After seventeen years in the classroom, I now realize that if I had charged a dollar for every time a colleague of mine “borrowed” materials I created for my classroom, I’d probably be rich! Being a successful educator requires collaboration and sharing; I have not only allowed teachers to use my materials, but many of my best lessons have come from people I work with. I have also found many reliable and dynamic lessons on the Internet.
However, there are many pitfalls when it comes to searching for teaching material on the web: First, the web is available to everyone, including students. There are so many students who simply Google an assignment that’s been given to them, and they find that their teacher simply copied it from a website; therefore, they are often able to simply copy the answers from the original web page. Second, teachers also have to worry about copyright infringement. Finally, the great educators that make these lessons often don’t receive any recognition or compensation for all of their hard work. This is where Teachers Pay Teachers can ultimately be the best deal for both sellers and buyers in the education industry.
Back in 2008, I was searching for materials to teach Greek Mythology to my class, and in particular, questions and quizzes for the play Antigone. One of the search options that came up directed me to teacherspayteachers.com. After looking over the website, I was intrigued by the amount of great material that was available for a nominal fee. Each lesson plan was handcrafted by an educator, and most plans came with the option to get a sneak-peak of the lesson. Paying was easy, especially if you have PayPal, and most resources were available for immediate download. Since then, I have purchased many lessons from Teachers Pay Teachers, and it makes me feel good knowing that I am helping out a fellow teacher and that I am getting quality, secure work for my kids to complete in my class.
Setting up My Own Store
After buying several items on teacherspayteachers.com, in 2014 I decided to open up my own page and to try and sell my own products. At this point, I’d been teaching for fourteen years, and I had amassed some really great resources of my own, so I thought, why not? The worst that could happen is that people wouldn’t buy my product, and then I’d be no worse off than I was before. The process was simple, and within minutes, I had my own page with my name at the top. It was a pretty empowering feeling! I opted to start off as a basic seller, which gave me a free account with 40 percent of my sales commission going to the website. The other option would be to purchase a premium seller account which has an annual fee of $59.95 and 15 percent of sales going to the website. I figured that if I started selling a lot of products, then it would be better to upgrade, but to start, the basic option was fine with me.
In order to start selling, you have to first upload a lesson that is available for free. I looked through my folders, and I decided to upload a simple lesson that went along with my Julius Caesar video. Once I got that uploaded, I was in business! I uploaded lessons for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Death of a Salesman, and The Great 200Gatsby. I looked around the website to see what the going rate was for items like this, and I decided to charge $5.00 for the resources that include quizzes and questions for the entire play/novel, and $1.00 for simple worksheets. I had my account set up so that all of my revenue would go directly into my PayPal account. Once I got everything uploaded, I simply waited. Finally, in April 2015, I made my first sale! I honestly had forgotten about my own store at this point, but the first time I saw that one of my products was sold, I was elated. There was someone out there that actually was going to be able to put my resources to good use. Since then, I’ve made a mere $66.90, but that’s mostly due to the fact that I haven’t added any resources since my original surge. Lately, I have been selling quite a few products related to The Great Gatsby, and I am feeling more inspired to go back and expand my business.
Other Advantages of Teachers Pay Teachers
While I have not made much money myself on Teachers Pay Teachers, there are many others out there who have truly made a difference in their income by selling their products. According to Teachers Pay Teachers’ website, the top seller has made over $2 million, 164 teachers have earned over $500,000, and thousands more bring in a few hundred dollars a month. For most teachers, this would be great supplemental income! While it certainly is not the norm to become a millionaire just by selling resources, the sky is the limit with this website. The more you submit, the more money you can make.
One former teacher actually credits Teachers Pay Teachers with saving her career. Emily, who runs a website called educationtothecore.com, used to be a kindergarten teacher, and later also taught 2nd grade. In October of 2012, she decided that she needed to find something to enhance her career. She says, “I was tired of being told that I will get certain amounts of money if I do W, X, Y, and Z. I was tired of feeling like I was stuck. I knew I had great ideas, and I wanted to share them with more than just my colleagues at my school. I knew I had instructional talents, so blogging and selling on Teachers Pay Teachers was that creative outlet to do all the things that drove me crazy about our educational system.” Even though she didn’t make a single dime for two months, she knew she would be successful if she was patient. She says, “Two years later, I am reflecting on how much better of a teacher I am because of TPT…I am more reflective, because of all the writing I do regarding my practices in the classroom.” For Emily, using TPT is not simply a way to make money, but it’s a way to find fulfillment in education by supporting others.Using TPT is not simply a way to make money, but it’s a way to find fulfillment in education by supporting others Click To Tweet
Finally, if you find that you are interested in becoming a Teachers Pay Teachers seller, here are some tips from Rachel Lynette, author of “Earn $ for Classroom Materials: Teachers Pay Teachers and the DIY Economy":
- Find Your Niche: Decide which types of material you are good at producing and sharing. Create curriculum to fill that niche.
- Set the Bar High: Make sure that your products are high-quality. Anyone can upload a word document or a PDF. If you create top-notch resources, people will be more likely to buy your product.
- Price Appropriately: This may be the most challenging aspect of TPT. Underpricing can be attractive, but people often equate low prices with poor quality. Consider factors such as product size, usefulness, and the amount of time saved by the buyer.
- Network, Network, Network: TPT has a supportive community, and as soon as you create a seller account, you can access the seller forum. Here you will find great advice from other sellers who have been successful.
- Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Sellers: Remember that every product you sell earns money you didn’t have before, and more importantly, every product you sell saves fellow teachers’ time and benefits children.
Overall, Teachers Pay Teachers is a website that is beneficial to both sellers and buyers, and while I haven’t made much money on my site yet, I am more excited than ever to start creating more lessons and assignments to upload and share with others. If you decide to open up your own shop, just head over to teacherspayteachers.com and follow the simple step-by-step instructions to start bringing in your own supplemental income!