Educator marketplace TeachersPayTeachers pays out over $1M for lesson plans

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Online marketplace TeachersPayTeachers offers a fairly direct proposal for educators: You can get paid for your lesson plans and other teaching materials.

And it seems many teachers are biting — the company paid out over $1 million to educators in 2010, more than sales in its first four years combined, founder Paul Edelman told VentureBeat.

The site allows educators to buy or sell teaching materials across all grade levels. Not only is it a great way to earn some extra cash on old lesson plans for sellers, it also allows buyers to get a leg up when teaching new material. Popular items at the moment include a set of attendance questions to better engage students at the start of class, and a “Family Feud”-style PowerPoint game template. Teachers can also buy and sell hard goods, including items created by other teachers and used educational material. The site also has a section for teachers to request specific items.

TeachersPayTeachers offers two subscription levels for sellers: A free option, which entitles them to 60 percent of any sales, and a $60 annual option, which lets sellers keep 85 percent of the sales price. The latter option accounts for around 25 percent of sales on the site.

Edelman says its best-selling teachers earn over $1,500 a month. One Georgia-based teacher, who has over 900 followers on the site, managed to more than double her salary by earning over $45,000 since the start of the school year in September. That’s certainly an edge-case, but it shows potential for other teachers.

With over 320,000 registered users, TeachersPayTeachers is one of the largest education marketplaces online. WeAreTeachers, a competing site, also offers lesson plans for sale. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were around 3.5 million teaching positions in the US in 2008, so the site’s current user base accounts for nearly 10 percent of all teachers in the country.

Edelman, a former New York City teacher, founded the site in 2006 with his own money. It was acquired by Scholastic later that year, but he ended up buying back the site in March 2009. He tells us it’s been profitable since then.

Edelman works out of France, but TeachersPayTeachers has a technology team based in Queens, New York. Like many startups, a team of coders in India performs additional work.

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