How to Tutor Online: Get started quickly!

Published by Katie the Math Tutor on

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: Work with 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 online via text and a whiteboard).

Other companies allow the most flexibility by allowing you to work whenever you want, like Chegg (tutor any subject via text and whiteboard with optional audio & video). 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

Option 2: 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:

  1. a way to talk to the student
  2. 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 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. Congratulations!

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!


18 Comments

Sarah · January 25, 2018 at 7:27 pm

Fabulous advice for those looking to work from home… thank you Katie 🙂

Terri Grigsby · January 29, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Katie, this is a great summary of tutoring online. I love the “freedom, baby.” It’s true!

Joanne B Kaminski · January 29, 2018 at 5:06 pm

Tutoring online is such an awesome way to earn an income and it is very rewarding. If you are interested in learning how to tutor online, definitely stay tuned to this blog. Katie is an expert.

Tanya · January 31, 2018 at 7:51 am

Hi Katie. Wonderful article, thanks. One question, how do you get students?

    Katie the Math Tutor · February 5, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Tanya, thanks for reading! That’s a great question, and I’ll write a whole post about it soon. The short answer is a combination of talking to friends & family, networking, utilizing listing sites, and working on online content (youtube, social media) and website SEO.

Latreil Jackson · April 13, 2018 at 5:49 am

Thanks for posting this. I’m just amping up my online math tutoring this year and needed some equipment advice. I have the Wacom you’re using too but I was concerned how I would see my students’ work while tutoring online. I guess they would just have to get a writing pad too or have one already. I was thinking about buying a few and renting them out to my students. I’ll think about that a little more.
Also thanks for the recommendations for the whiteboard apps. I’m currently using Google Hangouts and was moving towards Zoom, but now I’ll check out the others.

Thanks Katie!

Shri · September 14, 2018 at 3:54 am

Hey Guys, thanks for the informative articles 🙂

Do you guys know any real time screen sharing which can be used by student as well as tutors fro Math Tutoring.

Thanks in advance 🙂

Elizabeth Paddock · November 9, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Hi Katie! I would love to hear your thoughts on working for Chegg and Yup! I’m just starting to look into online tutoring. Thanks!

Wes Reid · December 14, 2018 at 12:35 am

Hi Katie

I’m beginning to investigate online tutoring as an independent business and have found Tutors.com. Can you share your thoughts/experience with this service vs. others that would be best for me start with before launching my own website?

Thank you.

Wes

Mayce Hye · February 21, 2019 at 11:35 am

The Tips you have mentioned above are very beneficial for a beginner tutor who want to tutoring online. Thank you for your help!

Female Hot Spots Picture · August 11, 2019 at 10:56 am

Of course, what a splendid website and educative posts, I will bookmark your website.All the Best!

Zoe · October 16, 2019 at 11:42 pm

An individualized instruction is not only to enhance Math skills but also prepare your child for success. An online math tutor program will assist your child to achieve it. That is why, it is worth to try an online school for your kids.

Eleanor Johnson · November 20, 2019 at 12:13 pm

Hi Katie
thanks for all your great advice :-). The tablet link says not available new – you may want to update?
Eleanor (UK)

    Katie the Math Tutor · December 4, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Eleanor! I’m so glad you found it helpful 🙂 The tablet link is for the US, here is one for the UK. Best of luck!

Samantha, LearnZOE · December 5, 2019 at 3:47 am

Hi Katie. This article helps me a lot. I am also an online teacher and I’ve see some insight here. Thanks

Elly · January 19, 2020 at 9:20 am

Great info, Katie. really helpful website.
I was wondering about the tablet.
If the student doesn’t have one, could this work? or should I urge his parents to buy in order for the meetings to be more effective?
How much is it a deal breaker, from your experience? how much do students cope with not having a tablet through the meetings?
thanks a lot 🙂

mp3 songs · February 9, 2020 at 6:27 pm

I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!!
I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post…

Jessica · February 10, 2020 at 11:41 am

Good knowledge gaining article for the tutors who are interested to do online tutoring. Thanks a lot for this wonderful blog.

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