Is TPT selling still worth it in 2021 if you are just planning to start? It depends on what you are able to create efficiently and what are the other options you could use that time for. Let’s start with the question about time, because that is a bit easier to answer.
What is a proper payout of your time?
Do you have time you want to utilize in the first place?
If you already have a job or several jobs that are filling your time completely, then the answer is no. Getting sleep deprivation and doing some materials with a half of the brain sleeping isn’t going to lead to any notable income. After all, there are tons of quality materials there already.
Can you use that time to something similar but more lucrative?
By similar, I mean other things you could do at your own pace via the Internet. Those are, for example:
- Being a freelance writer
- Becoming a virtual assistant
- Selling print-on-demand products
- Doing graphics for sale
Things listed here are not necessarily more lucrative, they are just some options you could use the same time for.
Pros and cons of these options compared to TPT:
Freelance writing or being a virtual assistant
I group these two together because they have the same problem: Acquiring customers takes time but you won’t get paid for that. So, unless you are able to get some regular customers your income will be much less than it seems to be by looking at just the hourly pay. $30 per hour easily turns to $10/hour if you count all advertising hours in.
Another drawback here compared to TPT is that you won’t receive any passive income afterwards. So, if you end up somewhere to $20/hour with freelance writing, that can be considered equal to a smaller amount from TPT. I would say $5/hour when creating materials would easily be enough, because the same materials will also provide revenue later.
Selling print-on-demand products
Creating print-on-demand products is in many ways similar to selling on TPT. You create a product once and it will bring revenue for some years if it sells. In both cases, you will have your own shop inside some bigger platform and it may take some time to get noticed at all.
Doing graphics for sale
This option has similar elements with TPT and print-on-demand, but you have to create many more individual pictures if you wish to get some real profit. In the graphics library I use many sellers have tens of thousands of items. Many others have less of course, but this is a great demonstration of the scale we are talking about. If you browse TPT, some biggest sellers may have thousand products but many successful sellers have less than a thousand.
Writing a blog
A blog can be the right choice for some people, but it’s more of an all or nothing kind of way to make money online. If a blog has less than 10,000 views per month it’s not realistic to get accepted for ads. Although there are other ways of earning from a blog, those can’t bring in tons of money if the traffic is low. If we believe this blog post, most blogs can’t get any traffic from Google.
So, blogging is good if you really know what you are doing, but it’s definitely easier to get a little something from TPT. After all, there are many buyers on TPT because it’s a very established site. If you manage to create something they are searching for, it’s possible to make a sale even if you are rather unknown yourself.
What skills do you have?
Another crucial thing to consider is whether you have skills you can utilize when creating materials. Those are for example:
- Educational background, expertise in some subject areas or grade levels
- Experience in daily school life (This is not necessarily the same: you can have education but not that much ground experience. Or you can work in school and be aware of teachers’ daily struggles even if you are not a teacher yourself.)
- Ability to generate resources in reasonable time
- Skills to use those programs you want to use for creating
Of course, you don’t have to have all of these, but if you do have most of them it’s a good sign. Education and experience are kind of obvious, but what about the ability to generate resources in reasonable time? That means that you can’t survive the competition in the long run if you use much more time generating resources than anyone else.
Let’s take word searches for example. You probably know, there is a matrix of letters and the students have to find the given list of words from it. Some sellers still create this by hand (and by hand I mean with PowerPoint or other such program), but that is not an efficient way of using your time because there are lots of word search creation programs available that other sellers or potential customers can use.
Do you think you have something new?
Do you have new ideas, access to new technology, or something else most sellers don’t yet have? If yes, that is a good sign. Remember though, that even if an idea feels new, someone may have come up with something similar. Trying to search your planned product from TPT first is a good idea.
How much can you make, then?
First I want to make clear that in my view the important question is, how much can you make per hour. When you start, you have to be extremely skilled and lucky to get more than 1$ per hour. After that, things should improve because the old materials are also producing income while you are creating new ones. “The beginning” can mean a year if you are doing TPT part time, or month or two if you instantly start full time. It may be a different story if you already have a set of sellable materials in your drawer, but most of us don’t have that.
To answer this question, is selling on TPT worth it, I made a decision tree shown above. It is of course my personal view, but the bottom line is this: If you think you can create something valuable for teachers in reasonable time and your product is in the right place in TPT (for example pictures and programs may have better market elsewhere) and you are able to tolerate some uncertainty, then it’s probably worth it.
You may wonder the dollar amounts in the text and are thinking: How much will you earn if you start on Teachers Pay Teachers now? That’s impossible to answer but my point is this: if you manage to get yourself in a situation where you earn several dollars per hour when creating materials actively, then it’s worth it because the money will be pouring in afterwards, too. If you have time you can try it and see how it starts rolling.