If you have great teaching skills and subject matter knowledge, there’s a lot of money to be made in the tutoring industry—whether you’re working it as a side hustle or want to grow it as a full-time gig.
The problem, though, is that it can be hard to know where to start or how to earn your first few clients.
But as they say, when there’s a will there’s a way, and we have a way.
Here’s everything you need to know to start a tutoring business on the right foot.
The Easy Parts of Starting a Tutoring Business
The easiest part of starting a tutoring business is creating your business website. With so many web building options today that are accessible to just about anyone, you don’t have to go the expensive route and hire a web developer to do it for you.
With a platform like Squarespace, you can have a sleek and professional tutoring website up in less than a day.
Squarespace offers plenty of website templates so you don’t have to start from scratch. And if you’d need to accept tutoring payments through your site it easily lets you add an online payment processing option to your pages.
Here’s where you can get started creating a website that showcases your tutoring services. From there, we’ll jump into the more involved parts of creating a tutoring business that bears results below.
The Difficult Parts of Starting a Tutoring Business
No matter what type of business you’re trying to establish, there are going to be some fun parts (like creating your own website and getting creative with your branding) and then some not-so-fun parts. For instance, it’s easy to get your tutoring website polished and published with an easy-to-use site builder like Squarespace. The hard part is getting your target customers to find your website and sign up for the services you offer.
Another hard part of starting a tutoring business? You might not know how to set your prices at first. Especially if you’re starting out with zero connections in the tutoring industry.
Not being able to magically find clients, having no clue whether you’ve priced your services correctly, or needing to start networking from scratch can admittedly make you want to quit. Though it doesn’t stop there. Learning the ins and outs of legally establishing your business and managing your cash flow is a crucial part of keeping your business afloat.
All this to say, the harder parts of starting a business shouldn’t discourage you. Instead, you should use them as fuel to create a game plan from the beginning so you can successfully work through the tougher tasks. We dive deeper into each step you can take to increase your possibilities of success below.
Step 1: Get Organized
Deciding you want to start a tutoring business is one thing. There are lots of other smaller decisions that need to be made as well. Let’s start with picking your niche.
Decide Your Tutoring Niche
If you’ve yet to hear of the word “niche” before, you can think of it as meaning a “subcategory” of a broader category. In other words, saying you want to be a tutor is too broad of a direction to take. You’ll need to get more specific and decide specifically what topic you want to specialize in.
The general rule in business is, the more you specialize, the better chances of finding clients that pay for what you’re selling. The more you generalize, the harder it becomes to successfully sell your services. Finding your niche involves taking stock of your subject matter knowledge as well as what your strengths and weaknesses are to know which subject you’d excel tutoring in.
If we want to take a broad approach, you can technically tutor anyone on just about anything. Though the more obscure the subject, the harder time you’ll have finding clients.
But if we’re thinking about academic tutoring, then you’ll want to think about what subject you’ll do the best teaching on. Will it be Algebra? Introductory Calculus? Maybe Geometry or Spanish for Beginners? Beyond subjects, there are lots of tutors who specialize in specific standardized tests like the SATs, or ACTs.
Register Your Tutoring Business
If you’re serious about your tutoring business and plan on earning a substantial amount of money through it, it’s good practice to take the time to register it as an LLC. You can do this through your state’s local business website.
The process is usually simple, and you can get an LLC certification after entering a few pieces of information about your business along with a fee. Each state’s process is slightly different, so you’ll want to check your local listings with a quick Google search. If anything were to go wrong, an LLC legally protects you and your assets.
Step 2: Get Clear On Who Your Clients Are
Now that you’ve set up some of the basics of running your newfound tutoring business, getting clear on who your customers are will help you better market your services.
What Age Range Or Grade Do You Want To Teach?
Contrary to popular belief, your clients aren’t “anybody that needs tutoring in X subject.” Rather, to find success as a tutor, you need to define who your client is with a little more precision.
For instance, ask yourself, what age range am I best at teaching? If you don’t have experience teaching a certain age range this might take some trial and error to figure out. If you’d rather think of it by grade, then do so. Choosing a grade range might work better for you in the long run.
Don’t forget to take your subjects of choice into account here, too. An English tutor can easily work with a broad range of students from late elementary school up through college, while an algebra tutor will likely be limited to students in 8th-10th grade ranges. The subjects you want to teach will help determine who your students will be–and vice versa. If you really want to tutor 6th graders, you can familiarize yourself with subjects commonly taught in that grade.
What Format Will Work Best With Your Set Of Skills?
Once you hone in on the type of student you want to work with, determine what format you think will work best with your existing set of skills. Some tutors do well focusing on one-on-one sessions. Others enjoy a small group setting of three or more students.
Keep in mind that you can do either format—either one-on-one or group sessions—in person or online. So you’ll want to think about whether you want to tutor online or if you’d do your best work tutoring in person.
There are pros and cons to going with either, or even approaching tutoring with a hybrid approach of both online and offline sessions. Your decision will ultimately depend on how you work best.
Step 3: Set Your Tutoring Rates
Have you given a thought to how you’ll set your tutoring prices yet? A lot of it depends on what you offer, your availability, and any results you can offer.
Research What Competitive Rates Are
Will you charge per hour, per session, or a flat rate per student? What credentials or past results can you provide that prove you’re an effective tutor in your niche? These are the questions you need to be asking yourself as you research what the current tutoring rates are.
For a private tutor, the average rate can be around $25 per hour. This can change though, based on location, subject matter, and other factors. When you set your prices, you need to make sure to take expenses (including taxes) into account as well so you’re left with a livable profit margin after you run your numbers each month.
One of the best ways to get familiar with what current tutoring rates are is to check out what tutoring platforms are paying tutors. For instance, Chegg Study pays tutors $20 an hour once a tutor is accepted on their platform. You can also visit Reddit threads on tutoring, which can be a goldmine for additional tips and tricks that are working today.
Beyond that, there are always Facebook groups on the subject that can be of great value and that can help you expand your tutoring network. Consider joining a few groups to be part of a community of like-minded tutors.
Consider The Quality Of The Service You Offer
As you’re starting off, you might not be able to charge top dollar for tutoring sessions. But as you gain experience, testimonials, and results, you’ll quickly be able to increase your rates with new students.
While you might not be able to compete with top-notch tutors in your niche, you can still start small and work your way up. In short, the more experience, the more you can charge, especially if you work for yourself instead of through a platform. We get a bit more into this part of finding clients next.
Step 4: Find Clients
One of the hardest parts about getting your tutoring business off the ground is finding clients. There can be a lot of marketing involved. Below we go through a few free ways you can land clients.
Rely On Your Network
When it comes to tutoring, word of mouth is your best friend. Leveraging your existing network to find someone that needs tutoring can be a viable way to get started. If you do a stellar job with your first few clients and you’re proactive about asking for referrals, you can quickly build your list of tutoring clients.
Now, this might not always work if your network doesn’t include or know of anyone who needs tutoring. In that case, you can always look through job boards and tutoring platforms for additional work.
Get on Tutoring Platforms
Did you know there are tutoring platforms you can use to find clients? They can be great resources if you’re just starting out and don’t have a clue about how to land a client. Here are a few worth checking out.
For instance, to become a tutor for Chegg Study, you’ll need to go through a registration process and provide two forms of identification. From there, you might have to complete a few tests to showcase your skills in your chosen subjects. You can get an answer on eligibility in as little as a week. Once onboard, you’ll be able to work with students who are looking for help with different subjects.
Find Tutoring Job Boards
Sometimes you can find contract tutoring work on job boards. Places like Indeed can be a goldmine of tutoring jobs that get posted daily around your area.
If you’re having trouble finding tutors through word-of-mouth, checking out general job boards is yet another route worth trying. This is especially true when you’re first starting out.
Go The Paid Ad Route
Say you aren’t finding any luck with tutoring platforms, your network, or job boards, what else can you do to find clients? As with any business, you can always opt for the paid ads route.
Whether you have a Facebook or Instagram account dedicated to tutoring, you can dive into the power of paid social media ads to land clients that need help with your subject matter. However, trying out paid ads can be a bit of a gamble.
You don’t know if the money you put into paid advertising will pay off, and you need to know what you’re doing as far as effective digital marketing is concerned. Still, it’s a route worth considering if you’ve exhausted all your free outreach and marketing efforts.
Step 5: Gather Testimonials
At this point, you’ve started your tutoring website, honed in on the specific subject you want to tutor and specialize in, and have found your first handful of clients. Now what?
Ask For Feedback
To keep your tutoring business alive and well, you’ll need a steady stream of clients that want the results you offer. It’s safe to say managing a successful tutoring business is equal part honing your skills and marketing them too.
Feedback can help you course-correct when your teaching style is missing the mark. Students can tell you what they’re receptive to the most and what didn’t work for them. It’s easy to see how feedback leads to better tutoring sessions and then better results that you can then use to market your services. So, as you tutor, consider not skipping the feedback piece of the puzzle as a crucial component of your business.
Include Your Testimonials and Results In Your Website
A great way to show you’re an effective tutor is to ask your past clients for testimonials. The feedback is great to help you refine your internal processes and teach better. But the testimonials—especially when you publish them on your site—can be great for showing authority in your industry.
Testimonials also let customers know that they can trust you to garner results. As you grow and work with different clients, consider gathering testimonials at the end of your tutoring journey with them and ask if it’s okay to showcase them on your website.