by Jacob Hallman
After running tutoring sites for the last 5 years, I have seen tutors make anywhere from $50-$50,000 annually using Uber for learning platforms. Most tutors I have seen make well under $5,000 annually however. Of course, there are definitely other ways to make money online and I realize these numbers won’t pay the rent, but online tutoring is an awesome job if you like to learn (yes, tutoring is a great way to teach yourself) and convenience matters a lot to you.
By the end of this post, you should have a game plan for earning more cash tutoring online.
Platforms: benefits and drawbacks
I have seen some Redditors knock tutoring platforms as leeches, but the reality is more nuanced. If you have great people skills and know how to market yourself, yes, you should be able to find work on your own. The advantage of finding a tutor platform, however, is credibility boost. If you are an XYZ tutor, that means you stand for quality. Students trust XYZ, so they can easily trust you too.
The biggest truth that most people miss about tutoring online is that they focus on the commission rate as the sole indicator of the platform value. Tutors should measure the ability of a platform to drive traffic to their account. If traffic volume is high, tutors can afford to distinguish themselves and charge higher prices through the value provided by the site brand.
International college students and the parents of HS students are willing to pay more for good help, and the lowest price doesn’t always win as society continues to place a higher value on education.
For the best platform: Measure customer acquisition time
When considering tutoring platforms as an earnings resource, measure how much time you actually spend looking for work before you get it, online or otherwise. For example, Uber won’t pay a driver until the ride begins no matter how far they are away from the passenger, but this is still time spent for the driver. This global calculation can help you measure total hours of work. How much time would you otherwise spend looking for work on your own?
A nice perk many platforms offer is to charge you a lower rate when you accumulate successful transactions and reviews. A notable exception to this is Wyzant, which is shifting in 2019 to a flat 25% rate for all tutors. This is remarkable because they are the only company offering a flat commission rate regardless of site experience and they are actually raising rates for their most experienced tutors. Still, this and other online commission rates are well under the 60%-70% rate many brick-and-mortar tutor companies take.
In general, I think that office hours are generally too intimidating for college students and that learning should be more efficient. This makes education Uber-for-learning system where tutors offer blazingly fast support and students can pay as they go. This is the future of learning as more teachers realize their students can already google everything anyway.
Online tutoring: The 4 best strategies
Even if you tutor exclusively through Reddit, the most successful tutors I have met do the following things:
- They clearly define a specific skill set. This makes it easy for students to know what is offered. For example: Complete solution to programming, maths, statistics and science problems at one location is delivered here!!
- They brag about themselves in a way that is constructive. You don’t have to be a rock star, but you should be specific. For example: I am a mechanical engineer currently working for a Fortune 500 chemical manufacturing company. I volunteer with local middle and high schools as a STEM mentor and tutor. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.96 while majoring in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Business Administration.
- They care about their profile picture if they have one. It communicates friendliness and confidence, but it isn’t snobby. Great tutors come across as teammates.
- They message in a way that is casual and helpful when asking followup questions. Less important than the grammar is the enthusiasm, especially since standards of writing online are changing so rapidly. Messaging a student is actually a lot like using Reddit. Don’t message 5 times if the other person isn’t responding. Don’t write in caps unless you are yelling. Be helpful and engaging.
In the world of tutoring, care, speed, and competence = $$$ Just read the last 4 points only.