Let’s be honest: as teens, we’re always looking for ways to earn extra money. Last year, someone mentioned to me that I should try tutoring. At first, I was pretty skeptical.
Isn’t tutoring for actual teachers? I thought. And super super smart people?
However, as I began my tutoring escapade, I realized the answer to both of these questions is no.
Practically anyone can be a successful tutor as long as they enjoy teaching others and are willing to go the extra mile.
There are a couple of other things to remember, though. Here are 5 steps to becoming a successful tutor yourself.
1. Decide your “specialty”
The first step to being a first-rate tutor is knowing what subjects and age levels you’re good at (and like) tutoring. (There’s nothing worse than explaining to your 9th grade student that you actually don’t understand any of their math homework, either).
So, don’t be afraid to be specific in what “kind” of tutor you are. For example, you can promote yourself as a “K-5 math tutor.” That way, you’re comfortable with what and who you’re tutoring and you know your customer has the same interests in mind. In terms of what you charge, it really depends on where you live and who your customer base is. Personally, I charge a flat rate of $20/hour. Of course, in many areas that would be much too high and in some a little low.
However, it is a good idea to initially set your rate on the higher end, because you can always go lower if your customers aren’t willing to pay that much. If you’re not sure where you should set your base price, two things you can do are:
1. Find out what the going rate for babysitting is in your area and add $5-$10
2. Look up professional adult tutors in your area and see how much they charge. Typically you will want to divide their rate in about half.
2. Promote, promote, promote
Like babysitting, lawncare, etc., I’ve found that the best way for your tutoring business to spread is simply by word of mouth. If you do a fantastic job, naturally moms are guaranteed to tell their other mom friends and people in their neighborhood. However, there are other more hands-on ways to promote yourself.
Putting up flyers/signs in local schools is a great way to gain business. You can also put flyers/signs up in neighborhood clubhouses/pools, if such things are allowed. Also, many neighborhoods have HOA websites where you can post services you’re offering. Just Google the name of the subdivision and go from there.
3. Be professional
After you start gaining interest, you have to make sure that you’re presenting your best self to your potential customers. The number one way to do this is by being professional in your emails.
Especially if you’re a teen, the more professionally you write, the more your customers will trust that you will do a good job tutoring their child.
The first couple of times you’re emailing someone new, write as if you’re writing a formal letter and don’t be afraid to throw in some big words. 🙂 Another good idea that will make you look professional beyond your years is signing off with your contact info. For example:
Thanks so much,
4. Build a relationship with the parent
Of course, it’s very important to be on good terms with the parent, your client. Some easy ways to do this initially are by replying quickly to texts, calls, and emails. Additionally, I have found that half of the work in tutoring is scheduling. And though it may be tempting to tutor exactly when you want, be flexible and work with the parent’s schedule rather than yours whenever possible.
The first time you meet the parent, make sure you have a little talk with them about what they’d like to get out of tutoring. Some starter questions would be:
- What are your expectations for tutoring?
- What would you like me to work on with your child?
- Do you have specific materials you would like me to use?
- Does your child enjoy learning/school/tutoring?
- Would you like me to talk with your child’s teacher about what we should work on?
5. Build a relationship with the student
Equally as important, if not more so, connect with your student. Before you jump right into work during your first session, make sure to take the time to get to know them. Ask them about their hobbies, what subjects they like, etc.
Also, ask them what their goals are in tutoring and if they feel there are specific skills they’d like to practice. They may mention something they want to work on that you don’t have materials for. If that’s the case, the best thing to do is either print off practice sheets online, make your own questions, or buy workbooks. Cheap workbooks can be found at used bookstore or on websites like Amazon.
If your student has a phone or email, it’s a good idea to get their contact info as well. Then, if they have any questions during the week they can ask you. This also shows them that you have their best interests in mind.
All in all, I have been pleasantly surprised by how wonderful of a “job” tutoring has been. Not only is it profitable, self-dependent, and flexible, but it is also very gratifying. It’s truly an awesome feeling to see the student you have been working on a certain skill with finally have that lightbulb moment!
So, if you’re looking for a more out of the box way to make some cash as a young person, try tutoring. I guarantee you’ll have at least a little (if not a lot) of fun doing it, and your wallet will thank you.