How to Make Money on Teachers Pay Teachers (Even in 2022)

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By now, every teacher on the planet is familiar with the Teachers Pay Teachers online marketplace. With millions of great free resources from amazing TpT sellers, there are just so many original educational resources for teachers to use in their own classrooms. But you might be thinking, “Ok, but what about teachers who want to earn an income by selling TpT products?”

Well, I am so glad you asked because this entire episode is all about how to make money on Teachers Pay Teachers…even in 2022!!

And don’t think this is just for those who want to start selling on TpT. I also have several suggestions for veteran sellers on how to increase your sales. So we’re going to spend time talking about…

  • Where to begin,
  • What type of membership is best for you,
  • How much time you need to devote to your Teachers Pay Teachers store to make it work,
  • What teacher resources you should sell,
  • How to market your shop,
  • Ways to increase your sales and traffic

One thing I want to make clear from the beginning.

Yes, making extra money on TpT is absolutely possible, but many new sellers drop out when they have to put in the hard work of creating resources and don’t see an instant turnaround on their investment of time.

I will be honest and tell you that opening Teachers Pay Teachers shop is more involved that just creating a cute product.

But don’t let the fear of hard work deter you from your goal because opening up a shop can be an excellent side hustle that provides passive income until it eventually turns into your full-time job.

So if you are willing to apply what I share, I can walk you through how to make money on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you are ready, let’s do it!

Where to Begin as a TpT Seller

The most difficult part of becoming a TpT seller is knowing where to begin. So I figured that would be an excellent place for us to start!

If you want to sell on TpT, you have to have unique products to sell. This can be anything from bulletin boards to lesson plans, clip art to digital product creations, or teacher toolbox labels to homework assignment plans. The point is you want to have a few products already created before you open your shop.

You are required to upload a free product first before you can ever add a paid product to the TpT database. This is important to know in advance so you’re prepared with at least one free product and one paid product. After that, you can add as many free products (and paid products) as you would like to your shop.

Veteran teacher tip: Consider adding more free products as you create each new product line so buyers can catch a glimpse of what they are going to get.

Select Your Product Creation Program

You can make your products in any computer program you choose, but most sellers use Microsoft PowerPoint. Back when Teachers Pay Teachers first started, many sellers in the teacher community used Microsoft Word to create their resources because they didn’t realize how adaptable PowerPoint was.

Now this program is the most common one for sellers because it is easy to learn and use unlike Photoshop or Illustrator, which both have steep learning curves. If you don’t currently own PowerPoint, you can choose to use Google Slides, but there are still many limitations in that particular program that you won’t encounter with PowerPoint.

The key is finding something you are comfortable using and navigating because you will be creating all of your resources in that particular program.

Veteran teacher tip: Invest in PowerPoint (if you don’t already own it) because it is the most user-friendly and versatile program for your needs.

Choose Your Membership

I already mentioned that I think it’s best for you to start with the product creation before jumping into the logistics of opening your own TpT store on the TpT platform. However, you do need to know that there are two different types of memberships or seller accounts.

There is the free basic seller account (or basic membership) and the premium seller account (or premium membership).

Obviously, the free account is where many new sellers begin. And this makes perfect sense because you want to make a few extra bucks before you turn around and invest them back into a membership.

As an experienced seller myself, I think this is a wise business decision. Although you only make 55% of what you sell as a basic seller with a free account, you need to build up your resource offerings and make sure you’re going to make a little money before you pay the membership fee.

Veteran teacher tip: Start with the basic membership until you have made enough to cover the cost of a premium membership.

Determine Your Time Investment

When people decide they want to know how to make money on Teachers Pay Teachers, they don’t always consider how much time they can invest in TpT. As with any undertaking, there is a learning curve that requires more time on the front end.

So as you are considering different ways to make money as a teacher, you need to be aware that this endeavor takes time. But even more than that, you need to realistically look at your current time expenditures, and ask yourself these questions…

  • How much time do I have per day or week to invest in this venture?
  • Am I willing to give up other things on my schedule in order to create my own resources to sell?
  • Is this a good season to start something new?

Veteran teacher tip: Not every season in life is conducive to starting your TpT journey. Take time to determine if now is the right time to begin.

Knowing which program you will use, which membership you will choose, and the amount of time you can invest in your business will give you a giant head start in understanding how to make money on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Which Teaching Resources You Should Create and Sell

Once you’ve spent some time moving through the basics I just mentioned, you need to focus on what types of products and resources you need to be selling in order to make money. The hard truth is just creating anything isn’t going to catapult you to top seller status or to your first TpT milestone.

There’s a specific process for determining which things you need to be creating in order to know how to make money on Teachers Pay Teachers and that’s what we’re going to talk about now.

Start with What You Know and LOVE

When you are contemplating what you want to create for your first product you should start with what you already know.  While this may seem ridiculous as step one, most of us are guilty of forgetting that we actually do know some things!

Let me give you an example.

Personally, I would NEVER create a product about calculus.  I’ve never actually studied calculus, I know NOTHING about the subject, and quite frankly, the name alone increases my blood pressure 10 times.  So, no calculus products for this girl.

On the other hand, I love working with young children and that’s why I pursued degrees in Early Childhood Education. Because I have formal training in this specific area and it also happens to be a passion of mine, the bulk of the products I create focus on this particular age group. 

Starting with the age group I already enjoyed teaching helped me narrow down my focus as I considered what to create and sell in my shop. Of course, this was just the beginning because I also knew that I wanted to design resources with interactive components, gamification, and multiple ways to implement them within a classroom setting.

Veteran teacher tip: As you consider where to start, take what you already know and love, and create a product!

Find the Gaps

Have you ever found yourself planning a lesson and then searching for a product that doesn’t exist?  In other words, you find a product that’s close, but the worksheets just aren’t quite right for your kids, or the PowerPoint is amazing, but it doesn’t go into quite enough depth.

Well, guess what?

You’ve just brainstormed a product or potential product line! 

This is the perfect opportunity for you to fill a gap.  Chances are, if you’ve been searching for it, there are other fellow teachers searching as well. So use this newfound knowledge to your advantage by making EXACTLY what you need and then turning around and selling it on Teacher Pay Teachers! 

MANY sellers got started on their TpT journey for this reason. They simply couldn’t find what they were looking for, so they created it themselves.

This was my experience when I created all of my VIPKid resources. You see, in the VIPKID Facebook group, I was noticing teachers in need of specific props to use in their classrooms, and I found myself nodding along with their pleas. If I could just find what I was looking for… 

And at that moment, I had an epiphany! I could create the products they needed. I knew what they were looking for, and I’d already made several things for my own classroom. So, I took those things, as well as other products that I created, and put them in my shop.

Sure enough, in no time, my VIPKID products started selling!  Then, I found a need for more specific flashcards to teach the various levels of students in VIPKID. So, I took the time to create HUGE bundles of flashcards and they’ve been some of my best sellers!

Veteran teacher tip: Think about the things you’ve needed in your own teaching experience and create those things!

How to Take Your Earnings to the Next Level

Thus far, I have shared great ideas for how to make money on Teachers Pay Teachers as a beginner. But what if you’ve been selling for a while and you want to level up your teacher business?

Well, I have some tips for you, too, but be mindful that if you want to scale your business, it’s going to require you to invest more time (and money) into your business.

The reality is that you can’t just keep doing what you’ve always done and expect different results…that’s the definition of insanity. So we’re going to look at two specific ways you can increase your TpT income.

Create a Blog

If you want a good idea for how to get more sales in your TpT shop, create a beautiful website. Now notice I said a website and not just a blog.

You see, with a website you have the opportunity to grow along with your business. What might start off as a super-simple blog can evolve into a custom website that houses additional products including courses or even a teacher membership.

Now, obviously, I like to think big and I want you to join me on that journey, but for now, let’s bring it back to your first blog post. The truth is, starting a teacher blog is a great way to get more eyes on your TpT products.

I can hear you saying, “Hold on a minute! I’m already spending a lot of time creating products, and now you want me to start a blog?”

And the answer is…yes.

Here’s how it works. New teachers (or experienced ones) have a problem, so they go to Google to find a solution. They find your fascinating article and click the link to your blog where you give them tons of helpful advice as well as a referral link to your TpT shop where they purchase your product to add to their classroom materials.

Having a blog literally just sold your product for you! The key is understanding that writing blog posts and implementing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques is what will take you from making a little bit of money to making so much money you have the option to become a full time TpTer.

I have had one former teacher after another on the podcast sharing their journey from side hustle to full-time TpT business owners. It is possible to surpass your teaching salary and own your own business, but only if you are willing to do what I am telling you to do.

Leverage Social Media

I mention social media a lot on the podcast because it’s an excellent way to market your TpT resources and your small business.

The bad news is that over the last few years every social media marketing platform has become a bit more complex, but the good news is that there are more people who can help you navigate these changes.

Let me explain.

Back when Paul Edelman first started TpT, a lot of teachers were completely clueless as to what to do to be found. They just created resources and then waited for buyers to find them.

In recent years with the advent of more social media platforms and social media marketing, the Teachers Pay Teachers community has continued to expand more and more. Those early sellers have started sharing their best TpT seller tips for how to navigate past all of the difficult parts in order to help you fast track your business.

They have shared trade secrets and patterns they have noticed over the years that have allowed them to go full-time in their teacher businesses. These same teachers who had to use trial and error to figure out the best way to market their products have become guides for best practices regarding Instagram and Facebook.

While I certainly wasn’t a pioneer in the TpT community, I have been a seller since 2016. So I have definitely had my fair share of highs and lows. Here are a couple of tips that will make a big difference in the extra income you see…

  1. Create a Pinterest business account. Add a new Pinterest board for each category (or subject area) of content you create. Then create pins that will send Pinterest users to your blog where they can get answers and links to your products on TpT. Also create pins that link directly to your products on TpT.
  2. Learn to create reels on Instagram. Any time Instagram rolls out a new feature, it’s in your best interest to learn how to use that new feature because IG shows that content to more people
  3. Start a public Facebook page or a private Facebook group. There are distinct differences between your public Facebook page associated with your store name and a private Facebook group. With a public page, anyone can follow you, but with a private FB group, people have to be added via answering questions or purchasing a specific product. If you want to provide a great place for teachers to feel safe to ask questions and share ideas, then a Facebook group might be a great option for you.

Whether you’re a brand new teacher this school year looking to start a shop or an experienced teacher looking to grow your income, the TpT platform is a viable and lucrative option. However, trying to figure out how to make money on Teachers Pay Teachers can be overwhelming if you are trying to do it on your own. 

But that’s why I’ve shared all of this information with you. The truth is, the farther along you get in your TpT journey the more you’ll find yourself tweaking your processes. As you learn exactly what you love creating and what others need, you’ll discover ways to make your products better and better. 

I promise if you will take all the things we discussed in this episode and put them into practice, you will be well on your way to having a thriving online store.