We've tested and experimented with countless marketing strategies and methods over the years and the one method that always wins hands down is an effective website.
We highly recommend every tutor have their own website and in this article we will walk you through how to get started and create one for your tutoring business.
An Alternative: Have a Pro Build a Website For You
This article is for tutors who want to build your own website. If you don't feel comfortable with setting up and maintaining a website, there is an alternative.
We've partnered up with web designers to be able to offer tutors an affordable way to have your own effective website. This option suits tutors who don't feel comfortable with dealing with hosting companies, maintaining website software or fixing issues that pop up. Simply let us build a website to your needs and you can keep focusing on your students.
A Warning on Free Website Builders
There are a lot of companies offering free websites which at first glance sounds like a great option. Why would you pay for a website when you can get one for free?
Here are a few reasons why you should avoid free website builders:
- Limited number of pages: most free website builders only allow you to create a few pages before you need to pay to upgrade. This is a big problem from an SEO point of view because the more content you have, the better your chances are of ranking higher in search engines.
- Poor first impressions: when a potential student lands on your website, do you want them to feel like your website is professional or that you took the cheapest option possible?
- Not mobile friendly: some free website builders don't display properly on mobile devices. Considering a growing number of people now search for tutors using mobile devices, this is a massive red flag. You need a mobile friendly website.
- Branding: telling a person that your website is sarahjones.freewebsitebuilder.com or freesites.com/sarahj doesn't add to your credibility as a tutor. That's the type of website name you receive if you don't pay for a domain.
- Ads: the website you create will include big ads for the website company you cannot remove without paying to remove them. The end result is that your website actually promotes their business, not yours.
- You get out what you put in: if you think spending 30 minutes throwing a few webpages together is all that's needed, you're going to be disappointed. In the same way a student should come to you for one lesson and expect to leave an expert, you shouldn't expect miracles with free websites. Rome wasn't built in a day and your website needs more time too.
This isn't just our opinion, talk to any website or marketing expert and they should be able to give you the same reasons why you should avoid them.
Paying to own a good quality website is one of the best investments you can make as a tutor. Don't cut corners when it comes to your website.
The first step in creating a website is to sign up with a hosting company. A website host is a company that will store your website on their servers. There are countless hosting companies at widely different costs. We recommend using either Bluehost or Hostgator due to their popularity, low cost and good reputation. We will be using Bluehost throughout this step-by-step guide but the process will be similar with Hostgator.
TIP: Open Bluehost's website here in a new window while reading through this guide to make it easy to follow along. If you sign up for Hostgator, only the first few steps should look different.
Step 1: Account Creation
1. Visit Bluehost's website here (opens in new tab/window) while reading through this guide for an easy step-by-step walkthrough.
This is what you will see when you visit their website (note that the appearance and pricing shown may change over time):
2. Click the 'Sign Up Now' button (see red arrow above)
3. You will be asked whether you need a domain name or if you have one already.
If you don't already have a domain name, simply enter what domain name you want to use in the left space as shown below.
Choosing a good domain name is incredibly important. Read through our article on Choosing a Business Name to give you an idea of what you should use for your domain name. The name should be short, clear and relevant for your tutoring business.
In this example we're going to create a website for a guitar tutor. Whether you include a subject or topic in your domain name should depend on whether you will teach other subjects as well. For example if you're a Spanish tutor, will you teach other languages in the future or will you focus 100% on Spanish? If you will focus on Spanish, including it in the domain name will help distinguish you from other tutors.
For this example a guitar tutor is unlikely to start teaching other instruments, so we will include the word 'guitar' in the domain name.
Let's say the tutor's name is Steve Smith. So for his domain name, we have entered 'stevesmithguitar' to see if the domain name 'stevesmithguitar.com' is available. You can register one domain name for free as part of your Bluehost registration (Hostgator also offers a free domain name on registration).
Enter the domain name you want to use and click next.
4. Enter your account information
If the domain name you have entered in is available, you will see a page as shown below. The red arrow indicates that the domain name 'stevesmithguitar.com' is available.
Fill out your details in this section to continue.
5. Choose your 'Package' information
Bluehost & Hostgator give you flexible options for payment. You can prepay 12, 24 or 36 months in advance. The longer period you prepay, the lower your ongoing cost will be. Ignore the 'Pro' or 'VPS' plans as they aren't necessary for tutors.
The extra features such as 'SiteLock', 'Site Backup Pro' or 'Search Engine Jumpstart' aren't necessary. You can read more information to see whether you should choose them or not, but if in doubt, leave them blank.
It's up to you whether you choose the 'Domain Whois Privacy' option or not. Seeing as you will be displaying your contact information anyway on the website, having this privacy option is unnecessary.
Choose your payment option to continue. You can pay by credit card or click 'Additional payment options' to pay by PayPal.
Click Next to continue. You will arrive at a confirmation page with your account details and a button to access your 'Control Panel'. You will also receive a confirmation email with a link to log in your account. Otherwise you can log in to your account at any time from the Bluehost site by clicking the 'Control Panel Login' button on the top right of the page.
Step 2: Setting Up Your Website
At this point you have registered your domain name (eg: stevesmithguitar.com) and have a hosting account ready to use. Let's look at how to get your website up and running. We will look at how to set up a website using WordPress - a massively popular website platform that powers a significant percentage of the internet. There are other options, but we recommend using WordPress.
1. Access your 'Control Panel'. If you are logging in from the main site, click the 'Go to cPanel' option.
This is what you will see when you access your Control Panel:
From here you can do anything you need to with your website such as create email accounts, upload files to your website or even add on extra websites to your hosting account.
2. Scroll down and click on 'WordPress' option under 'Website Builders'.
With WordPress you will have a lot of flexibility in every aspect of your website from the basic design to functionality. In addition, there are countless videos, tutorials and articles online covering essentially any topic you would want to learn about on WordPress. If you ever get stuck with something on WordPress, a quick Google search is all it takes to find an answer. That's something that can't be said for many other website platforms.
This will take you to the 'Mojo Marketplace' which is a very simple way to add features to your website. Hostgator may have other options.
3. Click 'Start' to install WordPress
4. Select your domain
This will check to make sure nothing else is installed for this domain. If a warning appears saying that this may overwrite files, simply select the 'OOPS! Looks like something already exists there!' option that shows up to continue.
5. Enter final details
Check the 'Show advanced options' box. This will allow you to set a title for your site and set up a username and password for you to edit your website. Please note that for security reasons we recommend that the username and password you set here should be different from the details you set up for your Bluehost account in the beginning of this guide. The username and password you create here will be used whenever you want to log in to your website.
Check the box to agree with the terms and conditions and click 'Install Now'.
A confirmation screen will display showing you a link to use to access your admin area to your website. If you ever forget what that link is, it's simply your domain name with /wp-admin added to the end. For example:
Your website will now be up and running and ready to customize. Your website will now look something like this when you visit it:
Step 3: Customizing Your Website
There are so many different things you can do with a WordPress website so as a starting point this guide will explain how to set up a theme (the design for your website), create basic pages and set a homepage.
Choosing a theme for your website
Let's first look at choosing a 'theme' for your website. A theme is a template you can use for the design of your website. There are countless free and paid themes available online to choose from. You can change your theme at any time so don't feel that you will be stuck with what you choose now.
1. Log in to your admin Dashboard.
Go to your website's admin dashboard (eg: www.stevesmithguitar.com/wp-admin). Enter your password and login details (set up during Step 2) to gain access. This is roughly what you should see:
WordPress is constantly changing so the design you see may look very different to what is shown above. Even if the design looks different, the same features and links will be available.
2. Click 'Appearance > Themes' on the left side menu.
This screen will display any themes already installed and allow you to add new themes.
Click 'Add new theme' to find a new theme.
3. Find a suitable theme to install
This screen will allow you to search WordPress' directory of free themes. There are countless themes available - some good and some bad - so look for ones with good ratings by other website owners. In this example we will search for a 'blue' theme and see what themes are available. Here are some of the results:
You can test out any theme by clicking 'Preview' and install a theme you like by clicking 'Install Now'. After installing the theme, simply click 'Activate' to use it.
Adding Pages to your website
Now that you have chosen a theme for your website, you can start to customize the pages shown. At the start only one page will appear 'Sample Page'. Let's look at how to delete that sample page and add suitable pages for a tutor's website.
1. Delete any unwanted pages
Click 'Pages' on the left admin menu to view a list of all published pages on your website.
Delete the 'sample page' and any other pages shown by hovering your mouse over the page and clicking the red 'Trash' link.
2. Add new pages
On the 'Pages' screen, simply click 'Add New' to create a new page. Alternatively you can click 'Pages > Add New' from the left menu at any time.
3. Add content to your new page.
Start by choosing a title for your page. For example if you're creating a page for your homepage, set it to something like 'Steve Smith Guitar Lessons' or 'Mary Wilson Math Tutoring in London' instead of 'Homepage'. We recommend using your business name and your town/suburb name if you tutor locally. Adding your location is important for SEO reasons. If you tutor online via Skype, include the word 'Skype' in your title for SEO reasons (eg: 'Sarah Lucas Skype Tutoring').
The large white area is what will display on the page. In other guides we will dig deeper on what you should write on your pages. Enter the content you want to display on the page. You can click the 'Add Media' button to add photos.
4. Publish your page
After you have completed your page, click the 'Publish' button on the top right to activate it on your website.
Here are a few ideas for basic pages to create for your website:
Homepage: this is the page that most visitors will first see when they visit your website so make it give a good first impression
About lessons: include information such as your lesson rates and policies
Available times: including a basic timetable is a great way to encourage visitors to book in a time with you
About me: visitors will want to find out more about you so put all information here
Contact me: provide all your contact details in one page
Repeat the steps to create any new pages for your website.
Setting a 'Homepage'
By default, WordPress does not set a default home page for your website. As WordPress was initially created for blogs, visitors will first see any blog posts on a website. This usually isn't ideal for tutors so let's look at how to set a specific page as your home page.
1. Go to 'Settings > Reading'
Click 'Settings on the left admin menu and choose 'Reading'. This will display options to set as your 'Front page'.
By default you will see that 'Your latest posts' will be selected. Select 'A static page' then choose the home page you created from the drop-down menu as shown below:
Click 'Save Changes' at the bottom to save your settings. Now when a visitor goes to your website, they will first see the page you selected. In this example visitors will see the page titled 'Steve Smith Guitar Lessons'.
Congratulations! You now have the foundations of your website set up and ready to go!
The website you have created at this point is a basic starting point. Don't feel that your job is done - there are many different ways you can use your new website to attract new students and build your reputation as a tutor.
We will create more guides to explain how to get the most out of your website and what improvements will have the biggest impact on attracting potential students.
Although this looks like a long guide, the steps are very simple and you can realistically create the foundation for your website in under 30 minutes (including time to set up pages). If you feel this is a lot of work, keep in mind that websites are the most powerful marketing method available. When done right, your website can bring you a constant stream of new students. So it's worth the effort!
If you set up an account with Bluehost or Hostgator, we receive an affiliate commision from them at no extra cost to you. We recommend Bluehost or Hostgator and our opinions expressed here are our own. You are free to choose a different hosting company at your own discretion. We have chosen to write this guide based on Bluehost due to their high reputation and testing we have done with their services. This guide should still be suitable for other hosting companies that use cPanel.