For a point of reference, I believe getting paid from Chinese clients can be even more challenging than teaching a child who is using an iPad from the backseat of their parent’s car (those tunnels can be a killer)!
How I Became an ESL teacher
Before I talk about how I get paid (and how you might be able to make it easier for yourself too), I’ll share a little bit about how I got into ESL.
My journey in becoming an online ESL teacher was a bit odd. It seemed like I didn’t find the job – the job found me.
After I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology, I decided that I wanted to spend some time working before pursuing a Master’s Degree and taking on more student debt. So, I booted up my computer and started scrolling through the job listings on Indeed.
That was painful. All the positions I was qualified for offered very little financial compensation. I eventually came across a company called VIPKid. The pay and flexibility were very appealing…and maybe even too appealing! I was skeptical because of all the online scams these days, but still curious and very hopeful, so I applied.
I finally decided to follow through and interview for the position 6 months later, after receiving a string of interview request emails.
I got the job, and to my surprise…it was actually 100% legit! It was even better than I could have imagined!
My mornings were filled with smiles and laughter; it was always an adventure. I formed wonderful bonds with the students and parents. My hours were flexible, I was happy with the pay rate, and I received excellent support from the rest of the VIPKid community.
It seemed like the perfect job.
What’s up with the latest changes in the ESL space in China?
Unfortunately, things couldn’t stay the same forever. Over this past summer, China announced their double reduction policy. These regulatory changes include the ban of hiring online, foreign teachers outside of China.
As one would expect, it had a significant effect on many teachers working in the online ESL space. Many Chinese companies employing online, foreign teachers living outside of China have been shut down, or are currently phasing out the majority of their teachers.
VIPKid shifted their attention away from China as well, and is now focusing on their “global platform.”
Many teachers began to scramble, as they desperately wanted to continue online ESL teaching. I had students from Chinese families, living outside of China, who wanted me to continue teaching them, and I no longer trusted the uncertainty of using another company’s platform – so I shifted to teaching independently.
The biggest challenge for me was finding an adequate payment solution. Many of the parents preferred services like WeChat Pay and Alipay, which I had never used to receive payments.
As I began researching different options, it quickly became clear what the most popular options among ESL teachers are.
Why I Decided to Try China Payments Plugin
From a variety of ESL facebook groups, I learned that a lot of teachers are using Stripe invoicing or Strikingly to solve their WeChat Pay and Alipay woes..
The tedious and time consuming nature of invoices is a nonstarter for me. I also want to have a really simple relationship with the parents of my students, and invoices would only complicate things.
So, I began to look into Strikingly to potentially connect my Stripe account and have a simple webpage to accept payments.
Besides the fixed monthly fees for each plan, Strikingly takes an additional 5% transaction fee on their Limited plan and a 2% transaction fee on their Pro plan.
I compiled this pricing comparison data below for my fellow ESL teachers who are looking to save money and maximize their profits when considering different options. The total in the chart is based on an example of $10,000 in revenue before taking into account Stripe fees:
|Strikingly Free Plan||Strikingly Limited||Strikingly PRO||China Payments Plugin PRO|
|Transaction Fee||5%||5%||2%||No transaction fees|
|Total Annual Cost||$500||$596||$392||$99|
|+ Stripe Fees||Based on Stripe country||Based on Stripe country||Based on Stripe country||Based on Stripe country|
* Fees are based on $10,000 in revenue per year.
The China Plugins team even hooked me up with a Hosted Payment Page, so I didn’t have to pay for any other monthly plan to have a simple website for getting paid.
More About the Fees
I’ll go into the fees a little bit more because I originally had a lot of questions about this.
For Stripe invoicing, Stripe fees are based on the country of your Stripe account. You’ll have to check Stripe’s website for those if you go with this option.
If you consider Strikingly fees – they add up quickly, making China Payments Plugin clearly the no-brainer decision if you’re making anything more than a few hundred dollars per year.
Of course, Strikingly offers other features you might be interested in for building a website, but it’s not expensive to have a WordPress site, especially if you work with the China Plugins team – they offer hosting for any kind of WordPress site you would need.
I should also mention that the payment solution is working perfectly. It has been easy to use for the parents, and I can see the money per transaction I’m saving by using China Payments Plugin over Strikingly.
My Upcoming Plans for a Network of Teachers
The demand for my teaching services has been growing exponentially. I suspect I won’t be able to keep up with all of these requests by myself for much longer.
In looking for a solution, I considered that there are already many qualified ESL teachers looking for students. I also realized that many teachers do have students already, but do not have the time or expertise to create a platform that enables them to provide a seamless and professional experience for their students and parents.
Many teachers are struggling with things like setting up a proper booking or appointment page, creating an engaging curriculum, finding the best video chat solution, creating a professionally designed website to advertise services…
And, of course, finding an affordable, and convenient payment solution.
Given all these challenges, I began to ask myself: “How can I connect ESL teachers to students, while empowering them with the solutions that I know will serve their needs?”
I searched for hours online trying to figure out a way to achieve this goal – browsing Reddit forums, chatting with Stripe developers – I even messaged my brother who I thought did some coding in college. Ultimately, these were all dead ends. I was sleep-deprived and frustrated that I had nothing to show for it.
Remembering how the team at China Payments Plugin had helped me before, I decided to reach out for advice. With my luck, I discovered that they’re actually in the process of adding these payment related features to a platform called Payment Page – the exact solution that I need!
This marketplace-based platform will allow me to onboard like-minded teachers onto my BFFTeacher network, allowing them to receive automated payouts for all their WeChat Pay and Alipay payments! Each teacher will have a beautiful customized payment page unique to them, which will enable them to market their services and get paid much more easily.
Here’s the first payment page we created already:
I am beyond excited to be utilizing Payment Page as one part of my solution to empower online ESL teachers with the solutions that I have gathered and utilized and will work well for them. I eagerly await the Payment Page launch and the beginning of this new adventure! Feel free to get in touch – I’m happy to share more and answer any questions.