Many of those making money online have some kind of educational background whether that be teaching, tutoring or even homeschooling. If you have created lesson plans, worksheets or printables that are now collecting dust on your hard drive, you may be surprised to find they are worth money and may actually provide you with a nice passive income source.
Teachers Pay Teachers is a site allowing individuals to buy, sell and share teacher resources. Think of it as Etsy for educators. The site claims to have over three million users and over 255 educators earning $50,000+ annually selling their educator materials. Today we are talking about how it works and what some of the sellers on the site have to say about their experience.
Meet Today’s Experts
Brad Hines – I am a digital marketing and owner of BradfordHines.com who always wanted to be a school teacher, but knew that a lot of aspects of it weren't for me, like the scheduling. I love working from home because of the sheer flexibility of it, as well as the time and money savings of not having to deal with things like commute, office politics, etc.
Allyson Whipple – I teach at Austin Community College and also teach poetry workshops independently. I was starting to build up a cache of rubrics, PowerPoint presentations, and handouts that I realized other people might like to use. I'd bought materials on TpT before, and decided that since I had now created an inventory of my own work, it might be worthwhile to see if anything sold. I thought it might be nice to make some extra money off of the materials I'd worked hard to make.
Meredith O’Neill – I’ve been teaching middle school and high school for over 20 years, and I started my blog this year in order to satisfy a creative yearning, to reflect on my teaching practices, and to share what I’ve learned with teachers who are new to the profession. Prior to starting the blog, I listed a number of my favorite resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. Teachers Pay Teachers allowed me to gain some “street cred” among other teachers and to make a few bucks in the process.
How Does Teachers Pay Teachers Work?
You are given two options when signing up as a Seller; Basic and Premium. The Basic account is free and TpT takes 40% of your sales plus $.30 per transaction. The Premium account costs $59.95 per year and allows you to earn 85% of the sale with no transaction fees.
Most new Sellers sign up under the Basic plan. Many choose to upgrade later. As Brad says, “I spent the first two years on the site not spending anything but time, only recently did I plunge the $60 cost for the annual premium membership that pays higher royalties on a sale. It made sense because now that I have 50+ lesson plans, they have begun selling more frequently.”
You do have to offer one thing for free when you start listing. This acts as a taste test to buyers as Allyson states, “freebies do help people decide whether or not to invest in your other products, so I just consider it marketing. The only thing you have to spend is some time.”
When Do I Get Paid? Will Sales Come Right Away?
Teachers Pay Teachers pays monthly via PayPal. Getting going can take some time. “It took me a while before my products started selling, and for a while I had sort of given up that I'd make any money off the site. And then one day one of my most expensive products sold! When I got the email, I was blown away,” says Allyson.
How Do I Get Started?
Allyson shares the process for getting started with TpT, “Before you sell, you have to set up a profile. I recommend investing time in this. I sold better after I had a detailed profile.
After you have your materials formatted the way you want them, you upload them to the TpT site, fill out the item descriptions and provide keywords, and set your price point. It's really straightforward. TpT takes a small royalty from each sale (except products you offer for free). They pay out your sales monthly and have a number of ways to get paid.”
As with the majority of passive income opportunities, you need to put in the work and wait. From Meredith, “The most time-consuming part was making sure the work I was listing was flawless. I spent time creating user-friendly answer keys. I discovered that I can’t sell the work exactly as I use it in class; I have to make it usable for any high school teacher. That means I may have to delete questions, reword questions, write more specific directions and the like. The good news is that once your piece is perfected and listed, it’s there to stay and you don’t have to edit it again. Hence, there’s some hard work on the front end, and that’s it.”
Where Can I Get Help?
Brad tells us there are community Facebook groups and Pinterest Boards where you can get help and inspiration.
Is TpT a Long-Term Strategy?
Brad and Allyson have told us they have no intentions of going anywhere soon. Brad is working on taking his current 50 listings up to 200. As Allyson is a practicing professor this is her plan of attack, “I do most of my uploading during spring, summer, and winter breaks, when I have more free time. I go through and look at the materials I've created through the semester, and see which ones I want to sell. I'm probably going to stick with TpT for a while because it's convenient and easy. Hosting materials on my own site and setting up a payment system is daunting, as is the effort to maintain it. TpT's royalty cut is small enough that the convenience makes things worth it.”
Meredith on the other hand plans to move on soon feeling she has to undervalue her offerings in order to make sales. “I don’t plan to sell on TPT for much longer. Because of the high royalty rate, and because I want to grow my blog, the smartest move for me will be to sell my products directly from my blog.”
That being said, if you are a teacher already creating these works for your own classrooms why not make a little side cash from it? From Meredith, “I only sell digital products, so I don’t have to mail anything. The sale and the transfer of my work happens automatically. The payment goes straight to my PayPal account after TPT takes its cut. It’s extremely easy once your store is created and your work is loaded.”
Stop by Teachers Paying Teachers to learn more. And if you have been a Seller on the site, please share your experience in the comments.