Are you working in a role you don’t particularly like? Are you in between jobs looking to earn some extra cash? Or are you a student sick of working in a bar? If the answer to one of these is yes, maybe you could try online tutoring. The private tuition sector is estimated to be worth a juicy £6.5 billion in the UK, and not only is the industry flourishing, but also exceedingly rewarding. If you have a passion for a subject that matches your joy in helping others, then becoming an online tutor is destined to be your ideal occupation. Here we look at what it takes and how to get started.
How to get started
Thanks to the digital revolution, the majority of students can access the Internet and connect with their tutors from the comfort of their bedrooms. Online tutoring provides one-on-one learning support for clients over the internet, via video call. If it’s teachable, there’s a tutor for it.
Tutors can work with people of all ages, from primary school to PhD students. While you don’t need to be a ‘teacher’, you must be capable of applying your skills and experience to facilitate a student’s understanding while motivating, encouraging, and building trust. In other words, you need to be able to teach, even if you’re not a certified teacher.
What qualifications do you need?
While there are no official qualifications for tutors in the UK, you are expected to have a high level of knowledge in your chosen topic. Leverage your skills and paint a vivid picture of yourself and the experience the student will receive from you. This is most effectively achieved by gathering testimonials and referrals. More on how to do this will be explained later.
Do you need insurance?
It’s not a legal obligation, but tutors can hugely benefit from insurance. Insurance experts at Tradesman Saver advise that “relevant insurance policies for a tutors business include employer’s liability, which is a legal requirement for anybody who employs staff, and professional indemnity insurance”. Professional indemnity insurance is a policy designed to help business owners, freelancers and the self-employed if clients claim their service is inadequate and attempt to take legal action against you. You may be surprised to hear this, but it happens.
For instance, your oversight could lead to incorrect teaching of a curriculum, then causing a student to underperform in their exams. In this scenario, the student’s parents may take legal action against you, alleging that your service was not up to standard. Claims like these can lead to hefty legal fees, as well as compensation if the defense of your claim is unsuccessful.
How to choose your subject
Before anything else, you’ll need to choose your subject. For most people, this is obvious. It’s usually related to their degree, or a topic they are deeply invested in. Having a degree or demonstrable expertise in the subject will give you an additional advantage, both in teaching and securing business, but it’s not essential. What’s more important is your ability to provide your clients with value. If you want to teach advanced students, you can be more specific and specialized, focusing on a particular niche of a subject.
How to get clients
After you’ve got the basics sorted, you can then decide how you want to get business as a private tutor. There are two options for this:
Apply to work for an agency
Agencies offer tutors stability and are ideal for people who don’t have the time or expertise to get business on their own. These organisations have already established credibility, so all you need to do is apply to be accepted onto their system. You can register with more than one agency at once, and many private tutors go with several.
Market yourself independently
If you’d prefer to go it alone, promoting yourself independently is easier than ever. You can attract students, develop your network and receive recommendations. It’s hard work, but can be more rewarding.
Know your audience
You need to gain a deep understanding of your audience. Who are they? What aspects of the subject do they need help in? How can you provide value? Determine the basic characteristics of the students such as age and level of understanding. Once you know this information, you can utilize digital marketing tools and tailor them to your chosen niche.
Facebook targeted ads are a useful solution because you can intricately tailor ads to your audience based on factors such as age, location or where they study.
Offer value for free
In the initial stages of your business, it can be difficult to get clients. No one knows you. You don’t have much credibility. How do you change this?
You could offer free tutoring, perhaps by releasing videos on social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok. Students will seek answers out, come across you and see the value you can offer. Once you have established a small following, you can look at offering paid, one-to-one services. Customers will think, ‘if this is the value they can offer for free, paying for their paid tutoring must be incredible’.
As an example, if you wanted to be an online tutor for a language, you could release short videos on grammar, terminology or phrasing. At the end of each video, leave a call to action such as a follow on social media or a subscription to an email list. The audience can then be nurtured into becoming paying clients.
Get referrals and testimonials
Referrals from people you trust will always be gold in terms of marketing. Rather than having to convince clients to work with you, your current ones do that for you. This is another reason to ensure your service is impeccable. If your time with a student reaps a good result, such as them performing well in a test, don’t be afraid to politely ask for a referral or testimonial. These tangible recommendations will be priceless when it comes to getting new business from cold audiences (people who have never heard of you).