To pay or not to pay? That shouldn’t be an option!

To pay or not to pay? That seems to be the question!


Sadly, getting people to pay for the tutoring they have received can be like getting blood out of a stone.

When I started tutoring I was naive and presumed if I did the work, especially if I put my heart and sole into it, people would pay me what I was owed. (I have said on many occasions I had no business knowledge or experience when I started tutoring).

Now I have contracts in place which are given to new starters. These clearly outline what we charge and when/how we expect to be paid. We also have a clear cancellation policy.

The “Payment Policy” is available for you to use or adapt for yourself in the Starr Tutoring Association Membership Group. They don’t need to be long and formal. Maybe they’re better if they’re not. They just need to clearly get the message across.

You can download the “Cancellation Policy” here:


Cancellation Policy


Is it a sign of disrespect when parents don’t pay?

I think it is. It may not be personal but you wouldn’t expect any other service to be provided for free or to pay for it as and when you feel like it without some sort of consequence being applied.


When I first started tutoring I went to a family who paid cash.

It is quite amazing how many excuses one person can have for not having any cash on them:

I haven’t had chance to go the cash point

I left my purse in my boyfriend’s car

The dog has been poorly so I didn’t go out.

These were 3 of her most common excuses not to pay.


Recently I’ve been in discussion with a family over the payment terms. They started before the policies were created. She felt a month was a satisfactory length of time to pay. The invoices say 5 days.


These days I believe we are better off without families who don’t pay when asked the amount asked.

If you are struggling with people who don’t pay, fire them!

It’s actually quite therapeutic, even if terrifying!

At first the fear of the reduction in your income is difficult to overcome. However, they’re not paying you anyway so you have nothing to lose. It also means you can replace that family with another family who does pay you the amount asked and on time.

It took me along time to gain this attitude, but without it any company will drown.


Many tutors ask for payment up front. They may offer a discount if a group of lessons is paid for in advance. This is a great option as the family feel they are getting a bargain. You are not having to play catch up with payments each time/ week/ month.


Don’t let the question “To pay, or not to pay?” be the option for the families you work with.

Get policies in place from the start.  It’s never too late to start if you haven’t. If you don’t families with this sort of mentality will destroy your company and all the hard work you have put into it.


If you want help growing your tutoring company why not join us in our Facebook group “The Tutor’s Group” where you will find myself and other tutors to chat to. You will find motivation and support.



It’s all in the preparation

It’s all in the preparation

For just over 12 years I was married to a perfectionist.

We would move into a house that needed updating and he would set to work. He would spend hours preparing each room ready for him to decorate. I would be eager to get on with the stuff that showed rather than the bits that no one would ever see.

Yet when he had finished the room would be amazing, there wouldn’t be an imperfection anywhere. He always said it was the preparation that made all the difference.


Tutoring can also benefit from this logic.

There will always be a dramatic difference in the quality of a lesson between someone who turns up and bluffs their way through the hour and someone who has planned the lesson in advance, taken the time to prepare resources which are relevant to the child’s learning style, interests and needs.


If you ant to grow a successful tutoring business it will always be the tutor who is better prepared that will impress the parents more.

This will be the tutor whose reputation will grow quicker.

The tutor who has put more effort in will always see the benefits. They will be the ones who carry out a lesson where the imperfections are difficult to see.


This preparation can start long before you ever meet the family though. Think about who that person is that you want to tutor and when you are creating the marketing (Facebook posts, blogs, images, etc) for your business talk to that person. Think about the type of language you need to use, think about the type of image you need to create to capture their attention.

Be careful though not to get too caught up in the planning. The preparation that you never start the implementation of the action.


Below is the outline of the lesson plan that I use. Feel free to edit and use it as you see fit.


sample lesson plan generic


Create an effective lesson plan


Create an effective lesson plan pinterest


Creating a successful lesson is down to thorough planning.

My ex-husband is a perfectionist when it comes to DIY and he used to spend hours, clearing, cleaning, preparing before he would start work. He claimed the only way to have a professional finish was to put the time and effort into the preparation.
Creating a successful lesson, I believe is the same.

When you plan the lesson, you need to be clear about what it is you want to achieve.

How are you going to achieve this?

As you probably know, I am a strong believer that you will need to use a variety of resources in order to thoroughly ensure the student is able to recall the information when it is required.
(I will be ensuring, creating a “Resources Bundle” a priority in the Starr Tutoring Association Membership Group when it goes live).

Start by breaking your lesson down into chunks.

Allow a couple of minutes at the beginning to let the student know what you will be working on and the resources you have prepared to achieve this.
You may want to give them the choice of which resource you start with.
Then, when planning the lesson, allow some time at the end to go over what you have done and ask the child if they are happy they now understand it or if they want to spend some more time on it. You may feel they need a bit longer and will suggest accordingly.

Then break the rest of the lesson into smaller chunks.

If there are (for example) 4 activities you have planned to support their learning you might allow 12 minutes for each. You may decide that writing a descriptive piece of writing will take longer than the resources you have prepared to think of initial descriptive words to use. Therefore you, will no doubt allow different lengths of time for each individual task.

Always under estimate how long a task will take so you have more resources prepared than you will need. You don’t want to anticipate something taking 15 minutes and it only takes 5 leaving you stranded 10 minutes before the lesson is due to finish.

When writing my lesson plan (I have attached a template that can be downloaded if you wish) I note how long I predict something will take in the first column.

I next state what the activity is and any resources you may need to complete it.

This has proven incredibly important over the years especially if you aren’t working in your own home or in a setting which has equipment available for you to use.

In the next column I allow space to explain what my objective is for creating this task. For example, if I am doing a descriptive piece of writing with a child the first task I may do is to ask them to think of 8 words to describe the picture (or whatever it is we are describing). They will then use these words to create a word search for me to solve and I will do the same for them.

I have found that by doing warm-up exercises like this the student is better able to be inspired.

I compare it to someone saying: “What shall we talk about?” and you can almost guarantee your brain goes blank. Given something solid makes the start so much easier.
Many writers state that putting the first word on a piece of paper is the hardest. These warm up activities, provide that first word.

I normally make it my principle to send this plan to the parents in advance.  This keeps them in the loop as to what their child is studying with you (what they are spending their money on). Some parents, say you don’t need to worry about it and that is fine.

It also means that if the child/ parent changes their mind about what they want the focus to be on, it will give you chance to prepare alternative/ appropriate resources in advance rather than being unprepared when you arrive at the lesson.

I hope this has proven helpful.

If you want more ideas on starting / expanding your own tutoring company why not join us in the “Tutor’s Group”. The Tutor’s group is our Facebook group where tutors can come together and share ideas.

We will shortly be opening the “Starr Tutoring Association” which will offer a paid platform (£27/month) where you will receive, amongst other things; training bundles and support from experts to help you grow your business. For more details click on the link below.

Click here for the sample lesson plan template that you can adapt to suit your own tutoring needs.

Create an effective lesson plan button



8 simple and cheap ways to market your tutoring business

Are you looking for marketing ideas that you can implement that are cost effective and simple?

When I started Starr Tutoring in 2012 my marketing budget was small, and even today there aren’t hundreds or thousands to spend regularly…

These are the 10 techniques that have proven best value for money and had the best return on investment. I know they won’t work for everyone, but maybe they will work for you in the form that they are in or with a bit of a tweak.


I’ve always had quite a good return when I’ve done a leaflet drop. People will however, often hold on to the leaflets for a while before getting in touch.
I also always put in the leg work and deliver the leaflets myself and with the help of family members. This way I know they have been delivered and I get the exercise.
When I design the fliers, I ensure they are double sided. The advert on one side and then testimonials on the other. That way regardless of which way they fall onto the floor on the other side of the letter box there is something to catch the householder’s attention before it finds its way into the bin. Use colour and also use a suitably good quality paper.
Before sending the fliers out I know exactly where my ideal tutee will live. I know where to focus my leaflet drop. (I go into getting to know your ideal tutee in far more detail in the membership group).

Personalised stationery

Whenever I go to someone for the first time I give them a small gift. It contains all the stationery that will be needed in the lessons.
It doesn’t sound like much but most people love to be given something no matter what it is.
I started doing this after I realised that other tutors were turning up to lessons without any resources and much of the first lesson was spent trying to find the equipment that would be needed in the forthcoming hour. Presenting this gift also increased efficiency and scored “brownie points” with the parents.
The pens and pencils in this pack are personalised with the Starr Tutoring website details. This meant that if they ever found their way into the child’s school pencil case and then into someone else’s pencil case, my company name was spreading.

Word of mouth

This has to be the easiest and cheapest form of marketing.
Bad news travels fast but so do good news! If you go above and beyond what is expected, your reputation will spread and it won’t cost you a penny!
Never be afraid to ask for feedback either, most people are more than happy to write a comment for you to post on your website, your Facebook page, etc.

A Facebook Page

This links to the last point.
I’ve received so much work over the years via Facebook. People will often ask for recommendations of a good tutor. Having a Facebook page, lets the potential family have a quick stalk and learn something about you before drawing their own conclusions.
The Facebook page is also a free method (apart from any paid advertising you choose to do) of raising your all-important online profile.


Magnets on the side of the car

Your mobile bill board

When I first did this, I didn’t think it had been that effective and nearly took them off never to be seen again.
During a conversation I had several years after an incident that I realised how much money those magnets had earned me. I think they cost roughly £24 for the 2 when I got them.
I had been parked on someone’s drive in a lesson when the mum left with friends to go out for dinner. A couple of days later someone phoned and said they had been given my number by this mum and could I help with tutoring their son with Maths and English. The following day, the same thing happened though this time just with maths.

These two ladies have between them passed my details onto a further 8 families that I am aware of, there maybe more.

What I hadn’t realised was the reason I had come into conversation was because one of the mums had mentioned my car when they had been out at dinner and said her son needed help. The mum whose daughter I had been working with then started to say how well her daughter was, how much she enjoyed the lessons and how happy they were.
Just over a year ago, when parked in town, someone approached me and asked for my details. She didn’t get in touch again until 2 weeks ago. They had moved from the area briefly but were now back and could I support her 3 daughters!
On one occasion when I was getting petrol 2 people asked me for my business card having spotted the magnets on the side of the car.
(I don’t have them on the car at the moment as I have more work than tutors, but I know it is something I can easily call upon in the future if I need to).

Bags and T-shirts

Earlier I mentioned I gave each new starter a stationery pack. I often present these in a draw string bag which has the Starr Tutoring branding on them. They’re bright and colourful and definitely stand out. I accept many people will never leave the house with the bags. It only needs to be seen by 1 person who stays with you for a couple of weeks for the return on investment to justify itself.


Tutoring for Charity

This is something I tried for the first time last summer.
I dedicated 5 days over the summer holidays to offering tutoring lessons for a donation to our designated charity. We didn’t raise much but we did help a few people and we helped to raise the company profile.

I was interviewed by the local radio station about it. Consequently, we had many likes and shares on Facebook to help advertise it.

It had been an impulsive idea and the last minute. I know that if I had had more time, I could have inexpensively spread the word much further.
This year my plan is to create a times tables course to support parents in teaching the times tables through games. Each time a course is purchased I will donate it free to a family that needs the help. Parents can either nominate themselves or someone that they know. The more I can raise the profile of the course and sell it, the more people I can help in return.
If you’re interested let me know and I will send you more details once the course is downloaded in the next few days.

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration.

If you are starting your own tutoring business or trying to expand your existing one why not join us in “The Tutor’s Group” a place where you will receive support inspiration and guidance in your journey.

The “Tutor’s Group” is the Facebook group for the “Starr Tutoring Association.”
I hope to see you there soon.


How marketing for your tutoring business is like a game of “Guess Who”

Focusing your marketing is like a game of “Guess Who”.  You probably remember the game from your childhood. You have a board with rows of faces ready to be eliminated as you try to work out who your opponent’s person is that they have chosen.

When you are deciding who it would be appropriate to send it out to, the more you can ask questions and eliminate those you don’t want to tutor the more effective your marketing spend will be.

Some of the questions you may need to ask as you try to find your ideal market:

What does this person need support with?

It’s pointless sending out a generic message to all those looking for a tutor; at the very least you need to state the subject(s) you are able to support.

Is your speciality a language, a science, maths, English, humanities or something completely different like a musical instrument, dance or craft?


The next question you might apply is:

What level of support does this person need?

Initially keep this fairly focused. You can always branch out at a later date. The more precise you can be the fewer resources you will need to source/ create.

When I first started tutoring I stated I could support children in Key stage 1 and 2 with Maths and English. This was already 4 lots of resources I potentially had to create. I quickly expanded onto Key Stage 4 which then as a matter of course quickly incorporated Key stage 3. Now I had the potential of having to create 8 separate sets of resources and as no 2 people are alike the odds were that was a minimum. I used to sit up into the early hours of the morning creating resources which were appropriate to the needs of that child.

Make life easy for yourself and stay focused. The more focused you can be, the more likely it is that the resources you create can be used for more than one person.

Over the years this catalogue of resources has proved priceless, but when I first set out I was making life very difficult for myself….

Just by focusing in on these 2 questions I have vastly reduced the number of people who will pay attention to my marketing.


Where will the lessons take place?

I have written an e-book on this, highlighting the benefits and disadvantages of the available options. It can be downloaded via the knowledge centre and it is also available via “The Starr Tutoring Association”.

If someone is looking for a tutor to come to their house and you are intending to work as an online tutor, this is not someone you need to appeal to in your marketing. Considering this question when focusing your marketing will save you time and ensure the people who do get in touch are definitely relevant potential tutees.


Another question to pose is:

If someone is travelling (you or the tutee) how far would they be willing to travel?

It seems obvious that if someone needs to travel you do not need to create a national advert.


Like with the game “Guess Who” there are so many questions you can ask to narrow down to that one person who counts. I will go into them in far more detail in the training bundles in the “Starr Tutoring Association”.

As you write your post/ profile/ etc. answer these questions as you speak directly to the person you want to tutor. The more you can do this and explain how you can help them in doing so the more likely it is that the right person will be in touch.

If you want more information on the “Starr Tutoring Association” click here for more details.