There is a growing phenomenon of private online language tutoring worldwide, wherein learners hire language teachers via the Internet for one-to-one lessons. Research has yet to examine private online language learners and their characteristics. This study explored whether there is a statistically significant relationship between these learners' demographic characteristics, stated learning goals, prior learning experience and learners' expectations of their future tutors. In the study, statistical methods were used to analyse 121 application forms from one private online tutoring company in Russia. Findings reveal that the majority of learners are adult learners, and hire private online tutors for work-related and examination-related reasons. A significant correlation was found between learners' stated goals and their expectations of their future teachers. Learners who were studying for an exam tended to use such adjectives as 'strict' and 'demanding' when describing their 'ideal' teachers, while learners studying for work-related purposes reported desiring a 'result-providing' instructor. These findings were discussed in light of the self-determination theory and relevant studies on language learning motivation.