Prior to the COVID19 pandemic, the digital economy was progressing at a meandering pace. While there was a sense that we were inching closer to a new and transformed reality, nobody quite knew exactly when. Fast forward to 2021, that reality appears to be taking shape. COVID-19 has acted as a true catalyst in precipitating the widespread use of digital tools and technologies.
In this sea of change, the sector that’s felt the aftershocks most acutely is education. The strict government lockdowns and safety measures have affected roughly 1.6 billion globally. This has resulted in increased use of online tutoring by educational institutes, traditional schools, and even private tutors.
Technically online tutoring is defined as a process of tutoring where teachers and learners interact with each other from different locations using online, virtual or networked environments.
However, in common parlance, the term is mostly associated with the following concepts:
– A website that hosts professional teachers who conduct classes on a variety of subjects intended for groups/individuals.
– A marketplace where learners register themselves to search for qualified tutors/subject matter experts on a variety of subjects.
Broadly, online tutoring websites are subdivided into the following two types:
Synchronous – Interaction between learner and tutor takes place in real-time. Video conferencing is the most common channel of communication; the tutor shares the instructions, guidelines, or subject matter expertise to which the learner can reply or ask questions in real-time.
Asynchronous – Lesson doesn’t happen in real-time. The tutor provides the learner with a questionnaire or assignment, which the latter has to submit at a specified time in the future. More suited for self-paced learning, especially for learners who have a busy schedule.
In addition to these standard models, some upcoming tutoring websites incorporate a mix of both synchronous and asynchronous models and operate on what can be described as a hybrid model. It’s safe to surmise that the online tutoring market is becoming increasingly diversified in its offerings.
Recent studies suggest online tutoring will continue to gain momentum in the coming years. For a trend to continue that far into the future, it must have some merits; and from what we’re seen over the course of the past 2 years, online tutoring has plenty of positive attributes:
Online tutoring websites offer absolute flexibility in scheduling learning lessons. Learner and tutor merely have to check with each other’s availability to fix a slot. This is much better than a traditional classroom school where pupils have to follow a set schedule. Studying at convenient time results in better focus, knowledge retention, and an enhanced learning experience.
In a typical classroom of 30-40 students, the teacher can’t give enough attention to everyone. Some students pick up things faster, while some lag behind. In online tutoring, more specifically private, one-to-one tutoring, this problem gets addressed effectively. The tutor can take the time to understand weaker areas of a student and curate the syllabus accordingly. This process is also described as self-paced learning.
Online tutoring platforms eliminate the travel time for both learners and tutors. This is still an undervalued benefit since most of us have been conditioned to a learning and work culture, where traveling to a public office or institute is very much the norm. In online tutoring, much of the worries related to travel cost, time, and rush hour traffic don’t exist. Notably, with no traveling, tutors and learners also decrease their carbon footprint, making online tutoring more environment-friendly and sustainable.
The geographical constraints become irrelevant in online tutoring. Tutors and students can easily find each other from anywhere in the world. All they need is a computer or tablet device and an active internet connection. Online tutoring platforms also allow tutors to widen their customer reach across different geographical locations, which has its own perks from meeting new people, learning about their cultures, to sharing experiences.
There’s a lot of research, planning, execution that goes into turning an online tutoring business idea into a reality. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve compiled a list of key considerations that entrepreneurs must take into account before setting sail:
As a basic prerequisite, the value of competition analysis can’t be highlighted enough. At the very least, it helps a business take stock of the current state of the market, the dominating players, their USPs, various customer segments, and their motivations.
From a geographical point of view, North America dominates the online private tutoring market covering approximately 32% of the global share. But that balance could be shifting in the next few years as developing countries of Asia, particularly, China, India, and Korea begin heavy investing in online tutoring, in the wake of the pandemic.
As it stands, the global online tutoring market is identified by some familiar businesses that have been at the forefront of eLearning for quite some time.
Online tutoring is a vast arena and even in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic, it continues to witness an outpouring of successful new ideas, innovations, and business concepts. Having said that, it makes sense to first select a niche and set up a base. Some of the in-demand online tutoring services are as follow:
While a number of large online tutoring marketplaces might incorporate multiple or all of the aforementioned needs of learners, startups should be wary of treading the same path straightaway. Selecting a vertical marketplace, based on a single specialization is a better way to gain recognition in the market. Once your business has become stable, you can consider offering more services.
It’s important to make a distinction here that online tutoring isn’t limited to academic learning. Nowadays, there are tutoring websites for fitness coaches, culinary experts, music teachers, dance instructors, musicians, and likewise.
Now that we’ve looked at the groundwork that needs to be laid before starting an online tutoring business, let’s take a look at the major steps that go into creating an effective online tutoring website:
Ideally, you’d want your ultimate online tutoring website vision to be realized as soon as possible. But good websites aren’t built overnight. They take time and investment, often over a long duration. For that reason, startups, which have limited financial resources, should opt for a lean-approach. The idea is to select and highlight only the most important business offerings. As you begin to gain traction, start to add more value to your services and continue to enhance your online tutoring business.
The significance of design for an online business can’t be emphasized enough. Online users look at everything from whitespace, font, color combination, navigation, to content presentation. Put simply, a tutoring website with good functionality doesn’t cut it anymore. The evidence lies in Google’s recent update, where it has specified ranking websites higher for having good UX than others. So, the vital UX element is very much a part of Google SEO algorithms now. For that reason or purely for the sake of establishing a distinct brand identity, it’s advisable to hire a professional designer and UX expert for your website. It’s worth noting that designing takes place before coding since developers need to connect UI elements with the backend.
Once the requirements are finalized, you have to decide whether an off the shelf solution will serve your purpose or you need to hire a dedicated team for website development. Since we highlighted the importance of starting lean and focusing on offering value, rather than bells and whistles early on, an off-the-shelf solution makes the ideal choice. However, it’s vital to ensure the solution you opt for has been tried and tested on the market. Feel free to ask the product owner about their performance testing reports, which include user-load tests. Also, it’s better to go for a fully customizable and scalable solution, which grows with your business requirements, and avoids the hassles of migrating to a new platform in near future.
Even when you feel you’ve given your best shot in developing a fine online tutoring platform, your job is still half-complete without marketing. Marketing is the central force that drives user engagement with your business. It creates a buzz about your services and helps target a wide section of your target audience. Below are some of the proven marketing avenues to generate awareness and promote your online tutoring business.
With development complete and marketing in full force, the next step is website launch. Here, you need to keep a vigilant watch on users’ requests and feedback. Keep compiling a list of improvements/enhancements, helpful suggestions, bugs/errors reports, and even the things that users like about your tutoring website. In your next update, look to implement as many improvements as possible based on the received feedback.
It’s all well and good to have a solid online tutoring business idea that you feel will connect effortlessly with your target audience. But without a healthy and steady inflow of revenue, a business usually can’t survive for too long. Therefore, it’s a must to consider ways to monetize your business right from the beginning. Here, cues can be taken from the way existing platforms are generating their revenue. Following are the most popular revenue generation channels for online tutoring businesses:
Commission remains the most common source of revenue generation for online tutoring services. It’s working can be best explained by Preply, a student-tutor marketplace. It allows tutors to set their own pricing. For the 1st transaction, the platform charges 100% commission on the payment received by the tutor. After that, a flat 33% rate is applied to successive lessons. The rate keeps dropping(upto 18%) as tutors register more hours on the platform.
The Freemium model works on the “win first, earn later” basis. Win implies customer loyalty while earning, the money they’d spend on the platform. Some platforms offer basic platform functionality for free while charging a fee for the usage of other advanced features like HD video, interactive tools, smart reports, and analytics, etc.
The other approach is to offer complete access to the platform for a limited number of days. Once that free usage period has expired, customers would have to make payments to continue accessing the platform.
Subscription can be a great source of revenue generation. It’s application can differ based on how an online tutoring platform operates. For platforms built that contain eBook libraries and video tutorials by subject matter experts, subscription plans can be offered to range from limited to complete access of content. In the case of a solely student-tutor marketplace, subscription packages can be offered in the form of bundled lessons for a weekly, monthly basis.
It’s a common eCommerce practice and can be applied just as well on online tutoring platforms. Tutors can be given enhanced search visibility or better matching with students for some extra fee.
Provided adverts are relevant and don’t affect your brand image adversely, they can prove to be a great source of revenue for your website. It might come as a surprise but a language tutoring app called Duolingo, is completely free and makes its earnings solely off paid ads.
In just one year, the COVID19 pandemic has disrupted the education sector in a way few people could have predicted. With the threat of the virus still looming large, the demand for online tutoring services is bound to stay strong. While established businesses like Preply and Skooli remain most users’ first choice to avail tutoring services, there are still scores of micro-niches that are untapped. In the future, these niches will likely become the contesting grounds for startups vying to make it big in the online tutoring market.
If you have any questions related to the information shared in this blog, please feel free to write them in the comment below. Also, if you or your team are planning to build an online tutoring platform, you can reach out to our experts and avail a free 30 minutes personalized consultation session.
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