The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started on Teachers Pay Teachers

Time and Money

My ninety-eight-year-old grandfather’s best piece of advice is, “In your life have the correct balance between your TIME and your MONEY.”  If you’re anything like me, you’re probably deficient in both areas. You don’t have to settle for these circumstances.

Living this kind of life can make you worried and stressed out.  Last year I told myself that enough was enough, and I made the choice to take control of my TIME and my MONEY.

I discovered a platform that allows educators to live out my grandfather’s mantra.  I’m now making a substantial income, and my hard work has allowed me a lot more freedom with my time. Teachers Pay Teachers is the first and largest open marketplace for educators to buy, sell, and share their original resources.  They were founded in 2006 and have exploded to over 3 million users this year.

I started selling my products on Teachers Pay Teachers towards the end of 2013, and I’m already seeing 4-figure monthly paychecks.  Yes, you read that correctly.  My wife and I went from a household that once struggled on two teachers’  incomes, to one with a much greater sense of financial freedom.

7 things I love about being a teachers pay teachers seller

7 Reasons That I Love Being a Teachers pay Teachers Seller

  1. My effort is rewarded monetarily –  One of the main reasons that I love Teachers pay Teachers is that my effort is rewarded by customers purchasing my products.  If I work hard and create a fantastic TpT products, that work will be rewarded with steady and consistent sales.  I love the classroom as much as any teacher out there;  however, the reality is that I’m not going to get paid any more than the person next door no matter how much effort I put into my class.  Fortunately money is not a driving motivator in my teaching, and I strive to give my best every single day.  TpT allows me to make supplemental income from my efforts.
  2. My students benefit – My students are the beneficiaries of all the hard work that goes into producing an amazing product. Prior to becoming an active seller on TpT, I provided my students with engaging activities; however,  afterwards  my classroom lessons improved tremendously.  I always get a kick out of a student that sees my copyright on their work and exclaims, “You MADE this?!”
  3. I get to teach students across the country – When customers purchase my products a little piece of me gets to go with it into their classroom.  I have several products that include videos where I am quite literally teaching someone else’s class.  Teachers are very appreciative of a great lesson.
  4. Relationships and collaboration – Since joining teachers pay teachers, I have forged many great relationships with like-minded individuals who I never would have otherwise met.  Although each of us has our own individual store on TpT, the spirit of collaboration outweighs competition in every way imaginable.
  5. It’s just so darn easy – TpT has made it very easy to upload and sell your products in their marketplace.  I have sold items online before and had to deal with all of the headaches that go with merchant accounts, fraudulent transactions, etc.  TpT handles all of that on their servers and takes a very nominal commission for doing so.  The current commission rate is 15% if you are a premium seller which means that you keep .85 of every $1 that is spent on your products.   Each month a check is sent to you either by mail or by PayPal.  It really doesn’t get any easier.

Winners Have Systems, Losers Have Goals

Becoming a seller on Teachers pay Teachers has been one of the most rewarding things that I have done in my teaching career.  I have learned that if I work hard and smart, success will follow in the form of sales.

I would love to tell you that you can just upload your current lesson plans and the sales will start rolling in, but that isn’t likely going to be the case.  There is definitely a strategy that needs to be followed, and many sellers either don’t have a plan in place or simply haven’t figured out the system to success yet. One of my favorite quotes when it comes to success is,

“Winners have systems, losers have goals.”

It’s great to have a set of goals, but in order to reach your goals you need to have a proven system in place.  I think of goals as very broad outcomes that you would like to achieve; whereas, systems are a fine-tuned blueprint on how to obtain your goals.  Without a system you have nothing.

Winners have systems.Losers have goals
When I first started on Teachers pay Teachers, I was having minimal success.  I only had about 3 products uploaded at the time and looking back they were just a mess.  The products themselves weren’t that bad, but I was missing out on many opportunities that only the successful sellers knew about. I quickly realized that there had to be something that I was missing, and I spent countless hours consuming as much information on how to be successful.  I was developing my system.

Once I had my methods in place, I began to see significant increases in my sales.  I now have enough data and experience with my system to know that I can reproduce my successes by scaling  up my business.  Having a system in place is not a replacement for hard work, but it allows me to calculate success much easier. Along my journey I created a list of 25 things that I had wish that I known when I first started on teachers pay teachers.  I want to share 7 of those with you now.

7 Things I wish that I had known as a new TPT seller

7 Things That I Wish I Had Known as a New Teachers Pay Teachers Seller

  1. Product linking – If it’s good enough for Amazon to do then it’s good enough for me.  Your item descriptions for each product should link to other related products or bundles that may be of interest to customers.  TpT does put related products in the sidebar, but this technique is far more effective because you can control exactly what you want each customer to see in the description.  I created a hyperlink generator to make this very easy for you to do.  Don’t stop with the item description.  Link your products from within your products also.  If someone has already showed that they trust you by purchasing your product, then they are far more likely to buy related products from you.
  2. Connect and collaborate with others – It took me a few weeks to even find the Teachers pay Teachers forums, but once I did “it was on.”  There are so many helpful sellers in the forums.  This is a place where you can ask questions about anything and share your own experiences.  I will also suggest that you give back to the forums.  If you learn something new, this is a great place to share that information.  The entire forum is better if everyone is sharing and learning from each other.
  3. Become a premium seller immediately – I wrote a list of 5 reasons why you should become a premium seller in an earlier blog post.  The single greatest reason is that you get to keep more money in your pocket.  Once you become a premium seller you are making the statement to yourself that you’re serious about Teachers pay Teachers and the actions that follow will support that.  Honestly, I think this should be the first thing that you do after creating your account.
  4. TpT is a great resource for clip art and fonts – One of the things that can make your products stand out from the rest is to use professional looking clip art and fonts.  There are a ton of TpT sellers who specialize in selling themed clip art that can be used for commercial purposes.  Do yourself a favor and invest in some of these products.  They will add value to your own products and help other sellers out at the same time.
  5. Don’t undervalue your work – One of the costliest mistakes I made when starting out was that I undervalued my work and set my prices too low.  Many new sellers are just worried about selling something and don’t consider that they may be losing money in the long run by pricing themselves too low.  Lower prices do not equal more sales.  I recently adjusted the price on one of my products, using this method, from $5 to $7 and saw zero slowdown in sales.  I was giving away 40% in profit!  You’ve worked hard on those products.  Don’t undervalue your work.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others – I’m a competitor by nature and one of the things I found myself doing early on was comparing myself to others.  There are many talented TpT sellers who are having lots of success of TpT.  I feel like it’s a huge mistake to compare yourself to them.  As a new seller you cannot expect to match them in terms of sales and reach.  That will come with time.  Focus on the system, and growth will come with time.
  7. Hard work now leads to passive income later –  The first time that I made a sale on Teachers pay Teachers I came running downstairs to tell my wife that I had made $2.55.  I was so excited.  She then reminded me that I had worked for 10 hours+ to make that money and by her calculation that was .25/hour.  I believe that many sellers begin working on their first product and never finish it because they start doing the calculations in their head and decide the work they put into TpT isn’t worth it.  This is huge mistake.  My wife was correct about my measly hourly wage, but I knew something that she didn’t.  I knew the power of passive income.  I would have worked 20 hours for that same $3 because from here on out every bit of income from that product will increase my bottom line.  That product has now earned me over $500 for that same 10 hours of work that I had originally put into it.  My hourly rate is now $50/hr and we’re only 6 months removed from that first sale.  I expect that product to continue to sell well for many years to come.  Trust in the fact that your hard work now will reap benefits later.

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19 Responses

  1. Sarah May 14, 2014 / 3:17 am

    Oh my goodness, Chris!! I’ve been waiting for the ebook! Checking my email daily!! I must admit after I found TpT School I went to your TpT store and started analyzing your product descriptions and started tweaking mine. I’m glad this is included in the ebook. Can’t wait to read it in entirety!

    What are your thoughts on handling negative feedback? I’ve gotten a few that have knocked my rating down. A couple that I felt were unfair (because the description clearly addressed what the buyer was complaining about) and a couple that I could see the buyer’s point and I was able to use as constructive feedback and a starting point for revisions. How much weight should we put on feedback? How can I show customers that I hear what they are saying and that I’ve taken their advice? …it’s hard to not feel as though it is a personal attack – even though I know it isn’t.

    Sarah Burk

    • Chris Kesler May 14, 2014 / 5:40 pm

      Sarah, Thanks for the thoughtful email. I actually have a post that I have already written about handling negative feedback that is scheduled to be published next week. Definitely look for it. However, I would suggest addressing all negative feedback with a response if their complaint is warranted and you made a correction. People will see that the issue is resolved and it should no longer be an objection to them buying the product.

    • Robb February 9, 2016 / 3:32 am

      You should check out It’s brand new and sellers have no start-up fees, same commission as premium sellers on TPT for free, and immediately get paid after sells.

  2. CaseyJane May 14, 2014 / 10:36 am

    SO true about the $0.25/hour! I remember celebrating in exactly the same way! I think the most striking advice is about the passive income. It is very obvious that the time and money advice your grandpa gave is wise and well placed. I am looking forward to the book and am incredibly thankful you are offering it electronically and FREE! Your generosity is appreciated!
    CaseyJane Cooper

  3. Chris Kesler May 14, 2014 / 5:42 pm

    Thanks for the feedback CaseyJane. It definitely helps keep me motivated.

    • CaseyJane May 17, 2014 / 4:18 pm

      After reading the tips, I am glad I invested the time. I started TPT selling/blogging at about the same time as you and haven’t been able to find the same level of success. I had been doing many of the things you suggested (pintrest, blogging, etc), but there were a few tips that I think may be pivotal next steps! I especially appreciate the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Uppercut” idea~ not always bogging down followers with a hard sale. Again, thank you for the hot tips!

  4. Room 213 May 16, 2014 / 9:28 am

    Great post, Chris. Thanks!

  5. The Skating Teacher May 24, 2014 / 7:17 pm

    Thank you so much for your book. I completely agree with the passive income. I was doing many, but not all of the items you suggest when I was blessed with a complicated pregnancy. Being sick much of the time has not left me much, if any, time to work on my store on a regular basis. However, with the little time I have spent, I have seen at least a 250% increase over last year’s sales. I have had to postpone many of my goals, but the income continues until I can dedicate regular time to working on my store again. I agree with needing to start a blog, but it hasn’t happened yet. That will be my next big goal. Until then, I am working on revamping my descriptions according to your suggestions. Your success is inspiring.

  6. Lucy February 16, 2015 / 1:14 pm

    I am having a hard time finding the TPT forum. Ive even emailed them and they sent me a link that doesn’t work! Can you tell me how you found the link? I want to get started on TPT and need to do so research first. Your book has been a great resource! thanks!

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  8. corrie weaver March 1, 2015 / 9:37 pm

    Chris, thank you so much for the time you put into helping others on TPT. Also a big thank you for the book. I have downloaded it and skimmed the topics but have not actually had a chance to read it. Looking forward to it!
    My question: I have been a TPT premium seller for 1 1/2 years but have not had a lot of time to really put into it. Now I have decided it is time to really dedicate the time to get my store really rolling. So, I started doing some research and now I am so overwhelmed I am paralyzed and don’t know where to start. I know that starting a blog would be helpful for my store but don’t think I am ready for that yet (time wise). Help! Do I start revamping the products I already have or start working on new things to get more product in my store?! So sorry for the lengthy comment. I hope someone out there is in the same boat and will benefit from reading your response also. Thanks a ton!

  9. Leah Cleary March 7, 2015 / 12:04 am

    Thanks, Chris! I found this very helpful. I will have been on TPT for eight months soon, and wish I would have found this sooner. My biggest focus as of late has been “un-bundling.” I appreciate the confirmation that this is the right move. I also appreciate the many ideas that your blog and ebook so generously offer. Wish I could come to Vegas this year and attend your session!

  10. Tara April 3, 2015 / 2:59 am

    Thanks for your advice! I am just starting out on TpT and I am so glad I stumbled upon TpT school. Getting started as a seller has been exciting, but overwhelming. I appreciate your tips on utilizing Pinterest. I had been going about it all wrong. Thanks for sharing your expertise and I look forward to reading more from you!

  11. Barb July 21, 2015 / 4:22 pm

    Great info in your book. I really needed this. Thank you!

  12. Third Line Designs November 3, 2015 / 3:55 am

    Great advice from an TpT selling expert.

    I wrote down all 7 tips on my notebook as I read this whole article.

    The difference between working hard at some dead-end job (e.g. dishwasher or cashier) and working hard on a website like TpT is that you get more money once you complete and sell your items on TpT.

    I worked so hard at my previous jobs and I ended being broke as a result. Therefore, I do not want to repeat this. I would rather spend all day or week creating and selling products on TpT than spending long hours at some job that really gets me nowhere.

  13. Tom August 12, 2016 / 9:24 pm

    Great…great…great article! Thanks for the tips, and more importantly, thanks for the encouragement throughout!

  14. Shauna Wells August 13, 2016 / 12:41 am

    Hi Chris,

    I only have about 5 things on TPT because it seems a long process to post things… I sold 1 page and received .30. PayPal took .40 and TPT took .30 I believe. So how do you get the “keep .85 per sale” figure?

  15. Christine Sidilau August 14, 2016 / 3:45 pm

    How to you handle copyright issues? I have seen so many things on TPT that are just copies of professional resources already out there (just with cuter fonts and pictures)?

  16. Marie Mack October 6, 2016 / 8:08 am

    This is really great information, but I got a 404 error for all the links you mentioned in your post. I’ll do what I can to find the info on TpTs.


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