So, admittedly, I’m the worst. I was so looking forward to telling you guys all about my YEAR update (since my last post was my 10 month update), and then things came up and it just didn’t happen. And then I moved back to the US (since my avid readers will know that I was in Spain for a good part of my VIPKid blogging) and life was crazy! I lived in Montana for while, and then moved to Idaho! I’ve been in Idaho for a while now and it’s been super awesome, but I’ll save that for another post.
Here’s another issue: figuring out where to start! Since it’s been MORE THAN A YEAR (again, the worst, I know) since I’ve last posted about VIPKid, there have been SO MANY UPDATES! For a while, I was getting referrals like crazy (again, my wonderful readers, I thank you for helping to support my blog by using my referral link!). And then it’s really dropped since about March. I completely blame myself for lack of relevant postings. I’m sure half of you wondered if I even still taught for VIPKid anymore. Don’t worry, I do! I’m still here! Let’s start with some updates now.
Tech & Platform Updates
Teach from your iPad
So my understanding is that you now CAN teach from your iPad, but I haven’t officially tried this yet. I know the kids have been learning from the VIPKid App for a good long while now, but it used to be that you couldn’t actually use the iPad to teach. However, I think if you have a newer iPad with all the fancy updates, you can officially TEACH from there as well! This could be a HUGE help to traveling teachers who may not want to bring their big laptops with them wherever they go! From previous discussions with teachers, it sounds like the iPad is a good backup to have, but it’s still more ideal to teach from your laptop if you’ve got access to it. So, if you’re an existing teacher and this sounds appealing to you, download the app and see for yourself how it works! If you do use this method of teaching, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Unfortunately, my iPad is rather old so I’ll be sticking with my MacBook for the time being.
So the Hutong website is something I wasn’t too sure about initially. We had the main website and then Freshdesk, and what’s this new Hutong thing now? A passing trend? Some other message board thing? Ugh. But, it looks like the Hutong is here to stay. It’s basically the new (and improved) Freshdesk. Here, you can collect these things called “tokens” by commenting on other posts, watching videos, answering questions for VIPKid, etc. You only get like 2-5 tokens per activity, but the activities are pretty quick. You can then “cash in” these tokens for various things. For example, for 50 tokens you can download some little cutouts of the VIPKid characters to use in class or enter some lotteries for chances to win cash prizes… For 200 tokens, you can get a coloring book or enter bigger raffles. For 500 tokens, you can get a $5 gift card to different stores. For 1,000 tokens, you can get the popular Dino doll (somehow I’ve obtained two from the company by being auto-entered into various contests and winning second prize… usually first prize is a trip to China, but for second you get a doll. Not complaining since I am not sure how I won them in the first place). For 2,000 tokens, you can get a $20 gift card to stores or online for Amazon… and for 10,000 whopping tokens, you can win a “fly and teach” event where travel is limited to the US, but you get to attend a teaching conference paid for by VIPKid (and your 10,000 tokens!). So if you become a teacher and want to earn various little gifts here and there, become an active Hutong community member! You can also read discussion boards, view weekly email updates, and talk to fellow teachers here.
Show Me the Moneyyyy
Since it’s been more than a year since I’ve updated you all on my earnings, I don’t feel like going month by month for a breakdown like I normally do… So I’ll give you some highlights and lowlights of the year! Last September, December, and March were absolutely awesome for me! I had a ton of you guys using my referral link to become new teachers and VIPKid offered 3 month “milestone” competitions where I was being paid the normal amount per referral ($50 for the first 2 in the month, $100 for the following referrals) but then if you crossed this threshold of about 8 for the three months, you got a bonus on top of that! So I made over $800 for each of those months, thanks in part to my referrals, so thank you!
Here’s a shot of my March 2018 income from VIPKid:
The other good months looked roughly the same. That referral money is very helpful, especially when they offered those milestone bonus incentives! But of course, as with anything if there are highs, there will be lows… In January of 2017, I only made $98 and last month, September of 2017, I had to cut back some hours and experienced a family death that caused me to cancel a few classes and cut back even more, so I only made $198!
Here was my last month’s breakdown:
As always, I don’t recommend doing VIPKid as your primary source of income for your household because the months do vary quite a bit! With daylight saving time quickly approaching as well, that means an hour will be cut from the later part of the morning for those of us who do DST (Arizona, you lucky dog). You also don’t know what kind of holidays will affect your students either. Every year I see teachers freaking out in January and February because their bookings have dropped due to the Chinese New Year celebration. Many families let their children enjoy this time off with them and it’s perfectly normal to see the decline at this time. Again, it’s risky to base your sole income from VIPKid alone! This is why I only do it part time, before I head to work, just to have some spending money for fun things!
Because I’ve been asked this a lot, I will let you all know that I have only been teaching 2-3 classes before I head to work, Monday through Thursday. I let myself “sleep in” on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and choose not to teach on these days. But, if you’re really into teaching you can always teach in the evenings too! Since I’m still in the Mountain time zone, I can teach from 6:30pm to 7:30am (not during DST), with the peak hours (highest booking times for the kids) being between 4am and 8am Monday through Friday. The odds of you being booked in the evenings is pretty unlikely during the weekdays since that is when the kids are in school, but if you open Friday and Saturday evenings from about 7pm onward, you do have a decent chance of being booked since this is Saturday and Sunday morning for the kids in China.
Ahh, the ever popular venting section! Since none of my IRL friends teach with VIPKid, nobody will understand me quite like my fellow teachers!
My First Teacher No-Show…
Ok, so in my opinion, this was completely unjustified and unfair. IT WAS NOT MY FAULT. Now hear me out… I got my first TNS last December because my old in-person boss screwed up my work schedule. He told us to come in (on our company’s time off) so I figured if I would be up early, I would try to grab some of those last minute classes (hello $2 bonus, am I right?). So I got up and got ready and opened the Skype group for teachers to grab last minute classes. Sure enough, a Firemen asked if any teachers were available to teach, and I said I was. Now here’s where it gets unfair: I was not the first person to respond. Rules are that the first teacher to respond gets the open class. I was the second person to respond. Firemen shoots out a generic: “Please log into your portal” message. I’m already logged in. I hit “refresh” on my browser and wait. Nothing. I check back in the Skype group. Nothing new… I hit refresh again. Nothing. So I assume that the class must have went to the first person who responded. Still, I sit there for FIVE MINUTES randomly refreshing, just in case. After this, I figure it’s safe for me to get up and prepare for my SCHEDULED next class. About three minutes later, I walk back to the computer and just for kicks, I hit refresh again… Suddenly there is a grayed out slot for the current time. I panic and click on the class and it says “TEACHER NO SHOW” and I’m like, “WHAT?!? HOW?!?” At this point, we were about 9 minutes into the scheduled class, but I had sat AT MY COMPUTER for the first 5 and NOTHING popped up! I logged back into the Skype group and saw there was a private message from the Firemen telling me to log in at like the 6 minute mark (of course) and I didn’t respond, because again, I got up to prepare for my NEXT class that was scheduled. Apparently they waited all of 2 minutes for me to log in before declaring me a “no show” and marking that against me, despite me having had waited for 5 minutes. I tried to appeal it, even sent in tickets because of how unjust it was. I explained the the I was not the first person to reply so it didn’t make sense for me to have to even wait, but I did, and the class didn’t pop up! There are no rules on how long you have to wait, which is crap because it’s not like everyone who responds is guaranteed the class, but apparently you have to just sit and wait with NO guarantee of pay. That just doesn’t seem fair to me, but they argued the point of: “You said you could teach it so you have to be prepared if we need you for however long.” Again, shady if they don’t guarantee you any pay for that time. So after going back and forth for a while, I had no choice but to let it go and just take the unfair TNS. It sucked, but the good news was that my contract renewed in March with no issues, and again this month. Still, I take pride in my perfect attendance and reliability so I’m still bitter about this TNS that they put on my record almost a year ago… As you can tell, I’ve been harboring that one for a while, haha. Since I’ve since REFUSED to use the Skype group to get those last minute classes, I haven’t really had too many other complaints.
Constant App Notifications
The only other thing I find annoying right now is on the app, they can send you these push notifications about ANYTHING. I left the notifications on because I wanted the reminder of “Class Starts in 15 Minutes” one, but there’s not a way to opt out of literally every single other notification. Last night, for example, my phone buzzed with a notification at like 11:30pm saying, “Don’t log into the account center from 2-3pm Beijing Time!” Trust me, I had no intentions of logging in from 4am-5am MY time, but thanks for waking me up and giving me a heart attack before having to wake up at 5am anyway. They also do all these, “Earn tokens now!” notifications which are super annoying. I’m getting to a point where it might just be easier to turn off ALL notifications… even though I like the 15 min warning plus if I get any last minute bookings… I just wish there were a way to opt out of certain notifications as opposed to others.
Ok, so this is a frustration with OTHER teachers more so than with me… But VIPKid has allegedly been blocking certain students from certain teachers saying the teachers were “unavailable” and then suggesting other teachers for the students to take classes from instead. Some teachers choose to download WeChat and put their username in their bio so that parents can chat with their kids’ teachers. It sounded like some of the parents reached out to teachers asking why they were no longer available for their kids and the teachers were super confused… So they shared these screen shots with translations from the Firemen basically saying, “This teacher is not available” (which was a lie because they were) “Here’s another teacher we recommend”. In some cases, this caused the kids to be upset and so the parents reached out and that is how the teachers found out about it! Other teachers were getting similar responses when reaching out to parents asking why their child stopped taking classes with them and got a similar response. Veteran teachers were noticing booking droppings for no real reason and found out that kids were being diverted away from them! Now, I have NO idea if this was happening with any of my students or not. I’m not on WeChat and I only teach very minimally so I’m usually totally booked up every week with my limited availability. So this isn’t really a frustration of mine, but it’s worth mentioning since I’ve seen the screenshots on Facebook groups and believe that something was definitely going on. It hasn’t been complained about as much recently, so maybe they’ve stopped with all the push back from teachers. Some were saying that VIPKid was hiring too many teachers who weren’t getting booked and this was their way of trying to disperse the students. I think if that were the case, that is pretty underhanded to lie to parents. If you really want the new teachers to get booked because they aren’t, then you need to like offer some kind of incentive: “Try [NEW TEACHER] for a discounted rate!” or something. Or shove the trials on them and hope that they sign up and become students of the new teachers… That’s what I had to do back when I first started over two and a half years ago. Yes, it takes time to build up your student base, but you can’t lie to parents and hope that nobody will find out to help out the newbies. Like I said, this issue seems to have calmed down a bit, so let’s hope it’s no longer a thing.
Other VIPKid Information
Alright, so you guys have mostly been brought up to date on VIPKid! Nothing too crazy new. The new portal looks pretty clean and slick… The Hutong is here to stay, so earn your tokens! The referral bonus for getting new teachers has officially changed… They are now just doing a flat $100 per successful referral. This is good if you average less than 4 teachers per month! And that’s pretty much all I can think of for this update. If I think of anything else incredibly exciting and new, I’ll be sure to update you in my next post… and I’ll be sure to not take another year to update it, haha. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me! I’ve already answered TONS of questions about what VIPKid is and how to apply, so be sure to check out some of my previous blog posts for questions relating to VIPKid before reaching out to me 🙂 And if you’re ready to apply, please use my referral link so I can keep creating relevant content for my fellow teachers, like my post on How to File Taxes as an Independent Contractor!
If you think you might be interested in applying, click here for my referral link!
Click here for my first post on what applying and starting work for VIPKid entails (there have been a few updates since I started).
Click here if you’d like to read my two month update with the company (I explain more about trial classes and reward systems there).
Click here to read my four month update (my honest thoughts on the job as well as different ways to increase your booking rates).
Click here to read my six month update (you can find an Excel document to organize your pay, learn about contract renewals, and teaching from abroad).
Click here to read my ten month update (where I talk about updated classroom policies and taxes).