The Easy Way Teachers Can Earn Passive Income

Teaching is a noble profession. However, for all of the important work that is done and the countless young minds that will benefit from their knowledge and passion, it doesn't usually pay so nobly.

But teachers don't need to be the educational equivalents of starving artists. Especially now that they can make passive income with something called Teachers Pay Teachers.

What Is Teachers Pay Teachers?

Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) is like Etsy for educators. It's an online marketplace for buying and selling original educational materials like lesson plans, games, activities, assessments, and more. It's a wonderful resource for those looking for quality, proven materials to use with their own students, and an awesome way for teachers (home school educators, or really anyone who has great curriculum development skills) to earn extra income.

How Does Teachers Pay Teachers Work?

Simply create an account, list the educational tools you wish to sell, and earn money when someone purchases one of your items. Creating a Basic Seller account is free and for every item sold, you earn 60% of that item's selling price (TPT takes a 40% cut). Once you're earning some decent money, you might consider upgrading to a Premium Seller account, which comes with a $59.95 annual fee and bumps your profit margin up to 85% of the price of each item sold. TPT uses PayPal as their default payment system and pays out once a month.

Can You Really Earn Passive Income With Teachers Pay Teachers?

Yes, it really is possible to create a passive income stream with TPT. The top seller has earned more than $2 million and there are others who have earned $50,000. Now, that's not the norm of course, but many educators earn enough passive income to nicely supplement or even surpass their annual teaching salary. That possibility is exciting, right?

TPT has more than 1.6 million teachers registered and receives over 90 million visitors per month. However, there are many teachers who never sell one thing because of fear of the unknown, fear of technology, thinking there's no time, and so on.

The hardest part is getting started because like most things worth doing, it takes some time and effort to make it work. The good news is if you've been teaching for a while, you probably have stacks and folders full of lesson plans, curricula, worksheets, games, etc., which means you're already more than half way there. Below are a few tips to help you get started:

  • If you find it hard to do on your own, seek out a group of teachers who would also like to make some extra money and set up an accountability group. Gather all of the educational resources together and help each other sort, categorize, and select the best of the best to start selling. Establish a timeline and schedule deadlines to meet certain goals. The accountability and mutual support can help you break down what might otherwise seem overwhelming into smaller, doable steps.
  • Don't know what to sell or what sells best? TPT to the rescue. Their site offers a lot of information to help you get started.
  • Feel you're lacking technical know-how? The truth is, it doesn't take any special skill or technical know-how to format your products and upload them. There are helpful tutorials available if there is something new to learn. If you're still uncomfortable, find someone to help you get your items ready and list them. Heck, if you have teenagers, they'll probably be able to do it in a flash.
  • Feeling insecure? Don't. Spend some time on the website reviewing popular items and reading the stories of other teachers. You're sure to have that "I can do that" moment.
  • Be active in the TPT community. Utilize the resources at hand. Subscribe to their newsletter, read their blog, and follow their Facebook page. The more familiar you are with what works best, the more you improve your chances of creating a best seller which could significantly boost your income.

Like all good passive income opportunities, being successful on TPT takes work up front to reap the rewards. But the beauty here is that it is specifically geared towards teachers, which means you don't have to learn a new skill because you're already an expert. Why not try it now and earn your "A?"

Have you used TPT to earn extra income? What was it like?

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Guest's picture

As a freelancer, I'd like something that doesn't require all the upfront work. Something that I can dive into immediately, with less risk. Cos I can teach, and I need the money, but I really don't have the resources to deliver a

But for an actually employed teacher, TPT sounds like a brilliant proposition.

Kim Owens's picture

Hi Jay, I know what you mean. It is less of a risk if you already have the materials at hand because if a particular lesson doesn't sell you haven't spent time and effort creating something from scratch...time that could have been spent elsewhere. It's something to ponder though. Thanks for commenting!

Guest's picture
Cherryl Chow

What a brilliant idea! I've never heard about this. I'm not teaching now, so it would take me way too much time to create anything, but I certainly could've used a resource like this back then. I was always creating new materials (I no longer have them, alas), and I would also have liked to purchase materials from fellow teachers.

Thanks for sharing this, Kim! Very easy to understand.

Kim Owens's picture

Thanks, Cheryl for commenting! I too think it's a wonderful concept, but it's easier if you already have materials available to start.

Guest's picture

Teachers are always creating stuff for free to use with their lesson plans, so, this is a good idea to start charging for it. I would probably be teaching if this was available back in the days.
Do you think teachers know about this option?

Kim Owens's picture

Thanks for commenting. All of the teachers I know were aware of it, but that's not a good sample size to judge. There definitely are a lot who do given how many use the program and there's still room for growth.

Guest's picture

Love this!! Sending to my teacher friends now :-)

Kim Owens's picture

Ashley, thanks for sharing!

Guest's picture

This is a great idea! Teachers barely have enough time to get their grading and planning done, so this is a great way of increasing their income without taking additional (precious) time.

Guest's picture

I'm not a teacher, but I think this is brilliant. A great resource Kim.

Guest's picture
Blaine Wilkerson

Wow Kim - TPT sounds like an awesome platform to make some extra money. But I had never heard of it!
Honestly, 40% is a pretty steep fee to pay. Looks like the $60 fee in exchange for 85% is the way to go.
I wonder how many teachers struggle on TPT because they don't know how to sell and/or format their product pages? Hmmmm.
Thanks for writing about this. Teachers need all the help they can get!

Guest's picture
Helen McCarthy

Thanks for the tip Kim. Makes me want to be a teacher. ;-) Actually, do you have to be a qualified teacher to participate? Regards, Helen

Guest's picture

At last! A way to get my best worksheets out there... and to actually make some money in the process? Icing on the cake. Thanks for this article; I will definitely follow up.

Guest's picture
Angela Anderson

Great info. I'll share this with my teacher friends for sure. :)

Guest's picture

What a great idea for teachers to use some of that hard work they have to do in an easy way to make some extra money. It's also a great use of resources - so many brilliant teaching resources are created and never seen by anyone else! I will share with my teacher friends now.