hours are 5 AM – 10 AM EST (5 PM-10 PM BST). So you will have to sacrifice some sleep. Instead of rambling about them all, I’ll  list below is a list of the various companies and what they require. That way you can find your best fit.

What Is There Catch? There’s Always A Catch

If you’re darker than a paper bag, you will have to work harder. There is a misconception that American / native -English speaker = white and everyone else is an immigrant or child of immigrants.  I’ve actually had people compliment me on my English and ask how long it took to pick up an American accent. 

While it can be annoying, you get to use it as a learning opportunity. You can give a mini history lesson on US slavery and African Americans or how States like Texas, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona,  New Mexico,  Colorado, and Wyoming all used to be Mexico and their non-white descendants still live there. You can even mention Chinese -Americans and their presence here since the 1800s. If you’re not from the US, you can give your country’s history with the English language and non-white citizens.

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Plus dark skin is still viewed as bad because colorism is global. I’ve had children cry when they saw me or saw Doc McStuffins on the screen as my prop. Conversely, I’ve had parents say they specifically chose a Black teacher with darker skin, so their child would view it as normal. It all varies. 

Secret Side Hustle Tips

Remember as an online ESL teacher, you are not an employee.  These companies owe you nothing and have no loyalty to you. If you feel one isn’t a good fit, drop it and on to the next one. There are so many other companies that can mesh with your needs and lifestyle. You don’t have to break your neck to make one fit.

Don’t let the videos fool you. With VIPKID, you see so many people using crazy props and going HAM to sell themselves. Which I understand because you’re like an educational TV show for these children and the more you stand out, the more bookings you get, which means more coins in your pocket. However, some parents appreciate the minimal teachers. It may take you a bit longer to get regular bookings but they will come. With those, you don’t always have to on to the max. Stay true to your teaching style and the rest will fall into place.

Refer your white or white passing friends! You make money from referrals. With each referral, you can earn 100 -120 USD for every successful referral plus additional bonuses depending on the company. GoGoKid does tiered bonuses depending on how many classes referral teaches. Since white/white passing people on average get more books, that’s who you should target to maximize your return. The goal is with online ESL teaching work smarter not harder until the money runs out. 

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Buy cheap props! Whether you want to deck your teaching space out or do as a little as possible don’t invest a lot of money. I got two mini whiteboards and 4 packs of Crayola flashcards from the Dollar Store. I also got a little reward apple tree from the dollar section at Target.  You can find maps of America, letters, and other signs there. 


Can work remotely

More than one company

Don’t spend a lot of money on props

Colorism is a thing


Work Early Weekday Mornings or Anytime Weekend

Sign Me Up for Online ESL Teaching

So there you have it, the good, the bad , and the in-between. If you’re still interested here are companies I work for or other black people I’ve connected with work for. Know there are many more companies out there that might work better for you. The links listed are referral links. 

More details and links to apply here

  • CAMBLYIf you would like me to assist you with your process just drop me a line at their It helped me a great deal being able to ask someone else about the process and get honest answers. Like anything there are bumps but I enjoy the flexibility and ability to make money anywhere via Wi-Fi.  Now get make that money!

Until Next Time,

Aitza B