After my post about supply teaching last week I have had a few people contact me and ask about tutoring. Now, I do not claim to be an expert, I have made plenty of mistakes and I am sure I will make many more. But here are a few tips to get you started, if you want to! It is simply what has worked for me
To begin with, you need to decide your business/ teaching ethos. In my case it is that children learn through play and I use a play-based approach as often as possible. I also adore outdoor learning and use this. This is what makes me different to others and how I market myself. Yours will be something different, something personal to you. Use it!
Resources – do not go out and buys loads! I have a lot of materials from being a teacher for years but there is only so much I want to and can carry. My basic kit is a good pencil case, a decent mini white board and pens, a small dictionary, dice with various numbers of sides and games which I can print or adapt. I also provide jotters and folders but you do not need to.
Pricing – do your homework here. Sites like Tutor Hunt, Tutorful etc can help. I started off setting my price way too low and slowly upped it as I took on new clients. You are under selling yourself in setting your rates too low. I strangely found that business increased when my prices did. As the wise Mr Specter once said, you do not pay the plumber for banging the pipes, you pay him for knowing where to bang. People may try and haggle your price but that is your professional worth, do not allow this.
Tutor Space – you need to decide whether to tutor from home (if you do then you must update your insurance policy) or from theirs (update your car insurance policy). Both have pros and cons. I do a mixture of both and it works for me. If you are tutoring at your home, you need a dining table or desk. If at their home, you really do not need much at all. I would suggest that if you are tutoring at someone else’s’ home for the first time you think about safety. Let someone know who you are meeting, where and ensure they call you are a time close to the appointment ending to make sure you are ok – almost like internet dating!
My final tip here would be not tutoring for people who are too close to you, i.e. family or close friend’s children. I found it could make things awkward and just wasn’t worth the stress. A little distance is a good thing.
Once you have done all that, it is time to get the ball rolling, get out there and start letting people know who you are!
Advertising – I have found word of mouth to be my biggest form of advertising. I started by posting up on Facebook that I was starting tutoring and got my friends to share it. It really was that simple. I also created a profile on Tutorful and whilst they do take a cut, it was a good way for me to start.
I have a Facebook page for the tutoring and find that generates some business, especially when I share it on local groups pages. A quick search with local town names on Facebook will give you that. It is worth seeking permission from an admin of the groups to make sure you can post and know how regularly you can post.
I have a website, though it isn’t something you need early on. It has generated minimal work for me, but it is nice to have and does give the business a professional appearance.
I have not used google/ facebook or any other forms of paid advertising as folk say they get minimal return.
You can also use sites like Tutor Hunt where the parent pays for your details or Tutorful where the site takes a cut. It really depends on your area which works best.
Timing for Advertising – I love my Facebook page as the analytics let me see when best to post as most members online. Generally, though, I find the start of a term gets some new business but just before and after parent’s nights I have got lots.
So you have found your first student, what next…
Once you find your first student you need some paper work. I always give my Terms and Conditions beforehand but take a copy for them to sign when I am there. I also have a contact form, so I have their details, I usually email this before my first appointment with them.
My first session is all about building a relationship with the child and the family. I will play a few learning games with the child and chat to them about their likes and dislikes both in and out of school. I might run a wee test to assess their abilities and then feedback to the adult. My first appointment with a child usually takes around 1hr 30 min but I will only charge them for the hour. That extra time is invaluable to me as the weeks progress whilst working with them.
I tend to make termly plans for each pupil, this is quick and easy and you find a format that works for you.
Once you are tutoring regularly you need to think of a few more things. Though, you may wish to do these before you start.
I have a great accountant who does my books for me, it means I do not need to stress about tax returns. He is worth his weight in gold! It doesn’t take me long each week to update my financials.
I also have an amazing insurance agent. She has been a gem, as my business has evolved it has been very handy to have someone I can check with to ensure I am covered. She also got me a better deal that I could have got myself – believe me I checked!
There are some great tutor groups on Facebook where you can get advice and support. I recently set up the Scottish Private Tutors page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/440958926349136/ ) but there are others out there too.
My final thoughts…
Taking the leap into tutoring can be daunting but it can really be worth it. You can make it what you want, from a single session a week for extra spending money to a full-time business. I know it can be terrifying though and to that end I am happy to meet folks in the central belt for a cuppa and chat to those elsewhere. I was terrified before I started and I love tutoring now. For me, it is the best bits of teaching without the stresses!