How to Tutor Online: Get started quickly!

How to Tutor Online: Get started quickly!

Are you thinking about online tutoring? Maybe you’re a teacher looking for additional income, a stay-at-home parent wanting a flexible way to make money, or a college student. I know what you’re asking: How do I tutor online? To learn how to tutor online, read on!

Option 1: How to Tutor Online for an Organization as an Independent Contractor

There are many organizations that pay $11-16 / hour to tutor as an independent contractor. Some companies will have you work a set schedule like Qkids (teach English to children in China via video, audio, and Qkids software) and Yup (tutor math, physics, or chemistry via text).

Other companies allow the most flexibility by allowing you to work whenever you want, like Chegg (tutor any subject via text and whiteboard). The caveat with Chegg is that you only get paid for when you’re actually working with a student, and it can take a while to actually be working with a student.

There are a lot more companies out there just like the ones I listed above. Any of these companies can get you tutoring online within a couple weeks, sometimes sooner. If those sound appealing, check them out!

woman learning how to tutor online

I’ve actually worked for most of the companies listed above, so if you have any questions or want any advice, comment below with your questions. I’m happy to share my experiences.

Option 2: How to Tutor Online Independently

Maybe you want to bypass these organizations though and tutor for yourself like I do at Katie Tutors Math. This will require you to do extra work like marketing, figuring out the logistics of tutoring online, handling customer service for your clients, and payment processing. However, unlike working for an organization, you’ll also be able to choose your own rate and have complete control over how many hours you work, your schedule, and which clients you take on. Freedom, baby!

Maybe you’re interested in tutoring online independently, but it seems intimidating? Not to fear! I’m here to make this process a lot easier for you and start answering your questions. We’ll start with the most critical question:

How do I tutor online?

To tutor online, you’ll need two things:

  • a way to talk to the student
  • a way to visually show (and perhaps share) material with students

First, let’s start with how to talk to your student online. My favorite tool to use is Skype because it’s simple and nearly everyone has heard of it if not used it themselves. With Skype you can use only the audio to hear each other, or you can turn on video too in order to see each other. Not a fan of Skype? Try Facetime or Google Hangouts. Most importantly, I recommend investing a few dollars in a headset so that the student can clearly hear you without the excess background noise of your dog or air conditioner. It’ll speak highly to your professionalism!

whiteboard

Online Whiteboard

The second part of how to tutor online is presenting material to students or sharing a workspace. The best solution for this is typically an online whiteboard. With an online whiteboard, simply share the link with your student, and you instantly have a workspace for just the two of you. If you’ve never used an online whiteboard before, you’re in for a treat! Bitpaper and Scribblar have the best online whiteboards on the market right now for online tutors.

Here are some online whiteboard features to look forward to:

  • You can each write and see what the other person is writing in real time
  • Use different colors, thickness, and shapes to bring your teaching to life
  • Easily upload pdf’s or images of homework or a textbook and work on the problems together
  • Use multiple pages of a whiteboard to keep your work organized
  • At the end save all of it to a pdf to share with your student

tablet for tutoring online

Tablet

You can use your computer mouse to write on a whiteboard, but it can be difficult to write legibly. Not to mention that using your mouse to write out equations or verb charts gets old quickly! Instead, I recommend investing in a tablet. With a tablet you can write on your online whiteboard naturally, just as you do on paper. And if your student will be writing on the whiteboard often, have them get a tablet as well! I use a wacom bamboo tablet (pictured above) and love it.

Practice

Once you’ve chosen your software and have your materials, try a practice session. Tell a friend that you’re learning how to tutor online and you need a practice student. You’ll be able to work out all the kinks and make sure you’re confidently able to introduce a student to the technology and have a successful session.

Send an email to your friend just like you would to a new student. Include a link to the whiteboard as well as information about how to connect to audio/video chat (whether that’s Skype or something else).

During the session, try using the whiteboard, uploading PDF’s, sharing your screen, anything you might do while tutoring!

excited woman learning how to tutor online

Then you’re ready to get started with a student!

A note about Zoom

While I don’t use Zoom myself, I want to mention it here as many online tutors love it. Zoom is a video conferencing software that combines audio and video capabilities as well as a built-in whiteboard. The whiteboard is not as robust as an independent whiteboard (most notably, it has only one page). However some tutors need to only present information or have no need for the student to be able to write or point at things on the whiteboard. In this case, try using Skype or Zoom and then share your presentation with the student (through the “share your screen or window” feature). For a presentation software, use Powerpoint, OneNote, Prenzi, or anything you’re comfortable with!

In conclusion, how to tutor online–the tools you need:

Finally, don’t forget to ask a friend to practice with you!

To be notified when I post the next article in the series “How to Tutor Online” sign up here. If you’re itching to learn more right now about how to get started, check out the The Top 5 Tools for Online Math Tutors to learn about the best payment service, scheduling system, and support group!

The Top 5 Online Math Tutor Tools

The Top 5 Online Math Tutor Tools:

Some of the products I recommend below have affiliate links. Nothing will cost you a penny extra, but I make a tiny bit of money when you purchase through my link. I only review items that I use and love, and all of these online math tutor tools will help you to become a great online math tutor!

Share a Whiteboard: Bitpaper

Bitpaper is one of the most important online math tutor tools in my business. With Bitpaper I create “papers” for each of my students. The “paper” is a whiteboard with a unique link that has pen, highlighter, eraser, and text tools to name a few. The student and I can both see what the other is writing in real time.

What makes Bitpaper stand out?

(1) It’s free!

(2) Easy uploads of pdfs and it’s very easy to copy-paste any screenshots onto the whiteboard. (Usually I have the student text or email me their assignment, and then I upload it into Scribblar.)

(3) Multiple pages! You can have up to 40 pages in each paper, and since math problems can take up a lot of room, this is super helpful.

(4) Unique links for each paper. This makes it easy for each student as they just have to go to the link of their paper at the time of our session.

(5) A feature to export PDFs of the session notes so students can have a copy of the notes after each session.

Bitpaper tends to be the favorite for most online tutors. It’s constantly improving too. Learn more and sign up here!

 

tablet online math tutor tools

Write on the Screen: Wacom Tablet

Before I got a tablet, I was writing out math problems on Scribblar using my computer mouse, and, well, let’s just say that it wasn’t always legible. The Wacom tablet allows you to write on the screen (via your tablet) just as you would write on a piece of paper. It’s easy to set up, and your hands (and students) will thank you. It’s a must-have online math tutor tool. I use this one (pictured above).

 

Stop Playing Phone Tag: Acuity Scheduling

One of my biggest pet peeves is playing phone or email tag, especially when coordinating a meeting time. To the rescue: Acuity Scheduling! As they say, “Never ask “What time works for you?” again. Clients can quickly view your real-time availability and self-book their own appointments—and even pay online, reschedule with a click, and eliminate 100% of the drudgery.” It’s one of the best online math tutor tools! I use it for clients to sign up for initial consultations and to sign up for one-time math tutoring sessions. (This is great for clients who have changing schedules each week, or for clients who have a weekly session time but need an extra session in preparation for a test.)

calendar online math tutor tools

What makes Acuity stand out from the crowd?

(1) The calendar. I set up my weekly availability for my tutoring sessions and consultations (you could even customize this for each type of appointment). I can set starting times for appointments or limits on the number of appointments per day. It syncs with both my iCal and Google Calendar so that I’m never double-booked.

(2) Integrations with payment. It syncs with my Square account (but also Paypal, Stripe, and a few others). I require full payment at the time of scheduling for tutoring sessions, and Acuity takes care of this as the student is scheduling! By the time I receive the notification that I have a new session, it’s already been paid for.

(3) Customizations galore! Type of appointments, how far in advance clients can schedule (for me, I prefer just two weeks), what the receipt looks like, appointment reminders, coupons or gift certificates, color schemes.

(4) Intake form. I created an intake form for my New Student Consultations. This allows me to gather some information about the student (math class, goals, Skype or Google Hangout ID, etc.) that is helpful for me to know before the consultation. In the rare occasion that the student is not a good potential fit for me, I can cancel the appointment and email the student directly.

(5) Option to embed in my website. While you can just direct clients to your acuity page, I love how slick it looks embedded in my website for Scheduling Sessions.

I pay just $10/month for the Emerging Entrepreneur plan. Learn more here and sign up for your free 14-day trial. 

 

Get Paid: Square

I’ve tried a few payment options, and Square is my favorite. Most people know it for it’s in-person swiping action for small businesses, but it also has a feature-rich online payment platform making it one of the most valuable online math tutor tools. I both use it to send monthly invoices to clients via email and to collect payment when students schedule one-time sessions through Acuity.

customer paying online math tutor tools

My favorite features:

(1) Customizable invoices and receipts that include my logo and business information. I even get to choose the color scheme!

(2) The option for customers to “save” their card. This allows me to directly bill the customer in the future instead of sending an invoice — talk about a time-saver!

(3) The ability to create “items” for my different tutoring sessions at different prices. It’s also easy to add discounts.

(4) The invoices page. At a glance I can see which invoices are unpaid and which are overdue. With a click, I can send a reminder to a client.

(5) The sales summary. I can quickly see my income for the month!

Square has rates comparable to (if not the same as) other online payment systems like Paypal. (It comes out to about 3%). Sign up with this link to get your first $1,000 in credit card sales processed for free during your first 180 days.

 

Network, Connect, & Be Supported: The Ultimate Support Group for Online Tutors

Joanne Kaminski, an online reading tutor, created and facilitates the Ultimate Support Group for Online Tutors facebook group. This group has been my rock as I’ve created and grown my own online math tutoring business. The members are fantastic, offering support, advice, and encouragement. Joanne facilitate online conferences which give tutors a chance to learn and meet each other.

online math tutor tools hands in a circle support

Starting an online business can be a lonely feat, and having this community to learn from and celebrate with has been a critical factor in my success. Join the Ultimate Support Group for Online Tutors.

This was a list of awesome tools, but do you want to learn more about how to actually tutor online? Check out this post about How to Tutor Online.

 

Here’s a few other online math tutor tools I love that didn’t make the top 5:

Financial

  • Wealthfront — Working for myself means that I need to set up my own retirement account. I trust Wealthfront for this and all of my investing. (Use this link to get your first $15,000 managed for free!)

Productivity

  • Dropbox is where I store notes from tutoring sessions. I make a folder for each student and share the folder with the student so they always have access.

Marketing

Audio/Video

  • Yeti – the best microphone for videos.
  • Here’s the webcam and headset I use. (Sometimes when I’m sick of using the headset or the student has really loud noises in the background, I’ll use external speakers and the Yeti.)
  • For making videos, I prefer Screenflow (or Screencastomatic if you are just starting out).
  • Videoscribe is a fun tool for creating animation videos.
  • For video calling during sessions, I prefer Skype or Google Hangouts.

Content & Math Resources

  • IXL is a site that uses adaptive learning and has thousands of questions in math, language arts, social studies, and science for all grade levels. If you sign up for a teacher account, you can manage your students’ accounts and see how they are doing in each specific skill which can help you plan for lessons.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers is a site where teachers sell their content to other teachers. I love All Things Algebra‘s algebra and pre-algebra curriculums. If you have worksheets, tests, curriculums, or activities that you want to sell, it’s easy to set up an account.
  • Finally, Krypto is the best math game! My students loved it when I was teaching. Not only that, but after I introduced it to family and friends, I find myself getting text messages of yet-to-be-solved Krypto’s and playing anytime we’re gathered together.

 

Yes, some of these are affiliate links. Nothing will cost you a penny extra, but I make a tiny bit of money when you purchase through my link. I only review items that I use and love, and all of these online math tutor tools will help you to become a great online math tutor!