9 min read

Educator Stories: Combining passion with practical business
Learn how Tory Anderson turned his passion for writing and history to create a successful online tutoring business with Outschool.

“Never turn away from something that surprises you. Run with it. Run with what surprises you.”

Tory Anderson has accomplished some pretty amazing feats in his life. But of all the things he has done, one of the most impressive is how he could tap into two of his greatest passions, writing and history, and turn them into a successful online teaching business.

Meet Tory

Tory Anderson has done many things in his life. As a former consultant for a high-tech company, a computer repair shop owner, a bus driver, and an author, it is no surprise that Tory easily transitioned into the role of an online educator.

Outschool educators know that part of the success of the platform comes from educators getting to teach about something they know or are passionate about. Tory is no different. His introduction to teaching online with Outschool did not start with academic classes. He started by teaching learners how to throw boomerangs. 

Why boomerangs? Because a parent was looking for a boomerang class and Tory just so happened to be a boomerang-throwing expert! After that, he was hooked on Outschool and started developing more classes that showcased his expertise and interest in English. Here’s how he took his business beyond boomerangs with an intentional focus on creating compelling writing classes and tutoring options.

Let’s look at the different strategies Tory used to grow his online writing teaching business.

Business building

Understanding how businesses work has contributed to Tory’s success on Outschool. Here are a couple of suggestions he has about how you can build your online tutoring business:

Start with Outschool’s curated insights

As a new educator, Tory quickly realized that using the educator’s insights allowed him to create classes based on what parents were already looking for. Armed with information about which classes are in demand, what topics parents are requesting, and what’s currently trending, Tory was able to attract new learners on a topic he hadn’t even considered offering originally. To do this, he spent time thinking about which topics interested him and which age groups he wanted to teach to.

Identify your target audience

With trial and error, Tory discovered what age groups he worked best with and which had the most learners for the classes he offers. While learners of all ages may need 1-on-1 writing help, how you teach and what you teach may help you determine which age group works best. 

Teaching style also comes into play. Do you prefer teaching with lots of games, puppets, and songs, or do you have a more serious teaching style? Knowing these things will help you decide who you want to work with, such as elementary or high school learners, non-native speakers of English, or learners interested in a particular genre.

Teach one learner to break the ice

“You get better and better as you learn from each class.”

Over time, Tory learned that the key to success on Outschool is teaching a class that you’re incredibly passionate about, even if that means you’re only teaching it to one learner. Whether you want to offer group classes or tutoring 1-on-1, don’t miss an opportunity by setting a minimum learner amount.

Even teaching just one learner can help you figure out what works best for you. Consider that one learner’s lifetime value for your business if they keep re-enrolling in that class or start taking more courses with you.

For recurring business, go with ongoing

One-time classes are great for learners who need help with a homework question or addressing a specific unit. They can also be used to “test out” how well you and the learner work together. Multi-day classes are helpful for topics that may require a couple of meetings but have a set end date. 

Tory noted that he figured out early on that ongoing was the best class type for his online teaching business. In doing this, learners can subscribe for as long as they want, whether once or for many weeks or months.

Set your classes to allow flexible age ranges

success as an online writing tutor is that he saw the importance of “following the age range.”

While there are topics that could have stricter policies due to age-appropriateness, such as passages on sensitive topics, current events, cultures, or moments in history, tutoring allows you to offer your services to a wider range of learners.  

Offering your writing tutoring services to multiple age groups can expand your reach and impact as a writing tutor. 

Teaching strategies

It’s not just Tory’s business skills that have helped him as an online educator. Tory’s tips on teaching have also helped him create writing classes that keep learners engaged and coming back for more. How did he do it? Let’s take a look at what worked best for Tory.

Teach what you love

“Teach what you love so that you can bring that passion to it because you’re gonna be more successful with learners if they feel your passion. They’re gonna like your classes more if you like your classes.”

If you’re considering offering tutoring classes but are nervous about getting started, focus on what you are passionate about. Just as Tory got his start with boomerang throwing, there is a learner out there looking for an educator who is passionate about the same things they are. If you enjoy playing board games at home, consider playing them with a group of learners online. If you doodle for fun, are a total bookworm or can do math in your head, there is someone out there looking to learn those skills…and many more! 

Accept change and go with the flow

Tory said that he, like many other educators he’s talked to, came to Outschool with the idea of teaching high school-level, upper-grade classes. However, Tory has found that his classes attract younger learners. As Tory put it if younger learners want in your class and are looking for the topics you’re teaching why turn them away? 

What started as plans for teaching advanced topics such as critical reading and writing quickly became teaching eight and nine-year-olds. Although Tory was offering advanced essay writing classes, he found that parents were enrolling learners well below the recommended age range. Seeing this as an opportunity, Tory created listings for upper-elementary and middle-grade learners. Today, he even has an essay class for 8-year-olds. Now Tory meets with 10 to 13-year-olds regularly for his 1-on-1 classes.

Learn more about how you can pivot your teaching business in a changing market.

Look for inspiration

If you have a real passion for teaching a particular subject or topic, see if anyone else offers classes about it. While you do not want to copy another teacher (that goes against Outschool’s unique content policy), search for inspiration to make classes of your own if you find there is a need or want for a specific topic.

For example, Tory found out that another educator was teaching about modern aircraft, a subject he loves and knows a lot about., However, that educator wasn’t teaching about older aircraft. Seeing this gap, Tory took the opportunity to create classes on World War II Fighters.

When you come across a subject or idea you know a lot about, consider offering your version of that class. Just keep in mind that Outschool has a unique content policy in place, so please don’t plagiarize or steal another educator’s work. Like you, they’ve worked hard to build their reputation and brand.

Final thoughts

As a writing, history, and tutoring educator, Tory noted that he enjoys finding out about what his learners are reading and staying on top of new books they may be interested in. This helps him keep his content fresh and he finds that he enjoys many of the stories himself!  Below are a couple of ideas Tory mentioned that can help you as you build your online writing tutoring business.

Practice writing

If you want to teach writing, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re writing regularly to improve your skills. Test out your writing ideas and consider the challenges learners face when writing. Consider what tools and resources can help them overcome obstacles as you come across them in your writing.

Read extensively

Great writers are often great readers. In addition to practicing your writing, be sure to read extensively in different genres and styles of writing to broaden your understanding of the craft. Consider reading fiction and nonfiction books to compare and contrast the differences between creative writing and academic writing.

Give it time

“Be patient and let it ride if you’re able to and, in my experience, it will grow.”

If you’re teaching a class or offering tutoring that is not seeing a lot of traction in the beginning, give it time. 

Remember that being a successful online writing tutor requires dedication, excellent communication skills, and a passion for helping others improve their writing skills. With patience and hard work, you can build a thriving online tutoring business.

Want to read more about educators using tutoring to grow their online teaching business? Read about their journeys for additional tips and insights.

Educator stories: How to multiply enrollments for 1-on-1 classes

Educator stories: Customizing curriculum for 1-on-1 classes

Educator stories: Make 1-on-1 classes part of your teaching business

Educator stories: Marketing your classes to homeschool families

Educator stories: 6 ways to increase enrollments using easy marketing tools

Educator stories: 8 strategies to boost bookings from families in East Asia

Educator stories: How to gain international learners

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