selling curriculum on tpt

EP 40 – Selling Curriculum on TPT


While selling on TPT can be a great source of passive income, there are a few essential things to know before starting your own Teachers Pay Teachers store. So, join me for this episode of the Teacher Career Coach Podcast, where I dive into the basics of getting started on Teachers Pay Teachers.

This episode is based on my experience building a TPT store that now brings in a few thousand dollars of passive income each month. Listen to learn everything from the benefits of starting your own store to the things you should invest in as you get started. I cover how to translate your TPT experience on a resume to help you land your next job, the number one tool I use when creating my TPT resources, the importance of finding a niche for your store, and more. If you’ve thought about creating your own Teachers Pay Teachers store, this episode is the perfect place to start. 

Recap and BIG Ideas:

  • While selling on TPT is not the answer for overnight income, it can be a great source of passive income long-term
  • Building and running a TPT store is a great resume-building experience, especially if you’re considering roles in education companies or content or curriculum development.
  • You don’t need to learn a ton of new technology or invest a ton of money to get started with your Teachers Pay Teachers store.
  • Determining a niche for your TPT store helps others quickly figure out what your store is selling and understand that you have the resources they’re looking for. 
  • Understanding copyright is an essential component of starting out to avoid having your store taken down by Teachers Pay Teachers. 
  • Starting a Teachers Pay Teachers store is a great way to get your feet wet and build experience in the world of online business.

Listen to the episode in the podcast player below, or find it on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

How I Got Started Selling on TPT. 

Daphne: I remember the very first day I decided to take my Teachers Pay Teachers store seriously. I left the classroom about three months prior and worked in a new role as an educational consultant. While I was facing extreme burnout in my last years of teaching, I now had this fire inside me. I had more time and energy. The world started to make me feel full of possibilities again.

The last year of working in a really toxic school environment had totally beat me down. But, once I left, I was able to explore all of these new possibilities. For example, I had been researching passive income businesses and knew I wanted to create my own. I sat down and mapped out a strategy for starting my own Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Flash forward to the present day and my TPT store, Kitten Approved Curriculum, has over 275 products in it and earns me a few thousand dollars per month. Now, if you are unemployed or looking for a new job and are in need of income as soon as possible, I need you to skip this episode. (Or at least come back to it when you have a stable position and an income source.) 

When To Start Selling on TPT. (And When To Wait.)

A Teachers Pay Teachers store is something to take on when you have the time and energy to add a new passion project to your plate. It is not something that’s going to get you rich overnight. Take it from someone who’s been there, done that. I invested a lot of time—honestly, about 20 to 30 hours per week—into this Teachers Pay Teachers store without seeing any return on it in the beginning.  Honestly, you need to learn, study, grow, and create for hours and maybe even months before you’re going to start earning income. 

Jonathan, my fiance, even asked me to set up a time frame until I was planning on maybe walking away from this project. I told him that I wanted to have a certain number of high-quality products in my store before I ultimately gave up. For me, that number was somewhere between 50 and 75 high-quality products. 

Well, it was worth the wait. I remember the very first month that I made $1,000 in a single month. Jonathan was so proud of me for sticking with it and figuring it out. But I was also really proud of myself for seeing my passion through. And it (literally) paid off. But, this is not an overnight thing by any means. However, it does inspire a lot of intrinsic motivation when you are able to prove to yourself that you can do it. 

What Is Passive Income? 

Passive income usually means that you have to work hard upfront to create the revenue sources that will continue to pay off when you’re too busy to work on them later. Or you’re simply spending your time focusing on another project or, for those still teaching, the school year. 

Other passive income streams could include things like blogging and creating YouTube videos, digital courses, ebooks, etc. You know, things that may even continue to earn you income or your family income even after you pass away. 

Truthfully, as of right now, I haven’t focused on my Teachers Pay Teachers store or added new products in over a year. Yet, it consistently continues to bring in a few thousand dollars per month. 

The Benefits of Starting Your Own Teachers Pay Teachers Store. 

In this episode, I’m going to cover some of the basics for those looking to earn income through selling products on TPT. 

So, let’s start with the basics. Why start a TPT store at all? Well, first, you can earn extra money. That’s a no-brainer. But, you’re also learning new skills. It’s a fun creative outlet and you already know that you can create something that teachers need, like a classroom management activity or a time-saving resource. At the end of the day, it feels good to know that you supported teachers by creating something they wanted or needed.

And while we’re talking about the skills, this process can lead to some legit resume building experience. If you’re looking for roles in education companies or content or curriculum development, building a TPT store is a valid experience you can put on your resume. On your resume, you’d be able to honestly say the following: 

I design, implement and publish educational content and resources, with over 100 units sold to date. 

I perform all sales and marketing responsibilities with a focus on content branding, digital marketing, email campaigns, and copywriting. 

These are just a few of the many points I was able to add to my resume after I started selling on TPT. And it was skills and experiences like that which helped me get noticed when applying for higher-paying positions. I even used it to leverage my experience when I got my role as an instructional designer. I use PowerPoint to create the resources on my Teachers Pay Teachers store and I actually have a YouTube video that shows you how to create resources on TPT.


Using PowerPoint To Create Useful Resources For Other Teachers. 

All those cute drawings and images are called clipart. You just drag and drop them onto your PowerPoint wherever you want them to go. Now, you might already be familiar with PowerPoint from using it to create resources for your classroom. It’s an amazing tool, and you can use it to create printable and digital resources and tools for other teachers as well. 

But, if you’re going to make one investment into your Teachers Pay Teachers store, I recommend investing in a subscription to PowerPoint. While you may already have access to PowerPoint through your school, just be aware that districts don’t always look kindly to teachers using their software for business ventures. 

And it’s not as simple as just adding the clip art to the PowerPoint. You’ll also want to make sure that the clip art you’re using has given you commercial use licensing. That just means that you’re able to actually use that clipart on resources you’re selling on TPT. Moreover, the clipart itself needs to be flattened onto the PowerPoint so that other people can’t steal it and use it on their own resources. 

These are all things that you can learn to do very easily. But, it’s useful to know these best practices before you dive into creating those resources for your own TPT store. 

Finding A Niche For Your Teachers Pay Teachers Store. 

Next, you’ll want to determine a niche, or an area of focus, for your Teachers Pay Teachers store. That niche can be a grade level or a type of curriculum to start. Now, the reason why you pick a niche is that it helps others easily figure out what your TPT store is selling and understand that you have the resources that they’re looking for. 

For example, if you had one high school-level art resource and another 5th-grade math resource, it would be hard for people to know what to expect from you. But, if you have all 5th-grade materials or all art materials for art across different grades, people know that they consistently shop your store for those types of resources. 

So, not only do you want to pick a niche, but I recommend that your niche is something that you’re already an expert in and something that you’re passionate about creating. I personally have niched in upper-elementary resources that have modeled the same types of resources I enjoyed using in my own classroom. My store, Kitten Approved Curriculum specializes in upper elementary project-based learning and fun math games. My project-based learning activities have been my best sellers. And, in case you were wondering, I named my store Kitten Approved Curriculum because of my cat Margie, who I rescued in the parking lot of a school that I worked at. 

The Benefit of Freebies On Your Teachers Pay Teachers Store. 

When you’re creating your resources and honing in on your niche, you want to have freebies that align with the types of great resources you’re going to sell in your store. These freebies should be between 1 and 10 pages.

So, for example, I have freebies for project-based learning and freebies for 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade math games that I’ve created.

Creating Resources That Bring Value To Teachers. (And Yourself.) 

And you want to make sure the paid content you’re creating are resources that are truly valuable for teachers. There are some resources that I know I would never pay for, and some resources that I remember paying up to $10 for, just to save me the time or because they were so helpful or fun for my students. 

You want to create resources that you can charge over $3 for. And, depending on the grade level or type of resource, the page amount you include can vary for that. The reason you want to charge over $3 is because Teachers Pay Teachers takes a larger cut for checkouts that are under $3. 

And honestly, it’s just a better return on your time investment in general. If an item takes you one day to create and you sell it 100 times for $1. Let’s say you earn $100. If you sell it 100 times and it’s $3, that’s $300. The difference between $1 and $3 items may just mean adding some additional value for teachers, like a grading rubric or a follow-up extension activity. While it might seem like extra work up front, it’s worth the time. 

Understanding Copyright when Selling on TPT. 

Another thing that you need to know about is copyright. You don’t want to copy things from your curriculum that you use at school or to copy things from pages out of popular novels without knowing all the ins and outs of copyright. In other words, you need to be creating your own unique materials here. And steer clear of creating even your own original resources around trademarked or copyrighted names like popular movies or cartoons. 

So, for example, don’t make a reading passage using Harry Potter references and call it a Harry Potter reading activity. However, you can create a reading passage about wizards and call it a wizard reading activity. If you look on Teachers Pay Teachers, you might notice a lot of sellers do get away with copyright violations—but only for a while. So, I don’t want you to create a lot of resources and start to earn revenue, only to have your store flagged as a copyright violation that Teachers Pay Teachers eventually asks you to take down. 

Investing In Your Teachers Pay Teachers Store. 

And lastly, yes, you will need to invest some money as you begin your Teachers Pay Teachers store. For example, you’re going to want to purchase clipart that is for commercial use. And you want to even pay for the premium seller fees for Teachers Pay Teachers. Yes, a free account on Teachers Pay Teachers is a great place to start. And in my opinion, you don’t need to purchase the paid seller’s account until you’re serious about selling on TPT consistently.

However, purchasing the seller’s account was one of the best motivators for me. And I don’t know why you would put any effort into this project, without taking it seriously enough to want to earn the $70 premium seller’s fee back. 

It’s wild how our money mindset works. I remember struggling to spend that $70 on the Teachers Pay Teachers sellers fees. But, it paid for itself within a few months and has just been building and building revenue ever since. 

I compare that to now, where I’ve started to understand the benefit of investing in myself and my business. Now, I easily invest thousands of dollars into programs because I know how much they’ll save me time in the long run. 

Generally speaking, online businesses are great because they have such low overhead costs. And Teachers Pay Teachers is a great place to dive in and get your feet wet in that world. It’s a great way to build experience with an online business. Now, if I wanted to start my own restaurant, I would have to purchase equipment and food and pay for staff and rent a space. There are a lot of risks with starting a business that costs so much money upfront. But, online businesses only require a small fraction of the cost of a brick-and-mortar business.

And for me, anytime I spend money on something for my business, it helps ensure that I push myself to make it pay for itself. So, if you spend $20 on clip art, make a goal to earn $200 on the products you create with it. This will help you gain more confidence and an understanding of how and when to spend money on your personal and professional goals. 

selling curriculum on tpt

Additional Resources That Can Help! 

And lastly, if you enjoyed this episode, I also recommend that you check out Episode 10 of the Teacher Career Coach podcast: Five Reasons Why You Should Start Your Side Hustle. I also interview a Teachers Pay Teachers full-time author, Sarah Forst on episode 14 and then share more of my story of leaving teaching, including starting my TPT store, on episode 17. 

Thank you so much for being a listener and a friend to this community. I’ll see you in September!


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