Teachers making millions of dollars … don’t I wish

Punch line: Here’s an angle … An online lesson-plan marketplace allows teachers to make thousands (or millions!) selling lesson plans to other teachers.

Anybody want to buy a PVP syllabus?

* * * * *

Excerpted from businessweek.com’s “How a Teacher Made $1 Million Selling Lesson Plans”

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Deanna Jump is not a trust fund baby. She never married into money and she has never won the lottery. But in the past year-and-a-half, the 43-year-old kindergarten teacher has earned more than $1 million. Her unlikely strategy: selling catchy kindergarten lesson plans to other teachers.

Jump is just one of 15,000 teachers currently marketing their original classroom materials through the online marketplace, TeachersPayTeachers (TPT). Since signing on to the site, she has created 93 separate teaching units and sold 161,000 copies for about $8 a pop.

To be fair, no one else on TPT has been as wildly successful as Jump, but at least two other teachers have earned $300,000, and 23 others have earned over $100,000, according to site founder Paul Edelman.

Edelman launched TPT in 2006 after sinking grueling hours into planning his own classes. “To get ahead, Edelman and his colleagues swapped ideas and lesson plans. They also perused online sites for helpful resources, but found only sub-par, outdated materials.

After four years in the classroom, Edelman hit upon the idea for an online lesson-plan marketplace. Soon after the launch, New York-based publisher Scholastic bought the site for a low six-figure sum. Over the next few years, TPT continued growing, though not fast enough to hold Scholastic’s interest. Edelman bought the site back in 2009.

Little by little, TPT began gaining steam. Today the site has 1.1 million active members and over the past year has seen enormous growth. Last month alone, TPT grossed $2.5 million in sales, up from $305,000 in August 2011. It has 10 employees working in customer service. Teachers pay an annual premium membership fee of $59.95 to sell materials on the site, and TPT takes a 15 percent cut of most sales.

Jump admits that her own success is partly due to keeping a popular blog that helps direct readers to her TPT materials. TPT’s “Follow Me” button has also been a boon. “I have over 16,000 followers,” she says. “So every time I post a new product, an e-mail goes out to those people and—literally within an hour—I’m selling, selling, selling.”

In the past three months, Jump, who earns $55,000 per year teaching, has collected $213,000 in TPT sales. The money has not changed how she lives day-to-day. If anything, she’s working harder than ever, putting about 40 hours a week into TPT projects, apart from her regular teaching schedule. So far, she’s used the money to pay off bills, send her daughter to college, and buy a handicapped-accessible van for her quadriplegic brother.

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