Jill, how to get students and actually start tutoring? is a question I am asked often.
Like many, you too may think it's costly to get your business out there.
Or, you might not even know where to start.
Here's the thing.
Biz school or marketing books will tell you to place ads. To definitely get biz cards made but only after you decide on a name and file all your biz license paperwork, open a checking account and maybe even shop for "supplies"! And of course, you'll need a website.
All this before your first client even walks through your tutoring door!
So I encourage you to hit pause for a second on what you might have heard about starting a business and allow me to offer something new, fresh and frankly, the exact opposite of the above.
Yes, you could go all out and order a business card sized ad in the next issue of your local newspaper but that will be costly, and unless you plan to have it show up weekly for the next six months, chances are it won’t have much impact.
Yes, you can hang a banner sign somewhere, but having it made and finding a location are two costly items. Yep, you might have to pay to hang it on the fence of that local high school. Oh and don't forget the middle school and yes, the elementary one as well, if they are separate.
Yes, you can join your local Chamber of Commerce and pay their dues only to have them ask for your brochures, which yes, I guess, you can order those too.
Or you can stop freaking out and try three free options before you even have a business name to see if you even like tutoring!
I think that's a no-brainer, so let's dive into my top three cheap and fast options for finding your first or tenth student.
OPTION 1 - Go old school. Create a FLYER.
Or is it FLIER? stumbled the former English teacher. It's never about being perfect! And not always knowing the right answer, but more on that another time.
If you are just getting started with your tutoring business or want to get a boost with your current tutoring, here is my first low-cost, no-fail solution that you can prepare in 30 minutes or less and have up in under one hour.
Literally, you can start right now, with no degree or certification, if you have five sheets of paper, a marker and some tape.
Or, if you fancy computers, are able to type and have a printer, that can do the trick, too.
Your flyer should do two things:
1. Introduce Your Topic By Asking A Question
2. Have a ‘Call To Action’ – something for the viewer to do (call, text, email)
Now that your flyer is created, all you need to do is take a few copies of it – go with five to start – and find 5 places to hang it.
Here are some quick options.
4. Public Library
5. Local Ice Cream Place or Restaurant
6. Post Office
7. A Government Space (Common Area)
Check for community boards in this locations and others.
Just do it. However, always ask first.
There are good practices for ways to ask and they don’t involve going right up to someone and saying, “Hey, can I put my flyer up so I can make money tutoring?”
If you want to learn great ways to communicate, you should check out this mini-course offering that will enable you to know exactly what to say and when to say it to get the results you desire… like hanging your flyer!
Want to hit the ground running and "ethically steal" my flier? Well, if math is your thang, then you can right here. Plus, there are a few other options, like this one, you can access, too.
OPTION 2 - Write A Quickie Letter to the Editor of Your Local Paper with a Human Interest Story - YOU!
Or even faster, give them an ANNOUNCEMENT that they will want to publish for FREE!
Now, you should always do this, one, if you just finished a degree, certification or had some big life change, like getting married.
You see these announcements all the time, right?
And two, when you’re strategic with these free posts in your local paper, amazing things happen.
Here’s an example of an ANNOUNCEMENT.
OPTION 3 - Contact Your Local Radio Station
Now this one, I’ll admit, may take some...courage. But YOU CAN DO THIS. The more you step out of your comfort zone, the more you will rock.
Local radio, much like local papers, need news. They need interviews, they need content and they love it for free.
So, depending on the time of year and the tutoring need you fill, you might ask them if they’d be interested in:
TIPS ON BACK-TO-SCHOOL
How Parents Can Get Out of Homework Frustration and Help Make it Fun
Tips for SAT or ACT Test Taking
What Parents Can Do To Help Their Kid Succeed In Class/School
Now, the above focus on more core tutoring topics. If you work with adults or non-school related people in your tutoring practice you can offer human interest interview topics like:
How To Survive Going Back to School After Time Raising Kids
How Adults Can Rock Tests Even When Out of School for Years
I once did a great segment on this topic for our local radio show, for free, because I had a ton of moms suddenly calling me desperate to pass College Algebra so they could get into Nursing School.
Remember to listen and find the need in your area.
BONUS OPTION - INVEST in Signs For Your Car
Yes, the word invest means this option will cost you a few dollars which is why it's not included in the top three FREE resources.
If you have a budget of $35-50 THIS is the place to spend it and who knows, you might be able to get a discount coupon code.
I had a little, yellow VW NEW BEETLE when they first came out. It was awesome. A manual with a turbo engine that no one ever expected to race along as it simply looked to, well, innocent! But that’s beside the point.
I covered this car with SIGNS.
Now, I did real signs that stick on the windows.
The front windshield, in white four inch (at least) letters, shouted EDUCATION LADY.
The back window. Well, it told a story of what I do, who I served and how to get in touch with me. It was free advertising, after it paid for itself, which it did within one day. Literally!
Everywhere I went, people saw me, what I did and my offer.
Everywhere I parked, people saw what I did.
For some, they didn’t have kids, but boy did they remember me and that car when they were with a girlfriend enjoying a glass of wine only to listen to said girlfriend complain about her child failing X subject instead of enjoying the sunset and a night out - kid-free!
So now, you can look at one of two options.
Magnetic Signs that go on your door or heck, on your hood if you want it to. Actually, the more interesting you make the sign, the more it stands out, the better.
Pro: Easy to create and quick to get.
Pro: Removable for when you’re going out of town and don’t need to advertise or be “known”!
Con: Not as visible on road (unless you do an awesome job designing).
Con: People or Fun-Loving Kids can and may take them off your car, toss them or put them on someone else’s car for a laugh. And unless you look each time you get in at both doors or all locations of signage, you won’t notice until it’s gone.
Con: They can fall off if you don’t keep them clean.
Con: They can discolor car if you never remove them but seriously, this would have to be on your car a LONG time!
Window Decal Signage. Note. If you live up north, please please please do not go with this option. The first hint of ice you have will end up with you or your hubby accidentally scraping off your signage along with, brrr, that ice!
Pro: Visible on the back window which more people will see on the road or when your car is parked.
Con: More expensive.
Con: Can really only do in warm climates unless they can be attached from the inside but beware of removal if you have tinting on your windows as both may come off.
Now, a word of caution about signage on your car that I must say as I’m not a lawyer or an insurance person. Some insurance policies might have an issue with signage on your personal car. Make sure that if you DO put signs up that it doesn’t null and void any part of your car insurance policy or open you up to liability.
Yikes, that sounds serious.
Well, look, it doesn’t have to be.
Take a walk. Take your phone. Place a quickie call to your insurance company and ask a general Q. You don’t even have to say it’s about your policy, your car. Just get the facts, make a note in your smartphone who you spoke to, what was said and bam! You’ve gotten fresh air, moved your body and found an answer.
It’s only as complicated or painful as we choose to make it.
If you want to dive into magnets for your car, I recommend VISTAPRINT.
And what I don’t recommend you do is add business cards to your order or pretty 5 color fliers or, heaven-help-me, tri-fold brochures.
If you want to know more about what you should do and what NOT to do, you can access and eavesdrop on my free audio series, right here.
It’s awesome. It’s helped people go from zero clients to two in one day, by implementing OPTION 1. And some other fab tricks. So go press play, but first, complete your homework below.
Now Here’s Your Assignment.
In the comments section below
Make Your Flier by posting how you can help using your subject and age group as two main points perhaps. This might be the question or tagline that grabs attention at the top of your flier.
Then post your Call To Action (You can just say “phone number goes here” or use the “xxx-xxx-xxxx” example or just type “my email address”).
Commit to making your flyers by sharing three places where you will post them (after asking of course)!
Be sure to share your success, which will be a phone call from your ad, over on Facebook or come back here and post below.
Now, if suddenly you're freaking out at the thought of a parent calling you to ask about your tutoring services, you might want to check out this post on What To Say to a Parent Who Calls About Your Tutoring Services (coming soon).
Remember, learn something today you can share with someone tomorrow.