Tutor Survey August 2020

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I recently conducted a survey on tutors across North America which brought up some fresh ideas on how tutors find new students, which I want to share with you. 

The survey had 191 responses. 59 men and 132 women. Ages ranged between 25 and 44. From big cities and small towns all across America. From New Market, TN to Los Angeles, CA.

Some of the ways tutors were finding new students surprised me. 

Maybe you’ll pick up a trick or two yourself. 

There were the expected responses such advertising on Facebook, Google, and registering on tutoring websites. But there were also some innovative ways that I came across in the process. 

The Challenge

COVID-19 has impacted us all and adapting new technology and navigating remote teaching methods came up as the biggest challenge tutors were facing currently.   

Last year, this time, the number one challenge was attracting new students and it comes at a close second this year. 

Pro tip:

If you aren’t surveying your students, I highly recommend starting now. You’ll be amazed at what you learn. If you want to get this set up for your target audience, leave a comment.

Anyway, back to the survey:

Here are the questions that were asked: 

  1. What motivated you to become a tutor?
  2. Do you do any other work besides tutoring? 
  3. What other kinds of work do you do besides tutoring? 
  4. What subjects do you teach?
  5. What age group do you teach? 
  6. How do you find new students? 
  7. What are your biggest challenges as a tutor?
  8. How are you overcoming your challenges?

You’ll find some valuable insights for each of the questions as you read along.


1. What motivated you to become a tutor?
August 2020 survey

Well over 60% of tutors were in it to help students and because they loved teaching. 

I love seeing that look of pride when a child finally grasps a concept they were struggling with. I enjoy helping students overcome educational obstacles and reaching their full potential.

This response truly captures the emotion and feelings behind what motivates most tutors. 

Why do YOU tutor? I’d love to hear about it. 


2. Do you do any other work besides tutoring? 

For most tutors, as much as they loved teaching, it only was a part time job. 

3. Their full time jobs were: 

33% of the tutors surveyed were career educators. A lot of the others loved teaching and helping students learn, but weren’t able to make it a full time occupation. 

If you’re on the fence and would like to do more of what you love, I’ve got a few ideas on how you can make tutoring your full time job.

More on that below… 

4. What subjects do you teach?
august 2020 survey

Math and English appear to be the most in-demand subjects for tutors surveyed.

Note that 67% of the respondents to this survey taught school level students. So this might vary if you’re teaching other groups.

5. What age group do you teach?
6. How do you find new students? 

It’s both interesting and sad that the only source of new students for most tutors is word of mouth. 

Mainly because it’s unpredictable, and totally out of your control. We find ourselves reliant on the good nature and memory of other people to grow our businesses. 

That’s not a healthy way to grow a business, and I suspect you’ve found the same too. 

Relying on someone else to grow your business or anything else in your life isn’t a very sound strategy. 

Tutor websites have their issues – too many tutors, driving down prices and quality. If you rely exclusively on a tutor website to get new students, you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

Here’s a comment from a survey respondent that describes it perfectly… 

I am just continuing to slowly accumulate more students and relying on their word of mouth. Yesterday one of my students asked if he could give me contact info to his friends, which was very exciting! I can get about double the pay rate from tutoring students directly that I can on one of the online tutoring services. I have thought about listing myself on websites that advertise tutors, but I am skeptical that will work since I won’t have reviews. But I may try it anyway.

Social media is a great way to drive students (or their parents) to your tutoring business. However, without a solid repeatable system in place, this method will also fail. 

7. What are your biggest challenges as a tutor?

This year, it should come as no surprise that a lot of tutors are having difficulty moving all of their tutoring online. 

Besides the easier to solve problem of the technology, there are even more fundamental problems like keeping students engaged, and being able to interact and help them as they run into difficulties. 

How have you overcome challenges with remote learning? Tell me in the comments. 

The next biggest challenge continues to be finding new students. I recommend a well thought out online strategy to attract and sign up new students. 


8. How are you overcoming your challenges?

Here’s a few of the ideas that survey respondents came up with. 

Some of these are great and you can immediately use these in your business.

Show my results to attract more…

This is the concept of using social proof.

Are you using student testimonials, or Google reviews, or images of score cards to add legitimacy to your claims? 

I am incentivizing current clients to refer me to other kids and families

A referral system can be helpful, but can also backfire if the recipient of the referral feels like they’re only getting referred for the gain of the referrer.

If you’re considering a referral system, I recommend a referral where both parties benefit. For ex. Both get a $$ discount, or even better – both get free extra time tutoring. 

And encourage transparency with the referral system, to build trust. 

I am currently looking into marketing myself more towards students who would like to use me long term (rather than just one subject, but multiple subjects), as well as market myself towards middle school and high school students

Get very specific with your audience. Sure, you may be able to teach any students from K to 12. But that dilutes the message. 

If you had a chronic medical condition, would you rather see a general practitioner or a specialist? 

I am posting my information on facebook pages for parents to reach out to me.

Know your audience. If you’re targeting younger students, then the decision maker is the parent. Tailor your messages to the concerns of the parent.

I always have a free consultation about preferred teaching methods with student in question.

Try before you buy is a great idea.

Risk reversal works amazing, and a great way to expand your pool of students by dedicating a small portion of your time regularly to build your network. 

For instance, the free food samples at Costco do so well because people have a inbuilt need to reciprocate after having received something for free with no expectation of return.

Whenever I write to a student, I make sure that I write a nice paragraph to them about what makes me qualified to be their tutor and why I am still a good choice even though I’m not traditionally certified. I have found that this helps the students know more about me and trust me.

I cannot emphasize the importance of building trust enough.

I have talked to a lot of students and I have noticed that they often call their friends to join them in the tutoring sessions. I can tutor 3 students at a time and they feel more comfortable when there’s someone else asking questions.

Have you considered offering online tutoring to small groups of students for a slightly higher cost?

Splitting the costs between 2-3 students makes an offering very attractive, and the message will spread very fast. 

We have offered different incentives for students that join during a certain time period, such as a free trial of the service, reduced fee, and reduced registration fee.

New student incentives can reduce friction immensely.

Don’t hesitate to offer incentives to new students. After that, you’ll find it’s much easier to retain a student once they’ve worked with you, than try to get a new student to try you out for the first time. 

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing with your tutoring business? And how have you overcome them?

Not getting students on tutoring websites?

Students are looking for tutors on these sites.

But no one is contacting you.

You don't understand why no one is clicking on your profile.