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.

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Score Your Dream Job: Become a Fashion Stylist

Wendy MakWendy Mak is a Success Stylist™ who helps women entrepreneurs get the successful mindset and realize their full potential. Wendy is a well-known fashion stylist (as seen on The Morning Show, Channel 10 and Today Tonight), coach, and regular media commentator on all things stylish.

When I started my personal styling business there was no training available and I struggled to find a mentor and coach in this industry who was willing to teach me what they knew.

Fast forward to today and I’m proud to say I lead one of the most amazing styling agencies in Australia.

Now I’ve packaged my knowledge in running a successful styling business into an easy-to-understand, fun short course on how to become a personal fashion stylist, so that you don’t have to go through my experience when starting out.

A personal fashion stylist is quite a unique profession. How did you come up with the idea to become one?

When I first decided to start my own business as a personal stylist, I saw a gap in the market. At the time there really were only more traditional image consultants or very expensive fashion stylists for celebrities / someone with lots of money to spend. No one was offering an affordable service to help the every day woman with her wardrobe and style dilemmas.

What were the main challenges you faced as a starting fashion stylist without reputation?

Because personal styling as a service wasn’t very common in Australia at the time, a lot of my focus was on educating people to understand what a stylist is, how we can help and why they should hire one.

You are an advocate of “more is less” when it comes to clothes. Can you explain us your wardrobe philosophy?

A good wardrobe that gives maximum bang for your buck needs balance. I always tell my clients it should have enough of the basics so you can mix-and-match your everyday wear and enough of the “frills” – stuff that’s fun, interesting, colourful and on trend so you can add extra flair to your basics.

Where do you find inspiration for styling your clients?

My inspiration is really from the client herself. I dress every client to reflect their personality, what they are comfortable with and to show off the best of their body shape.

How does an average day of a fashion stylist look like?

It can vary so much! Some days you could be out with clients, in their homes doing a wardrobe review or in the stores helping them with new outfits. Other times you’ll be working on things like your newsletter, social media or following up bookings and appointments. It’s never routine and never dull that’s for sure! You’re always meeting new people too which is most of the fun!

What is the most important skill a fashion stylist needs to have?

Communication skills are THE most important. You need to understand what a client wants, work with their feedback and communicate why you have chosen to dress them in a particular way. So you’re listening, talking and trying to draw out information from your client all the time.

You now train others to become a personal stylist. In a nutshell, what can we expect to learn in your course?

In a nutshell, mine is a 3-day express course for those that love fashion and helping others. In the course you’ll learn how to style women of all shapes, sizes and ages . I also give you step by step instructions on how to conduct a successful wardrobe consultation, shopping trip and how to set up and market your personal styling business.

Fashion Stylist Course

What is the one piece of advice you would give anyone who wants to follow your steps?

Just give it a crack – I think that’s my philosophy for most things in life! If this is what you want to do, get out there, get some training and then DO IT. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you!

More information about Wendy: www.wendymak.com
Enrol in her course Become a personal / fashion stylist course (women’s styling)

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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.

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 3. Create a Business Plan

VivianaMany people think creating a business plan is a complicated process and see it as a necessary evil. But… it can actually be quite an exciting activity! Look at it from this perspective: you are laying down the foundations of your future entrepreneurial endeavor. And a business plan will help you articulate your idea and get you started on the right foot

Don’t worry, you won’t have to spend hours writing it. All you need to do is answer 10 simple questions! The days of a 60-page business plans are long gone, thank God! The process can be actually done in an hour, or maybe an afternoon. Still not convinced? It can be done on one page too!

To help you with this matter, I created a one-page business plan template so that you can just fill it out and get your teaching business started today!

The One-Page Business Plan

I created this business plan template based on my own research and experience. I used it for the purpose of starting my own business as I strongly believe in the power of “less is more”. If you can define your business in one simple sentence, you’re likely in a good position to launch and grow your company.

Less is More

Image by hooverine via Flickr

How to fill out the One-Page Business Plan

Now that you have your business plan template in front of you, you can see how simple it is to fill it out. You don’t have to be an experienced business strategist or a marketeer to be able to answer those questions. As an example, I will use my fictitious “Chili Cooking School” to walk you through the template. I love to cook spicy food so if anyone actually offers these courses, please get in touch with me.

Now, let’s get started!

OVERVIEW

In the first section, you are asked to describe WHAT you offer, WHO are your customers and WHO are your competitors. This section outlines of your (future) business and will serve as a foundation for the strategic part of the plan.

Q1. What service(s) will you offer? What do you do and what is special about it?Try to provide one-sentence description of your business. You can pretend this is a question a friend asked you. What would you respond so they immediately understand the nature of your business?

Example: We offer cooking courses specializing in spicy ethnic foods. Our renowned chefs only use fresh local produce and home-grown organic chilies and spices.

Chilies

Image by Nina Yasmine via Flickr

2. Who will buy your service(s) and why? Define your potential customer and explain why they will pay for your service. Ask your (potential) customers why they (will) use your service, if you’re not sure. You need to get to know your target market and understand their needs well.

Example: Our classes are for spicy food lovers who want to learn how to prepare quality hot dishes. They will attend our classes to learn about exotic chilies spices and their preparation methods.

3. List your three main competitors. Start gathering information about your competitors, or at least identify who they are. Keeping an eye on your competition is necessary for growing your business. Even if there is no direct competition in your local area, there are always indirect competitors you will have to face sooner or later.

Example: There is no other school in Sydney offering spicy cooking classes. Jay’s Culinary School offers ethnic cooking classes, Fresh Cuisine and Cook Healthier provide organic cooking lessons.

Read more: 10 Tips on How to Research Your Competition

STRATEGY

The second part of the template should help you develop a compelling value proposition and define what is it that you business will bring to the market.

“Strategy is not planning — it is the making of an integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns.”

Source: Harvard Business Review

4. How will your product solve your customers’ problems? This question is closely related to the question number 2. What problem is your business solving and how? Every time we buy something we are, in a way, solving a problem we have. To simplify the matter; if we’re hungry, we buy ourselves a snack.

Problem Solving

Image by StockMonkeys.com via Flickr

Think about your business as a solution to someone’s problem. Why do your customers need you? What problem is your product responding to by being on the market? These are very important questions. To offer a service is not enough, you need to offer a service that people need!

Example: It is difficult to find exotic chilies in Sydney. People spend long time researching exotic spicy recipes with an uncertain outcome. We have a great selection of fresh chilies and work with experienced chefs so spicy food lovers can discover new flavors through a hands-on experience.

5. What makes you different? Why is your service different and better than the competition? It is unlikely your service is one-of a-kind. I bet there are other tutors or private schools in your area who have similar courses in the same discipline. You have to think about what makes you stand out from the crowd and how you can distinguish yourself from the competitors. In other words, you have to create a Unique Selling Proposition.

Example: We offer unique cooking experience for anyone interested in spicy cuisine. We pride ourselves in providing organic fresh produce and grow the largest selection of fresh chili peppers in the country.We work with renowned chefs in Sydney. 

6. How are you going to make money? How much does it cost you to provide the service you want to offer? How much does your service cost and how many customers can you expect? You need to get into the basic financial modelling to make sure your business will be profitable. Again, start with simple assumptions and basic calculations to have an overall idea.

Example: We will host 50 cooking courses in 2014. Each course costs $500. We expect to have 10 students per course. Our estimated costs are $150.000. Our projected profit for 2014 is $100.000.

Gap

Image by S John Davey via Flickr

7. Describe the gap in your market. Questions 3 and 7 are not about your business but about your competition. After you have found your main competitors, you should be able to identify what is missing on the market you are planning to enter. And more importantly, are you filling that gap?

Example: While there are multiple quality cooking schools in Sydney, none of them specialises in spicy foods. While other schools provide organic local produce, none of them grow their own spices. Classes taught by renowned chefs are rare to find.

8. How will your potential customers learn about your business? How will you attract your first students? Outline your go-to-market strategy. You need to think about how you will reach your target market and where you will promote your service. Your marketing strategy will depend on many elements: the nature of your business, who your customers are and how they consume information; and obviously your budget. You cannot expect that people will find you. Especially at the beginning, you need to FIND THEM!

Example: Offline: We will advertise our courses on the local radio stations and in the local newspaper. Online: We will be using Google AdWords and Facebook Ads to promote our school. We will give all new students a 10% discount. We will use our chefs as our brand ambassadors to spread the word.

Find your destination

Image by VinothChandar via Flickr

9. What are you aiming at? What is your long-term vision? Think about where you want your company to be in three years. Your vision should be inspiring and extincting for everyone that works with you. Having a vision is about knowing where you’re going, not how you’re going to get there. First, you need to choose a destination, then you figure out the best way to get there.

Read more: Creating a Company Vision

Example: To become one of the most renowned Sydney’s cooking schools; providing world-class customer experience. To be the destination for spicy food lovers.

10. How will you measure success? Your business, like everybody else’s, is based on assumptions. There are different metrics you can employ to measure performance of your business against those assumptions. It’s a hard call because these will depend on how you actually define success of your business. Is your success going to be measured by profit, company productivity, customer or employee satisfaction? Probably by a combination of at least some of these.

Read more: Five measures for micro business success

Example: The most important metrics we will use to measure success are: brand awareness, sales conversion rate, customer satisfaction index, revenue growth.

I hope by now you are ready to create your own business plan and you will have fun doing so! I’d love to hear your experience with filling out the One-Page Business Plan. Please share your comments or questions below.

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 2. Gain Recognition

VivianaStarting your own teaching business is a highly rewarding experience. At the same time, it requires a great amount of hard work, patience, focus and responsibility. Last week we talked about how to get the right skills to become tutor or a private teacher. Today, we will cover how you can get recognition for those skills and how to best manage your online reputation.

Get Visible

If you cannot be found, you don’t exist. You need to get visible so that your potential students can find your business. To start with, you have to think about your brand. Are you going to use your own name or are you planning to use a business name? It all goes back to what image you want to project and what your personal and business goals are.

Visible Light

Image by sweethaa via Flickr

Personal Name vs. Business Name

Using your personal name is obviously the easiest option. In Australia, you won’t need to register a business name if you use your individual name. Don’t forget you will still need ABN (Australian Business Number) for tax purposes!

From a branding perspective, your personal name suggest you are a freelancer running your business by yourself. This can be an advantage as some people might prefer individual tutors with a personal touch over more anonymous private schools. On the other hand, this may become a problem when you decide to scale your business and hire other teachers and can become a real hurdle if you decide to sell your business one day. In some cases, using your personal name can be seen as less professional and less credible.

Using a business name for your brand can allow you to communicate your Unique Selling Proposition in the name and combine it with a logo that represents your values as a business. Choosing the right company name is extremely important for your business and can have a critical impact on your future success.

Read more: 8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business

When you decide on your name, you need to register it with ASIC, or a respective organisation in your country. Your name has to be unique in your state or country and cannot be already registered by someone else.

Now that you decided on your name, it might be a good idea to buy a domain name to represent your company online. Even if you do not plan to go online straight away, you don’t want to risk someone else buying your desired domain name. It’s a negligible cost that can save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Read more: 12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name

Build Trust

Trust

Image by mikebaird via Flickr

So now you have a business name and you’re officially in the business. That’s a good start, but to be honest, it really is just a start. You will need to work hard on convincing your first customers that you are the professional, knowledgeable and reliable tutor or trainer you claim to be.

How do you do that? Try to get testimonials from your past and existing students. If you are completely new to teaching or tutoring and are starting from scratch, it might help yo ask your trainer, teacher or employer for a reference to highlight your qualities as an educator. These referrals not only build trust for your business, but also establish respect among your peers.

People Google literally everything nowadays. Even if you do not have the resources to build a website or do not want to make such a big commitment yet, you can set up a free WordPress site where you present your bio, showcase student testimonials and list any qualifications or awards you might have gained.

If you are from Australia or New Zealand, you can set up your teacher profile on Knowinger, our new education marketplace, and start offering your classes and building your reputation via our platform. It is completely free to create a course and acquire new students!

If the online world is not your thing, you can build your reputation through publishing articles in the local press or speaking (or at least participating) at conferences and events attended by your target market. Performing is another great way of acquiring new students and building your brand, if you happen to be a musician or a dancer. If you make art, you can use your products to showcase your skills and start building your reputation through your existing customers.

There are many different ways you can build trust for your teaching business, depending on your discipline. In general, one of the most powerful drivers of growth for small businesses is word-of-mouth. It can take some time to build your client base, but if you provide them with an excellent customer service and great product, they will not only come back but will tell their friends about you.

We will be covering some smart and affordable marketing tactics in one of our future parts of the series, so stay tuned 🙂

Become a Thought Leader

Another step in gaining recognition is to become a thought leader or an authority in your field. As you can imagine, this is not a quick win. It is a rather lengthy process you need to invest a lot of time and effort into. If you do it well though, it can lead to a great revenue growth.

Thought Leader

Image by kalidoskopika via Flickr

Probably the best way to begin your journey is to start a blog. Your blog should be closely related to your teaching business, but the tone of voice and overall appearance will highly depend on your target audience. You would  probably choose a different voice targeting moms whose little girls attend your dancing classes, or writing for young professional who might be interested in your copy-writing course.

Read more: 30 Quick Content Marketing Tips Every Marketer Needs to Know

Leadership is a Journey

Image by Hamed Saber via Flickr

The next step on your way to become a respected expert in your field would be to publish a book. As difficult and expensive it might seem, there are many online tools you can use to self-publish an ebook.

Guest posting is another great way to gain reputation. Try and pitch your article to a well-known online publisher covering your discipline. You never know, you might get lucky!

Speaking at conferences, hosting podcasts, or creating online videos are another widely used tools that will help you make the cut. Participate in online discussions and forums and offer your expertise to others. Be creative, consistent and provide your audience with a quality content! 

It goes without saying that to be a true expert in anything, you need to immerse yourself in professional development. Reading, networking with your colleagues and attending webinars and conferences will help you keep up to date with new developments in your area of expertise.

Manage Your Reputation

Your reputation is everything! As a small business or an entrepreneur, you want to make sure that people talk about you in a positive way. You cannot afford unhappy customers and negative reviews. That can be detrimental to your business, especially at the beginning.

Where do you hide a dead body? On the third page of Google results.

You can’t really control what people say about you, but your can to some extend manage your reputation online. Start with searching your name on Google and include search in Google Images. Have you found anything that can potentially damage your professional image? You can either remove the content by yourself, if it was created by you, or hire an online reputation management agency who can help you bury the unwanted information. You should set up Google Alerts to monitor any mentions of your brand name on the internet.

As more and more students use reviews to make their decision, your online reputation is extremely important for your business. If you happen to get a bad review for your classes, respond to it and offer your side of the story. Do not take criticism personally and try to avoid responding emotionally.

Pay close attention to what people say about your competitors. You can use the information to fill in the gaps people are looking for and to gain a competitive advantage.

Make sure you use your existing social media channels wisely. Keep private things private. It might be a good idea to set up a separate Facebook and Twitter profiles for your teaching business, even if you are just a freelancer using your own name. The rule of thumb is: Do not share anything you don’t want your students to see or read. You never know when or where it can appear. Fine tune your Facebook’s privacy settings to reflect how you want to use your Facebook profile from a professional perspective. Maybe you want to use it as a channel to get your name out there and establish yourself as a trusted authority. In that case, you want all the information you share to be public. Or perhaps you want to keep your Facebook profile for private conversations only and would prefer to hide your posts from anyone but your friends. Either way, make sure to personalize your privacy settings.

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Now you know what skills you need to start teaching and how to gain recognition for your knowledge and qualifications. Next week, we will talk about how to create a business plan for your new entrepreneurial endeavor.

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 1. Get the Right Skills

VivianaBecoming a tutor, private teacher or a personal trainer can bring you a lot of joy. Making a difference by helping somebody grow and learn is one of the greatest rewards. In our series “How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business”, we will show you how to take your passion for sharing your knowledge and experience to the next level and establish a successful and rewarding business you’ll be proud of.

Aristotle Quote

Naturally, the first step towards becoming a tutor or a private teacher is to identify your expertise. You probably already know what it is that you would like to teach, but it is always a good idea to do a bit of research and find your niche within or around your favorite 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.

Now that you know what exactly it is you want to teach, you should start thinking about the skills you need to do the job well. There are two different set of skills needed for any career; technical and soft skills.

Technical skills you will need

Although there are generally no formal requirements to become a tutor or a private teacher, it is a good idea to acquire some sort of professional qualification in the subject or discipline you want to teach. This will depend on who your prospect students are and what their level of knowledge is. For example, if you are considering being an online tutor, you may want to consider an instructional technology degree in order to provide the best possible online classroom environment for your students.

Spanish Tutoring

Photo by Tulane Public Relations via Flickr

It is probably fine to have just HSC in mathematics if you are a university student who is planning to offer primary school maths tuition. On the contrary, to become a personal trainer you will be required to have a certificate in fitness and a first aid certificate.

You can find more information about the qualifications required and trainings available by visiting a website of a particular association, depending on your field of expertise:

If you are planning to work with children, you will need to obtain the Working with Children Check. “Pre-employment screening of adults and Volunteers who come in contact with children is mandatory and legislated for across most states and territories in Australia. However there is no national framework setting out the requirements for obtaining a Working With Children Check (or Police Checks) – and each state and territory has their own procedures and requirements.

Soft skills that make a good teacher or tutor

Apart from getting the necessary credentials, you need to think about the soft skills and qualities you should posses to become a good teacher. It requires a great amount of hard work to create a challenging and nurturing environment for your students. To some extent, your attitude towards your students and the subject can be more important than the skills and knowledge you have.

1. Enthusiasm and Positive Attitude

As already mentioned, your attitude is everything. You should be approachable to your students as well as your potential colleagues. A great teacher has an engaging personality and manages to hold attention of their students.

Teacher talking to students

Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Smile! It is an important means for building and establishing rapport. Smile is the easiest thing you can do to put your students into ease.

Learn more about how you can motivate your students.

2. Communication Skills

It goes without saying that a good teacher needs to be a good communicator. Sometimes, you will have to present complex topics in a way that is easy to understand. Other times, you will have to use metaphors and come up with examples to explain an issue that is foreign to your students.

You should also be, in some cases, prepared to maintain open communication with parents and make yourself available to them.

3. Listening Skills

Although it may seem that teachers spend most of their time in class talking, they actually have to be good listeners too.

“Good listening skills are needed to develop empathy and understanding with the students and to assess whether they understand what they are being taught. Listening skills also help in negotiating with students and defusing any potential classroom conflicts.”
(Source: ACS Distance Education)

Listen

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Active listening skills are also important when it comes to better understanding your students’ needs and discovering what their strengths and weaknesses are. Simply, mastering your listening skills will help you become a better leader and educator!

4. Being Passionate about the Subject

It may seem obvious but is needed to mention that a great teacher has a deep knowledge and is enthusiastic about the subject they are teaching. A good instructor or tutor always stays up to date with the latest trends and developments in their field; they spend a significant amount of their time studying themselves!

Teachers must be ready to answer or research their students’ questions and act as a subject matter experts in their field. This would be hard if you don’t love what you teach, don’t you think?

5. Organisation and Time-management Skills

If you become a private instructor or teacher, you will most likely spend a lot of time planning your lessons as well as organising your schedule. It is possible you will be travelling between individual classes with a tight timeline to get from one place to another. Good planning can save you a lot of travelling time!

You need to be very organised and possess strong planning skills to make sure you are always on time, well prepared and that you always deliver high quality lessons. Your organisation and planning skills will have a significant effect on the learning experience of your students.

Time Flies

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You may be surprised how much administration work is involved in teaching in general, so be ready to spend some time behind your computer managing your small business.

6. Friendly Personality

It is important that you have a friendly personality and are able to develop a cherished bond with your students. They will be motivated and will work harder in a friendly atmosphere. Try to encourage open discussions and make your students feel at home. You should enjoy working with people or children and be excited about helping your students out.

At the same time, you still need to maintain a professional approach. You need to combine both the guidance of a teacher and the understanding of a friend.

7. Patience

Teacher in classroom

Image by black vanilla via Flickr

Patience is a virtue! This skills may easily be the most important quality of a good teacher. You will have students who need more time to understand a certain topic and sometimes you will need to repeat yourself quite a few times. Extensive knowledge of the subject you teach does not guarantee that your students will comprehend it. Your patience with them, on the other hand, will certainly help them in the learning process and may stimulate their interest in the subject. It is your job to appreciate their individual personality and their unique strengths and weaknesses.

I am convinced it is the combination of both technical and soft skills that makes a great teacher. I’ d love to hear your thoughts on what skills and qualities are essential for a good teacher to have! 

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We will continue in our series “How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business” next week with tips on how to gain recognition and build your brand.

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