Ryan O'Loughlin spent 4 years teaching in South Korea. He is back in the US and has found his niche in the ELT market - phrasal verbs. Find out how Ryan promotes his products by using email list building to drive traffic to his website and his advice for teachers who have doubts about becoming teacherpreneurs.
Can you start off by telling us where you teach Ryan?
Actually, I don’t teach in the physical classroom anymore. I spent three years teachings at a public middle school in Seoul, South Korea and one year at an after-school program (just outside of Seoul) teaching elementary students. I used to give English Skype lessons. These days all of my teaching is done online through eBooks and (soon) courses. I actually now live back in the United States with my Korean wife and have a full time job in a completely unrelated field.
How long have you been teaching?
I taught for about four years, all in Korea. I balance the part-time teaching business with the full time job.
Can you describe a typical teaching day?
Well my typical day now is a lot different than when I taught in a physical classroom! These days I get up between 5 and 6 a.m. and try to work a little on my website in the morning, go to work from 7:30-4:30 and at night go to the gym, work more on my website, and spend time with my wife. I am busy but I like my routine. I wish I could spend more time on the website, though. Now my website reaches people from all over the world. I always do at least one hour of business/website work each day – no excuses!
What do you do in your spare time to relax?
To relax, I love reading, traveling, fishing, and running. I just ran the Philadelphia Marathon in November. It was my first and (probably) last marathon. I think I’ll stick to half marathons for the rest of my life. My wife doesn’t run but she is my number one supporter.
You recently published an eBook called “200 Powerful Phrasal Verbs That You Will Not Find In Your Textbook.” Can you talk a bit about the content?
The title of the book is self-explanatory; it’s a collection of 200 phrasal verbs with their definitions and two example sentences for context. I am a firm believer that context is an important way to learn, rather than rote memorization. What good is it to memorize a phrasal verb when you don’t know when to use it? Anyway, I also tried to stay away from the “classic” phrasal verbs and instead used ones like “polish off” of “scarf down”.
How long did it take you to complete it?
The book took a lot longer than I expected. Actually writing the content was not too bad, even though it has over 200 phrasal verbs and over 9,800 words. The challenging part was the recording process, as I had some technical difficulties, but next time the process will definitely be smoother. This whole process from zero to book and recording took probably 4 months.
Where can teachers and students purchase your book?
They can find my eBook and audiobook at http://englishformydream.com/purchase/200-powerful-phrasal-verbs/
Do you have any plans for a second book or other resource?
Yes I am actually planning on turning my free eBook on idioms into an upgraded audiobook. Now that I’ve gotten used to (the free recording software) Audacity, I’m on an audio-kick.
What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
This is a good question. I definitely learned how to communicate with students better—speak slower, show more pictures, etc. And even though I now teach worldwide, I have a good feel for how my audience thinks. I have a better understanding of what they want. I have a better appreciation of different viewpoints and cultures.
How do you market or promote your site and services?
Most of my traffic and sales come from my email list. The money is definitely in the list, as they say. Even if you are not after money, you can reach a lot more people through email; it’s the best return on investment you can make. Currently people can opt in on my website to receive a free copy "101 English Idioms for Professionals".
I am also experimenting with a “roundup” style post where I ask other teachers a question and feature them on my blog http://englishformydream.com/english-blog/ This helps build relationships in the field. And of course, guest posts. There’s also YouTube and social media. Actually, there are numerous ways to get content out there, but of course, it has to be good content!
Where can people find you on social media?
YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsVlSh9x9VJ7W32pOqQTwRg
What advice would you give to teachers who are considering writing a book or resource/website?
Just get something up and out there! Don’t be afraid to launch. Get feedback if possible, from other teachers, or your audience. View everything as a test to see what works and what doesn’t and go from there. Also, pre-sell if possible. I sold my eBook before the audio version was available. This was great, because it validated my idea before I put in the work—if no one bought, I’d know there’s a problem before I put in all the work and found that out later. Also, it’s motivating because you have to produce for the people who paid and are waiting.
I talk to many teachers about their fear or doubt in trying something new or "putting themselves out there" What advice would you give to these teachers?
I think everyone has doubts and fears, it's normal. But people who are successful just push through the fear and do it anyway. A good quote that comes to mind is "ships are safe in the harbor, but that's not what they were built for." If you really want to be a teacherpreneur, you have to just take action. Actually, instead of being scared, a good way to look at it is this: we live in the best time in the world--10 years ago, it would be hard to start an online business. Now, it's super easy...we have so much abundance! In fact, maybe 10 years ago, we would not have connected! There's lots of info out there, but I really encourage everyone to take action. That's the only way you'll achieve your goals.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
It was a pleasure being interviewed, Patrice. Thank you!
Ryan runs English for My Dream, where he blogs and sells courses for intermediate to advanced English learners who want to take their English from good to great. He loves traveling and thinks he would have been perfect for the TV show Bizarre Foods, as he will eat anything. The worst thing he’s ever eaten is definitely hongeo, or fermented skate. He still wonders why he even tried that!
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 teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. Check out my Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca
3. Sign up for my 4 week online course with iTDi.pro Teacher to Teacherpreneur http://itdi.pro/itdihome/teacherpreneur.php
4. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
5. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
6. 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!
Who am I?
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., TESL and I reside in Canada. I have 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer including 7 amazing years 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, blogging, sharing teaching materials, instructional coaching for new teachers and coaching teacherpreneurs. Having a flexible schedule allows me to conduct short-term training around the world at any time of the year.
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