One of the burning questions on every new tutor’s mind this time of year is “How do I find tutoring clients for this summer?” It’s a frustrating phenomenon as a tutor with no openings for summer, hearing from parents that they are having trouble finding a tutor and hearing from tutors that they can’t find students. So where are all these parents ready to hire?
The short answer is: It depends on where you are and what you do
Sometimes it’s about who you know
One option for getting clients is to reach out to an audience who already knows you and ask them to share what you offer.
- Current clients – some tutors offer a referral bonus. I offer a free session to existing clients who refer a new paying client, but people rarely take me up on it.
- Colleagues – especially if you work in an education job, your teacher colleagues or other people in the school, like counselors, administrators, psychologists or speech and language pathologists may be able to recommend you. This can be tricky because the school can’t “recommend” tutoring, but it may respond to parent requests for tutor connections.
- Your community (church, friends, old co-workers) – I make a point of not clogging up my personal Facebook page with business stuff, but from time to time I mention that I have tutoring openings. I also belong to a few Facebook groups that allow professionals to respond to requests, and a few that allow professionals to post offering their services. Know the rules and careful not to annoy people, and you can definitely benefit from this kind of connection.
- Local schools, teachers and psychologists – This type of outreach takes a bit more work and time, but it pays off big for some tutors. Contact local schools (public or private) and local clinicians that do educational testing to let them know what services you offer. It helps to send a physical letter with some business cards so they can keep your information handy. I think it helps to have a connection here. If you have used a particular practice for assessment, or if you know a parent who has, clinicians might be more likely to notice and remember your information.
Get social on social media
- Start a Facebook business page – If you haven’t already, this summer would be a great time to start posting about your business on your Facebook page. I’m recommitting to Facebook this summer. The key to being successful on social media is to be consistent, so decide how many times a week you are going to post, and start coming with content. If you’re not sure what to post, check out this infographic from Michelle Schaeffer for inspiration.
- Join relevant Facebook groups, especially parent groups that matter to you and your family. People who join random groups just for the purpose of marketing to members are pretty quickly figured out and banned in a lot of places (ask me how I know), so make sure to follow the rules and add value to the conversation.
- Post on NextDoor – Some communities are more active on NextDoor than others. Make up a quick flyer in Canva to share, or just keep your eye out for people looking for tutors.
- Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, whatever else just got invented? – there are a million social media sites, and if it’s something you’re into, you may be able to find a way to use it to promote your services. Follow the rules, add value, and be interesting.
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Try the big marketplaces
If you need clients now, there are a few options. They may not pay as well as working for yourself, but they can fill the gap.
- Wyzant – They take a 25% commission on every lesson, for the duration of your work with the student. But you can work on your own and build your business with independent clients and in the meantime, start getting paid. It’s not ideal but I have gotten a few excellent clients over the years, who have stayed with me, referred others to me, and been great to work with. (I’ve also had a few short term clients, some I wouldn’t care to work with again, but that’s true anywhere.)
- Care.com – You need a paid membership to have options for contacting potential clients. Postings tend to be looking to pay bargain rates but you don’t have to accept those. You can offer your own rates.
- Work for a company – they have already done the marketing and outreach work. You see your students, maybe plan your lessons and do any follow-up notes. Often, bigger companies hire tutors as employees (they may prevent you from competing with them as an independent tutor) and pay their tutors lower rates. Smaller companies are more likely to hire tutors as contractors, which gives you more flexibility, but less security. Those are generalizations. With any company you work for, make sure you read any agreement you sign.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Summer can be a challenging time to build your tutoring business. Some families are eager to take advantage of more open schedules to build new skills. Some families, even families who are consistent during the school year, become less reliable or take time off in the summer.
Some tutors have a lot of success with summer programs like six weeks of reading fluency support, or a short-term program to help kids build vocabulary, or comprehension, before an important transition like starting middle school. Others have policies in place (up-front payments, cancellation policies) that encourage parents to commit to summer tutoring.
To be honest, you may not be able to fill your schedule with dream clients for this summer. But if you figure out what parents need, you may be able to get your name out there and give some kids the support they need. And in the long run, that’s what it takes to build a strong business.
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