Setting Your Rate in the Online Marketplace (Preply)

This article is for Preply tutors. If you’re interested in learning languages or other skills on the site, try this link instead. I’ll update later with a how-to guide on using the site as a student.

I see this discussion all the time among Preply tutors, so I just wanted to offer some advice on pricing.

What is My Time Worth?

The only thing that matters for your Preply hourly rate is what other business interests you have competing for your time. I cannot stress this hard enough. Do not consider your qualifications, education, or experience when deciding on your price on Preply. If you have a PhD but no other employment opportunities, your time is not worth 50USD/hr. It’s worth 5.

Now, that said, in the ESL field a native speaker could teach on a site like DaDaABC or VIPKid for about 15USD/hr. Cambly, Preply’s main competitor in the ESL field, pays 10USD/hr (ish). A native speaker of English should not have reason to take less than that.

In other fields, how much would you make per hour freelancing? On Fiverr or UpWork? Even TextBroker? Doing small projects? Walking dogs instead of teaching?

Again, pricing is about competing interests. You can talk about your qualifications all you like, but if students do not like your profile, you will not attract clients.

How do I Increase the Value of My Time?

Setting a minimum price for yourself naturally leads to another question: at what point do you raise your price? Increasing the value of your time means increasing the demands on your time.

When your schedule is full, raise your price.

You now have reliable competing interests against future clients and have a reliable fall back should no students chose to book you at your new price. Should that be the case, that’s fine. It just means that either (1) your total lessons taught, (2) your rating, or (3) your profile are not of a high enough quality to progress to a new price point.

That’s okay. In fact, it’s normal. Continue to do lessons, and be content at the very least in the fact that you raised your price, failed, but still have money coming in. That’s a much better scenario than sitting on your thumbs with a rate that you think you “deserve” while not making any money at all.

What About My Old Students?

If you follow these steps, you’ll inevitably be faced with a third and final question: at what point do I raise the price of my previous students? It can be disheartening to teach students at a much lower rate than what you feel your time is worth.

When the majority of your clients are at a much higher price point than your initial students, your new students out-compete for your time. That’s a natural consequence of raising your price in small jumps.

A message to an initial client would read something like “Hey X, I’ve really enjoyed working with you. However, I can’t financially justify keeping you as a student. Would you be able to meet my new price? Otherwise I’d be happy to help you find an excellent new tutor.”

I think there’s definitely room here to discuss whether it’s even appropriate to ever raise someone’s price. After all, your success (rating, lessons taught, profile ranking, pure experience) was built on them paying for your services. I’ll leave the moral questions to others.

Pricing your online services can be difficult. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth to take less than you’re worth. However, market saturation and the desperate times we live in have to be adjusted to. When starting a freelance career not only on Preply but on any site, the key factor is to consider what your time — not your skills — is really worth. Doing so will set you on the path to being able to walk away from bad opportunities and build yourself to a higher-paying career.

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N.G. Rees

N.G. Rees

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Teacher trainer and ESL instructor based out of Morocco. Head of Training and Development, Resilient Communities NGO. hmu @rees_is_