The 5 Biggest Mistakes Teachers Make when they Become an Online Tutor


When teachers become online tutors, we tend to run our business like we ran our classroom.  However, teaching online and owning our own business requires a different mindset and some different skills that we have never had before.  Here is a quick list of the top 5 mistakes that teachers make when they become on online tutor.

1.  They think, “If I build it, then they will come.”  Usually what people think is that if I build a website, then I will have thousands, maybe millions of people find me.  That just isn’t true.  You need to find people and direct them to your link.  As of July 10th of 2014 there are at least 3.32 billion pages on the internet.  Without the right marketing and driving people to your site your little pebble is most likely not going to get noticed.

2.  They think, “I have to learn everything at once.”  This concept can be extremely overwhelming.  There is a lot to learn, but you certainly do not need to learn it all it once.  You didn’t learn how to teach well overnight, and you certainly won’t learn how to run your own online tutoring business overnight either.  Just continue to learn one new skill at a time and over time you will continue to accumulate more and more skills.

3.  They say, “I can tutor everything.”  The problem is, when you tell people that you can tutor in everything, you are setting yourself up as an expert in nothing.  Choose the area that interests you the most and market to that area.  For example, I teach reading.  Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t ever help kids with math, I do.  But, I am clear on my focus and I use it for marketing purposes.  Think about a general doctor that does checkups.  If you had a heart problem you would probably go to the hospital and be assigned a heart specialist.  This person would be more reliable than a general doctor and have more success with solving your specific problem.  It is the same with tutoring.  The more you work in a certain area, the more you are able to close the gap for kids and help them reach their educational goals.  The super bonus to this is that you also get to charge more for the sessions as well and get paid more than you ever did as a classroom teacher.

4.  They think, “I have to tell everyone I know about what I do.”  This is a true to a point, but you want to be careful not to spam people.  Everyone hates to be spammed and if all you ever do is talk about your specific new job, people will stop wanting to communicate with you.  Definitely talk about what you do with other people, but only as much as you would have talked about your regular job.  You want people to know what you are doing so they can spread the word for you, but be humble and of service to others.  Continue to be a good friend to your friends and they will want to refer you to people who can use your services.

5.  They think, “I can’t start tutoring until I have all of my materials in place.”  Your students are going to be the ones that determine what materials you are going to need.  So as long as you have a simple plan to work with students online, you don’t need to have all of your materials in place in order to begin teaching.  Figure out a way to assess students and then come up with the resources you will need as you need them.  This allows you to begin making money right away and not waste any time.

Tutoring online has been a dream come true for me.  I am personally able to be there for my family when they need me and do what I love.  It is the balance that I was always seeking.  About a week ago, I did a live hangout where I went into each of these mistakes in even greater detail.  Check it out and let me know if there is anything that you think that tutors make a mistake about when they are first getting starting teaching online.

If you are interested in checking out the Book Yourself Solid program, you can click on this link.

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    • Thank you! Yes, some of these mistakes came from my own experience and from other people that I connect with. I am so glad that you were able to connect as well. :)

  1. Hi Joanne. I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing such great information and tips. It is simply awesome!
    Also, I am planning to become an online Spanish teacher and I would like to ask you if I should start using hangouts or Skype…or both?
    Your advice is very important for me. I appreciate your respond in advance.
    Thanks again!

    • You definitely want to choose a main way to do most of your tutoring. I find it hard to keep track of my students on Google Hangouts, but it is super simple with Skype. When I got started there was only Skype to choose from. So I chose that medium vs. the paid options I could have chosen. I have gotten really comfortable with Skype and most people have heard of Skype and already know how to use it. I also use Skype as part of my marketing and call myself the Skyping Reading Tutor. That way when people are looking for people that teach reading via skype, they find me. I have dabbled in Google Hangouts and have found that it drops calls less often, but lately as of the last couple of weeks I have had some issues with connecting with the 2 students I have on Hangouts. So I have switched them over to Skype to make my life a lot easier. Having all of my students in one system is so much easier because I don’t have to think, “Oh I have to switch to hangouts now.” Here are some pros and cons of both.

      Skype Pros
      1. You can star all of your students or create lists to access them easily.
      2. Most people have heard of skype by now and are familiar with how it works.
      3. You can share the screen, so if you need to have your student read something, then you can show them your screen.
      4. You can have from 1-10 students at a time.

      Skype cons
      1. It drops the call more often than Google Hangouts.
      2. Sometimes Skype will automatically shut down and end your session and only be able to come back when you restart your computer. (This has happened twice in the last 6 months, not really a bit deal).

      Google Hangouts Cons
      1. Some students have had a hard time connecting to start the call just recently (Not sure if it is because they are updating or changing something)
      2. People become leery with new technology and don’t always trust it.

      Google Hangouts Pro
      1. Can work with 1-10 students at a time.
      2. Does not drop calls as frequently as Skype.
      3. You can share your screen easily.
      4. You can tape a session by easily switching to Google Air. (I use this feature sometimes when I am doing assessments to show before tutoring and after tutoring).

      I know this is a really long answer to your question. It depends on which features are the most important to you. If Google had a way where I could create a list and not invite the whole list, I may switch over to it. Until that time I plan on sticking with Skype. Both are easy interfaces to work with.

      I am so excited to be on this journey with you as you start your online tutoring company. Enjoy your day and don’t hesitate to ever ask anything.

  2. Your detailed respond is very helpful. I appreciate you have taken you time out of your busy schedule to advise me on this issue. I will take every single line into consideration and eventually make the decision. Again thank you very much, Joanne!!! I will continue enjoying and learning from your interesting posts and videos. Have a wonderful week!


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