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Why marketing and teachers share a love/hate relationship

“I am not interested in marketing! I don’t like it.”

This was a statement from a friend and colleague who has been a freelancer for several years.

I know many teachers in Germany who have become a freelancer “by accident” – either to save overhead costs or the work was “outsourced”. They are skilled and experienced teachers with a pressing need to earn a living, find and teach students – and run a freelance business at the same time. Most teachers new to freelancing are unprepared for this new way of life. They struggle with the ethical idea of combining teaching and running a business – especially when that word “marketing” rears its head. Yet are you doing your students and customers a disservice by not marketing simply because you feel an ethical problem with marketing?

Let’s first define the ethical problem.

The ethical problem teachers have with marketing

Marketing! 🙄
Oh yes, I’m aware of the ethical problem teachers have to marketing.

Most teachers believe marketing is advertising or selling yourself  – something that is pushy and where you are imposing yourself on others. This is because marketing is often understood to only mean “advertising” and “selling yourself”.  Admittedly… 🙁  not much of a recommendation.

Marketing is an umbrella term (Photo: Doug Caldwell)

Marketing is an umbrella term (Photo: Doug Caldwell)

However, marketing is an umbrella-term. It includes anything a teacher can do to create business. That is, anything you do to reach, to get, or to keep your student or customer. Marketing is the tool which brings you into contact with students or customers.

You focus on building relationships and friendships with your students and customers by helping and taking care of their needs. At the same time, you are informing them about your skills. Depending on your effectiveness and the impression you leave, some of these people are going to hire your teaching service – or refer them to others. Can this be ethical? Can this be classified as “good conduct”?

I think it is and I think it can. Building up a good relationship with your students and customers is the key to setting up a good learning environment. After all, who can learn well (or teach!) if the chemistry between a student and a teacher is not right?

With this thought in mind, a freelance teacher’s definition of marketing should be retagged to read:
a relationship-oriented service.

You must develop a relationship-oriented service. One that satisfies both parties. And to develop a relationship-oriented service, you need to develop the two other areas in marketing: research and education.

Two important marketing areas in a teacher’s relationship-oriented service

Research and education are fundamental to your freelance teaching business and to your relationship-oriented service. Here are brief explanations of both marketing areas:

Research: Student and teacher are both trying to find each other.
There are students who can pay for teaching skills and who want or need them. How do they find you? How do they look for you? Where do they go?
What about teachers? How do teachers (who want to earn their living with their teaching skills) find students and customers? How do they know what the students need or want? And how do teachers make students aware of their particular service or speciality?

Facit: when students realise they need your teaching services, there is no pressure on you to “sell” them your services. But how do you make them realise they need your particular teaching service? By educating them; another often overlooked marketing area.

Education: Depending on your teaching niche, you educate your future students by making them aware how your teaching services can help them. Every prospective student is going to inform himself what is available on the market – and information overload is only one step away. How do you stand out from all the others?

Another reason is that not every prospective student knows exactly what he is looking for. Educate him on what you are doing and the areas of your service may reveal a potential shortfall he has not yet thought about.
What is sleazy about educating people about them and making them aware there is a solution available – one that will help solve or meet their personal needs?

If your teaching services are valuable to others, then you will be doing a disservice by not letting them know about you and your teaching service.

There is nothing dishonest or pushy about learning how to use the marketing tools so your students know you even exist. Neither is it dishonest or pushy to show them your passion and your skills as a freelance teacher. Nor is there a need to be apologetic about marketing yourself as a freelance teacher.  Instead, it’s an honest approach to your students and customers as an efficient relationship-oriented service will reflect your personality, your integrity and your ability as a professional in your chosen teaching field.

Inefficiency or Marketing: what happens next?

If we look at the business of being a freelance teacher, there are many ways to look for work and find students, and many of them are incredibly inefficient. But you don’t have the time or the money to be inefficient! So be direct and start marketing your teaching service. It’s the best way to ensure both you and your students profit from the mutual exchange.

Otherwise you are doing your students a disservice.


  • Freelancing is a business. Marketing is an integral part to running any business.
  • Teaching is a valuable customer service.
  • Marketing is an umbrella-term. Freelance teachers need marketing to promote their relationship-oriented service.
  • Research and education are two fundamental marketing areas within relationship-oriented marketing.
  • It is a disservice to your students and customers by not helping them know your teaching services exist.

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What Do You Think?

Do you have something you would like to add or say about the subject of teaching and marketing? Add your comments and suggestions in Leave A Reply Comment box below…

2 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Wonderful articles, please keep them coming! Any way we could link all of this onto Facebook?

    Deena (from Israel)

    • Hi Deena, thanks for your feedback. You can also give a star or two rating at the top of the article… It would help me understand better what information is considered the most interesting and the most important.

      Facebook: You were the first to ask, so I have started up a Facebook page. See righthand navigations column. However, I do need 25 clicks on “I like it” so I can get a more easy to remember page name. So please go ahead and add your “I like it” click so I can get this page underway! 🙂

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