From school teacher to successful tutoring coach – Joanne Kaminski
It goes without saying that becoming a successful tutor has its ups and downs. Tutors in the field always ask for guidance from those who have gone before them and possible ways to succeed in this extremely competitive niche. We interviewed a tutoring expert, Joanne Kaminski, in our own little way of finding some solution to these issues. Read her inspiring success story and the great advice she provides on how to succeed as a tutor despite the challenges.
A little bit about our expert:
Joanne Kaminski is the founder of Online Tutor Coach, a platform that teaches great tutors how to find their voice, market their tutoring services, and work the hours they want with students worldwide. Ultimately helping them become highly successful tutors with 4-5 figures monthly earnings.
What do you currently do for a living, and how did you get there?
Today I have two businesses. One is where I tutor children who are struggling readers, which I absolutely love doing. I also help tutors struggling with finding students for their online tutoring business. Before starting my own online tutoring business, I failed five other businesses. And I say that because they were inconsistent, unreliable, and didn't pay. In some cases, I made no money at all. As a result, it was a very frustrating journey.
I had come from a very successful career as a reading specialist and quickly moved up the ranks in the school system. So when I stepped into the shoes of an entrepreneur and tried to start my own business, it was not a cakewalk. But I was driven not to return to school since so many things didn't seem right for me, such as politics and other things. And I really wanted to be able to help kids when it came to learning to read, but I had no idea how to accomplish it inside the educational system.
Before I decided to leave, this pain in my side would not go away. It was an ongoing situation, six months of being in and out of the hospital for chronic pain. I saw it as the universe speaking to me and saying, "You need to stop."
I soon realized that I needed to quit, which I did. And I thought to myself, "I'm going to figure out how to make money from home," because I still had a little one at home. She was three years old at the time.
After deciding what I wanted to do, I landed a network marketing position that taught me about the online business world. But my heart wasn't in it; I hated it and fought to be good at it - I'd been successful and able to overcome many barriers in my life, so I was convinced I could do it. I was still unhappy with network marketing. So I started selling US-born books I loved, but I ran out of friends to sell them to. While I loved these books, it wasn't where my heart was.
I love to crochet. So I thought, "Well, I'll be creative." I'll start you selling my arts and crafts. I didn't realize how hard it is to sell things that people don't need. I didn't have an email list or anything other people had. I was putting in a lot of time making jewelry, blankets, and other things like that.
But I couldn't sell them. After failing at other ideas, I thought, what if I did online tutoring? What if I could teach reading online from home? I got excited again. I was excited to do this because I knew it was what I was destined to do. I gathered all of the information from my previous positions and put it to use. I learned about SEO (search engine optimization). Created a website and an email list.
Although those experiences helped me be more successful, I still had a lot to learn, and I remember banging my head against a wall and thinking, oh my gosh.
What stopped you from reaching your goals?
One of the biggest problems we all face is feeling overwhelmed when we don't know how to do something. This prevents us from taking action. We'd rather avoid it than face it. With this being a big issue, I felt I could assist individuals to achieve success if I could help people deal with this overwhelm they feel at the beginning of their business.
Over time, I had a few tutors who were succeeding with my strategies. I decided it was time for a revamp. So I completely revamped my Tutorpreneur program into "my jumpstart your online tutoring business masterclass," where we have coaches to support the tutors and tech calls to help them with the technical side of things. All of this is to keep them going.
They have an accountability partner, people to support, a team, a group, and others to depend on when overwhelmed. Not just one person. Although, in the beginning, I wanted to be that one person, I became overwhelmed by how many people I had to serve.
After I realized I could put together a team to truly support everyone, it became easier and more enjoyable for me. Also, tutors were getting better results and reaching their goals. I usually start by telling individuals that my goal is to educate them on how to obtain one student.
So we keep things simple. If I can help you acquire one student, you will get many more. Each tutor should have one student. I also give a refund if they complete the curriculum but cannot find a student. This is what drives them to keep going even if they don't get students.
Failing is the first step to becoming a successful online teacher business coach. Honestly, I assumed I was simply more motivated than others. I had no idea that overloading individuals with information was short-circuiting their minds and overwhelming them.
I realized I could break things down, working on one thing today and another tomorrow, and the next. It became much more achievable and doable for everyone to take the steps asked. I've had better results in groups than one-on-one. So I've perfected aiding several tutors at once.
What was your first step toward becoming a successful online tutor business coach?
I wanted to assist other instructors in similar circumstances to succeed much quicker than I did. My reading teaching company began in 2010.
By 2012, I felt secure in my company and began assisting other tutors. I established my first program, Tutorpreneur, to go out there and assist other tutors. My first class had three students. Then I was able to start reaching out and making things better.
I continued developing and serving others until I felt fulfilled. But one of my main issues was that no one was getting results. I was frustrated because I wanted them to get results! One thing inhibiting them was their mindset; they had many limiting beliefs holding them back. I thought, "I need to start addressing these limiting beliefs, so they know they're normal, but they can also overcome them." I also need to teach them all of these different strategies for getting students, but they need to be shown how. So that was my goal: to keep encouraging and motivating them to attain their goals.
What has worked to attract and retain customers since the launch?
What has worked for me in attracting and retaining customers is the idea that I'm not just creating followers or people who like my stuff. I'm building "super fans." Pat Flynn also wrote a book called Super Fans. He says people will fall in love with you because of the experiences that you create for them.
And that is my goal: to create these supportive environments where they feel empowered to do anything. Authenticity and reality are crucial, in my opinion.
As you know, I always tell people that it's my passion to help kids struggling with reading. But I'm also on a mission to help other tutors since I know how hard it was to start out. And I really want to serve.
After my last jumpstart class, I told everyone in attendance, "I'm going to give you all a gift; it's a 30 minute one on one coaching call with me." And their eyes got all big, they were all excited, and I could tell they were happy. They saw the value I was delivering and booked my calendar within seconds. And I asked nothing in return.
I want to make sure that any loose ends are tied up so you feel supported throughout the process. Many of them just love that I'm giving them this time away.I won't simply hand them over to other coaches. I'm giving you time with your coach.
They do have group coaches, but I'm actively participating. I'm giving them an experience of what it's like to work with me and helping them succeed regardless of what I get in return. It's always about being of service. I can retain my clients and turn them into super fans because I'm willing to help for free. It gets to the point where I have people paying me to help them. I don't hold back and tell them, "Oh, well, I'm not going to give you that unless you purchase this next program." Purchase this or that. It is really about me serving you. I'm here to help you no matter what you are struggling with.
And I think that this makes the biggest difference. Retaining those customers and having them trust what you offer and put out there.
Have you learned anything particularly useful or advantageous from starting the business?
One of the biggest things that I've learned in starting a business is that it's best not to look at it from your perspective. Rather, look at the business from the perspective of your ideal clients.
It makes a significant difference when you look at your business from the viewpoint of helping those who want to follow you, rather than what you're going to get out of it. That's why I'm so active on social media.
Every time I create marketing messages, I dive deep into what they are struggling with, what words they are using, and how I can show that I hear them on my page. I think that's important. Also, know your audience. A lot of people have told me, "Joanne, you're a natural." You need to be teaching these skills to more than just tutors.
I provide client-getting tips twice a week on YouTube and once a week in ClubHouse. It makes a huge difference when people feel that support and love whatever level they are, free or VIP, I will give them everything and serve them better.
This makes them desire more. People have followed me for years before purchasing anything. I'm not playing games. It's simply showing up and serving.
And I'm niching down. I've reached out to a group of people I enjoy working with. I know my target audience. I know what language to use. I helped get their tutoring journey started, so it's really easy for me to communicate because I've been there and experienced what they're feeling right now.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Some of the tools I use for my business include zoom, one of the biggest tools I frequently use to communicate. I love using the breakout rooms to cooperate, network with other tutors, and all that good stuff.
Facebook groups give people a sense of community and a place where they can ask questions. We have a setup where coaches come in, encourage them, and answer any issues they may have. Because there's always that built-in degree of support, it never seems like it's all on one coach or even myself.
I also use Kajabi because it has everything I need. I store all of my courses, it has an email autoresponder and a website builder. However, there are other tools available today. I've invested so much in Kajabi so I'm sticking with it because I've created about 100 courses over the years. A new platform would mean moving all of that material.
Which books, podcasts, or other resources have had the most impact?
I am an avid reader, and there are a billion books out there. One of the books that greatly influenced me is the compound effect.
The compound effect is a book by Darren Hardy. It gives you a mindset of success with anything. He stresses that you need to be consistent.
For instance, if you start taking action today, you take action tomorrow, and continue the day after, you'll inevitably have success. He talks about what happens over time. Momentum begins to build up like an engine, making it easier as the process goes on.
He builds more momentum to be a person known as Big Mo, and Big Mo is there to serve you as long as you keep taking action.
But as soon as you stop taking action, Big Mo begins to wane and disappear. Then it becomes a lot harder to get it up and run again. So I do love the compound effect because it's incredible.
Another book that has provided great value has been Expert Secrets, which has helped me create webinars and marketing messages. I love how it teaches anyone without experience in creating webinars how to do so.
So, I always recommend "expert secrets" to my tutors looking to make additional income or passive income from course creation.
I also love "how to start an online tutoring business." It's very similar to the course that I've created. Step-by-step guide through the process. In my book, I go over similar information on how people can begin getting students. Because I feel like if I can help them get a couple of students, they'll start respecting that I can help them get even more students, I have this knowledge that will lead them to that next student and the next.
I love listening to James Wedmore's podcast, business by design. This specific podcast changes my mindset all the time. How can you be successful? What kind of thoughts do you need to have?
I believe that if we can dig deep into our brains and look at our limiting beliefs and overcome them, then we can achieve absolutely anything that we want to. Nothing is stopping us. The right resources, tools, and people will come into our life at the right time when they are meant to if we can get rid of those limiting beliefs.
I love such podcasts because they helped me build up my confidence, get rid of those limiting beliefs, and realize that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
What are your next business goals?
One of my next business goals is to appear on 100 podcasts this year. And the reason for that is I want to be able to reach out to different areas of people who may not have considered online tutoring before and really get the word out there that this is a great way to make additional income, whether it's just extra income, replace your current career, or a side hustle.
If you want to do it full time, you absolutely can. I want to give people the steps to make that happen. If this is something that they feel led to, I believe in letting people listen to their intuition; do what feels right for them.
Not everybody was meant to be an online tutor, right. Well, some people are hiding in some nooks and crannies who are.
I've been listening to some really interesting podcasts. I got into the college circuit through some podcasts, one of which is the foodie podcast. The presenter always likes to bring up an element of food and people's favorite food, but it's geared towards college kids.
They learn a bit about how online tutoring could be something they can do while in college. I got on a podcast for lawyers as well. It targets lawyers looking to make additional income. It also helps lawyers who are currently enrolled in the classes and need help taking the exam.
Reaching out to many different avenues and platforms that you wouldn't typically see people reaching out to helps them see that online tutoring could be something they can fall in love with. I have fallen in love with tutoring because of my experience doing this.
When I sit down to work with my students, I get a warm feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if this is what I was meant to do. I get that same feeling when I work with tutors as well. So I know I'm accomplishing exactly what I set out to do.
Advice for other tutors/coaches who want to start or have already started?
Some advice for other tutors and coaches who are considering or have already begun their careers. Decide who you want to serve and whether or not you want to serve students. People will not pay more for an expert than a generalist, so if you want to make more money doing what you love, dive deep into one of those areas where you can become an expert.
In my case, I fell in love with reading because I had my reading struggles early in life. Then I started learning about how I could help other children. I had a strong desire to learn everything I could about teaching reading, but that doesn't mean I can't teach math or other subjects. But reading was like my diehard passion. Find yours.
And if you're a coach, and you're working with someone to determine who you want to serve, understand that you can't serve everyone. The messaging is so important. You won't be able to sell if you don't have a message. Find a message that speaks to their pain points.
For instance, I know how frustrating watching your child struggle to read even simple words in their homework directions. You want to be able to help them. Know who that ideal client is. And when it comes to, who you want to coach, think about who you were in the past and what you struggled with that you could help someone else overcome.
For me, the struggle of starting my online tutoring business fueled my desire to help tutors get results faster so that they wouldn't have to rely on other companies to pay them peanuts for their services. So that's why it became a passion for me. Find your passion, whether you're a lawyer helping other lawyers or your niche.
Be ready to create a following of people who will love you, like you, and want to follow you to the ends of the earth. All you have to do to make that happen is create some amazing experiences for them, and it will start to happen. I'd say that making videos was the most difficult thing I've ever done in my entire career. It was the most difficult because I thought it would be easy.
My YouTube channel has 1.4 million views in total. Some people get 1.4 million views, from one video but in my case, it has taken over 500 videos. Being consistent even when you are not getting many views is important. Stay focused, be of service, and help the people you were meant to serve.
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