When I announced two months ago that we opened a directory for online tutors the response from teachers and tutors was very positive. Up to now many people have registered their online teaching websites and receive traffic from us every day.
When I told some friends and family about our online teaching directory where anyone can register freely, the first response was: “Why don’t you charge for it?”
The Bad After-Taste Of Paying for Getting Listed
When I started building my online teaching business I didn’t know where to turn first. I was even gullible enough to pay one site a few bucks for listing my name and contact . Of course they didn’t refer (serious) people and in the end I felt like I had fallen for a scam.
If a directory charges for listings, they’ll have to be able to guarantee paying students, which is very difficult, if not impossible.
You Can Buy People’s Attention, But You Can’t Buy Their Love
In the old publishing paradigm only very few people had access to printing presses and a wide reader-ship. So they would charge an arm and a leg for running an ad, and people would pay.
When we watch TV or read a newspaper we are exposed to many advertisements and commercial messages. Whether they deserve our attention or not: they got it (to whatever degree) because they bought it.
This is why we don’t see many ads from the local vegetable shop or independent tutors around the corner.
In other words, the advertising model cannot be separated from a mass-media approach to publishing.
And it’s not as if there wasn’t an alternative! Online tutors have access to a variety of (free) tools that they can use to build a web presence without the need of paying for advertisements or a tutors directory.
Paying For Directory Listings Is Not A Substitute For Learning
Paying for a listing on a tutors directory creates the expectation that teachers will now get a constant stream of paying students regardless of how their site and business are set up. So, instead of making an effort to finally get their head around the concept of SEO and Social Media, they pay. When the students don’t come, the bad aftertaste is guaranteed and there’s someone to blame: the teaching directory.
In other words: no money in the world can replace the knowledge and experience of building and marketing your own online teaching website and tying it into a broader Social Media effort.
It’s Not The Exposure, It’s What You Make Out Of It
In the end, though, it’s not just about exposure. Even if online teaching websites receive a steady stream of traffic based on their SEO or Social Media efforts, there is always the question of what happens when a potential student visits.
Do they immediately find their way around the site?
Is it transparent how to contact the tutor for lessons?
Or do they just hit the “back” button and do something else.
An online teaching directory should be committed to quality first, not to making a quick buck! And I believe that by allowing people to register for free we are helping more teachers to develop their business than by charging for it.
What do you think?