If you’re looking for a great side hustle that can bring in some extra income, an online tutoring business can be the ideal option. Tutoring is a service business that you can launch on your own, with low startup costs.

You have to make sure you have the skills and expertise to tutor students in a variety of subjects and levels, but if you do, then this is a great option to make some extra cash. Decide whether you want to offer general homework help, test prep tutoring, or specialized subject area expertise, and then it’s time to figure out how to start an online tutoring business, find prospective clients, and spread the word about your tutoring services.

This article will walk you through how to start a tutoring business step-by-step. We’ll cover how to identify your target market through market research, build your client base, set your rates, and promote your business through word of mouth and online marketing.

Choose a business structure for your new online tutoring business

When starting an online tutoring business, you’ll need to decide how you want to structure your company. The three most common options for a small service business are:

  • Sole proprietorship: This is a simple and low-cost way to start a business, but you won’t get any liability protection, and you’ll report business income and losses on your personal tax return.
  • Single member LLC: This brings you some liability protection and flexibility around tax reporting. It’s more complex and costly to set up than a sole proprietorship, but it creates your business as a separate legal entity so you don’t bear liability for business debts.
  • Corporation. A corporation is the most complicated and expensive structure, but it can be worth it for businesses that are growing fast. It delivers the most extensive liability protection and completely separates between your personal and business tax returns.

When you’re starting a service business like online tutoring as a side hustle, an LLC is often the best bet. It establishes your business as a legitimate separate entity and brings some liability protection, but it’s far easier to manage than a full corporation.

Once you choose a business structure, you’ll need to officially register your online tutoring business. This is usually simple to do at your local Chamber of Commerce. You’ll need to share information like your full name, your business’ name and business address, and what kind of business you’ll be running.

Then you can start developing your tutoring services and offerings, building your client base, and spreading the word about your new tutoring business venture.

Do your market research on the tutoring business

It’s never a good idea to jump straight into a new business, even if you know plenty about education and tutoring. Before you open your online tutoring business, do some market research into your competition and customer demand.

Investigate any existing tutoring services in your neighborhood to find out what services they offer, which subjects they cover, and how much they charge. Pay particular attention to anything that they don’t teach or services they don’t offer, but that students might appreciate. You should also talk to prospective customers to find out which subjects or tests are the most in demand, and understand what areas clients most need help with.

Keep up your market research once you start getting clients. You want to provide the best experience, so continue to check how you compare to the competition and find out what to improve.

Build your tutoring services offerings

To get started, you’ll need to determine which subjects and grade levels to focus on. Do you want to focus on a few subjects you know well, or offer a range of subjects to appeal to more prospective clients?

If you’re unsure, think about your areas of expertise and experience. For example, do you have a high qualification in math or science? Do you enjoy tutoring reading and writing skills, or have you spent time living in a foreign country where you learned to speak the language fluently?

Another popular tutoring area is test prep tutoring. There’s high demand for support for students who want to ace the ACT, SAT, or GRE, as well as for tutoring to prepare students to pass college admissions tests. High school students also often want tutoring for AP or IB courses, and middle and elementary school students can need homework help or assistance with study skills.

Once you’ve decided on the services you’ll be offering, invest in providing the best possible tutoring experience. Be flexible about offering sessions both online and in person (depending on location), and develop engaging lesson plans that are tailored for each student’s individual needs.

Promote your business to attract clients

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your tutoring business, it’s time to spread the word and acquire clients. As a service-based business, word of mouth referrals and recommendations from happy clients will become your best form of marketing. But to get started, you’ll need a few other marketing tactics. Here are the best ways to build awareness about your tutoring business and reach prospective clients.

Use word of mouth marketing

Tell family, friends, former teachers, and everybody you know about your new tutoring business, and ask them to tell their contacts too, especially to people with school-aged children or who fall into your target audience. Make sure they understand which tutoring services you offer and what subjects you cover.

Build a digital presence

The first place anyone goes to find a service provider is online, so you need a website. It can be very simple, but it should list your tutoring services and pricing, be easy to read, and include a booking widget so visitors can schedule an introductory session without hassle.

You should also cultivate profiles on social media channels like Facebook, Nextdoor, and Instagram. Raise awareness and build relationships with potential clients by sharing tips for students and parents, updates about your services, and insights into study techniques. Respond to comments and messages promptly to show that you connect with your clients.

Reach out to schools

Local schools are an excellent source of future clients, so contact schools in your area and ask to be included on their list of recommended or approved tutors. Send an email to principals, teachers, and parent groups to tell them about your tutoring business, and drop off flyers or business cards for students to take home.

Offer a free intro session

Provide prospective clients with a free 30-minute intro session so they can meet you, ask questions about your experience and services, and determine if you’re the right tutor for their needs. A free initial consultation is a great way to convert prospects into paying clients for your tutoring business.

Run promotional offers

Running a limited-time promotion is an effective way to gain exposure for a new tutoring business and build your client base. Think about offering a special discount or promotion to attract new clients, such as 10% off the first month of tutoring services. You can also use services like Thikific or SendPulse to create a free online course and use it as a way to show your expertise and attract new students. You can advertise the special offer on your website, social media, flyers, and emails.

Deliver excellent service

To build a successful tutoring business, reputation and client satisfaction are everything. You need to provide exceptional service to keep your clients happy and gain new ones. First and foremost, you need to deliver high quality tutoring that achieves results. Track students’ progress and make adjustments as needed to help them improve and reach their goals.

It’s just as important to nurture your relationship with your tutees and offer engaging, enjoyable learning experiences. Use interactive teaching methods to keep students motivated, adapt to different learning styles, and be patient with all your students. You should also give regular feedback and positive guidance to build your clients’ self-esteem and confidence.

First impressions are critical, so respond promptly to inquiries, be flexible about scheduling consultations, and come fully prepared to your introductory session. Expect to be asked for samples of your teaching materials and style. Explain your tutoring services clearly and with enthusiasm, and discuss the prospective student’s goals and learning needs so you can develop a customized tutoring plan.

As you gain your first few students, ask them for reviews and testimonials. Satisfied clients and parents are usually happy to provide a review or recommendation when asked, and you can include their endorsements on your website and marketing materials. You should also reach out periodically to ask students if they need any additional help or for any suggestions about things you could improve.

Online tutoring could be the side hustle you love

Starting a service business like an online tutoring company can be highly rewarding, plus it’s a great way to earn extra money doing what you love. You get to help students achieve their goals, set your own schedule, and make money from your skills and expertise. With the right business foundation, some market research, well-planned promotional activities, and dedication to your students’ success, you’ll be well on your way to growing your successful side hustle in no time.