Teachers looking for an opportunity to showcase fantastic learning resources. Curators looking to develop the perfect, curriculum-aligned collection. Professionals who just want a quality piece of content on the go. All of these groups can benefit from Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT), one of today’s most popular marketplaces for digital educational content.
Paul Edelmand founded TpT in 2006. A New York City Public School teacher at the time, Paul’s goal was to create a place for educators to collaborate on quality educational resources. According to TpT’s own website, more than 7 million active users—85% of them U.S. “Pre-K-to-12” teachers—and an estimated near one million sellers, access a variety of formats. These formats include interactive, curriculum and standards-aligned, and culturally sensitive content. Recently a new offering, Easel, allows teachers to deliver the marketplace content directly to their students through a dedicated, LMS-like platform. TpT states that it complies with applicable requirements from student and user privacy regulations including COPPA and FERPA.
In March 2, 2023, IXL Learning, owner of learning brands including Rosetta Stone, Education.com and Vocabulary.com, announced the acquisition of TpT for an undisclosed amount. CEO Joe Holland, who would perform various senior leadership positions at the company since 2014, announced to be stepping down.
So, how does TpT work, and how can you make it work for you? We’re counting on the information, consideration and proven practices in this article to inspire you and give you a clear path of success with TpT. Read on!
Get started in Teachers Pay Teachers by exploring the massive directory of content and bundles. Use categories, filters and ratings to find the best content for your needs
Use categories, filters and ratings to find the best content for your needs. On the homepage, the “Browse Catalog” option launches a comprehensive menu of categories, including grade, subject, price and format. Click on your must-have content attribute to launch the catalog.
Surprisingly, there’s no way to simply access a list of top-rated content. However, the catalog will likely appear sorted by rating. From the catalog you can apply a mix of filters, sorting criteria and views, as well as the search bar.
eLearn Pro Tip: Looking for content or inspiration themed to an upcoming holiday, or a movie that just premiered—i.e. “Wakanda Curriculum”—in a pinch? Click on the search bar for a list of trending search topics.
TpT is an online marketplace, but you will find a wealth of highly-rated content completely free
Teachers are known for having big hearts, right? For many, TpT is an opportunity to share lessons, activities, plans, worksheets, and even complete courses free of charge. Creators may have needed to produce these materials for their own lessons, or thought it would be good to just make and share without expecting monetary compensation in return. Others, more strategically, offer free previews of their portfolio as a sneak peek to their complete offering. Experienced TpT sellers have put significant time into their “Stores” or profile pages, which users can “follow,” provide ratings, leave reviews, or ask a question. Content often includes the creator’s branding, website, or watermark.
All content, free and paid for, has its own download page, which includes further details, pics, ratings and reviews. Downloading the content or adding it to a collection or “wishlist” requires an account.
eLearn Pro Tip: Check out free and fully open-source content in our Virtual Learning Online Activities Guide
Signing up for a TpT account is free. You can choose a buyer or seller membership, or both
When you sign-up, you can choose a buyer or seller membership, or bot. Signing up only as a buyer is free. All content you check out, paid or free, will appear in your personal purchases section. You can create collections of the content you’ve acquired in this same section. You can share these collections, or make them publicly available. Unfortunately there seems to be no straightforward way to search for user-generated public collections.
Buying content is a matter of clicking the button and checking out using the shopping cart. Before purchasing, pay attention to the licensing restrictions on the item, you may only be getting a single license for your content which forbids you from sharing your access. TpT is integrated with Google Drive, and in some cases your access gets linked to one specific Google account.
eLearn Pro Tip: Take advantage of the TpT credits program for buyers, which gives you a dollar in credits for each dollar spent on an “activated” item to which you provided a rating. The program does not apply for free or inactive content, or content purchased with credits or gift cards.
TpT is a community-driven platform. Resources are created and reviewed by other teachers
TpT appears to downplay the community aspect of its platform, despite the significant weight it may hold. Ratings and user reports are the main ways high-quality content on TpT becomes easy to access, and the method through which poor or non-compliant content gets reported to TpT staff. There has been at least one instance of infringement not being flagged until members denounced it and news coverage followed.
On the upside, the importance of catering towards the community means reputation is a valuable token. Top sellers tend to be highly responsive to questions or content-related issues raised. Refunds are optional—with exceptions valid for up to a year—but it’s a widespread practice to offer a refund with no questions asked.
A TpT-branded online community space is available, but with null activity in the past 6 months.
eLearn Pro Tip: As a seller, consider offering quality free content not only as a showcase of your product, but as a way to maintain your creations as active resources that are shared and discussed by a section of the public. This will also make them a source of feedback and ideas. A teacher customer turned seller claims TpT taught her “more about lesson planning, scaffolding, and teaching than college or mentors ever did.”
TpT is a great resource for finding new ideas and inspiration, as well as to share and sell your own resources
Have you ever thought about joining the educational creative economy? Digitally adept instructional designers, former teachers turned influencers, evangelists or community educators are nowadays the building blocks of thriving new markets and sources of value.
There’s a clear recipe for success in obtaining a positive return in becoming a TpT seller. But beware: if the initial amount of investment and effort before starting to get results, the likely lifestyle, and the overall level of enjoyment of the tasks involved, are all acceptable for you, here is the way you can get started creating content that sells on TpT:
- Define your motivations, the “core value” that clearly and easily define your content, and your best related skills. Brainstorm quality content ideas you would be able to deliver. Then there’s no shortcut: go ahead and get it done.
- Sign up for a free or premium seller account. Note that unless you have files over 1GB, or until the additional percentage earnings and lower transaction fees will offset the $60 USD annual premium membership fee, the free tier is perfect to get started.
- Upload your content with descriptions and screenshots that reflect your product clearly. Take advantage of the many input fields available to ensure your content is highly searchable. Unfortunately TpT only reveals basic user trends or popular searches when using the search features, so there’s limited strategic value from studying this data to determine content needs.
- Consider asking the help of a virtual assistant to streamline your day-to-day and focus on your core source of value, 4-Hour Workweek style. With smart planning, TpT can become a steady passive income stream.
- Set expectations, sales and revenue goals in advance to review and adjust regularly. Performance evaluation on a monthly basis is recommended. Plan for a period of 3 to 6 months before you start to see a more dependable stream.
- Keep on sharpening your skills and streamlining your process. TpT offers free guides on TpT University, and additional paid-for marketing services. The promotion for an upcoming sellers conference taking place in Boston this July is underway.
A small number of TpT’s top sellers make multi-million dollar yearly income figures and a number of other participants live exclusively off of TpT. The majority of the seller demographic are side-gig earners.
eLearn Pro Tip: If you are a U.S. resident keep in mind that, while copyright law allows for the use of protected content for educational purposes, the educational exception does not extend to the sale of said materials. So if your materials contain protected content, you may only be able to make it available for free.
TpT isn’t just for K-12 teachers. It also has resources and features other forms of education for professionals at large
Due to its reach and longevity, TpT isn’t only a top educational marketplace, but an established content market, competing with the likes of Amazon, app stores or Taobao in key categories. In addition to educational resources, you may also find general purpose templates, clipart, fonts and similar, non-specific assets.
For institutions, specialized programs for procurement each way are available. TpT’s School Access subscription offers institution-wide content licensing. For a growing number of social media niche stars, and educational media companies alike, TpT is becoming an intriguing new outlet. A publisher membership has debuted with limited access.
In organizations where CLOs have a seat at the table, learning and teaching activities often extend beyond the training department. Coaching programs, group studies, and the development of the company leader as educator, are steadily stimulating new demand for educational resources online, and that’s reflected in TpT.
eLearn Pro Tip: If you have curriculum-aligned content, take advantage of the Standards Crosswalking feature to add equivalent regional nomenclatures from several compatible Departments of Education in the U.S.
TpT is a large and reputable platform with a growing user base. Most TpT users are in the U.S. (75%), Canada (4.5%), the Philippines (4.2%) and India (3.8%)
According to data from Semrush —queried at publication—, TpT had an estimated traffic of 8.3 million unique users in January 2023, over 5.3 million coming from search engines and 365K from paid ads. TpT has been covered in media including The New York Times and New York Magazine. Educational creators websites and blogs appear to be the most common source of quality backlink traffic.
Initially bootstrapped, firms involved in capitalizing on the platform include EdTech financing specialists Spectrum Equity (involved with Lynda.com and ExamSoft) along with general VCs Tiger Global and True Ventures. The acquisition by IXL Learning alludes to its revenue generation potential, unfortunately the private status of both IXL and TpT, and the lack of public details on the deal, makes a valuation uncertain, if likely in the multi-billion-dollar range.
Percentages on sales are TpT’s main source of revenue, which is varied but not necessarily diversified. Memberships and marketing services complete the set of streams, all ultimately depending on content buyers. This makes brand reputation, customer support and a clear process to address complaints critical for its future prospects. Popularity has remained steady but below all-time highs in 2020. Additional revenue streams such as Easel or the institutional programs have not shared financial or operational performance yet.