Some teachers are now making six figures selling their lesson plans online. It may sound like a lot of work to organize, upload, and promote all your teaching materials when you’ve already got papers to grade and benchmarks to meet, but there are a few tricks to streamlining the process.
Canva lets you do most of the work on a single platform, and if you’re already using it to create your lessons, you’re just a few steps away from making a handsome side income.
Since online marketplaces like TeachersPayTeachers have become quite popular over the last few years, differentiating yourself means putting a little effort into design and marketing, but we’ve got you covered in that department.
Here’s our guide to creating, promoting, and selling your teaching materials online.
What are the benefits?
First off, why do most teachers choose to sell their materials? Here are a few reasons:
01. Making a side income
You’ve already put in a lot of time creating those resources. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a little more mileage out of them? What better way to make a little extra cash than to share your expertise with the rest of the teaching community?
02. Staying organized and efficient
Creating and selling your materials will force you to keep things organized, and will also encourage you to step back and take a more objective look at your own lessons. You’ll refine your own lessons in the process, making your teaching more efficient.
03. Supporting a movement
Ultimately, you are the authority on what works in the classroom—not a textbook publisher or district administrator. So in supporting and participating in this cause, you’re helping to improve the quality of education for all.
04. Engaging students
Some teachers say the materials from these sites are more appealing to the eye than the materials produced by publishers. Here’s your chance to contribute to the cause of student engagement.
What are the best marketplaces?
TeachersPayTeachers is the biggest marketplace for selling your teaching materials online, and was one of the first, created by a teacher back in 2006. The site features over 2.7 million educator-created resources used by over four million teachers around the world.
Users can search by subject or grade level for resources customized for different groups of students and state learning standards. Before purchasing materials, they can preview them and read reviews by other teachers who have already used them. Sellers are paid quarterly.
This is the site that famously turned American educator Deanna Jump into a millionaire several years ago.
02. Teachers Notebook
Teachers Notebook is very easy to use and creates automatic previews of your materials for teachers to view once you’ve uploaded them. Users have praised its social media functionality, especially for Pinterest: your items automatically get categorized and added to the proper boards once you’ve uploaded them.
You get started by “opening a shop” and adding resources, then promote your materials, and receive payment through PayPal. As there are fewer seller on this platform than on TeachersPayTeachers, you might have more luck with sales.
Based in California, USA, Educents is especially popular among homeschool crowds, and has received several awards from the education community. Teachers, homeschoolers, and parents can access thousands of innovative resources created by experts, businesses, and educators. Membership is free and teachers receive 65 percent of each sale. Kate Whiting and Kaitlyn Trabucco, who started the company, received a Stevie Award for Women in Business.
04. Teacher Lingo
Looking for a smaller marketplace? You might have better luck beating out the competition on Teacher Lingo if you’re just getting started. You can also network with other educators by joining one of the site’s many forums, which include College, High School, Middle School, Elementary School, Preschool, PTA, and Substitute Teacher discussion groups.
The way most of these sites work is like this: 1) Create your teaching materials; 2) Create a free account and upload your materials onto the site; 3) Promote your materials; 4) Get paid. Pretty simple, right?
The kinds of resources buyers are looking for on these sites include worksheets, lesson plans, study guides, task cards, outlines, graphic organizers, posters, flashcards, bulletin board ideas, classroom forms, exams/quizzes, rubrics, learning kits, games, syllabi, e-books, and lecture presentations.
You can create all of these materials using Canva templates in different ways. Here are some ideas:
01. Lesson plans
Lesson plans are a popular resource to sell. They’re easy to create in Canva (find a little inspiration here). You’ll also find loads of pre-made templates if you’d rather just fill in the blanks.
You might create a resource packet that includes a lesson plan outline along with the materials needed in specific projects and tasks. That will help boost sales, as it’s easier for buyers to see themselves using the materials if they’ve got a guide to help them out.
Try this Yellow Lines Lesson Plan template.
Many teachers are finding that they can design better worksheets than publishers. You may be using a textbook that comes with specific teaching materials, but oftentimes they’re expensive or don’t quite suit the learning needs of your students.
In your chosen marketplace, you’ll find options to sell worksheets individually or in packets. These are very popular resources as well.
Try creating your own worksheets or browsing through pre-made Worksheet templates. Here’s a Blue Multiplication Math Games Worksheet to give you an idea.
03. Lectures and Presentations
Lecture slides and presentations are easy and enjoyable to create now with Canva's latest features. Since they still take more time than simply giving a lecture without a visual aid, many teachers will gladly pay to have the work done for them. Check out these tips on how you can create an eye-catching presentation.
You can use a presentation template like this Art of Student Feedback Education Presentation to create your own lecture materials.
Infographics are a great resource to be created and shared among teachers. Other teachers will really go for these, as they take a little bit more time to create when it comes to research and design. For this reason, you can charge a bit more for them.
Check out this Global State of Agriculture Infographic for inspiration. You can easily replace the images and text to suit your own instructional needs.
Posters and flyers are extremely easy to create and very useful in developing lessons to share with the rest of the teaching community. Other teachers can use them as lecture materials, handouts, project inspiration, or classroom decorations.
We all know how useful it can be to have visual aids that help bring home the points of a lesson, so these can be popular items on the marketplace as well.
Check out this Environment Classroom Poster for ideas.
06. Flash cards
One of TeacherPayTeachers' top sellers, The Moffatt Girls, created a lesson on sight word fluency, which uses flash cards to teach reading. Each card features a word with examples of how it is used in a sentence. The cards are simple but visually pleasing, and include a small icon under each word to help illustrate the concept.
Canva has a section of Card templates to browse through, which you’ll find useful for creating lessons based around teaching materials like these. You can use these cards for a wide variety of subjects, from language arts to math to science. Check out this Vocab Word template to get started.
Video lessons are one of the top-selling resources on these sites. People like to see teaching in action, as it feels more interactive and viewers can imagine themselves in your shoes more easily. It also offers teachers a chance to show how you can use various teaching materials, rather than just describing your strategy in the product summary.
Create a tutorial, either by filming yourself or recording your voice over an illustrated presentation.
Create slides with Canva’s graphics and use the presentation mode tool to design your video lesson. You can upload videos into your design and even embed links to your teacher blog if you have one.
Get started by choosing a template like this Education Presentation, and add your video in where you like.
Sale and promotion strategies
01. Setting your price
On TeachersPayTeachers, you can find resources for as little as $1 for a pack of activity sheets, or $57 for a pack of 472 pages. Most teachers set their prices based on how much time it took to create the resource, and compare it to the prices other teachers are charging for similar materials.
You can create price stickers with labels or tags. Adapt this Fuchsia and Blue Strokes Storage Label to suit your needs:
02. Social media tools
Some sites like Teachers Notebook offer widgets for your blog or website, and allow you to post on their own Pinterest or Twitter boards. You can create your own Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook post to promote your materials.
Once you’ve created your resources, use one of the pages you’ve designed as a graphic to go along with a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest post announcing that your resource is for sale. Or you can create a simple announcement like this Blue Circle Sunflowers Spring Instagram Post.
Canva also has an Etsy Shop Icon template section, which can be used as an icon to brand your Teaching Materials Shop account. Most teachers have an icon next to their listing, and it’s important to choose one that stands out from the rest.
03. Sales, giveaways, and daily deals
Once you have a few resources up and running, and have started to see some cash flow, you might want to hold a sale. Some sites will walk you through the ins and outs of running a sale, holding a giveaway, bidding on a daily deal, and communicating with members.
Create your own “special deal” announcement with a template like this Lavender Brush Strokes Retail Sale Flyer.
There are also plenty of web ad templates to choose from for freebies and giveaways, such as this Freebie Stationery design:
04. Cross-marketing with other teachers
Why not share the love? Pair up with a teacher whose resources you like, and agree to promote each other’s materials on your respective blogs. This might work especially well if you teach different subjects, like math and language arts.
You can create a web ad for the other teacher’s sale (or your own, of course) with a template like this Red Geometric Facebook Ad.
05. Including photos of your lessons in action
If you want to stand out from the crowd, take photos of students engaging with your materials and include them alongside your product. The appeal of these marketplaces is that teachers know the lessons have been tried and tested, so other teachers will appreciate the extra bit of reassurance that, yes, these materials work.
You can use one of Canva’s photo templates, like this Simple Art Pottery Class Photo Collage, to capture these moments.
06. Responsibly repurposing materials
Be sure to check with your school about the protocol on resource use. If you are employed at a school, and using the resources you plan to sell in class, there may be intellectual property guidelines you need to consider.
We should all extend a big thanks to Paul Edelman, the former New York City Public Schools teacher who launched TeachersPayTeachers in 2006 after puzzling over the fact that no central platform existed for teachers to share their resources with one another.
Now, millions of educators worldwide can get extra mileage out of the materials they’ve created, and make a little bit (or a lot) of income on the side.
Best of all, it’s allowed teachers to take back ownership of what quality education looks like. After all, those who actually spend their time in the classroom are the true experts.