My experience of

Teaching on Preply

Originally posted: June 2021 / Last Updated: February 2023

My experience of teaching as a Preply tutor

This post may contain affiliate links to certain products and services. This means that at no additional cost to you, we may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.

By Nick

Picture the scene: you’re sitting on a bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap. You’ve just spent the best part of a month island hopping in the Andaman Sea and you already know there’s no way you can go home, back to the 9–5. Well, that was me a year or so ago.

Hollie and I were at a crossroads in our lives. We knew what we wanted (the digital nomad lifestyle), but we had no idea how to get it. That’s where Preply came in. Somewhere along that bus journey, as the Thai and Cambodian countryside rolled past the window, a thought occurred to me: I could teach English!

Fast-forward 18 months and plenty of ups and downs. I’ve now been a Preply tutor for over a year, having amassed more than 1,000 hours of lessons on the platform. I’m writing this today in the hope that someone else out there who can’t bring themselves to give up the backpack reads this and realises that it is possible to break into the digital nomad life without prior experience.

What Is Preply?

Preply is an online language education platform that pairs students with tutors via an online chat. In other words, it’s somewhere to either learn or improve your language skills or, like me, become a language tutor.

The platform offers a large range of languages to teach or study and works by giving students the option to select a potential tutor from a list, where they can view tutor statistics such as price per hour, availability and rating, as well as a short video where tutors can vocalise some of their interests or describe their teaching experience.

Tutors can set their own hourly rates and availability which really allows you to be your own boss, and while there are certainly downsides to working as a Preply tutor (more on that later), all in all it’s been a positive experience that I am happy to share.

Why Did I Become A Preply Tutor?

As long-time readers or followers of WMJG will know, Hollie and I fell in love with travel. That’s really the main reason I chose to teach English online.

Somewhere along our six-month trip (cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic), we both realised that there was no way we could go back to our old lives and corporate jobs. We quickly set about trying to work out how we could sustainably make money whilst travelling or living abroad and, for me, teaching English was the answer.

For a little context, I had no prior experience of actual teaching. I studied biochemistry at university and I had worked in chemical sales prior to travelling, but I felt that while my remote working options were limited, teaching English was something I could feasibly do.

Not only did English tutoring offer the flexibility I desired, but it also didn’t require me to undergo any further training and I could start earning money right away.

Critically, I think I also understood the dedication and commitment required to become a teacher, having watched several family members enjoy successful careers in the field, and I just hoped my own English skills and knowledge were up to the task!

Why I Chose Preply

Like most things in life, convenience and necessity played a big role in Preply becoming my teaching platform of choice.

Preply was one of the few platforms that didn’t require any teaching qualifications. In fact, the only prerequisites were a degree and a verification process of my profile to ensure that I was, in fact, a native English speaker.

This was perfect for me because, although I considered myself a competent and confident English speaker, I had no prior experience or qualifications in teaching. The application process was very straightforward and I was working within a matter of days!

There were other options, of course. Other websites and platforms that I looked into. This, I hope to discuss in a future article to help out any other would-be teaching freelancers. However, Preply had such a fast response time in accepting me as one of their tutors that I was left with little option but to forget about the other platforms and crack on with Preply!

Starting Up As A Preply Tutor And Finding Students

Getting started on Preply is a relatively easy affair, the application process is straightforward, with the only major hurdle being the making of a video for students to view as they search for tutors.

Once you’ve got that out of the way and you’re accepted as a Preply tutor, you need to set up your profile. This mainly involves setting your hourly rate and your weekly availability, making your profile look attractive to students and preparing yourself for your new job!

Setting Your Rate

A Preply Tutor can set their own hourly rate and, unbeknownst to me, I had accidentally set my price to $5 per hour. This is an incredibly low rate and a completely unsustainable way of working in online tutoring, but boy is it an effective way of finding students. I had wall-to-wall lessons on my first day!

However, for the more sensible of you out there looking to get into Preply tutoring, I would urge you to keep your prices (and your dignity) a little higher.

You can adjust your prices in the future but existing students will remain at their original price unless they confirm that change with you, which can lead to some awkward conversations! Do some market research on active tutors on the site and see what they are charging before setting your own rate.

Attracting new students

Once your rate is set you are at the mercy of Preply’s algorithm. This ranks tutors on a variety of factors so that when potential students search for a tutor of their desired language, the best available tutors show up on the results page.

A good profile score goes a long way to looking attractive to both students and Preply. It is bolstered by things such as favourable reviews and a good attendance record. But the other key variable to boosting your way up the tutor list is to have good availability. An open calendar with plenty of empty slots means you’ll shoot up the list and have plenty of students getting in contact with you.

If you do these things right you won’t struggle to attract students!

Finding students yourself

There is, in fact another way to gain students, although one I have not had a huge amount of luck in. There is a ‘Find Students’ button on the Preply dashboard, which takes you to a page not dissimilar to Hollie’s Upwork page, where students can post listings and tutors can apply and submit a proposal for the job.

These postings are fairly infrequent, however, and seem to be snatched upon by every tutor under the sun. The vast majority of times I have tried to apply I’ve been unable to as the job had already reached the limit of applicants.

Preply’s Commission Structure

One thing every potential Preply tutor needs to be aware of is the commission structure. This is a common bug-bear for tutors on online forums about the platform.

The basic principle is simple: the more you teach, the less you pay in commission.

When you first start tutoring on Preply you pay a rate of 33% commission, once you’ve taught 20 hours of lessons, this rate drops to 28%. This percentage continues to fall as you continue to rack up tutoring hours until you hit 400 hours of teaching and the rate remains flat at 18% commission.

Preply’s Commission system

And therein lies the problem. Although 400 hours sounds like a far-off achievement, you’d be surprised how quickly you’ll reach that milestone. I personally have now taught over 1,000 hours on Preply and am still paying 18% commission on every lesson.

I understand the need for Preply to make money and, in fairness, they do re-invest that money into the business, constantly churning out new features and teaching materials, but 18% is still a higher rate than most of their competitors.

That said, the 18% commission cap is not the worst thing about the commission system…

Preply offers something to students called ‘trial lessons’. This is where a student can book a lesson with a potential Preply tutor to see if they are a good fit. This is a one off lesson with no commitment for future lesson bookings. Sounds good so far. The problem is that every trial lesson is set at 100% commission, meaning the student has to pay for their lesson and the tutor receives nothing in return for an hour’s work.

This inevitably leads to tutors having to charge more per hour in order to make a sustainable living through Preply.

Things I Like About Preply

  • Preply has very swift and efficient tech support. I have rarely had trouble getting in contact with anyone and they always seem willing to help. You really get the sense that they are on the tutors’ side for a lot of issues.
  • With my personal teaching style I don’t tend to lean on Preply’s teaching materials a lot, but they are an excellent crutch when I find the conversation just isn’t flowing. There is a constantly updated bank of conversation starters and exercises which some students absolutely love. It is nice to see the commission fees properly invested!

Things I Don’t Like About Preply

  • I mentioned earlier in the ‘Starting Up’ section that availability plays a big role in your tutor ranking. This can be somewhat unfair as it means I’m never quite able to fill my calendar out. I can be 2 or 3 regular students off a perfect roster and then suddenly I have no new student enquiries unless I massively extend my working hours.
  • Preply’s own video platform can be a little temperamental which can be a pain when dealing with new students. Luckily Preply is happy for you to move the lesson over to Skype or Zoom so it is not too much of an issue.
  • The commission system and the unpaid lessons (see above before I start ranting again).

My Experience As A Preply Tutor: Summing Up

So what is it like teaching as a Preply tutor?

In short, it’s great. It’s easy and straightforward, it’s amazing being my own boss and controlling my own rate and hours. However, as with any job or career, there are little quirks and nuances that are worth knowing about if you’re considering teaching on Preply.

Hopefully I’ve been able to shine a light on some of the pitfalls as well as guide would-be tutors through the early stages of becoming a tutor on Preply.

Hollie and I are passionate about working online and working remotely, and I know a lot of other people out there are too. Teaching English was definitely the right decision for me and it might be for you. If you have any questions about teaching online, please feel free to send me a message in the comments below or on Instagram @wemightjustgo.

18 thoughts on “My experience of teaching as a Preply tutor

  1. Hello Nick and Hollie

    Thanks for this article.
    I desire to work as a Preply English Tutor.
    Do I send the video first before completing my profile of 10 pages?


  2. Hello!

    Thank you for sharing your experience working with Preply. I am curious to find out whether this platform offers a lesson teaching material. If not, what type of curriculum do you prepare for your students and how much time does it require?
    Thank you in advance.


  3. Thanks so much for your sharing your experience with Preply. I really found it insightful. I am a newbie on preply and I have struggled to have even a student so far. Having read through your experience here, I think I should be able to navigate my way. However, I feel like an undoing from my end is the aspect where I selected C2 as my English competence level. Probably I am wrong, what do you say to that?

  4. Hi Nick, hey thanks for this! I started on Preply 2021 because I was stuck in a foreign country with no income. I started at $7 and after several months I had to find a way to raise that, at which point I found out it was up to me to give myself a raise the entire time! Anyways, I quickly went higher and higher. I quit for a year or so and just started up again and it is going well. I guess I started my rate too high and so I took a couple of bucks off and now the students come. I am also a voice coach and I make good money doing that but it is so slow since the pandemic, so I started to teach English again on Preply, even though it is so much less money than I make as a voice coach, I really love meeting people from around the world! I make up my own lessons and have never used anything inside the site except for the calendar and the video camera. Once again it is kind of saving me, so I can travel and live wherever I want and as I am also an artist, it gives me the freedom to paint. All the best, dolli

  5. Hi, I found your review of Preppy really interesting as I am just about to start tutoring on there! I just had one question…you said you started while travelling – did you mostly do conversation based classes, then, or did you somehow find lots of teaching materials online? Best wishes!

    1. Hi Jack, it was all mostly conversation based. But I did manage to find one or two teaching materials online and shared my screen while we worked through worksheets and exercises. With enough googling you can usually find anything you need!

  6. Hi, Nick. Thank you for the awesome post. 3 questions:
    1) what is your current rate
    2) how long is a lesson
    3) what ages do you mostly teach? Any kids 4-12?

  7. Hello Nick, i have a couple of questions. Before i ask, i would like to say that i appreciate your review of Preply, and it has intrigued my interest in pursuing the occupation of becoming an online English teacher.
    I am curious of how the payment process work, and how it gets deposited? I too am a fellow traveler of the world, and my current location is also outside of my home country. I am willing to start at 30-40hours per week, do you have any recommendations on how i should start? Thank you for your attention to my reply, i look foward on hearing back. As always, safe travels sir!

  8. Thanks for this review. I am having some problems with my current teaching platform and I’m looking for options. So this is very helpful. What happens if you have a full day of just trial classes? Do you work an entire day without pay?

  9. Hi I want to start teaching English online ,but I have no experience. I’m a banker by profession. I live in South Africa and I am an English native speaker. I do not have a TEFL certificate. I have been looking at Preply as a place to start my career as an English tutor. What advice do you have for me?
    How does the salary/payment rate work?

  10. Hi Nick thanks for your very interesting review of preply. I would be interested in your thoughts on how students would respond if you, as a tutor of the English language, come from a nation (such as Srilanka or Bhutan) where the citizens are non native speakers of the English language. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on whether payments could really be processed to tutors from these nations.

  11. Hi I had always wanted to teach online but I have no prior experience. I want to teach online at preply to earn extra money for myself but I don’t know I to start. I would want to know your thoughts on this.

  12. Good afternoon, I absolutely loved your down-to-earth review. I am starting my full-time tutoring journey this year and battling to get started on the online platforms. May I ask how you go about adding extra subjects to Preply? I see that once I’ve added English, there are no ways to add my multiple subjects.
    Thanks for the assistance and wonderful help you are providing. Jacqui

  13. Hey! I found your review super helpful! I am wanting to go abroad to study Spanish (beginner) and I want to teach English online to earn some money in the meantime, however despite working in a Special needs school, I have no experience teaching English! My question to you is, how can I feel prepared, will that still be okay to apply to teach?

  14. Hi Nick, I’m just about to start teaching English with Preply Tutors and I found the content of your write up on Preply Tutors so insightful & encouraging. I hope to reach get in touch with you as I climb up the ladder with Preply Tutors. Thanks.

  15. This is such a RIPP OFF!!!! Go to Italki! I love teaching there! The do NOT take 100% commission with a trial lesson but 0%! You make them a bit cheaper, but do NOT HAVE TO offer them at all but when you do and they are a bit cheaper, it’s fair to not take commission. They are fair and nice!

  16. Hi

    I am condsidering online teaching.
    I just want to know if any kind of computer would be suffice? Is the curriculum easy to follow and to teach? I am a qualified foundation phase teacher and totally new to online teaching!

    Many Thanks

  17. Hi,

    I’m curious what would you say is a good benchmark to aim for with conversion from trial lessons to bookings on Preply?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Like our content? Help support our work by buying us a coffee!

Discover Somewhere New

Hover over or click one of the pins to choose a country.

Our Work

We’re two travel-obsessed twenty-somethings from the UK who gave up our old 9 to 5 lifestyle for something much better.

In early 2020 (yep, right at the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic), right off the back of a six-month backpacking trip, we decided to become location-independent and set up our own businesses. The digital nomad lifestyle was calling to us!

We travel slowly, working as we go and really getting to know the places we live. So if you’re looking for location guides that are authentic, insightful and unique, you’ve come to the right place.

On our site, you’ll find lovingly curated destination guides, travel and backpacking advice, lifestyle articles and tips on becoming a digital nomad.

Let us inspire you to embark on the journey of a lifetime or just live life a little differently.


Nick and Hollie

Subscribe to be the first to hear about new content


Recent Posts

My experience of teaching as a Preply tutor

My Experience As An Upwork Freelancer: The Story So Far

The 15 best things to do in Porto

Where to Work From Your Laptop in Porto

The Best of Laos