Making Money in Your Free Time: Where Do I Start?
Last time we talked about how you can absolutely make money by selling resources on TeachersPayTeachers. Your homework for last week was to go to the TeachersPayTeachers website and set up a store. I told you not to worry about putting anything in your store yet, because we are going to talk about that today.
If you haven't opened your store yet, you will want to do that before you move on in the process. Click here to set up your store and get started. Remember, set up a free account for now. You won't make as much off of your stuff with a free account, but you also won't have any out of pocket expenses to start up. Once you make enough income to pay for a subscription, go ahead and upgrade your account. At that point your buyers have paid for your subscription for you.
You may think I am a little crazy for having you set up a TeachersPayTeachers Store when you don't have any products to sell yet.
You Have a Product:
That's the catch. You DO have products to sell, or at least ideas. I know this, because if you didn't have ideas and/or products you wouldn't be spending the time reading this post. :) If you are like most teachers I know you have created something at some point in your career that is just yours.
Plagiarism & Copyright Infringement, Don't Do It:
Before we continue, let's talk about some legal things. We all remember in school that we can't plagiarize or infringe on a copyright in any form. That goes for TpT as well. If they catch you stealing someone elses work they will shut your store down. Think before you upload something. This goes for everything from the content of your resources to clipart you use. Be careful of likenesses as well. A few years ago the Dr. Seuss company cracked down hard on TpT sellers selling things that used their copyrighted names (such as Cat in the Hat) as well as graphic likenesses that closely resembled their work. Elf on the Shelf also cracks down hard on people for using their likeness and title. Likeness can include not only clipart but also titles of things. If you are using the same title (Such as "Daily 5") that is a copyrighted title. You don't want to mess with these big companies, but don't plagiarize other teacher authors either. It really sucks to find your work posted somewhere else by someone taking credit for it. Anyone can report you to TpT for copyright infringement. You will see people break copyright laws all the time on TpT. You will get annoyed that they are getting away with it and you aren't. It is better to be honest in all things. You have to own the rights to sell anything that you didn't create 100% from scratch. Don't get overwhelmed by this. Just be honest in all that you do and you will be fine.
Still feeling uncomfortable with your knowledge of Copyright and Trademarks? Take this quick quiz to see how much you already know and to find out what you need to brush up on.
Now that we have that out of the way lets move on to the fun part!!!
Find A Need:
Let's take a look at your products and decide what you are going to use as your first product on TpT. To be successful on TpT you want to sell products that can be used by a wide variety of people and that look professional. Sometimes the quick item you made for your classroom could use a little freshening up before selling. Do some research on TpT. Look for similar products. If you can't find anything similar that is probably a good thing. I searched for months back in 2012 for a quality newsletter template that I could edit the text on digitally (not print and write). I never found one I liked. So I made my own. Here is my first Newsletter. It matched my classroom theme for the year and was something I was making anyway. Find a need and fill it. This newsletter cost me about $3.50 for clipart and an hour or so of my time. I sell if for $1.50 per download. It is a wonderfully inexpensive option for anyone else looking for a newsletter template like I was. I would have been ecstatic to have found something so reasonably priced, adorable and editable in 2012 when I was looking. As of today, this one newsletter has been downloaded 218 times and made me $275.54 (some were sold during sales). $275 for a one hour project and a $3.50 investment is a pretty good turn around. (Click the image to download your own copy... Don't be afraid of a shameless plug occasionally).
What do you have that you couldn't find anywhere else and decided to make yourself? Sell that!
If you are doing research on TpT and you see a lot of products similar to what you were wanting to sell, that is okay too. That tells you that there is a market for what you are wanting to sell. The trick is to make your product just a little better than their products is (Remember not to plagiarize their product). Maybe that means making your product a little cuter. Maybe that means making the usability better. Maybe that means adding an additional feature that their products don't have. There were other newsletter templates on TpT back in the day, but the ones there were on their were boring!!!! And none of them had editable text boxes. So, I created my own... and sold it to 218 other teachers that wanted the same thing I did.
What product will you sell? Find it and then come back.
Quality Over Quantity:
If you are like me, you aren't very patient. You want to have a full store today and a paycheck coming in on Friday. I get it. I do. But I promise you that you will make a TON more in the long run if your products are high quality! If someone buys something from you and it is horrible, they will never come back. If they buy something from you and it is top of the line they will not only come back, but they will follow your store and probably tell their friends about your store as well.
Make sure everything you post is high quality. If you don't, you won't be successful. Teachers typically don't have a lot of money to throw around and will not give you a second chance.
Make sure that everything is visually appealing. Ask friends and other teachers to look at it and give you constructive criticism. Then, instead of getting defensive, go back and make the needed changes. Have them spell check for you. This is one of my personal biggest battles. I have always been horrible at spelling. I have to have people read over my products before I publish them to make sure I didn't make any errors. Teachers will find your errors. Most will call you out on them. Some teachers are not nice in their feedback. If someone finds a problem, fix it immediately. Once the error is fixed: Reply to their feedback, tell them the error has now been fixed and thank them for the heads up (even if their were mean). We are all human. We all make mistakes. If you are honest, grateful and fix the problem immediately they will come back. I'm sure this post has typos in it. I am sure I will get an email soon. That's okay. I appreciate the help in making my products perfect. :)
Transitioning Your Resource Into a Sellable Product
As I mentioned earlier you may want to make some tweaks to your product to make it more universal for anyone. My newsletter says "A Note from Mrs. Schaper" at the bottom. I would never sell a product that couldn't be used by someone else, so I would either tweak it to say "A Note From the Teacher" or take that part out and make it an editable text box for whoever downloaded it. What needs to be tweaked on your product to make it useable for anyone? Make those changes and come back.
I once saw a lady trying to sell something on TpT that had her school logo on it. Don't be that lady. Take a minute and look at your product from the eyes of the buyer. Would you buy this product?
Pricing Your Products:
This is tricky. Part of you will want to sell it for more than it is worth because you just invested so much time into your product. Part of you will want to low ball the price to beat out the competition. Here are my thoughts and my advice about pricing.
First, do some research on TpT. What are similar items selling for? Do a quick search and scroll through the prices. You will see examples of both types of people... the people that think much to highly of their product and the people that are completely undervaluing their product. Pick a price that seems to be about average. You can even click on the products and see how many people have downloaded the product.
Now think... "Would I pay this price for this product?" If the answer is yes then you have a good starting price.
TpT lets you adjust prices. If you get a few months down the road and you decide that you are charging to much, try lowering your price or running a sale to see if it will sell at a lower price better.
A word of caution:
Think about the last time you saw something at an unbelievably low price. Did you think something along the lines of, "What's wrong with it?" If you think that, so will your customers. Don't low ball your product or it will completely undervalue it. That doesn't mean you can't run sales... just don't set your base price to low. You may think you are doing a charity by offering it at such a low price, but people that don't know you will just think that your item is not worth the higher price.
Do your price research and come back tomorrow to learn how to upload a product to your new TpT store.
Your homework for tonight:
Identify Another Resource That You Created (and own all rights to) To Add To Your New TpT Store:
1. Figure out which product you would like to post tomorrow.
2. Do some price research on TpT and come up with a price you would like to charge for your product.
3. Come back tomorrow for step by step instructions on how to upload a product, including best practices.