Updated: Jul 17
Teachers nationwide turn to side hustles in an attempt to make ends meet. With educator pay lagging behind other careers with college degrees, many teachers have turned to second or even third jobs to make enough money to pay their bills each month.
In 2023, I believe tutoring is the best side hustle for teachers to consider. They already have the expertise to make a difference, and it costs next to nothing to get started.
Here is how to start a tutoring business for less than $100 and make money while doing so.
5 steps to start a tutoring business
Getting a tutoring business off the ground isn't that difficult (or expensive) to do, but it will require diligence and hard work.
However, one thing that it will not cost much of is money.
To get your side business off the ground, start by following these five steps:
Pick a subject
Set your pricing
Scale and expand
1. Pick a subject
The first thing that you’ll need to do is to pick a subject that you feel comfortable teaching to others. Find your niche, so to speak. If you’re weighing two or more options back and forth, we find that asking yourself the following questions is helpful:
What is your level of expertise?
Where is there demand in your area?
What can I do differently from my competition? More on this point in particular later.
Having answers to these three questions will help you break into the tutoring industry. When I started a tutoring gig in high school, for example, I purposely helped students in Geometry because I knew that there was demand and very little competition, since the subject was almost universally disliked at my school.
You’ll want to make sure you choose a subject(s) that you have a strong level of comfort in. If you’re in college or past that point in your life, don’t be afraid to buy yourself a textbook and brush up on your skills before you offer services to others.
If you’re still unsure what subjects you want to teach, you may consider a skill rather than a subject. There are plenty of people that need help building resumes, applying to college, and preparing for standardized tests.
And if something like that is more up your alley, it is worth pursuing!
2. Start your tutoring business
With your tutoring subject(s) decided, your next step is to plan out your business launch. Building a business is about more than just marketing or client acquisition. You'll also need to have some basic infrastructure in place to handle things like billing, scheduling, and other administrative tasks.
Below is a list of tools that can you start your tutoring practice, though not all of these tools will be necessary in all instances.
Tools to start your tutoring business
To start out, you'll likely need some of these tools:
An online scheduling service - I like Calendly here, but there are other solutions too.
A way to invoice virtual/in person sessions - There are plenty of online templates you can use for completely free!
A way to process credit card payments - Give Stripe a try.
The good news is that all of the companies I've recommended above offer free plans, which mean that you can get started for free! Of course, if you opt for in-person tutoring only, you're more likely to schedule appointments via email or text message and accept payments by cash.
But these tools are still nice to have.
3. Find tutoring clients
Your next challenge will be to find students to tutor in your area. There are a number of strategies that I recommend you use here, but it depends on what type of business you're looking to start.
To help you get your tutoring gig off the ground as quickly and seamlessly as possible, you may consider these strategies:
Use whatever network you have: Reach out to some of your favorite teachers you had in high school. Depending on your relationship and the amount of time that has passed, they may be more than happy to help you and pass on referrals.
Start a Facebook page for your services: Another good way to spread word about your services is to start a Facebook page.
Create advertising materials in your area: You may also contemplate creating materials such as business cards, brochures, flyers, and other small advertising materials. If you live in a suburban neighborhood with lots of students, you may opt to send out mailers or even go door-to-door.
This is where it may be wise to spend just a few dollars wisely to create some base-level marketing materials.
Over time, as you attract clients, one of the best things that you can do is to ask for testimonials and further referrals. Testimonials will help you produce further marketing materials and boost the legitimacy of your website if you have one.
Now, we'll consider two additional varieties of tutoring - starting an online virtual business and taking a part-time tutoring job.
Starting a private online tutoring business
You may opt to take your business one step further by taking it online. In some ways, this can be easier, and in other ways, it will become more difficult. Your main challenge in tutoring online will be client acquisition.
You’ll now need to find a way to attract clients (students) without leveraging your local network, school contacts, and family and friends.
There are a few main ways to do this, but in our opinion, none are as sustainable as blogging for your own website. Blogging allows you to leverage the powers of search engine optimization to be visible to potential clients on Google and other major search engines.
It took me the better part of a year to learn the nuances of SEO to grow this very blog and business. So if you’re looking to tutor 3-5 students per week on the side to make a couple of hundred dollars more per week, this may not be the approach for you.
But if you have your ambitions set a little higher, you may consider going virtual with it. Once you begin to gain traction with your content, it does become easier to continue to build a following!
A couple of other strategies that you may use to grow your business include producing social media content and building a Google Business profile.
Building a Google Business profile in particular can be really helpful. Here's why:
Search queries such as "math tutors near me" are popular, and the Google results typically include a map of your general area, such as this.
With a business profile, you'll increase your chances of appearing on maps like these and have your website and contact information front and center on Google!
One of our favorite pros about tutoring online is that the actual mechanics of running your business become easier with the help of automated web tools, like the sites I mentioned above.
Part-time tutoring jobs
Another approach you may consider is working for an established tutoring company either in your area or virtually. This arrangement comes with its own set of pros and cons.
You are unlikely to make as much money, for example. In most arrangements, you will be paid an hourly rate by the company you work for, most likely somewhere around $20 an hour, depending on where in the country you work.
To find part-time tutoring jobs in your area, browse online. Job boards like Monster and Indeed can be helpful for this. If you're committed to working virtually from home, Tutor.com can be a great resource for this.
My sister worked for Tutor.com for a couple of years while in school, and had a positive experience.
They set their hourly rates based on the complexity of the subject you teach.
There are two main draws to working part-time for these companies:
Oftentimes, you can set your own hours
It is not on you to find your own clients
I'll go into more detail regarding part-time tutoring jobs in a minute.
4. Start tutoring
Now that you’ve found a student or two to tutor, it’s time to get to work. These first tutoring sessions are some of the most important that you’ll ever conduct. Do well and help your students improve their grades and your services could spread like wildfire across schools in the area.
To maximize your chances of growing a sustainable side hustle, I recommend that you do the following:
Do meet a student’s parents, if appropriate. This will largely depend on the age of the person you are tutoring, in addition to other factors.
Always ask for feedback to assure that your teaching style is resonating. Do not be afraid to pivot and find a second or even third way of explaining concepts
Do check in with your students in between sessions. Doing little things like this goes a long way to building long-term and lasting relationships.
As you gain more experience, you'll develop your own best practices to help you in your sessions.
5. Scale and expand your operation
Once you have started to attract clients and smooth out the acquisition process, it is time to scale (if you want to). Here, you'll need to decide whether you have an interest in building out a full-time tutoring career. If so, this is where referrals can start to help you immensely.
If you've been reinvesting part of your profits back into your business, you may also consider other approaches, such as:
Investing in Facebook or Google Ads
Continuing to boost your web presence
Building brand awareness (get creative!)
How much money can you make tutoring?
Your tutoring rates are likely to depend on three main variables:
What subject(s) you work
What your competition charges
How much experience you have
It is not abnormal for some experienced tutors to earn $60 or more per hour for their work. That said, those working in more technical subject areas, such as mathematics and the sciences, are likely to command higher rates, given the likelihood that there are fewer tutors working in these disciplines.
To start pricing your services, you’ll want to consider these three factors and then select a price point that you feel is fair to both you and your clients. As time passes, you'll be able to get an idea as to whether your prices are fair based on the ease with which you attract new clients, your client retention rate, and other metrics.
Tips when starting a tutoring business
I've put together a list of tips and tricks that I’ve seen work for tutors nationwide.
First, think about ways in which you can improve upon the conventional services offered to students. To do this, it may help to think about your competition and how they likely structure their sessions. Do some market research if you can and ask clients about their likes and dislikes about these offerings.
One idea that I had back in the day, for instance, was to take my tutoring sessions outside of the typical library or Panera Bread setting. This may make students more comfortable. Another idea I contemplated was making worksheets and exhibits for your clients to complete.
You can then take these worksheets and materials and see them separately through education sites, as well as Etsy.
I found that it helped to give students help outside of the textbook problems that they would likely have to complete for class anyway. Plus - textbooks tend to have some answers to certain problems, but they don’t usually show you how to reach these answers.
Part-time tutoring jobs
Starting a tutoring business is not for all teachers looking for side hustles. But if you still want to make money working with students, you may opt to work part-time for an already established tutoring company.
If this sounds more like a side hustle that interests you, you may opt to consider applying with companies such as:
The bottom line
Tutoring services come in many forms. Through online, live, and other arrangements, you'll be able to help students across the country (or world) grasp difficult concepts in whatever subject or specialty you decide to work in.
And by doing so, you'll not only find fulfillment but firmer financial footing as well.
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