Tips for Starting a Tutoring Business: How to be Self-Employed by Teaching What You Love

The following is a post to from Patrick Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick discusses about how to start a tutoring business. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Whether you want to spread the knowledge about knitting or guitar lessons, starting up your tutoring business goes about the same way. As long as your feel confident in your ability to teach your subject one on one, you can definitely make money at it.

Reporting Income for Self-Employment

Whether or not your report your income to the Internal Revenue Service depends on how much you make and several other factors. The self-employed must pay their own taxes directly the IRS, so keep careful track of your transactions. Always issue a receipt of payment and make copies of invoices for your records. For more information about reporting self-employment income, see the Internal Revenue Service’s website.

Choose a Location, Time Amount for Tutoring


Once you have settled on what you’re going to teach, decide where lessons will take place: your house or theirs. There are positives to both: when traveling to a client’s house you are more likely to keep appointments. Clients also find it convenient. However, if clients come to your location for lessons, you will save on gas costs, and you can schedule clients one after another.

Next decide on how long you’re going to tutor for. Typically sessions are either a half hour or an hour long. This is based on personal preference. Perform some market research for the going rate on lessons in your area of expertise. Such sources include and other internet forums.

Advertise: Tips for Attracting Clientele


Craigs List is also a great place to post ads for yourself. Include your specialties, limitations and price rate. It is also helpful to post fliers in places central to your hobby. For example if you are tutoring in knitting, post fliers in fabric shops and where knitting groups meet. Once you set a price it is very difficult to change it for future clientele, so be sure of your price. However, it is a very useful advertising tool to offer a discounted price on the first lesson.

Maintainting Tutoring Clientele


Before the phone calls start rolling in, create intake forms for each customer. When a customer calls, fill out an intake form which includes their name, address, number, skill level and the price your quoted for services. Start a file on the customer and include this form. Future file items should include invoices and progress reports.

Designing a Tutoring Curriculum


It is very important to maintain communication with the client and to be open and flexible to the client’s desires. Assess the client’s skill level and create an outline of knowledge to impart. Always include more items than you have time for. Also, it is a good idea to include a grab bag of fun side projects in case your client gets frustrated.

If you need any equipment or tools for your subject, be sure to include back up items such as batteries or spares and plan for something else in case the equipment fails altogether. Know your strengths and weaknesses and explain them up front to your client. Above all, listen to how and what your client wants to learn.

Billing for Tutoring Sessions


Make sure your client is clear on the price and make him or her pay in advance. Paying for and scheduling the next 4 sessions up front helps keep your client from canceling last minute and ditching out on paying. State a firm cancellation and make-up policy during your first session together and stick to it.

Once you have a client base built up you can watch your business grow. Always be on time with fresh activities and the clients will keep coming.

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