Find Students by Sharing Your Knowledge, NOT by “Selling Yourself”

Instead of “marketing” do these 5 things to share your passion, create value, and get more students.

Finding students to teach and tutor online effectively is a key skill for becoming a successful tutorpreneur. But, for many educators who are ready to make the leap to building their brand for remote teaching (and after COVID, who isn’t) the prospect of searching for clients seems daunting. It boils down to one very uncomfortable word: marketing.

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Photo by Ruthson Zimmerman on Unsplash

Many educators pick their careers because they love learning their chosen subject and sharing that passion with their students. The images conjured up by that “m” can immediately set off your internal alarms. Marketing your services can seem like bragging, or drawing attention to yourself which can feel uncomfortable. What’s worse, a lot of influencers and wanna-be gurus have already made the online environment obnoxious, annoying, and loud.

Of course, the option of doing nothing to find students is also stressful. Just making an account on a website (or even making an account on all of them) is unlikely to bring you many students. There’s always the managed route, of course, like working for a tutoring company. With that comes a loss of autonomy, costing you the ability to pick your clients, and even restrictions on your curriculum, resource choice, and approach.

If being in control of your teaching is important to you, building your own practice will allow you the greatest freedom in what, how, and whom you teach. So, what can you do? Do you have start (ugh) marketing?

No, not in the way that you think (or fear).

In fact, the students who are looking to learn what you have to teach likely don’t like being marketed to. Here are a few steps to help you build an audience of potential students who share your passion, all without being inauthentic or sales-y. Here are a few simple steps to start building your community and finding new students while actively providing value to the world:

Make Useful, Good Things

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Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

As a passionate educator, you know a lot about something. Whether you are helping non-native speakers feel more confident by teaching English in 2-minute chunks or inspiring the next generation of Anthropologists, there is an audience out there for what you know. Creating interesting content is easy when you’re already passionate about the subject. There’s no prescribed format, no limitation on how short or long you want to make your video or blog post. You can even give short educational lessons on Tick-Tock, 14 seconds at a time!

The beauty of this approach is that you get to figure out more about what you like about the subject you teach, as well as how you like to communicate. By making useful, good things that YOU like, you make it easy to connect with those students who like these very same things.

The key to this approach is consistency. Publishing regularly speeds up your discoverability and helps build an audience. While you are not likely to become a YouTube star overnight, making a short daily video will help you get a jump-start.

An easy way to start is to take a survey of what is already being made in your domain, then fill in the gaps. If there’s already a lot of in-depth and technical content, maybe giving short but useful overviews will help introduce more people to the subject. Do you see a lot of general, shallow content? Making accessible but in-depth videos will give a breath of fresh air to those who are looking to get more immersed. Regardless of what your niche is, experiment, analyze your content performance and inject your personality into the mix. You’re a tutorpreneur because you have something to say, and the world wants to hear from the real, authentic you.

Think of Yourself as a Consultant

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Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Teaching is no longer about simply knowing information and repeating it to an audience. In fact, we don’t believe that that was EVER what teaching was about. What we mean is, information is no longer scarce. There are more resources than ever to help people learn new skills. Over at The Learning Stack we are helping learners figure out how to navigate these options to make their learning efficient and fun. As a tutor, your most important ability is to help your students navigate the overwhelming amount of information that’s out there.

By thinking of yourself as a learning consultant, you can deliver significantly more value to a learner than a tutorial, book, or even an online course could ever do. Help your students and your audience (think of them as your potential future students) navigate the resources and structure their learning efficiently. You will create value for them by helping save time, dispel confusion, and maybe even save someone from abandoning the subject altogether.

By paying attention to what barriers stand between the average student and mastery of the subject, you will be able to help students break through these barriers. That’s something for which many a student is only too happy to pay a tutor.

Solve Real-World Problems

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Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

As you are growing your audience and community, interaction is key. Finding what people learning your subject are interested in, why they are learning, and what difficulties they are having can help inspire more discoverable content, and help you create more valuable lesson plans.

Go beyond that and help others by providing advice, whether on Twitter, Quora, in your YouTube comments, or wherever you find people looking for answers. By giving practical, actionable advice you are building trust with the community, becoming seen as someone who cares about others and has valuable advice to give. Your reputation and attitude will help attract those interested in the subject matter and help build your following further. Give good, useful answers, but make sure that you make it easy for someone to discover your tutoring practice and your online content. Links to your site, YouTube channel, blog, or even an online tutoring platform (like tutor.id) will help you grow your community and business.

Adopt the Abundance Mindset, But Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For What You Want

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Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash

The attitude you adopt in your communications to the world is as important as the actual content of your communication. The Abundance Mindset means being genuinely happy for the success of others, embracing change and transformation, and feeling confident in the idea that there are enough good things for everyone. This last bit is important. By sharing what you know, you are not taking away from yourself, but creating more knowledge in the world.

That said, you should also be careful about your resources. A typical small business or entrepreneur spends 50% of their work time on (ugh) marketing. While this seems pretty standard, we don’t want you to fall into the trap of seeing your community-building and sharing value as a chore. It shouldn’t be. Creating content and engaging with an audience should be fun, meaningful, and educational. It should be educational not just for your audience, but for you, too. You don’t owe anyone your time or knowledge.

As long as you are learning and enjoying the process of building your online presence, keep going. Once you start feeling like you “have to” (instead of “get to”) talk about your subject, it’s time to reassess. Whether it means taking a break, concentrating on something else, or changing up tactics, you should insist on enjoying your work. You became or are in the process of becoming a tutorpreneur on purpose. Stick to it. And, of course, when in doubt, make content that actually makes YOU happy first.

While sharing your insight is productive and good for you, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what YOU need. You are an online tutor, after all, and if someone needs complex advice or a lot of your time, suggest they book a lesson with you. Ask your audience to subscribe and share your content. It works. Ask for your audience to check out your tutoring service. Ask your clients for referrals. If you want something, ask.

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Photo by Mareko Tamaleaa on Unsplash

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