How to Start an Email List as a Language Teacher

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote yourself as an online language teacher

It gives you a direct line to your most engaged audience, allowing you to build authentic connections and sell your language courses or classes more easily than on other platforms.

But before you can enjoy the perks of this powerful marketing channel, you first need to create and build an email list. How?

Here are 7 easy steps to start an email list as a language teacher.

Step 1: Decide where you’ll host your email list 

Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: you cannot gather emails in an Excel spreadsheet and blast out bulletins from your Gmail account. 

It might sound silly to say, but I legit once had a client who ran his list this way (and yes, I did help him move it). It’s illegal, and it’s a very expensive disaster waiting to happen.

To comply with data protection laws — be it in the US, the EU or elsewhere — you’ll need to host your list on an email marketing platform that allows you to get consent from your subscribers. This is absolutely necessary to email them legally

Fortunately, there are tons of great email marketing platforms to choose from, some free, some paid. My advice? Claim a few free trials to figure out which you like best in terms of features and ease of use.

Here are a few popular platforms to check out: 

Step 2: Create your email list

Once you’ve chosen your platform, spend some time creating your email list. If you’re starting your list for the first time, I recommend keeping it simple. Create one main list and call it something like ‘Newsletter’ or ‘Main list’.

As your teaching business grows, you may want to segment your users into different lists according to their behaviour or interests. But it’s not necessary unless you’re offering very different courses for very different students. For example:

  • Students interested in learning different languages (e.g. for big language schools)
  • Students whose levels, needs and interests differ greatly
  • Students who have very different learning goals

Even if you have students who fall into these categories, note that this only makes sense if you have the time or the team to write and sustain good emails for multiple lists. It’s better to consistently send one newsletter than sporadically send a few.

Oh, and the more specific your niche is, the less need you’ll have to create different segments and send different newsletters.

Step 3: Set up an opt-in form

For people to actually arrive on your list, you’ll need to create a simple sign-up form that gathers their name, email address and consent for you to actually email them.

Do not skip this step! It doesn’t take long, and it protects you from breaking strict data protection laws, such as the GDPR.

If you’re thinking ‘I’m a language teacher, I’m not techy!’ don’t worry — your chosen email marketing provider handles all the technical stuff. It may even include drag-and-drop form templates that you can tweak to fit your brand.

Once you’ve published it, all you need to do is share the URL or integrate it into your website if you have one. But hold on! You don’t want to do that until you’ve created an email marketing plan to promote your language courses.

Step 4: Create an email format

So that your readers know what to expect from you each week, I suggest creating an email format that you rinse and repeat.

It can be tempting to spend hours designing a gorgeous template for your emails, but the stats say that this is a waste of time. Plain text emails — ones that don’t include heavy images or fancy designs — are said to perform best.

Why? Because the emails are lighter, more likely to be delivered and much more effective at creating a personal connection with the recipient. So, whether you’re you’re an independent teacher or you’re representing a language school, take it from me: boring is best. It’s also quickest and easiest, so yay!

Step 5: Decide what you want to send

You’ve got your formatting figured out. But before you rush to get people on your email list, it’s crucial you figure out what you want to send and how often.

Because, like any form of content marketing, consistency is key to building trust — and planning is key to staying consistent. 

So, consider what your ideal students are struggling with and what they want to learn from you. Are they looking for language study tips? Inspiration from other learners? Insights into your journey?

Think about the topics you want to talk about then decide how best to talk about them. And if you’re stuck, read this post for 12 content ideas especially for language teachers.

Pro tip: think about possible names for your newsletter to make it even more memorable. For example, I named my newsletter the Notepad, and if you sign up, you’ll receive a ‘page’ from it weekly. 

Step 6: Write a few emails

Do you have to write emails before you’ve even got a list? No. 

Am I suggesting you do it anyway? Absolutely. 

Lack of ideas and time are two of the biggest reasons language teachers don’t stay consistent with their emails, and if you ask me there’s no better way to avoid this than getting ahead. 

Writing a few emails before you tell anyone about your list helps you avoid overwhelm and figure out what you want to share without the pressure of a looming deadline.

Step 7: Create a welcome email (or sequence)

How would you feel if you were invited to someone’s house only to arrive and them not say so much as hello? Disappointed? Ignored? Like you shouldn’t have bothered?

That’s exactly how it feels to subscribers when they hand over their email addresses only to hear nothing from you.

So, before you start building your list, write and automate (at least) one email to welcome them to your community. It doesn’t have to be long, but it does have to, well, be. 

This isn’t just the polite Brit in me cringing at the thought of not thanking someone profusely for a seemingly insignificant action. The data suggests you should too. 

Studies show that welcome emails have a 42% higher read rate than other emails, meaning this is your chance to make a great first impression and create a connection from the get-go.

How can you set it up? Your email platform should include the option to automate an email. This is usually in a different area to where you send individual emails from. I can’t say exactly where, as every email provider has a different name for it. But it shouldn’t be hard to find.

You’ll need to connect your automated email with the list you created so it triggers to send as soon as someone signs up.

Pro tip: Set up a filter that only adds new subscribers to your general newsletter list when they have completed the welcome sequence. Sending both gets confusing and usually leads to higher unsubscribe rates.

Step 8: Plan how you’ll get people on your list 

Finally — the fun part! 

Now you’ve got a few ideas and emails in the pipeline and a killer welcome email in place, you can start planning how to actually get people on your list.

I could (and probably will) dedicate a whole article to list building strategies. For now, here a few easy techniques you can try:

  • Linking to your sign up form from your website
  • Create a high-value free downloadable resource (a lead magnet)
  • Add an email opt-in box to your contact form
  • Promote your email list on social media

Start by promoting your list to your existing audience because they already know, like and trust you. You don’t need necessarily to offer an incentive other than really good content that solves their problems. 

Ready to start an email list for your language teaching business?

Email marketing might sound complicated and overwhelming, but it really is as simple as that. Follow these steps to start your list, send consistently valuable content, and you’ll start seeing results in no time. 

And if you need a hand getting started or want more advice on how to start or grow an email list as a language teacher, here’s how I can help… 

  1. Join my mailing list for weekly copy tips you can implement right away. 
  2. Join the waitlist for Email Fluent, my email marketing course for language teachers (run with my biz buddy Ola Kowalska).
  3. Ask me to plan and write your newsletters for you. 

March 27, 2023

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