As remote work has risen to prominence, e-learning has grown along with it, offering amazing opportunities to students and educators alike. The best part is, almost anyone can get involved in this rapidly growing industry.
If you’re still researching your options, please take a moment to check out our complete guide to making money through online tutoring. Otherwise, let’s dive into all the best tips to follow if you want to be a brilliant online tutor.
1. Diversify your online tutoring work
Rather than relying on one tutoring service for all your work, it’s worth signing up with a few companies. This has a number of different benefits:
- You’ll enjoy a larger and healthier overall income.
- If work dries up with one company, you’ll have the others to keep you afloat.
- The work you get to do will be different with each company, meaning you won’t be at risk of getting bored.
- Some online tutoring companies allow you to take jobs from a queue, giving you scope to work extra hours if an unexpected bill comes in or you need a little income boost.
A tutor who has diversified their work options might be signed up to teach English to a class of Chinese children in the mornings, then be a conversation partner for people around the globe throughout the day, and then correct written work from Japanese students in the evenings when they’re tired out from talking.
To help you get started on diversification, here are some of the top online tutoring services to consider:
- SayABC, DadaABC, and VIPKid – You’ll get a good hourly rate with these sites, along with a clear curriculum to follow. They encourage you to make the lessons fun, ensuring both you and your small class of students will have a good time. Though you do get a bit of wiggle room in scheduling, you need to fit into the hours that suit the children.
- IDIY – This Japanese company involves text-based communication only, giving you a nice break from having to be on camera. It’s best suited to grammar nerds who can quickly bust out explanations as to why one preposition works and another doesn’t or whether “who’s” or “whose” is correct in the context of a sentence. If you need to look these things up every time, the pay rate won’t be worth it. However, if you’re in love with the English language, it’s a highly rewarding site that gives you freedom in how much work you’d like to take on.
- Cambly – Take a break from structured teaching to simply chat with people who are looking to improve their conversational skills. Since users are situated all around the world, you get a lot of flexibility in setting your own hours.
2. Perfect your tech and always have backup options
As a tutor, there’s nothing more embarrassing than having your class interrupted by a technical failure. Whether it’s a battery running out, dodgy wi-fi, a poor quality microphone, or any number of other issues, it’s important to understand that your tech will let you down at some point. With this in mind, it’s vital to have backup plans in place.
This means it’s worth investing in a second microphone or headset, a backup charging cord, and an immediately actionable contingency plan for things like wi-fi dips and power outages. Put your plans in place before the problems occur, and you’ll be able to get back on track quickly for your students.
3. Choose your setting wisely
Though you may not be sharing a physical classroom with your students, the space you teach from still has a huge impact on their learning experience.
Here are our top tips for creating the perfect setting for your online tutoring sessions:
- Choose a quiet area free from distractions (avoid coffee shops unless you’ve had a tech drama and there are no other options).
- If you share a house with anyone, always let them know when you’re about to start tutoring so they can get anything they need from the room you’ll be using and then leave you in peace.
- Consider your background carefully – visually busy backgrounds can be just as distracting to students as intrusive sounds, so ensure the scene around you is as clean and uncluttered as possible.
- Avoid running noisy appliances like fans and air-conditioners during your sessions. If you’re in a hot climate, consider pre-cooling the room before each session and then turning your air-conditioned off while you’re connected with your students.
- Keep pets out of the room while you teach. Even just the occasional glance away from the screen can make you seem distracted and disengaged. Your students will quickly mirror this and the quality of their learning experience will be diminished.
- Always put your phone on silent!
4. Don’t be shy about commanding attention
Though you don’t need to be an authoritarian, it is important to pay attention to your students and ensure they are giving you the same courtesy.
If you notice their eyes drifting down to their phones or mouse movement that suggests they’re browsing the web instead of paying attention, don’t be afraid to politely call this out and ask that they put distractions away for the duration of your lesson.
It’s so much easier to just turn a blind eye to this behavior and carry on with the lesson, especially when you’re first starting out with online tutoring. To get past this, you need to remind yourself that the lesson is going to be far more rewarding for the student if they’re paying attention. And if you’re kind and polite in your approach, there will be no conflict, so you really have nothing to be nervous about.
5. Tailor your support style to suit each student
The way you congratulate a five-year-old Mexican student on a correct answer will be vastly different from the way you congratulate a 35-year-old Japanese businessman. All the excitement and animation the child will respond well to would feel uncomfortable for an older student.
In addition to age considerations, you need to factor in each student’s culture and their unique personalities. For example, if you use IDIY, you’ll be dealing with adult students from Japan. As such, a gentle approach works best when discussing errors in their work, along with detailed explanations as to why something was marked as incorrect and how they can fix it.
Take some time to research the cultural norms of the society your students live in. Not only will this help you be a better tutor, but you will also find it to be a personally rewarding experience, allowing you to gain a deeper appreciation of the wonderfully diverse world we live in.
6. Practice patience
If you hate queues and secretly rage out whenever you get stuck in traffic, online tutoring will present the perfect opportunity for you to cultivate patience.
Things that seem obvious to you will be foreign and confusing to your students, and you will often find yourself stuck on parts of the lesson that you feel should be ridiculously easy. Students will fail to do their homework, will lag in their attention, and will generally stir up those same feelings you get when you see the highway clogged up with an immovable wall of traffic.
To help you develop the frame of mind you need to be a truly supportive online tutor, it’s worth bringing a meditation practice into your daily routine. Even just a few minutes every morning will help you cultivate the sense of calm needed to be a brilliant online educator.
8. Remind yourself how luck you are
Humans are creatures of habit, and as we get used to the line of work we’re in, it’s easy for the shine to wear off and a sense of drudgery to creep in.
When it comes to online tutoring, this could lead you to become flat or disengaged with your students, resulting in a lacklustre learning experience that’s no good for anyone.
To avoid this, it’s important to remind yourself regularly of how lucky you are to be working as an online tutor. Not only is it a privilege to watch people learn and grow under your tutelage, but also – you get to work from home, be your own boss, and set your own schedule. How awesome is that?
9. Make each lesson fun
Building from the last point, another way to ensure the shine never wears off your wonderful job is to make sure each lesson is fun for you and the students.
For kids, this can mean bringing in hand puppets and fun characters or perhaps writing little stories together at the end of each lesson. With adults, you can teach them the slang expressions from your country and include jokes or music in your lessons.
Humour and music are two of the most powerful pathways into a new language, in large part because of how engaging and entertaining they are. So, use these mediums to your advantage.
Online tutoring: final thoughts
Of all the ways to earn an income from the comfort of your own home, online tutoring is one of the most rewarding. You get to connect with people from all over the world and learn about their cultures, all while helping them develop skills that will improve their lives.
We sincerely hope the tips above help you to shine as an online tutor. If you have any friends in the industry who might find this information useful, please feel free to share it with them. And if you have any questions, pop a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.