Is selling on TpT worth it? Teachers Pay Teachers has gained a lot of attention for offering the potential for teachers to earn money far beyond their teaching salaries, especially since some high-profile teachers have talked about their ability to leave the classroom completely. There was a huge surge of new seller accounts after the first article about Deanna Jump came out.
But this leaves a lot of teachers asking… is selling on Teachers Pay Teachers really worth it? Can I actually make serious money like those teachers do?
Recently a TpT seller asked me: “How do I make the hours I put in worth it? Right now if I look at the number of hours I pour into it, compared to what I earn, it looks like I’m working in a sweatshop!”
As teachers, we are pretty accustomed to seeing results right away from the work we do. You teach a series of lessons on a specific skill, and then your students learn that skill. So often, teachers who are new to the business world think they must be doing something wrong when their TpT sales don’t immediately take off.
But selling on TpT is not the same as teaching – it’s a business. When you’re running a business, by its very nature there are a lot of things that require us to work for a much longer period of time before we see the payoff.
You have to create products (and learn how to make those products in such a way that they are not only appealing to customers but also protect your intellectual work). You have to set up your TpT store itself so that it is attractive to your customer base. You have to learn how to write effective product descriptions and create attractive product covers.
At the beginning, the learning curve is high – and the payoff is low.
It can be frustrating. You may feel that you are “working for nothing” or that the work that you are doing isn’t appreciated (ok, that part is TOTALLY like teaching).
Building a business requires a different skill set – and mindset – from teaching.
There are a few courses out there for hopeful TpT sellers that say things like “make money using the skills you already have” but the truth is, there are other skills that you need as an entrepreneur that you never needed as a teacher. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to sell you a course (*cough*KayseMorris*cough*).
Selling on TpT won’t make you money in a hurry. If you have an urgent need for cash – NOW – then starting a TpT store is not the way to do it. Selling on TpT is a real business, not a get rich quick scheme. If you have no interest in starting or growing a business, selling on TpT is definitely not worth it.
Selling on TpT requires some technical skills. You can learn these skills if you don’t already have them, but this will also add to the time it takes to get your TpT Store up and running. If you’re not a person who is comfortable with computers, this might also be enough to turn you off.
You need to have a thick skin to sell on TpT. You will get bad reviews. You will get annoying requests to make custom changes to your products. Less-than-perfect feedback is just part of doing business, and being able to emotionally detach yourself from it is essential.
You need to be comfortable putting in the work for a while before you see results. There are many aspects of business that have delayed results – especially at the beginning. So there is definitely some degree of patience required. And it can definitely take a while to see the results of your work in your bottom line.
However, there are some other ways that you can see “results” even if you’re not seeing your sales jump yet.
Plan your work with the end-goal in mind
Yes, building a business on TpT is definitely a long game and it takes time to see real results. But if you are working and working and working and not seeing ANY results, then this can also be a sign that you are not working on the right things or are not planning your work effectively.
Product creation can take a long time to pay off, so try to balance it with other tasks that can show results quicker. Planning “quick wins” for yourself can be a great way of helping you stay motivated by seeing some indication that your efforts are paying off.
For example, if you do some work on building your traffic, watch your traffic stats for improvement as this is something that should show results in the shorter term.
Here are some activities that can show you results to keep you motivated:
- SEO improvements (blog or TpT store)
- sending an email to your mailing list
- improving your product descriptions or adding previews
- posting an interactive post on social media
Remember there are lots of ways to encourage a response from your audience without requiring them to buy anything. Any back and forth connection with your customers – whether that’s through email, social media or even offering a freebie for download – is easy to track and can help you see results that can be tracked and improved upon.
You can’t measure what you don’t track
If you’re not tracking your stats and efforts, then it’s going to be much easier to feel like your work is not paying off. Becoming really good friends with your data is essential to not only using your time wisely but also seeing results. Tracking your efforts and results is going to help you determine if selling on TpT is worth it for you, because you will be able to see the impact of the changes you make in your stats.
- Use UTM codes obsessively so that you can see what links are being clicked on and when.
- For every task that you work on (other than product creation) ask yourself – how will this build my business and how can I track it’s effectiveness?
A lot of new sellers get pulled into the social media trap. They get over-focused on “building an audience” and spend tons of time posting on social media and watching vanity metrics. But the reality is that your number of followers doesn’t make you any money.
So back to the original question – is selling on TpT worth it?
Yes, building a teacher business can be very rewarding, and financially fulfilling too. You don’t have to be a millionaire like Deanna Jump to make a positive impact in your life. My store makes four figures per month, and this income has allowed me to decrease my teaching time and spend more time with my kiddos. Am I famous? No. But I definitely consider myself successful – and my TpT income has paid off debt, supported family vacations, and allowed us to help others who need it.
But in order for that to happen, you need to shift your mindset from that of an educator to that of an entrepreneur. And that is a shift that is not for everyone.