Teacher friends, there’s a way to both help your finances and make an impact that not enough people are talking about.
I’m not talking about cutting out that drive-through coffee. Or working that second job after school.
I’m talking about using your skills to make passive income.
What is Passive Income?
I had never even considered growing passive income until reading the 4-Hour-Workweek (if you’ve never heard of this book before, no, there’s no typo there. 4 hours. A week. Teacher dreams, right?).
Before reading the 4-Hour Workweek, when I needed more cash, I thought of the classic ways to save/make money:
- Where can I cut costs?
- What extra jobs can I do to make extra money?
- How much time do I have to make that extra money each week?
My first year teaching, I cancelled every monthly cost I could—including my internet.
I remember being on the phone with the Comcast rep, and after confirming about 5 times that I did, indeed, want to cancel my internet and cable. He literally stopped and asked me, “Ma’am, do you know what year it is?”
Yes, I do. But girl’s gotta save.
Let’s talk about active versus passive income.
Active income is your classic way of making money (and how we all make money while teaching)—put in the hours, do the job, receive the paycheck. The money you make begins and ends with the job you do.
There is nothing wrong with active income, but there are only so many hours in the day so that naturally caps your potential income. When we need to make extra money, we don’t always have the hours in the day to spend on it.
Cue: Passive income. Passive income, by contrast, doesn’t end with the job you do. You do the job or make the investment, and for months or years afterward, you continue to reap the benefits.
While I had always known about financial investments (lol on that teacher salary), I hadn’t yet started thinking about my time as an investment.
But once I did, things started to change. Big time.
My Journey to Passive Income
Maybe I had heard of online passive income before, but I think I’d always assumed that in order to make passive income I’d need to put in either an extraordinary amount of time or extraordinary amount of money upfront—neither of which I had as a teacher. Or I thought that I’d need some incredible idea to get started.
I read books about passive income, saw teachers with elaborate websites, tens of thousands of followers on Instagram, and TPT stores with dozens and even hundreds of resources, and I thought, “How in the world will I ever have time for that?”
I had my doubts and fears, but moving abroad in September of 2017 provided the catalyst for me to finally give it a go.
I planned to teach online and work on building passive income on the side. If the passive income side failed: so be it. At least I tried.
One Year In
Let’s fast-forward: in April of last year, I was 13 months into working on my blog (this) and TPT store.
That month alone, I had made enough to support myself from my TPT store.
Here’s the kicker. Want to know how many materials I had in my TPT store at that point?
Almost all of which I created the summer before.
All I had to do was take favorite units and lessons I had already done with my students, tweak them to be comprehensible for other teachers, upload them with some pretty graphics, add some links to them from my blog, and done.
And while I’m not making that kind of money from TPT every month, this kind of passive income for just one month makes everything worth it. Because I have the potential to make that money and more the next month. And the next. And the next. Without doing anything more.
And guess what? That income only has built on itself. Since April 2018, I’ve added 4 online courses and doubled my TPT store offerings.
With each new resource, blog post, and online course, I attract more traffic, more sales, and more dollar signs at the end of each month.
I literally make money while I sleep.
THAT, my friends, is the beauty of passive income.
How Teachers can Make Passive Income
Teachers Pay Teachers is definitely the most well-known example of time-investment, passive income for teachers.
With Teachers Pay Teachers, you can polish some lesson plans over the summer, and with a little marketing during the year (and if you’ve got a niche enough subject, sometimes none at all), you reap income off of it for months or years to come.
But there are many other ways teachers can make passive income:
- Online courses
- Online (pre-recorded) webinars
- T-Shirt design
- Affiliate marketing (getting a cut of what people buy after clicking links on your site)
- Sponsored posts
- Paid advertisements
…the list goes on and on.
The basic premise is this:
There is a LOT of traffic online.
There are also lots of people looking to learn things you know how to do.
And where there are people, there is opportunity.
Why You Should Consider Teacherpreneurship and Passive Income
Student and Teacher Impact
While obviously the money is helpful, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the number of students that have potentially benefitted from my resources.
I added it up, and with average class sizes in the States and the number of viewers and purchasers I’ve had this year, it’s possible that my resources have reached well over a million students across the world.
If I hadn’t made the decision to go for it, the only students affected by my ideas and resources would be those I had had the privilege to teach.
While it’s been hard to not be in the classroom this year, when I think about those numbers, I’m dumbfounded and so grateful for the opportunity that teacherpreneurship provides.
Teachers Helping Teachers is the Best Kind of Helping
We’re the ones that have been in the trenches, we’re the ones that connect theory to practice every day, we’re the ones making a difference in youth every day, and we’re also the ones that are constantly doing something new and in need of new ideas.
WE are the ones that should be teaching each other the most!
When I served as department chair at my school, I remember serving on committees to choose a district-wide curriculum. It felt impossible to find both the PD and the curriculum resources we were looking for because the market seemed dominated by big corporations that had NO business invading our classrooms, let alone receiving money to do so.
When I think about resources to create, I think about teachers searching high and low for high quality resources created by people that get it.
If you’ve been thinking about it, it’s time.
Before you start doubting it’s possible, let me tell you this, and you need to remember it: the hardest part of setting up passive income is believing that it’s possible and then getting started.
You may not have all the answers to teaching, but you have a piece to the puzzle, just like everyone else. By putting your work out there, you’re adding to the conversation and our collective growth as a profession.
How cool is that?
It’s time we start getting our ideas out of our classrooms and into the light.
It’s time for our ideas to start earning what they deserve.
And it’s time that we have enough money to quit second and third jobs to spend time with the people we love in our off-duty hours.
If I could help even one teacher to quit their second job, or help one more teacher revolutionize the life of another, which in turn changed the live of thousands (or millions!) of students across the world, then my time writing about this is more than well-spent.
This is not just about extra cash. This is about taking our lives back. It’s about providing a network of support for each other in a system that continues to take them away. And it’s about making extra income minus the sleepless nights.
I wish I had started a longggg time ago.
I this post was able to give you that final push to take your first steps.
Let me know your questions about getting started (or improving) below. I’d love to help some fellow teacherpreneurs get some new ideas off the ground!
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Emma Oliver saysJanuary 5, 2019 at 11:58 am
Love this!!!! I’ve really enjoyed following your instagram and blog over the last year. I haven’t taken the leap to move abroad or do this full time yet, but having the ability to do it is so, so incredible!
Jeanne Wolz saysJanuary 6, 2019 at 6:25 am
Aww! Thanks, Emma! Means so much to hear from you. It’s been an awesome adventure the past year and a half. I’d recommend it all!! Let me know if you ever have specific questions! Best of luck!!
Ali Ant saysFebruary 26, 2019 at 7:17 pm
I just started my own TpT store and am so excited to see even the smallest sale! 🙂 I can’t wait to put more on… it’s all I want to do right now! Teacher Nerd! 😎 Thanks for your tips here! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Your-Planning-Pal
Jeanne Wolz saysFebruary 26, 2019 at 7:26 pm
Awesome, Ali! That first sale feels SO good, even if it’s just a few cents 😂 Best of luck!
Tami saysMay 15, 2019 at 5:59 pm
This has really hit home!! I’m so excited. I actually use TPT but never thought of doing myself until I read your blog! THANK YOU!!!! How do I go about getting started?