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Guest post from Sarah

About one year ago, my husband and I began experimenting with ways to supplement our income. As a long-time follower, I felt that I had a pretty good handle on a number of legitimate money-making ideas and began trying them, with varying degrees of success.

However, since I work full-time as a middle school teacher and am a mother to three children under the age of six, time is at a premium. I really wanted a more passive stream of income that would allow me to spend my evening and weekend hours how I wanted to — with my family.

That’s when I discovered Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT), a website that allows teachers to sell lesson plans, worksheets, and more. Teachers earn 60% of the profit off each item they sell. If they choose to upgrade from a Basic Seller account (by paying $59.95 a year), they can earn greater profit. Teachers are paid each month through a PayPal account.

Aha! I already had boxes and computer files full of worksheets, quizzes, lesson plans, and novel units that I had created over my years of teaching. Why not turn them into passive income?

teachers pay teachers

I did… and have learned a few things along the way:

1. Strive For Quality Not Quantity

This may seem obvious, but it is actually the most important tip. Make sure that your products are high quality, interesting, user-friendly, and kid-tested. Check for spelling and grammar errors. No one will want to buy a worksheet with typos on it!

2. Create Unique Content

Try to find a niche area. Do a quick search of the TPT site and see how many items come up that are similar to yours. If the market is already flooded with “Frozen” themed addition practice, this may not be a good money-maker.

I’ve personally had success with novel units. For example, I had previously created a novel packet for the book, “A Boy At War”. A search showed that there were only two other unit packets for the novel, so I tweaked mine and posted it. It has been one of my biggest sellers.

3. Choose The Right Price

Pricing can be tricky. You want to demonstrate confidence in the value of your product, but you don’t want to scare customers away. First, search for similar products to see how they are priced.

Next, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. How much would you be willing to spend on your product?

Finally, adjust. If something isn’t selling, have a sale to see if customers will buy it at a reduced price.

4. Utilize Pinterest

Whenever you post a new product, there is a sidebar that asks if you would like to Pin it. Always say yes! This allows your product to enter a new market and attract more customers.

There are also Collaborative Pinterest Threads on TPT. You pin another seller’s items to your board, and they will do the same for you.

I have found that, with a little up-front work, Teachers Pay Teachers is a great way to utilize my talents and gain a passive source of income.

Sarah Wright teaches middle school on purpose and loves it! She is wife to Dan and mom to three children under the age of six. In her spare time she loves to read — setting a reading goal of 100 books this year. She encourages her students to set their own “ridiculously big” goals and chase after them.

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  • mrl says:

    This is a great site, and not just for teachers. I bought a Pet Smart (the store) scavenger hunt for my American Heritage Girls to use while earning out Pet Care badge, It was a huge hit. A great deal for $2.

  • Leah says:

    So interesting! But I would add a caveat. If you teach, make sure that your lesson plans are yours to sell before you post them. The contracts for both schools that I’ve taught at specify that any lesson plans I produce are owned by the school and can’t be taken when I leave the school, sold to someone else, etc. I have a feeling it’s probably more common among small private schools, but it always a good idea to check!

    • Heather says:

      The public school system that I worked for had the same policy. Everything you did while hired by them was theirs.

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve been trying to find time to do this. A friend of mine currently does it and it supplements her teaching income rather nicely. I’m just wondering how “techy” do I have to be? All the worksheets/packets have cute little covers on the website. Do I have to design that? If so, how would I start?

    P.S. I also noticed that if you refer a friend through your referral link, you will earn 5% of their earnings for the first two years they sell on the site. Not a bad referral! And it comes out of TPT and not out of your friends’ earnings.

    • Sarah W says:

      Hi! I’m glad you’re thinking about TPT. You’re right that many of the seller’s products have cute covers or fonts. You would need to design your own; however, your products do not have to involve such extensive graphics. I have simply used different features on Microsoft Word for many of my products and have found that they work well. I do try to have a cover page with an attention-grabbing image, perhaps some color (from either fonts or page color), and a large title. These help give the product the eye appeal necessary to stand out against competitors. Hope that helps! Sarah

  • Sophie says:

    So I’m a stay at home mom with a degree in English and a minor in elementary ed. Can I still make units on books etc? I am currently not teaching.

    • Lisa says:

      I use the website as a seller and have had success. No, you don’t have to currently be teaching. As long as your items are not copyrighted in any way they can be uploaded. 🙂

  • I, too, am a teacher that is currently not working outside the home. Can you point us to any tutorials or blogs that detail the design process behind making items to sell. Everything I have bought is well-designed, cute graphics, borders, etc. and I have no clue how to do those things. Thanks for this post!

  • Bev says:

    Do you have to be a teacher to submit content? I have homeschooled for eighteen years but have no degree.

    • Melissa says:

      As long as your products aren’t copyrighted you can create and sell on TpT.

      There is a growing group of homeschool moms buying and selling on TpT. Go for it!!!

      Melissa from

  • Amie says:

    I am a teacher who has purchased items from TPT. I love it! I am actually able to buy whatever I want from TPT and include it on my monthly expense form… so keep making great stuff. If it’s something I can use, I’ll support you. 🙂

  • Abby says:

    I love TpT! I, too, love that I earn a passive income. It doesn’t take much time at all to list products, and I love getting emails notifying me about a sale.

    The income I earn from TpT isn’t large, but it’s one of the reasons I was able to pay cash for the expenses related to starting my blog.

  • Heather says:

    This is a great way to make money as a teacher. I started a few years ago and it took a little time to get going, but it is totally self-sustaining! I recently took a longer leave after having my first daughter. The money from teacherspayteachers has helped pay some of our bills! My biggest suggestion in addition to these is to use PowerPoint. Unless you’ve already created the file in word, PowerPoint is SO much easier to manipulate things, create nice looking covers, add pages, etcetera. I change the slides from landscape to portrait and it works great. You can check out my things here:


  • I’ve been meaning to do this for some time! Thanks for the reminder that teachers can use their skill set to make passive income like this. I’m a big fan of teachers pay teachers because there is a lot of good, quality work out there. It’s saved me so much time – and I get to support fellow teachers!

  • Melissa says:

    I buy and sell on TpT all the time!!!!

    I’ve been able to go down to part time and create resources, preschool curriculum and custom products for other teachers part time (using TpT). It’s been an amazing ride!

    The best part was that I was already doing most of the work for my own classroom. It hasn’t been that much extra work for me. I now make almost as much on TpT as I do teaching. TpT has been a huge blessing!!!!

    Melissa from

    Check my stuff out at:

  • Great advice, MSM.

    I enjoy Pinterest more than I did a few months ago.

    I do like creating new Pinterest boards and pinning the right images to them.

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