Are you thinking about becoming an online tutor? Awesome! It's time for you to take the big first step. To get started and attract students, you need a unique profile. Lessonpal already knows that you are a qualified and passionate tutor. But now, you need to convey these aspects of yourself to the world. This guide will walk you, step-by-step, through the process of building and optimizing your tutor profile. When you have finished reading and taking the guide's actions, you will be fully prepared to tutor students with your engaging and outstanding tutor profile. Let's get started!
Deciding what kind of tutor you are
Now that you've started thinking about becoming a tutor, you must decide what kind of subjects you are interested in tutoring. This planning is the most crucial first step because the type of tutor you initially choose to become will influence your teaching strategy, lesson preparations, content, and profile building. However, don’t feel as though you are locked into a specific style of tutoring based on your initial choice. You can always adjust and change this information in your profile if you find that it is not a good fit for you!
A great place to start is brainstorming the list of all the things that you know. You might be doubtful of your skills, but let us remind you that you know much more than you think you do! Let your imagination lead you beyond the traditional academic subjects.
Of course, you probably have the common knowledge that you learned in school, like math, language, science, and history. No matter your educational background, it's likely that you have a core background in these four subjects and can tutor in this realm. Consider that students will be interested in receiving lessons in supplemental subjects that build their learning beyond what is provided by their school.
You might have participated in extracurricular activities as a student. Maybe you were an excellent athlete in high school and can be a personal coach or personal trainer for your sport. On Lessonpal you can teach and learn anything! Or perhaps you had a specialized activity like dance or karate and can coach a student one-on-one through online lessons based on your expertise.
Alternatively, maybe athletic extracurriculars weren't your style. You could coach a student in public speaking, help them prepare for an academic decathlon competition, or help them write mock trial cases. Think about what extracurriculars you participated in, and think about how you can pass those skills on down to people who want to learn!
Some people have intriguing hobbies or skills. If you love to take still-life photos or draw portraits, you can quickly turn that into an extra income source by teaching your craft to people. If you look at stars or watch birds as a hobby, you could teach a specialized class teaching students to identify subjects you have spent your own free time studying. Over an online platform, you can lead a student to nurture the creativity and passion within them.
What DIY activities do you love to do? Many people need help learning how to repair or build around their own living spaces. Doing things yourself becomes much easier when you have a tutor or teacher guiding you through the tasks. If you are well-versed in fixing cars, gardening, conducting household repairs, or basic carpentry, you can teach any of these subjects to budding DIY enthusiasts.
As an adult, you likely know some valuable life skills. If you are an older adult, it may come as a long-forgotten surprise that many people struggle with new life skills as they grow older. Some of these life skills are pragmatic, like budgeting, career growth, or navigating technology. Other life skills are more abstract, like having someone to talk to for personal advice or mentorship. People need guidance in every area of life, from mindfulness to resume-building. If you have wisdom in life, we encourage you to use your knowledge and share it with students on Lessonpal.
Once you decide what type of subject you are interested in tutoring, you will need to determine what kind of student you want to tutor. As stated earlier, this is a crucial step because students' different individual needs will mean that you, as a tutor, must take different approaches to teach the subject and connect on a deep, personal level with your student. Decide what works best for your personality type and experience level, and tailor the rest of your profile to match this target audience! When you decide on your subjects, be sure to list all possible subjects you want to teach on your Lessonpal tutor profile application. You can always go back and edit this later by selecting Manage lessons on your tutor profile page.
Start by identifying the most obvious demographic of a subject - age and skill level. Younger students typically require greater attention and engagement due to naturally shorter attention spans. Typically, working with very young students is easiest when you have prior experience working with a child. You may be more interested in gearing towards an audience that is more mature and can sustain longer tutoring sessions. In this case, focus your demographic on teenagers and adult learners.
For skill level, start by evaluating your own abilities. If you are an expert, you are likely prepared to teach any class of your subject you please. For example, if you are an expert in violin, you might be best selecting only advanced level students for your lessons. But suppose you are less than 100% confident, like a student who just completed calculus and is thinking about tutoring that exact subject. In that case, you might want to hold out on becoming an advanced subject tutor and consider tutoring subject beginners for now. To input this information after applying to be a tutor, select Manage lessons, then the drop-down arrow, and Edit next to preferences.
If you have a background working in accessibility fields or with disabled students, please indicate that - it will likely attract students who have special needs for their lessons. If you are willing or able to make accommodations, such as reading aloud during a lesson, you should indicate this in your profile biography. It’s a good practice to ask all your students how you can make the classes more accessible for them. However, if you do not feel capable of working with a disabled student for tutoring, please indicate this in your biography so that all potential students can find a tutor who is willing to accommodate their mental or physical disability.
Additionally, if you speak English, you can quickly become an ESL tutor. You don't need to speak the other language perfectly to tutor ESL. Most students need help with their homework or want somebody with whom to practice. When you help students overcome their language barriers, you move them on a path closer to their goals: this could be greater fluency, job opportunities, or even citizenship. Many small, simple conversations over a long time help a person build greater language skills. To tutor ESL students, you can teach them similar grammar or vocabulary to your own early language education. Add “English” to your subjects by selecting Manage preferences on your tutor profile.
If you have a highly specialized skill or you know an extremely advanced subject, you should try and teach that skill! You never know when a student will need to learn how to jump into a new career and know highly-coveted information, such as coding or advanced math and science. You can help a student out by teaching them subjects that schools rarely teach!
Finally, maybe you don't want to tutor a particular subject at all. Perhaps you are an educational Jack-of-All-Trades seeking to help students grow in all aspects of their learning journey. That is a fantastic tutoring subject as well!
Instead of focusing on a particular subject, you can teach students practical skills such as planning using a calendar or a planner, sign up for classes, communicate with teachers, and study effectively for tests and quizzes. There is also a high demand for generalized tutors during the COVID era because parents need someone to look after their kids in an engaging and entertaining way! If this is the route you choose, you will most likely end up working with younger, school-aged students.
Whether you choose to be a specialized or generalized tutor will likely affect your pricing. Because it's harder to find a specialized tutor in certain subjects (i.e., upper-level math and science), generalized tutors will have lower pricing. These are all factors to keep in mind when planning out your tutor profile. There is a large market for every type of tutoring, and Lessonpal lets you explore a broad range of options.
When applying to become a Lessonpal tutor, we will prompt you to describe your subject expertise. On Lessonpal, you will include your expertise individually for each subject that you want to tutor. You will want to convey your educational and subject matter background in detail to attract students. This writing type requires a careful balance, which is possible to achieve when you follow our simple checklist, answering the following questions.
- Did you study this subject in school?
- Do you teach this subject currently?
- What awards or recognition have you received in this subject?
- What success have your prior students achieved in this subject?
- What drew you into this subject?
- How long have you held expertise on this subject?
Here's an example for a Spanish tutor:
I am a native Spanish Speaker. I grew up in a mixed Mexican and Central American household, where I was exposed to different dialects of Spanish and an expansive vocabulary. Conversational Spanish comes naturally to me.
I began taking Spanish classes in an academic setting when I was in seventh grade. There, I learned additional skills like reading, writing, and formal grammar rules. I earned A's in every single semester. I continued taking Spanish up to AP Spanish Language and Culture, scoring a 5/5 on the Advanced Placement exam.
I volunteered as a National Honor Society tutor for my peers. I especially worked with students who were struggling with conversational skills, vocabulary, and test-taking skills. I especially worked on building the confidence of my students to put their knowledge into practice.
As a high schooler, I taught Spanish classes to elementary school students at my local YMCA.
I currently tutor several students in Spanish, ranging from elementary school to college level. With the youngest students, I work on pronunciation, basic reading, and conversational skills. For the most advanced students, I help them build and edit essays using more complex grammar and vocabulary. I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household and have been familiar with the language all my life. I scored a five on the Spanish Language AP exam in high school and got A's in my Spanish classes. I used to volunteer as a Spanish tutor with the National Honor Society. Currently, I teach Spanish to middle and high schoolers at all levels. I also review Spanish language papers and essays for higher-level students. I am passionate about language learning. I also continue my study of the language at my university!
Finally, make sure to use good grammar and spelling. Simple mistakes indicate to a student that you did not take the time to proofread your tutor profile and draw into question your legitimacy as an educator. Some tips are to type your expertise paragraph in a free word processor such as Grammarly or Google Docs and use the built-in grammar and spell checkers. You can also have a trusted friend or colleague look over it before submitting your application. Finally, read it out loud to make sure you included all the essential details you wanted to have! When you are ready, move on to the next section of the tutor profile.
Next, decide your target audience. Lessonpal provides several different categories of students that you can choose. You can select as many or as few as you would like. With your Lessonpal profile, you can also change or add tutoring subjects or preferences at any time.
The first is the age group. You can select whether you would like to work with younger students, older students, adult learners, or any former combination.
If you choose to work with younger students, be prepared to adapt your teaching strategy. Younger students need higher levels of engagement and adaptation. As their tutor, you are also working with them on a disciplinary level and must be extra patient with their behavior. However, younger students can provide a rewarding experience because, as a tutor, you have the potential to make a massive difference in the life of a child.
Working with older students and adult learners poses unique challenges in that their subject material is more advanced. As a tutor specializing in adult learners, you might find yourself challenged when trying to keep up with the speed and difficulty it requires. However, if you provide lessons in an extracurricular subject, this is not an obstacle. Tutoring older students is fun and engaging for the same reason.
Alternatively, you can select the students you tutor based on "beginner, intermediate, advanced" or their current schooling level. The same challenges and opportunities that apply to students of different age groups apply here. However, they might not align perfectly - for example, music, skill-based, and language learners will often be older but beginners in level when seeking instruction. You can make all these selections on Lessonpal by selecting Manage preferences on your tutor profile page, then Edit next to age or proficiency level.
When building your tutoring profile, another functional area of consideration is your availability. It might not be as glamorous as the other aspects, but it is necessary to plan to work with students. After all, if a student doesn't know when you are available, how can they possibly schedule a session with you?
First, make sure that you have enough open slots. Use your regular weekly schedule to determine when your general availability is. Another thing to consider is that if you have another job or commitment with a commute time, you should not schedule yourself as available for tutoring immediately. Allow yourself the necessary travel time so that you don't have to postpone or cancel sessions into the future unnecessarily.
You will also want to determine how early in advance you need students to schedule or cancel your lessons. If you work another job with a schedule that changes from week to week, you might want to ask students to schedule lessons a week in advance. However, if your schedule is more flexible, you can have a shorter scheduling period, attracting more students who need last-minute tutoring before a test or exam.
This same principle applies to cancellation periods. According to your schedule, you should adjust the cancellation period and keep in mind that students need certain flexibility and might prefer to schedule lessons with a different tutor if you set your preferences too rigidly.
Finally, if you have a one-time event, such as a planned wedding, funeral, vacation, religious holiday, etc., be sure to schedule these dates as out-of-office days. That way, your students will know that you cannot work or teach lessons on that day, but you will be back to your regular schedule the following week.
Filling this out will help students to navigate your schedule and purchase lessons easily from you! On Lessonpal, you can accomplish this by selecting Manage availability on your tutor profile page. To adjust available time slots, select Add on each day that you want to add a time slot. To adjust how much notice you need before a lesson or how far in advance students can book your lessons, use the drop-down menu to select your chosen days or hours. To block days from your calendar, select the days on the calendar, and select Add to add those blocked days.
Building the profile
You should do your best to create a professional, warm photo that makes students want to look at the rest of your tutor profile and ultimately schedule lessons with you.
Start with some basics. First, you want your photo as a whole to seem professional. This means avoiding heavily filtered Snapchat selfies - it might be cute for a social media profile picture, but not for your online tutor profile. Instead of a selfie, you can ask someone to help take the photo for you. They don't have to be a professional, just another person to hold the camera, so it seems like you put effort into it. If you don't have another person to take the photo, you can also position the camera or phone at eye level and use the self-timer feature to take a picture of yourself.
Next, you want to make sure that your face is visible by utilizing the proper lighting. You don't need any special equipment, such as fancy lights, to achieve this goal! All you need is a reliable, preferably natural, light source. If possible, this means using light from the sun instead of light from a lightbulb or lamp. A great place to find natural light is near a window or outdoors facing the sun in the morning or late afternoon. To minimize shadows, be sure to face the direction of the light source instead of against it.
You might have heard of social media stars editing their photos and feel tempted to want to edit your own. However, this is entirely unnecessary. If anything, editing might even work to your detriment because it will make the photo look unnatural instead of like your authentic self. If you need to edit it, keep edits to a minimum - try only to adjust lighting or shadows. You can also crop the photo if it is off-center to frame your face.
Finally, the background matters. If you have a messy room or pile of dirty dishes in your profile photo, it's unlikely that your student will see you as an academic guide or an organized tutor because of your improper first impression. If possible, avoid taking the photo in your bedroom or personal living space. Instead, consider taking a picture outdoors or in front of a blank wall. This way, there are no background scenes to distract from your face. To add your profile photo to your Lessonpal account, select the pencil icon on your tutor profile page next to your name. Next, select Upload a photo and choose the photo from your device that you want to upload.
The following important part of your tutor profile is your description. This brief introduction will help potential students get a sense of who you are and what your teaching style is. It is also a chance to establish your authority as a subject or topic expert, so they know you are someone they can trust as a tutor. Therefore, you will want to make the best impression possible! To enter your tutor description, select the pencil icon next to About on your tutor profile page. Copy-paste or directly type the description into the text box and select Save when you are done.
As always, whenever you write anything, be sure to use correct grammar. This factor is especially true if you plan on teaching English lessons or editing students' papers. If you are unsure about your grammar or spelling, it won't hurt to run your description draft through a word processor, such as Grammarly or Google Docs.
Next, use explicit language. Keep sentences short and concise to improve readability. Finally, when writing about your past tutoring successes, use specific language and numbers to quantify your experience. Also, note that your description doesn't have to be about tutoring; you can sprinkle in some fun facts to make you seem more down-to-earth. Here are some prompts:
- What personal experience do you have that makes you qualified as a tutor?
- What is your tutoring style?
- What type of student will be a good match for you?
- What sort of hobbies or interests do you have?
- How many years have you studied/taught the subject?
- How many students have you taught?
- What types of scores did your students receive on relevant exams?
- What kinds of awards and recognition did you receive in this subject?
Next, you will want your video profile to include a brilliant depiction of who you are as a person. Aside from your personality, there are many technical aspects to consider when shooting your tutor video. Many of them will be similar to the profile photo section, so if you want to read more about presenting yourself and appear in the camera, scroll up!
First, make sure you have appropriate lighting and presentation. Again, much of this has been covered above. But for a brief recap, the way you look matters. For your lighting, use natural lighting with minimal shadows. Position yourself in front of a natural light source, such as a window or in an outdoor space. Next, present yourself professionally. Wear appropriate hair, makeup, clothes, and general appearances. If you are unsure if your look is suitable, ask yourself if you would wear it to work or school. If the answer is yes, you are good to go!
You also want to make sure that your audio is clear. After all, what kind of student will want to take lessons from a tutor that they can't hear? You don't need any fancy equipment for this. Instead, make sure that there is no excessive background noise during the filming of your video. Also, check that nothing is muffling the device, like a jacket covering up the phone as you film. One helpful tip is to use headphones or earbuds if you already own them at home. Usually, these devices have microphones built-in, which will improve the audio quality by bringing the recording closer to your voice. Finally, project your voice, enunciate, and speak clearly.
The following important part of a tutor introduction video is the content of the video. You will film yourself giving a minute-long (approximate) video introducing who you are and why you are an excellent tutor. At first, you might feel tempted to write a script and read off the script for your video. But unless you are a professional actor, this will likely come at the cost of seeming natural. Instead, consider improvising the video and talking naturally to the camera as if you are talking to a close friend. During your video, smile and appear happy and confident. Consider using a couple of the following ideas for things you can talk about in the brief video:
- Your background
- Who are you?
- How old are you?
- Where are you from?
- What are some of your hobbies?
- Where did you receive your education?
- What is a fun fact about you?
- Why you care about education
- Who is a teacher or tutor who made a difference in your life?
- Which of Lessonpal's core values do you most align with?
- Why does education equity matter to you?
- What makes you most passionate about the subject(s) you teach?
- What do you hope to gain from your tutor-student relationship?
- What makes you a good tutor
- Are you an expert in your subject area?
- Do you explain complex concepts in a clear and easy-to-understand manner?
- Do you regularly communicate and check in on your students?
- Are you known for being respectful and courteous?
- Do you adapt to new technologies or unexpected situations?
Next, you must upload the video to either YouTube or Vimeo to add the link to your profile. To do this, you must already have an account on either platform. Then, select the icon that says "Upload" and choose the video you decide to upload. If you are concerned about privacy or others seeing your video, you may select "unlisted." This means that people searching within the Vimeo or Youtube websites cannot find your video, but it will be visible on the Lessonpal website and anyone who has the exact link you create. Finally, upload your video and copy-paste the link into the Lessonpal profile page, where potential students can watch your video and get to know more about you!
Finally, you can build credibility as a tutor using reviews. This is the final part of a tutor profile because you need to have previous students who can leave detailed and intentional reviews on your profile. After several lessons with a student, respectfully ask them if they can leave some comments about your strengths as a tutor so that future students can see an outsider's perspective.
Reviews are critical because they help build trust. One thing is to say that you are a great tutor, but it's another thing to read a great review from a third party. Positive reviews will also help dispel any anxiety in potential students who might doubt whether you will be a good fit for them.
Lessonpal permits teachers to have reviews on their profile. We allow each teacher to get up to ten reviews from their past students to make themselves more credible within the community. For those first ten reviews, we do not verify if that student has taken any lessons from that teacher. After that, Lessonpal only allows teachers to get reviews from students who've taken lessons from them through our platform. Some tips for asking your students include:
- Inviting students in batches
- Reminding them about their successes during the time(s) you two worked together
- Being respectful and courteous in your request
- Accepting "no" for an answer
- Thanking them for their time and effort when they do submit a review
To copy the unique link for students to write reviews for you, scroll down to the bottom of your tutor profile page. Select Copy shareable link and feel free to send that link to students or parents who you trust will write a positive review. With all these tools and tips, your tutor profile should be top-notch!
Demonstrate your expertise by publishing compelling stories in your subject area
The following essential part of building your tutor profile is to include stories. With your stories, feel free to unleash your creativity as a writer. The goal of stories is to display your expertise as a tutor in your given subject area, and you can do that however you feel is best.
Stories are article-length blog posts written by tutors that are displayed directly on the tutor profile. In the stories, you can write about anything! The more stories you have that are well-written, persuasive, and entertaining, the more likely a student will trust you with their learning journey.
Start by brainstorming the topic idea for your story. You will want to explore something that is not common enough to bore the reader but not so niche that it will confuse a general audience. You will also want to have clear direction before you start writing the story. Some ideas include:
- Personal experiences as a tutor or teacher
- Encouragement for students struggling through particular obstacles/subjects
- Advice for students
- Instruction on challenging aspects of your subject
- Strategies for studying and learning
- And more!
Next, begin a draft for the story. A typical story will aim to be between 800-1,200 word length to maximize reader engagement. However, don't feel constricted by these parameters. Use as few or as many words as you need to get your point across in a way that you see fit.
You will also want to create a title for the story that contains a keyword or phrase and continue to use that key phrase throughout the story. This trick optimizes stories for search engines so that a student may discover your tutor profile when searching a question on Google. This could potentially lead to new students. It's an opportunity you won't want to pass up!
There are several ways you can optimize the story. Each story will need at least one illustration, graphic, or image to be published. Catchy images attract readers by drawing interest. You can find these images for free on Google Search. If you are an artist or a photographer, you can also use your creative skills to create your story's visuals.
Next, optimize your story for readability. Avoid using complex words that could excessively confuse readers. Keep sentences short and split them up whenever it is possible. If you find yourself writing long blocks of text, split them into smaller, easier-to-read paragraphs with 2-4 sentences per paragraph.
Finally, finalize your title. Titles should be catchy and to the point. A clever title using wordplay, keywords, and relevant topic vocabulary will draw readers from both Lessonpal and search engines.
To publish your story on Lessonpal, scroll down to the bottom of your tutor profile page. Next to the Stories section, select the + icon. When you have finished either writing your story directly in the text box or copying and pasting it from another platform, select Publish to post your story on your profile. When you start writing and publishing stories, your tutor profile will take off!
Now that your tutor profile is complete, you are prepared to market yourself to potential students. The easiest and most obvious place to start is within the Lessonpal platform itself. To do this, make sure you have completed all the profile sections and the content is sharp. (Hint: follow the tips that this guide provides!) Include bonus content on your profile, such as reviews from other students praising your skills as a tutor and stories you write to demonstrate your subject expertise.
Next, consider promoting your tutor profile on other platforms. To do this, simply copy and paste your unique tutor link in any place where you want other people to click on it and view your page on the Lessonpal website. From there, they can learn about you as a tutor and directly purchase and schedule lessons with you.
Utilize personal networks to share your profile. Send the link to family members to see if you have any relatives who might need tutoring. Ask friends if they or anyone they know might need tutoring or if they can use their networks to share their tutor profile. Consider sharing the link with classmates who might need peer tutoring in the subject you teach.
You can also utilize the Internet and social media sites to share your profile. You can post an ad on Craigslist, which will cost a few dollars but help amplify your profile. Use extended networks you already have on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to post the link and encourage others to share your tutoring profile. To find local students to tutor, try using the Nextdoor app to share your post with nearby neighbors.
You can post physical ads on local job boards. Popular locations to advertise include coffee shops and cafes, universities, and local high schools. Of course, be sure to ask for permission before posting your advertisement in any of these locations.
Finally, use your ongoing tutoring experience and individualized profile to build a personal tutoring brand. Over time, you will discover what makes you unique. Why do students choose you over all the other tutors in their field? Once you find out your personal brand, emphasize it. Talk about your expertise, personality, and specialties when pitching your tutoring services to others. Don't be afraid to ask prior students to refer your skills to other people they know. As you grow in your tutoring journey, be open to a constant discovery of ways to improve and consistently be an outstanding tutor.
While this all may seem complicated, it is a simple process of discovering who you are, what you are passionate about, and how you can use that to help others learn. Tutoring is such a rewarding job, and we are thrilled that you have chosen Lessonpal as your partner in finding and working with students!