One of the largest online marketplace for teachers is Teachers Pay Teachers. If you haven’t heard of this estore, you are either new to teaching or long since retired. This vibrant educator community hosts teacher-authors who wish to sell their original lessons and ideas to other teachers, district administrators, homeschoolers, and unschoolers. Since its start in 2006 by a former teacher, it’s grown to over 3.4 million teachers buying or selling over 2.7 million education-oriented Pre-K through High School lesson plans, curricula, videos, classroom activities, assessments, books, bulletin board ideas, classroom decorations, interactive notebooks, task cards, Common Core resources, and more. Teacher-authors have earned more than $330 million since TpT opened its doors with about a dozen making over $1 million dollars and nearly 300 earning more than $100,000. There’s no set-up charge, no cost to join, and no annual fee unless you choose to become what’s called a Premium seller.
TpT 2017 Conference Observations
Every year, TpT holds a conference to share ideas with teacher-authors on how to build their stores, develop their platform, and make money off of their passion. It’s more like an Amway convention than an IBM shareholder meeting. Or, if you’re a football fan, think Pete Carroll’s amazing college football success attributed in no small part to his high-energy positive way of motivating players, an approach that earned him the nickname “the poodle” from arch-rival Notre Dame.
This year, I trundled my way up to Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland and the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks, ready to be wowed by the expertise of fellow teachers and eager to make a whole lot of new connections. I wasn’t disappointed. From start to finish, this event was a rowdy affair filled with energy and enthusiasm, networking and new friends. The first day, as we rode up the elevator to the Welcome event, the TPT folks cheered and high fived all of us teacher-authors. Buzzwords like “shout out”, “ecosystem”, “safe space”, “self-publishing”, “data analysis” were part of every conversation. A favorite phrase was “That’s OK”. Rarely was Common Core mentioned and never did politics come up (thank goodness!). Teachers raved about their “unicorn husbands”, unbelievable spouses who did the housework, childcare, and cooking so their entrepreneurial wives (90% of the teachers I saw in attendance were female) could work on their TpT store.
Each of the seminars I attended (a handful of roughly five dozen offered) was filled with pithy ideas, how-tos, and problem-solving. Across the board, the presenters were friendly, humorous (I thought some could do stand-up comedy as a
second third job), and knowledgeable. They were mostly working teachers sharing marketing and sales advice that succeeded for them.
Seminars I attended included:
- using social media to spread the word
- building an email list
- developing a brand
- building a platform
- taping professional videos
- tracking sales
My To Do List
By the end of the three-day conference, I felt equal parts ready to take on the world and overwhelmed at what I had to do to make that happen. Here’s a partial list of the To Do items I hope to get done before next year’s conference:
- Set up an Instagram account to share images of a more personal nature but still connected to my products.
- Add a weekly image post to Instagram, FB, Twitter that might be posters, tech tips, or projects.
- Clean up Pinterest pins so they are visual and easy to read.
- Create and use an email list.
- Post to Facebook with meaningful information (like education posters or memes) to gain an audience.
- Use the logo and colors from my TpT store across all my social media.
- About ten more items that barely make sense to me at the moment. I’ll have to unravel them before posting about them.
Overall, I have enough to keep me busy until next year’s conference.
Teachers Pay Teachers is a disruptive force whose time has come. As educators reject textbooks that are often years out of date, TpT provides quality alternatives from skilled professionals that that are up to date, aligned with many national and state standards, differentiate for student needs, are scalable to class particulars and dynamic in their material and presentation. And customers include more than teachers provisioning their classrooms. About 15% of buyers are administrative personnel buying for an entire grade-level, armed with a purchase order.
A few screenshots to share:
Whoever planned this conference: Get them a cape!
— first published on TeachHUB
Next: My notes from the sessions.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 20 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thriller series, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.