You’ve overcome the basic technology hurdles, you have materials and your desk is set up. You’re officially open for business as an online literacy tutor. But now comes the big question: “How much should I charge for online OG tutoring?” This comes up over and over in my Facebook group and in others. Parents ask how much they should expect to pay an OG tutor. Tutors ask: are their rates are too high? What about too low? Does it depend on the level? The age? The hours per week? Online vs. in-person? Certified vs. trained? There are so many variables, so let’s untangle them.
Who are you?
Training and background
When you’re deciding how much you should charge for online Orton-Gillingham tutoring, one of the most important considerations is your own training and your background. All of these are possible factors in deciding your rate, but every tutor is unique.
Things that parents look for in a tutor include:
- Experience as a teacher/tutor – how long have you been working with students?
- Training – some parents are looking specifically for a certified tutor, others are happy to hear terms like “Orton-Gillingham training.”
- Knowledge about dyslexia/learning differences – either from your professional background or from personal or family experience
- Education – qualifications like a degree in education, a teaching license, or a graduate degree are appealing to parents
Location matters less as an online tutor, but it can still be a factor. Some parents are looking for a mix of online and in-person tutoring. But ultimately, pricing will depend more on the location of your clients than on your own location. You may be able to raise your rates if you expand your market to one or more large cities, or to wealthier suburbs near you.
Who are your students?
Offering a specialized service, like Orton-Gillingham tutoring, you can charge a higher rate than if you offer a more general, available, service, like help with English homework or reading comprehension practice. If there aren’t a lot of people offering Orton-Gillingham tutoring in your area, you can compare your rates to other OG tutors in nearby areas. You can also start by looking at how much general academic tutors charge in your area, like teachers offering homework help. Then think about adding $10 or $20 to that rate to get your rate.
Often, tutors ask if they should offer a sibling discount or a discount for multiple sessions in the same week. While I understand that this is appealing to families and might be a marketing point. But ultimately, I decided it didn’t make sense for me. Seeing a student two to three times per week doesn’t reduce my planning at all because I still have to plan and customize a lesson for each one of those sessions, whether it’s the same student or different students. The same with siblings. I think a sibling discount makes sense if you’re driving to them, but there’s not much of an advantage unless you are somehow using the same lesson for both siblings or meeting with them together.
The age of your students might also impact the rates people are willing to pay. Often, parents of younger children aren’t seeing the gap between their child and classmates yet, while parents of older students are seeing a drastic difference between where their child is and where they need to be. As a result, they are often willing to pay a higher rate because they see a significant problem that needs a solution. This is not to say that you as a tutor should charge more based on the age of your student, but if you’re finding that potential customers are discouraged by your rates, you might try to market your services to families with older students.
Ready to start your tutoring business? My new course, The Online Tutor Business Blueprint, launches August 17th! I’ll help you set goals, sort out technology, and market your services.
But really, now much should I charge?
I wish I had a black and white answer for you. I do. But I don’t know you or your market. If you’re still not sure what to charge for Orton-Gillingham tutoring, try this approach.
- Check the competition – Remember that some of the best tutors might be “invisible” when you search online because their schedules get full through word of mouth or they don’t advertise their rates.
- See what the market will bear – There’s no law that says you have to keep your rates the same forever, or that you have to raise your rates on all your clients when you advertise a new rate. If you think your rates are too high, you could try a deal like a free session when you pay for a month, or a seasonal deal that will help you try out a lower rate. If those deals bring in a lot more business than your regular rates, it might be time to lower them.
- Raise rates down the road – If you think your rates are too low, plan to raise them periodically until they are just right. You can grandfather in existing clients when you raise rates, or announce a new rate at a natural transition, like January 1st or the beginning of the school year. A good time to raise your rates is when your schedule is almost full.
- Put the rate on your website so people know what you offer – One way to test your rates is to post them on your website. Many tutors don’t do this because they prefer to have a conversation with each family and talk about the value of their services before they have to talk about price. But I do let parents know what I charge on my website. I could probably convert a few additional people if they knew what I could offer before they heard the price. There are certainly people who see my rates and never call. That’s OK, they weren’t my ideal clients. On the other hand, when someone calls me, I can be pretty confident that they have seen my rates and are still interested. That means I can focus on learning about their kids and talking about how I can help!
You may be surprised
Thank goodness my initial conversations with parents happen on the phone. Every time I have raised my rates in the past, the first few times I quoted a rate to parents, I made the same face I make when I see a large object flying at my head. Helpless panic. Because at first, I had no idea if I was asking an outrageous amount or selling myself short. But not one person who scheduled a call with me has ever said, “Nope. That’s ridiculous. Who do you think you are?!” I might have lost a couple potential clients who went with a less expensive option but for the most part once parents get to the stage of calling an Orton-Gillingham tutor on the phone, they know what to expect and are ready to pay it.
These days I am more confident about what I offer, and it’s a lot easier to name my rate because I know there is not a shortage of people who will pay it. I know what my competition is charging. I know what I can offer to families. And I know which students are the right fit for me. That’s a good feeling, but it took lots of experience to get there. I only know one way to guarantee your rate, and that is the $0 I can promise you will make if you don’t get out there and try it.
Just getting started? Check out these posts on setting up your office space, scheduling, and getting paid!