Find Your Online Tutoring Niche

This week I'm in Switzerland doing examining work for a specialist business English exam. It's not every day that I get paid to be an examiner in another country but if you can find your online tutoring niche like I have, the possibilities are endless. 


Click this link to learn about how one simple thing led me to examining in Switzerland.

I occasionally do some face to face work if it's a good opportunity and I want to. That's the beauty of being your own boss. You can pick and choose what you do. However, most of my work is online but like anything in life, there are some who will be negative about online tutoring. Here are some common complaints from other tutors about tutoring online:

Online tutoring negatives
  1. There are too many online tutors already”

  2. There aren't enough students who want to learn online”

  3. I offer 10 different subjects but I haven't had any enquires”

Complaint number 1:

Not true. There are way more students than available tutors. Yes, there are some websites with 1000s of registered online tutors but that's only one place on the Internet. The internet is big... very big. Plus there are usually a lot more learners than tutors when it comes to these sites. Check out this popular online tutoring agency's homepage:

Students versus tutors

(Students outnumber tutors 1000 to 1)

    Complaint number 2:

    Nope. Can't agree with that one either. I just counted 105 active contacts in my Skype account whose names begin with the letter A! That's 105 potential students from all over the world who have contacted me to enquire about having online English lessons. Sure, I haven't taught all of them, but I'm one person teaching one subject from one country... and there's 25 more letters in the alphabet!

    Complaint number 3:

    Ok this one, we can talk about.

    When it comes to tutoring online, a common mistake is to offer too many subjects. It seems like an obvious way to get more students by covering all bases so that anyone who visits your site or profile will be more likely to find the subject they are looking for. It seems counterintuitive to offer less subjects but by doing this, you can actually increase the number of students you get. This is because if you position yourself as an expert in one area of tutoring, you can build your online reputation as being the best at that one subject. This will lead to a greater online presence when potential students are searching for a tutor.

    How to find your online tutoring niche

    Step 1

    First things first, you need to choose a subject you want to focus on. Answer the following question:

    What subject do you like to teach the most?”

    For me, it's English as a foreign language.

    Step 2

    Narrow it down and focus on one area within that subject by answering this question:

      What subject do you have the most experience, qualifications or natural gifting in?”

      Being a native British tutor and having taught British English for several years, I'm going to go with British English.

      Step 3

      Make it even more specific by focusing on where or how you tutor, for example, online.

      I've now narrowed my niche down to tutoring British English online. Hmm, that sounds like a good name for an online tutoring business! Now when people are searching for an online English tutor to learn British English, they are much more likely to find me. They will also see that this in an area I specialise in and the value of my lessons increases.

      Step 4

      Another way to stand out from the crowd and greatly increase your chances of being hired as a tutor is to offer a specialised subject that not many others are offering. Answer this question:

      What experience do you have tutoring a specialised subject?”

      I'm in Switzerland this week examining an English speaking exam for Swiss professionals who work as assistants for company directors. In the examining world, it doesn't get much more niche than that. Now that I know this speaking exam well and have examined it for the past 4 years, I'm able to tutor Swiss individuals who want to prepare for this niche exam each year. They are refereed to me by a contact in Switzerland so I don't even have to do any marketing. It's such a specific niche that there are only a handful of tutors who are familiar with the exam.

      Bonus tip
      Find your niche with online tutoring

      When you're tutoring students who want to pass an exam that's highly relevant to their career, they're highly motivated. This means lots of lessons. I tutored one student every day last week and twice on Friday to prepare her for this Swiss business exam. If you can find a niche like this, you're on to a winner.


      Find your online tutoring niche by following these 4 steps:

      1. Choose a subject you want to focus on.

      2. Within this subject, focus on what you have the most experience, qualifications or natural gifting in.

      3. Identify where or how you want to tutor.

      4. Offer a specialised subject within this niche.

      Now that you know what your niche is, write it down and focus on building your online presence around that. Whether that's building your website, advertising on social media, promoting your services on tutoring agencies or tutoring directories, stick to that niche. By becoming an expert in a specific niche, I've been able to stand out from the crowd and have plenty of student enquiries to be a full time, online tutor (with the occasional jaunt to Switzerland!)

      Matt Thompson

      Matt is an online English tutor and founder of Smart Online Tutoring. He's a big fan of technology and when he's not teaching or helping others with their online tutoring businesses, you'll find him on the badminton court.

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