No matter what your career path, you probably want to find ways to make more money.
Don’t we all.
Some career paths require that you take on a second job (usually at minimum wage) to make ends meet. You spend a full day at one job and then move on to another for the evening or weekends to help pay the bills or earn a little extra for fun money.
Most of the conventional ways of making money will also be taking time away from your family, friends, and yourself.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to work two full-time jobs and have enough left over to spend quality time with the other people in your life or practicing self-care. Don’t forget you need to fit in all your household chores too.
That can also turn into a full-time gig! Especially if you are chasing after kids.
As a teacher just starting out with a family of 3 or 4, an annual salary won’t even get you above the poverty level. When my husband took his first teaching assignment, the principal said, “One benefit is your child will qualify for free hot lunch when they attend school.”.
How is that a benefit?
Saving Money By Staying Home
I wasn’t working at the time (we had a toddler and baby number 2 on the way). My days were spent babysitting a few other kids to help make more money for the household and researching other ways to make money online.
This was back before eBay had really made it huge, websites were built with Dreamweaver, and I had NO CLUE what I was doing.
Over the years, I managed to supplement our income with scrapbook pieces on eBay and a website that sold scrapbook supplies. It was a learning curve that I worked through by reading everything and anything online. Not one single person that I knew “in real life” had ever attempted what I was trying to do.
That part hasn’t changed much. I’m still the one that spends way to much time online, cracking the “extra income code”.
The difference now is that I can actually add a significant chunk of change to the household budget. I have learned how to make more money each month.
Another Money Making Idea
In June of 2016, I started to focus my time and energy on creating educational materials and selling them on Teachers Pay Teachers. I had been teaching for 9 years at that point and creating digital graphics and documents that I sold on Etsy for 5 years.
I had listed a few sets of clipart on TPT before that. A few sales trickled in, but I never really felt like I was “experienced” enough in a certain curriculum area to create resources that would sell.
In 2016, something clicked for me and I decided that if it was something that I needed for my classroom, then I would make it and list it on TPT at the same time. If it sold…great. If not, I wasn’t really out anything.
Learn How to Make More Money
The one thing that I did differently this time is that I didn’t expect instant results. Before, when I was making something to sell or trying out an idea, I would get so excited that I would rush to get it made, listed, and hopefully sold.
If nothing happened in a week or so, I would become discouraged and start looking for the next great idea. Scouting out who else had figured out how to make money online and see if I could learn a skill set that would help me in that direction.
I’m not sure what clicked for me when it came to selling on Teachers Pay Teachers, but this time I was in it for the long haul. My goal was to learn all the things. Tweak listings. Change covers. Take constructive criticism and actually implement it instead of getting discouraged.
That first month, I had about 13 products and I made $16.62.
I worked like a mad woman to make a whole product line for reading centers. That fall I would start teaching a 3/4 combo class. I had centers for the 4th grade but I needed centers for the 3rd grade. My goal was two-fold. Get those centers made so I could use them, but make them at a high quality so I could sell them.
Learn All the Things
My main question when I was reading the forums that summer was “how can I make more money”. I had read that having items at various price points was a better way to increase your earning potential.
My plan was to create a listing for each unit in the reading center product line. Then bundle those units into a larger listing at a higher price point.
In July, I sold one!
My heart leaped. I did a little dance.
And my TPT addiction was solidified.
That month I added 21 products (I told you I was working like a madwoman).
My sales for the month of July were $231.75.
(if I had been working a summer job at minimum wage I would have had to put in approximately 30 hours…I worked way more than that on resources that month!!)
Spend Money to Make Money
Each time I had worked on an online plan to make more money, I had done so with frugality.
If I needed a special tool, I would find a way to work around that so I didn’t have to spend the money. When I bought supplies, I would buy them with the idea that I could make X amount of products from it and I would save scraps and turn them into a product as well.
Spend the least amount of money to make the most of what I was earning.
The problem with this is that I spent a lot of time recreating the wheel when I could have just spent $5 and saved myself 7 hours of work.
Treat it Like a Business
This time around, I invested in my business. If I needed a type of clipart to make a resource more appealing, I spent the money.
When I needed more background patterns for a Christmas themed resource, I purchased them. I didn’t take the 3-5 hours it would have taken me to create my own version before making the resource. I invested in a good set of digital papers and I made the resource I wanted with them.
This isn’t to say that I went on spending sprees and bought. All. The. Things. When I did purchase clipart, fonts, or digital papers, my goal was to buy something that I could reuse multiple times to get the most out of my investment.
More than Minimum Wage
Each month on Teachers Pay Teachers was a learning experience. I was growing as a seller. My resources were increasing at a steady pace.
The fall of my first year my top month was September and I made $466.50.
I was so darn excited.
Then December hit and I made $93.00.
When I had been scrapbooking and selling online, this would have been a discouragement. I might have started looking for a different way to make more money online because I was going backward instead of forwards.
At some point during this journey, I had experienced a change in my thinking. This time I took a good look at my shop and realized that I didn’t have any seasonal products. Teachers are frazzled in December and they are looking for no prep resources that they can use to teach their curriculum and keep their Christmas crazed kids learning and on task.
I adjusted my product making list and worked on some seasonal resources.
Then January came. I only doubled my December income.
I was okay with that. I was busy teaching. There were other things to focus on. I was still creating products that I needed for my classroom.
Weekends were spent making more products to list, reading about marketing and generating traffic, and family time. I’m sure I was squeezing some of that in there somewhere!
If I had been working a job on weekends and evenings I might have been able to work an additional 25-30 hours (really pushing it). This would make me an extra $200-$250 a week. Roughly $1,000 a month. With no family time.
Good Things Come to Those Who…Keep Trying
In April a few of my products that I had made to help my students out in the classroom took off. They were obviously a resource that was needed not only by me but other teachers as well.
My sales that month totaled $1794.20.
I made more than if I had been working a part-time minimum wage job. I had learned how to make more money online, selling resources that I would have made for my students anyway, on Teachers Pay Teachers.
The Ebb and Flow of Making Money on TPT
Summer was only a month away. And it is a super quiet time on TPT.
As it should be.
Teachers are rejuvenating, spending time with their own children and families, and school is the last thing on their mind.
I used the time to play with my own kids and kept making products like an obsessed crazy lady.
Sales picked up again in August and I continued to make more than I would if I had a second job working part-time. I even made more than if I were working a second job full-time. I had figured out how to make more money!
The difference this time for me is that I didn’t try to rush the process. When things looked like they weren’t working well, I evaluated the situation and looked for things I could control and change. Then I made adjustments and kept going.
No reinventing the wheel. No starting over.
Just a slow and steady (or sometimes feverishly obsessed) pace. Research and education about how to make things better, gain more traffic and create resources that I could make that would ease some of my teaching burden and the burden of other teachers if they purchased the materials.
My goal now is to match my teaching salary. I’m close. From there…I’ll have to set a new goal 🙂