10 July 2010


Tutor Tales, Volume 17

This year appears to be even worse than last year, in the sense that insult is now being added to injury.

Last year, although the school year began in June, as it always does, I didn't get any tutorial jobs until August, because parents hoped to save some money by helping their children with schoolwork themselves. This year, they seem to have admitted that juggling full-time careers and after-school tutoring is no joke . . . but they still hope to save some money.

I got my first referral of the school year a few days ago: a parent who used to send her daughter to XYZ Tutorial Centre. She had hoped that a home study arrangement would mean she could cut the administrative overheads from what she usually pays for tutoring. Which is true, yes, but which doesn't take the rest of the economics into account. That is, tutors need to eat, too, you know.

So she was stunned to hear what my usual freelance rate is, telling me that she and her husband couldn't pay more than a third of that. I did some quick calculations then, and explained that what she was offering wouldn't even cover the cost of my cab rides to and from her home. And I raised that amount by twenty-five percent--already a major concession. (If I weren't so hard up for work, I would have asked for at least fifty percent more.) And she said she was okay with it . . . but her husband was not happy.

I didn't get another message from them, so I'm sure they're looking for someone else who is willing to see their daughter one hour a day, five days a week, in a residential area with no reliable public transportation and no other tutees to make it economically worthwhile, for less than forty percent of the normal hourly rate.

Seriously, I'm as cheap as they are ever going to get. And I feel sad admitting that. If they wait any longer to call back, I'm going to ask for that fifty percent and tell them that I'm only doing four days a week for the same amount of money. If they want to go any lower, fine, but it'll be three days a week--and that is my final offer.

Now let's look at the economic side, because I'm not just being greedy here. Yes, XYZ Tutorial Centre takes a certain percentage of my fee when I teach a student there--but I only have to worry about one big commute and get to see several students at the same time. So although what this new prospect's parents are offering is both lower than what they'd pay the centre and higher than what the centre would pay me, it doesn't even out at all. Especially since they want daily tutoring for one student and live in a place that one can reach only by taxi . . . and which one has to leave on foot (in the rainy season!) in order to find another taxi to take one home.

And that is all the news and commentary I have for now.

PS--If I put up a PayPal button in my sidebar, will you hate me?


iolanthe95 said...

Nope, won't hate you, says she who has a full time job teaching lit and comp to bored college students. I remember what it was like before, and as much as my job really stinks sometimes, I'm grateful to have it.

Sullivan McPig said...

Egh, I hate people who think you're willing to work for almost free, only becuase you're a freelancer.
As for hating you: I won't as long as you don't hate me for not clicking it ;-)

Enbrethiliel said...


Iolanthe: Thanks for understanding. =) Everything will get better once I'm fully accredited and can look into full-time teaching jobs once more. (When that happens, however, the trade-off will be less blogging!)

Sully: Yes, they seem to think that I put the "free" in "freelancer." =P

And I don't know if I'll add the button after all. For one thing, I'm not exactly starving (I also have freelance editing work and a very loyal client); for another thing, I like giving this stuff away for free. Comments the best "payment," anyway! So keep them coming, okay, Sully? ;-)

Dorian Speed said...

I think the key to having a PayPal button is to post some suitably ironic text above it that makes people know you know that they know you think it's a little crass but don't mind if they contribute.

Then again, I'm the one who thinks it's okay to sell lesson plans.

I have been inconsistent in reading blogs in general for a while. Is there someplace I can go to find out "why Enbrethiliel isn't teaching in the classroom right now"?

Michael said...

PS--If I put up a PayPal button in my sidebar, will you hate me?

Forget the haters. The grounded folk will either donate or they won't, without much comment.

If you want to give away your stuff for free, go right ahead. But there will always be people who find your writing valuable, and want to contribute to the cause, so to speak, cuz they realize it takes time and effort to write.

A blogging friend of mine, in my niche, had his blog really take off last year in terms of traffic. He was/is doing fantastic work, the blog was taking more time and costing more money. He explained his situation, why he was putting up a donate button, and people started donating left and right.

Why? Cuz he is adding value to our lives. It was no big deal to throw a few bones his way.

I put a donate button on my blog right from the start. It is not obtrusive, and people are perfectly free to ignore it.

Enbrethiliel said...


@ Dorian: Ha! I happen to think it's okay to sell lesson plans, too, remember? =P

I have some posts on my old, dead blog about why I'm no longer teaching full-time. I'll try to dig some up for you.

Unless, that is, you want the short, sweet answer, which is . . .

It was always incredibly stressful, but it just got harder instead of easier. In my second year, I was paired up with another teacher who was so difficult to work with (as, I suppose, I also was for her) that I still feel a little demoralised when I think about taking another real teaching job. =(

@ Michael: Thanks for your advice. =) My erratic employment is the main reason I'm able to blog so regularly, so it doesn't seem too crass (Dorian's word! =P) to ask for a "tip" or two during a prolific week.

On the other hand, I myself have never been in a position to give anyone else tips or even badly needed donations. If I could, I know I'd love to; but since I never have, I naturally hesitate about asking others to be so generous towards me. Which opens up another line of argument, doesn't it . . . ?

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

I didn't know blogs could have donate buttons, interesting. Makes sense on a blog that is more than just a hobby. If I am ever unemployed, I might start some kind of service oriented blog-- organic gardening or cooking how-to--- and add a donate button.

E-- should you be a bit leery of working for those people-- if they call back? I could see that sort ripping you off after a few sessions. Do you get benefits as a freelancer? I work as an independent contractor so get no benefits-- I've been considering going back on salary.

Speaking of money, I have info about Pioneer Woman to share. I can email it since it is off topic.

Enbrethiliel said...


Luckily for me, they didn't call back. And now I feel sorry for whomever else they got to work for them!

Lesa, I do get benefits when my referrals come from the tutorial centre, but not all of them do.

You're right that donate buttons make more sense when one's blog is more than just a hobby. I think that's why I've dithered about putting a button up, although my hobby does seem to add value to people's lives, as Michael so kindly put it.

Feel free to e-mail me any time! My Gmail user name is "altaemoeniaRomae." (Perhaps writing it that way will attract less spam! ;-)) Or you could write it here; I tend to like rambling combox conversations. =)

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

Oh, I like rambling combox discussion too!

About PW--- She married into THE Drummond family of OK-- the Drummond Ranch is the equivalent of King Ranch in TX--- millions of acres and multi-millions of dollars. Pretty easy to start an empire when you have an empire behind you, isn't it.

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, that makes sense.

And I just knew she was leading an unusually charmed life . . . It also means her hilarious novella about how she met and married her husband is closer to conventional Romance novels than I originally thought. Hmmmmm!

Now where's my hot, rich rancher bachelor? ;-)

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

You'll appreciate this E-- My 69 yr old sister in law and I have been puzzling over PW for a few months-- just things in her blog that don't jive with us or what we know of ranch/country people--- like trying to hard to use country terms-- she call her kids 'sucklings' you know--- icky.

Anyway, my sister in law knew I was icked out by PW's phrase 'my hiney tingled wildly'-- when she met Marlboro Man in the bar.

After finding out about MM's millions, My sister in law said this: So reading between the lines-- she was in a bar with her friends-- the friends say "you know who that is, He is a millionaire'--- that is when her 'hiney tingled wildly'-- Not too hard to figure out!

My sil is funny but I bet that may be what really happened.


Enbrethiliel said...


Not being American, I certainly missed the language cues you and your sister-in-law picked up on, but I know what you mean about people sounding a little off when they're trying their hardest to sound authentic. =P

"Sucklings," aye? LOL!

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

there are lots more odd phrases but that one I remember... unfortunately that and the hiney stuck in my mind. Sometimes PW is trying to be hokey for a laugh but many times she IS trying too hard to be authentic.

Another thing my sister in law spotted-- on a recent recipe for beef sandwich spread, PW said she first ate it just after returning from her honeymoon pg and sick-- hmm-- either that was a really long honeymoon or PW used a very old trick to snare a hubby--a very rich hubby. Are we too cynical... even mean... maybe... but it is suspicious.

There are still useful and entertaining topics on her blog but I do consider it similar to a reality tv show and I seldom visit.

Enbrethiliel said...


The Pioneer Woman as a Reality show? LOL--and yet, it fits! I stopped reading everything on her blog but the recipes after I started feeling too much like a voyeur. =P

And in general, there's only so much of "Hey, look at my perfect life!" that I can take. I think it's a little mean to have the suspicions that we do (LOL!), but I think we all have enough common sense to know that when something seems that perfect, it's probably masking something else.

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

Voyeur-- that is exactly it, E! Especially with all the blatant sexual references about MM-- just icky and definitely trying too hard.

You know what Shakespeare said about 'protesting too much'-- well, I think the same could be said for 'bragging too much'.