When someone has this idea to begin tutoring online and become one of the world’s best online tutors, the wave of emotions ranges from excited to overwhelmed. There seem to be so many new things to learn, and it feels like you have no idea how you can learn it all. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could all just instantly know this stuff? Well, unfortunately, there aren’t too many career choices where this happens. Learning how to tutor online and get clients comes with a learning curve.
Because of this learning curve, Joanne Kaminski created the Ultimate Support Group for Online Tutors on Facebook. We are a group of the world’s best online tutors that support a wide variety of people who love to teach. This group includes individuals who are just thinking about the idea of tutoring along with people who have been tutoring online for over a decade. It is a place where you can ask questions, learn and network with other online tutors.
I asked the group for their best advice for new online tutors and here is a top ten list that they created.
- Practice tutoring
Dr. Atul Rana, an online maths and science tutor, suggests, “If you are thinking of online tuition and the idea of it scares you because of technology, then test out a lesson or two with another tutor before you feel confident enough to take on paid students. There’s plenty of tutors you can find here to train with!”
What perfect advice. I remember when I started out, I wanted to know exactly what it would look like on the other side. I had my husband set up another computer on a different account so that I could see how the screen sharing worked and made sure I knew how to use the tools.
2. Figure out what tools you need
Figure out what tools you will need to teach online. Cindy Converse, another online maths tutor, says, “Test out a wide variety of the tools you will need (online whiteboard, chat/video program, billing option, pen tablet, and headset). Then determine your favorites so that when you get started everything is seamless, and you’re confident that you’ve chosen what will work best for you. You may find that it’s different from what someone else has chosen.”
Some suggestions on the best of these resources are the following.
a. online whiteboard and video chat program – Zoom
b. Billing option – Paypal
c. Pen Tablet – Wacom
d. Headset – Bose
3. Figure out who your ideal client is
Many people think that they can just tutor anything to anyone, and they don’t get clear on who they want to be their client. They become frustrated by the people that they attract into the business, and they don’t stick with it as long. However, those that figure out who they specifically want to work with are happier long term with online tutoring. Not only that, but it helps in the area of marketing as well. Once you do this, you can speak directly to your ideal client, and they automatically feel like you are talking to them. When Brandi Appell, another online maths tutor, showed her website to her friends and family, some of them felt like she was speaking to them.
4. Develop a strong WHY!
If you find your answer to why you want to tutor online, then you will find your passion. You will stay motivated when you want to quit, and you will be more like to accomplish your goals. Katie Mae, an online math tutor in Portland, Oregon, gives a direct system to figuring out your why. “Do some journaling or have some honest conversations with people close to you to get clear about what you are doing. What is your mission and your “why”? Having a strong why both (1) makes you personable to clients and helps them trust you and (2) will keep you motivated and on track as you go through this process of making so many decisions. Look at your “why” daily — it’s your north star! ”
5. Don’t get stuck in the details
Joanne Kaminski, an online reading tutor, remembers the horror of feeling like you have to figure everything out before you start tutoring. While it is important to know what tools you will use, have a payment system in place, and create a website, it is also important to know that not everything has to be perfect before you get started. You can start tutoring before your website is done. You don’t have to create every resource before you teach. Let the students determine what resources you will need. Focusing your efforts on your marketing and getting the word out there will be more effective if you just do it than if you get picky on the details. You will constantly be making changes to your website and resources, so don’t focus on everything being perfect. They will be a work in progress.
6. Get Organized
If you enjoy not being able to find things and like having to look for that file in a million different places, then don’t listen to this tip from Beth Benson. I feel that this is one of the most important things in our business next to marketing. Being organized allows us to free up more time and spend our time doing the things that we need to do. Beth Benson, a general elementary tutor, says, “Organize your files well. Have a folder for each student which contains the content you plan to cover, and if possible, save screen shots and notes of past lessons in that folder. This way when you and your student are online, uploading documents to a whiteboard is fast and seamless. No more wasted time looking for and scanning in docs to work on. And saving a snapshot of what you’ve already worked on can be invaluable later on when prepping for your next lesson.”
7. Get High-Speed Internet
Do you remember DSL? Everything would just be slow. Today it is pivotal for your tutoring business that you have high-speed internet. It is also important to think about if you are traveling. Often, a hotel will have terrible wifi, so you will want to make sure that you have another way to connect with your clients. For me, that means using my phone as a personal hotspot. Tami Ordonez, a homeschool online math tutor, said, “The better your internet connection, the more seamless the lessons.” She had an experience with a student in Japan and because of high-speed internet, her session went seamlessly.
8. Utilize an automated Payment System
When Joanne Kaminski had started her business, she would send out invoices on a weekly and monthly basis. She soon realized the difficulty of this system. Some people would pay on time, but most would not. She thought that if she could automate this, it would not only save her a lot of time, but also a ton of headaches. She discovered that she could create a subscription button in Paypal and each week or month her clients would pay her on time, every time. It was one of the biggest blessings in her business. She didn’t have to send reminders all of the time, and she was able to pay her bills.
9. Get Testimonials
Carole Palfreman, who teaches French online, gives the advice to get testimonials from your current students. If you don’t have current students, just keep this in mind for when you do. The perfect time to ask people for a testimonial is right after they compliment you on how well they or their child are doing. For example, if someone says, “My daughter just got back her test, and she got an A. I know that this couldn’t have been without you. Thanks so much.”
You could respond with, “Wow, that is so exciting. I knew she could do it. She has been working hard and has been great to work with. Would you be willing to write a testimonial about your experience working with me? It helps me to continue doing what I love to do.”
I have found that with this approach, people are always more than willing to offer a testimonial. I even give them a blueprint of what the perfect testimony includes.
a. How they found you
b. What were they struggling with
c. What results did they get
d. What was it like to work with you
For those that would be a little shy to write a testimonial, this makes it super simple. I then leave a link for where they can post it.
10. Use Videos
Videos are a great way for people to get to know, like, and trust you. You can share your story of how you got started tutoring online, welcome them to your website, and create lessons. Not only will this open the door to many other people getting to know you, but you will begin to get clients from all over the world. Once you have created a few of these videos, you can then learn SEO and get on the first page of Google.
What are some tips that you would give a newbie just starting out? Do you agree with these suggestions? What has been your experience? Share in the comments below.