How To Build A Reputation As A Tutor

How To Build Reputation As A Tutor

Learn how to build a reputation as a tutor with this step-by-step guide. By following this guide, you’ll be ready to better serve your clients and reap the rewards of a reputation that precedes you.

How To Build A Reputation As A Tutor

So you’re a great tutor, right? You consistently lead your students down the path of success. You diligently work to encourage even the most apprehensive of students. So why shouldn’t you do everything in your power to get the word out about your services? If you’re truly a dedicated tutor, doing so is in the best interest of not only you but also your future clients.

But how can you let the world at large know how great of a tutor you are? Your efforts in this regard will be most fruitful by focusing on 1) building an online presence and 2) enabling word of mouth.

Build An Online Presence

Tutor profiles, blogs, and social media can be used together to establish yourself as both credible and knowledgeable.

Create a tutor profile that allows students to submit reviews
There are many advantages to maintaining a tutor profile on a site like The Knowledge Roundtable. Doing so can not only generate new student leads but also serve as a platform on which to collect and display testimonials and ratings from previous students. You can then share these testimonials with prospective students who inquire either on or off the site.

These testimonials can really make an impression on the parent. Imagine you were in their shoes and didn’t have any reviews to go by. You would of course want to find the most knowledgeable and effective tutor possible, but without the good word of a peer, you might feel the need to be hyper-vigilant in your pre-session interview and to perform a thorough critique of effectiveness after the first lesson. Sometimes this behavior can manufacture a crisis, so to speak. On the other hand, having been primed with one or more glowing reviews, you might feel confident to lower your guard and let the tutor do what they do best.

I can remember when I first started tutoring. Prospective students would always ask to speak on the phone and every conversation felt like a job interview. Over time, as I racked up positive reviews and built a reputation with my own site, prospective students stopped feeling the need to vet me. My initial contact with students now often consists of little more than a discussion about the best time to meet, and usually takes place entirely over email. Being able to skip the interrogation saves both parties a headache.

Start a blog or submit articles that demonstrate your knowledge
It’s one thing to hear good things second-hand, but it’s quite another to see things for oneself. If only a prospective student knew how brilliant you really were, right? Fortunately, modern technology makes it quick and easy to publish your own articles about anything and everything. Whether you’re an expert in aeronautical engineering, classical literature, or basket weaving, sharing your knowledge in a public setting is a sure way to build your reputation as a tutor.

To have the desired effect, that is, to build your reputation, you need to write consistently and promote your articles actively. If you don’t enjoy writing and sharing ideas, you will likely find this to be more effort than it is worth. You also should not expect results over night; it can take months to build an audience.

With that being said, many tutor directories, including The Knowledge Roundtable, accept article submissions from tutors and will post them directly in your tutor profile (in fact, we offer a 5% pay bonus to tutors who post at least one article). This offers the benefit of showing students that you are knowledgeable and know how to communicate effectively without the start-up costs of creating your own blog.

Use social media to connect and to broadcast
Making a name for yourself online would not be complete without social media profiles. I should first note that if you don’t have (or create) your own blog, social media won’t have a significant impact on your reputation as a tutor (nor will it generate new student leads). Though if you are just starting out as a tutor, you should at the very least make an announcement on all your existing social profiles that you are offering tutoring services. You never know who might need your services.

But if you do have (or plan to create) your own blog, promoting it on the following social sites is essential for building a reputation and an audience: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, and Reddit. A full guide is beyond the scope of this article, but click here for an infographic that I have personally found to be quite useful.

It’s important to focus on connection more than broadcasting when it comes to social media. You might get a few clicks per post if you just post your own links all the time, but if you make friends along the way by engaging with them and sharing their posts, you’ll create an ever-expanding network of interested readers.

Enable Word Of Mouth

Word of mouth is the single most powerful mechanism by which a tutor can build reputation. Making an impression on a parent can cause them to tell a dozen other parents about you. And if you helped that student achieve uncharacteristic results, those dozen parents will feel a sense of want for their own children. In addition, all of these parents will now be your eyes and ears; if they hear that someone they know is in need of a tutor, they are likely to share your information. It’s important that you have an online presence because some of these distant referees may not get any more than your name.

But how do you make students want to tell their friends about you? It starts with making a good impression, and ultimately depends on the results you deliver for the student.

Make a good impression
The parents of school-aged children are impressed by different things than are your friends (and even if your friends are parents of school-aged children, you’re still expected to present yourself a bit differently during a tutoring session). Obviously you want to conduct yourself accordingly, but what exactly are parents looking for?

Parents first and foremost need to trust you. They are asking you to spend one-on-one time with their kid and they need to know that you will conduct yourself professionally, but also in a manner that leaves you relatable to the student. They need to know that their kid won’t feel uncomfortable in any way. If you don’t have much experience interacting with children or teens of a certain age and feel at all unsure about yourself, the best approach is to follow the student’s lead. Beyond relatability to the student, candor and humility are your best tools for developing trust with the parent. Be honest about your level of expertise and your shortcomings, and be confident in a reassuring way, not in a boastful way.

Parents also need to know that you care about their child’s success and are devoted to helping them achieve it. If they sense that you’re only in it for the money or that you’re just going through the motions, they are unlikely to a) continue sessions beyond the minimum necessary to get their kid over the hump and b) give a positive review online or to their friends. The single best way to demonstrate your interest in the student’s success is to provide the parent with a thoughtful and detailed analysis of their child’s hurdles along with a road map for achieving their goals. In my personal experience, I’ve had students stay with me for months and years when I do this. And I’ve had students fall off after just a few lessons when I don’t.

Deliver results for students
This is a far broader topic than can be addressed here, but let’s simplify the process as much as possible and pick out the elements most relevant for building reputation.

First, “results” implies a measurable outcome. If you don’t help produce a tangible benefit that others can identify with, perhaps a test score increase or a grade jump, the word of mouth generated will not have the same impact. You would be far more impressed to hear that “my tutor helped Johnny increase his SAT score by 200 points!” than “my tutor helped Johnny study for the SAT and it really helped.” Establish a baseline with your students by assigning a diagnostic test early on, then set concrete goals that can be measured by test results or report cards.

With that being said, numerical score increases are not the only benefits of tutoring. In fact, they’re often not even what a parent is most concerned with. Confidence is critically important to the success of any student, and the majority of positive reviews will cite a student’s increased confidence level rather than their actual score or grade improvement. Such a review is equally valuable because the parents of prospective students understand the importance of confidence in their child’s success and are often disheartened by its absence in their child. Your mere presence, and the attention you give the student, is sometimes enough to affect a confidence boost. But in some cases you need to convince the student that they are in fact capable of not only understanding the material but mastering it. This is easily achieved by putting things in terms they understand, for if they understand now they can start to believe that they will understand next time.

Reap What You Sow

If you follow the steps above you will be on your way to tutor stardom. Your reputation as a great tutor will precede you. You will benefit from increased demand of your services, the parents of your students will benefit from knowing that they’ve found a great tutor for their child, and your students will benefit from the exceptional results you deliver for them.

Now that you know what you need to do, take action.

Don’t have a tutor profile?
Create a tutor profile

Already have a profile?
Submit a blog article

About Jared R

Jared, founder of The Knowledge Roundtable, is passionate about the advancement of knowledge. He has a B.S. in astronomy and physics from UMass and an MBA in Advanced Financial Analytics, also from UMass. He has a day job as a Data Scientist in Boston. He has over 500 hours of tutoring experience in everything from algebra to writing. He taught our SAT prep group courses for two years in NH, and before that developed educational content for math, stats, and finance textbooks for two years. His teaching style is hands-on with a focus on problem-solving and critical thinking.