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I want you to get real with me for a second. What is your gut reaction when a friend or family member tells you about their latest way to make a quick buck? Do you inwardly cringe? Hold your pocketbook a little tighter? Wish them the best? Secretly wish you could join them? Skeptical?
I know you all will have varied reactions when I start to tell you about my latest side hustle, but please put your gut reaction aside until I tell you more about it. This company is legit. I am making very good money with very little time and stress. I’m not telling you about this because it is part of a pyramid scheme (more on that in a second), I am sharing it on my blog because I genuinely think that this is a wonderful way for parents to take on part-time work without sacrificing time with their families. It has been a major blessing for our family already and I genuinely hope that it can help someone who was in the same boat as we were just a couple of months ago.
First, I want to give you an idea of why this side hustle is so perfect for our family’s current situation.
Our family has been debt-free since selling our previous home and we are really hoping to stay that way (thanks for the instruction and motivation, Dave Ramsey!). Well, a few months ago a trip to the vet served as an eye opener that our emergency fund was really not as large as we needed it to be in order to stay out of debt. Luckily, our sweet dog healed without the need for surgery but we realized something: In order to live our dream of debt-free living, we really needed to increase our monthly income so that we could build our emergency fund. We are fortunate in that Mr. Blue Eyes makes plenty of money for our monthly expenses, but the cost of living here is high, so we don’t have a lot left over to throw into savings.
So what could we do?
I had a few issues when trying to come up with some ideas to make a buck:
- BLOGGING?? As much as I love this blog, it is still “in the red” and will remain a financial liability until I am able to devote more time to it. There is no immediate money-earning potential in blogging. It is a slow burn, especially when blogging “part time.”
- DIRECT SALES/MLM?? I couldn’t bring myself to sell items to my family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, I give major props and a virtual high-five to all of you who rock this line of work…I just know my personality type would not make for a good saleswoman.
- TEACHING?? My teaching license expired a few months ago, and even if I worked something out with a local school district to hire me under an emergency licensure situation, we are only living in this area for another year and a half (tops). Plus, it would have been a good four or five months before seeing a paycheck.
- SUBBING?? I could probably find a way to substitute teach (or substitute as an assistant), but I would have to find and pay for daycare (a challenge in a new area). And, again, four or five months before seeing a paycheck.
- MISCELLANEOUS WORK?? I’m sure I could find some sort of part-time work outside of the home, but – honestly – cancer was an eye opener for me. My kids are only young once. I want to spend as much time at home with them as possible. I know from experience that working outside of the home brings with it a HUGE amount of stress and I want to avoid that as much as I can. Life is short and I want to be PRESENT…not stressed.
So, with all of these thoughts flying through my head one day, I was looking online at a blog post for a dinner idea. Somehow (squirrel!) I stumbled on a post about side hustles. Buried in a list of work-from-home opportunities that seemed like too much work for the limited income, I found it! The perfect source of part-time income for me! The answer to all of my side hustle woes!!!
- It is a position that puts my teaching skills to use (without the need for an active teaching license)
- I can work at home while my kids are asleep (I don’t even need to change out of my pajama pants)
- There is so little prep work involved that once my teaching is over for the morning, I have the rest of the day to be present with my kids.
- Now that I’ve gotten my feet wet, I feel little to no stress in this line of work. This job is so low-key, I make enough money to increase our emergency fund without breaking a sweat. I go through my schedule for the month, which is pretty light-duty, and I’m shocked to see that I’ve made over a thousand dollars by the end of the month. This low-stress income also decreases financial stress! Win-win!
- If at any point I want to increase my hours (due to big bills coming up, Christmas, saving for a special vacation), I can add extra classes and increase my earnings. I can also decrease my hours if I need to do so.
- I don’t have to sell anything! However, this company is growing at such a fast rate that they are always on the hunt for new teachers. If someone wants me to be their referring teacher, I receive a one-time “bonus” to compensate me for the time I spend helping them through the hiring process. This is not a pyramid scheme – I don’t make a “cut” of my referrals’ teaching fees for eternity. It is just one-time compensation for sharing my time with potential teachers (and I don’t get paid until the referral teaches his or her first class). I can help YOU out, too! Just keep scrolling…
Okay. Are you ready to hear more about this magical side hustle? Are you skeptical? Don’t give up on me yet! I’m going to tell you about it right now…
I am now an independent contractor with VIPKid.
WHAT IS VIPKID?
VIPKid is a company based in China that provides an English language curriculum to children from preschool to teen. The children have access to online videos, workbooks, and one-on-one lessons with a native English speaker (like me!).
WHAT ARE THE LESSONS?
The lessons are 25 minutes long and are presented in a series of slides that are prepared by the company. These lessons take place in an online “classroom” through video chat. The children go through various units that talk about things ranging from animals, to birthdays, to geology. In every lesson, there is usually a phonics skill, math skill, social studies or science concept, and grammar lesson. All a teacher has to do is briefly review the lesson before class, prepare any props that are necessary to further emphasize the concepts, and then go through the lesson with the child, extending with conversation and correcting pronunciation as needed.
The above picture is an image from my classroom during one of my favorite times in the lesson – when I have a few minutes after class to chat with my students. I have covered up the slide but you can see where the lesson goes on the screen. This particular student showed me a piece of artwork that he had created and I was in awe of his skill at such a young age! Sorry, but I covered his painting because I want to maintain his privacy. But believe me, this kiddo is an amazing artist. And yes…that’s my shocked face. You should be jealous.
WHEN DO YOU TEACH?
In theory, I could teach during any daytime hour in China (starting at about 6pm my time and going overnight until 7am the following morning.) However, there are “peak times” when most students book their lessons. For my time zone (Pacific), this is 3am to 7am, which is late evening in China.
I teach five classes per day, from 4am to 6:30am every morning (Monday through Saturday). I also teach some evening classes if I feel up for it.
HOW MUCH DO THEY PAY?
The pay is “per lesson.” When you are hired, they will assign you a base pay rate of $7-9 per class based on your experience and your performance on the interview/demo lesson. (For the record, I have not heard of someone earning $9 right out of the gate. But they do give raises.)
From the base pay, there are additional incentives that are provided: $1 per lesson for being on time to class, and $1 per lesson once you teach 45 lessons or more in a month. Both of these things are pretty much a given once you are established with the company, so even though my “base pay” is $8, I essentially make $10 per class ($20 an hour).
In addition to the incentives, there are other ways to increase base pay. VIPKid provides an extra $2 per lesson if the class is booked within 24 hours of the lesson start time (“short notice” class). They also pay teachers an extra $5 for trial classes if the student signs up with VIPKid after taking their class.
An important note: You are considered an independent contractor when you work with VIPKid. They do not withhold any money for taxes. You are responsible, as a self-employed contractor, to set money aside for tax time.
HOW DO YOU GET PAID?
You can opt to get paid once or twice a month via direct deposit. The deposit comes from the US headquarters in San Francisco, so there are no issues with international deposits or transfers. Just a straightforward direct deposit.
AREN’T THERE TONS OF COMPANIES LIKE THIS?
Yes! There are TONS of ESL companies based in China. It is a huge market! I chose VIPKid for a few reasons.
First, VIPKid has been rated by Forbes as the number one remote company to work for. Number one!
Second, they are different from other companies because they allow parents to choose the teacher for each lesson. While this can be stressful for a new teacher trying to get established, it is awesome to be able to develop relationships with regular students and their families. This is something that doesn’t happen when companies randomly assign the classes.
Third, they just seem to be going up, up, UP! They are constantly refining and improving their curriculum and other features of the company to make it more user-friendly. They have received a TON of investments recently and all signs point to continued growth.
WHAT IS REQUIRED TO BECOME A TEACHER?
Here is the exciting part! This is all you need in order to meet the VIPKid qualifications:
- A Bachelor’s degree
- At least one year experience teaching children (this does NOT have to be traditional, brick and mortar school teaching experience. This could be Sunday School, home school, parenting, volunteer work, etc.)
- Ability to pass a background check
- Reliable computer and internet
THIS SOUNDS AWESOME! HOW DO I APPLY?
The application process can seem pretty daunting, but I can help you get through it quickly and with less stress! Coming soon, I will have a series of posts to help you through this process. In the meantime, I will give you an overview of what’s involved and (if you list me as your referring teacher) I will answer your questions through email as you have them. Here is what the application process looks like:
- Initial Application – This is a quick screening application that will provide an automated response to let you know if you meet minimum requirements. After you do this, you will be ready to set up an appointment for an interview or recorded demo lesson.
- Interview/Recorded Demo Lesson – The next step is a ten-minute demo lesson. You will introduce yourself to the interviewer (or give a brief introduction at the beginning of your recording) and then teach the ten-minute lesson. This is your shot to show them that you know how to teach (even if you have never taught in a traditional classroom)! This lesson is a factor in the determination of your base pay.
- Tutorial and Test – Before you move on, they will have you watch some tutorial videos about the lesson platform and take a test. It is a breeze.
- Mock Lesson One – If you pass the demo lesson and test, they will ask you to set up a mock lesson with a Mock Class Mentor (an experienced VIPKid teacher). You can choose what level you want to go for first (and then certify in additional levels after you’re hired). This will be a longer lesson than the demo lesson. It is possible for you to get hired after this first mock lesson. (I am living proof that it can happen!) Otherwise….
- Additional Mock Lessons – If you show promise as a teacher but they want you to fine tune a few things before they hire you, they might ask you to do an additional mock lesson. Many, many, MANY people have to do two (or more!) mock lessons, so don’t be discouraged if you do as well!
- Paperwork – After the mock lesson stage, you will be asked to either reapply after a certain amount of time or you will be hired! If you are hired, you will be asked to provide documentation of your education and sign a consent for background check.
That’s the whole process! I have time-saving tips to get through the application process more quickly. So be watching for more posts!
Moving forward, I will hopefully be posting something related to teaching every Tuesday. If you’re not a VIPKid teacher, don’t fret! You will still like these posts! I will share some fun ideas with recommendations for how they can be used in other settings outside of the virtual classroom.
If you want to apply for VIPKid and you are interested in having yours truly as your referring teacher, just follow this link to get started! There will be a spot where you can click to enter my referral code: STEPH0552 (that’s a zero). If you follow the link above, it should populate that portion of the form, but just in case! Once you have used my code, I will be notified by the company. Then I will send you an email to start our dialogue about getting you HIRED!
If you aren’t quite ready to take the plunge and apply but you have questions, feel free to contact me in the comments below or by using the “Contact” tab at the top of the page. I am really not a snake oil salesman. This is a legitimate work-from-home opportunity that has been an incredible blessing for our family. If you want a part time job without it impacting your availability to your family, I would highly recommend this job!