Two years ago I stumbled across a program I had never heard of and I thought I would investigate. As someone who works from home (and thus works when travelling, too) I'm always on the lookout for ways to supplement my income. The program is called Cambly and it is used to teach English. Think of it like Uber for English tutors. Here's how it works:
Students interested in practising their English sign up for the app and pay a fee. Tutors can log on to the app and be connected with those students. The tutors can either sign-up for shifts (in 1 hour blocks) or simply log on at random. Priority, however, is given to those who have booked a shift. Cambly pays the tutors 17 cents per minute of conversation, which works out to $10.20 USD per hour – not a bad rate. However, you would only make that much IF you spent the entire hour in conversation...which has never happened to me. At a minimum, Cambly guarantees each tutor $2.55 per hour. So even if zero students show up during your shift you still will get paid at least something.
Overall, this sounded like a pretty neat way to make some extra money, and getting paid in USD was the icing on the cake. I signed up, and have been tutoring students over the past week as a test. From that week, here are my stats.
I've worked 11 shifts
I've had 86 chats
I've spent 514 minutes in conversation with students
I've earned $87.38 USD
Now, if you can fill your hour then you’ll make a decent wage. $10.20 an hour isn’t terrible, but it isn't half bad either, especially considering whenever I am not tutoring a student I can be surfing the net, reading a book, or even writing this very blog post. Is it a great way to earn money? Not at all. But for those who just need to earn some pocket money for their travels this could be worth while. Another plus is that they pay you every week (via Pay Pal) as long as you have earned over $20.
CAMBLY REVIEW: CONSIDERATIONS
There are a few things to consider before you sign up, however.
You must have an EXCELLENT grasp of the english language
This should be obvious, but it's worth mentioning. While many new students likely can't tell the difference between "decent" and "great" english, there are many advanced students who can. They require a teacher with an excellent grasp of the language, so if your english isn't up to snuff then you wont be much help.
You need a RELIABLE and FAST internet connection
While most students use the app on their phone, tutors use their laptops. This means you need a fast wifi connection, as Cambly uses both audio and video. If the student cannot properly see or hear you, what use are you to them? Moreover, many students have poor wifi connections and so if your connection also sucks you really are of no use as a tutor. #justsayin
Do you have an accent?
If you have a thick accent (i.e. english isn't your native language, or you are from somewhere like the UK, Ireland, Boston, or Down Under) then you might want to temper that accent for new students. Experienced students, however, will want exposure to it. I had several students ask if I was hiding my accent, as they were ready to work on the various nuances of the english accent.
CAMBLY REVIEW: An OVERVIEW OF MY EXPERIENCE
So far, the majority of students I've interacted with are from Saudi Arabia. I've talked to students from Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, U.A.E, Russia, and Korea as well, but 90% have been from Saudi Arabia. The skill level of students ranges from very poor to almost perfect, so sometimes it can be very frustrating and other times it can be like meeting a new friend; you never really know who will be on the other end.
While most students are simply trying the app via a free trial promotion there are a handful that I have engaged with who are regular, dedicated students. They are the ones that have made this a worthwhile test for me, for it's always interesting to have an engaging conversation with someone from a different country (especially a country where I have not been!).
While it can be tedious having to introduce yourself over and over again to new people, having the same “small talk” conversation, it can also be a very rewarding experience. For instance, I was able to talk with an entire class of elementary students from Jordan. I chatted to each student for 3-4 minutes, as they had all prepared something to read and talk about (their daily routine or their favourite activities). While some weren't terribly interested in the project, most were really engaged and tried their best. Because of experiences like that I will likely continue to use Cambly here and there as a supplement to my income.
A SECOND OPINION
I reached out to Chelsey from The Ninja Gypsy to share her thoughts on Cambly and to get a second opinion. She’s been teaching online with Cambly for 6 months now, so I thought she would be a great person to get a second opinion from. Here’s her Cambly review:
“Let’s start with the negative. There are a couple of disadvantages to working for Cambly. First off, the pay really isn’t that great; it is just $10.20 an hour. In most developed countries, this job will not be enough to pay the bills.
Second, you never know what you are going to get. Especially at the beginning when you are trying to build your client base. You may get stuck with 10 three-minute calls in a row with students who can only say, “Hello.” This can be a bit overwhelming and disheartening.
However, there is a reason why I am still at Cambly six months later!
I believe that if you set yourself up well, it can be the perfect side hustle. I work on Cambly for about 9-10 hours a week, bringing in an extra $400a month. This is perfect for me as an individual who just wants some extra cash to supplement their main income.
Plus, I get to make my own schedule. I can work 15 hours one week and none the next. I am a nomadic person, so the ability to control my schedule is a major perk! In addition, once you have your regular clients, they will adjust with you!
In total, Cambly is an ideal side hustle for those looking for freedom and flexibility while earning some extra money. To make Cambly work for you, I recommend taking a couple steps to ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success:
Be consistent! I release my schedule for the following week every Wednesday, this way my students know when to book my classes.
Be invested! Know and engage with the lives of your students. An after-class message goes a long way. Your kindness and interest in their lives will have them returning time and time again."
In there end, Cambly won’t be for everyone. Many backpackers and digital nomads looking to make some extra money don't have access to fast, reliable wifi which is a definite requirement. For those that do, however, Cambly is a potential source of income...IF you're ok making below minimum wage. And also if you're ok seeing dicks...because one guy did try and flash me.
But hey. On the internet in 2019, seeing a dick is just par for the course.
If YOU think you've got what it takes to teach english online you can sign-up here!
P.S. Did you know I wrote a book? Check it out on Amazon!