Image Credit: Courtesy of Ingrid Bayer
What were you doing before you started your side hustle, and why were you interested in tutoring independently?
I started tutoring part-time in 2014. I was working for Grand Canyon University full-time as a curriculum developer. My friend worked for Varsity Tutors and asked me to help her son, who needed help in math. So, I agreed and started tutoring in person at her home.
When did you start your side hustle, and where did you find the inspiration for it?
I officially started tutoring in the spring of 2014. I am a certified K-12 teacher and have worked in public schools for over 25 years. I love working with students and helping them learn, so it was an easy transition. At this time, I was writing and designing curriculum at the university and not teaching. I left public schools for a better income and benefits, but I missed direct contact with students, which was part of the inspiration to start tutoring. Years ago, when my children were toddlers, I was tutoring for my school district in Illinois and worked with special needs students, so I was comfortable with working in this style and going to the family home. I often worked with students who were seriously ill and could not attend school often with special learning needs. Some students had social-emotional problems and were not allowed to attend regular school, so I dealt with some challenging situations, including mental illness and students who behaved poorly.
What were some of the first steps you took to get your side hustle off the ground?
I researched several different groups that offered tutoring and tried a few. As I mentioned earlier, my friend was a director at Varsity Tutors at the time and encouraged me to join and help her son, who needed help with math. That became a long relationship; at the time, her son was in first grade. He is now in high school and excels in math. I am still in contact with him and the family. I have a master’s in curriculum and development, so as I work with students, I analyze their strengths and weaknesses in a subject and approach them to support their academic needs. I am also a certified gifted teacher and specialize in special needs students, focusing on their learning styles and thinking processes. I individualize my approach with each student and have found that to work well, and students have excelled. I also do my research and study subjects and have gathered materials to support the learning process for the students. Varsity Tutors has an excellent learning platform that I utilize, which is very effective with test prep and other academic subjects. My goal is to help the whole student succeed in a positive, supportive environment.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while building your side hustle, and how did you navigate them?
Initially, I was still working full-time at the university, so I limited the hours I would tutor. Eventually, I left the university job and started independent contractor jobs for other universities and schools. I also started teaching online university classes in critical thinking, creative thinking, problem-solving and logic. I enjoyed tutoring and meeting students and their families and was primarily tutoring in person until Covid. Then, I went online full-time, and the demand was great. I also tutored private clients at this time. Most of my work has been through word-of-mouth or through friends I know. School districts have also referred me and, of course, Varsity Tutors.
How long did it take you to begin seeing consistent monthly revenue, and at what point did the side hustle’s income surpass that of your full-time job (if it did)?
I started tutoring full-time in 2018 when I realized my tutoring rate was higher than my salary. As you know, teachers in Arizona are not paid well even with my advanced degrees — which seemed to be a detriment since they did not want to pay me at a higher rate. I was making about $47,000 annually before taxes, so more like $40,000. When Varsity Tutors began offering group classes, I could make a much higher hourly rate, which exceeded my salary at the university. The university paid a lump amount for a class based on enrollment. I had to grade and do a lot of prep and outside work, which I was not paid for. The hourly rate was not great and came to about $10/hour. I decided to go full-time tutoring and found it worked well financially and personally. I liked the flexibility of my schedule and the freedom to teach as I needed to without being micromanaged, which was an issue for me. I am an excellent teacher and have achieved many awards, including state and national recognition for my teaching and impact on students.
How much average monthly or annual revenue does it bring in now?
I am making an average of about $5,000 per month with Varsity Tutors, which does not include my private students and clients. My annual income is about $80,000, much better than $40,000. I appreciate the students and the support I have been blessed with in this endeavor. I never imagined that I would be doing this, but here it is.
What’s your advice for other side hustlers who hope to find success?
Find your passion and build that into a business. I love working with people and helping them learn and discover the joy of learning. I am a teacher, and going independent has allowed me to teach freely from the comfort of my home. I have a flexible schedule and can live my life in a less stressful way. Follow your passion and build a website to help with PR to connect with others.