As someone who was a pretty good student in school, I always thought tutoring would be a great side hustle. But while I never acted on it, Matt Fuentes did.
In this post, he breaks down the steps he took to build a $1000 a week tutoring business. He focuses on the ACT, a US college entrance exam, and has even written a book on the subject, but I believe you can apply these tactics to other tests or other academic subjects.
Take it away, Matt!
The ACT is a college entrance exam used by many colleges to rank students applying to their schools. The subject matter covers English grammar, reading comprehension, math, and science.
As a Side Hustle Nation reader, I want to show you how to get some some of that money!
Don’t fret if you aren’t a teacher. I will give you resources to gain the skills and they cost $0.
How My Tutoring Business Started
I am no genius; far from it. But I understood a need and decided to work towards being able to fill that need–and put money in my bank account at the same time.
That is what being an ACT tutor did for me. It gave me freedom and options. This post and my book on Amazon give you the knowledge and understanding to start your own ACT tutoring business and begin to earn extra money (money that can change your life).
My plan is easy to follow, and before you know it, you’re almost certain to gain clients and income.
A few years ago, I was struggling to make ends meet and had my first child on the way. Out to dinner one night, I met a couple who tutored and were earning great money, so I decided to try it out myself. I learned all the material, began to hustle, and reached out to everyone I knew!
Within the first month I had my first client, a middle school student I helped with reading comprehension. I made business cards and was handing them out to everyone.
And even though I branded myself as an ACT tutor, I found people calling me for other subjects. I was netting $200 a month already.
Within three months, I gained another six clients and averaged an hourly fee of $90. I had a few weeks where I was tutoring two students at once (a brother and sister) and earning $200 for the hour!
Nick’s Notes: Geez, no family discounts? :)
Within six months, I had raised my monthly tutoring income to over $2,000 and could barely keep up. I even took on a partner to handle the overflow. I was making money from students I wasn’t even tutoring myself!
Today I have a network of clients and referrals that keeps me busy and earning anywhere between $3,000-$4,000 a month.
Let me be clear again: I am no smarter than you or anyone else. I just followed certain steps and worked my tail off.
Why Niche Down Your Tutoring Offering?
A lot of people have asked me: why the ACT? Why narrow your focus on just one test?
There are a few reasons for that:
College entrance exams command the most money per session. Normal charges range from $75-125 per tutoring session.
Nick’s Notes: This makes sense as parents REALLY want their kids to do well so they can get into a great school.
The test won’t go away. I know stories are circulating about colleges accepting student applications without SAT or ACT scores, however the number of colleges doing this is miniscule. The test is here to stay and millions of kids take it.
Over 6.7 million test-takers completed the SAT® or a PSAT-related assessment during the 2015-16 school year, according to the 2016 SAT Suite of Assessments.
Another 2.1 million took the ACT. The clients are out there!
The test is offered year-round. The ACT is offered six times a year. There is really no down time, unlike subject-specific tutors who may only work with a student before tests or on specific topics.
You can have a steady stream of income year round.
Nick’s Notes: Another interesting tutoring opportunity is with VIPkid, a service that connects you via videochat to Chinese students learning English. Tutors can earn up to $22 per hour, and the only prerequisites are eligibility to work in the US or Canada, a bachelor’s degree and a year of educational, tutoring, or coaching experience.
After you complete your application, just remember to schedule your video interview. This is the single most important component of the application process. You will be asked to confirm a time for a live video interview with a VIPKID teaching team member. Live interviews must be scheduled and typically will happen within a couple days (sometimes up to a week) from the time a candidate applied.
Become an ACT Tutor Infographic
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Develop the Tutoring Skill Set
I was a decent test taker in high school. My SAT and ACT scores were top 25% within the United States. However, when I started to follow the system below, my scores skyrocketed and I realized I could truly turn my improved test-taking skills into a successful business.
It took time, effort and positive attitude. I knew the resources were out there; all I needed to do was DO THE WORK, and the same is for you.
1. Get to the library. Use the free resources at your local library regarding the ACT.
Nick’s Notes: Don’t like the library? You can grab some test prep material on Amazon as well.
2. Take a practice test. See what areas you need help in and what you already know.
3. Find online resources. There is an abundance of materials on the Internet.
Nick’s Notes: Here’s just one free site to help you improve your ACT scores.
4. Set up a practice schedule. Dedicate time each day to develop the skills.
Pricing Your Tutoring Service
I set my initial prices based on my needs and so should you. (How much do you need to earn to make this extra work worthwhile?)
For instance, $80 is my lowest hourly rate, $120 is my highest. Pricing also depends on the factors below and how selective you choose to be.
- Location. Can your prospective clients pay high end prices or do you have to cut rates?
- Demand. How many high schools are in your immediate area?
- Feel. Are the people you are talking with willing to pay for your service?
As I become busier, my time became worth more and my rate went up. I had also developed a following and could mention previous clients in order to justify higher rates.
If a referred client asked for the same rate as the referrer, I politely mentioned that I had other people ready to pay more and how limited my time was. That little statement about how in-demand my services were jumped my “close rate” to over 90%.
Marketing Your Tutoring Service
You might be wondering how I got my first clients. Here were the most effective marketing tactics I used.
Text and email everyone you know.
Literally everyone. Let them know of the service you are offering.
I have found this the best way to gain clients. Mention that you have started this business and wanted to let them know, even if they may not have the need. They may know someone who does!
Nick’s Notes: In this way, your network is really your network’s network, and that’s where the magic happens. Matt made it easy for people to refer potential clients to him by letting them know exactly what he was doing.
Be polite. I would sometimes say, “I hate to bother you, however wanted to let you know…” or “Hope all is well! Just wanted to drop a line that I recently started tutoring for the ACT, should you know someone feel free to send my number.”
In the hundreds of texts and emails I have sent out, I have NEVER had someone ask me to not talk to them or that they found my message spammy.
Make business cards.
Business cards make you look legitimate, and give you something to leave behind with clients and referral partners.
Offer a free seminar.
Call your local library, schools and recreation centers. Plenty of prospective clients want free information, and these places are a great way to deliver it in a one-to-many environment.
I have personally hosted events at coffee shops, libraries and local recreations centers. I specifically say the event will be FREE, however I ask for permission to hand out my business cards at the end of the event.
Nick’s Notes: I call this tactic tapping into Other People’s Audiences, and we covered it in detail on the podcast, where my guest booked $9k worth of work using a very similar plan.
I have gained dozens of clients from these events, netting me thousands of dollars.
Not every event is standing room only, and that’s OK. I’ve had workshops with only 5 people and some with as many as 60.
I never really worry about getting crazy high numbers as EACH person attending is a possible client. Five people can net me 2 clients and over a $1,000 a month.
To advertise, I would create my own flyer and ask the specific host to put in on their website and bulletin boards.
For example, here’s a workshop I did at a local coffeeshop:
Here’s an example of my workshop being advertised in the local library’s newsletter:
Follow these steps and work the plan. I guarantee people will start calling you and asking for tutoring services. In one day you can text and email all of your contacts. In one day you can call all libraries, schools, coffee houses and recreation centers and book at least 1 free seminar.
The plan is simple, but it takes HUSTLE!
Good luck and I hope you start raking in the cash!
Nick here again. What do you think? Viable side hustle?
Think you can take Matt’s tactics and build a tutoring business?
Again if you don’t want to go through all Matt’s steps to build your own client base, you might consider joining VIPkid, a service that lets you earn up to $22 an hour tutoring English to students in China via videochat.
The only prerequisites are eligibility to work in the US or Canada, a bachelor’s degree and a year of educational, tutoring, or coaching experience.