In many parts of the United States and Canada, schools are opting to start the fall semester with online learning, either part-time or full-time, due to the spread of coronavirus. Because of this, many parents are looking for ways they can help their children learn outside of the classroom, and one of those ways is by hiring tutors to help teach, especially in subjects where the parents themselves don’t feel comfortable. So if you enjoy working with children and have a skill in a particular area, this might be a great time to start up an online tutoring business!
1. Decide on your Subject and Students
What area would you like to focus on for your online tutoring business? You don’t have to have a specialized degree, but some evidence of competency in the area is going to make you a much more appealing hire for parents. Math, English, and Science are common subject areas where people hire tutors. Obviously, if you have a degree or have worked in a field related to one of those subjects, that’s going to be very probative, but especially when it comes to younger children, you may be able to show that you excelled in those courses in high school or college, or regularly use those skills on a day to day basis. You can also obtain special tutor certifications.
You will likely want to focus your business – do you want to work with younger students or older students? Younger students are typically doing “easier” work, but you may have more trouble keeping them focused. Older students may have more complex work but are easier to keep on task.
2. Gather Your Tools
Naturally, to start an online tutoring business, you’re going to want a computer with a good webcam and likely a good set of headphones with a microphone. But you also need to think about what platform you want to use. Right now, Zoom is a very popular web service. Their free accounts allow unlimited 1 to 1 meeting, but if you plan to do group tutoring, you’ll want to get a paid account.
You will also likely want to have resources on hand, either digital or physical. For example, you might want a whiteboard or a whiteboard-like program where you can help the student work through a particular math problem. You might want props to keep a young student engaged. Maybe you’re the crazy science tutor who does experiments. Whatever you might need to keep the students engaged.
3. Figure out Your Pricing and Policies
How much should you charge for your online tutoring business? I recommend starting out by doing a quick survey of tutor rates in your area. Of course, since you’re tutoring online, you can tutor students from anywhere. Remember that you can typically charge more for older students (as their work is typically more difficult), and if you are an experienced tutor, that can also justify higher rates. But you don’t want to price yourself out of the market.
Consider how you are going to charge. Maybe you will want to start out with a single session at a reduced rate so people can try out your services. Maybe you want to offer a package – higher pricing for “one-off” sessions, reduced rates if you pay monthly.
4. Be Ready for Taxes
Don’t forget, with an online tutoring business, as with any home business, you’re going to have to report your income. You will also be able to deduct any expenses, but in general, it’s recommended to set aside around 30% of your income for taxes. That’s right, 30%. Definitely, something to take into consideration as you’re setting your prices.
5. Market Your Online Tutoring Business
Now that you’ve got a business, you have to market yourself. Reach out on your neighborhood mailing lists. Post in Facebook Groups and on Nextdoor, if your area uses it. Create a Facebook Business account just for your tutoring business, and use that to spread the word and tell people why they should hire you. Consider a Google AdWords account and place some ads (though make sure you’ve done your research as to how this works so you don’t spend too much on advertising).
I also recommend a referral system – if your current clients recommend a new client who commits to using your business, consider a discount or a free tutoring session. Consider offering family discounts if parents hire you to tutor two kids.
6. Learn from Others
You often hear about networking as a way to get new and better jobs, but networking can also be a great way to learn tips and tricks from others in your industry. Look for online groups discussing tutoring, and see what others are doing. Talk with other tutors about how they’re making their business work during the pandemic. Share best practices.
And if all of this sounds overwhelming, consider working for an established tutoring business or consider a company that teaches English online. The company will take a cut of your money, but the marketing piece is done for you.
Now is a great time to use those skills to help out others while bringing in some cash. Working with kids can be very rewarding, especially when they’ve been struggling with a problem and they finally “get it.”