The art of setting a price...

I have to say that I have been somewhat disappointed in my current lack of clients. Less than a month ago, I had 5 clients, some multiple times a week, and I thought I had reached the apex of the mountain. Now, I'm about to drop to one client and I'm practically begging people for work. All the schools in my area are, or are about to be, letting out, so I understand the lack of local opportunities. But, in the online world, I apply for anywhere between 5-10 applications a day and I don't even get a response. In fact, to this point, I have NEVER gotten a hit on an online application. It makes me wonder a few things. First off, are the people who are looking for online tutors even interested in online tutoring through WyzAnt, or are they just trying to find someone they can work with under the table? This is, admittedly, a harsh allegation, but it's one that has crossed my mind a few times. What is more than likely happening, however, is that I've priced myself out of my own market.

When I first started tutoring, I was charging $40. Once you taken into account the 40% WyzAnt takes off the top, I was pulling in $24 an hour, which is quite comparable to what I was pulling as a graduate student. However, as time progressed, I gathered more clients, more hours, and I started to get the idea that I could actually charge more. So, my rate slowly went up to $45 and $50. I was still getting clients, which ultimately pushed me to see just how high I could go. I pushed it to $60, but I did this around the same time as school was starting to wind it's difficult at this time to really tell if I actually priced myself out of my own market, or if school ending is the main culprit here. Concerned about my rate, I trimmed it back to $55 (though I have modified it down even further for individual applications). Despite this effort, I have gotten not a single email pertaining to an online position and only one from a local student (who was paranoid about uploading credit card information to WyzAnt). I have to admit that I don't know what to think about the online tutoring market based on the results up to this point.

I think I am worth around $50 an hour (especially since I'm only seeing $35 an hour after the 30% WyzAnt takes now...the percentage drops as I accumulate hours). However, the fact that I was still getting hits gave me a false sense that I could just keep pushing the envelope. Eventually, clients were just simply going to go for the better value. And how do they know that I am worth $50, $60? They don't! And that's the problem.

Usually, as I have pointed out in a prior blog, clients and students are not the same person. The student is the one in need of help, but the client is usually the parent, dictating which tutor will help their son/daughter succeed in a particular course/exam. I have testimonials demonstrating my competence in tutoring, but it doesn't seem to be enough. I would love it if WyzAnt had a sort of LinkedIn mentality and we could see just how many people have viewed our profiles (I just thought of this while I was writing this blog...but now that I think about it, I think this is a GREAT idea). It would at the very least give me some evidence of whether or not my price is too high. If 20 people see my profile and I get 0 emails, then I know I'm charging too much. On the other hand, I refuse to believe that people were willing to pay $50 an hour, but are all of a sudden turned off by $55 or $60. I guess only time will tell on this one.

Speaking of time, I should find out pretty soon as students start to enroll in summer school. I have one student that I will be tutoring throughout the entire summer, but I would very much like to grab 2 or 3 more, if possible. Stay tuned!


Dominic J.

Experienced Statistics/Mathematics Tutor

400+ hours
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