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$8000/month, one algebra problem at a time. How to become a tutor for test-prep
Most people hate standardized tests. The SAT gives them shivers and the GRE makes them want to cry. But, if you’re someone who like me, who likes taking tests, being a test-prep tutor can be a very lucrative side hustle. It took me a while to understand how to do this, though. I wish I had read an article like this, teaching me how to become a tutor for test-prep.
This is because the best test-prep tutors can make lawyer money. Rates start at $50/hr for the SAT, and up to $255/hr for the GMAT (the business school exam). There are no certifications or school involved. You can start tomorrow.
The best part? With test-prep, you don’t have work that much to make great money. I never work more than 20 hours/week, and I set my own schedule exactly how I want it.
In order to learn how to become a tutor for test prep, you just need to:
1. Find a niche
3. Find your initial clients to get reviews and testimonials
4. Create ads
Your money investment is minimal: this can all be done for under $250. So let’s get started on how to become a tutor!
Step 1: Finding a tutoring niche
Picking a niche is crucial. You can have several niches (like I tutor GMAT, GRE, and LSAT), but you can’t just tutor everything. After all, nobody trusts a generalist.
I would advise you to first pick a specific test and become an expert in it. If you haven’t already taken it (or it’s been a long time since you did), study for the test like a part-time job, putting in 20 hours a week. Use a mastery learning model, and take this opportunity to practice learning how to teach as a tutor.
Once you find a niche and get your score, those are your tutoring credentials. Whenever I meet a new student, my credentials are the first thing they ask about. Plus, this is a good chance for you to develop domain expertise.
Step 2: Crafting a tutoring website
Once you have a niche, you need to craft a website. You can get a few clients without a website from sites like Craigslist and UniversityTutor, but these sites are unreliable and highly competitive. In my interviews with fellow tutors, I’ve found that Craigslist only provides 1 or 2 leads per month, which is not enough.
Instead, you’ll need to rely on a website that you can direct traffic to with ads. The easiest way to craft a website is with a premade WordPress theme for tutors, which is SEO-optimized and includes copy designed to convert visitors into clients.
Regardless of how you choose to craft your website, though, your website will need to be optimized for SEO, and for converting visitors into clients.
Optimizing your tutoring website for SEO
SEO, or search engine optimization, means that you are trying to make sure that Google, Bing, and other search engines can find your tutoring website. So, if people search for “tutor near me”, your name should pop up.
SEO is accomplished in two ways: making sure the pages on your website reflect what people will search for, and getting links to your website.
The pages on your website need to reflect the terms that people search for. If you are a physics tutor in Zurich, make sure the pages on your website reflect that. There should be a page for your physics tutoring, and a page with your information.
I create a separate page for each subject that I tutor, organized according to web format (with H1, H2 headings). I also make sure that the images on the page reflect what people search, including the names of the images, the titles of the images, and the alt-text.
Once you do that, you also need to get links to your website. First of all, you need to create pages for your website on directories: Google My Business, Yelp, YP.com. You’ll also be getting reviews on these sites later. Second of all, you can start reaching out to news outlets, friends with blogs, or other sources who’d be willing to link to you.
Optimizing your tutoring website to convert visitors into clients
The purpose of your tutoring website, in the end, is to convert the visitors of your website into clients. In order to do so, you have to make sure that your website prominently displays
1. Credentials (score, academics)
2. Affiliations or proof of effectiveness (places you’ve taught or that have discussed you)
3. Social proof (testimonials and reviews)
4. Logistics (contact info, prices, location)
These four factors can make or break your website, so it’s important to get them perfect. If they’re perfect, you can effectively convert your visitors into tutoring clients.
Step 3: Finding your first tutoring clients for reviews and referrals
Generally speaking, you should never work for free. After all, it’s not much of a side hustle if you don’t make money.
However, in my experience, the hardest part of starting out tutoring is that you’re untrusted. You have no reviews and no social proof. I had a devil of a time convincing my first couple clients to work with me.
So, when I first started out, I found my first few clients by posting on Reddit, specifically the subreddits for GRE and GMAT. I promised them 4 hours of free tutoring in exchange for reviews and testimonials.
A few of them converted into clients, but, more importantly, I got the reviews and testimonials for my social proof. This helped a ton on my website, for my web presence (on Google and Yelp), and in my in-person selling process, as I was able to mention past clients.
By the way, talking to potential clients is also invaluable sales experience in developing your sales process. It took me a long time to develop my tutoring sales process. You’ll need to develop your own through experimentation and just plain talking to people.
Step 4: Creating ads to drive people to your tutoring business
Once you have a website filled with reviews and testimonials, you need to get people to your website. One way you’ll do that is by your presence on Google My Business and Yelp, as well as by your SEO. But, another way you need to get people to your website is by advertising.
Google Ads appear when people search for certain keywords. You pay per click, depending on the keyword. So, if you can’t get ranked in the right spots by SEO, Google Ads make up for it.
The important thing to remember about Google Ads is that you won’t get them right the first time. You need to experiment with Google Ads for maximum effectiveness, changing up your ad-copy and landing page when you can.
Test-prep tutoring can be very lucrative, as people are willing to pay a lot for it. However, in order to become a test-prep tutor, you need to take the time to learn your niche and learn how to effectively market yourself.
That’s what I did. I worked hard to learn my tests and my marketing. Now I work a maximum of 20 hours a week on my own schedule, have clients who love working with me, and take home $8000/month.
Trevor Klee is a Boston tutor for the GMAT, the GRE, and the LSAT. He blogs about how to start a tutoring business at JustAddTutor.com .
This post also published at Side Hustle Nation.