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.

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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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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

Image by ky_olsen via Flickr

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

Image by Alan Cleaver via Flickr

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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