Should Freelance Teachers Advertise Their Prices?
The pros and cons of advertising prices on websites and in brochures
(Part 1 of 4)
Should you or shouldn’t you?
The Internet is leading to standardised prices because they are made public, are updated frequently and are easily accessible. To snatch a really cheap flight (last minute flights) is a thing of the past. There’s a price war going on — and everybody is the loser, both the sellers and the buyers. The sellers keep dropping their prices to accommodate buyers who want cheap products and services at the cost of quality. The buyers may pay less, but lose out on quality and durability of products. The environment loses out because more and more rubbish chokes nature; more and more people are either working in a life of modern slavery or at best earn only the minimum guaranteed wage.
The only way out is to play on another battlefield where there is some chance of winning the price war: the field of specialisation and extras (or bonuses).
On the other hand, publicising prices helps to raise them in the education market generally. Students will be educated to the current standard prices, which will be beneficial to all practising teachers. If more teachers raise their prices, the new prices become the market standard (my dream, at least!).
In addition, it simplifies the process of finding out the market prices for new and beginner freelance teachers.
However, this is not the current practice because many freelance teachers fear competition through poaching by colleagues who sneak students away by lowering their prices.
Be glad of competition!
Yes, be glad you have competition because where there is competition, there is proof of a market for your teaching service. Take Amazon for example. Search for any book on any subject and you’ll find hundreds of them available in the subject. Hundreds! It means hundreds of authors have managed to write about the same subject in hundreds of different ways — and still find buyers who are willing to pay for their books.
How do they do it?
They pick a small area that has not yet been written about — or they write about the same subject from a different perspective, develop a theory further, or expand one small aspect. Here is an example taken from my own English language education market: grammar books, course books, vocabulary books, conversation topics, dictionaries, readers and listening books, learning language courses on CDs and DVDs, e-learning on the computer and on-line. The list can go on…
If there is competition — be happy. You’ve work and students numbered by the hundreds if you include using the Internet.
However, you will have to specialise to be different from your colleagues to have that extra something which potential students are looking for.
At Amazon, the prices are visible because the books they sell are products, so should teaching services advertise their prices, too?
Why isn’t your price on the website?
It’s a question I’ve thought about frequently, since I was asked by colleagues and customers why I don’t show prices on my website. I teach English as a foreign language and this is the story behind my own decisions on disclosing prices.
When I began, I used to publish my prices on my website — but received little to no response to my teaching offer. It was frustrating and confusing at the same time. I knew I had worded my offer well. The really troublesome part was it meant I never had a chance to personally speak to potential customers, show my abilities, or my teaching techniques. I never had a chance to show them why they would be better off being taught by me rather than some other teacher. And worst of all, I never knew if I was attracting any students or customers at all!
I decided to remove the prices from my website for three reasons:
- To see if my website was attracting customers
- Potential customers would have to contact me to find out my prices, giving me an opportunity to talk to them
- To sift out customers only interested in tuition based on low prices rather than quality teaching
It was important (for me) to have a chance to offer potential customers the chance to get to know me and to see if they could work with me. It was also an opportunity for me to see whether I wanted to work with them as well. Yes, you read correctly — if I wanted to work with them. I had no intention of working with students who expected me to do the learning for them — and then complain the lessons were inferior or a waste of time and money. In addition, I wanted to feel ‘safe’ when allowing this person into my house on those occasions when I would be alone.
A personal decision
The first opportunity of contact was primarily not for my own needs, but rather because I respected the difficulties students had finding the right teacher. For this reason when I wrote on my website: Free Trial Lesson, it was sometimes not taken seriously. For example, I received a request for a free English lesson for a parent as a birthday present! That was not the image I wanted to project.
To improve the quality of my tuition offer, I also removed the ‘Free Trial Lesson’. It was better to invite enquiring new students for a ‘getting to know me and the way I work’ trial lesson before they made a final decision to hire me. That was my decision, and I’ve not regretted it.
Source of this series is a chapter taken out of my new book: Pricing Matters
In the coming months:
- Part 2 – Which Teaching Areas Should Publish Their Prices?
- Part 3 – Should You Publish Your Prices In A Teaching Partnership?
- Part 4 – Once Your Prices Are Made Public…