Alternative Income: Tutoring

Earning alternative income is getting quite popular at recession time. For some people the only income source in the next few months or years will be alternative anyway – no matter if they want that or not. So it’s especially useful to explore various opportunities for earning alternative income and be prepared now in case you get laid off in the hard times. Don’t worry if that happens – you may even realize that having different sources of income is far more secure and probably more fun than having a job.

Photo by
The BrassPotato
at Flickr

The alternative income method I am going to present you now is one of the very few methods that can be used by just everyone. That’s true – even if freelancing, writing, making photos or drawing pictures is something you can’t do, there is at least one other thing that you can do well. Most people can do well more than one thing, but even one is enough, because there are always other people who want to do the same thing as well as you, but don’t have the knowledge, experience and skills for it. Here comes your chance to earn money by tutoring such people (and why not even turn it into a small business).

There is no limit to what you can teach others do, neither to how old your audience can be. If you are a carpenter, there are many people who want to learn woodworking. If you know how to tell good jokes, be sure, there are many other people who want to know the same. Even if you are a professor in a very boring subject, there are at least the students who want to learn more about it (because they have to prepare for their exam). Don’t say that what you can do is useless unless it’s eating hamburgers (some will argue that even eating burgers is an useful skill to have).

Private One To One Tutoring

The most conventional and easy way to start making money is to do private one-to-one tutoring. You can find your customers by posting an ad in your local newspaper, Craiglist, some local web portal, or just pinch a sheet of paper on the classifieds wall in your local supermarket.

Eventually, you’ll need to test your tutoring skills on some friend for free. Sometimes people who are very good in their job are not at all good in teaching others to do it. It’s OK, teaching is a skill that you’ll learn along the way. If you know your subject, you should be able to transfer your knowledge to others.

Private one-on-one tutoring is easy because you can work from home and there is no investment required. The income potential however is limited, because there are only so many hours in the day that you can tutor. Even if your customers (yours students) are very happy and you have enough request, you just can’t work more than 6 – 12 hours per day.

Group Tutoring

One way to scale your tutoring business is to start teaching several people at the same time. Sometimes this will not be appropriate – for example if you teach how to date women (no kidding, that’s one of the most profitable niches), your students may feel uncomfortable to show themselves in front of the others. But for most professional subjects people will be even happier to meet others who learn the same and discuss the subject together.

Teaching a group of people instead of a single person lets you scale your business – whether you will teach one of five at the same time, you spend almost the same time and effort.

The main issue with group tutoring is that you will need a room for it. Inviting 2-3 persons at home may work fine, but if you want to teach 10 – 20 people together, you’ll probably need to rent a conference room at a comfortable place.

Usually group tutoring needs you to be incorporated and licensed. So chances are you’ll need some investment to earn alternative income by this method.

Online Tutoring

One way to avoid the room problem is to start tutoring online. Now it’s not that hard to set up online audio and video conferences through Skype, NetMeeting and other similar softwares. All you need is a good internet connection, and of course your students need to have it too.

Of course, many people still prefer face-to-face tutoring, but there are enough who will appreciate the lower price and the saved time and money they’ll have because they don’t need to travel.

You have good chances to succeed in areas that are not yet explored by the professional webmasters and the typical customers. Web designers for example will not be surprised if you offer online tutoring of web design, because there are many individuals and companies who already offer that. But if you offer to teach gardening online, many of your potential customers will find your proposal innovative and exciting.

Turn Your Tutoring Into Product

The main problem with tutoring is that it’s a service and is hard to scale. Of course you can teach 10 or 20 people at the same time (online), but hardly more. The best way to scale your tutoring service (and almost any service by the way) is to turn it into product. How?

First, and most popular option, is to write a book, e-book, audio book or record instructional videos. You can self-publish the book and sell it as many times as you wish (that’s even easier if it’s an e-book or audio/video distributed online). The downside is that you’ll usually work on your stuff in isolation only guessing whether it will be bought or not.

A more flexible option is to package your stuff as a membership site – online teaching program where people pay for access (recurring) rather than for a finished product. The second advantage (in addition to recurring payments) is that you can develop your tutoring program on the fly along with receiving customer’s feedback.

In both cases your teaching can turn into automated income generator which is far better than getting paid per hour.