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Make Money with Teachers Pay Teachers

Updated on May 18, 2014

What is Teachers Pay Teachers?

Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) is an open marketplace where teachers create original learning resources and sell them to other teachers. Teachers most often develop their resource in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, save it as a pdf, then upload it to their Teachers Pay Teachers store. Sellers set their own prices. The product is then available to be purchased as a digital download, allowing the seller (you!) to make money on that product over and over again...indefinitely. Pretty cool, right?

Everything you ever wanted to know about Teachers Pay Teachers... - but were afraid to ask.

Teacher at Teachers Pay Teachers
Teacher at Teachers Pay Teachers

What can I sell at Teachers Pay Teachers?

You can sell anything a teacher might need for teaching which can be sold as a digital download. There are thematic units, games, puzzles, learning center activities, graphic organizers, bingo boards, quizzes, tests, flashcards, bulletin board materials, clip art, SMARTBoard activities, PowerPoint presentations and on and on.

Why do teachers buy resources from TpT ?

Why do people buy bread at the grocery store rather than make it themselves? For many teachers, it's a question of time. There are only twenty-four hours in a day and teachers are pulled in many different directions. There are expectations to teach specific curriculum, but sometimes teaching/learning materials are not provided, are substandard, outdated, or whatever. Teachers like buying from each other because other teachers often have a very good idea of what is needed in the classroom. There are so many teachers who can benefit from teacher created products. TpT is an absolute godsend to a new teacher. I would have loved this kind of access to such quality resources when I first started teaching. Ultimately, students are the big winners.

Shouldn't schools buy the curriculum materials for teachers?

Budget cuts have hit schools hard, but teachers have always spent their own money to enrich their classroom curriculum.

Shouldn't teachers just share their teaching ideas for free?

Many teachers who make their own materials do often share them very generously with their teammates. It's unfair to ask a teacher who has put in many extra hours of work during their private time to share it on the internet for free. We certainly wouldn't ask that of any other profession. The prices of the TpT materials are usually much more reasonable than any traditionally published resource.

Do I have to be a teacher to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers?

No, it's not a requirement, but it's certainly extremely helpful. Teachers are trained about instructional methodology and current issues in education. (For instance, there is a current need for products which meet Common Core State Standards.) It seems that the most successful non-teachers sell to a particular niche. For example, there are some graphic artists who create education themed clip art. They aren't teachers, yet they are highly successful TpT sellers. They fill a specific need teachers have. The most important thing is to create quality products teachers will value enough to purchase and be able to use effectively in their classrooms. TpT is an open marketplace. The market will ultimately determine what is a successful product.

Is TpT just for Elementary teachers?

No, TpT is open to pre-school through college level material. By far, the largest majority of sellers are elementary teachers selling English language arts products. (Yup, that would be me.) At the middle/high school level, there are math teachers, science teachers, English teachers, foreign language teachers and others selling their curriculum very successfully. A growing number of specialists are joining TpT such as ELL teachers, SPED teachers, Music teachers and Speech/Language Pathologists. Selling in a niche that isn't so popular may very well just translate into more sales for you.

Is TpT only for American teachers?

No, there are teachers from all around the world selling their products on TpT. In the forums, I will often converse with sellers from Australia, Canada and England. Teachers are selling from many other countries as well.

How much money can I make on Teachers Pay Teachers?

It's difficult to say, but I guess the most honest answer is you can make anywhere from $0 to more than one million dollars. The top seller, Deanna Jump, has made over one million dollars selling her resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. Last fall, she traveled across the country sharing her story on various news programs and talk shows. That certainly brought more recognition (and sellers) to TpT. See the video clips below.

Absolutely everyone has their own unique journey on TpT. I have only been a seller since the end of October, 2012. Let's just say Deanna Jump doesn't have to worry about me catching up to her sales any time soon.

I'm happy to share a little bit of my own history. Now keep in mind, I am not a super seller. There are a many newer sellers making a lot more money than I am. It took me over a month before I made my first sale. The following month I made $19.55. One year later, I have replaced my teaching salary. I'm certainly not rich, but it's really nice to have passive income rolling in from work I completed months ago. Your income tends to grow as you continue to add more products to your TpT store. Not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation between how many quality products you sell/promote and how much money you make.

One of the very best things about TpT is that you truly have unlimited income potential...you are not tied to a salary matrix. For the new teacher just starting out, you have the option of making a lot more money than the bottom rung on a chart. For the retired teacher with a master's degree and thirty years of experience, your income is not maxed out. As teachers, we are not used to unlimited income potential. That's huge. I think it's pretty great that one of the top sellers on TpT has less than five years of teaching experience.

How do I get paid?

Until very recently, sellers were paid once per quarter. Now we are paid monthly...which is fantastic! Whatever income you make from the first to the end of the month is put into your PayPal (or Dwolla) account around the fifteenth of the following month. For instance, if you made $200 from August 1-31, then you would be paid via PayPal (or Dwolla) on or around September 15th. Once the money is placed in your PayPal (or Dwolla) account, you can choose to keep it there or arrange for a direct deposit into your checking or savings account. It costs $1 per month to use PayPal, but it's free to use Dwolla.

Will it cost me any money to join TpT?

No and Yes. TpT has two levels of membership. The first is the standard membership which is absolutely free. You can buy products and download free products with this membership. If you choose to sell products under the standard membership, your royalty rate is lower (you keep 60%) and you pay a transaction fee of (.30) for each item you sell.

The second is the Premium membership. This membership does cost $59.00 per year, but the royalty rate is much higher (you keep 85%) and there is not a transaction fee on any of your sales. Some people start off as standard sellers and upgrade to Premium Membership when they start to see sales.

I've spent a lot of time in the TpT forums (O.K, maybe more than I should) and I have never once heard anyone regret their Premium Membership. But I have heard many people regret not upgrading sooner. I started as a Premium seller, but everyone has their own comfort level and financial situation to consider.

Why should I join TpT over some other sites that also sell downloadable teacher resources?

There are a few other sites out there and some sellers at TpT do also sell their resources elsewhere. But TpT is just, well...special. The staff is extremely helpful and improvements are continually being made to the site. The TpT forum is a place where teachers not only communicate with one another, but also share ideas for possible improvements to the site. The best part about TpT is...they listen. The sense of community at the site is unique. We are all trying to make extra income, yet there is a genuine sense of camaraderie. As teachers, we like helping one another along. TpT just has that something extra. If you spend any time at all in the TpT forums, you will find out just how protective its members are of TpT. Very few TpT members have actually met TpT founder, Paul Edelman, yet we view him as a teacher-superhero. We recognize that he's continually making the site better for us, which makes it better for everyone. It's a real win-win.

How many products do I need in my store to start selling on Teachers Pay Teachers?

Your first product at TpT needs to be a freebie. You want to make it a good one to represent the high caliber of your work, but...your freebie shouldn't be more than ten pages. Freebies will drive traffic to your store, but you don't want to just give away your very best materials. Beyond that, you can build your store one product at a time. Some of the more successful new sellers have started with a well-stocked store of at least twenty products. If I were doing it all over again, I would wait until I had more products to "open" my store. Oh, well...live and learn!

How long will it take before I make sales?

It honestly just depends. For me, it was over a month before I made my first sale. For some fortunate sellers, their products have sold almost immediately after uploading to their store. I have had some new products sell that quickly, but not my first ones.

When is the best time to join Teachers Pay Teachers?

Let me answer that by telling you the very worst time to join: June and July. Teachers are on their much deserved summer vacation and aren't really in the buying mood. Things really start to pick up again in August when teachers start buying back-to-school items.

Deanna Jump is the First TpT Millionaire!

Deanna Jump had a fun interview with Steve Harvey talking about her success on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Teacher on Teachers Pay Teachers
Teacher on Teachers Pay Teachers

Top 10 Tips for Becoming a Successful TpT Seller

If I only knew then what I know now...

1. Decide what kind of seller you want to be. The most successful sellers are laser focused. They view their TpT store as a real, viable business and treat it as such. This is definitely not a get-rich-quick opportunity, but there is real money to be made. Work and dedication requires time. Time devoted to TpT is time away from other things and other people. (There are a few prolific sellers on TpT that I'm convinced just don't sleep.) I'm a turtle producer...slow and steady. But there are some mighty talented hares out there.

2. Start your store with at least fifteen to twenty items. The more successful newbie sellers seem to have a better stocked store from the get-go. I started my store with three lonely little products, so I was pretty slow to leave the gate.

3. Don't undervalue your TpT products. Pricing is always a challenge because you want to attract buyers to your store, but if you don't value your products, no one else will either. It's not uncommon for sellers to raise their prices and actually see more buying activity. There is a perception that if something is more expensive, then it must be better. Price your products fairly, yet competitively.

4. Spend the time to make colorful, attractive cover pages and do not scrimp on your clip art. Whoever said, "You can't judge a book by its cover" was not trying to sell their products on TpT. Shallow though it may seem...appearances do count.

5. Write solid descriptions with an eye toward good key word usage. Much of your traffic comes from the internet, not just within TpT.

6. Study the stores of the top sellers. The Top 100 Sellers are listed prominently on the site. Don't reinvent the wheel. Observe the master sellers to learn how they create and market their highly successful products. They are obviously doing a lot of things right.

7. Join Pinterest. "Pinning" your TpT products to collaborative Pinterest boards is one of the very best ways to market. You just don't want to blast the boards with too many products at one time. I resisted Pinterest for the first several months I was a seller on TpT because it just seemed so visually overwhelming. But I kept hearing from other (successful) sellers how important Pinterest was to promote TpT products. Now of course I really like it, but it took me awhile to fully embrace it.

8. Become an active participant in the TpT forums. Teachers who sell on TpT are a very caring and helpful bunch. To quote a very active TpT forum participant, "Teachers are practically tripping over themselves to help each other." Just get in there and don't be afraid to ask questions. You will learn so much and really shorten your learning curve.

9. If you already have a blog, use it to promote your TpT products. If you don't currently have a blog, I wouldn't start one right away. You should really focus first on building your Teachers Pay Teachers store. If you scatter your energies too much, then nothing gets done.

10. Set goals for yourself. You may not be able to control how much money you make, but you can certainly work toward making a certain number of new products in a month, add a colorful banner to your store, join Pinterest, start a blog, etc. You can always learn something new to grow your TpT business. Income goals become more realistic and predictable as you start selling over time.

Paul Edelman
Paul Edelman

A Little TpT History Lesson

I'll give you my abridged version, but the story is a really good one. Teachers Pay Teachers was started in 2006 by a young New York City public school teacher named Paul Edelman. When he couldn't find the resources he was looking for, he came up with the idea for sharing curriculum via downloads on the internet. Genius.

Paul had this great idea, but he wasn't a techie, so he sold off basically everything he had to hire a computer programmer. Things were slow. Paul was putting ads in newspapers across the country to try to attract teachers to the concept of selling their original teaching resources online.

Well, publishing powerhouse Scholastic became interested and bought TpT from Paul. Scholastic was not impressed with the early lackluster sales...so guess what they did? They sold the company back to Paul for less than what he sold it to them initially. Paul was truly destined to own this company.

I don't know who made the decision at Scholastic to sell TpT, but I have to think they are kind of regretting it now.

This past fall, there was a lot of publicity generated when kindergarten/first grade teacher, Deanna Jump crossed over the million dollar sales mark. More and more people heard about TpT and signed up to become sellers. Deanna Jump may currently be the income exception rather than the rule, but her well-deserved success certainly speaks to what is clearly possible at TpT. The site is still growing and there is always room for one more.

Feel free to leave a comment:

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    • profile image

      Alessandra Garza 2 years ago

      I too have become a TPT seller and have really enjoyed your organization of information towards TPT. You have done an extraordinary job....I he started January this year and Feb got my 2.97 come March 115.00 yes 100 dollars...thanks for the info. Https://teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Bilingual-biliterate-Learning

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 2 years ago from Topeka, KS

      A very informative article Lorrie! I love that you confirmed that one doesn't have to be a teacher to sell there. Thank you for making it all so easily understood. :)

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      Yvette Rossignol 3 years ago

      Great info!! Thanks so much! I really want to become a seller but would like more info on graphics. Where and how do you get your graphics (clip art, etc.), and not get in trouble with copy right?

    • LorrieLBirchall profile image
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      LorrieLBirchall 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks, Cathy!

      You specialize in SMARTBoard resources. I tend to specialize in phonics poetry and reading resources. That 's also a part of developing a successful TpT store...having a targeted focus or niche. I agree that TpT just keeps getting better and better. Thanks so much for your feedback!

      Lorrie

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Well done, Lorrie! You have excellent information for potential TPT sellers laid out in an organized, easily understood format.

      I started selling on TPT at the end of July 2012, and it just keeps getting better and better! I specialize in SMARTBoard resources, and it is so cool when others deem my materials worth spending their hard-earned money on! Creating new products is time-consuming, but I find it very satisfying and a creative outlet. I agree with Growing Smart Readers that TPT has made me a better teacher. Plus, from Paul and Amy to the thousands of teachers on the forums, there is not a more supportive group anywhere!

      Cathy

    • LorrieLBirchall profile image
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      LorrieLBirchall 4 years ago

      @anonymous: It is so true that developing curriculum enhances your teaching skills! Thanks for your comments!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi Lorrie,

      I love how you summed up the essence of Teachers Pay Teachers. I started Teacher Pay Teachers last October and feel that every hour of hard work I've put into it since then has all been worth it. In addition to the creative money-making opportunities, I feel I have become a better teacher since I've joined! Thanks!

    • LorrieLBirchall profile image
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      LorrieLBirchall 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Darlene Anne,

      Thanks so much for your comments. I hope this lens will give new sellers the information they need to get started at TpT with realistic expectations. I really don't want new sellers to give up before their store even has a chance to grow. Sales may not happen overnight, but they will likely come in time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi Lorrie,

      Your top ten tips are spot-on! I wish I had this information when I started back in late November 2012. It always amazes me when new sellers expect instant success. The amount of success you achieve is in direct proportion to the amount of time you spend diligently working on products and marketing.

      This is a terrific lens! Thank you!

      Darlene

    • LorrieLBirchall profile image
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      LorrieLBirchall 4 years ago

      @anonymous: You are absolutely right, UtahRoots! At all levels, teachers do create the very best resources. Thanks so much for your comment.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I was hesitant to become a seller on TpT because I'm a secondary teacher and I wondered if secondary teachers ever considered looking for resources on TpT. I'm happy to say they do! As more secondary people offer resources on TpT, more secondary buyers find them and discover that when it comes to lessons, tips, presentations, games, lab activities and everything else - NOBODY creates classroom tested resources as well as another teacher!