The best books that inspire online language teachers to build their own businesses

Who am I?

The start of my own online teaching business in 2010 felt both liberating and frustrating. I enjoyed working for myself but struggled to make my offers unique, attractive, sustainable, and successful. I had no idea how to make my voice heard in the highly-saturated and fast-growing online teaching industry. Following the advice of famous online business gurus, I lost track of what I wanted my business to accomplish and burned out following every online teaching trend there was. The books I’ve selected helped me align with my own vision and values, inspired me to overcome my limitations and succeed on my own terms.


I wrote...

Grounded Growth: Sustainable and Profitable Online Teaching Business On Your Own Terms

By Elena Mutonono,

Book cover of Grounded Growth: Sustainable and Profitable Online Teaching Business On Your Own Terms

What is my book about?

Grounded Growth is a book for online language teachers and coaches who struggle to make their businesses profitable and their 1:1 client work sustainable. When most of your income comes from client work, you find yourself exhausted and anxious about the future of your business, as client numbers may fluctuate.

Grounded Growth shows to you, in detail, how sustainability and profitability work in an online language teaching business, what stifles growth, how money shame can sabotage your success, and what action steps you need to take in order to make your business healthy on your own terms. Find detailed examples, budget templates, and new teaching formats that work for any small and budget-conscious online teaching business.

The books I picked & why

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You're Going to Survive

By Alexandra Franzen,

Book cover of You're Going to Survive

Why this book?

When I began teaching online I drowned in the world of success stories. Every Facebook ad made my progress feel small and insignificant. “Do people ever struggle when they’re growing their business?” I wondered. In her book, You’re Going to Survive Alex interviews her friends - business owners who share some of the most challenging times in their work and how they overcame it. It’s a book featuring real stories, real people, and real survival tips to keep you going despite the hurdles. Knowing that you’re not alone and that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel is what we all need when our journey gets tough.


Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

By Austin Kleon,

Book cover of Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

Why this book?

Austin Kleon writes short and concise tips to help you stay creative when you hit a wall, lose motivation, or are about to quit. When you work online and don’t see the immediate results of your labor translated into a cushy bank balance, it’s tempting to stop practicing and doing things that seem ineffective. Austin shares some of his creative practices that help him overcome the funk, focus on the process rather than results and set healthy boundaries to keep the work going. The book is small and easy-to-digest, peppered with the author’s own drawings. Open on any spot and be encouraged for the new day! 


My Friend Fear: Finding Magic in the Unknown

By Meera Lee Patel,

Book cover of My Friend Fear: Finding Magic in the Unknown

Why this book?

One of the challenges of running an online teaching business is starting on the path of the unknown. I’ve had to face many fears on my journey, some of them are so well-masked that it took years to understand what they are. These fears have held me back. That’s why I appreciate reading Meera’s reflections on fear, how to befriend it and see it as an indication for growth. Beautifully written and illustrated, this book is a delight to hold in your hands, and I believe its message will gently guide you towards a life of overcoming your fears so you can journey into a new land of entrepreneurship with more curiosity and confidence.


Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives

By Adam J. Kurtz,

Book cover of Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives

Why this book?

I met the author, Adam J. Kurz, at a conference for creatives, and his story of starting and growing his creative business inspired me to buy this book. In the book Adam shares tiny, easy-to-read tips for creatives who want to share their work with the world in their own unique and authentic way. Each page of the book is perforated so you can tear it out and send it as a small reminder to a friend. I love the message in the title – things are what you make of them – and this book offers you a unique perspective on failure, success, creative block, fear, starting again, and organizing your work life so you can enjoy it. 


The Right Story

By Bernadette Jiwa,

Book cover of The Right Story

Why this book?

Most online teachers I’ve worked with detest the idea of marketing, and yet this is something we cannot avoid especially when running our own business. Bernadette Jiwa defines marketing as a story you tell that has the capacity to change the world. In the book she shares multiple purposeful stories of people who shared their message in the most authentic way and how their courage moved others to action and brought about change. This is a guide into marketing that will make you excited about the change you seek to make and how your small online teaching business can transform the world. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in creativity, Broadway musicals, and marketing?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about creativity, Broadway musicals, and marketing.

Creativity Explore 74 books about creativity
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Big Magic, The War of Art, and The Obstacle Is the Way if you like this list.