Tutor at computer

When we think of a “tutor”, we conjure an image of a wise person sitting at a desk with one person, and that is pretty accurate.

How would you like a business like Angie has, a business where she truly sets her own hours and makes a pretty decent living.  Angie tutors people taking the accounting exams and charges over $100 per hour for her services.  You may not be able to charge that much, or you may charge even more.  And you will be using skills that you already have.

Most tutors work one one one, with one student at a time.  In the online world, there are whole lots of options for your tutoring business.  And you will never even have to leave home.

The Bustling World of Online Tutors

A “one on one” business does not, however, in any way infer that it is a minuscule business with no hope for growth.  On the contrary, this is one business that is on a massive growth curve.  There are thousands of online tutors now, with more new businesses every day.

You can do this!

First, find a topic you know well.  It doesn’t matter what the topic is, as long as your know it well.

  • A Middle Eastern woman developed online English classes for her countrymen.
  • An American born Taiwanese developed a hugely successful site for American businessmen traveling to Taiwan.
  • An Australian woman, a true chef, developed courses on how to cook gourmet meals on board a yacht.
  • Thousands of yoga instructors have found legions of clients online.

Truly, the topic that you know well doesn’t matter.  When you think of the billions of people online, some of them are going to want to learn what you can teach.

Next, decide how you will deliver the lessons.  Since this is a page on “tutors”, let’s focus on one one one teaching.


What kind of personal interaction do you need for your topic?

Is talking on the phone, like on Skype, sufficient?  This is minimal cost, perhaps only a few dollars a month.

Does your student need to see you, or you see her, like with Google+?  Google+ is free.  It is not my favorite platform, but it works.

Do you need to share your screen, or see what your student has written?  This will cost the most, likely around $50 a month for a good connection.   I use GoToMeeting when I coach someone, and have found it to be very reliable.


Before beginning, be crystal clear on what it is that your student wants to learn.  When I interview potential clients, my first question is usually, “What can I do for you?”

That question sets the stage for our whole program.

Recognize that sometimes you won’t be able to provide what the client wants.  And sometimes there just isn’t a match, something doesn’t feel right.  When that happens, diplomatically say something like, “That is not my specialty, but do try calling my colleague Sarah.”

Determine up front what written materials will be needed, what offline work is expected of the student, how often you will meet, what the nature of the meetings will be.  The more organized you are, the easier it will be for both of you.


This is the real stickler, isn’t it.  I’d like to say that it is $X per hour for everyone, but it just isn’t.

A lawyer tutoring a student to take a bar exam in going to charge a whole lot more than someone teaching beginning Spanish.  That’s just the way the world works.  Check with others online in your same general field and see what they are charging.  Depending on your expertise, go higher or lower than your competitors.


I prefer creating packages of services for clients, like 3 teleconference meetings for $XXX.XX .  This creates a stronger commitment and a sense of continuity.

And I typically demand payment up front.  The reason is simple:  I am a lousy bill collector.  Especially when we are doing a series of lessons, I don’t want to get stopped in the middle, waiting for a final payment.  I really encourage you to do the same.

I use PayPal invoicing and payment services.  This works well for international businesses because PayPal will convert monies into the currency that you use.


Among the many ways to grow your business are:

  • Creating ebooks on your topic.
  • Creating courses to sell online or at Amazon in CDs.
  • Creating a membership site where your clients can progress at their own rate.
  • Selling related material, like cooking utensils for chefs.
  • Creating online classrooms for a few students, or a few hundred.

Your future is limited only by your imagination.

This is an amazing business.  I did it myself for several years, and I know it can be hugely rewarding, both financially and personally.

Got your topic in mind?  I’d love to hear about it.  Jot a note below.