I first heard about italki in a magazine article, which said that to get students you need to:
1) Have a nice-looking picture on your profile
2) Have a professional introduction video
3) Be active on the site correcting notebook entries etc.
I have done all this and I have a few students, but I still want to attract yet more students. I have a job that doesn't start for 3 months so right now italki is my only source of income, and I have high medical and school bills.
Also, I have made myself available on the schedule for almost 24 hours every day, so I can't increase my availability any further. Any suggestions?
From my short experience I would not recommend correcting writing samples or responding to discussions as a way to get new students. I have found that on italki (for the most part) there seems to be two distinct groups - people who come here only to find and pay for a teacher or tutor and those who come only for the free services. Many of the students who will pay for lessons are not active on other areas of the site and may not notice you.
My advice, as others have mentioned, it to focus on your profile. I still tweak mine off and on. The advise about keywords is great - make sure people know where you are from and what you offer in a very concise way. I tend to agree with Bill about pricing - setting a low price seems to not only attract students, it also seems the best way to build a consistent student base. From experience, as soon as I began to increase my price my initial student base disappeared. So, keep in mind that the low price may be an important factor to many students and they may not tolerate increases.
As far as income is concerned, I do not think italki is a viable way for someone to make a livable income, especially if you are not billingual. Online language schools provide much more security because they usually negotiate with companies as well as individuals for packages of lessons.
I had a check of your profile, and you're basically doing the right things. Personally, it took me a while to build up the amount of students I wanted (and longer to get regular students) so the main thing is to keep at it and stay patient.
A couple of suggestions, though... your prices are very low! Have a look at what your peers are asking and work with that. Perhaps the low prices are signalling "low quality", so seeing as you are well-educated, be brave and ask for an appropriate price. Please don't sell yourself short.
Also, you spend a lot of your video and About Me talking about your qualifications and experience. If I were in an English student's position, I'd be looking for someone who can help me (ie. qualified) but more importantly, someone who seems approachable and easy to talk to. Too much info about the qualifications and experience seems daunting, but of course that's my lone opinion.
Thirdly... you need words like AMERICAN and NEW YORK in your teacher profile! :) That's what will attract your students. Keep it obvious and clear. I really apologise, but I had to look up Syracuse University to find out where it was. Most of my students came to me simply because I'm Australian, and they were interested in visiting or moving to Australia. Think of the students who are interested in the US.
Really, like I said at first, your profile is fine and you're active on the site. That's all good. If you want to make any changes or improvements, then think about what a student would be looking for and appeal to that.
I'm an English learner and have paid for some decades of sessions in this site. So I think I am qualified to provide some suggestions to you about searching students. In my opinion the beginning to do something is always the most difficult time. Without student learning history and no student comments in your profile, it's hard to make learners to believe you. But without first student, where are these history record and comments from? It's a question of which is first, egg or hen. How to break the barrier? it's up to your wisdom. But to be patient, it's normal to find the first student using several weeks or even several months.
After you get a few students and accumulate some student records, the most important thing is to improve your session quality. What's the perfect English learning session? People have all kinds of understandings. For me it must be relaxing, fun, interactive and comfortable. Teacher must be nice, experienced, glad to answer questions, listen to student's demands. As a teacher you must attract student by high level quality of your session. Only this persuades your students leave positive comments on your sessions.
Session price is also an important factor in promoting your teaching. Yes, low price is easily to make student misunderstand this is low level session. But it isn't always so. Student often try several teachers and choose the most appropriate teacher, the one with best performance to cost. It doesn't mean you just give a high price to indicate you have a high quality. The price must be suitable to your teaching experience. If students find your sessions are not deserved, they will run away after a few sessions.
to be continue......
Thaddeus I don't agree with you said about don't do correction and answer questions, that is one of reasons I have students because in that way people can meet you and see how you write and how you correct the texts.
Hi Alexis, I read your teacher profile. You have really good reviews from your students, so obviously the problem lies elsewhere.
The one thing that I note in everything you write is that it is "all about you". OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but that is what dominates your profile. You can get across the message that you are qualified and experienced in one short sentence. Apart from that it has to be about the student, what you can do for them, how you can help them achieve their goals. I've noticed that many students on italki write about their nervousness in speaking English (especially Asian students). Learn about the Chinese and Japanese mentalities to understand the cultural barriers. As you have a nice, friendly personality, you can help them not just with the language itself, but you can put them at their ease to overcome this hurdle. Tell them this. Maybe make this your niche market. Tell them this.
I also think that you should not be available 24/7. Set your hours and a reasonable market rate.
Also there are other sites for English teachers, so best not to rely only on this one.
And best of luck!