I taught from my relatively new MacBook Pro, and ran into almost no problems using it. Some companies let you teach from iPad, or even your phone. My company strongly recommended me having an ethernet cable, but I never did. I just made sure I had a stellar WiFi connection. I am relatively low tech, and every day of time working online I was impressed with myself.

When it came to scheduling classes, my company would make your schedule and it was set for a while. You could only change it once every six months. I was okay because I knew my classes started at the same time every day, same day every week, and I was never late. I liked the consistency. Other companies let you change hours every week. Some companies let you just sit down and open your laptop and students will come to you whenever you're online.

The classes were on Chinese time, GMT +8. For me, living in southeast Asia this was ideal because there's only a 1 to 2 hour time difference. Be aware of time changes when looking for an online job .

Most English teaching companies are similar to after school programs.  Usually  Monday to Friday with the hours in the evening after school hours (5-10pm), and then all day on Saturday and Sunday.

Getting hired as an online teacher

Some tricks and tips to doing a good demo class;
1 - TPR. Total Physical Response. This means making a hand gesture consistently for everything. If you're doing an animal lesson, and the word "alligator" comes up, make analligator mouth out of your hands and have it go "snap snap snap" every single time alligator comes up. It's almost like using Pavlov's dog theory on students. 

2 - Speak really slowly and very clearly. It's better to be too slow and clear the first time and speed it up, rather than having to backtrack and slow it down again. Annunciate everything crystal clear.

3 - Fix every mistake. If the student makes some mistakes during the demo it’s really important to stop and make time to fix it. Fixing mistakes will really impress the interviewer.

4 - Bring in a stuffed animal. Sock puppets work because you can make them talk like a muppet. If I ask a student “how are you?” and they say “how are you back?” then they are confused. Pick up that stuffed animal on the table and ask the stuffed animal “How are you?” And then lean back and have stuffed animal in the camera and say “I'm great!”. This helps the concept click with the kids, and the student will be able to mimic the stuffed animal and say “I'm great”.

5 - Get STOKED. When a student does something right, tell them they did great, dance around, give hi-fives, get excited! Be silly, do something goofy, laught at yourself, you can have fun during the classes, too. 

6 - Use the tools. It's key to show the interviewer you're familiar with the tools in the program. The tools are there to be used. Most programs have drawing tools, reward tools and stickers. I often used the drawing tool to underline what my students are reading, so they don't get lost and help their eyes follow along. Draw little stars and happy faces if they do well. There are usually awards like stars and bells you can press, and points you can give the kids.

After the demo there will be some “training”. This usually consists of a lot of reading handbooks, some funny videos, signing papers, and preparing your new schedule! It took me a month to get started with Landi English, and it was very much worth the work. 

Every online English teaching company is different, so I'll try to touch on the things that all the companies probably have in common when it comes to hiring. Usually they will start with an interview with yourself and a normal employee for the company. For this interview, do some research on the company!  What kind of backdrops do they like? If they like fun backdrops, make one for the interview! Do they want employees to have a blue T-shirt? Go get a blue T-shrit and wear it for the interview! Know what they want and it will seriously impress them during the initial Skype interview! 

Each company will want a resume. Write it up to really emphasize any teaching experience you have. Did you work at a summer camp and talk in front of a group of campers? Give yourself a fancy title for that. Do you have real classroom teaching experience? Hype it up and let them know. Put it on the top of your resume.

 A lot of companies will require you to have a degree and/or some sort of TESOL/TEFOL certification. I do know some people who have photoshopped themselves a degree and sent it in, but I don't recommend it. I really don’t, you can get in some serious trouble.

Most important, what an English teaching company is looking for is a native English speaker. This can be tricky if you're a native English speaker, but have Asian heratige. I know this REALLY is not cool at all, but you might have to explain your heritage or family time line. Companies will make all sorts of assumptions based on how you look. Also, it can be harder if you are fluent in English but it’s your second language. Try to neutralize your accent, again I know this really is not cool at all, but it's the information I picked up teaching online and having friends teach online.

So you passed the interview? They like your resume? Great job! Now it's time for your demo class. I interviewed with two companies. Each company will give you a lesson to look at beforehand, and DO look over the lesson and practice in front of your dog, your friends and family. Watch YouTube demos of other online teachers and just try to copy them. 

The first company I interviewed with was DadaABC. I had to do a demo class  in front of a real live student, and it didn't go so well. I did not know what level of English the student already knew, it was my first online class, and I was awkward, not smooth at all. 

The second company I interviewed with was Landi English. This demo class was in front of an adult. I nailed this demo class. It was actually kind of comical because it was a woman who was in her 30s pretending to be a five-year-old kid. It was very helpful, because she would somtimes pause the demo to give me small corrections or feedback, and then we would return to the demo lesson. 

Some companies will offer you a salary depending on how your demo class goes. If the demo goes okay - $18 an hour offer. If it goes really well - $20 an hour offer. My company offered the same for all employees which I really liked, because I was new to online teaching, and it gave me an incentive to stay with the company. I made good money right away, and it made me want to do my very best.

A digital nomad is defined as “A type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living, and more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.”  

But what does that mean? What do you need to be a digital nomad? How does it work and how to do you live and travel? Basically, you work online and travel at the same time. Sounds like a dream right? But how?

I'll tell you what I did, and what I know.

I was a digital nomad for a year in southeast Asia, and while working 22 hours a week, I was able to travel to Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka, all while working online and earning money.

Theoretically, ANY job online could propel anyone to the status of digital nomad. Teaching English online, or online tutoring are common jobs. I have met people traveling and working with jobs such as Instagram influencers, bloggers, Bitcoin traders, photographers, videotographers and writers. But anything is possible from coding, to selling feet photos.

Digital Nomad

Apon arrival in a new country, I would always buy a local sim card and spend a couple extra bucks on a very good WiFi package. If you're in a pinch and WiFi goes out, you will be heavily relying on your sim card to provide internet to teach. You can get a sim card at the airport, but sometimes they charge more and give you “tourist” packages (rip off packages). I found it was better to get a sim card in town. 

I stored my laptop in a Pelican case which is a bit big and heavy for travel, but it was functional. A Pelican case is waterproof and shockproof. I know I abuse my backpack when traveling, so having my laptop protected made me feel reassured when my laptop was on the go with me. Sometimes my laptop was getting thrown at the bottom of a pile of luggage while boarding a boat or a bus. Once I took a motorcycle trip across Vietnam and got all my stuff rained on, but my laptop was dry. Another time, I realized my backpack had fallen off my bike about a mile back going at a fast speed on a highway, but my laptop was safe! If you're worried about your laptop getting broken, I would recomend Pelican cases, or similar protective cases. In my case, there also was plenty of room for me to fold up my background posters I used for teaching and place them inside the case without getting crinkled. 

I also had a hard box of heaphones, my laptop charger, pocket wifi and other odds and ends like tape to tape up my posters and various sim cards from other coutnires I thought I would pass through again. 

While teaching, it's important to have props with you. I used a lot of flashcards because they are flat and easy to pack. I had flashcards for colors, animals and shapes that I made myself, and used balloons for lessons on parties, because you could deflate them, and I kept a pair of wooden chopsticks for verbs like eating. I had my stuffed cat which seconded as a pillow while flying and extra papers and pens to draw any new flashcards that I needed.

My experience online teaching

Meeting other digital nomads

The lessons were like an interactive slideshow. There are three video boxes on the right side of the program. The top video box was mine, and the other 2 were the students. My company has 2 students in each class. Some companies have one student and some have group classes. The slideshows were colorful, and had cute charcters like “Landi bear” and “Sandi bear” that would make an apperance every lesson. There was a hello song at the beginning of class, two at the end; one video song to summarize the lesson, and one short one to say goodbye. 

My students ranged in ages from 4 - 12 years old. The younger students usually focused on easy topics like colors and animals, 3 - 5 vocabulary words and a simple sentence. Older students had more complex lessons that often left me wondering "wait what is a compound word again? Its' been about 20 years since I talked about compound words”. That's why it's important to familiarize yourself with lessons before they begin. Take 5 minutes before class to go over lessons. Most lessons went very smoothly, and most kids were very well behaved. Sometimes your student would come into class crying. Sometimes you got a student that was bouncing off the walls. Sometimes you had sleeping students. Sometimes you got a shirtless Chinese dad doing stretches and the kid is no where to be found.

I have heard some horror stories of parents beating their children during a lesson. Luckily that didn't happen while I was working. Sometimes a flick on the ear and a slap on the back, but usually the parents are really kind and often not involved in the lessons at all.

For the most part, the parents are really encouraging, and sometimes a little too pushy for the students to learn. Many students are made to do tons of extra curricular activities, so I would try to be very understanding if they came to class mentally or physically exhausted. The most advanced students would tell me about grueling weekends with every hour filled with dance class, piano recitals, and extra math or science competitions, and classes. I asked one of my older students "what do you do on your birthday?” and she looked at me in the eyes and said "homework". 

Remember the children do the lessons from their homes, so they are in their comfort zone. They're not afraid to be silly, or pick up the tablet while the lesson is being broadcasted and take it to bathroom to go potty. It’s a very, very rare ordeal, but teachers do have power to turn off any students video or audio just in case. Usually everything went smoothly, and the classes were very fun. 

I had the same students booking me every week, so some of them I had for the entire year. Just like teaching in a classroom, I got to see them grow, have birthdays, lose teeth and most of all, learn a lot of English. Unlike being in a classroom, kids wouldn't sneeze or cough on me and get me sick. 

A lot of these companies do care about how you look. My company preferred teachers having a cute background in my teaching space, so I had a map and an ABC poster and a “Teacher Alex” sign. I made sure that my teaching space was well lit, and had to strong internet. I have had friends that have companies that prefer them just to be sitting in front of a white blank wall. 

My company never got on my case about how I looked, but I had a friend whose company would tell her to brush her hair, or another friend's company told her to please wear lipstick. My company was pretty hands off, and if I made a spelling error, or if I wasn't looking pristine, they never really micromanaged me. They gave less feedback, but the 2-3 times they did give me feedback, I would take it seriously.

Landi English's lessons were easy-to-follow and didn't require much preparation. After a few months of teaching, I had taught most lessons already. The lessons were extremely easy-to-follow and I could often be creative and use the lessons to create conversation with the students. 

I'll be honest, when I first got hired I was definitely very nervous and thought I wouldn't last more than a week with this job. How could a four-year-old make me this nervous? But I got comfortable with this style of teaching. I got to know the students better, then I started to understand the lessons more.  Before I knew it, I was making animal sounds and jumping around and really getting involved in the lessons, and that's what the companies like to see. And I was able to finish the entire lesson in exactly 25 minutes, but that did come with time and practice.  

I taught a lot of my lessons with just normal headphones with a little speaker attachment. But my company asked for a headset. Buying a really cheap headset may function exactly the same as earbuds, but it makes you look more professional. And again these companies care how you look. I would recommend investing in a $15 headset that you can buy online. Just make sure you can plug it into computer. Some have strange plugs.

Traveling and working

I met digital nomads everywhere I went. The more I chatted with people about what I did for work, the more I met other digital nomads. There are areas where digital nomads are going to be more common than others. Often Instagram havens like Bali, Singapore or Chiang Mai. 

You can find different events, socials, and start up houses online. Facebook groups, and hashtags, and meetup events. You can also find that in various support groups, and groups can be broad or specific. I have discovered groups as broad as just “digital nomad” and anything as narrow as “solo traveling female online traders”.

One of my friends found online a house in Bali called “Tribe theory”, or "Draper House". There are different Tribe Theory locations around southeast Asia and they cater to digital nomads and anyone else who wants to stay and learn about working remotely. While I was staying there, they hosted weekly events in the common area, with free refreshments and fruit and had speakers come in and talk about working abroad, different remote jobs and how to acquire extended visas.

There are also group trips you can join, you can find them on facebook groups or even websights like www.https://nomadlist.com/trips. 

The time I spent at Tribe Theory was amazing. I ended up staying there for a few months.I learned a lot from other digital nomads and I had a lot of fun. I only knew one other online teacher there, but learned so much about the various remote careers. It was more like bloggers, web developers, and bit coin traders. In contrast to Bali, there was an island I stayed on in Thailand called Koh Tao, and every other foreigner staying there was an online teacher. 

Even if you're proud to be working online, sometimes I wouldn't let the authorities know about your job. When entering a country, if asked, do not list your online job on the entry card, or on your visa application. If officials ask you about work, give them a smart answer. Sometimes you need a work permit to do these jobs in certain countries, or even if you don't need a work permit, the police are sometimes corrupt and will tell you you need one and charge you a bunch of money. You can get denied a visa or not let back in during a visa run. I've seen that happen. Tell your friends what you do, go to meetups, but don't talk about your work around officials. On one of my visa runs from Thailand to Malaysia, the man in charge of getting all of our visas to everyone said we should not have our online job listed on Facebook profiles, just in case authorities went ahead and checked this out online. That might be a bit extreme, but it's never too much of a precaution. This guy has been organizing Visa runs for over 15 years.

Working online is exciting, and growing in popularity. It is possible to grow and thrive in the remote working community and meet others like you.

When finding a place to teach on the weekends, my number one concern was usually WiFi. I sometimes would book a private room in hostels or inexpensive hotels, but usually the WiFi was shared with the whole floor and not as fast as I would need the WiFi to be to teach classes. One time, I stayed in a hostel with a private room and the fastest WiFi was in a broom closet on the ground floor. So, with the managers permission, I stuck myself on the floor of the dirty broom closet and taught my classes. The poor janitor lady was trying to throw away the trash next to me and be quiet. It was really weird, so I started looking to stay in more Air BnBs, because usually it's one WiFi router for that whole room, not shared. 

I would often look at the area I was planning on staying in a few days in advance, and scout out some cheap rooms at $15 a night or $20 (which is totally doable in southeast Asia). Then, I would directly message the owners and asked them to run a speed test. Internet speed tests are not always completely accurate, but they're usually pretty good, so for video teaching it had to be at 25 Mbps or above. If the owner ran a test and it looked good I would book the Air BnB. If they would answer my request for a speed test with “Just trust me, it will be fast internet”, it usually ended up more like a 50/50 chance it was fast enough to teach. I would very much recommend asking for a speed test before booking. 

Once an Air BnB lied to me about WiFi. When I showed up, the place was a dump and there was no WiFi at all, so I had to run to a more expensive hotel down the street and do my teaching there. Air BnB refunded me and gave me a coupon for my next trip, because I had screenshots of our conversation. The screenshots of our conversation told one story, and my screenshots of the speed test saying “error no WiFi”. Air BnB really had my back while an online teacher.

In emergencies, I had a back up WiFi source. I would hotspot my phone, or I would use my little pocket WiFi device I carried with me. Knowing I had a hotspot as the backup made things a lot less stressful. No WiFi meant missing teaching a lesson or being late, which would result in a penalty and a pay deduction from my company. Sometimes the power goes out. When the power would go out for a few hours, I had a system.

I'm always making sure my laptop had a full charge so it would last for at least five to six classes, in case there was a power outage. I also carried a headlamp with me at all times. If the lights were out, I would take my headlamp and point it toward me and shine it on my face so the kids could see me in the dark. If my phone was running low battery, I would put my sim card into my pocket WiFi and have another few more hours of WiFi. Most companies will be really understanding if the power goes out, and give you a pass. But, if you have the resources, why not keep teaching to make that extra money. While traveling in countires like Sri Lanka, the power went out every day! So I had to always be ready.

Alex Oetzell

Traveling and teaching, a balancing act.

First thing you have to do is figure out how much money you need to travel, and how often do you have to teach. What I did was I worked Friday evenings for three and half hours, and all day Saturday and Sunday. This gave me enough money to travel, and still have four full days off to do what ever I wanted and go anywhere I wanted. I could teach anywhere as long as there was good WiFi.

So my week would go like this;

Mondays I would usually be on a flight, a train or a boat en route to somewhere new. 

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I would be in a hostel with my laptop locked up someplace safe and secure. Time to sightsee and party! I would usually check out of the hostel on Friday morning and move myself to an Air BnB.

Fridays, I would check into the Air BnB as early as possible, usually around noon, The first thing I would do before the host left and before I unpacked my bag, was do a WiFi speed test. If the Wi-Fi was good then I was happy. If the Wi-Fi was too slow, I would ask the host to please fix it. If the host couldnt fix the WIFi, I would just go stay someplace else. I was very careful to only book an Air BnB if they had good WiFi. I would explain to the owners that I worked online, and I would ask the owners to run a WiFi test beforehand. Anyway, I'll talk about that more later…  I would set up my backgrounds, arrange my flashcards and get my stuffed animals ready. I always made sure I had bright lighting, and get my laptop fully charged. Only after having everything set up would I go relax on my own, get some food, get ready to sit down in the evenings, and start teaching.

Saturday and Sundays I would teach all day, with a 2-3 hours break, where in the afternoon I would chill out at a coffee shop, do my laundry, go to the beach, whatever. Just crank out most of my classes back to back. Sunday after my last class I would pack my bags, get a good night sleep and do that week all over agin. I did this for a 9 months, and I loved it. The last 3 months I settled into one place, so I could increase my hours to save money. 

As a long term backpacker, after spending my five weekdays days in a hostel, getting to have to on my own private space on the weekend to chill out, reset and cleanup is really nice. My schedule gave me a nice balance that I came to love, going crazy for five days and chill out for two.

First I'll tell you about my job, my company and how I got started.

Every company is different, so I will describe my company.  I worked for a company called Landi English, based in China. All my students were Chinese children. The operators and staff were also Chinese, and worked from a big city in China, but all of the teachers were international. I enjoyed my job and my coworkers.

Classes at Landi were 25 minutes long, with a pay range of $18-25 per hour. My company required their teachers to be a native English speaking, have a college degree, and teaching experience or a TESOL certification. 

The bookings for classes were quite consistent, and my schedule was full. I was booked quite a bit, because even though I was traveling, I was able to maintain a level of professionalism. Landi paid per time slot which is 25 minutes for one class. Each time slot pays $9-13 depending on if you are on time, and if the students attend the class. 

While I was traveling, I would teach about 18 hours each week at $25 an hour, (25×18) = about $450 a week. On top of that, I was often given other bonuses. If I had good ratings from the students and parents (out of 5 stars) I would get a little bit extra every month. Also, if I was on time, I was paid a little extra bonus every week. Honestly, I couldn't keep up with all the bonuses. I was very happy with my paychecks every month, and I never over analyzed my paystubs. But, you can get penalized; if you're late you get $2 deducted from every class for the entire week to bring you down to $9 per slot. So you lose money if you are not super punctual. Pay is deducted if you don’t clock in, if you are a second late to class, or if you leave before the 25 minutes is over. 

If something happens, like you get sick or if there's a power outage, the company liked to have some proof, like a video of the lights not turning on, or a photo of you with a thermometer in your mouth. My company was usually pretty lenient. I had a good track record of being on time and not missing classes, so they often let me off the hook for little things.

Even though I was getting paid $450 a week, I would get the bonuses, and if I was on time for all my classes my monthly paychecks were usually about $1800. Not bad. The cost of living in southeast Asia was low, so my paycheck not only sustained me, but I was able to save a little.

At the end of my year teaching with Landi, I ended up staying in one location for about three months. I was living on a beautiful tropical island, and “working remotely” rather than “digital nomading”. I increased my hours to 24 hours a week and I was making about $2400 every monthly paycheck, and I was able to save a lot with the low cost of living in Thailand!

Here's how I organized my classes. Each class was 25 minutes long. I would book all my classes back to back so I would have a 5 minutes break

in-between every class. During the break I would quickly type up the “memo” for each student, including what were their strengths and weaknesses, and I would often talk about how adorable they all were too. A class memo would go something like this…

“Coco was 4 minutes late to class. She only missed the review from last class, and she jumped right into the lesson. She is such a strong reader, and uses complete thoughts in a very confident manner. Coco did a great job of remembering farm animal names, what farm animals need, and talking about it with me and her peer. She did a good job, but can make sure she knows the difference between using “is” and “are”. We use “are” when there's plural nouns. Coco was very well behaved today. She was a good listener, she sat well and she was totally focused. She also did well with the vocabulary today, she was so involved with the lesson, fantastic work all around! Great work Coco!”

Your best friend when writing memos will be copy and paste, as well as the speak typing setting.