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Making Money on TpT (What Nobody Will Tell You) | Episode #56

Episode Summary

Talking about money is weird and uncomfortable, but 100% necessary. I’m confessing the *real* reason I started selling on TpT and why it’s okay if you are money-motivated.

Making Money on TpT What Nobody Will Tell You, Erin Waters, School of Sellers

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Intro to the Episode: Making Money on TpT

I am really looking forward to talking about the topic I have on hand today. It’s been a topic that has been on my mind for years. It’s recently been on the top of my mind because of the work that team SOS and I have been doing as we’ve launched our course for beginner sellers. I made a really funny connection yesterday. I was reflecting on how our launch was going and all of the amazing people that we’ve met just in the last week who are looking forward to starting their TPT business.

It dawned on me that having a TPT business is so much like parenting and here’s why. I’m not saying that my TPT business is my baby or anything like that. I mean you might feel that way but I’m going a different direction with this. You can tell somebody for hours, telling them how amazing TPT is going to be, how life-changing it’s going to be, you can tell them how hard it’s going to be, you can tell them how stressful it will be at times, you can tell them how rewarding it’s going to be and how much it’s going to impact them. And just like parenthood, there’s really just no way to actually prepare someone for the experience. The only way that they can truly understand is to actually do it firsthand.

So it’s so hard sometimes because I love all things TPT. It excites me. I love creating products. I love the freedom and the empowerment that TPT has given me. And I can tell people those things. But you don’t actually understand the spark and the appeal of TPT until you’re actually behind the wheel of your own business. That’s been an interesting journey for me over the last several weeks, just realizing how hard it is to just convince people because it I feel it so strongly. But you just don’t know until.

So that’s been our life recently, meeting new and upcoming sellers. And as I was sitting down to record one of our course videos for Foundations and I was speaking about my why, why I started TPT. My first instinct was to say, well, I started TPT because I wanted to make an impact on education. I wanted to change classrooms everywhere. And I wanted to support teachers and I want to impact the landscape of education. All of those answers that sound good and probably are true.

I Started a TpT Business for the Money

But if I was being completely honest with myself, the reason why I started my TPT business was because I was broke. My husband and I were struggling so hard financially. The day that I started my TPT business, when I look back, that’s why I started was because of the money.

If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you’ve also heard me talk about the teacher down the hall. She had started her business and had been telling me about it. Her story appealed to me because it sounded really fun. But most of all, she was making money. And the idea of making money was so appealing that I was willing to give it a try. Because at that point I was over $120,000 in debt with our student loans. I had started a second job tutoring after school every single day and I was on a beginner teacher salary. So with those three things combined, it was really bad. I mean it was super duper hard, guys. And I am not going to lie. I started TPT so I could make some money.

And that’s what I wanted to talk to you guys about today because I think there’s a lot of misconceptions around the idea of money and it’s something that people don’t really like to talk about. I don’t like to talk about it. But I think it’s important to talk about. And I want you to know that when I started TPT, I didn’t want to be rich. I just wanted to be comfortable. So for me, it is about the money and I think the problem lies when we see influencers or online people who are doing some sort of gig on Instagram or YouTube. Whether it’s TPT sellers or someone totally in another field, a lot of times we hear them say, well, I’m not doing it for the money. It’s not about the money.

Making Money on TpT

Your Time Is Valuable and You Should Be Paid for It

I think that when people say it’s not about the money, they have good intentions but I don’t think they’re being honest with themselves. Because here’s the thing. Your time is valuable. Anything you spend time on to share with the world, and not anything. I mean there are things that you’ll give away for free. But if you’re going to invest all of your time, your time is worth something and you don’t owe anyone your time for free.

Secondly, nobody works for free. We are doing the work out there. As TPT sellers, we’re not just doing the work of creating products but we are running businesses, we are sharing content and sharing our thoughts, and representing TPT across multiple platforms. We are creating Facebook communities, creating memberships. We’re so entrenched in the teacher community there is no way I would expect any of you to do that for free. It sounds ridiculous when you think about it.

You Don’t Need to Feel Guilty for Making Money

And I also think that people share the sentiment of well, I don’t do it for the money because there are some norms and expectations put forth by society. That sounds really cliché to say but it’s true that as online business personas, we often feel guilty for making money. Whether you realize it or not, there’s probably a degree of guilt for making money online. Because we are in this weird in between time where we have all of these jobs that never even existed when our parents were our age. And these jobs are new to us, they’re new to everybody else, and I think that people in general don’t really know how to feel about jobs like ours because they see us making money online and they see the easy side, right?

They see the polished side. They see our Instagram feed and they know that we’re making money off of our TPT businesses. But they don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and that’s okay. That’s not their fault. We don’t expect them to know. But it just has created this weird expectation of well, you should just be doing this out of the goodness of your heart versus are you making money off of this.

So I think it can cause us to feel weird about the money side of things. But it can also cause others to give unfair expectations to us. So if you hear people say it’s not about the money, chances are they’re lying. The only way it’s truly not about the money for you is if you just give all of your stuff away for free. Okay? And I don’t know anyone who does that. The point is you shouldn’t put in all of the work that goes into a TPT business and do it for free. So it’s okay if it’s about the money for you.

You Can Sell on TpT for the Money WITHOUT Negating the Other Reasons Your Started a Business

If it is about the money for you, which I’m guessing it is, I don’t think there’s many sellers out there who didn’t at least like the idea of making extra money, right? I don’t think anyone got into this and said, I definitely don’t want to make any money off of this. Money was always at least a small part of your reason. For me, it was a big part of my reason but I think it’s part of all of our reasons. So I think this applies to everybody. If it is one of your big reasons though, this means two things. Just because it’s about the money for you doesn’t mean that it’s just about the money, right?

I think one of the other misconceptions that we tell ourselves is that if we admit out loud that I’m doing this for the money, it must mean that I’m not doing it for other reasons. It must mean that I’m not doing it to help students. It must mean that I’m not in it to change education and make it better. But that’s not true. You can care about teachers and students and also want a better life for yourself at the same time.

Secondly, I truly believe that if it is about the money for you and you’re willing to say that out loud and you’re willing to acknowledge that, then you have a better chance of making money from your business. There’s something about being driven by need rather than desire that really fuels a fire. For me when I first started, I wanted to make money but above all I needed to make money.

We were reaching a point where I was waking up in a panic every night because I wasn’t sure how we’re going to pay bills. It would cause fights between my husband and I as we calculated our monthly expenses down to the penny. I mean it was not good. I needed to make money and I would be lying if I said that wasn’t hugely motivating. So if you are someone who’s in it for the money, it’s okay. Because it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. And it’s actually probably going to fuel your success more than someone who doesn’t need the money.

Making Money on TpT

How Making Money on TpT Can Change a Life

And here’s what I’ve learned about money. It doesn’t buy happiness. Okay? It doesn’t. However, money does make some things easier. I mean it makes a lot of things easier. If you’ve ever lived paycheck to paycheck or struggled financially in your life, you know that feeling of panic that rises when you start thinking about what’s coming up. You know that feeling of guilt when you get your credit card statement and you know that you can only do the minimum payment. And you know that soul-crushing feeling of paying off student loans every single month but you’ve only paid off interest and haven’t even made a dent on the actual loan itself.

On top of it, you’re probably someone who’s familiar with the idea of working a second job and putting in time on top of teaching. That’s one of the biggest things I think that drew me to TPT second to the money. Rather than rushing from house to house after school as I would tutor, you create products for TPT and once they’re in your store online, they’re there forever. If they start attracting customers, that’s money that can come in without you lifting a finger. As teachers, we live, breathe, eat, and sleep our job. So the idea of working a second physical job is almost unfathomable.

That’s not to say a TPT business is easy. It’s definitely not. But one of the things I enjoy most about the TPT side of things is the ability to do it on my own time, in my own home. All I have to do is open my laptop to get started. I don’t have to drive. I don’t have to get ready. It’s there. It’s a much better use of my time than a job that I had to go to physically every day after school. So if you’ve ever lived in a way that you have struggled financially, you know about the hamster wheel that you feel like you can never get off. And if you know that feeling, then you also know how important it is to acknowledge that you might want to be doing TPT for the money. And that’s okay.

I just wanted to share that with you guys today because I think that when we hear people say, well, it’s not about the money, it kind of makes our TPT job look like something that it’s not. Now I don’t want you to think that I live some fairy tale life now. I still have financial stresses but we live a much more comfortable life now. We’re very financially responsible because we know that life can change in the drop of a hat. So we don’t live beyond our means. But there’s something to be said about feeling comfortable and not having that stress of how am I going to make ends meet every single month. That’s just no way to live.

So if you’re on TPT or thinking about getting started, I just want you to think about this final thought. Let’s say you already have your TPT business or you’re thinking about starting. Maybe you’ll make $50 a month. You might average enough to pay your mortgage every month. Maybe you will grow your business so big that it will replace your teaching salary one day. I’m not going to turn down any of those.

Regardless of which scenario is yours, along the way, you’ll also find joy, you’ll discover untapped potential, you’ll be in awe of yourself as you figure out all of the ins and outs of your business, you’ll definitely have tears of frustration and days where you feel like giving up but you’ll feel so proud and so energized by what you built. So why not get paid along the way? It’s a no-brainer to me, my friends.


So just to be clear, at School of Sellers, I am about making money because that’s what a business is. Because your time is valuable, your ideas are valuable, and your happiness is valuable. If you are really feeling motivated by this episode and you are ready to make some money or make more money, then we welcome you to join our School of Sellers online communities.

You can join School of Sellers 101 which is our online Facebook group for new beginners, new sellers, people who are thinking about starting their TPT store. And we also have our School of Sellers group which is for established sellers who have been around for a little while and are looking to grow their business and learn more beyond just your product creation. So feel free to join one or both of those groups, whichever you identify with the most. But we would love to be a part of your TPT journey and to help you grow and find a life where you are comfortable and happy and empowered and all of those amazing things that TPT brings to us. Thanks for listening, guys. I’ll see you next week.

Looking for another way to get this episode? Download the transcript for Making Money on TpT (What No One Will Tell You) here!

Making Money on TpT

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