5 Legitimate Ways to Make Money Online as a Teacher

As educators we have an important job: teaching the world’s youth. While the teaching profession consistently ranks as one of the top five “noble” job fields, it is also hard for many teachers to make a living without working a part-time job on the side. Many educators work in other fields during summers off, but it is sometimes tough to switch gears and move away from education for part-time work. This post is for those teachers, like myself, who are looking for some extra income and would like it to come via education. This is not to debate how much teachers should be paid, only to be realistic in the fact that many of us need extra money (who doesn’t these days!).

We’ve studied hard, worked hard, and spent countless hours trying to get better at a very difficult profession. Now, it’s time to have that work ethic pay off outside of the classroom. None of these ways to make money online are “get rich” opportunities, instead they are real world business opportunities for those in education. Also, this post is meant to be an overview of some different (and proven) ways to make money online. Look for a more in-depth publication on how to go about doing that in each of the five areas in the near future.


1.Write an eBook

I wrote an eBook in 2009 called “The 2.0 Teacher”. By now, it is way outdated! I wanted to create a resources guide for educators looking to use new Web 2.0 products in the classroom. While I made a lot of mistakes with this first eBook, I also learned many hard lessons, and made some money along the way. I published it on the Kindle/Amazon store and also paid some money in royalties to Six Voices for creating a tap-stack” of my eBook to sell in the App Store.

Since then I’ve seen royalties come in, but nothing to break the bank! I’m planning on updating this book in the near future and also I’m currently writing another eBook for educators.

Why should you write an eBook? It’s simple: You are an educator with a specific skill set and experience level…share your knowledge with us. Your market is all those educators out there looking to improve their teaching, and there are many of us looking to do just that.

These books range in prices but most fall in between 99 cents and $10. Some writers like Seth Godin might recommend you publish your first eBook free to engage your “tribe”. In essence you should build up your reputation and your following before charging money, but the choice is yours.

If you are thinking about publishing a non-fiction educational eBook here are some sites that can get your started:

  • Academic publishing: The essential checklist for ebook authors
  • How to Publish an eBook
  • How to Publish on Kindle Platform

2. Create an App

Creating an App used to be reserved for only programmers and developers, however, today people can learn how to make a successful app without the years of training needed beforehand. It might seem like a daunting task, and it is sure to take some time…but if you have a good idea for an educational app, there is no doubt it can be done.

Check out the list of some top educational apps reviewed by actual teachers on TeachersWithApps.com.

Now, with Amazon apps and Android apps, the market is wide-open for products developed by real educators. Edudemic came out with a great article in 2010 on how to “Make an Educational App” (a guide for teachers). Other teaches are making the apps themselves for students and to get paid in the app store.

If you are thinking about making an app check out this article on App Building Tools for Teachers:  http://appsineducation.blogspot.com/2011/10/app-building-tools-for-teachers-and.html

3. Sell Your Content on TeachersPayTeachers.com

Teachers Pay Teachers has been around for almost seven years, and boy has it grown! Paul Edelman the founder says, “Teachers work hard and deserve extra compensation for all those hours spent lesson planning.Newer teachers and those looking for ideas can save time and leap ahead in competency by learning from veterans.We strongly believe that the ensuing exchange lifts all boats and leads to the better sharing of best practices.In the end everyone wins, especially our students.”

The site is simple and straightforward. When you sign-up you have the option to download free and paid resources, as well as upload free and paid resources. You set the price.

You can browse resources by Grade Level, Subject, Type (Lesson Plans, Printables, Exams etc), and Price. Techcrunch recently wrote an article about Teachers Pay Teachers when the first teacher from the site reached $1 Million in sales! Many of the top teachers on the site have hit five figures or more in sales. TPT takes a 40% cut of profit on basic memberships, but only 15% on Premium memberships (which start at $60 a year). If you are going to sell a good amount of material, it might make sense to join as a premium member.

Finally, be sure to read the site’s TOS and Copyright Policy.

4. Create A Course on Udemy.com

Udemy’s “goal is to disrupt and democratize the world of education by enabling anyone to teach and learn online. Just as blogging democratized the publishing industry, Udemy seeks to dramatically change education by empowering millions of experts to teach & share what they know.” They’ve successfully raised over $4 million dollars in funding since 2010 (when they were founded). I’ve personally taken a number of Udemy courses and they ranged from amazing to so-so. As an instructor the set-up is a bit more challenging than TPT (above) but the product has many more possibilities.

When you sign-up on Udemy you can browse courses by various content or keywords. You’ll notice that many of the “popular” courses are free, but hits like “Microsoft Excel 2010 Beginner/Intermediate Course” has almost 12,000 students and sells for $99 (you can do the math!). That particular course is filled with 17 Chapters and 129 Lectures, most of which are video screencasts demonstrating different features and functions in Excel.

Education is definitely not the top category on Udemy, but it is growing. Courses like “Apps for Librarians” and “Google Earth for Educators” have seen real success, and educators are making money. Furthermore, the education category is not the only area where you could possibly create a course. Based on your subject knowledge, you could create a course in many of Udemy’s categories including: Arts, Business, Fitness, Humanities, Language, Math and Science, Social Sciences, Sports etc.

If you are looking into making a Udemy course, sign up and take this free course to help you understand the tools and features: http://www.udemy.com/official-udemy-instructor-course/

5. Tutor or Teach Online

I’ve been an SAT tutor for five years now, and it is a fantastic way to make extra money. Most of my tutoring has been face-to-face, but there has been a recent trend where tutors are working online with students via video collaboration and other LMS/CMS tools.

Similarly, online teaching has taken-off and there are part-time K-12 jobs, and university jobs popping up. Unlike Udemy, these courses are usually pre-built and require interaction with students. Grading and other expectations are required of the teacher. Time Magazine wrote a great article on teacher Jane Good, who works for an online teaching organization, showing how her work-life is different in many ways than traditional teachers. It is worth the read.

We keep coming back to the same premise: people will pay for your expertise, and your experience in teaching. It is a tough field and not everyone can instruct. If you have the chops to make it in the classroom, it is worth checking out online opportunities.

Online Teaching Opportunities

  • Online Teaching Jobs and Other Home-Based Education Jobs
  • K12 Careers
  • K-12 Telecommuting & Part-Time Jobs

Tutoring Opportunities

  •  Online Tutoring Jobs at Tutor.com
  • Tutor Vista
  • Tutor Job Listings at Indeed

Bonus: If you have a big idea, it could be a Startup!

Maybe you are thinking “bigger” than these five ways to make money. Maybe you want to truly disrupt the educational field and market. If so, you might be headed down the Startup Road. Some educators are working part-time or leaving their jobs to work on companies and organizations ready to change education. Check out Imagine K-12 and subscribe to Edsurge.com to get a better feel of what this type of experience might look like.

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