How To Start A Profitable Tutoring Business

If you're thinking about becoming a tutor, here's the good news: There's plenty of money to be made.

In fact, according to a report from Zion Market Research, the global private tutoring industry will generate $178 million USD by 2026.

That's a nice chunk of change.

In this article, we'll show you step-by-step how to start your own thriving tutoring business.

Is Tutoring A Viable Business Route For Me?

Long before you can start teaching others how to solve for X or the difference between a noun and a verb, you need to determine if this is the right path for you.

Not the tutoring part—you already know you have that down pat—but the running-your-own-business part.

There's a lot of additional things to consider when you decide to start your own business. And unfortunately, it's not just the tutoring component you have to worry about.

All business owners need to grasp:

  • Marketing
  • Bookkeeping and taxes
  • Customer service
  • Managing tutoring appointments
  • Lead generation

If that sounds like too much to handle, it may make sense to either go in with a partner who would manage the business side of things or work for an established tutoring company instead.

Aside from running a business on your own, there are a few other things specific to tutoring that you'll need to think about.

Flexible Hours

Students are typically only available either before or after school, making your hours pretty non-traditional compared to other career paths. Of course, this depends on the type of student you work with—college-level students may be more flexible with their schedules than high school or elementary school students. Being accommodating to your student's schedules will set you apart from other services by showing that you care about their success and want to help.

Tutoring Style

Every student learns differently, therefore you'll have to be agile in the way you approach your tutoring style. How will you approach a situation where a student just doesn't seem to be understanding the material? What steps will you take to help them overcome the hurdles that are preventing them from success?

Communicating With Parents/Guardians

Unless the student is paying for your tutoring services on their own, it's safe to assume that parents or guardians are going to want to know how their child is progressing while working with you. Being able to clearly articulate how students are performing, where they are struggling, and what your overall game plan is for their success is imperative.

If this sounds like it's right up your alley, keep reading.

How Much Money Can I Expect to Make as a Tutor?

When starting your own tutoring business, how much you can expect to make will depend on the type of tutoring you do.

Across the board, tutors are paid depending on a few variables:

  • Expertise
  • Experience
  • Subject matter
  • Session length

According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for tutoring in a single subject, whether that be mathematics or a foreign language, is $17.59 per hour, with the higher end of the scale being $40 per hour and the lower end clocking in at just $10 per hour.

The demand for the subject you choose will heavily impact where you fall within this scale. For example, the average hourly rate for an SAT prep tutor is about $70 per hour, because there is constantly a need for tutors who can help students pass this all-important exam.

What Do I Need To Start A Successful Tutoring Business?

The type of tutoring you want to do will dictate what you need to get started, as every niche will have its nuances and requirements.

However, for the most part, you will need to develop the following components to create a profitable, strong business from the start:

  • A clearly-defined niche
  • Your unique selling proposition (USP)
  • The logistics of your business
  • Your pricing model
  • A marketing plan and client acquisition strategy

Let's walk through each of these components in more detail.

Determine What Tutoring Subjects You Will Offer

Students have all kinds of academic needs, which means there are plenty of areas to think about when selecting your subjects.

But why choose certain subjects to begin with?

Choosing a subject or two (depending on your expertise and interest) lets you focus on the students who will benefit the most from your knowledge. It may seem counterintuitive; wouldn't offering more subjects lead to more clients?

Not always.

By offering only select subjects, you can position yourself as an expert, which is far more appealing than a tutor who knows a little bit about a lot of topics.

So, how do you decide which subjects to teach?

It's simple: Ask yourself what subjects you are interested in or have experience teaching and go from there.

With tutoring, there are several specialties to look into:

  • SAT/ACT prep
  • Subject-specific
  • Homework help

There are multiple education levels to choose from as well, from preschool all the way up to undergraduate and graduate levels. Tutors for special education are also in high demand.

Remember, you want to select a subject you are not only interested in, but qualified to teach. If you don't have the credibility or experience to tutor at a certain level, it's safe to say that it'll be challenging to find any clients.

Once you have a general idea of your approach, take it a step further and try to narrow it down even more. Let's say you've decided to tutor math for high schoolers. Is there a particular type of math you're interested in more than others, like algebra or calculus?

Lastly, determine how you're going to offer your tutoring service. Will you help students online, in person, or perhaps in a group? Drilling down this last detail of your service is just as important as figuring out what subject matter and education level you want to tutor.

How to Define Your Unique Selling Proposition as a Tutor

Every business needs a unique selling proposition (USP), and tutoring businesses are no exception.

A USP is a statement that describes the solution you're providing to your students, as well as what makes you stand out from other tutors. This is also a great place to include any certifications or notable experience you have as a tutor.

Your USP could be the determining factor when a client is on the hunt for the right tutor. On the flip side, this concise statement will help you weed out students who may not be a match for you.

So what makes for a great USP statement?

  • It's student-centered. Make sure it communicates why you're the right tutor for that particular student by addressing a specific need and how you can alleviate that pain point.
  • It's unique. This statement should clearly state how you differ from other tutors in terms of your services, your approach, etc.

Take's USP for example. "Our technology is the best way for students to connect with tutors that are suited for their exact needs."

This USP is to-the-point and straightforward, but it addresses the pain point (connecting with the right tutor) and then presents the solution ( technology makes it easy to find the right tutor).

From this statement, it's easy to pick up on what does and how they do it.

Specify the Logistics of Your Tutoring Services

Before you can start helping students, there are a few logistical components you need to figure out first. It's crucial to have all your ducks in a row before your first appointment.

The first thing you need to determine is how you will conduct your sessions. Will you offer online or in-person sessions? This decision will impact how you plan the rest of your business.

Depending on your preference, you may feel like you can make more of an impact in person than you could online. This also may be a component of your USP and could be your differentiating factor. However, having the option to do one or the other—or both—adds a layer of flexibility to your business that is unique to the tutoring industry.

If you opt for online tutoring, you'll want to answer:

  • What hardware and software will you need?
  • What certifications, if any, do you need to tutor online?
  • What will your hours be?

Or if you want to tutor in-person, nailing down the following is essential:

  • Where will those session take place? At your house? In a school or in a library?
  • Will you offer group sessions?
  • What permissions do you need if you're going to tutor in a school or library?

How you choose to structure your tutoring sessions could be influenced by your comfort level, your resources, and the niche you pick.

From there, don't forget to consider these critical questions:

  • How will you collect payments?
  • What will the session booking process look like?
  • How many students will you take on at a time?
  • What does your student on-boarding process look like?
  • Will you require a minimum number of sessions?
  • How will you run each session?
  • Will you assign additional homework?
  • How will you gauge student success?
  • What will your follow-up process look like once you part ways with a student?

Again, your niche will influence how you approach the nitty-gritty details of each session and how you run things. As you grow your business, you'll learn what works best and what doesn't.

Create A Consistent Fee Scale

Knowing what to charge for your services is a challenge many business owners face. How does one go about putting a dollar amount on time or experience?

Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, but there are a few ways to approach this. It's likely that your pricing when you first start tutoring will be a lot different after you gain more experience and ramp up your business, but you've got to start somewhere.

Having a fee scale is a great way to offer different options for students. If students in your niche only need help with specific concepts or don't need as much additional instruction, having a sliding scale in place can make figuring out each session cost easy.

There are three main factors to consider when defining your pricing:

  • Your location
  • The subject matter you're tutoring
  • Your qualifications and experience

Taking these variables into account will help you establish a baseline for what you should charge for each session.

From there, you should account for these additional variables as well:

  • Travel time and expenses
  • Prep time
  • Educational materials
  • Marketing
  • Demand in your area

If you're having trouble, research what other tutors in your area that offer similar services are charging to get an idea of where you should start. See what tutors of various experience levels are charging as well, as that can help you set your range.

Just make sure you aren't charging too low. As strange as it sounds, you may not get hired if your rates are too low. Parents or students may associate the lower price with your quality of service or with a lack of knowledge.

Not convinced that pricing low can hurt your business?

Just ask Jared Rand, the founder of The Knowledge Roundtable.

In a blog post, Rand recounts the story of a teacher recommending two tutors to a parent, one priced at $30/hour and the other at $50/hour. The parent ultimately decided to go with the $50/hour tutor, which Rand hypothesized was because of a lack of trust for the cheaper tutor.

How To Find Your First Tutoring Clients

Once your business is ready to start booking tutoring sessions, the next step is to market your business to the right students. It's essential to capitalize on the channels that make the most sense for your business.

Your niche will help guide you in figuring this out, but when it comes to the tutoring industry, it's best to invest in both print advertising and online advertising. Print advertising allows you to reach students in locations they frequent directly. Online advertising makes it easy to reach students who are likely looking for your type of tutoring via search engine or online portal.

Word Of Mouth Marketing

A great way to gain traction and book your first few students is through word of mouth marketing. Offering a few free or discounted sessions and ask students to spread the word if they choose to book you for another session.

Eventually, if you provide consistent, quality tutoring sessions time after time, you won't have to ask students or parents to sing your praises—they'll do it without a second thought. Parents trust the opinions of other parents, so if you can build up solid relationships with your students' parents, you'll expand your network in no time.

Print Advertising

For print advertising, create business cards and flyers with information about your business and how interested students can best get in touch with you.

Put these items—with permission, of course—around schools, libraries, community centers, and coffee shops. This is a great way to get in front of students.

Online advertising

With online advertising, there are several avenues you can take. Some of the best channels to try for the tutoring industry include:

  • Facebook: Using both paid and organic Facebook tactics are a great way to maximize your marketing strategy. Facebook ads allow you to target your audience by demographics, interests, location, and more. Also, Facebook business pages serve as a hub where potential students of yours can learn about your services, read testimonials, and contact you for an appointment. A Step Ahead Tutoring does a great job of leveraging Facebook by posting reviews from students, updating followers on service offerings, and thought-provoking articles related to education.
  • Google Adwords: When parents or students search for "best [subject] tutors near me," you want your business to pop up in the search results. Google Adwords can help you reach your ideal audience based on search intent targeting. You can bid on the phrases most relevant to the tutoring services you offer, as these companies have done:

In addition to Facebook and Google Adwords, there are a few other best practices that should be top-of-mind when marketing your tutoring business:

  • Create a website: A website can serve as another centralized place where students and parents can learn even more about your services, what your processes are, how they can book with you, and more.
  • Start and maintain a blog: Blogging is an excellent way to demonstrate to your ideal students that you are an authority in the niche you tutor in. Your blog should be relevant to your students and include articles on topics like "How to better study for your next exam" or "Common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them."

Reach Your Goals Quicker

Just like your tutoring can help students achieve good grades and reach their academic goals, having a great business tutor in your corner can you help you grow your business and reach your goals faster than you could alone.

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