Your Definitive Guide to Getting More VIPKid Bookings
Working as an online ESL teacher with VIPKid has a lot of benefits. You get to set your own schedule, work from home, and spend focused one-on-one time with students. But online teaching is also a bit like running your own small business, and if your schedule isn’t as full as you’d like, you can find yourself wondering if the grass is greener at a brick-and-mortar school or in another job.
The good news is there are lots of simple steps you can take to increase your VIPKid Bookings and keep your schedule (and your paychecks) humming. In this post we’ll outline everything you can do to hit your ideal level of bookings — whether that’s three hours a day, or full-time. We’ll also bust a few myths on out-of-date tips that are circulating around the internet. Let’s jump in!
Part 1: Your VIPKId Profile
Write a great bio.
Your VIPKid bio is your first impression, and it’s basically the resume you send to the parents who might hire you. It should be short, sweet, and skim-able and highlight:
- Your education, including where you went to school, what degree(s) you have, plus any additional certifications (more on these in Part 2) or licenses.
- Your experience — feel free to include both prior teaching experience, and general experience working with children.
- Your teaching approach — if you love teaching with props or stories, or have a favorite assignment, include a little bit about that. Also let parents know why you love teaching, and why you’re excited to have their child as a student.
- What makes you unique. A lot of teachers don’t get booked because their bio sounds exactly the same as 10,000 other teachers. You want to be memorable and stand out. Share something personal: an interest, a hobby, a favorite travel destination… something to make parents remember you and make your profile stand out from countless others while searching for a suitable teacher.
Be sure the amazing bio you just wrote will translate well into Chinese.
While VIPKid has staff who translate bios into Chinese, you want to make sure it’s an easy job.
- Just copy and paste it into Google Translate for English to Chinese.
- Then copy and paste the Chinese text back into Google Translate for Chinese to English.
- If it doesn’t come back pretty much the same as your original, edit it and try again. Make sure you’re not using slang, and keep your sentence structure simple.
In our example bio below, the text is coming back almost the same, but you can see that the sentence “I can’t wait to meet your child in class and help them learn English!” is causing some translation issues, so tweaking that sentence to make it more clear would make this bio even better.
Include a professional photo, plus some lifestyle photos that show parents who you are.
You know the phrase, a picture is worth 1,000 words? Well, it’s true on your VIPKid profile, too. Parents want to know their kids are in good, trustworthy hands, and your profile pic gives lots of subtle cues about what kind of teacher you are. So make sure you cover these basics:
- Make sure the image quality is good, and the focus is sharp.
- Wear something professional. You don’t need to go super formal, but definitely keep in mind the business part of “business casual,” and wear something dressier than a t-shirt.
- Smile! If your bio says you make your classes fun, but your expression looks like you’re on hold with the electric company, you’re sending mixed messages.
Include a couple lifestyle shots on your profile as well. These can be more casual, and show your personality and hobbies.
Add an intro video.
It’s easy to get intimidated by this one, but since you’re essentially teaching by video chat, an intro video really gives parents a quick sense of what your class will be like. You don’t need fancy transitions, or next-level video-editing skills, but making a great video does require some set up and practice. Set aside an afternoon for this task, and remember the most important things are to have high energy, and good sound and video quality.
Here are some tips to help:
- Set up your teaching background with some props, and make sure your space is clutter free and well lit.
- Write down what you’d like to say, make sure it fits in 15-30 seconds, and practice a few times.
- When you’re ready, record on your laptop using a free tool like Loom.
- If you’re using a smartphone, just be sure to record in landscape (horizontal) mode, and use something like a stack of books to keep your phone in place.
- Watch your recording, look for anything you’d like to improve, and repeat until you have something you’re happy with.
Check out Teacher Michael on YouTube for more ideas on how you can make an amazing intro video that stands out.
Use all of your available “tags” and teach consistently with them.
Every teacher on VIPKid has teacher “tags” for three categories: teaching skills, strengths, and personality. Initially, your tags are populated by your Mock Class Mentor. If you have an empty slot, you can typically self-select some of your tags, and once you’re teaching classes, parents can also tag you.
The point of tags isn’t to collect more, it’s to help parents filter searches quickly, so review your tags and teach classes that line up with them, and don’t self-select tags that don’t suit you. For example, if you’re an energetic, fast-paced teacher, choose “Energetic” over “Patient.”
To find your tags, go to the teacher portal, click on “My Info” and then “tags.” If you have an empty slot, select an additional tag, and then any parent who gives you a 5-apple review can also endorse you for them after a lesson.
Myth Alert: “Every teacher gets 6 tags.”
We’ve seen this one circulating a lot, and it’s not correct. While some teachers may have six tags, others wont. Six is the maximum number of tags, but there isn’t an ideal number to have. Make sure you keep your teaching consistent with what others have seen from your classes. If you aren’t satisfied with them, you can edit your tags once every 30 days to appeal to a new audience of parents.
Should you change your tags?
Most VIPKid teaching pros recommend not changing your tags — unless you feel like there’s a major mismatch. But remember, how you perceive yourself and how parents from a different culture perceive you might be different. Your Mock Class Mentor may have a better sense of this than you do, as a neutral third-party and someone who sees a lot of teachers. And remember there’s no such thing as a “bad” tag.
Part 2: Maximize Your Visibility on VIPKid
Okay, now that you have an amazing profile, you want to make sure as many parents as possible see it. There are several tricks to maximizing your visibility on VIPKid, let’s walk through each one.
Teach trial classes.
VIPKid books trial classes for students who aren’t signed up for the platform yet. So if you’re certified to teach them (check your profile), and can be flexible with your schedule by opening peak peak time (PPT) time slots and checking the “short notice” box, they’re a great way to increase your bookings.
In your first weeks, VIPKid will generally try to book you for a lot of trials. Most teachers say this drops off after 4-6 weeks, but by opening those PPT slots they can continue to use trials to book some extra sessions.
Bonus: You get an additional $5 if a student signs up after your trial class, and you may also pick up some regular students.
Get certified for as many levels and supplementary courses as you can.
When you’re starting out, your Mock Class Mentor will set the major course levels you’re certified to teach. Later, you’ll start having the option to add certifications. And certifications are huge when it comes to bookings. More certifications means you can teach more types of classes, and that instantly makes you visible to more parents.
To find and apply for certifications, go to the “Resources” tab, click on “Certifications” and you’ll see all the possible applications, and your status for them. Here’s what the statuses mean:
- Available/Vacancies: You’re qualified and can apply.
- Unavailable: You don’t qualify yet. A teacher needs to meet certain criteria for each certification. Some require teachers to have a certain amount of “Finished As Scheduled” classes, some require a certain amount of parent feedback. Additionally, most require that teachers have a certain percentage rate for participation that they must meet or exceed to be able to apply.
There are certifications for every VIPKid major course, or level. Some will have a quiz you’ll need to pass (don’t worry if you don’t pass the first time — you can take it again). Others will require a video demo, or have prerequisites of other certificates.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the major courses you can get certified for. These are your bread and butter, so it’s a good idea to focus your attention on these certifications first!
Here’s a quick breakdown of the major courses:
- Pre-VIP / Level 1: Beginners (age 4-5)
Lesson Focus: Single words, singing, games, and actions
- Level 2: Beginners (age 5-12)
Lesson Focus: The basics, starting with the alphabet
- Level 3: Low level (age ~6-12)
Lesson Focus: Grammar basics and expanding vocabulary
- Level 4: Lower intermediate (age ~7-12)
Lesson Focus: Verb tenses and beginning conversations
- Level 5: Intermediate (age ~8-12)
Lesson Focus: Detailed conversations, more complex grammar
- Level 6: Upper intermediate to advanced (age ~8-12)
Lesson Focus: Ability really varies at the higher course levels depending on the student, but the kids should be doing most of the talking in these classes, and conversation and grammar will be the most advanced.
If you’re already certified for the major courses, there are also more specialized certifications for different types of classes and students:
- Trials, which we mentioned above.
- The TEFL certificate is free right now, only takes about 25 hours and is a great way to show parents you’re serious about teaching.
- Starlight classes for older students starting ESL classes later than the typical VIPKid student.
- VAE courses tend to focus on vocabulary building for students 10- to 15-years-old.
- Supplementary certifications cover a wide variety of topics, from prepping for the TOEFL exam, to conversation. VIPKid also often adds certifications, so it’s good to check back every few months and see if there’s anything new.
Make sure your certifications are visible on your profile.
Sometimes it takes a couple days for VIPKid to get you fully into the system when you’re starting, or to add a new certification. But if you’re not seeing something under your Certification tab after that, you should open a ticket with support. Because if your certifications aren’t showing up, you’re not showing up for parents searching for a teacher, and you can’t get booked.
Open some time slots as soon as your contract is signed — but only open ones you can actually teach.
When you’re getting started, it’s a good idea to open time slots up right away. We hear from new teachers that waiting even a week to open slots after your contract is signed can make it much harder to get booked. The theory is that VIPKid will feature new teachers higher in search to give them a boost. Wait too long, and someone else is new and getting that boost instead of you.
Myth Alert: “You should open as many time slots as possible.”
This advice is making the rounds in a lot of places, and sure, having more slots open logically means you can be booked more. However, we’d like to add a note of caution. If you cancel a class, have an IT issue, are late, or get a negative parent review because you weren’t well prepared, those things all hurt your ability to get booked. So focus on delivering high-quality lessons and finding students you mesh with, and those strategies will serve you much better over time.
Also know that every teacher’s sweet spot is different when it comes to how many sessions they can teach in a row without feeling burnt out.
In the first couple weeks, plan to block out at least a short break after every 4 classes, and you can figure out your ideal number of sessions in a row and per day and adjust accordingly.
Having some evening and weekend time slots open definitely helps. Look for the peak and peak-peak time slots in your Bookings tab. They’ll have a “Hot” label for PT and a “Hot” label with a flame next to it for PPT.
Use the short notice option.
Finally, when it comes to availability checking the short notice option is another trick you can use since trials tend to get booked short notice. We recommend unchecking the short notice box every night before you go to bed so you don’t sleep through an early booking, and then re-checking it the next morning.
Myth alert: “Closing and re-opening your bookings every day will get you more bookings.”
While VIPKid doesn’t release their algorithm, you can be assured that they’re aware of anything teachers perceive as a loophole, or a way to game the system when it comes to bookings.
Our best booking advice from experienced teachers is to open whatever slots you’re committed to potentially teaching before the booking frenzy every Sunday night, and then leave it be. If you don’t get booked and have open slots, check the short notice box.
Part 3: Keep your schedule flowing with regular students.
The ultimate goal of increasing your bookings is really to get you to a point where you have a steady schedule with regular students. It’s both more relaxing, and more rewarding to work with repeat students since you spend less time stressing about your schedule and more time making meaningful teaching connections. So when you teach a class, your goal should always be to get rebooked.
Plan ahead for every class.
Planning is everything! Poor preparation doesn’t lead to rebookings or reviews. Effective teachers look ahead at their schedule, plan what props they need for each class, use resources like HelpTeaching’s free worksheets, what reward system they’ll use, and they’re relaxed and confident going into a lesson. The teachers who rock their classes get feedback from parents and ultimately, parents help market those teachers on their social media platforms, talk them up to their friends, and bring in referrals.
Here are a few other tips to get your rebooking rate up:
- Put on the performance of a lifetime! Teach a great class with high energy and you’re definitely going to get that 5-apple feedback and repeat students.
- Don’t overbook yourself! Yes, this post is about increasing your bookings, but it’s easy to fall into a “more is better” mindset and just keep going. While we’ve heard of teachers powering through 20 classes in a row, it’s not really sustainable or healthy.
- Remember that parents can see your classes even if you can’t see them on screen.
- Set up a system to give great feedback quickly after each class. This doesn’t have to be a huge administrative headache at the end of a long teaching day. FeedbackPanda has tons of VIPKid feedback templates to make giving feedback a snap and it’s free to try for 30 days. Plus, you can master the app and giving feedback by attending a free webinar.
Part 4: Stay the course.
If you’re just getting started with VIPKid, completing everything on this list might feel like climbing Mount Everest right now. Take a deep breath, and know that you don’t need to do every single one of these steps today. Just schedule a little time for yourself each week to work on your bookings, and pick one thing from the list to check off, or one new habit to add to your routine, and you’ll start seeing positive results.