Huzefa Kapadia is a former attorney who now makes a living tutoring math on Wyzant. Huzefa, who has no background or education in teaching, charges $120 per hour for his services and derives the majority of his income from the platform. When he started, he had no experience in tutoring and no existing clients.
He's build such a strong reputation on the platform that he doesn't need to do anything to recruit new students: the students come to him. Huzefa teaches part of his students in person but also has a number of students that he tutors online via Skype call.
In this interview Huzefa explains in detail how he transitioned from his law career into tutoring on Wyzant and why is he so successful at it. Read the interview below and find out how to become a Wyzant tutor!
Interview with Huzefa: How to Become a Wyzant Tutor
Jasper: Tell us a little bit about your background.
Huzefa: I majored in computer science and economics at the University of Michigan, worked as a software engineer for a few years and then went to law school. After graduating I went into pattern law, working in Washington DC and later in Los Angeles. After working for four years I felt like I had made a mistake, that I had chosen a carreer that wasn’t in line with the types of things that I like to do and my natural strengths.
I didn’t know what to do, my vision had always been that I would be a lawyer for the rest of my live and make partner at a lawfirm, so I couldn't even process the idea to do something else.
My initial thoughts were to transition into another corporate job, a smaller firm or go in-house, common transitions for attorneys. Eventually after talking to Jasper and a lot of other people who weren’t in corporate jobs , I finally developed the courage to not take the safe route and transition into something marginally different but to go after something that I really cared about, something that I'm really naturally passionate about: math tutoring.
Jasper: What is Wyzant?
Huzefa: Wyzant is a way for private tutors or teachers to market themselves to students, it’s the Airbnb for tutors. Wyzant is for people who want to share their talents, skills or knowledge by teaching other people who are looking to learn a particular skill, either in person or remotely.
Jasper: How does Wyzant work?
When you fist sign up as a student, you’re required to post what you’re looking for and some basic pieces of information. You can then search tutor profiles by subject and select the tutor that you want to work with and send them a message inquiring about their availability. That’s how I get my students as I have a good enough reputation so I’m able to let the students come to me.
However, I wasn’t able to do that a year ago when I first started. Instead, I messaged new students that signed up within a 20 mile radius of my location every day (you get notified by Wyzant when new students sign up) to introduce myself. Wyzant allows you to send up to 10 emails a day and I’d hit that pretty much every day. Out of 100 emails I’d only get three or four replies, but that’s just what you need to do to get started.
Jasper: So now you don’t have to do anything to get students?
Huzefa: Yes, but it’s also a balancing act. I don’t want to tutor more than 30 to 40 hours a month and I price myself relatively high at $120 per hour because I believe in my ability to teach. However, if I’d drop my price by 50% I’m sure I would be able to fill up my entire schedule with tutoring. It depends on your price point and reputation.
Jasper: Is Wyzant only for academic topics?
Huzefa: It’s focussed on academic subjects, but there are tutors teaching a wide range of subjects, I’ve seen tennis coaches and music topics for example. The majority are there to teach middle and high school students.
Jasper: How much does Wyzant charge?
Huzefa: When you start as a tutor on Wyzant they take a whopping 40% cut. However, as you log more hours eventually that rate drop to 20% when you’ve logged over 400 hours, so then you take home 80% of what you make.
However if you bring in your own students you get to keep 95% of what you make. So let’s say someone reaches out to you for tutoring lessons, you can tell them to sign up for Wyzant and bill them through the system.
You might wonder why would anybody would do that, the reason that I like to do it is because it improves my reputation and logs me more hours. Sure, I’m paying 5% but it’s also so easy to bill, you don’t have to worry about checks, people mailing you things or invoices. The student has to submit their credit card information when they sign up and as soon as the lesson is over the credit card is charged, it’s that simple.
Jasper: What happens if you transact off-platform to avoid the fees?
Huzefa: If you get your student from elsewhere it doesn’t matter, you can bill them through Wyzant or not, it doesn’t matter. However,if someone messages me on the platform and asks to pay me cash, that is a violation of the terms as you’re taking away their commission and you can get kicked off the platform. I know someone who did get kicked off, so I don’t think a lot of tutors do this as there is a big risk. I much rather pay the fees as Wyzant is the primary source of new students for me.
Jasper: Can you do Wyzant as a full-time job and support yourself?
Huzefa: Absolutely, I mostly rely on Wyzant for my income and I’m not even at the high-end, my rate is pretty high at $120 but I’m not logging more than 5 to 10 hours a week. Wyzant published the top billers in my neighborhood and I see tutors logging 120 to 150 hours a month. Even if these guys are charging only $50, at 120 hours that’s $6,000 a month or $72,000 a year. Those who are charging over $100 per hour and logging that many hours are making six-figures easily.
Let's back this up: In 2013 the top earner on Wyzant made $120,000 (source: Entrepreneur.com)
Jasper: Is it possible to use Wyzant while traveling and is it a good fit for people who want to have the freedom to live in different places?
Huzefa: You can teach online, it depends on the student. Some students of mine want me to be there whereas for other students it works perfectly. I have a student in high school in San Francisco and all our sessions are via Skype and it can be very effective.
But here’s another cool thing. Let’s say you spent a few years in Los Angeles building up a client base and then you want to move. You may think you can’t because you’ll lose all your students and have to start at ground zero if you move to Chicago for example.
The nice thing about Wyzant however is that you can take your reputation with you. You just change your location to Chicago and now you’re one of the highest ranking tutors in Chicago just like you were in Los Angeles. So as long as you’re moving somewhere where there is a descent student base you can move and build your business very quickly and teach some of your students online.
Jasper: What do you like about tutoring?
It's really fun and rewarding work. One thing I didn't like when I was still an attorney is that I didn't really communicate with people and I was in my office most of the time. Now, all I do is interact with people, whether it's the parents or the students. If that's your cup of tea and you feel like you're a good teacher than it's the perfect job.
Surprisingly, I've also found it's a great networking tool as I've met some really cool and impressive people while doing this, more so than I ever did as a lawyer. Most of the students I teach live with their parents and I get to meet them too and a lot of them are really interesting people, I've made friends with a lot of them.
Jasper: Was it hard to build your reputation and get to where you are now?
It took a lot of effort and I didn't make that much in the beginning. When I started I was charging $40 an hour and with the 40% cut that Wyzant takes that's only $24 an hour, so it's not a lot of money. However, when you're charging that little and you're working your butt off trying to provide a good service you're going to get really high ratings and students will happily write amazing reviews for you. That way you can build your reputation quickly.
Another thing is to not give up. I almost gave up after a while thinking Wyzant wasn't for me. But then I found some new motivation and I started really giving it my 100%, dropping my price and filling out every single detail of my profile. I even offered students the first hour for free and eventually I was able to raise my price.
Jasper: What's your advice for people who want to get started on Wyzant?
Start by signing up, it's free. Then you start building your profile. Add a few good pictures and spend a lot of time writing your description, your "about me" section. Mention your teaching style, why you teach and your education. Then you list your qualification and background in every single subject that you teach.
Do a little research and find out what other tutors in your area are charging and make sure to undercut them at the start. You can raise your prices later as your reputation grows. Also, be really diligent in asking your students to leave you a rating and a review as that's really important in building your reputation.
Quick facts about WyzAnt
- WyzAnt is an online-based service that connects tutors with students
- WyzAnt was co-founded in 2005 by Princeton graduates Andrew Geant and Mike Weishuhn
- WyzAnt has 76,000 active tutors in their database offering both at-home and online tutoring
- The company has a base of about 2 million registered users, from kindergarteners to PhD candidates
- WyzAnt’s highest-paid tutor earned $120,000 in 2013
- WyzAnt offers scholarships on an annual basis to all college students
- WyzAnt raised $21.5 million in 2013 through a Series A round from Accel Partners
Where is WyzAnt available?
WyzAnt is currently available throughout the US.