Some of my students want to become tutors themselves. I think it’s a great way to earn a side income and improve your communication skills. Therefore, I do it myself and I recommend it to students. Here’s my brief guide to getting started as a tutor.
Aren’t you giving away your secrets?
Nope. I’m just saving you the trouble of learning some hard lessons yourself, just like I do in my regular tutoring sessions.
Set everything up legally.
- Get a state and city business license, and a county business personal property tax registration.
- Put all the deadlines on your calendar for estimated taxes, yearly taxes, and business license renewals.
You need to keep track of your business income and expenses, to report on Schedule C of your IRS Form 1040 for income taxes. If you do all your tutoring through Wyzant, it’s really easy: they send a 1099-MISC form to you that reports all your income. Make sure you set aside about 1/3 of what you make for taxes, so you don’t end up owing the IRS. Look up “estimated taxes”: you need to estimate how much you’ll owe in taxes and send 1/4 of the amount to the IRS on each of 4 specific dates every year.
Start with Wyzant
Wyzant is the easiest way to get started. They take a 25% cut of your earnings, but that fee covers your advertising, payment handling, customer service, and online tools. They also let you set your own rates, availability, etc. Their online tutoring platform comes with automatic video recording, a shared whiteboard you can upload PDFs to, etc. You can probably start around $25-$30/hr and work your way up. If you get a bad lesson rating, you can erase it by refunding (voiding) the lesson.
Or, Go Off the Platform
You can also set up your own Web site and advertise through Craigslist and college message boards. Start off with a first-lesson discount or even a free first lesson offer, just to get some practice and build potential clients. Don’t take more than a few lessons’ worth of advance payments; there is a common scam where someone will send you too much money by check, ask for some of it back in cash, and then let the check bounce. You can accept payments through PayPal, Square, or Stripe for a very small (3%-ish) fee.