• B.M.

What It's Really Like Being A Freelance Tutor

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

#RealityBites #Freelancing #Online #Tutor #EnglishLanguage

OK, Let's get straight to it.

You'll come across websites, blogs, YouTube videos, and such, about how wonderful it is to freelance - be your own boss, work on your own time, that amazing ease with which you can earn $$$ from the sweet butt imprint on your sofa. Many of these will suggest numerous tutoring websites where you can just talk to foreigners who want to improve their English. Yeah, just talk, have conversations, and you'll have money flowing in as easy as that.

Well, whether that's something you're going for, or if you're working to tutor online regardless of the subject, there are always restraints and difficulties to face. This blog wants to talk about those difficulties; the drawbacks that people don't warn you about and instead only showcase the glamour of freelancing.

Number One:

The first thing they don't tell you is something very specifically related to aspiring freelance tutors of the English language sphere who are not native English language speakers. This is going to be in a separate post: "The Harsh Reality of Freelancing" - in which I discuss drawbacks with regard to freelancing in general.

Number Two:

If you've become an online freelance tutor (tutoring your parents' friends' kids count!) they don't tell you about the endless teaching material you have to think of and create for your classes - unless you have the money to spend on purchasing teaching material, of course.

**If you are able to pay for the countless teaching material available online then, well, skip this part.**

If you're a pretty-broke-student-aspiring freelancer then read on!

I was still studying and without my own bank account when my mom and sister urged me to try freelancing. They, too, fell for the seemingly glamorous wonders of becoming a freelancer. Anyway, I didn't have the money to buy the workbooks and flash cards and story books for the children I was then tutoring English. I had just about four to five kids to tutor a few times a week and preparing material for those alone took up most of my time. Each student was a different grade, with their own distinct level of English language skills, so I couldn't just reuse a set of material I'd made for one student.

And don't get me started on the stuff I had to make for a group of 5 year olds! I couldn't just cook up some bland PowerPoint presentation. That stuff needed to be animated, colourful, full of pictures and fun interactions. I would even make mini story books for some of the children I taught because I couldn't just purchase what I needed.

Ok, no one demanded this of me. I did all that work because I was raised to do my best in everything I do, particularly if someone were paying me for my services. I needed to teach something and couldn't just buy resources to teach. Most of all, getting students engaged was always something very important to me.

Now, I did manage to find some very helpful free teaching material on a couple of websites. To not make this post too long, please find links to the resources I had used when I was a freelance English tutor in the "resources" page. And no, I'm not being paid for advertising these websites. I'm doing this purely to help my readers out. I mean, if you've read this far you totally deserve the help.

What's important to understand is that, like most things on the internet, you can certainly find a limited range of free items for you to download and use, but it won't be enough to get you by once you've used it all up and still have much more to teach your students.

Number Three:

You don't actually get to work whenever you want to - really, it's not up to you, it's up to your students!

One of the strongest selling-points for websites and corporations hiring freelancers is that you'll be your own boss and work on your own time. So if you don't feel like working tomorrow, you can just cancel on your clients/students, apparently. I don't know anyone who's serious about earning an honest living to decide, "eh, not feeling it today," and actually choose to turn down an opportunity unless absolutely necessary.

If your student wants you to work on a national holiday, you could decline, sure, but this is most likely the best time for your student to hire you for your services because said student hasn't got work or school on that day. Now imagine if you've got multiple students a week - some preferring to have you work on the holidays and some on regular workdays. This ultimately uses up your entire week to the point where you realize you don't even get to enjoy your weekends because that's when you need to prepare material for the next student.

Did that make sense? Does this ring a bell to anyone? That feeling where you don't even get your own weekends, let alone public holidays. No - you don't actually get holidays if you're a freelancer. You're not a boss who has hired someone else to do the work for you; you have to do that work yourself. You don't get to decline clients/students whenever you feel like it - that was never a realistic feature of freelancing!

So if you're going to go into freelancing, just be prepared to have your weekends and holidays taken up with work because you can't just leave all that work in the office; it's with you wherever you go.

These are really the 3 major realistic problems you're going to face as a freelance tutor, which websites and corporations selling the idea of freelancing forget to warn you about. These are based on my personal experiences. Things would definitely have been different if I had the money to buy what I needed - such as story books, worksheets, etc.

If you can relate, or if there are other points that are noteworthy and you feel ought to be included here, feel free to share by dropping me an email!


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