There are a ton of online tutoring companies out there – companies promising to hire and train you, to give you students on-demand, and to earn you a solid $XXX per week. But is that the best method? Or should you offer private tutoring as a solopreneur? Even if it means finding your own students?

If you’ve seen ads for teaching English online to students in China or for those site students can log into to get 5 minutes of help on the one math problem that’s bugging them, you’ve probably seen some of these promises of easy tutoring gigs. And I’m sure there are some tutors out there who actually are making the amounts claimed in the ads for new tutors.

But I personally will never devote my tutoring time to one of these companies. I’ll tell you my reasons in a second, but I want to address one thing first.


Quick disclaimer


There is obviously nothing wrong with tutoring for one of these companies and making a little cash on the side. These are legitimate companies providing valuable and often cost-effective services for their students. There is clearly a need for these on-demand online tutoring companies; otherwise, they wouldn’t exist.

This post is not meant to be a debate between whether these companies are good or bad sites to join. Some of my own students have actually had some success teaching for one of these companies. Honestly, I think it’s great that they were able to gain some experience, earn a little income, and do so at a time of day that didn’t impact their regular school or work schedules.

So I’m really not making blanket statements about what is “good” and what is “bad.” I’m just telling you about my own thought process when deciding where to offer private tutoring.


Why I only offer private tutoring on my own


For me, the choice to find my own students rather than signing up to work for a huge online agency was crystal clear.

Two main reasons:

  1. I want to control my own tutoring rate.
  2. And I want to spend my tutoring hours tutoring, not waiting to get students.


Controlling my own tutoring rate


I know a lot of great tutoring companies who pay their tutors as much as their profit margins will allow. But I also know that many tutoring companies are more interested in maximizing their profit while minimizing expenses like tutor pay.

Earning a full-time income on some of these big on-demand tutoring sites is tough. If you can even get your first student (hard to do when you don’t have the logged tutoring hours and ratings that tutors who joined before you have earned), you’re not likely to be paid much more than $15/hour for the lesson.

And if it’s one of the sites that lets a student sign up for 5 or 10 minute help sessions, then you’re of course only getting a small fraction of the hourly rate…

Is it worth it?

I’d rather set my tutoring rates based on the experience and expertise I’ve accumulated over the years. That way, I know that I am valuing my time appropriately and earning a livable wage. A wage that accounts for the time I put in trying to find students in the first place. To me, it’s more important that I am the one putting the value on my time, not some company that doesn’t even know me.

And yes, I could use these sites to round out my regular tutoring schedule, fitting them in whenever I don’t already have my own students. But then I’d just be having to work more and more. I’d rather spend my downtime marketing my tutoring business to find additional students to round out my tutoring schedule.


Spending my tutoring hours tutoring


With the big on-demand tutoring sites, you’ll often find that it’s a lot harder to get students than what the ads promise. You usually start out at the bottom of the rankings in these sites. Tutors who signed up earlier have more logged hours and student testimonials than the 0 you will start out with when you sign up. 

So it may take weeks to get your first student, and you may not get your second student until much later. The ramp-up period can be excruciatingly long.

I actually signed up for one of these sites once. Eventually, I made it through their entire registration process, then logged in regularly to see how many students I could get. I think I did this for about three weeks, checking regularly for student requests for on-demand tutoring. Usually, there were no requests AT ALL. Occasionally one would pop up, I would apply…. and someone else would get it. I didn’t meet with a single student and I earned absolutely nothing for my time.

Sure, there are times when my own tutoring business is slow (most tutoring is seasonal). There are times when a prospective student chooses to go with someone else instead of with me. But even in my slowest periods, I’m finding enough students to pay my bills. I also know exactly when my students will be there, ready for our lesson. No need to log in and hope that one of them needs help.


You CAN offer private tutoring on your own


Before I wrap up, I want to reassure you that offering private tutoring on your own is doable. Finding your own students and setting your own rates doesn’t mean you have to be an expert in running a business. You don’t need to know a ton about marketing. Of course, a little knowledge goes a long way, but you can learn as you go. The most important thing is to get started.

I’d love to hear your own experiences with on-demand online tutoring companies. Have you gotten any success with them? Or are you using them because you’re not sure how to find your own tutoring students? Send me a message and let me know.

And if you’d like to find your own students but just aren’t sure how, sign up to get my FREE Tutoring Business Starter Kit.

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