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Becoming a Teacher-Author Entrepreneur Parts 1 and 2

Why become a Teacher-Author Entrepreneur?


Have you ever worked with one of those teachers who can quickly create the most awesome lesson plans in a 40 minute period, and you just know that your kids are going to love doing this amazing thing, and you are exhausted trying to keep up with the creation process just from watching? And these same amazing people wonder why everyone else spends HOURS of personal time creating lessons at home. Yeah. They are irritating, and fantastic, and always giving. And I am NOT one of them. It takes me HOURS to put together a great lesson or even the lesson plan. I used to think of those as invested - but lost- hours, because I only had to plan it once, and then I would have a hard copy for perpetuity. But I would never get the time back, and we don't get paid extra for working in the evenings, weekends, or during our summer (is he REALLY going to say it?) vacations, hence the "lost" factor. If you also are not genetically modified to create escape rooms in under 20 minutes, and you spend hours of your own time creating lessons, and you think there is no way to get paid for all of this "free time" people think you have, then I have some great news for you. There is a way to get paid extra for it. And you have already been doing the hard part, because, congratulation, you are a teacher-author. 

A teacher-author is ANYONE who is a teacher AND has created an original lesson plan. Even if that plan is based on something you remember seeing somewhere, but NOT exactly what you have put together. Think of a novel study. The first one ever made, I am sure, looks nothing like the one I created for Rumble Fish. And, even though I use a similar "look" or "brand" for my novel studies, they each have novel specific questions, research, idea webs, and other things that make each unique. Did I invent the novel study? No, I only look that old. But, I authored these novel studies. I'm going to go out on a limb here and hazard a guess. I will lay money that if you are a teacher, you have created - or authored - at least one lesson or lesson plan. I will go even farther out on that limb and say that someone somewhere, with or without your knowledge, used your lesson. Probably with, because they work with you now, or did in the past, and you shared lessons. That means that you and I have something in common. We are both teacher-authors. Now, unless you are also selling your lessons, usually online, here is the point of divergence...I get paid for my time creating outside of my contracted hours, and you do not. Yet.

So why become a Teacher Entrepreneur? There are actually a number of benefits to this. The first is probably the most obvious – you make extra money from the efforts you are already expending, often for free. And once you have your store up and running, it becomes passive income. I have a friend who is one of our instructional coaches in my school. She literally has not done anything to or with her store for over two years, yet, every month she receives an email from PayPal saying she just received a payout from her store platform.

Second, you become a better teacher. Seriously. When you take a lesson you created for a classroom, and you look at it through the lens of “how do I explain to another teacher, or parent, or administrator, how to do this successfully”, you find the little idiosyncrasies that we all have which make us uniquely ourselves in the classroom, and you modify it to work for the teaching styles of others, you will inevitably find a way to improve it for your own teaching style as well.

Third, there is a real boost to your confidence and self-esteem that comes from knowing that strangers around the world recognize YOUR abilities as a teacher – and see you as an expert in your field. First there is the fact that they are looking at, and considering using, materials you created to teach their students. Then, they actually pay you for the privilege of using your materials. They give your work monetary value.

Finally, and this is something that I believe speaks to the fact that we are teachers first, and by definition and temperament we are compassionate, there is a huge, wonderful community of caring and supportive individuals with the same interests that you meet. I read over and over again on forums and in chat rooms about how overwhelmingly supportive our community is. And that is another great aspect.

 


The Step-by-Step of Becoming a Teacher Entrepreneur 



An assumption on my part: you are still reading this and are actually interested in becoming a teacher entrepreneur and recouping some of your invested time in the form of green stuff. Or whatever color the currency of your realm happens to be. If so, let us begin this wonderful journey.


Step 1 - Selecting a Sales Platform



The first step of the process is to select a sales platform or platforms for your products so that customers can find you and resources. This is not difficult! There are a number of different platforms you can use, and you do not need your own website for most of them. I say “platform or platforms” because you may want to use more than one. Suzanne and I are currently on three.

Probably the largest and best-known of the “teacher-author exclusive” sites is Teachers Pay Teachers. The other sites that we are on are The Wheel Edu and Amped Up Learning, each younger, but growing. Each of these sites pay out to teacher contributors through PayPal, and they have excellent customer service. While TpT has the larger presence and is better known now, they are also run as a company. This is not a jab or slap – it is just that they have probably got close to, or over, 100,000 teacher-authors and stores on their site. Including ours. That said, they do not know me personally, nor would I expect them to. We make a lot of money with them, and love working with them.
Compared to the smooth running, albeit perhaps colder, machine that is TpT, both Dallas, Texas-based Amped Up Learning and Sydney, Australia-based The Wheel Edu are much more family-like, in my experience. I feel that I know both Gregg, co-founder of Amped Up, and Michael, founder of The Wheel, personally. We email one another on a nearly daily basis, and we hang out on Facebook together. Both are willing to listen to their teacher-author partners in suggestions for improving their sites, and both still view their sites as extensions of their classrooms. They both actively teach today!


If, after looking at Amped Up Learning, you would like to become a contributor/seller with Gregg and the team, email him directly! When I asked if there was a different link for prospective sellers, he replied, "If they can just reach out to me directly at gregg@ampeduplearning.com so that I can give them individualized service and information (yeah, that would be great)." 



As I say, there are many others out there. I know teachers who sell their materials and resources on Amazon as well, and just the other day I was considering a platform that is VERY new (only 13 teacher-authors as of March 31). Check out a couple or three (tell Michael and Gregg that Matthew sent you, you’ll get the best seats in the house!), and choose the one or more that you feel most comfortable with. Check how they pay out. The small one I mentioned says they cannot use PayPal for any author earning less than $20,000 per month. I find that difficult to believe!

 


Step 2 – Selecting a Name


This is an important consideration, but it should not be daunting. When we began our teacher entrepreneur journey, we began on TpT. Why? Suzanne’s sister has her store there, and she taught us how over Christmas break 2018. Beth’s questions were, “What do you want to focus on? (ELA) What grade levels do you want to focus on? (Middle School) So, based on that, what do you want to call your store? (ELA in Middle School)” Sometimes I am like my students and need to have things broken down into the simplest terms. We then designed our logo and I got to work taking the writing FRAMEs that I had developed for my students and converting them from simple one-sheeter printouts to the full essay writing FRAMEs that they are today. Our first paid product was Writing with FRAMES: The Personal Narrative or Memoir, and it is still our best seller by quantity of units sold.

When you answer the questions about what you want to focus on, and what grade levels, come up with a name for your store. Now, if you are an elementary teacher, chances are you don’t focus on a single subject area. Great! Focus on what you love to work with your students on. In selecting you store name, browse. See what other names are used on the platform(s) you are interested in. When you think you have the name you want…Google it. (Okay. As an ELA teacher I will never get used to “google” being an action verb. Just saying.) If it isn’t used, take it! There does not need to be any registering with the IRS or other tax people as long as you are a sole proprietorship, or like Suzanne and myself. After you start making the big bucks, then register it.

Comments

  1. This was so encouraging and helpful! I am reaching out to Gregg and Micheal and will mention you. Thank you so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very welcome! Suzanne and I are gratified to know that we have helped you on your journey!

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