Best website design strategies for tutoring websites
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Last updated: November 17, 2018
Before I begin, if you want the quick version of this, you can just start by downloading or buying my website templates. They’re for WordPress, follow what I laid out here, and will convert better than anything else on the web.
If you want the long version of this, read on.
My principles for tutoring website design
I have two principles that I go by for my tutoring website design, and they’re the same that you should go by.
The first is that people are lazy on the Internet. If they can’t find the information they’re looking for in 20 seconds or less, they’ll leave your site. Same thing if your site is slow, if it’s confusingly laid out, or if it’s tedious. They click out and go to the 20 million other sites that are easily accessible.
The second is that the ultimate purpose of a tutoring website is to get a potential client to contact you. That’s it! There’s no point to a tutor website if it’s just informative, or for fun. In the end, you want to receive an email (or phone call) from someone who is thinking about paying you.
With that in mind, let’s talk about your website design.
What to put on your tutoring website
Assuming you don’t have a physical storefront, your website is the only “place” for your tutoring that you control completely. You can put anything you want on your website, with no limitations. This is a blessing and a curse. If you don’t put the right things on your website, it will not convert clients.
So, here’s what you’re going to put on your tutoring website to make sure it converts.
- The four factors that make people hire you
- Information about what you cover and what you provide
- Peripheral products
- Ways to contact you
- Blog posts and helpful tools
The four factors that make people hire you as a tutor
I’ve already talked extensively about the four factors that make people hire you in my post on branding yourself.
To reiterate, they were
- The social proof of your effectiveness
- Your logistics
Of these, the first 3 should be ubiquitous on your website, and a repeating part of your tutor website design. The fourth should be clearly available. Let me show you what I mean.
First, I put the first 3 on the front page of my website. I link to the 4th. You should notice that they are all as clear as possible before the fold (i.e. before the user has to scroll down to see more). Again, I am always assuming people are lazy. I don’t assume they will scroll down.
I also put the first 4 on the bottom of every informational page.
I have a separate page for testimonials, for people who are looking for those specifically.
And I put them on my Contact page.
Lastly, I put them before my rates, so people have to look at them before they can look at my rates.
Is it redundant? Yes. But people don’t read a tutoring website like they read an informational website. They’re reading your tutoring website because they’re looking to hire you. If they get the right vibes, they will stop reading your website and contact you. That’s what you want.
So make sure they get the right vibes to contact you, wherever they happen to be looking on your website. Then make sure they can contact you. This is the single most important website design strategy.
Information about what tutoring subjects you cover and what you provide
Any sales pitch you make will be stronger if you’re a specialist, regardless of your credentials. This should be pretty obvious. After all, if you had the choice of getting a root canal from a Nobel Prize winner or a dentist, you’d pick the dentist every time. The Nobel Prize winner is smart, but you’d rather just have someone who knows how to do a root canal.
One of the purposes of your website is to tell people what you provide, and show people that you have competence. Now, the most common mistake I see people make when they tutor is that they list 20,000 subjects, and claim to be experts in all of them. Don’t do that! Nobody will trust you over a specialist.
Instead, what you need to do is to specialize. Pick your subjects (I picked 3 major tests), and, on your website, list out your conception of the subject and your approach to them. It does not have to be brilliant, you just have to show that you’ve thought a lot about these subjects and how to teach them.
Take a look at how I approach the GMAT. I probably provide less information than I should, but at least I show clearly that I’m knowledgeable about the GMAT and I have a standardized approach to teaching it.
Anyone who looks at that page is going to be convinced that, if they want to know about the GMAT, I’m someone they should talk to. Indeed, sometimes people do just want to talk to me about the uses of the GMAT, or the GMAT vs the GRE, or even how to get into business school. This is because I’ve convinced them I have a lot of domain-area expertise.
In this sense, your messaging strategy is going to come hand-in-hand with your business strategy. As a tutor, I’d advise you to pick things to specialize with and stick with them.
This is going to give you a deeper understanding not just of the subject, but of the ways that other people think of the subject. You are going to be better at teaching the subject than someone who has not spent the time working with it and with students of it that you have. You can read more about this idea of niche-ing to gain expertise on the homepage.
In the same vein, you need to communicate through your website that you have thought a lot about the specific subject the student is interested in learning. This is, in the end, the point of putting information about the subject on your website. You’re not looking to actually inform the student, but you are looking to tell them that you know a lot about teaching the subject.
Tutoring books, tutoring videos, and other peripheral products to sell your tutoring
As I’ve mentioned before in my page about marketing, I think peripheral products are a fantastic idea for any tutor. They’re great marketing, and they show your competence in a subject. Now, I prefer to sell my tutoring products through Gumroad. I advertise them through Google and Reddit. But, I also have links to them as part of my tutoring website design.
My reasoning is simple. I’ve spent a lot of money and effort getting people to my website. If I can make some money by selling them products while they’re there, I’ll be happy.
Also, peripheral products add to my credibility as a specialist. Just like I wanted to show that I’ve thought deeply about the GMAT by writing an informational page, I also want to show that I’ve thought deeply enough about the GMAT to write several books about it.
Ways to contact you and hire you as a tutor
As I’ve said repeatedly, one of my cardinal rules on the Internet is that people are lazy. If it is not obvious how to contact you, people will not contact you. (Also, to be honest, people tend to be sort of dumb, too. Sometimes when it is obvious how to contact you, people still won’t figure out how to contact you.)
Your website design needs to make it obvious how to contact you. For me, I just put a “Contact Us” page and my email in the top right of my website.
I have relatively few ways of contacting me because I work primarily with technologically savvy young adults who are comfortable using contact forms and emails. If, on the other hand, you are working with an older crowd (like if you’re tutoring teenagers and will be hired by their parents), I’d highly encourage you to make it even easier to contact you.
First of all, get a floating “Contact Us” form (which is available with my premium tutoring website template). Second of all, put your phone number on your tutoring website as well.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to put your cell phone on your website. You can get a free Google Voice number, which comes with a free mailbox and text messaging service. Still, it is safe to assume that anyone over the age of 35 prefers to call when it’s an important matter, like hiring an expensive tutor for their child.
You should make it easy for them to get you on the phone, or at least leave a voicemail.
Blog posts and helpful tools are going to be a critical part of your website design. If you write helpful blog posts and make useful tools, people will find your website. Then they might buy your peripheral products or hire you as a tutor.
For example, one blog post I wrote regularly brings people to my website who are wondering about the accuracy of practice tests designed by various companies.
Meanwhile, a tool I created ranks highly on Google on the forum I posted it on. This tool links directly back to my website, and brings visitors there.
So, writing blog posts and creating tools is important. But, there’s a caveat here. Most advice to online businesses just stops there and says “now go create some stuff!”
That’s not a good idea. Don’t create blog posts for the sake of creating blog posts. You’re going to clutter up your website and tire yourself out. There are really only two sorts of blog posts you should be creating.
- Blog posts that answer questions people ask
- Blog posts that are useful enough to bookmark (this includes tool announcements)
That’s it. No “5 Reasons Why Studying for the SAT Is Fun!”, or recapitulated news articles. Huffington Post can get away with that because they don’t pay their contributors. If you value your time, stick to the 2 I mentioned.
Tutor blog posting for SEO: answer the questions that people ask!
People ask Google a lot of questions. If you answer those questions, there’s a fair chance Google will pick up your blog post and display it in search results. This is good!
There are a few ways to think about what questions to answer in your blog posts. One of them is to just answer the questions that you commonly hear from clients, or that you yourself had during the studying process. If there was some point of test registration that was unclear, or a textbook with a strange explanation, and you had a question about it, probably a lot of other people do too.
Another way to find good questions to answer is to use Google Keyword Planner to find good topics. From there, you can type the topic into Google and see what comes up in autocomplete. For example, try typing in “does the GMAT” into Google. What does it autosuggest? Do you have any good answers?
I would warn you, though. Make sure you check out the currently existing answers. You need to create something that’s better than what’s out there, or at least different.
Your other option is to create blog posts that people will bookmark. These are posts that you spent a lot of time on in order to develop something useful. How-to guides, collections of links, or organizational tools all qualify.
The one thing to be cautious of here is that these posts are not designed to be picked up by Google. Even if you spent a lot of time on these, nobody will see them if you don’t spread them around.
So, my advice would be to post them on relevant subreddits, forums, and blog sites (like Medium). It would be a terrible shame for these posts just to go to waste. My error log on GREPrepClub is a great example.
Of course, both of these are a combination of marketing strategy and website design. Your blog, if done right, is your single best tool for free marketing. Do it right!