Jennifer Scupi has combined her expertise as a corporate trainer and ESL teacher to find the perfect niche. Find out what Jennifer says about the challenges of marketing and the hardest thing she has ever done as a teacherpreneur.
Can you start off by telling us where you teach?
I teach interview prep to non-native English speakers. My company is called Interview Genie and my website is www.interviewgenie.com.
How long have you been teaching?
I got my TEFL certificate and started teaching ESL about 6 years ago. I taught general ESL classes for a while but then focused on business English. Now, while I do teach some Business English classes, I focus mostly on interview prep and plan to do that exclusively in the future.
What does your company do?
I teach interview skills to students trying to get into high school, college, or grad school or to adults trying to get a job. My students typically want me to:
(1) Explain the interview process as it happens in America in particular but also in other English-speaking countries. The younger students, especially those applying to high schools, have never interviewed in English before and there’s a big culture gap to talk about.
(2) Help them think of answers for typical interview questions for their type of interview. I’m amazed at how many different lists of questions I’ve accumulated. I had a new one the other day - an International Baccalaureate high school in Boise, USA - I didn’t know they had those in Idaho…
(3) Evaluate their English speaking skills as they practice the questions and give them useful tips on things they can improve quickly before the interview.
(4) Give feedback on their public speaking/communication skills. For example, a young accountant just asked me how she could seem more managerial. We talked about keeping her conversation focused on the topic.
Every client has a different situation, and this is what keeps my job interesting.
What kind of products do you have?
I work one-on-one online at the moment. My clients can choose how many hours they need to work with me - my last one chose four hours in a row in one day, but I usually recommend at least two hours spaced out a bit. It depends on their English skills and their level of familiarity with interviewing.
I’m working on my first product, which is an interview prep book. For me personally, books are the easiest place to start, because I’m a book person. Once the book is written I will use a chapter as my opt-in and then move on to something else, but I’m not sure what yet.
How do you promote or market your service?
Promotion has been the biggest problem for me. I’m not very social by nature and teaching all day tends to use up all of my social abilities, so I’ve been struggling with spending enough time and effort reaching out to potential partners and clients. I have had a few successes though. I’m working with a Chinese admissions consulting firm doing their interview prep, an American admissions consulting firm doing theirs (they have all international clients), and a career coach doing her ESL clients. I’ve found these partners through one-to-one networking. I’d like more partners though, which means I’m going to have to up my marketing game.
Where can people find you on social media?
I have Twitter https://twitter.com/jenniferscupi and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/InterviewGenie/ accounts that I’ve been using but I haven’t felt like I’ve “succeeded” with them. I keep them moving along but for some reason, don’t love either of those platforms and the people who contact me there aren't interested in my services, just in chatting. I also have a LinkedIn account of course but again I wouldn’t say it is hugely successful for me. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferscupi/
I just started using Instagram https://www.instagram.com/interviewgenie/?hl=en and I’m hoping I connect with it more than I did with the others. I love the visual nature of it and enjoy making visual images so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
I also just started a YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMtOJjNhnhb5_bH2j8mIVRQ but I can see already that I hate making videos. I think I need to find a simpler way to do it so it doesn’t take up so much time. We’ll see what happens with my social media efforts.
What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
I feel like everything technical has been outside my comfort zone. Getting my website to look like I wanted has been an ongoing hassle. I just left Wordpress for Squarespace and am much happier, but it’s always something - for instance I like most of the theme I chose, but I don’t like the blog options, so now I have to code my own blog page - it’s stuff like this that drives me crazy! Everything has been a learning experience. This is good because I’m learning, but also bad, because I get bogged down in minutiae and that doesn’t get me anywhere. The good news is I love Canva (https://www.canva.com/) and feel like my image creation skills have really gotten a lot better, so I have to keep telling myself to go write a blog post and stop making new pretty things…
And of course the marketing. And all of the business stuff. Okay, so everything except the teaching has been on a steep learning curve for me. Oh well, at least my brain is getting some exercise, right?
What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
Classroom teaching was useful for me because I learned how to make different kinds of students happy. Teaching in a language school you get reviewed by the current batch of students at the end of each week and so you’re constantly getting feedback on your skills. I improved a lot because of that and I doubt I would be any good at what I do now if I had tried to just jump right in and teach online with no experience.
I’ve never felt that I exactly fit the mold of an ESL teacher. I think of myself more as a corporate trainer who specializes in non-native English speakers than as an ESL teacher, probably because I have a Master’s in Corporate Communication.
What advice would you give to teachers who are considering becoming a teacherpreneur?
I would ask them if they like creating content of any kind. The teachers who aren’t willing to create regular content don’t last long as far as I’ve seen. You need something that your potential client can look at to see what you have to offer. It doesn’t have to be one type or another in particular, but it has to be something. It’s tempting to think you can get around it because it’s time-consuming, but think about how you buy products - don't you want something to evaluate when you’re shopping around?
Is there anything else you would like to add?
My thoughts about my teacherpreneurial journey so far:
This is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve inched along incredibly slowly and made a lot of mistakes. I still haven’t been what I’d consider successful. I am making money doing this though and I think that if I spend more time - probably much more time than I want - and create more content I will find clients or partners.
I don’t want to completely give up working one-on-one, because I need the human interaction and I learn a lot from my clients, but I’d like to have different revenue options.
Thanks for sharing your teacherpreneur journey, Jennifer. All the best!
Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started? Here are some ways:
1. Read more inspiring teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. If you are a TESL Ontario member, watch a recording of my webinar Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://tutela.ca/GroupFiles?organicgroup=8594&cat=518
3. Download The Essential Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit - 50 pages packed with information to get you started as a teacherpreneur at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca
4. Sign up for my 4-week online course with iTDi.pro - Teacher to Teacherpreneur http://itdi.pro/itdihome/teacherpreneur.php
5. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
6. Download The Social Media Make-over Checklist for Teacherpreneurs at www.teacherpreneur.ca
7. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
8. Set up a private coaching call with me https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pages/book-a-coaching-session-with-me
Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, OCELT, M.Ed., M.A. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. Seven of those years were spent in Hong Kong. I have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as ESP, EAP, Business English, and language programs for new immigrants in Canada. I'm now a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing courses and teaching materials; blogging, conducting instructional coaching for new teachers and coaching teacherpreneurs. Having a flexible schedule allows me to conduct training around the world at any time of the year.
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