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Note from Lisa: Teaching is in my blood! I’m a former teacher turned homeschooling mom, and I still am passionate about education. So I’m so excited to share this guest post with you. If you have teaching experience and know how to write, you can create a sellable curriculum! Jen will show you how she makes money with TeachersPayTeachers (TpT).
Show them how Jen!
Just over four years ago, I created an American history curriculum specifically for early elementary school students and homeschoolers. I was working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, which is the online curriculum site for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine®, but I retained the rights to what I wrote.
I’m not a “formal” teacher, but I am a homeschool mom. Kind of sounds like those – “I’m not a doctor, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn,” commercials! I digress. Whether you are an official teacher, or “just” a homeschool mom, you have knowledge and experience that you can turn into sellable curriculum!
A teacher friend of mine told me about TeachersPayTeachers (TpT), so in the summer 2016 I started listing my curriculum on the website. Last spring, in 2019, I became intentional about creating more resources, as well as marketing.
My efforts paid off. You can see the results in my dashboard on TpT:
Let’s dive in and see how I made this income jump happen.
What Is TeachersPayTeachers?
According to the TpT website, they’re the “world’s most popular online marketplace for original educational resources.”
There are more than 3 million free and paid resources on their site and 1 billion resources have been downloaded. That is a lot, but I’m telling you, you can still reach your audience and make money.
Honestly, I haven’t made enough to file taxes on, but I went from January 2019 when I made a whopping $12 that month to this January where I’ve made just over $100 in one month.
That adds up. And it’s a passive income stream. Once I create the product and get it listed, it can continue to generate money over time.
Currently, I have less than 100 resources listed – most are American history, but since I teach Oral Communication at the college level, I have started turning my experience there into public speaking resources for high school students.
What Are You Knowledgeable About?
You can turn your knowledge into sellable curriculum. On the TpT website, type your interest area into the search bar.
Since I’m shifting my focus to high school resources in the oral communication area, I’ve typed “persuasive speech” and it brings up resources already on the site. You can sort by price, rating, most recent, and best-selling. When I scroll to the bottom of the page, it shows that there are over 1600 resources with that theme.
Take a minute and type your idea in the search bar. What did you come up with?
American history resources number over 61k results! That’s one reason why I’m shifting my focus. Another is that the elementary resource area is glutted. If you can write curriculum for middle or high school, or for a specialty niche, I think you have a better chance of reaching buyers.
With all that being said, my best-selling resource is about Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech “I Have a Dream,” and it’s specifically for Grades 2-5. My corresponding high school product has only sold 4 times. Sometimes there’s just no rhyme or reason!
How to Make Money with TeachersPayTeachers
First you have to sign up for an account. Log onto TeachersPayTeachers and click “Join Us.”
You can register for free for a simple membership to look around or buy resources. To sell resources you can also sign up for a free basic seller account. I started with that.
I upgraded last year to the premium seller account, and personally I think it’s worth it. However, if you just want to get your feet wet, start with the free basic seller account.
Then you’ll want to create your profile and store profile. You will probably change this (I did) but start with whatever you like. Some people use their name for their store. I picked my name – History at Home – because most of my products were history-based, plus for the play on words since I do tailor my resources to homeschoolers.
Create Covers for Your Products
Something that may stand out to you as you look through the TeachersPayTeachers website, is that the majority of the products have square covers. This is what attracts your buyers. Take some time to look through some of the covers in the area you’re interested in and see what catches your eye.
Don’t copy those covers but use what gets your attention to create covers. Do you like specific colors or fonts? Do you want to appeal to older or younger students?
Something I realized recently is that when I changed my elementary resources to more child-friendly covers, they sold better. Seems odd to me, because the kids don’t pick the resource, but apparently the covers with child-oriented clip-art and fonts attract teachers of young kids.
The top image is one of my original covers. The bottom is my updated one. The updated one is more kid-friendly.
I use Canva.com (the free version) and sometimes PowerPoint to create my covers. For the square cover on Canva, I use an Instagram post template.
For PowerPoint, go to the Design tab, then over to Slide Size. Drop down to Custom Slide Size and put the width and height at 12” each. Ta da! You have a square cover!
I am by no means a graphic designer, and I often have my sister who is very creative, or one of my TpT buddies, look at a cover. I know what I like when I see it, but I have a tough time translating that into a good, eye-catching cover.
How to Write Your Curriculum
An eye-catching cover alone won’t let you make money with TeachersPayTeachers. Your resource needs to be high quality as well.
I started out using Word, but I’ve updated many of my resources into PowerPoint and I try to offer PowerPoint and PDF files for everything. I actually use my own PowerPoint resources for teaching in my Oral Communication course.
For PowerPoint I use the standard paper size – 8.5” x 11” – for my slide size. I save my file as a PPT and then I also save it as a PDF. It’s easy to put the two into a zip file for uploading on TpT.
A few things to remember as you create your curriculum:
- Make sure it’s correct – check your facts, check your data, check your spelling and grammar
- Make sure it prints correctly if it is a printable
- If you have kiddos to try your curriculum out on, do so, and take pictures! These will come in very handy when you get to marketing
Create a curriculum resource worth buying.
How to Market Your TpT Resources on Social Media
Note from Lisa: You can’t just write it and expect buyers to be begging you for your resource. You really do need to spend time marketing. So don’t forget this crucial step!
Most of my TpT traffic comes from Pinterest. I have changed my Pinterest account to a business account and linked it to my blog. I pin to Pinterest throughout the day, and I also use Tailwind to schedule my pins and to participate in their tribes.
Facebook is also a good tool to drive traffic to your resources. Some sellers use Instagram and Twitter also.
Before you get overwhelmed, I recommend using Pinterest first and then once you have a good handle on that, branch out to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. There are a number of Facebook groups for TpT sellers, and they have daily threads to get your marketing going! And I find FB to be the best place to “meet” like-minded teacher/authors. I’ve made some good friends there.
Note from Lisa: Worried you won’t have time to create resources or market them\as a busy teacher or homeschooling mom? Click here to learn how to carve out time for your home business.
You Can Make Money with TeachersPayTeachers
I get so much fulfillment from creating sellable curriculum on TeachersPayTeachers. The site itself is easy to navigate, it is a legitimate way to make extra income, and there is plenty of support. I know it can seem overwhelming to get started, but I hope these steps are what you need to take you in the right direction!
Do you think you have some ideas that you could turn into sellable curriculum? Do you have other questions about selling on TpT? I’d love to hear your questions or experiences in the comments!
Pin it for later?
Jen Dodrill has been married 34 years, is a proud mom to 5 kids, and she homeschooled the youngest three. The “baby” graduates in May, but Jen refuses to bow to empty-nest syndrome! She teaches Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor and writes curriculum under History at Home at TeachersPayTeachers. When she’s not working, she’s spending time with her kids and adorable granddaughters. You can find her on her Blog, Instagram, Facebook, and her favorite place – Pinterest!