50 Online Tutors Speak Out: "What I Wished I knew Before Starting an Online Tutoring Business"Dec 21, 2022
"Speak to other people who have already been an online tutor."
That is the advice that many people give tutors when they are starting out. Today I have made it easy for you because I have taken the wisdom from 50 online tutors who have been in the industry and compiled them.
If you only read one blog post about starting an online tutoring business, this is the only one you will need to read.
I’m Joanne Kaminski and I have been helping tutors who are great at teaching, but struggle with running the business side of a tutoring business or are looking to improve the current systems they have in place. I have been tutoring reading online since 2010 and helping other tutors since 2012.
This post is divided into the three sections of mindset, marketing, and technology. The advice that all of these tutors give is priceless. You may want to save this post so you can keep coming back to it and read it at different stages of running your business.
Let’s dive into the top tips that other tutors have that will make a huge difference in your tutoring business.
Having the right mindset is important when starting any business, and this is particularly true for an online tutoring business. Here are a few reasons why mindset is important when starting an online tutoring business:
Determination: Starting a business can be challenging, and it can be easy to get discouraged or give up when faced with obstacles. Having a determined mindset can help you to persevere and keep going even when things get tough.
Adaptability: The online tutoring industry is constantly changing, and it is important to be adaptable and open to new ideas and approaches. A growth mindset, which is the belief that you can continually learn and improve, can help you to stay flexible and open to new opportunities.
Confidence: It is important to have confidence in your skills and abilities as a tutor, as this can help you to build trust with your students and establish yourself as an authority in your subject area.
Focus: Finally, having a focused mindset can help you to stay focused on your goals and priorities as you build your business. It can be easy to get sidetracked or distracted, but having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish can help you to stay on track.
Don't Compare Yourself to Other Tutors
Comparing oneself to others can be a natural human tendency, but it can also be unproductive and potentially harmful. In the context of starting an online tutoring business, comparing oneself to others can lead to a variety of negative outcomes.
One issue with comparing oneself to others is that it can lead to feelings of inadequacy or insecurity. If you constantly compare your tutoring business to others and find that it falls short in certain areas, it can lead to self-doubt and a lack of confidence in your own abilities. This can be especially damaging if the comparison is to a business that is more successful or has more resources.
Jemma Zoe Smith shared her experience this way.
Someone will always be better than you at some part of your business. But just because there are other tutors out there, you can't stop doing what you do.
In the last 4 years, Jemma has grown to £250k turnover and 65 tutors. But every day she sees someone who is doing a better course, or producing better reports, or running better social media. Today she just keeps swimming!
Overall, it's important for tutors to focus on your own business and to not get too caught up in comparing yourself to others. Instead, you should focus on identifying and leveraging your own strengths and opportunities and on building a strong, sustainable tutoring business.
Feeling Like an Imposter is Natural
Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which an individual experiences feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, despite evidence of your accomplishments.
You may feel like you are not qualified or capable of performing your tutoring services or achieving success, and may worry that you will be exposed as a "fraud" or "imposter".
Lara White had quit her teaching job to stay home with her new baby. She needed a few hundred dollars to help pay for the health insurance.
She was chatting about that with a woman at the private school where her husband teaches. She said she was moving and that Lara could take over her tutoring job. She mostly worked with middle schoolers, helping them with their homework and staying organized.
Lara said, "Oh, I'm not qualified to help kids with math and other subjects. I'm a certified science teacher." This woman said, "Lara, I was an early childhood education major! You're more qualified than I am. You can easily do this."
Lara realized that this woman was right, but she wouldn't have gone for it without her encouragement. Lara now tutors full-time and helps kids with reading, writing, math, SAT prep, and executive functioning support. She loves helping students in a variety of subjects and is glad that she didn't sell herself short.
Sometimes we think we need to go back to school to get that next degree to be qualified to help students. Find out why that is false in this video.
Clara Tong struggled with believing in herself. She started tutoring 7 years ago as a backup job. She believed that finding students on her own would be difficult because it’s definitely possible to run listings online and hear from no one.
It took a lot of students telling her that they couldn’t have achieved their goals without her that she began to understand how influential she is.
Today she gets regular inquiries from people she never knew existed because they have already heard about what she has done for other students. They don’t argue about the price, and they don’t take issue with it being online.
Helping students achieve their goals by tutoring online from the comfort of her own home is her dream job, and she wishes she had always known that she could do it.
You Deserve to Charge What You Are Worth
Several tutors touched on the point of charging what you are worth. This is an area everyone struggles with in the beginning. If you were a classroom teacher, then the odds are pretty good that you were not getting paid well for the amount of time you were working.
You may struggle with charging what you are worth because you lack confidence in the skills you have. I had no idea if I would be able to tutor reading online back in 2010. Once I got started, I realized that I could actually teach reading to kids online better than I was able to do in person.
You may also struggle with charging what you are worth because you have always used external factors to judge your worth like Becky Dole.
Becky said that she always allowed herself to judge her worth based on external factors. Those factors include,
How many students she recently enrolled.
How clean her house was.
Whether people are happy to be around her.
She always charged bargain basement rates because that’s what "nice people" do, right? She had convinced herself of the merits of keeping low rates by telling herself, "If I charge too much, people won’t like me and I’m a teacher and should just want to help people. After all, this is JUST tutoring."
Becky felt that her income should be much less than a traditional teacher’s salary.
Then she learned to reflect on what she had to offer. She considered
- what she offers vs. what a traditional teacher offers,
- the change that she can offer to children that is often desperately wanted and even needed,
- the impact her experience and education have on what she offers.
She realized it’s not about whether she thinks she is worthy today. It’s about the fact that not only does she fix a problem that her clients have, but she is extremely effective and efficient in doing it, and she does it in a way that no one else does.
She is not a traditional teacher, so she shouldn’t be comparing her income to theirs. In fact, she is not the same as anyone else, so she shouldn’t be comparing herself to anyone! Since realizing her value, she is more confident, calmer, and more focused on her students’ needs.
A lot of tutors struggle with the fear of rejection when it comes to charging what they are worth. Michelle Porjes thought that by setting an initially lower price, people would appreciate what she was doing for them even more. In reality, the opposite happened.
Gianna Caruso has learned to work smarter, not harder, and understand her worth and charge appropriately. Not everyone is going to be your client and that's ok. Gianna charges upwards of 150/hour for test prep and she doesn't do subject teaching anymore.
Dite Bray discovered she wasn't charging enough to make a living tutoring. She had to work up to raising her rates to a point where she could make this a career.
As tutors, we can be altruistic because we love to teach, and we want to help those that can't afford our services. The turning point for Viv Davenport was when she started giving herself credit for the high level of service that she provides.
Once she did this, it felt right to be paid the amount she desired because she recognized the quality of her service. This, in turn, helped her to see herself as a successful, professional businesswoman.
Many tutors don't factor planning time for sessions in their rate. Renee Pena Lopez struggled with this.
In the beginning, it will take you more time to prep for your sessions, but once you start getting more and more students, you will spend less time prepping.
This doesn't mean you should be charging more in the beginning because it takes you more time, but think about once I become proficient at this, what should I be charging? If it takes 10 or 15 minutes to prep for each student, then factor that into your cost.
Get an Accountability Partner
An accountability partner can be a valuable asset for running an online tutoring business in a number of ways. Here are a few examples of how an accountability partner can help:
Setting and achieving goals: An accountability partner can help you set clear, measurable goals for your business and hold you accountable for making progress towards those goals. This can include things like increasing your customer base, expanding your offerings, or improving your marketing efforts.
Tracking and analyzing your progress: An accountability partner can help you track your progress over time and identify areas where you may be falling short. This can be particularly helpful if you're feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to move forward.
Providing support and encouragement: Starting and running a business can be challenging, and it's important to have someone who can offer support and encouragement along the way. An accountability partner can be a great source of motivation and can help keep you on track when things get tough.
Brainstorming ideas and problem-solving: An accountability partner can be a valuable sounding board for brainstorming new ideas or troubleshooting problems you may be facing in your business. They can help you think through challenges and come up with creative solutions.
Rajalique McCowin puts it this way. I wish I understood the importance of mindset and having a business “bestie.” These two things separate the business that thrives and those that don’t. The ability to think about what you are thinking & shifting your thought is a game changer. Having that one person that understands the pains and joys of birthing a business is a game changer! For me, it empowers me to continue on the days when I want to give up. I refuse to let this happen.
Your Student Will be More Focused with Online Tutoring
One-on-one tutoring online is completely different than the virtual schooling that many students had to endure during the pandemic.
Robbi Ames Fischer had no idea that her student would be more focused and accomplish more during sessions compared to in-person tutoring.
I experienced this as well when I began tutoring online and there are many reasons why students are more focused. Dr. Kelly S. Frindell who has been a test prep tutor since 2001 and evolved her business over the years said this.
"When I first started my business, InHouse Test Prep, I named it such because I did not want to be tied down to an office, so I traveled all over town to my students’ houses.
During the economic downturn in 2008, traveling around between clients became both tiresome and expensive. I rented an office for the next 11 years and never planned to leave. In January 2020, however, I went on a trip abroad and had a sudden realization that I wanted to take my business online so I could travel. I joined a business program and had a “three-to-five-year plan” to get out of my office and online. I had resisted online work for many years, even though I knew that was where my industry was headed.
But after realizing that taking my business online would allow me to create a new type of life, I jumped in.
My “three-to-five-year plan” turned out to be a wild overestimation - due to the happenstance of history, my “three-to-five-year plan” to get out of my office and fully online only took “three months and a pandemic” to take shape.
I never went back to my office after March 2020 and have been fully online since.
In the years since then, the tools and technology have become so much better, and I find that I love the very thing I was so afraid of.
My online business is currently allowing me to live in a remote tropical location that is pretty close to paradise, and I am able to leverage the significant time zone differences to work more standard hours.
I spent 20 years working till 10 pm on weeknights and all day on the weekends, and now I can serve students from all time zones in the US and still be done by a very reasonable 4:00 pm.
I had never envisioned living this kind of life when I set out to take my business online, but I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do so.
So why do students get better results online?
Individualized attention: Online one-on-one tutoring allows students to receive individualized attention and support, as they are the sole focus of the tutor. This can help to keep students more engaged and motivated, as they are able to ask questions and receive guidance on specific areas of need.
Reduced distractions: Online tutoring can take place in a virtual classroom or on a video call, which can help to reduce distractions for students. They may be less likely to be distracted by other students or by their surroundings, which can help them to stay focused and engaged.
Flexibility: Online tutoring can be more flexible in terms of scheduling and location, which can be beneficial for students who may have busy schedules or who may be in different time zones. This flexibility can help students to find a convenient time to learn, which can improve their focus and motivation.
Technology: Online tutoring often relies on technology, such as virtual whiteboards or screen sharing, which can be engaging and interactive for students. This can help to keep students more focused and interested in the material.
Overall, online one-on-one tutoring can be an effective way for students to receive individualized support and attention, which can help them to stay focused and motivated.
If You Love Teaching, You Will Love Starting an Online Tutoring Business
Ingrid Moats, an online math tutor, had no idea how much she would love tutoring online. She had heard people tell her to find something that you are passionate about doing, and then it won't feel like work.
She mentioned that running a business is not always easy - often, it’s about making decisions or doing things that push you beyond your comfort zone - so having that passion can propel you to keep going. In turn, this allows you to make the impact you want to have on your students to improve and succeed.
Starting an Online Tutoring Business Can Feel Like a Rollercoaster Ride
Alexa Imwalle wished that she knew the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and how to navigate those highs and lows with more grace.
She left the classroom after getting pregnant with her twin daughters. She had no idea how to navigate twin mom life as a 26-year-old newlywed or what would happen to her teaching career that she had dreamed about since she was a little girl.
All she knew was that she was going to take amazing care of her babies and that maybe staying home with them would open some doors she didn’t know even existed.
It has been the best thing that has ever happened to her. She gets to be home with her kids, be available for them and make her own hours. She also gets to use her passion for working with struggling students to help kids every single day learn to read.
Alexa also wishes that she knew that starting a business and growing a business would take HARD work, grit, and determination. The only thing that has kept her going over the last five years is that she absolutely loves what she does.
As someone who wanted to be a teacher her entire life and never felt fulfilled once she reached that goal, finding out that tutoring is a real job and working with kids 1-1 in reading has reignited her passion for teaching.
Alexa wished she knew that there is an amazing community of online tutors in the Insiders Secrets Club just waiting to be her new friends and colleagues. She wishes she knew that she didn’t need to feel so alone when it came to learning the ropes of both teaching reading online and running a business.
Rachel Berntsen also experienced this rollercoaster ride when starting her business. She thought that once she had gotten her tutoring business booked solid once that it would be smooth sailing from that point on.
That is not what happened!
Rachel still experiences lulls in her business, but this does not mean that she is doing anything wrong. It is just a great opportunity to see what she could be doing better.
She said that you will experience these ups and downs every time you try a new method of getting students. The important thing is to not get discouraged when things aren't going the way you envisioned. Instead, remind yourself of your why. Why did you start your business in the first place?
Remember that you have something of value for each of your potential students.
One reason why this business feels like a roller coaster is because it is a journey, not a destination, as Freddie Ryder pointed out.
Freddie said that it is easy to see the appeal of tutoring, but there is actually a lot more to it than you might expect.
It takes time to find your tutor identity and work out the details, such as your ideal client and, even more importantly, your pricing structure. Freddie mentioned that he was way too ambitious with trying to get everything done at once and wished he had enjoyed the journey and process as it’s actually quite fun and really important for you in the long run.
More important still, these things are not fixed in stone, and you should constantly review your business.
Monique Bundy shares this quote from Alex Elle.
Whether you are struggling personally or professionally, if you work through your struggles, you will stumble across your strengths. You can do this. It may not always be easy, but if you are consistent and persistent, success is inevitable.
Set Boundaries for Your Business
Setting boundaries in your tutoring business is important for a number of reasons. It helps to establish clear expectations with clients and colleagues, protect your time and energy, and ensure that you are able to focus on the tasks that are most important to you and your business.
Here are some tips for setting boundaries in a business:
Determine your priorities: What is most important to you in your business? What are your goals and objectives? Knowing your priorities can help you set boundaries around the tasks and responsibilities that are most important to you.
Communicate clearly: Let your clients and colleagues know your expectations and boundaries up front. This can include things like your availability, response time, and the types of projects you are willing to take on. In the beginning, for Vasudha Uddavan she had realized that people expected her to make up time if they were late. She said it was a pain and now she has strict policies in place on being late and no-shows.
Set limits on your time: Be proactive about protecting your time by setting limits on the amount of time you spend on tasks and setting boundaries around when you will and will not work. Andrew Jeung felt that he was providing a better service to his students if he worked 10 to 15 minutes over the time limit. Then his wife pointed out that if you are telling people that you are worth $75 an hour, but you give everyone an extra 15 minutes past the hour, then what you are really telling people is that you are worth $60 an hour. Today he makes it a point to never go 5 minutes past the end of the session unless a parent indicates that they want to pay for extra time.
Take breaks: Make sure to take breaks and schedule time for self-care. This can help you avoid burnout and ensure that you are able to bring your best self to your work.
Say no: It's okay to say no to requests or opportunities that don't align with your priorities or boundaries. Remember, you are in control of your business and it's important to prioritize your own well-being and goals. Janet Mclendon mentioned that it is okay to say you don't tutor on Sundays, even if that is the "only time" that a student is available.
Keep Developing Yourself as a Professional
Ana Martin shared a 2500-year-old piece of advice from Heraclitus. "No person steps into the same river twice."
Ana says, If you want your business to thrive, you cannot just learn once and consider it done. Tools keep changing, markets evolve, social media trends change quickly and unexpectedly, and no single solution will work every time.
Plus, you become a different professional over time! So training, research and networking are vital to keeping your business growing: look beyond immediate profit and invest in keeping yourself up to date, for nothing is permanent, and neither are you!
There are several reasons why it's important for an online tutor to keep developing themselves as a professional.
First, continuous learning and professional development can help an online tutor stay current and up-to-date in their field, which can make them more valuable and competitive in the online tutoring market. It can also help them stay engaged and motivated in their work, and can open up new opportunities for career advancement and growth.
Continuous learning can also help an online tutor improve their skills and knowledge, which can lead to better performance and results in their work. This can be especially important in fields that are constantly evolving, such as technology and education, where new developments and best practices are emerging all the time.
In addition, professional development can help an online tutor stay energized and motivated in their work, and can help them stay committed to their professional goals. It can also be a great way for an online tutor to network and connect with other professionals in their field, which can lead to new opportunities and collaborations.
Finally, professional development can help an online tutor better understand the needs and preferences of their students, and can help them adapt their teaching style and approaches to better meet the needs of their students. This can lead to more effective tutoring sessions and better outcomes for the students.
Invest in Business Coaching
Investing in business coaching can help you achieve greater success in your business and reach your goals more efficiently. It can also provide valuable support and guidance as you navigate the challenges of running a tutoring business.
Jane Hirschhorn mentioned that she would have begun investing sooner in things that would help her run the back-end parts of her business, like bookkeeping, software, operations, and coaching. She said this would have saved time, money, and aggravation if she had hired those experts instead of just feeling overwhelmed.
Alexandra James-Gets also realized that she didn't need to master everything before she got started. She mentioned that she had gotten so hung up on stuff that really makes absolutely no difference to the heart of her business. For example, she struggled with selecting a color palette for her website. This left her frozen in taking action to create any content for her business because of this.
Then, Alexandra decided to invest in her herself with paid support from Joanne Kaminski to get over those hurdles. From that point on, it was smooth sailing until she reached her first set of business goals.
When you begin investing in your business, you can learn how to get students so that you don't experience what Monica Whipps Urso experienced.
She said she wished she had known how to find clients on her own rather than work for someone else.
When she first started, she signed up to work for a private company. They would assign her to work for a family/student that was over an hour away from her.
She would spend an hour driving to get there, an hour tutoring, and then another hour getting home. It wasn’t worth her time.
She created profiles on Wyzant and TakeLessons, but both sites take a 20-25% cut of your hourly fee as well. She didn’t know how to market herself to obtain new families/students on her own. She tried reaching out to a nearby elementary school, and she tried posting in neighborhood forums, but it led to nothing. After several years, she finally started having parents refer her to her friends and neighbors.
This is the slow way to starting your online tutoring business.
If you want to skip the line to learning how to get students and begin making more money in the beginning, then it is imperative to seek out those that will help you get that result.
There are 3 things that can support you today.
1. Join IMPACT 3. This conference will touch on many aspects of running an online Tutoring business.
2. Become a student in the Jumpstart Your Online Tutoring Business Masterclass. In this course, you will learn how to attract your students to you so that you don't have to go onto other platforms and compete against other tutors.
3. Work with a coach directly. Find out more here.
Jonel Van Schalkwyk wished she knew how drastically her life would change when she had her own teaching business. She said, "I would have started sooner, invested in better mentorship, and gone all in the first time I thought about going solo."
Sheryl Uehling was surprised that getting students would take so much time. She felt that she knew what to expect moving forward with her business.
She had 2 years of experience working with a major US tutoring company, 32 years of teaching experience, 2 Google certifications, read How to Start an Online Tutoring Business Making 4-5 Figures a Month by Joanne Kaminski, and watched Joanne's YouTube Channel that supports tutors.
What she didn't expect was the wait to get her first online students. She was so excited because she had gotten 3 students for the fall, and she really thought she would get referrals right away.
She found out that she had to get help with her social media.
So, she hired Esmy Lozano and began to create content on Instagram, and she repurposed it on Tik Tok. This is how she got her first online student!
The parent had listened to Sheryl's podcast on Spotify called Tutoring with Sheryl, and when the parent saw Sheryl on Tik Tok, she asked for a free assessment, and she hired her immediately. Sheryl's next goal is to increase her presence on YouTube.
Sheryl appreciates the free Facebook group called the Ultimate Support Group for Online Tutoring. She feels supported and encouraged and learns something new each time she logs in!
Your Students May Enjoy Tutoring Online More than you Think
Before the pandemic, many families were wary about online tutoring and had no idea if online tutoring would work for their kids.
Many tutors were traveling around to students' houses to please the family, which led to a terrible business model. Many tutors didn't charge for the time it took to travel to the house or charge for the gas.
Paul Morgan was one of these tutors. He wishes he knew how easy it is to transition for face to face to online. When he began making the transition, he gave his students the option of returning to face to fact once they tried it, but they all preferred online tutoring.
This was the turning point for him, and he realized from now on, he would only work with new clients online. He still had a few families he traveled to. When the pandemic forced everyone online, the last family he was still traveling to began working online, and they have never moved back to in-person again. Paul has been a full-time online tutor for 4 years now and continues to improve his students' understanding and confidence in A-Level Chemistry.
Technology for Running Your Tutoring Business
It is important to get familiar with the right technology that you will need to be successful. These top tips from tutors will have you running a successful online tutoring business in no time.
Hook Your Laptop Up with an Ethernet Cable
Amy Bujarski often wondered why her internet connection wasn't stable. It caused problems with her tutoring and when she found out that she could solve all of these issues by simply hooking her computer up to the ethernet cable, she was blown away by how it resolved most of the connectivity issues she was having.
So why does hooking your computer up this way work better?
Faster speeds: Ethernet cables are typically faster than WiFi for internet connections. If you are experiencing slow or unstable WiFi, connecting your computer to an Ethernet cable can potentially improve your internet speed and reliability.
Improved security: Ethernet cables offer a more secure connection than WiFi, as they are not subject to interference or hacking attempts in the same way that wireless connections are.
Reduced latency: Ethernet cables can also offer reduced latency, or lag, compared to WiFi. This can be especially important for activities that require a stable, low-latency connection, such as online gaming or video conferencing.
Consistency: Ethernet cables offer a more consistent connection than WiFi, which can be affected by factors such as distance, interference, and the number of devices connected to the network.
Set up Autopay a Month in Advance of Tutoring Sessions
After two years of chasing my money down from clients, I figured there had to be a better way. I was beginning to feel resentful of the parents that did not pay on time and felt like I was chasing my money down.
I also got stiffed. Even though I had delivered the tutoring sessions, I had some parents that didn't pay for them even though I had sent an invoice.
I decided there had to be a better way and figured out how to do autopay.
I am not the only tutor that experienced this.
Carole Palfreman did as well. She said that once she started taking money up front, she had more income reliability.
Some people would cancel tutoring sessions at the last minute, or she would turn up at their house, and they would not even be there, resulting in her not getting paid. She regrets not knowing about software like TutorBird earlier.
Tutorbird sends a zoom link to the students reducing vastly the time spent on admin. With the AutoPay function of TutorBird, she doesn't have to chase payments anymore.
Darci Ziegler also appreciates the autopay function in Tutorbird.
She was using PayPal, and every month she had to make her own invoices. Then she had to remind people about paying - sometimes several times.
Once she got Tutorbird she was able to get people’s credit card information, and they were automatically charged at the beginning of each month without Darci having to do anything!
Tutorbird has made her life even more organized and less stressful.
Want to get 3 months free of Tutorbird? Click here.
Invest in a Microphone
He says this improves the sound quality for your tutee. In his opinion, bad, fuzzy, or choppy audio can destroy an online tutoring session, while bad video with great audio is tolerable.
It is a small investment that will add a lot of value to your tutoring. It will make you stand out from the crowd who use internal laptop microphones, passable but not great.
There are other microphones that are a little bit more expensive but give professional-quality sound. Many podcasters use a Yeti.
Some common types of microphones for online tutoring include:
Desktop microphones: These are small, compact microphones that are designed to be placed on a desk or tabletop. They are typically easy to use and provide good sound quality for online tutoring sessions.
Lavalier microphones: These are small, clip-on microphones that can be worn on a shirt or lapel. They are portable and convenient, making them ideal for use in online tutoring sessions where you may need to move around.
Headset microphones: These are microphones that are built into a headset, which allows you to both hear and speak through the same device. Headset microphones are convenient and can be worn for long periods of time without causing fatigue.
Handheld microphones: These are microphones that are held in the hand and are typically used in live performances or public speaking events. They are not as commonly used for online tutoring, but they can be a good choice if you need a high-quality microphone for recording or streaming sessions.
USB microphones: These are microphones that connect to a computer via a USB port. They are easy to use and provide good sound quality, making them a popular choice for online tutoring.
Ultimately, the best microphone for online tutoring will depend on your specific needs and preferences. It's a good idea to try out a few different types to see which one works best for you.
Don't Try to Be a Generalist and Tutor or Teach Everything. Niche Down and Earn More Money.
Several tutors had a ton of thoughts about niching down. In the beginning, you think that you need to tutor or teach as many topics as possible. You're thinking, “The more I say I can tutor, the more students I will get.”
Viv Davenport thought this. She pointed out that in the beginning, she wanted to be everything to everyone. She slowly realized there are enough of her ideal clients out there to allow her to hone in on Maths for kids aged 14-16.
Michael Gibben who has a support group for Online Tutors on Facebook says,
While it seemed reasonable that, as an elementary teacher, I could tutor a wide variety of subjects, the reality was that different subjects require different techniques and know-how. And parents are really looking for an expert in 1 particular subject.
I spent a year trying to market my tutoring services with no clients. It wasn't until I met Joanne and decided to niche down as a reading tutor for students who struggle that I began to get students.
Thankfully, I got outstanding training in the Reading Interventionist program with all of the tools I needed to become an outstanding online reading tutor.
I was able to adjust and modify my approach so that my students achieved the best results.
If and when my clients ask me for help in something outside my niche, I can still teach those other subjects. I have just learned how to market to that one subject so that I get more ideal clients!
Katie Prescott of Abridge Academy pronounced, "I wish I had known how important it is to have a clear niche and brand.
When I first started, I was just advertising myself as a general ESL teacher, so it was difficult to charge good rates or stand out.
Now, I am much more focused, am bringing in even more leads (niching down doesn't limit you!), and earning much more per hour for my classes.
As an extra bonus, I can also reuse many of my lesson materials between multiple groups of students, so less planning time, too, says Prescott.
I have found this as well. When I know exactly what to teach next because I have narrowed down my focus, I don't have to spend hours each week planning lessons for my students. I know exactly what I need to teach them and when they need to learn it.
Erin Daniels made this observation as well. She said, "It’s okay and helpful to stick to my specific focus areas of Orton Gillingham and multisensory math. Early on, I was tempted to do whatever subjects families asked of me because I wanted to help the kids. But I realized I could better meet everyone’s needs by limiting my focus.
Jessy Coulter wishes she knew so many things when she got started 7 years ago. She said the first thing would have to be about her rates, and the second would have to do with the grades and subjects she tutors.
She didn't believe she could charge as much as she does now. In the beginning, she severely underpaid herself.
She has realized over time that she doesn't enjoy tutoring elementary-aged students. Her sweet spot is middle school through college, and she's ok saying that now. She used to want to tutor MUCH younger students because she was afraid she'd miss out on clients. When it comes to the subjects she tutors, she wishes she would have narrowed her focus a lot faster! She loves being a study tutor and knows her Love to Learn program is helping more students than the content tutoring she used to focus on.
You may start with a broader niche in the beginning because you have the same fear that Jessy had, but observe who you enjoy working with the most and make note of it. Then learn how to communicate online, so you can attract those students and work with them even more.
Tutoring Online Includes Business Administration Skills
Often when you think of turning your teaching skills into a tutoring business, you overlook the fact that you are going to have to learn how to run a business.
You get excited at the potential of working with your students and the impact that you will make, but you don't take into consideration everything else.
Margie Figueroa was this enthusiastic, optimistic, and super excited tutor. The thought of not having the school administration breathing down her neck felt amazing. She was excited to finally teach kids her own way and not be told what curriculum to use and what she should be teaching.
Then reality kicked in.
An online tutoring business is more than just teaching and filling in the academic gaps.
An online tutoring business includes making sales, marketing, networking, invoicing, writing up contracts and forms, keeping up with payments, following up with parents, scheduling, and keeping track of expenses for taxes.
Don't forget you still need to plan for lessons and execute those lessons. Margie wishes she knew that online tutoring consists of a good amount of administration work, but she wouldn't trade it for the world.
It Takes Time to Build a Successful Online Tutoring Business
So often, you think that once you have an idea that everything will go quickly to turn that idea into a reality.
This stops some tutors from creating a website. They think, "If I create a website, then I will have a huge flood of students that I cannot keep up with."
This is never the case and should never be a reason for not creating a website.
Mikala Silvestri wishes she knew that being an amazing tutor does not mean that you will automatically be an amazing business owner.
She mentioned this. Just like building your teaching skills, you have to build your business skills- you didn’t become an expert in your tutoring field overnight!
Marketing, self-promotion, finances, and strategy are all pieces of the puzzle. Don’t let a lack of students discourage you or create self-doubt in your teaching abilities.
Instead, invest, network, and grow your business knowledge. If it were easy, everybody would do it…. but it’s not, and you’re not everybody- so go and grow your business skills! It’s how my business went from 3 to 5 figures a month (and a hefty 6 figures per year).
You may be wondering why it takes time to create a successful online tutoring business.
Marketing and promotion: It takes time to spread the word about your tutoring business and attract clients. You may need to invest in marketing efforts such as creating a website, advertising online or in local media, and networking with potential clients to get the word out about your services.
Building a reputation: It can take time to establish a reputation as a reliable and effective tutor. This may involve building relationships with clients, collecting positive reviews and testimonials, and demonstrating your expertise and knowledge in your subject area.
Finding and retaining clients: Finding and retaining clients can be a challenging and time-consuming process. You may need to spend time networking and building relationships with potential clients, as well as maintaining those relationships over time to ensure that you have a steady stream of business.
Providing high-quality tutoring: Providing high-quality tutoring services takes time and effort. This may involve preparing lesson plans, researching and staying up-to-date on your subject area, and spending time with each of your clients to ensure that they are making progress and achieving their goals.
Overall, building a tutoring business requires a significant investment of time and effort, but with dedication and hard work, it can be a rewarding and successful venture. If you choose to, you can be making 6 figures a year like so many other tutors who have dedicated themselves in the process.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Testimonials
As an online tutor, you may want to ask for testimonials from your students to use as marketing material and to help attract new students. Many tutors struggle with just asking. Natalie Morales said she wished she knew how receptive and eager parents would be to provide testimonials.
In the beginning, it feels weird, like you are asking for a pat on the back.
There are some perfect times to ask. The best time to ask is when a client gives you a compliment regarding the success that their child has received. They are most open at this point in time.
The next best time is during your offboarding. Offboarding is when the family has decided to discontinue tutoring services.
If you provide the exact questions that you would like your student or the parent to answer, it will make the process easier for them.
Watch this video to find out what those 4 questions are and why they are important.
No Matter What Advice you Read About Facebook Ads, These are Cold Leads that are Hard to Convert to Students
There are tons of business owners who tell tutors to just get students using Facebook Ads or Google Ads. Don't listen to them. They are usually not in our industry.
There are a ton of complexities that these people do not share with tutors. They include:
Lack of experience: Many people who are new to Facebook advertising may not be familiar with all of the features and options available and may struggle to create effective campaigns.
Complexity of the platform: Facebook advertising can be complex, with a wide range of targeting options, ad formats, and bidding strategies to choose from. This can make it difficult for people to understand how to effectively use the platform to reach their desired audience.
Difficulty measuring results: It can be difficult to measure the effectiveness of Facebook ads, especially if you are not familiar with analytics tools and metrics. This can make it challenging to determine the ROI of your campaigns and to make informed decisions about how to optimize your ads.
Constant changes to the platform: Facebook is constantly updating and changing its advertising policies and features, which can make it difficult for people to keep up with best practices and to effectively use the platform.
Competition: There is a lot of competition on Facebook, with many businesses vying for attention from the same audience. This can make it challenging to stand out and get your ads seen by the right people.
Katherine Hsu wished that she knew that unlike purchasing products online, you don’t book trusted families and clients via Facebook ads and fillable forms. Or at least it didn’t work for her, and it cost her a good chunk of money to figure it out because everyone in marketing said to use Facebook ads. Every family she's booked so far came from an email or Facebook messenger conversation over a couple days.
Katie Jo Elise Zieglar warns tutors to be careful of spending marketing money on ads. She said, "I have never made a dollar of it back."
Network and Collaborate with Other Tutors
In the beginning, you think that other tutors are your competition. However, there are more than enough students around the world that need online tutoring services.
Janay Neufeld said that networking and connecting with other tutors have been huge in continuously learning how to run a business better, getting referrals, and feeling less isolated in her solo endeavors.
Elaine Lingard agrees with this. She wished she realized that other tutors are "a force to be reckoned with, not competition."
This is even the case if they are in the same tutoring niche as you, Elaine says. Each of us has something different to offer our students. Parents and students will click with the right tutor for them.
Elaine suggests that you learn, support, share, and grow together as professionals.
Jessica Pezold calls this her tribe. When she was getting started and established J.PEZ tutoring, a friend suggested that she find other private tutors in her area and pick their brain.
Jessica remembers smiling wanly at this well-intentioned suggestion, but her inner voice moaned, "Ug, that sounds painful. Other tutors are probably impossible to find, and even if I do find them, why would I converse with them? They’ll be my competition!’
Justine Forelli wishes she had known that tutor networking works.
She struggled with believing that she could get a client in an earlier time zones so she could work more daytime hours. All of her clients are in her local area and all of them found her through local marketing (flyers, Google my Business, referrals, FB group). Since they are local, they start tutoring at 3:00 pm or later.
One day Justine went to an online tutor network meeting. Joanne Kaminski was at her networking table and Justine mentioned that she would like to find both homeschool students and students from earlier time zones so that she could fill her daytime hours.
A few weeks later, Joanne was unable to take on a student at the student’s desired time because she was booked and she thought of the conversation she had with Justine. Joanne asked the potential client if she would like a referral for another tutor. Then she introduced us and it was a fit. I now have my first student who lives in an earlier time zone.
Now I have my first student from a different time zone from networking with other tutors. I wish I had known sooner that tutor networking works! I plan on doing more networking to get more students in earlier time zones.
Create Content Online So You Can Get Found Online
Creating content such as blog posts, articles, videos, or online courses can be a useful way for tutors to reach a wider audience and attract students from around the world. There are several reasons why tutors might want to create content:
Marketing: Creating content can be an effective way to market your tutoring services and reach potential students. By sharing your expertise and knowledge through your content, you can demonstrate your value as a tutor and help students see the benefits of working with you.
Building an online presence: Creating content can also help you to build an online presence and establish yourself as an authority in your subject area. This can make it easier for students to find you when they are searching for a tutor online.
Sharing knowledge: Creating content is also a way for tutors to share their knowledge and expertise with a wider audience. This can be a rewarding experience in and of itself, as it allows you to contribute to the field of education and help others learn.
Passive income: In some cases, creating content can also be a way for tutors to generate passive income. For example, if you create an online course or sell a book, you can continue to earn money from your content even when you experience lulls in your tutoring business. This can be a valuable source of income for tutors.
Audrey Vadnais wishes that she started creating content on a consistent basis even though she didn't have an exact idea of where to go.
She wishes that she would have picked topics related to her niche and wrote about it.
Unfortunately, early on, she allowed imposter syndrome to stop her.
Now, she sees that she can always go back and tweak and adjust. Her tutoring business will keep evolving, and as this happens her content will evolve as well.
Audrey points out that the key to moving foward is building the habit of creating content and hitting publish when scared. You won’t know how to improve unless you start taking action. In addition you need to allow time to see how the content will perform. And the reality is that it can take months!
Don't let that thought stop you. Putting in massive action on the front end, will allow you coast as the years go on while new families continue to find you.
Want to learn more tips about blogging and what other tutors have learned. Read this article called Tips from Successful Online Tutor Bloggers.
Stay tuned in 2023 as we dive deeper into each of these tips on my YouTube Channel.
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I want to hear from you. What tip do you resonate with the most? Comment below.
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