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How to Get Started on Teachers Pay Teachers: Become a TPT Seller

Heck yes, you can start a side hustle on TPT! Let's talk about how to get started on Teachers Pay Teachers. Making some extra money by creating educational resources like lessons plans, worksheets and puzzles as a TPT seller is a great choice for homeschool moms!

But can you really make money on Teachers Pay Teachers? Yep. In this blog post, we’ll look at the potential of the TPT online marketplace and how you can get going quickly selling resources on TPT. My shop is small and growing, and I'm earning every month. I'm not special – you can do this too!

We’ll explore the steps you can take to launch a successful business on TPT and choosing whether to be a basic or premium seller. I'll tell you my favorite places to get clipart and fonts for your products, and what I use to design all my resources.

We'll also talk about making cover images that stand out, and doing some simple keyword research to help your products get found in the marketplace (AND on Google).

First things first! You've got to become a seller and start your TPT store!

Sign up for a Seller Account

Head to Teachers Pay Teachers and sign up as a seller by clicking the link to join in the top right. It's pretty straightforward! TPT calls sellers teacher authors.

If you're a homeschool mom – not a teacher – some of the information you fill out to set up your shop might be confusing. For instance, you might not yet know exactly what grade level you'll be creating for. It's OK. Make your best guess – you can always update and fill out your profile more completely later.

The big question everyone asks when starting out as a TPT seller is whether to choose a free account or a paid, premium account. Here are the details on both types of seller accounts.

TPT Basic Seller

You're automatically a Basic Seller – the free membership – when you sign up for a free Teachers Pay Teachers account. You will earn 55% of each sale you make as a Basic Seller, and there will be a 30-cent transaction fee per resource.

One perk of TPT over Etsy is that listing is free. You can list an unlimited number of products, but there's a file size limit for each product of 200 MB. You are able to participate in TPT School Access, if your resources qualify.

If you haven't signed up, click the picture to go do it now!

TPT Premium Seller

For $59.95 each year, you can become a Premium Seller on TPT.

I think it's worth it! When you jump to Premium membership, your commission increases to 80% of each sale you make (that's a big leap!) and the transaction fee halves to 15 cents per resource (and is only charged on orders less than $3.00). Those are some big differences that result in a lot more cash in your pocket.

Of course, you can list as many products as you like. Your file size limit jumps to 1 GB per product! Being a Premium Seller also has perks like uploading videos and more marketing goodies like custom shop banners. You are able to participate in TPT School Access, if your resources qualify.

My advice? Be a Premium Seller from day one.

Are you serious about selling on Teachers Pay Teachers as a business?

If so, I 100% recommend upgrading right away to a premium account. It's a legitimate business expense and you earn SO much more, it's worth it right from the beginning!

I see a lot of people say, “I'll upgrade once I make $60.” That's scarcity thinking. Let's say you list fun elementary resources, and your average product sells for $2.00.

With a free seller account, you're making 55% of each sale, which would be $1.10. Take out the 30 cent transaction fee and you're left with 80 cents earned for a $2 product. You will need to sell 75 products to get to $60.

With a premium account, you're making 80% of each sale, which would be $1.60. Take out the 15 cent transaction fee and you're at $1.45. You only have to sell 41 products to hit $60.

To me, I'd rather be earning more on my products from the start.

Get your payment processing set up.

TPT uses Hyperwallet to pay sellers.

It's pretty straightforward to set up, and much more secure than PayPal (which is how payouts used to happen). Hyperwallet will direct deposit your earnings for you. Follow the prompts in TPT to get it all set up so you can get your monthly payouts!

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Create beautiful products.

One of the keys to success for TPT sellers is to create quality products that serve and help teachers (and homeschool moms, too). While it's good to learn to create and list products quickly, quality is the most important metric for a successful shop.

Quality products are well-researched, thoughtfully designed, and easy to use. Take the time to test and use your own products (bonus: by printing and testing them you can take real-world photos).

It will take some time for you to hone in on your personal style, find your go-to fonts, and discover your favorite clipart artists! That's OK – the only way to figure it all out is to start creating.

An early elementary count and graph worksheet featuring cute Christmas animals.
I lean toward watercolor art! Your style might be totally different.

Once you create your gorgeous products, save them as PDF files to upload to TPT. If they are huge, use a PDF compression tool to reduce the file size.

By the way, your first product on TPT has to be a freebie! Take a look around to see what others are offering and what would represent your store well.

Help! Where do I get fonts and clipart I can use?

It's important that you choose fonts and clipart with commercial licenses that allow you to make and sell products. Most licenses require that you create something new with clipart in combination with other elements. Always do your due diligence and understand the terms of use for your design elements.

I primarily get my clipart and fonts from two places: TPT itself and my very, very favorite world of digital goodness, Creative Fabrica.

Teachers Pay Teachers doesn't just sell educational resources! There is a thriving subset of sellers who make clipart, fonts, and other design elements specifically for sellers. You can find all kinds of things, from cute elementary kid clipart to meticulously designed science clipart, great classroom fonts, worksheet templates, board game templates, and more.

Put what you are looking for in the search bar, and then on the left menu, under ‘Resource Types,' hover over ‘See All Resource Types' and choose “By TPT Sellers for TPT Sellers.” Again, it's important to read the terms because even using this search you will find things that people only intend for classroom use, not for sale.

A screenshot of Teachers Pay Teachers showing the "By TPT Sellers for TPT Sellers" submenu.
I searched for “beach clipart” and then chose “For TPT Sellers by TPT Sellers”

Now – my favorite – Creative Fabrica. ❤️ Oh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways:

  • So much clipart! In every style imaginable.
  • So many fonts! Fonts for days.
  • AI art generation included with your membership. And it's good.
  • SVG files for folks who use Cricut and Silhouette machines
  • POD ready clipart so you can create Print-on-Demand items (t-shirts, tote bags)
  • Crafting patterns (knitting, cross stitch, etc.)
  • KDP interiors to make books
  • Lightroom presets
  • And more….
Creative Fabrica is INSANELY AWESOME.

Creative Fabrica is BY FAR the best, most reasonable membership of its type out there. I've been a subscriber for 3 years now.

Help! What design tool should I use?

You'll find lots of debate inside teacher seller groups about what tools people like best. There's a lot of options:

I started out using Google Slides, which is Google's alternative to PowerPoint, because that's what the person I initially learned from used. It works great but has some limitations, especially around fonts. But it's easy, free and it works!

Then I learned more about PowerPoint and started doing more creating there (that was quite a learning curve). PowerPoint is great and is the tool the vast majority of TPT sellers use. It is super powerful and can do a lot of things – but it's not the easiest to learn. If you happen to be on a Mac, like me, you'll find glitches and the software is not the same as it is for Windows users.

Now, I do most of my designing in Canva, and I adore it. Why? Not only can you design everything and anything, but Canva allows you to upload and store clipart so you can use it over and over without uploading each time. It's super easy to create your brand kit with your colors, and upload your favorite fonts, which appear in the top of the list when you are doing font choosing.

Canva continues to grow and evolve, always adding new features. It's very easy to learn, has a nice, clean interface, and you can work online or download the app to your desktop or mobile. But there are just some simple things that make life SO much easier:

A screenshot of a design in Canva. The design is a set of Thanksgiving conversation starters and you can see Canva's toolbar on the left side.
Designing in Canva is FUN!
  • When changing a color or font, Canva will ask you if you want to change it across the design. MASSIVE time saver.
  • One click fun edits to change colors and apply filters to photos and graphics
  • Easily change up fonts with different effects
  • Free graphic library (note: only use the free graphics in printables, not Pro)
  • Canva now has AI art and AI writing tools

I love Canva, but use whatever design program works for you and stick with it to learn ALL ins and outs, tips and tricks. Switching programs definitely slowed down my TPT seller journey.

Help! What the heck is flattening?

Flattening is the process of combining all the clipart, fonts, and designs you used in a printable resource and locking them down so that they can't be extracted and used by someone else.

For instance: you bought some gorgeous watercolor clipart for your worksheets. If you don't flatten, then a buyer could potentially click on the clipart and save it to their computers (stealing).

This is another reason I love Canva. Canva now has a simple checkbox when you choose to save your resource as a PDF that allows you to flatten. YAY!

A screenshot showing the download menu in Canva, and the option to flatten PDFs.
Flattening is so, so easy in Canva!

Keep your thumbnails simple and readable on mobile.

One mistake I see a lot from new sellers is forgetting that people shop on mobile phones!

Your thumbnails – what TPT calls your product preview graphics – need to be readable at mobile size, and stop the scroll. Simple is better! Don't try to cram in details about the product – that's what the descriptions are for.

You want to get the click!

Big chunky headlines, some color, a couple pages from the printable plus a bit of clipart are how I create my thumbnails. Here's an example:

A TPT thumbnail graphic showing a set of early elementary math worksheets with pictures of cute woodland animals.
Stop that scroll with easy to read text and some color.

You need to make four thumbnails for each product. I use Canva to make these, and I have a template set up for myself so I just go in and make a new copy for each product and fill in the details.

I create my TPT listing images at 2000 x 2000 px. Notice that I arrange the pages and a cute clipart to prevent anyone from taking a screenshot and copying a whole page. Sadly, we do have to think about that as TPT sellers.

How to Get Started on Teachers Pay Teachers:
Use Previews

Like any online marketplace, it's important to use every bit of promotional real estate they give you! Many new sellers *just* use the product thumbnails.

Use those Teachers Pay Teachers previews!

Teachers Pay Teachers Previews

For the standard preview, I use a PDF file of my printable.

I take my finished product, and do a quick “preview” overlay on all the pages in light grey so that the pages can't be easily copied. I leave out the solution keys.

A New Year printable word search with the word "preview" in large font across the front.
Simple PDF preview for TPT.

Then I save the file as a PDF – voila! That's your preview.

TPT Video Previews

TPT also allows you a video preview. I was a little intimidated about making these for a while, but there are some very easy ways to do this!

The simplest way to make a preview video is to simply print out your resource, lay it out on a table, and make a video with your phone showing some of the pages. I like to have my daughter help me color or fill out some parts of my printables!

Another quick and easy way to make a video preview is to use Canva's video templates! You can insert the pics of your printables just as you do to make your thumbnail graphics. Canva has a huge variety to choose from and of course everything is customizable to your branding!

Another preview idea – this one has a couple more steps – that I use for longer, multi-page printables is to make a flipbook, and then take a screen capture video while flipping through.

A screenshot of a flip book of New Year printable games, made in Designrr software.
A screenshot of a flip book made in Designrr.

I use Designrr to make the flip books – I just upload my product PDF (without answer keys) and Designrr makes a flip book for me. Easy peasy! Then I open it and make a screen shot video with Screencast-O-Matic.

Write interesting descriptions.

The best way to learn to write great descriptions is by researching what top sellers do, learning from them, and developing your own base listing template that you can use over and over again.

Educators want to know *exactly* what each resource includes. I like to use bulleted lists to list out the different pages in my products or highlight key features. I start with a short intro paragraph or two and then list the features in a bulleted list.

After that, I sometimes just reiterate how great the product is or give alternate ways to use the resource. I finish up with a call to action asking for reviews.

You can see an example of my descriptions in my shop, Lake House Printables. Or click the image below.

A TPT thumbnail showing a set of printable New Year word games: Would You Rather, Word Search, Finish the Phrase.

Help! I see people talking about keyword research!

What are keywords? They are the search terms people type into the TPT search bar, or Google, to find something. You use keywords every day when you use Google to look something up.

To help interested buyers to find your resource, you want to sprinkle in a few keywords in your title and description! This isn't hard to do, although a lot of TPT gurus will go into great detail with keyword formulas and expensive tools.

First, type your resource idea that you want to make into TPT's search bar. See what appears in the autofill dropdown before you hit the search button. See what products come up and if those results match the kind of resource you're selling. Take note of what words people are using in their titles and descriptions to describe their products. Make a list.

Then, go into Google and do the same thing. See what comes up in the autofill. See what appears in search. Scroll down and see the questions section, and the other search ideas at the bottom of the page. Write down keywords you discover.

If you want to make it easier and take things up a notch, my favorite keyword tool is called Keysearch, and it's very reasonably priced. What I love is that if you put in any keyword idea, it will give you a HUGE list of related keywords and rank them all with a color system (blue, green, yellow, red) to let you know the best keywords to pick, along with their search volumes.

A screenshot of the keyword tool Keysearch, showing results for the term "third grade math worksheet."
Keysearch gives you so much information in a simple interface.

Here's an example of the kind of data Keysearch gives you. I searched the term “third grade math worksheet.” On the right you can see I sorted the keywords by color, with the best choices to use being at the top. You'll see that not every keyword returned directly applies, so you have to read through to find the gems.

You can see in the results that I might have an easier time getting found for phrases like “3rd grade math packet” or “common core math worksheets for third grade.” Those would both be great keyword additions to my math worksheet packet.

I spend no more than 5 minutes doing very basic keyword research for my listings and they all get found in search.

Connect with Other TpT Sellers

TPT sellers – mostly – are a supportive and helpful bunch! We all want to succeed and know that there's plenty of customers for everyone. And each of us has a unique perspective and style when creating resources to sell.

Connect in the TPT Forums

I just recently dipped my toe into the community at the TPT forums. As a busy homeschool mom, blogger, and printables creator I actually need to put a time slot on my calendar to connect there because the days slip away so quickly!

The Teachers Pay Teachers seller's forum is a great way to meet sellers, ask questions, and get feedback. Definitely worth your time!

Join Facebook Groups for TPT sellers and creators!

There are some really great groups for teacher sellers on Facebook! Use Facebook's search tool to find groups to join. You'll know within a couple of days if they're friendly and helpful. Here are a couple of my favorites:

I have a spreadsheet of all my groups! Some I visit daily, and some I have sorted into days of the week where they allow you to post your latest new product or freebie. It's helpful to make yourself a spreadsheet or list because groups can easily become overwhelming.

Hint hint: if you want to join a supportive community that will help you learn to create awesome printables and grow your business, come join my group!

My friend, TPT is a long game.

Here's the truth: building an online store and growing your TPT presence takes time and hard work. You will not become an overnight success and be making hundreds of dollars a couple months after listing your first products. That's not how it works.

Many new sellers give up or lose traction in the first six months, and think they are failing or not doing well enough. But the reality is that it takes that long to get in a groove of product creatioin, making the thumbnails and previews, writing good descriptions, and getting quicker at doing all of it.

In fact, I'd say the first year is truly the learning curve – both with learning to work with Teachers Pay Teachers and learning how to research, create, and list products. As much as YouTube or TikTok videos may make it seem like a snap, this is a real business you're growing and real skills to be learned.

Don't give up! Push through! It's worth it! There is no better feeling than waking up to see notifications in your inbox of products that sold!

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