Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) has become a popular platform for teachers (and homeschool moms!) to buy, sell and share educational resources like lesson plans and unit studies. With a large, global community of teachers actively buying and selling custom resources, it's easy to see why many people are interested in finding a way to start a side hustle on TPT.
But with such a competitive market, can you still make money on Teachers Pay Teachers as a new seller?
Yes, you definitely can! My small and growing shop makes money every month!
The good news is that you absolutely can make extra income and turn TPT into a viable business. I'll share what I'm doing and how I'm growing my store – and what I have learned over the past year getting started.
With the right approach and some of hard work, you can definitely still make money on Teachers Pay Teachers and create a new passive income stream. So let's dive in and find out how!
Is Teachers Pay Teachers oversaturated? No!
The short answer is no, TPT is not oversaturated.
I believe over saturation is a myth, and here's why.
Every teacher – and every homeschooling parent – has a way of teaching and communicating that is unique. TPT sellers all have unique voices! So the resources we create will be different from each other.
Is there competition? Of course. Especially in the preschool and early elementary areas, where worksheets are fun and easy to make. But even that doesn't mean you can't start a store and earn real income.
So, how DO you rise above the competition and get found in TPT search?
You have to look at your Teachers Pay Teachers online store as a business, and grow the business skills you need to succeed. We don't all start out knowing how to run a successful online shop! It is hard work – especially for the first year before you start seeing sales come in.
This is where I see people get frustrated and give up too easily. They work hard to create a new product, put it up, and just hope sales will come. They post in FB groups asking why they've had no sales…
…but they haven't taken the time to learn the skills that are needed:
- Do product research and choose what to create
- Write headlines that stop the scroll
- Do basic keyword research and include words that people actually search for in your titles and descriptions
- Create effective, clear thumbnail pictures and previews
- Link to other resources in your shop
- Participate in TPT sales and promotions
- Market through social media, FB groups, or email
- Market through blogging
ALL of these skills – and more – are learnable.
You also need to understand that building a business – ANY business – is a long game, not a quick fix. It takes a lot of time to make quality products and list them, and build your store inventory. There is a learning curve to build a brand, learn how to market, and follow up with your customers.
The good news is that all of this does get faster and easier over time! You'll get faster at creating products, you'll hone in on your personal style and niche, and creating listings will get faster and easier.
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Understanding the TPT commission structure.
You have two choices when you list resources on TPT. You can choose the free Basic Seller status, or the paid Premium Seller account. In either case, the first thing you list needs to be a free product.
TPT Basic Seller
When you sign up to sell on TPT, you are automatically given a free Basic Seller account. As a Basic Seller, you earn 55% of each sale you make, less a 30-cent transaction fee per resource.
You can list an unlimited number of products. Each product has a file size limit of 200 MB. You can also choose to participate in TPT School Access, if your resources qualify.
TPT Premium Seller
If you choose, you can upgrade your account at anytime for $59.95 yearly.
As a Premium Seller, your commission jumps to 80% of each sale you make, and your transaction fee drops to 15 cents per resource (and is only charged on orders less than $3.00). Quite a big difference in earnings and fees!
You can list an unlimited number of products. Each product has a file size limit of 1 GB! Being a Premium Seller also allows you to upload videos, and you are given access to more marketing tools like custom banners in your shop.
You can also choose to participate in TPT School Access, if your resources qualify.
As someone who has previously owned a brick-and-mortar business and rented space to do so (expensive), spending $60 yearly to have a 25% increase in commissions is a no-brainer. $60 per year is less than the cost of one Starbucks drink per month, and is a legitimate business expense.
It just makes sense to invest in a Premium Seller account, at least to me. I sell a lot of quick, early-finisher, small products like word searches and puzzle games at $1-$3 each. If I didn't have the premium account, those resources wouldn't be worth making and selling – I'd earn so little.
But they sell – and that means they are helping teachers!
The key: make quality products and overdeliver.
When it comes to Teachers Pay Teachers, one of the keys success is focusing on quality and over-delivering with every resource you list. You want your resources to help teachers and homeschoolers and make their lives easier, and help their students learn.
Focus on helping. Of course, we all want to earn an income from our own TPT stores, but if you keep the focus on helping others, you won't be tempted to put up hastily-made resources.
A side story: when I was in elementary and middle school (I'm aging myself, here) my mom worked in one of the school offices. Guess how she made copies of worksheets?
On a mimeograph machine. They were purple. They smelled good.
Teachers and homeschoolers today have so many more choices than purple mimeograph worksheets! While most classroom materials are still copied in black and white because of costs, I design my resources in color as well because sometimes you need a little something special.
Some tips for niching down and creating quality product lines:
- Decide your age range/grade level focus.
- Consider what you like, what your skill sets are, what you can create without it being overwhelming. Remember, you have make LOTS of products.
- Align your resources to Common Core and state standards.
- Research on TPT to see what is selling and read reviews. NEVER copy – just see what teachers like and are using.
- Consider creating your resources in both color and black and white and bundling both into your product.
Don't just rely on TPT traffic to grow your sales.
One of the best ways to grow your income as a seller is to be able to stay in touch with your buyers!
Unfortunately, TPT (and other online marketplaces like Etsy) limit how you can communicate to your customers. In TPT, you can send notes to buyers who follow your store, but not to all of your buyers.
But there is a solution!
Another idea: consider starting a blog.
Starting a blog is a great way to drive traffic to your TPT store, go into detail about the amazing resources you create, and stake your claim on the internet. You can build your brand recognition and share tips and resources around your products.
Like building your TPT shop, a blog is a long game – you're not going to see instant results. My blog coach says that what you create your this year is going to pay you next year… with hard work and consistency. Like I mentioned above – many people give up too soon!
Your blog can be very simple at first!
- Make blog posts about your products, or groups of products
- Write blog posts about your experiences teaching or homeschooling
- Share tidbits of everyday life
- Add a signup link for newsletters and new product announcements
- Give away freebies in exchange for signing up to your list
Here's an example. One of my teacher friends is just starting her TPT store and her blog called Tales From Kindergarten – I love reading her stories and seeing what she creates!
Let's get your Teachers Pay Teachers store started!
There is no better time than NOW to start your store.
Here are your first steps:
- Go to Teachers Pay Teachers and sign up to be a seller with a free account.
- Brainstorm ideas for a free product. This could be a 1-2 page worksheet, cut and paste craft, or a coloring page. If you're a graphic designer, you could make a small clipart set or some cute page borders.
- Use the search bar in TPT to help! If you just click inside but don't type anything, a list will drop down with what's popular right now. Click on a term and then refine with the menus on the right (click “Free” to see other free resources, or click on grade levels or resource types). NEVER copy. Just get inspiration!
- Use Canva and create your resource! Make sure to save as a PDF – and then save the pages as JPGs… so you can use them to make listing images!
- Make your listing images (TPT calls them thumbnails) with Canva. You can see how I make mine at Lake House Printables. They are 2000px by 2000px. Keep in mind lots of buyers scroll on their phones, so simple designs with bold text work best!
- LIST YOUR FREEBIE! Visit some shops to see how they write listings to get ideas. Highlight exactly what's in your resource and the benefits to the buyer.
- Rinse and repeat. Now that you have a freebie up you can start making paid products! Lean into what you know and love and start there!