In 2012, when I first decided to start tutoring online, I was terrified to make the switch from meeting students in person to meeting them online. How could I feel “connected” with a student if we weren’t face to face? What if the video call didn’t work? I was full of worries, but learned I had to overcome them if I was going to become an online teacher. Now I feel confident meeting with way more people online than in person — many of whom I’ve never even met in person!
Back then, Skype was pretty much the only option. Now, we have a couple of other options I want to recommend you try out.
When you work online, you need an online meeting place. Nowadays there are several options. How do you know the best for you?
It depends on what you’re looking for — so let’s take a look at a few top choices — Chatalyze, Zoom and Skype. I’ve used each of these and will share my candid thoughts on them.
The good news, and probably your first question: Yes, all three of these have options to use them for free.
Which one you use depends on what type of call you’re doing.
Here is the short answer:
Chatalyze is best for one-to-one meetings and for sticking to a schedule. Across the board it’s my favorite choice for its simplicity and ease of use. It is a video call platform, payment collection tool and integrates with several online calendars.
Zoom is best for group meetings and if you want the option to continue the meeting longer than planned.
Skype is best if you want to stay online for incoming messages or incoming calls at any time. It also allows you to call a phone line.
Google Hangouts is another option worth mentioning, but I’ve had a lot of connection issues with it so I only use it now if I’m meeting with someone who really wants to use it.
What about Facetime, Whatsapp or Facebook? Yes, you can also use Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger for video calls, but I don’t recommend that if you want to grow your business. If you’re serious about growing your business, you are going to need a calendar integration and these don’t have one. I would stick to using these for personal calls only.
More Details for Each Online Video Call Platform
This is the newest and for me, Chatalyze presents several interesting features. Since I know time is money and I greatly value keeping on schedule, I appreciate the utility of having a call with a countdown timer. This is a unique feature only Chatalyze has. It is awesome for keeping a schedule and not going overtime.
Another thing I love is that Chatalyze is the only option with no software to download. This keeps it really simple to use for everyone involved!
It is super easy to use also because the call sign up, payment and scheduling can all be done within Chatalyze. You don’t have to use three different sites to organize meetings – and that saves a ton of time and headaches!
Another thing to note is the flexibility. You can have free calls, paid calls or even donation-based calls. This gives you a lot of options.
Chatalyze is now available to use on your desktop, laptop and on mobile devices (Android and iOS). Chatalyze is now available on the web and in the App Store and Play Store.
If there are any cons, I would say it is that people are not as familiar with it yet, so you might want to explain how it works to your students or meeting attendees. Basically, they need to know that they can click on your profile or meeting link to sign up for a meeting time. Then they need to come back to Chatalyze and log in with the same account to attend the meeting.
First, you need to know that Zoom is free for one-to-one calls or up to 40 minutes for group calls. You don’t want to be in the middle of a call expecting to talk for an hour and then have it get cut off!
Zoom integrates with Calendly, a scheduling tool that can help you to manage your lesson times.
To use Zoom for meetings, you share your call link (or your schedule link if you’re using Calendly. Before meeting, your meeting attendee needs to download the Zoom software to their desktop or the app to their mobile device.
There is a little bit of a learning curve, and there are a lot of different features. It seems like Zoom was created with larger corporations in mind and not one-to-one tutors, but it does work for small businesses too.
Some people refer to online meetings in general as “Skype calls.” Skype has become a household name. However, the newer options have learned from Skype and built on what it started.
Skype is available on desktop and mobile devices, but you need to download the software first.
For someone who wants to receive unscheduled, anytime calls or messages, Skype is the best option because you can stay logged in and online.
Google Hangouts is another option and a good option for free calls. However, I’ve found the other options provide better audio and visual quality. Since the attendee experience is important, I would suggest trying all the options out and see what works best for you.
If you’re still not sure which one is best for you, I recommend signing up for each of them and trying them out. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to do some online calls with you. This will give you the feel of the platforms and help you decide which one is best for you.
I definitely recommend trying out any platform with someone you know first before you start using it with a paying student. That takes the pressure off and you won’t have to think about what could go wrong with technology when you want to focus on your meeting or lesson agenda.