What Makes a Successful Online Tutor?

Being an online tutor can be an excellent career choice for someone with some teaching skills and a lot of knowledge.

Being an online tutor is a very popular career choice these days. With the ability to set your own hours and use your existing knowledge and skills, it’s a great way to make money and help others. But without the proper tools, knowledge, and plans, you might not do as well as you’d like. Consider these things to be a successful online tutor.

Determine who you want to work with

Being an online tutor takes more than just deciding to tutor people. Who will you tutor? What will you tutor them for? Will you work with the same students long-term or act on a more short-term basis, helping them prep for tests? Figuring out who your target clients are is critical to being a successful online tutor. You need to know details such as:

  • age
  • grade (primary, secondary, college?)
  • subject(s) they’re struggling with
  • other struggles they may have (learning disabilities, etc.)
  • family’s income range (to target those who can afford your services)

Decide whether to create your own website or sign up with a tutoring service

Being an online tutor means you can’t just rely on word-of-mouth to find your clients. You need an online presence.

There are benefits to having your own website, such as setting your own rates and hours, but it also means doing your own marketing and hoping clients find you. Signing up with a tutoring service takes some of the marketing off your hands and ensures you’ll have clients, but it also means you may have to pay a percentage of your rate to the service and you may have to be available during certain hours.

Take a class so you know what it’s like to be a student

To be a successful tutor, try taking a class or two from a tutor in a subject you’re not as knowledgeable about. This will help you see things from your student’s perspective, including their potential struggles.

Try taking one class from a tutor with excellent reviews and one from a tutor with very poor reviews. Pay attention to the differences between the two so you can learn both best practices and what to avoid doing with your own students.

Have extra materials

Many students bring their homework to tutoring sessions, but that might not be enough. They’re struggling, so they might need a lot more practice before something “clicks.”

Whether you find materials you can download and use or create them yourself, have plenty of extra materials on hand so that your student will be able to keep trying, no matter how much time it takes.

Personalize tutoring to the student’s needs and learning style

You have your own tutoring style. But some of your clients are going to learn differently than your style. They’re going to have specific needs you need to meet. So you need to personalize your tutoring to their needs and learning styles.

Evaluate each student as an individual and determine exactly what they need from you in order to learn effectively. This may mean doing personality and other evaluations. Think creatively in meeting those needs as well. Even though you’re the tutor, some students might learn best by “teaching” you the material. Be open to trying unique methods to help something click for a student.

Be available but set boundaries

Most tutoring sessions are scheduled appointments. This is great because it allows you to set your own hours around another job, appointments, or family life. But a successful online tutor makes sure they’re available when their clients need them.

This might mean offering early morning or late night hours for students in a different time zone or trying to study for an exam or finish an assignment. It may also mean being available on short notice for an emergency tutoring session.

Start small and expand slowly

It’s easy to think online tutoring is a quick and easy way to make money. To some degree, it is. But if you’ve never done it before, it can also overwhelm you quickly. So don’t overbook yourself when you’re just getting started. Start small, with just one or two clients, and work your way up to more as you become more comfortable.

Remember that as a new tutor, you’ll also want to keep your rates a little lower so you can get clients and get good reviews. As you grow, you can expand your client base and increase your rates.

Being an online tutor can be an excellent career choice for someone with some teaching skills and a lot of knowledge. But the difference between just being a tutor and being a successful online tutor is in the preparation. With these things, you set yourself up for success from day one.


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