3 Tips for Getting Started with Tutoring

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 You know that feeling when you meet someone for the first time and you just click? Being a tutor for dyslexic students, I spend a lot of time researching the concerns and needs of parents of children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Through a Facebook group filled with such parents and a mix of experts in education I connected with Adrianne Meldrum of The Tutor Coach. Adrianne is an expert in helping tutors set up their tutoring businesses. Not only is she an amazing resource for tutors but she is a wonderful person to boot!

 Adrianne has agreed to tell us about her background and some of her best tips for someone just getting started as a tutor in her post below, enjoy! – Sara

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Dyslexia has become a passion subject for you.  You joined Facebook groups.  Advocate at the school and will drone on about the nuances of dyslexia to anyone who will listen.  After all the frustration and tears, you’ve finally found a program that gets results when the schools had nothing to offer.

You know that your passion for dyslexia won’t be ending anytime soon and that you’ll continue to sound the warning bell to raise awareness.

For many people, a natural next step is to tutor more children in dyslexic friendly ways.  But the very thought of running a small business makes your head spin!  I understand all the fear behind taking these steps, because I started tutoring over 10 years ago and remember fondly the fear that set in when I decided to tutor.

Starting a tutoring business seems daunting, but can turn into a wonderful opportunity for personal growth and flexibility that you’ll cherish.  I’ve helped hundreds of tutors get started on their journey and have watched many of the dyslexia tutors quickly fill up their business due to the high demand of their services.

I want to see more passionate people like you out there tutoring because our future generations need to see themselves as capable learners with SO much to offer the world.

3 Tips for Getting Started with Tutoring:

1 – Find Students

My very first client came because I opened my mouth and actually told someone I was tutoring! Too often, we make a decision and then keep it to ourselves. Your family, friends, and community are your best bet at finding your first clients. I found my first client after a friend had shared with her friend that I was tutoring.

It only takes one student to get started, but even though that number may feel small, it is significant because this one person said YES to you tutoring them. One person coming to tutoring fills one spot on your calendar. When one person signs up for your tutoring, the tally count goes up by just one. And yet, we forget how much that number represents.

You are making a difference in this ONE person’s life. So even though getting just one student feels small, it is a big responsibility and one I hope you’ll relish in.

But outside of using your current connections to find a student, here are some more great ideas to try:

School counselor

Counselors are some of the most resourceful people I know!  Families come with a myriad of issues and having you as a resource could be just the ticket.  Stop by a couple schools and leave a letter for the counselor with your details of where to find you and what services you offer.

Think seriously about offering services at a discounted rate for students who may not be able to afford it.  This could be a strategy that leads to more students.  Be careful to put a cap on how many students you’ll take at a discounted rate as you are a valuable asset and should be treated as such.

Posting on Your Personal Facebook Profile

We often forget the power of our own personal connections, even the ones that exist mostly online.  Share with your friends and family via Facebook that you are tutoring.  Specifically ask your friends to share your post with their friends.  You’d be surprised how many connections that can lead to.

School District Tutor Lists

In the beginning, my biggest referrals were word of mouth and also from being placed on my local school district’s tutor list.  I found this list by doing something considered archaic these days…I picked up the phone!

I called each district office in my area until I found one that had a list.  It didn’t take long either and the requirements to be listed were reasonable.

In 2011, I started a website for my tutoring business and over time it has become my number one referrer.

I adore websites because they promote me 24/7 which no employee or marketer that I hire could do. Parents often lie awake at night worrying about their child’s grades and take action by heading to the internet to look for a tutor. Thankfully, my tutoring business shows up on the very first page.

Third-party Sites

Try: Nextdoor.com, Wyzant.com, or Thumbtack.com.

The most important tip I can give you in this area is to pay attention to where third-party tutor jobs rank for you locally. Use an incognito window and search for the type of tutoring you do in your area. For example, you could search “dyslexia tutor Denver, CO.”

Using an incognito window allows you to search without any of the saved history or cookies stored on your browser which affects results.

You would only list yourself on the sites that show up on the first page of results. Before you add yourself to a third-party site, also make sure that the average tutoring rate lines up with the rate you’ve chosen for yourself. Some sites are infamous for having very low tutor rates which don’t attract the right type of students.  Not sure what to charge?  Try my free pricing guide here.

Flyers on Doors

Don’t ignore this old school tactic!  A flyer on my door is how we found our swim instructor for my boys.  She only had to do this to three neighborhoods, filling her entire summer with students.  The instructor did such a great job with my kids and word spread fast.  She never had to do marketing again!

Which leads me to my next point…

2 – Wow Your Students

Think about how you’d like to treat your future students.  What feeling do you want families and students to walk away with?  Hope?  A can-do attitude?  Elation at the solution?

You want to put your students and families at ease the moment they decide to make that first call or email.  Think about how you’ll respond and the process you want families to take before they even show up for their first appointment.

All too often, tutors make the mistake of not putting a system in place and then find themselves at the mercy of others schedules and expectations which lead to a burned out tutor.  I want you to stay in this for the long run!

Create boundaries right from the beginning. What do I mean? Write some policies so that you are clear about how you feel in very specific situations like:

  • Late payments
  • Missed tutoring
  • When payments are due
  • What materials are needed
  • How often can students cancel
  • Illness
  • Coming late to tutoring

Tutors have the biggest hearts and are often taken advantage of when they are put on the spot to decide how they feel about their student that comes twice a week to hold their spot while they participate in soccer.

You have to know how you feel about scenarios like that before they spring up so you can calmly tell someone how you feel about that. This protects your time and money plus it instils confidence in your skills as a dyslexia tutor.

3 – Repeat

Every time you have an interaction with a student, you want them to leave the session feeling braver, stronger, and better than before.

Create a predictable tutor session that allows the student to get to know you as the tutor and let’s them express their interests.  The bond between tutor and student is a special one as you get very close.

Keeping a consistent environment and expectations will lead to happier students and more leads for your business.

Still feeling overwhelmed with the idea of tutoring?  Consider taking my free tutoring quiz for guidance on your next steps.

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Adrianne Meldrum is the owner of Math for Middles, an online math tutoring site and Tutor Coach where she helps tutors get started in their business journeys.

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