If you’re thinking you might want to start selling on TeachersPayTeachers, welcome! TpT is a popular side hustle (and often more than that!) for many educators. However, just like with any other way you decide to spend your time, it’s not for everyone. So it’s very important to be honest with yourself as you determine whether it’s the right fit for you. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about selling your lessons and teaching resources on TpT.
#1 Do you love creating lessons and activities?
As a teacher, there are a ton of things you have to do in order to be successful. That doesn’t mean you like all of them equally though. For example, I know tracking student data is incredibly important, but I HATE doing it! I think it’s booooooring, time consuming, and generally just not fun. Similarly, creating activities or lessons is just one part of the job of selling on TpT, and not everyone loves it. So be honest with yourself if you’re going to start selling on TeachersPayTeachers.
Is creating lessons actually fun for you? Yes, we as humans can (and definitely do!) engage in tasks we don’t necessarily like. However, it’s MUCH easier for us if we actually enjoy what we’re doing. It would be incredibly hard to be successful on TpT if you dread every time you have to work on a product or your store. The good news is that most teachers love creating lessons and activities since it’s a really fun part of the job. If you’re creating your own lessons anyway, why not also make a few bucks doing it at the same time?
#2 Are you prepared to put in a ton of work to make your resources “TpT ready”?
This is a big one! A lot of teachers think they can just take what they’re currently using in the classroom and put it up on TpT as is and it will sell instantly. Let’s pump the brakes on that idea. Here are a few things you’ll have to do to make your classroom resources ready for TpT:
-Remove any identifiers or location-specific information
-Add clip art, images, fonts, and other professional design elements to make it appealing
-Create thumbnails and a preview for your TpT listing so buyers will know what they’re getting
-Research best keywords and write a good product description to make sure your resource is seen
-Double check that your product is free from trademarked and copyrighted materials
-Decide where you want to market your resource to make sure your ideal audience will find it
As you can see, it takes a lot of time and effort to get a resource ready for TpT. And keep in mind this is true for ALL of your resources, so multiply the time it takes to get a resource ready for TpT times all of the resources you eventually want to share. Is it impossible to get your resources ready? Of course not! But just know that even if you’re only using TpT as a side hustle for your Starbucks or Netflix habit, you will still need to take a lot of steps to make sure your products are seen and purchased by customers.
TeachersPayTeachers Product Creation Checklist
Luckily, all the steps get easier over time, and you’ll start to think about how you can make resources that will work in your classroom AND on TpT without having to tweak too much. There are also lots of free resources you can download to help you with the steps such as this TpT product creation checklist. Just fill out the form below to receive your free copy!
If you’re already starting to think about the types of resources you could create for TeachersPayTeachers, you may also be interested in reading this other post about finding inspiration for TpT products.
#3 Are you in it for the long game?
Many new teacher authors are very surprised by how long it can take to get your resources noticed on TpT. Any experienced seller will tell you that selling on TpT is a marathon and not a sprint. People often go months or even years without cracking $20/month in sales. Of course it doesn’t have to be that way, and you can help speed things along with the more time and effort you put into your store. But it still takes time and requires long-term commitment in order to be successful.
This is a screenshot of my dashboard from my first year selling on TpT back in 2013. I added my first products in early January and you can see it took a while to get my first sale in March. Sales stayed pretty sporadic until August of that year, and even then I didn’t have a sale every single day. But I didn’t give up and my store has grown exponentially since then. Keep your expectations realistic, but also understand that the potential is out there if you eventually want to make TpT a full-time gig.
#4 Do your colleagues love your resources and often ask to use them?
This one isn’t a deal breaker in my mind, but it can be a useful data point. If people love your lessons and tell you that you should sell on TpT, this is a good indication that you’re off to a great start and might be able to find some real success on the site. If your colleagues don’t ask to use your materials, that’s perfectly okay too. Maybe they just haven’t seen enough of them yet or don’t have a clear vision of how they could be used. Don’t let it deter you if the answer to this question is no, but consider it a green light if the answer is yes! Thinking about the work you enjoy and what colleagues have complimented is also really helpful for finding your niche on TpT.
#5 Are you prepared to put yourself out there for the world to see?
This is a question that I don’t think a lot of new sellers put a lot of thought into before they start selling on TeachersPayTeachers. It’s one thing to share your resources within your school, but it’s a completely different ball game to sell your resources publicly on a website with a huge audience like TpT. According to their website, 5 million teachers have used TpT within the last year. That’s potential for a lot of eyes on your resources! This is of course great in terms of having a sizable audience who are looking for classroom resources, but it can have some other consequences too.
Putting yourself out there always involves an element of risk, and one of those risks is receiving negative feedback. This isn’t a big deal for some of us, but I can guarantee that if you sell on TpT you WILL receive negative feedback at some point. Even if you create the best resource in the history of the world, someone will find a way to find fault with it. I don’t get nearly as offended as I used to, thankfully, but I know other sellers that get really upset anytime this happens. You can of course lower the odds of it happening by creating quality resources and making sure your product description is clear, but you can’t completely prevent it. So if you know or suspect that occasional negative feedback would be taxing on your mental health, factor this into your decision.
In order to mitigate any risks of selling on a public site, some sellers take steps to protect their identity by not using their real name on anything associated with TpT. If you choose to go this route, you’ll have to consider the effects of this when it comes to building your brand. If you’re completely anonymous and no one knows who you are, you may find it difficult to connect with your customers, especially through social media such as Instagram and Facebook.
Check Your Contract
Another consideration is that some teaching contracts state that anything teachers create is technically the property of the school district they work for. There haven’t been any major cases about this to my knowledge, but it’s something to think about as you decide whether you want to sell your resources publicly. Most teacher authors avoid this situation by taking care to create any resources for TpT at home, on their own time, and using their own resources. It’s really simple if you follow those rules!
The flip side of all of this, of course, is that TpT can also be extremely rewarding and emotionally fulfilling when other teachers buy from your store. Each time you get a sale notification, it can feel very validating for your time, effort, and thought that you put into the resource. It’s like a little vote of approval for your teaching ideas and strategies. Even more exciting is when someone takes the time to leave positive feedback and says things like, “My students loved this!,” “This was incredibly helpful because it allowed me to….,” or even a simple, “Thank you.” The positive feedback is definitely one of my favorite things about selling on TeachersPayTeachers.
#6 Is it “right” to sell things to other teachers?
An issue that I have not yet discussed is whether you feel comfortable with the idea of selling to other teachers. We all know teachers are underpaid and that many of us already spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars out of pocket for our classrooms. On the other hand, making quality resources takes time and money, and it’s not fair to deny teacher authors compensation for their efforts. Why is it okay for large publishers to make money on teaching materials but individuals cannot?
This is an extremely complicated topic with lots of valid perspectives, so I think it would be best to save this discussion for an entirely different post. Just know that this question should be considered before you make the final decision of whether or not you want to start selling on TeachersPayTeachers. It can be helpful to have your own beliefs about this solidified in your mind before you join the TpT seller community because going back and forth can be distracting when it comes to your productivity, setting prices on TpT, and your marketing efforts.
A Final Note About Whether You Should Start Selling on TeachersPayTeachers
I hope I haven’t scared anyone out of starting a TpT store while also trying to keep expectations realistic. Although all the things I mentioned above are important issues to consider, I don’t regret starting my own teacher seller business one bit. It’s brought me professional opportunities, personal fulfillment, new friends, so much joy, and yes, has even become my primary source of income. My one major regret is that I didn’t get started sooner.
I’m ready to start selling on TeachersPayTeachers! Where do I go from here?
If you’re still reading at this point, I can only assume you’re ready to start sharing your teaching resources with the world. That’s so exciting! So what’s next? First, I would download The Ultimate Checklist for New TpT Sellers and check out all of the valuable information it contains. If you have any questions, the School of Sellers 101 Facebook group is an amazing place to ask and make TpT seller friends. We also offer free TpT seller tips and advice through our podcast, YouTube channel, this blog, Instagram, and even TikTok. Come join us on any or all of those platforms and let’s get to know each other as we help you build your TeachersPayTeachers business. I can’t wait to get started!