What It's About
How an English teacher became NYC's best writing tutor according to Yelp.
Words of Wisdom
Although John was able to tutor many different subjects, he found the best success when he niche’d down and marketed himself as Mr. WritingTutor. As John says, “When you say you specialize in everything, people know you specialize in nothing.”
Although John is an English teacher, he isn’t naturally good at grammar. After being reprimanded by his administrators, he dove into grammar. He learned so much that he even published a book about it, called 50 Grammar Rules Everyone Should Know.
Notes from Chris
John Castellano was working as an English teacher in New York City. As much as he loved his job, he needed more money to support his family. As he thought about his options, he realized there might be some advantages to working as an independent tutor. For example, he could set his prices based on the market, and shift them easily in response to supply and demand. There would be no fixed ceiling. But what kind of tutoring would he do? He hit the books and found that SAT tutors made the most money. There was only one problem - John didn’t do very well on the SAT. Back in high school, John had scored in the 50th percentile on his SAT. And even though it had been years since then, and he had a lot of experience as a teacher, he knew that without a good score himself, he’d have a credibility gap. John also knew what he had to do next. As a 32-year-old, he signed up to take the SAT again. This time, he scored in the 90th percentile. From there, he invested $3,000 in magazine advertisements in order to start getting clients - but he got zero in return. Unfortunately, this ended up being an expensive lesson to learn. He decided to switch his technique, and invested $150 into a Squarespace website and another $50 into SAT books. This time, he scored in the 99th percentile of test-takers in the writing section. From there, he decided to specialize in writing and market his business as “MrWritingTutor.com” instead of just as an SAT tutor. By niche’ing down, he gained a lot more clients. As John says, “When you say you specialize in everything, people know you specialize in nothing.” In his first year, he charged $60 an hour for general homework help and $120 an hour for standardized test prep. A year later, he raised his homework prices to $70 an hour. Eventually, he tried to raise it to $80 an hour, but he found that many new clients would not call him back with those prices. Through testing it over time, John found his threshold. Now, John takes home thousands of dollars in extra earnings per month. In his best months, he earns anywhere between $2,000 to $4,000 just from tutoring. Not only that, but this side hustle has helped John get better at his career. He is constantly sharpening his teaching skills.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Learn more about John at his website, MrWritingTutor.com.
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- Texas Couple Turns Test Scores Into Treasure: A couple’s love for helping students succeed turns into a profitable consulting firm.
- Atlanta Chess Champ Finds Checkmate With Tutoring Side Hustle: It started as a hobby when he was four years old. It’s now a profitable passion project for an Atlanta chess guru.
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