How Vasiliki Baskos Started Teaching Greek Online Part-Time and Grew Her Business to Support 5+ Staff Members

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  • Who: Vasiliki Baskos
  • Website: learn-greek-online.com
  • Course Topic: Greek Lessons
  • Interesting Stats: Supports 3+ Full-Time Teachers/2 Support Staff

Who are you and what course have you created?

I am a teacher of Greek.  I specialize in teaching modern Greek online, via Skype.  Over the years business has increased so I have other teachers that help me and we all work together.  While we do have textbooks, the lessons are highly customized to the individual student.  We try to find what interests the student and adjust the topics we work on to those interests.

Tell us a little about the market your online course serves.

We have students all over the world.  The adult students usually fall into one of these three categories:

  • Those with a Greek origin.
  • People whose partner or spouse is Greek.
  • People who love Greece and visit Greece a lot (many have even bought houses there).

We also have many children that take our lessons.  These are all from Greek origin families.

What’s the biggest benefit of taking a course session from you?

You can be anywhere in the world, from the comfort of your home and still enjoy expert coaching from native Greek teachers.

How did you get into the market?

Vasiliki BaskosThere are 3 factors that contributed to it:

  1. I met a Belgian lady that moved to Greece who needed Greek lessons.  I helped her and if it was not for her, I might not come with the idea of teaching modern Greek as a second language.
  2. One of my students had moved away and decided to continue the lessons via Skype.  So the idea of online lessons came from there.
  3. The economic crisis in Greece made me question the security and future of my regular teaching job at the public school.  This is when I started exploring the market for online lessons.

Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched your business?

Yes, many times!

I was a little uncomfortable and stressed at the beginning. Meeting a total stranger online, having to break the ice and make the other person feel at ease, all while using English which for me is a second language.

To overcome this I searched and found forums like speaking24.com, where you can find total strangers and start speaking English with them, so that both can practice.  Also, before meeting any new client, I would rehearse the session with my husband (who is fluent in English).  He would coach and correct me.  After I had the first few clients, I became very confident in myself.

When I started to have several lessons per week, I was offered a job again at a regular school.  I turned down the school job offer. This marked the official switch in my career.   For many months later I would be wondering if I had made the correct decision.

What made you turn it around and do it anyway?

The excitement of doing something different, new, and risky helped convince me to do it.  The idea of breaking from the norms also played a part.

I could play it safe and be a teacher at an old fashioned brick & wall school which would lead to stable income. But I felt alive when I thought of running my own business! - Vasiliki Baskos Click To Tweet

My husband supported me all the way.  First and foremost psychologically, he was also excited to help create something new.  Second by helping with all the technical stuff, which is not my area.

What are your online lessons like?

We are doing one-on-one lessons via Skype.  We employ videos, online articles, regular textbooks during the lessons and we also use an online whiteboard.

The whiteboard is like a drawing board, whatever I write there, the student sees in real time.  Both me and the student can write there.  The student’s homework can be uploaded there and I can make notes on it, even making corrections while the student is watching.  We use it exactly like a whiteboard in a regular class so it has the same effect.

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How long did it take you to create your lesson plans?

My method of teaching and the tools I was using had to evolve a lot.  I started with a standard textbook, recommended by the university.  I soon realized it was not effective.

The thing that works wonders is personalizing the lessons.  Every person is different: different goals, different interests, different ability to learn and assimilate new material.  You cannot do the same lesson to a young businessman who visits Greece for business and pleasure and an older person that wants to freshen up his forgotten skill to speak the language.

Do you have a lead magnet?

The first lesson is completely free of charge.  This way, any serious learner has no reservation at all to give it a try.  By now I have so much experience in what I do that when I meet the student online for the Free lesson, we always have a very smooth and productive learning experience.

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What's the traffic strategy that works best for you?

We use SEO for the website, Adwords, and various social media ads (like Facebook).

The target group for the Facebook ads is a combination of the following:

Countries: We use countries whenever there is Greek diaspora or strong interest in the Greek language.  These are mostly European countries, but also Canada, USA, Australia.  Japan and China for example are countries where we do not advertise, although we have had clients from there.

Language: When we advertise for children’s lessons, we target Greek speaking/Greek origin families.  When we advertise lessons for adults, we do not take language into consideration.

Ages: When we advertise for children’s lessons, we target ages 35-55.  These are the ages of the parents and relatives of the children 5-15 years old.  Otherwise we target anybody above 20 years old.

We do Adwords and SEO keyword research once a year.  Unfortunately “Greek language” related searches are not that common.  So we improvise: we test keywords like “online English lessons”, “online English teacher” etc…  If the “English” keywords seem to be high in searches, then we target the corresponding “Greek” ones: “online Greek lessons”, “online Greek teacher” etc…

Are you able to get an OK return on your investment with your ads?

We do not have a reliable conversion metric which means we do not really know if the money spent in advertisement is worth it.  The very first time we ran a Facebook campaign we saw a very high increase in people showing interest.  Three campaigns later, we spent 800 euros in Facebook ads and had 0 new clients.

We usually ask new clients how they found us.  Often they say they found us from Google.  However we don’t know if they found us from organic results or from Google Adwords.  I do not ask them further because I do not want to go deep into topics that do not interest them.  And frankly they may not know the difference.

We have a Questions & Answers forum which attracts a lot of people with questions and interest in the Greek language.

It takes me about 3-5 hours per week to answer the questions there.

When we started, very basic SEO was enough because there was not much competition.  Now there is so much competition and it is difficult to stay high in Google rankings.  But since we are one of the very first ones in this industry (offering one-to-one online Greek lessons), we have an advantage.  Through the years there are articles and interviews related to our website in several related websites and online newspapers.

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What online course platform are you using?

We are using Skype for the video conferences and Groupboard for our online whiteboard.

I love it!

I do exactly the work I like: helping intelligent and highly motivated people learn Greek. - Vasiliki Baskos Click To Tweet

And the online part has great advantages for me too:  I can teach from my office, my summer house, even when I am traveling.

Are there any features you wish it had?

Yes, I would like to record video lessons and create an offline course too.  However my hands are full right now with what I am already doing.

Please tell us a little about what the money you've earned from your course has done for you.

I earn more money than if I had a teaching job at a school.  With this I support my family, give a good education to my kids, and do some traveling which I love.

Teaching Greek online started as a part time project and it now occupies full time more than 3 teachers, plus administrator and support stuff.

What has creating your course done for you personally?

My professional life is completely different than what I was raised and made to believe.  My parents were teachers and they never got involved in business.  They raised me with the belief that success and job security is working in public schools.  I really feel I made steps forward, I feel more confident and happy with myself.

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Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?

I do have a story about an 80 year-old woman from Australia who contacted me about learning Greek. Her father was Greek and had spoken it to her when she was a child, but she had forgotten almost everything. Realizing it would be hard to teach her from the ground up, I asked her why she wanted to learn Greek. It turned out she wanted to understand the lyrics on some old records that she still had from her father. She wanted to understand the lyrics as she sang along and she had a few friends she wanted to speak the language with. We worked through this with conversational lessons that lead to her being able to understand the lyrics as well as some conversational talk with her friends. It was a great experience for both her and me!

What advice do you have for people just starting out?

Go for your dream! It will be easier to do something that you really like, than something conventional that you dislike. - Vasiliki Baskos Click To Tweet

Don't listen to criticism.  When people try to discourage you by presenting potential problems, isolate and ignore the negative feelings, then think and find logical solutions to the problems.

Learn more about Vasiliki Baskos and Learn-Greek-Online.com

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