Teachers Pay Teachers is the “world’s most popular online market for original educational resources,” and most teachers have heard of it by now. Some of us may have spent way too much money there.
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to run a store where you sell your own goods? If you’ve thought about it or are just interested in what it’s like, keep reading! I’ve been in your situation, wondering if I should open a store and if anyone would buy my resources.
I’ve worked hard to build a following for my own TPT store. And here are the best tips I’ve picked up along the way about Teachers Pay Teachers.
1. Look Before You Leap.
It’s very easy to sign up for a store. You don’t have to pay to become a teacher-seller. You fill out some information, choose a store name (or just use your own name), and start uploading your resources right away.
If you decide to upgrade to a premium seller account, it will cost you $59.95 per year, but you’ll get more money from each sale and other benefits. So, take some time to think about the lessons and activities you could offer in your store and then look at what your competitors are doing on TpT.
Do you have great ideas, but there are already a lot of resources out there that are just like what you want to make? If that’s the case, you might want to look into other areas or find a different niche. Think your resources are great and you’re ready to enter a crowded market? Great!
2. Consider Any Offline Implications.
You might not think that selling teacher lesson plans online could make you “famous,” but many teachers have done just that thanks to TpT and their success on the site and on their blogs.
Even if your first thought is “Uh, sign me up,” you should think about how being famous online might affect you in real life.
You might be able to stay “anonymous” for a while, but if your store does well, teachers in your building may find your TpT resources.
Will it bother you if they find out that you sell lesson plans online? Will your district and administrator help you?
Check your contract to see who owns the resources you make for use in your district’s classrooms. Some contracts are very clear about this. (Hint: It’s not likely you!)
This is not meant to be scary, but it’s something to think about. Even though you might not become “Insta-famous” like “Five Foot One Teacher” Brittany Sinitch, who has more than 100,000 Instagram and YouTube followers, you should think about what it would mean for you if your principal and teacher friends found out you were selling your resources online.
3. Develop Your Customer Avatar.
Don’t worry if your first reaction is something like, “Huh? “Who is my customer?” That movie with the big blue people has nothing to do with your avatar. It’s a business idea that says you should make sure you know who your products are for.
Who will buy the lessons and activities that you are selling? If your only answer is “a teacher,” you need to look into the question more.
Tara is my customer avatar. She’s 28. She has been teaching English and reading to high school students for four or five years.
She loves teaching, but all the other things that come with being a teacher are a lot for her to handle. She jogs every day, drinks too much coffee, and adores her dog. She is married, and she loves to learn about new ideas in education.
She is always willing to try something new in her classroom, especially if she thinks her students will like it. When she goes to TpT, she’s looking for an awesome new activity or an inspiring new way to start a unit she already teaches.
She wants something that looks great and not too childish, is ready to print and go, and will make her students think she’s awesome.
Too many details? You have no idea. I’ve thought about Tara for a long time. I could tell you what kind of mascara she likes and what book she just finished (The Hate U Give, by the way, and she thought it was Amazing!).
Why do I know so much about a person who doesn’t exist? Because when I make a new product, I don’t just put together a bunch of random activities and hope they sell. I’m making something for Tara to use. And for the hundreds (or thousands!) of teachers who will hopefully be like her.
Because experts in online marketing know that if you make resources for everyone, you end up making things that don’t work for anyone. So think carefully about who will buy your lesson plans before you start. Always think about him or her.
4. Think About Branding.
Branding can be helped a lot by having a good name and logo. Will you sell things under your own name? That’s great! Many teacher-sellers swear by this choice because it shows teachers who buy your products that you are a real person and can build trust and loyalty.
On the other hand, it also means that anyone who searches the web can find out that you have a TpT store. Even though this is happening more and more often, some store owners aren’t ready to tell their school districts, coworkers, or the parents of their students about their side job. In the end, you should do what makes you happy. You can change it at any time.
Trying to think of a cute name for your shop? That’s wonderful! If you choose a fun name for your store, teachers who buy your lesson plans will remember it right away. But give it some thought.
Can you still use the name if you change grades or subjects? Is there already something like this? Is it too adorable? You want it to make you happy for a long time.
5. You Don’t Have to Be a Tech-whiz but Be Prepared to Learn.
The tech experts at Teachers Pay Teachers have really made it easy for you to upload your materials. The system makes sense and is easy to use.
This, along with their great customer and seller support systems, makes it easy for anyone, from a first-year teacher to a veteran of 25 years, to start adding resources to their stores.
There are, however, things you’ll need to learn, such as how to protect your PDF files so buyers can’t change your resources, where to find royalty-free clip art and photos, and how to deal with angry teachers who buy your materials.
The TpT forums are very helpful because other teacher-sellers come together to help each other, but you may have to learn some new skills along the way.