Why write and sell resources?
As well as being a private tutor of French, German and Spanish, I also write and sell teaching resources for the new MFL GCSEs and Key Stage 3 languages. It all started as an idea to help teachers understand and prepare their students for the new style of questions in the revamped 9-1 GCSEs. I hoped to make a bit of extra income on the side of my tutoring business, but in just over a year, it has become my main source of income and the thing I spend around 80% of my working time on.
What’s the secret?
I’m afraid there is no secret formula to making a living from selling teaching resources. Each teacher is unique and each subject has different scope for creating and selling resources. I do however believe that there are some guidelines that anyone can follow when thinking about what resources to create and how to share and sell them. In my experience, most teachers are creative people and more than capable of writing, sharing and even making money from good-quality teaching resources.
Here are my tips for creating and selling resources that have a positive impact on the teachers who buy them and the students who are using them.
1. Find out what students and teachers really need and provide it for them
I am very active on Facebook groups for MFL teachers and it was a post on one of them back in Spring 2017 that prompted me to make a workbook with sample questions for the new French GCSE writing paper. Someone asked whether anyone had a ‘bank of questions’ that they give their students and I decided to create one! It really was as simple as that. I listened to what was needed and found my ‘gap’ in the market.
Later, I was asked if I could write model answers for the question bank I had created and so I did that as well. My French writing workbook has now sold over 1,000 copies, so I must have done something right there!
2. Give stuff away for free
Every time I make a new booklet, I create a document with the first section that I put on tes for free. I link to the free sample on my website and on the full workbook on tes. This gives people a chance to see what they would be buying. They can download the free sample, use it with a class, see if it’s a good fit for them and then make an informed decision about whether they want to buy the whole booklet or not.
I personally think that you should share more work for free than for sale, as this shows that you are making the resources for the right reasons and not just to make money. On this website, the majority of my resources are for sale as there is limited space. On my tes shop, however, I would say that over half of my resources are free. The ones that I sell are the highest quality resources that have taken me the most time to create.
3. Sell your work for a reasonable price
When I browse tes for resources for my own lessons, I am often shocked at the price that some people charge for a single worksheet or PowerPoint! I personally always give away single-page worksheets for free rather than selling them, but that’s my choice and everyone has their own ideas of what they want to create and sell. If you are going to sell shorter resources, think about a reasonable price for them. What would you be willing to pay? What will your potential ‘customers’ think? To me, selling a single sheet or PowerPoint with a couple of slides for £4 just comes across as greedy and unscrupulous.
My booklets are generally between 50 and 90 pages long and I sell them for £3-6, depending on the length and level. While some would argue that I could have made a lot more money if I’d sold them at a higher price, I prefer to think that more teachers have bought my booklets because they’re not unreasonably expensive and thus more teachers and students have benefitted from my work.
4. Provide answers
There is nothing more frustrating than purchasing a resource only to find that there are no answers included! Some resources contain questions that have open answers, such as for the writing exam in the MFL GCSEs for example. However, if there are questions on your resources that have a right or wrong answer, provide those answers for the people who are buying and downloading them. This also means that teachers can use your resources for cover lessons, homework and independent study for their students, as the answers are provided and the students can mark them themselves.
Furthermore, providing answers gives you a chance to check over the resources and make sure that they work properly. I’ve downloaded resources before that have impossible questions on them because no one has proofread them to make sure the questions make sense and can be completed.
5. Give clear explanations
Another way of helping teachers to understand what they are buying and downloading is to give detailed explanations of how to use the activities. I love twinkl resources, but some of them have no instructions and I have no idea how to use them. I tend to not use those particular resources, although they could be really good and helpful if only I knew what I was meant to do with them!
6. Be very careful with copyright
When I first started, I put a couple of workbooks up for sale that included copied and pasted text from old exam papers. I was quickly told by a more experienced resource maker and seller that I had to be very careful with copyright and actually shouldn’t be selling work that isn’t 100% my own. I took them down immediately and the resources have been free ever since.
Prevent any copyright issues by doing the following:
- Make sure that all of your resources are your own work. I recently found someone selling my work and passing it off as their own. As well as being extremely upset by this, I was also livid that this person had made money from something that they had put no time or effort into (but I had put a LOT of time and effort into!). I think we need to be mindful of everything we put online and have integrity when it comes to paid resources in particular.
- Do not use any material that is copyrighted, including photos and images. I use pexels, pixabay, unsplash and pikwizard for my images. I have seen someone who had copied and pasted the AQA vocab list, put it into a word document and put it for sale on tes. This isn’t legal as it infringes on the exam board’s copyright.
- If you work in a school, check with your line manager that you are allowed to upload and sell the resources. Anything you create for classes in a school could be the property of the school and therefore you do not have permission to make money from them. Personally I wouldn’t try and sell work that I have already been paid for (by the school) and that I have made anyway for my classes, but again, everyone has their own ideas on this.
It’s all very well spending hours making brilliant resources and putting them on the internet, but they won’t serve anyone if no one knows about them! I still feel a bit gross about promoting my resources and flogging them on Facebook groups, Twitter and Instagram, but if I don’t tell people they’re there, how will they know?
The thing that makes me feel less icky about self-promotion is the feedback I have got from so many people about my resources. When I am told that my work has saved teachers hours of planning and prep time, that the students are making lots of progress because they are using my resources, or that people would be willing to pay twice as much as I’m charging, it makes me realise that I have to put aside my natural Britishness and disinclination to shout from the rooftops and just get out there and get promoting!
I hope these tips will give any aspiring resource makers out there the confidence to get writing and publishing amazing work that saves teachers valuable time and helps students learn and progress!
In a future blog post, I am going to write about my ‘process’ for putting together a workbook, so watch this space!