Side Cash

How to Sell Lesson Plans Online: Earn Cash While Teaching

Teaching is a noble, fulfilling profession.

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It requires a combination of passion, vision, and purpose to mold a nation’s future generation.

Everyone knows a teacher’s importance in a student’s life, but the reality remains that it’s not the best-paying job in the world.

If you’re one of many teachers who love teaching but feel anxious about the lack of financial stability, here’s your chance to learn about making some side cash from selling your lesson plans and other educational materials to other teachers and educators.

Just to be clear, this isn’t like term paper industries where students hire ghostwriters for them to write term papers and other homework for them and basically cheat their way to graduation.

Instead, teachers can sell their lesson plans to fellow teachers and educators.

But why would other teachers buy lesson plans?

Teachers regularly spend hours preparing their lesson plans in advance, as well as updating their established lesson plans for them to be relevant with changes in the times, new students, and as required by the school curriculum.

Lesson plans that have been tweaked, updated, and tested on students are coveted by teachers who want to skip the trial-and-error phase and make a good impression on students immediately.

The teachers who buy get effective lesson plans with minimal time and effort, and the teachers who sell earn money for their excellent work. Everybody wins!

Today, learn all about how to sell lesson plans online.

Can You Sell Your Lesson Plans Online?

The very first question you need to answer is whether you’re allowed to sell lesson plans that you’ve made.

If you’re a teacher currently employed by a school and are planning to sell lesson plans that you’re using in your own classes, you’ll need to check if you own the copyright to those lesson plans and other materials you’re using in your class.

The National Education Association states: “If your employment contract assigns copyright ownership of materials produced for the classroom to the teacher, then you probably have a green light. Absent any written agreement, however, the Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that materials created by teachers in the scope of their employment are deemed “works for hire” and, therefore, the school owns them.”

So even before you plan to sell your lesson plans, it’s important to resolve this first.

Where to Sell Lesson Plans Online

The good news is that you have plenty of flexibility when it comes to offering your educational materials for sale.

Below are some of your best options.

Teacher Marketplaces

Online teacher communities and marketplaces are membership sites that are targeted to teachers and educators.

Selling your lesson plans here ensures that your lesson plans are seen by your target audience, which is other teachers and lecturers.

Here are the most recommended teacher marketplaces you can join.

1. Teachers Pay Teachers

TeachersPayTeachers is one of the first and one of the biggest teacher marketplaces around, with over 7 million teachers and over 5 million free and paid content. TeachersPayTeachers is also home to many teachers who are enjoying six-figure incomes from selling on their site.

TpT was founded by former NYC public school teacher Paul Edelman in April 2006, sold it to Scholastic Inc. in December 2006, and then bought it back as a private business in March 2009.

TeachersPayTeachers has two kinds of teacher-author or seller accounts – basic (free) and premium (with a $59.95/year membership fee).

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Teachers with a basic seller account have a 200MB file size limit, paid only 55% of every sale, and must pay the site 30 cents per resource. Meanwhile, those with premium seller accounts have a much bigger 1GB file size limit, receive 80% of every sale, and pay the site only 15 cents per resource sold (and only for orders totaling less than $3). Payments are made monthly via Hyperwallet.

2. Tes

Tes started out in print over a hundred years ago as the Times Educational Supplement. Today, they are a global digital community including teachers, educators, and schools working together to enable great teaching worldwide.

Becoming a Tes author allows you to share your educational materials to members of the Tes community, either as free downloads or paid-for resources.

The royalties you get for your paid-for resources are dependent on the value of your sales over a 12-month rolling period. For instance, to qualify for the highest tier (Gold), you’ll need to have more than £6,000 in sales over a 12-month rolling total sales value.

What makes Tes stand out as well is their comprehensive author academy, which helps beginners and expert-level teacherpreneurs with strategies to creating their lesson plans and educational materials, as well as how to make sure that authors are following copyright laws.

Plus, it’s a chance to gain a wider audience, as Tes is currently reaching 192 countries and 13 million registered users.

3. TeacherSherpa

TeacherSherpa is an online resource for teacher-created resources.

Free members can only download two resources every 30 days. Paid members can download unlimited resources for $9 monthly or $49 yearly.

You can sign up to be a Content Contributor to earn monthly royalties: $0.25 per download on the first 1,500 downloads, $0.50 per download from 1,501 to 3,000 downloads, and $1 per download on any download above 3,000 downloads.

While you won’t earn much on royalties, TeacherSherpa offers you a chance to promote your materials and your social media and shops on other websites.

Digital Marketplaces

There are also online marketplaces specializing in selling digital goods, and they can be solid platforms for you to sell your lesson plans.

By selling to the general public, you open the door for a whole new audience to see and purchase your lesson plans. Parents who homeschool and part-time tutors browse these sites for teaching materials, too.

Here are some of the best digital marketplaces to sell your lesson plans.

1. Amazon Ignite

Tech giant Amazon created the Amazon Ignite service to help teachers and educators who are selling their lesson plans online.

It’s an invite-only service; that is, you’ll need to apply to be able to sell on their service. To start the process, click “Request Invitation” and answer all the questions about what materials you’re planning to sell, your website address if you have one, and anything else you’d like them to know about your digital educational resources.

If you do get accepted, you earn 70% on all sales. For products under $2.99, they deduct a $0.30 transaction fee. They pay via direct deposit once a month.

It looks like they vet their sellers carefully and are likely to accept those teachers who are already selling their lesson plans.

2. Etsy

Etsy isn’t just for handmade products and crafts. It’s also a popular marketplace for downloadables and printables.

Their most popular digital products would probably be journal- or planner-related, but shoppers also search for lesson plans and educational resources here.

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3. Sellfy

Another popular platform for selling digital products is Sellfy, where you can sell just about every digital file imaginable.

Sellfy supports large files (up to 10GB), and unlimited products and bandwidth (for paid members). They also have cutting-edge security features to fight piracy and protect your customers’ information.

They also have built-in marketing tools to help you increase your sales, such as email marketing, upselling features, and discounts and coupon codes.

You can start selling digital products for as low as $19 per month.

Sell Your Lesson Plans Online on Your Own Website

When you’ve dipped your toes in selling your lesson plans on online marketplaces, you can “graduate” to building your own website and selling your materials there.

This will take up more of your time in terms of maintaining your website, promoting your resources, and engaging with your audience.

However, running your own website purely with content that you’ve created means that you control every aspect: from your price point to sales to your branding.

Best of all, having established your presence and resources in other sites can help you direct traffic back to your site if you indicate your website on your materials. If buyers like your lesson plans, they may be curious enough to check out your site and see what else you have to offer.

Plus, having your own website means you can branch out into new things more easily, such as offering physical books and modules, video courses for teachers, or consultancy services for schools.

For inspiration, check out the site Two Little Birds Teaching by Jen Regan. Aside from selling digital resources on her site, she also has a TeachersPayTeachers store.

How to Create Lesson Plans and Resources That Sell

selling lesson plans online

You already know your target audience, and you’ve battle-tested your educational resources. Here are some more tips and strategies to increase your sales and profits.

What Other Resources Can You Sell?

You don’t have to limit yourself to selling lesson plans.

Aside from lesson plans, you can also create the following materials:

  • Lesson plans
  • Worksheets
  • Syllabi
  • Study guides
  • Lecture presentations
  • Exams, quizzes, tests
  • Flash cards
  • Outlines
  • Infographics
  • Games
  • Posters and bulletin board ideas

Selling Strategies

Here are some of the selling strategies you can use when offering your lesson plans online.

Create something worth selling.

As you’ve probably seen when you browsed the different marketplaces, there are plenty of teachers selling educational resources, so the content you create and sell should stand out among all others.

One strategy is to package your lesson plan with worksheets, activities, quizzes, and other relevant materials so that it’s an all-in-one deal.

You can also offer different supplementary materials for the same lesson by learner aptitude (e.g., beginner, intermediate, and advanced) so that teachers can provide materials that are appropriate for learners.

Learn how to price your lesson plans.

Most teachers set their prices based on how much time it took to create the resource, the prices of similar products, and their target profit margins per resource.

They also factor in possible discounts and sale prices.

Give out free samples.

Just like free samples in physical stores, free samples of your work help potential buyers get a feel for the quality of your work.

If they like the results, then they’ll buy the other materials you’re offering.

And teachers won’t keep it to themselves; they tend to tell other teachers about your materials, widening your potential buyers.

Plus, when your free samples are effective, those who get it can review your work, give you feedback, and help you improve your materials.

Try to target niche learners

Lesson plans for preschool, elementary, and high school learners are everywhere, and there’s plenty of competition, as you will learn when you start selling your own materials.

But if you can try to target more specialized learners, you might be able to command higher prices for your lesson plans.

For instance, you can try selling lesson plans for adult literacy, special education (SPED) students, or English as a Second Language (ESL) students.

Pros and Cons of Selling Lesson Plans Online

Before you make a final decision on whether to sell your lesson plans, consider these pros and cons.

Pros

1. You’ll earn money for your efforts.

As I’ve mentioned above, selling your educational materials lets everyone win; buyers get a proven lesson plan, while sellers earn money for their hard work.

2. Making lesson plans for sale makes you become a better teacher.

How’s that?

Constantly thinking about your buyers (other teachers) and their students makes you motivated to improve your lesson plans to be more relevant and engaging.

Not only will you improve your product but you’ll also improve your lesson plans and your teaching techniques.

Cons

The major drawback is being prone to intellectual property theft.

The concept of teachers buying from teachers isn’t bad at all.

What ruins the entire concept of helping each other is that some teachers selling lesson plans online are passing off someone else’s work as their own.

Creating lesson plans take a lot of knowledge and a lot of hard work (which is why teachers buy them in the first place).

But there are some teachers who, instead of selling lesson plans they’ve actually created, buy existing lesson plans, do very minor tweaks (e.g., changing a clipart, changing the font, etc.), and then turn around and sell them in their stores, claiming them as their own.

In a perfect world, teacher marketplaces would have strict controls in place so that this doesn’t happen, but these incidents fall through the cracks.

If you’re still dead set on selling your lesson plans online, this is something you’d have to bear in mind and check with the teacher marketplaces where you plan to sell whether they have policies and safeguards in place to prevent this type of intellectual property crime.

Final Thoughts

Selling lesson plans and other educational materials online is a great idea for teachers since they’ve been creating these resources for years on the job.

Building an online store provides a potential passive income for teacher sellers, while helping fellow teachers prep for school with less time and effort.

However, if you’re interested in other ways to make side cash, check out our list of online jobs for teachers.

Are you planning to sell your lesson plans? Or have you already tried to sell them? Share your experiences and concerns with us in the comments!