I started a free TEFL course in 2012 and as of today 2016 I am done with it. I tried different ways to make money with it to support it, but...
Why I killed the free TEFL course
- Problem people. I can testify that people who want something for cheap or free are often more problematic. They complain more and just seem to be more difficult.
- Too many low quality non-native English speakers. Sure some non-natives can speak fluent English, but see the comments below.
- People from 3rd or 2nd world countries like in Africa or the Philippines looking for a "qualification" or a ticket out of poverty.
- Too many free loaders.
- Little reward. Only a small % of all the sign ups on the site led to donations or to users taking a paid course.
- Image. It comes with some negative associations. People think you are a scammer or whatever if you give something away for free.
- Theft. People stealing content and putting it on their site.
- People who are not committed. Thousands of sign ups, but relatively few actually finish a course. That is common with many free or cheap online courses.
Here are some of the comments that I received on the former free TEFL page.
"i am a teacher of English in Uganda. Is it possible for me do TEFL course freely online? Then get a certificate of TEFL. so much interested in your response."
"Hi I'm lia from Philippines. I'm interested to have a tefl certificate for free"
"M Amber from Pakistan. I got a job in a China.Its a very hgood job but cant get work visa because not a certified . Thanks in advance"
I am not a grammar snob and I don't care if people make typos or mistakes online. But in this case it just looks bad and I don't want to make anyone like that think they are "qualified".
There were too many people who made comments like "I really appreciate your course, but I can't afford to pay for a certificate. Can I have it for free?"
Then there were spammy people trying Western Union and Paypal scams. People who said they would donate after they get a certificate and so on.
Here's a comment from an email I got today.
"I can not pay by paypal. I can only pay by Western Union. Further, as I already wrote I am unable to pay such large sums. I earn $6/hr."
Actually if I add up all the hours and years that I put into making all the resources such as how-to videos and the courses then I would have made less than that an hour.
And another one
"Still waiting for the free review of my essay - which was way within time - regardless of what your computer program says..."
Geez, give them a free course and it's still not enough. They want service too.
Tired of giving away all my work for free
I am tired of giving my hard work away for free. It really wasn't rewarding. I have worked on this site for years. I started working on it in 2009. I created all the how-to videos in 2009 and 2010 and at the end of 2010 ESLinsider went live up until the current day.
I have given away a ton of stuff for free and I am tired of giving it away.
I have tried various ways of making money with it such as with ads, donations, crowdfunding, but none of them worked very well. It's not sustainable. Not now anyways.