Unless you're an established tutor with a full timetable who can get by on word of mouth and referrals, then you simply need a professional looking site to promote your business.
It's one of the best ways for potential students to find out about you at the click of a button and answer many of the questions they may have about starting lessons before getting in touch with you.
This article contains several things to consider when creating a tutoring website whether you are just starting out or have been teaching for a number of years.
1) Create a site yourself or hire a professional web designer.
Both have their advantages. Doing it yourself can be fun, but I strongly recommend having some knowledge of CSS and HTML if you decide to go at it alone.
You will probably get better results using a professional web designer, but if you do it yourself it’s a great learning experience.
2) Get domain name and hosting
A professional web designer should be able to do all this for you, but if you are doing it yourself then read on…
Ideally, you should go for a .com, as this looks the most professional, but if you are based in the UK or Australia, then .co.uk or .com.au is fine. With so many websites on the internet, finding a unique .com domain name can be tricky.
Here are some tips for coming up with a name…
a) You can use hyphens in the URL e.g. www.john-smith.com
b) Add your subject after your name e.g. www.johnsmithmusic.com
c) Add your location (can be good for SEO if you have a particular keyphrase your want to target in the search engines) e.g. www.mathtutorchicago.com
c) If you’re still stuck then http://www.namemesh.com/ features some great suggestions for domain names
I recommend Namecheap as a place for purchasing a domain name. It's easy to use and offers excellent support. Furthermore, they will send you numerous reminders when your domain is up for renewal and you can even purchase WHOIS protection (which means people can't access your exact address using various websites to look up your domain registration details - great if you want some privacy)
I recommend Hostgator as they offer great support, with reasonable prices. I use their Baby shared hosting plan as you get an unlimited number of domains for a low monthly cost.
Assuming you keep your domain registrar and host separate, once your host is up and running, you need to tell your domain to point to your host’s nameservers (it can take up to 24-48 hours for this to go through)
3) Web Design Method
Once the hosting and domain are set up correctly, then you need to choose what platform you’ll use to create your site. If you know CSS and HTML really well, you can use software like Dreamweaver. You could also use platforms like Joomla, Yola or WordPress, although I recommend you should have some basic knowledge.
I build all my sites using WordPress as it is a very flexible and functional system. There are also lots of useful plugins, as well as some great themes. I recommend using Elegant Themes. Read my review here
UPDATE - Check out this video from Darrel Wilson which explains how to create a website in WordPress using Hostgator and Elegant Themes. It's a bit long but it's very thorough and you'll know exactly how to get your website up and running once you've seen it.
If you have any questions about hosting, domain names and WordPress, leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post.
4) Creating the site
Time to get to work!
Start thinking about the structure of your site, particularly how many pages you would like and whether they should all be in the navigation menu. Here are some suggestions..
a) Home Page – essential and the most important page which should welcome your visitors
b) About Page (Bio Page) – Talk about your experience as a musician, your education and teaching experience
c) Teaching – You could talk about your teaching philosophy. Do you teach all aspects of your subject? Or specialise in certain areas? How are your lessons structured? Do you want to list your prices or not?
d) Testimonials – An essential page. You can expand on this once you start teaching more students, but see if you can get at least 1 or 2 quotes from musicians mentioning how great you are!
e) Audio / Video – If you're a music teacher, you can add YouTube videos and/or audio recordings of your playing. However, even if you teach an academic subject, you could create a video of you teaching a particular topic. It's a great way for people to get a glimpse of what you might be like as a teacher.
f) Contact – Post your name, address, phone number and e-mail address (by the way, in your hosting account, you can easily set up a business e-mail address and forward it to your personal e-mail address. What looks more professional firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com?
Put up a contact form as well, as some people are more comfortable filling in a quick form, rather than picking up the phone.
5) Test your site
Once all your content is uploaded, then you should check if everything’s working ok.
a) Are the links all working? Go through each page, click every link and see if everything works as it should.
b) Does it display in all browsers? Check your site on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, iPad and on cell phones
6) Get your tutoring website indexed by the search engines
You site is up and running, but now you need people to find it.
This can take a while, but if you follow these tips, it can happen a lot faster..
a) Link to it from Social media profiles
Set up a Facebook page, Twitter and Google+ accounts and link to your site
b) Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools and submit a sitemap.
If you already have a Google+ account then adding your site to Google Webmaster Tools is fairly straightforward. You could also add a sitemap, which can make your site index faster.
When I set up this site, it was indexed in less than 24 hours just using Google Webmaster tools and submitting a sitemap