How To Build Relationships With Your Students

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Google Helpouts: Yay or Nay?

VivianaGoogle on Tuesday introduced Helpouts to connect customers to experts for one-on-one teaching sessions. The tool enables people to “get real help from real people in real time“.

What does that mean? You search for a topic you need help with and chose a “teacher” that can explain you whatever you need to know. For example, you can request a Wardrobe Stylist consultation, Spanish lesson or get support for home repair. The teacher sets a price for their time spent with you and Google gets chunk of that money, naturally.

Looks pretty cool, right? Many people think so, others not so much. Reactions from both camps have been quite strong.
Here is a snapshot of the main arguments:

New or Old?

While some declare the new marketplace for real-time help a game-changer…

And see Google as a leader in innovation…

SummiyahMalik

This is AWESOME. Google be the God of Internet innovation and initiation t.co/BHaXfJbqRP

Others accuse Google of copying their Startup idea…

And some are simply not sure what we can expect from it.

Community or Business?

Are Google Helpouts going to help people find useful advice or will the space will overloaded with “retail heavy-hitters” trying to gain more visibility?

It’s quite hard to say at this stage. Google Helpouts already offer some great expert tips for free.

At the same time, many small businesses will turn to this platform to promote their services and use it as yet another way to try and grab attention of their potential customers.

Awesome or Lame?

What do you think?

You can find the original Storify here.

Marketing for Teachers: How to Sell Out Your Courses

VivianaYou think marketing isn’t for you? Think about it this way: If you don’t fill up your classes, you don’t maximize all the work you put into the preparation and planning of your course. It’s like blogging. Writing a great content will only get you so far. You need to actively spread your content to reach out to those who are interested in it, but don’t know you exist…YET!

We want to see fruition of your efforts to create your courses. That’s why we put together some tips and resources to set you off on your way:

1. Know your customer

The first step in any marketing activity is to understand your audience. To whom should you market and how do you most efficiently reach them?

What you should know about the students who are most likely to purchase your services:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • socioeconomic status
  • demographic or physiographic traits
Asian family shopping

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Are you teaching kids or adults? Does your discipline skew towards one gender? It is always a good idea to start marketing your teaching services in the nearby vicinity, and then branching out as the word about how great your classes are spreads. Price is another important factor that will determine your target audience. Some people prefer highly experienced tutor and are gladly willing to pay higher hourly rate. Others look for the cheapest private teacher on the market and are willing to sacrifice the quality.

It is always a good idea to do a bit of research and find your niche within or around your discipline. Maybe you find out there is a high demand for your subject in a certain age group or that people are interested in a specific area that is not easily available in your town. Try and narrow your expertise down to something more specific and start growing your student base incrementally.

2. Reach your audience

Now that you determined your target demographic, you need to research how to best reach them. You have a myriad of options when it comes to marketing your business. The critical part is to choose the most effective mediums. Are you willing to pay for advertising or are you going to rely on free media? Are you going to promote your courses in the real world, online or both?

Audience at concert

Image by Nomadic Lass via Flickr

How to determine the best method

This is why understanding your audience is so important. You want to be wherever they are! If you provide educational services for kids, you want to appear wherever their parents are. If you target the younger crowd, you will probably be using social media channels to promote your classes. Or you might want to hold an event to showcase your handicraft skills where  your potential students can learn some basics and get interested in your craft.

It is OK to experiment and try different methods. Testing is one of the vital parts of any successful marketing strategy execution. Make sure you measure the results of each activity so that you can easily determine the most effective one!

No matter how you plan to promote your services, there are some universally proven tactics that will help you sell out your courses:

Start marketing well in advance

Time

Image by Lel4nd via Flickr

Whatever method or channel you choose, allow time to spread your message. Especially if you are new in the business or you just launched a new course. Start marketing your classes 3-6 months in advance. The marketing cycle takes longer than you think. You can start blogging about topics related to your course and start collecting email addresses of your followers.

You can hold events and ask people to give you their phone numbers to get notified when you launch the course. There are many ways you can spread the word about your services and collect contact details of those interested in them. You just need to start early enough. Don’t get disappointed if your first course doesn’t sell out. You have to build your reputation over time!

Offer discounts and freebies 

Sale

Image by by IvanWalsh.com via Flickr

Everyone loves deals! No matter what your opinion is on offers and discounts, they work. If your offer is good enough, people just won’t say NO. There is a trap though. By giving everyone a discount, you lose money on the customers who would otherwise be willing to pay the full price.

Be smart about your offers. Create online custom codes and share then only with your followers. Print special flyers that you only distribute in certain cafes. You can create custom codes with different offers according to who you’re targeting. Again, experiment with what works the best and roll out the most effective method.

Give the first lesson for free. Or offer the entire course for a reduced rate in exchange for a review or a blog post. This way you can build your reputation faster and gain the very much needed credibility.

Provide a money-back guarantee

Guaranteed

Image by missfitzphotos via Flickr

Guarantees help build trust. People are more comfortable buying your service if they see that you offer a satisfaction guarantee. Although most of them will never ask for their money back, it creates a sense of confidence in them.

You will probably have to see whether a free first lesson or a money back guarantee work better for you. Neil Patel provides a comprehensive case study of the two tactics in this article. Try both, measure the results, and decide which alternative is the best for your business!

A standard 30-day money back guarantee can make the difference between someone enrolling into your class or not. Your course cannot be possibly suitable for anyone so do not take it personally if people do ask for their money back. You should rather try to use this as an opportunity to receive an honest feedback.

How do you sell out your courses? Do you have a proven method? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we will explain some effective online marketing tactics for your teaching business.

Did you like our post? Keep in touch for more updates and great links:

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Get the Word Out: How to Market Your Courses Offline

VivianaThe biggest challenge of any new business is to get a continuous flow of clients. And new tutors or teachers are no exception to the rule. Let’s have a look at how you can spread the word about your teaching business with a limited budget. It is the combination of your marketing activities and your reputation that will help you attract new students and grow your business.

Low Cost Methods for Offline Marketing

Notice Board Advertising

Bulletin boards are great places for advertising your teaching business; new or old. They usually get a lot of traffic from your target audience – students and/or their parents. What are the best locations for placing your advertisements? Schools, community centers, public libraries or cafes are one of the best places to promote your services. Try to maximize your reach by advertising in as many of these locations in your area.

Notice Board

Image by by Stew Dean via Flickr

Read more: How to Advertise Offline

Leafleting and Flyers

Another easy and affordable way to spread the word about your teaching services is to distribute leaflets and flyers. It is a popular marketing method for small businesses. Unaddressed mailbox distribution involves delivering flyers to homes or offices in your area. It is a mass marketing method on a local scale with a great possibility to reach your target audience. Door-drop marketing is an affordable option that can bring you in new students. You just need to be careful not to breach any regulations that apply to this method; e.g. “No Junkmail” system in Australia.

Read more: Leafleting in your area

Local Print

Local Print

Image by ilamont.com via Flickr

Advertising in your local newspaper is definitely a great way to let your potential customers know about your business. You will be guaranteed a certain amount of eyeballs and can target your audience by choosing the right publisher. On the other hand, this is probably the most expensive option you have. You might want to use this type of advertising for special promotions and deals to increase the impact of your advertising dollars.

Read more: Print is Dead? Not so Fast.

Merchandise

Branded merchandise can mean pretty much anything with your brand/name/logo on it. A cup, pen or a calendar – anything. Since you are only a starting brand and people have no incentive to show your brand, you want to provide them with something useful. Think about what products can be a good fit for your students.

Read more: How to Make Great Brand Merchandise

Referrals

Word of Mouth

Image by dobrych via Flickr

Word of mouth is a truly powerful marketing method, namely for small business. However, it takes a long time. How can you help the process of spreading the word? Incentivize your current students. Offer them discounts for inviting their friends to join. Leverage your relationships with advocates and influencers to help share your message. Offer them something of value when they work with your brand.

Read More: 4 Steps to Executing a Successful Influencer-Driven, Word-Of-Mouth Campaign

Do you use some interesting offline methods that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we will explain some effective online marketing tactics for your teaching business.

Did you like our post? Keep in touch for more updates and great links:

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How to Set Your Tutoring Rate (Part 6)

VivianaThe pricing decision is a crucial one when starting your tutoring or private teaching business. I highly recommend doing a bit of market research as there is an enormous range in the prices in this market. You need to find the RIGHT rate for YOUR services; you don’t want to sell yourself short, but you still need enough students to pay your bills.

How do you determine the right lessons fee for your teaching business?

1. Do Your Own Research

Start with looking around to see what other teachers or tutors charge for their classes. Call teachers offering similar classes and ask for their rates. There are a lot of online forums out there where you can ask other teachers about their fees. Another option is to check Craiglist or Gumtree to see what what is the average rate in your area.

Money

Image by Aaron Patterson via Flickr

TIP: Do not charge less than your competition! Why? First, it sends a signal that you are an amateur without experience. There are people out there who are willing to pay a premium for a reputable teacher. Second, it is always easier to lower your price if you’re not able to attract students at that rate.

2. Consider Your Location 

World Map

Image by Nina Matthews Photography via Flickr

Your location is one of the most important aspects to determine your tutoring rate. In general, prices are higher in big urban areas than in rural regions. You should also take into account your local economy. What does a term of music lessons or dance classes cost? This should give you a rough idea of how much are people willing to pay for extracurricular activities in your area.

3. Evaluate Your Experience

Do you have more or less experience than other tutors who offer comparable classes? Do you have special skills that are currently in high demand? Have you received any awards for your work or do you have extensive performance experience? Naturally, the more experience you have, the more you can charge for your lessons. Have a good think about what sets you apart and what you can offer to your students.

4. Consider Your Educational Background

College Degree

Image by nyuhuhuu via Flickr

What is your highest degree of education? Someone with a PhD can usually charge a lot more than someone with a BA. Do you have a pedagogical background or did you do some kind of a teacher training? Do you have the necessary qualifications to work with children in your country?

As a rule of thumb, any credentials you can show to your prospective students can help. Some parents might place quite a lot of importance on degrees and prefer to pay more for a well educated and experienced tutor or private teacher.

5. Define Your Target Market

Are you targeting higher income individuals or poorer families?  Why do your students attend your classes? Do they need a certificate at the end of the course? Another important factor is the size of the group – Are you offering individual, small group or large group classes?

6. Think About the Nature of Your Subject

Some disciplines require a significant time for preparation while others are not as time-consuming. Do you need to spend a lot of time studying and improving your skills yourself? Are the study materials expensive? Does your subject require a special qualification which is hard to obtain? If you are teaching common subjects such as English or Maths, you normally cannot charge as much for your classes as someone offering specialized IT training.

7. Factor the Distance you Have to Travel

If you offer private lessons at your students’ home, you are likely to spend many hours travelling. Don’t forget to factor this time to your rates as you would otherwise sell yourself short and end up being frustrated with how much you get paid per hour. On the other hand, if you teach at a particular location, this factor is probably irrelevant for you as you have one base for all your classes.

At the end of the day, the amount you can charge for your services depend on the students’ willingness to pay. It’s all about supply and demand and you need to find your sweet spot. Charge everyone exactly the same fee. You don’t want people to find out that someone else is paying less for your classes.

Do you have any other tips on how to determine a lessons fee? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share your comments below.

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Part 5. Teaching Face-To-Face Versus Online

VivianaRecent proliferation of online educational tools has changed the way learning experiences are created and shared. Both teachers and students have access to a great variety of online options to either deliver or access classes. Understanding the pros and cons of the different formats can help you decide which environment best suits your needs.

Face-To-Face

Student and Tutor

Photo by Tulane Public Relations via Flickr

Face-to-face method implies that the lessons are delivered fully on-site with face-to-face interaction between the teacher or tutor and student. This does not mean digital resources and technologies cannot be used as a part of the course. In many cases, they do complement classroom learning and can serve as additional study materials.

Advantages

  • multi-sensory appeal – your students can listen, ask you questions, see your presentations and participate in class activities
  • immediate feedback – you can see when students don’t understand and can immediately interact with them

Disadvatages

  • limited flexibility – you need to follow a set schedule which is not necessarily the best learning time for everyone. Unless you record your lessons, students have only one chance to keep up with the requirements.
  • distraction – students get easily distracted in group classes

A face-to-face meeting in a classroom imposes accountability, inspires effort and promotes academic responsibility in subtle ways that we don’t fully appreciate. On a campus, students attend class and stay alert because they worry what the teacher will think if they don’t.

~ Adam D. Chandler; Learning in Classroom Versus Online

Online

Online teaching workspace

Photo by athlwulf via Flickr

An online course is a distance learning course that is provided entirely through a digital learning management system. All assessments occur within the online platform. Students usually interact with their teachers and peers via classroom chats or forums.

It is namely the rising popularity of “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) that is disrupting traditional education and changing the way learning experiences are delivered, accessed and shared.

Advantages

  • convenience – you can manage the course from anywhere at any time. Your students can do their coursework at their own pace from the comfort of their home.
  • efficiency – you save both money and time on travelling and copying materials. Online courses also allow you to reach a wider audience without geographical limitations.

Disadvantages

  • self-discipline – online courses can be challenging it terms of time management and motivation, especially for students. It is difficult for the instructor to stimulate engagement and motivation of the class.
  • limited interaction  the common downsides of online education can be a lack of personal contact and limited student-teacher and student-student interaction. There is a higher potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Good courses, whether on campus or online, are engaging and foster active learning communities. In the best online courses, learners connect, collaborate, inspire, discover and create through myriad technologies.

~ Sara Hill; Learning in Classroom Versus Online

Blended

A blended or hybrid course is a combination of the two methods outlined above. A portion of a course is delivered online and a portion is delivered on-site face-to-face.

Blended Learning

Photo by Cooperating School Districts of STL via Flickr

Advantages 

  • variability – using a variety of online and in-class teaching strategies make it possible to achieve learning objectives more effectively
  • the best of both – a good blended course can take advantage of the pros of both traditional and online education. It allows for class interaction as well as interactive and independent learning activities that are not possible in traditional courses.

Disadvantages

  • challenge – teaching a blended course can be quite challenging. You have to manage content for both online and in-class and prepare students to work in a hybrid format.

Another popular way of teaching is via Skype where student and teacher interact almost face-to-face using video calls. This method allows you to broaden you reach and has similar characteristics to traditional one-on-one education. Many instructors also use Google Hangouts for their classes as it provides them with additional tools that can improve students’ learning experience.

There is no good or bad delivery method of your classes. It ultimately depends on your discipline and your personal preference in terms of how you want to manage your courses.

How do you deliver your classes? What are the challenges you are facing? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share your comments below.

Did you like our post? Next week, we will cover how to set your tutoring rates. Keep in touch for more updates and great links:

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 4. Lesson Policy

VivianaProtecting your teaching business is as important as building it. Sooner or later you will have to deal with students cancelling classes or paying late. This can have a negative effect on your business growth and can quickly zap you of enthusiasm. Be one step ahead and create a Lesson Policy Agreement to establish the rules. It is crucial to create and maintain a teacher-student relationship in order for the lessons to be successful.

Every tutor, studio or school will have different conditions under which the operate. At the same time, there are some common areas that should be included in every lesson policy. It is always better to have things spelled out in a written document to form a partnership where everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. Your lesson policy should be fair to both parties to protect you as well as the student.

This information is meant to serve as guide only. You should always seek the advice of a professional  before acting on it.

Roles and Responsibilities

Rules for the teacher

Image by mick62 via Flickr

What is your responsibility as a teacher and what do you commit to? In this section you can outline your teaching style and your role as a teacher in terms of motivation and encouragement of your students; as well as your commitment to creating a stimulating and friendly atmosphere.

What do you expect from your students and what are their responsibilities towards you and your lessons? Perhaps you can specify how often you expect them to practice, state whether you will require them to complete their weekly assignments, or explain that it is their responsibility to show up on time.

These points may sound like a common sense but it is always good to lay down the ground rules to articulate a set of expected behaviors for everyone.

Attendance

It’s a common practice to require certain attendance rate for your course, namely if you provide some kind of certificate at the end of the term. Students are usually required to miss no more than 20 – 25% of the classes. This can be an important information for some people as they might need a course completion certificate for their employer or school.

Cancellations and Reschedules

Closely related to the attendance point is a question of cancellations and reschedules. From talking to many freelancing tutors and teachers, I understand this is one of the main issues they have to deal with and that continuously frustrates them. Even though you put your conditions down on paper, people will try and negotiate with you later and request make-up lessons when they are not, according to your policy, entitled to them. It’s ultimately at your discretion how strictly you will stick to the rules, but you need to be prepared for these situations.

Schedule

Image by theogeo

What you should consider when creating your cancellation policy:

  • How much notice will you require for reschedule?
  • Will you allow exceptions to this requirement, e.g. illness, family emergency?
  • Who will determine the time of make-up lessons?
  • Will you allow reschedules of make-ups?
  • How do you want to be notified of scheduling issues and cancellations?
  • Will you issue credits for cancelled classes?
  • What is the notice period required for termination of the course?
  • Will you charge a fine for terminating the course before the end date?

I did some research around and it seems to be fairly common to ask for 24-48 hour notice for any schedule changes. Same day cancellations and no shows usually results in full lesson fee being forfeited with no rescheduling available. In most cases, make-up lessons are solely based on teacher’s availability and cannot be rescheduled again. I also came across a teacher who has a make-up lesson week at the end of each semester for all students who missed a lesson, which I thought was a great way to deal with this issue. It is a common practice not to issue credits for cancelled classes, unless cancelled by the teacher. Some teachers reserve the right to terminate the contract after two unexcused absences, some charge a fine if the student terminates the course early. The conditions differ from business to business.

It might be a good idea to include all days with no lessons held in your policy, e.g. public holidays or school holidays. Do your lessons follow the local school calendar? Are they weather dependent?  If so, indicate what will happen in the case of bad weather.

Read more about make-up lessons:

Payment

Money

Image by martinhoward via Flickr

This is obviously one of the most important parts of your lesson policy as it determines how you will get paid for your teaching services. You have to determine how much you will charge for you classes and what are the conditions of any discount you may offer. Specify how and when you want to be paid. Do you want your students to pay on a monthly basis or do you require them to pay the entire course upon enrollment? Will you accept late payments? How are you going to deal with consistently overdue accounts? These are some thought starters for you to consider. In any case, you might want to seek the advice of an accountant and/or a lawyer to determine the best terms and conditions for your business.

Teacher Absence and Refunds

As mentioned earlier, you need to decide under which conditions you will issue refunds for cancelled classes. It is recommendable that you, as a business, offer compensation for services you could not provide; for any reason. In the event of absence from your part, you might want to offer make-up lessons based on the student’s availability. If you don’t find a suitable time, issuing them a credit is probably the best solution.

Some more questions to think about: How much notice will you have to let them know of your absence? What happen in case you need to terminate the entire course due to unforeseen circumstances?

Tardiness

Time Flies

Image by Alan Cleaver via Flickr

How long are you willing to wait for your students? Again, it’s ultimately up to you, but you it’s a good idea to include this in you lesson policy so they are not surprised next time they arrive twenty minutes late and you’re gone. To play fair, you should apply the same time limit to yourself and offer them a make-up class or a refund if you are significantly late. Having said that, you want to aim at not being late under any circumstances! It is your prime responsibility to be on time and prepared for each lesson.

What Is Included

What is covered in the tuition and what is not? Do you provide your students with any study materials as part of the course? Are your travel expenses included in the fee? Are students expected to bring any specific books, tools and equipment? This will obviously depend of what you teach and where. Just make sure everyone knows exactly what they’re paying for, so there is no surprises later.

I hope by now you are ready to create your own Lesson Policy Agreement. Do you have any other tips I didn’t include in the post? I’d love to know them, so please share them with us in the comments section.

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