How to Start a Profitable Online Tutoring Business: 8 Steps to Success

Online tutoring has been a potentially profitable line of work for a while. However, the pandemic has increased both the demand for online tutors and the number of people who provide online lessons..

Aleksey (Aleks) Weyman
Apr 12 · 7 min read

Originally published on millennialmoderator.com by Sarah Kaminski

And while the term “online tutor” might evoke images of learned and bearded scholars, you don’t need to have any specific degree in order to become one. In fact, you don’t even have to have a degree at all. What is required is knowledge, skill, and some planning. That being said, let’s look at the eight steps required to turn your online tutoring business into a success.

1. Understand the Essentials of Running Your Own Business

Before you start your online tutoring business, you need to carefully consider its reality. First, there’s the fact that you will need to pay your own taxes. You’ll need to manage your own income and expenses and act as a bit of a bookkeeper. You will also need to handle the logistics and marketing side of the venture. You certainly can’t be expected to be an expert in all of these fields and in the one you’re teaching, but this is the reality of entrepreneurship.

You can hire others for the marketing and bookkeeping down the line, but you probably won’t be able to afford their services all at once when you just start out. Consider whether you want to be an entrepreneur or to start an LLC or some form of corporation. Do a rough estimate of your projected incomes and expenses (best- and worst-case scenario), and see if you are satisfied with the numbers. If yes, you can move on to the next step.

2. Don’t Expect the Unrealistic

Funny enough, this next step also entails some thinking and planning rather than taking action. Before you launch an online tutoring service, you need to be very clear about your expectations. How many hours a day can you work, and how many hours a day would you ideally like to work? Are you fine with working from home? Is there legitimate interest in the subject you are going to tutor in?

Consider your chances of success. Think about your level of expertise and the degree you may hold in a certain subject, as well as your previous tutoring experience, the subject matter, and your skills in teaching. Do you have what it takes? Are you ready to deal with all kinds of students, from the more interested to the completely uninterested? If the answer is still yes, you can move on to actually taking action.

3. Identify Your Subjects

You likely already know what you want to tutor in. However, can you narrow down your subject even further? For instance, if you are offering tutoring in math, can you define a topic you are particularly knowledgeable in? Having a general subject is perfectly okay, but try to also offer a very specific set of sessions. That way, you will be able to narrow down your list of clients. It may seem counterintuitive, but you will be seen as much more of an expert if you only offer geometry tutoring, as opposed to math tutoring for all ages.

You may want to consider offering help preparing for a certain level or kind of exam. This can be the GCSE, university entrance exams, or perhaps you just want to offer help with homework. You can also consider the CAT test or any other specialized test that is available in your area. Ideally, you want to have some sort of general plan in place that you can then tweak as needed for each student. This will often work better than merely letting the student guide you. Knowing what the requirements are and what level of understanding they need to achieve will help you prep better. Perhaps most importantly, it will enable you to set the appropriate milestones from the start.

4. Identify Your Target Clients

Now that you know what you’ll be teaching, all you need is some clients. While a more general approach might appear to be the better one, in reality, the more you limit your target client pool, the better. Start with their age and level of knowledge. Are you working with high school students, university students, or adults who are trying to pass a certain exam? Do they need to be struggling with a certain subject, or would you rather work with the more talented among them, honing their skills further? Consider their budget as well. Based on your rates, what kinds of clients are most likely to be able to afford your services?

5. Determine What Sets You Apart

In order to succeed in the world of online tutoring, you will need to set yourself apart from all of the other tutors who have already been in business for some time. Having considered your level of expertise and experience, the subjects you want to be tutoring in, and your ideal client, now is the time to determine what your unique selling proposition is.

Your USP is essentially the solution you are providing. It should focus on the student and what they can expect, and not yourself. For example, don’t just stress how many students you have taught previously. Explain what all that experience has taught you and how it helps you help your next client.

6. Think About the Logistics

You will also need to think about the sheer logistics of your business. This is crucial to tick off your list before you hold your first class, as it will enable a smoother experience both for you and your clients. Start with the essentials: what equipment do you need for your sessions? Is your computer able to handle the task? Is your internet fast enough? What kind of software do you need?

If you are going to use a tutoring platform, consider the qualifications you may need to be able to use it. Ensure you have your diploma and any other certificates ready to go. Here are some other points to consider:

  • How will you accept payments?
  • How will students be able to book a session?
  • How many students can you work with at a time?
  • What information will you need from a student before you hold your first class?
  • Is there a screening or testing process involved?
  • Is there a minimum number of sessions you require a student to commit to?
  • How long will a session be?
  • Will you be assigning homework?
  • How will you determine a student’s progress?
  • What do you do if a student is dissatisfied with the results they have achieved on a test?

Having an answer ready and knowing all the intricate details of the business before you open up shop will help you deal with the bumps on the road. Of course, there will be situations you could not have foreseen, but knowing your general responses and targets will help a lot.

7. Determine Your Starting Fees

Naturally, you’ll need to determine your fees. This is often the trickiest part of the job as you are starting out. Consider having a scale instead of a one-price-fits-all system. That way, you can tailor it for different students, depending on the number of sessions they require and the specific areas they need tutoring in. Consider your competition as well. What do other tutors charge in your subject on the platform you are using? Make sure to also factor in your kind of experience and education.

Determine your minimum viable fees, which will cover your expenses, like taxes, study materials, prep time, and so on. Also, don’t forget to raise your prices as time goes by. You may need to keep a lower fee until you can prove your track record and provide some concrete evidence of your success.

8. Start Advertising Your Classes

Finally, all that’s left to do is start advertising your business! You can do this in many ways, and ideally, you want to spread your marketing network as wide as possible. You will most likely need to spend more time attracting clients than teaching as you just start out, but that should slowly shift as satisfied clients start to spread the word too. Consider advertising in print, on university or high school bulletin boards. Ask your friends and family to recommend you to their circles. And of course, try advertising online. Everything from social media ads and social media pages to having your own website and blog is in play here.

Final Thoughts

Online tutoring can be an incredibly rewarding career, and it can quickly grow into a very successful business. The important thing is to invest in it at the very beginning and ensure your initial students are satisfied. When you have that, you’ll have higher chances of being recommended, and eventually, more work will come your way. Sure, you can’t be expected to devote equal passion to marketing and running the business. But don’t forget that it’s an equally important aspect of your job. Carve out time in your day for the less enjoyable tasks too.

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Aleksey (Aleks) Weyman

Written by

My name is Aleksey (Aleks) Weyman. I’m a business owner and independent contractor with six years of hands-on experience in several industries.

The KickStarter

A place for passionate writers, innovators, entrepreneurs, digital marketers, side hustlers, and anyone who is ready to help people solve their problems.

Aleksey (Aleks) Weyman

Written by

My name is Aleksey (Aleks) Weyman. I’m a business owner and independent contractor with six years of hands-on experience in several industries.

The KickStarter

A place for passionate writers, innovators, entrepreneurs, digital marketers, side hustlers, and anyone who is ready to help people solve their problems.

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