A Newcomer's Guide to Student of Fortune Online Tutoring
Student of Fortune Online Tutoring
*NOTICE: As of August 2013, Student of Fortune has shut down and merged into Chegg (which had owned Student of Fortune for two years at that point). I will keep this page up for posterity, but you should visit Chegg.com now for homework help similar to what Student of Fortune offered.
I actually first heard of Student of Fortune from Hubpages. I was hub hopping one night and ran across an article about some website at which you could make money for selling your tutorials to students in need of help through online tutoring. As a graduate student with a degree in physics and a mathematics minor I figured I might at least search it on Google to see what kind of scam it was. After a short bit of searching I found that it is in fact not a scam, but a legitimate business owned by a young Californian entrepreneur. The idea came to him while he was studying in college and got tired of not having anyone around to help. I've been a member at Student of Fortune for two years now and here are some of the things I've learned on the site.
People Don't Trust You
Unless they're ignorant or extremely gullible, people generally don't trust you on the web when it comes to money. In a time when the internet is rife with scams and anonymity is paramount, people don't tend to trust others who promise to provide them something they desperately want only after they pay for it and before they know what it truly is. Even though Student of Fortune takes steps to look and act professional and transactions are made with the promise of disciplinary action should something go wrong, people still don't want to fork over their hard-earned money to someone they don't know for something they can't see yet. This leads me to the point that it is not easy to be a newcomer to Student of Fortune. I've encountered many instances in which I'm certain my tutorials were just as good as the next person's and they were cheaper, but because I didn't have a rating and my amount earned was very low people generally tended to pay more for the tutorial from the person with the higher earnings. Now, I can't say that I blame them because I'd probably do the same thing if it were my money on the line, so the strategy I adopted early on was one of building rapport and being assertive. I typically find myself writing as many messages as I do tutorials in hopes of attracting some new 'business' by being a little less anonymous and a little more personal. I also don't shy away from questions that have already been answered, but don't have purchased solutions and remain open. These questions make great opportunities to provide the person who asked the question with a discounted solution. I always make sure to mention that my solutions are the same as the other guys', they're just cheaper! At times I feel like a used car salesman, but I think in the end it will pay off.
It Takes Time
As with most things that we do and hope to do right, becoming profitable takes some time. Now, you can start making money as soon as you sign up, but you may find as I did that you're working for pennies on the hour at times. Answering physics and mathematics questions, of which mathematics has a fairly high volume of tutors willing to post tutorials, I could spend up to several hours answering a couple of questions only to find that none of my tutorials were purchased and I made nothing for all that work. Conversely, I've submitted tutorials in physics in which I was the only tutor and the person wanted a tutorial fast and I made a couple bucks in less than half an hour. I've since learned that I need to be more selective in choosing which problems to go for and make an educated judgment about whether or not I have a chance at the bounty. Also, you may discover that if you answer questions about a subject for which there is decent traffic, but few tutors your tutorials may gain popularity quicker and you may start making more money sooner. Again, at this stage I'm not making $50 an hour, nor do I realistically expect this at any time in the future. However, as you build your reputation and a following who come to you and only you for help, you can definitely begin to accumulate some money. Also, Student of Fortune retains your tutorials so that users can search for and purchase them at a later time.
Diverging into the fee structure for a moment: Student of Fortune takes an 18% cut out of all first time sales of tutorials. This means that if you submit an original tutorial for $10 and a user purchases it, the website will take $1.80 and you keep the rest. They have to host all of the content and provide an interface for both the person with the question and the person with the answer, so this is an understandable fee and a darn smart idea! Notice that the website only makes money if the user actually purchases the tutorial - it is free to ask questions and post tutorials, fees only arise when money changes hands. The second way Student of Fortune makes money is when a tutorial is purchased subsequent times. As I mentioned before, tutorials are hosted on the site for later use. Users can search on topics and find tutorials that have previously been purchased and buy them again. In this case, a 40% cut is taken, so again if you've sold a tutorial for $10 and a year later someone decides to buy it again, you make $6 - not bad for not doing anything. This is where the fantastic idea of passive income comes into play. If you post high quality tutorials fully encompassing a given topic you have a good chance of that tutorial running its course and making you lots of money in the long run - all for just a few hours of work on the front end.
Don't Be Afraid of the Big Cats
While there are several, what I'll call, 'big cats' that rule the Student of Fortune website, don't be afraid to jump in and build your reputation. It may be a little tougher if you're an expert in a subject that one of these behemoths tutors in, but your expertise won't take long to shine through, you just have to be persistent. You'll notice right from the start that several questions in the queue will have the names of tutors in the subject line - this is what you're working towards. You want to be the only person that the one who is asking the questions relies on, that way you're guaranteed money just as if you were tutoring them face to face for money. Also, the big cats can't be online all the time, so there will inevitably be times that you're on answering questions and getting bounties while they're not. These times will probably not raise your earnings enough to get past that critical 'I-trust-you-now-because-your-earnings-are-high-enough' level, but they will be a good start. You'll still want to build rapport through messaging individuals and letting them know that you are specifically interested in helping them. Yes,the big cats will still likely be making money from multiple purchases of the same tutorial, but let them do their thing - you'll be making new money and hopefully building fruitful relationships that will payoff down the road. Another important fact is that there are as many new students needing tutoring as there are tutors coming to the site, so there is always a fresh pool of students willing to give you a chance because they don't know any better or that they 'should' only trust the big cats.
Give Student of Fortune a Try
Looking back on this, I've truly given you an uncompensated advertisement for Student of Fortune; however, I think it's a great idea so I'll chalk it up to giving props to the founders. My advice is to go check it out and see if you have the perseverance (or stubbornness) to break through the profit trough of first starting out and start making a decent bit of money online for helping needy students. You don't have to download anything with the exception of questions that are many times posted as attachments (on a quick note, I've never had any problems security-wise with downloading from Student of Fortune, but if it makes you feel better just have your anti-virus software check before you download it). You can begin making money instantly if you're that good! Who knows, you might even be the next Big Cat!