There are countless cases of teachers quitting well paid jobs to earn more by selling lesson plans and teaching resources online. But, how did they do it?
Typically, their rise to entrepreneurial success followed 4 key steps:
1. Leverage online marketplaces and social media
In most cases, teachers are leveraging vast user-bases of platforms like Pinterest, or Teachers Pay Teachers to generate an equivalent salary or more from selling downloads to their peers, parents or students directly.
Tapping into the floods of digital footfall that pass through these hugely popular websites, teacherpreneurs quick mount up viable paying audiences.
2. Setting up shop quickly with a SaaS tool
Migrating their following off the platform and onto their own website is the predictable next move.
In most cases, using a SaaS tool like Sellfy facilitates launching an online shop within minutes – for as little as $29.00 per month.
A simple stop gap for making the big leap of independence.
3. It’s still hard work no matter what
Either way though, whether on a platform or using an app – it still takes time and the investment of endless hours of research and development to build a sustainable online business.
Most success story cases talk of working 50-60 hour weeks re-packaging their teaching skills into bite-sized digital downloads for the masses.
If you’re just starting out, the key thing is to gain an audience as cheaply as possible, so the venture at least pays for itself.
Beyond, this you then want to then begin rewarding yourself financially with smarter online investments to recoup time and money spent.
4. Sell lesson plans online with WordPress to earn more profit
But once you’ve gotten some traction making a regular income selling your teaching downloads online, you may begin asking:
How do I maximise my profits and really build a business out of this?
The answer (for many): build a custom WordPress website and eCommerce download shop.
- save money
- make money
Save money selling lesson plans online with WordPress
For example, against the commission given to TPT on every sale – you stand to save 50% sales revenue from using WordPress online.
Also, compared with Sellfy (charging $948.00 per year) for vendors making $50K sales using their system, your own WordPress website cost will only $442.00 per year…(saving you $506.00!).
In short, because WordPress is open source it is free to use, and very affordable to customise and extend. This makes WordPress a far more economic long term investment for running your online teaching business.
Make more money selling teaching resources online with WordPress
But besides merely saving money, there is also tremendous UPSIDE to using, WordPress – the world’s #1 content management system enjoyed by billions of users globally:
✅ easy, flexible and fully-loaded functionality for managing content
✅ scalable for your business growth
✅ completely customisable (via 1,000s of add-ons and specialised plugins)
✅ Google-friendly optimised web pages
✅ simple to integrate with other leading business software
…helping you make more sales, retain customer subscriptions and grow your profit.
By enlarge, WordPress is the choice for professional online business owners worldwide.
That being said:
What is the best way to successfully migrate your online shop for teaching resources to WordPress?
In this article, I will take you through the steps of setting up your own WordPress web shop for selling your lesson plans and teaching resources as downloads. Plus, I’ll show you exactly how to manage your website to optimise sales and grow your audience quickly.
Mapping The Customer Experience Of Your Online Lesson Plans Digital Download Shop
(Image Credit: Philip Sadula’s Maths Store)
The success of your subscription-based business model will largely be dependent on the user’s journey throughout your website.
If your website is easy, frictionless and more-ish users will be encouraged to dwell on your pages, consider your products and subscribe.
The key to achieving this is sound navigational architecture and conversion rate optimization.
So now it’s time to get granular with mapping out the customers’ movements through your site.
For this, I’ll be using a professional project management method known simply as Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). It’s the industry standard for pulling together a step by step overview of processes.
And here’s the breakdown of your typical subscriber’s journey to investing in your products:
An Example Customer Journey Downloading Your Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources
The following is an outline of the steps a subscriber would take to buying your digital teaching resources:
STAGE OF WORKFLOW
ACTION TAKEN BY CUSTOMER
Google Search or Social Media
People search either on Google or social media looking for lesson plans and/or other teaching resources.
Landing Page Arrival
Clicking on the 3rd party web link, the visitor comes to your website and lands on the relevant page on your site.
The visitor clicks on the home page link in hope of discovering what your website is about at a high level.
Above the fold on your homepage the visitor reads a welcome message that builds rapport, concordance with their goals and reassures them that they are in the right place.
How This Works
The visitor gets a visual step-by-step guide to how users of the website search, find and download lesson plans and resources.
Now, the visitor is keen to sample to range and quality of your resources and trial them to judge if they are just what is required.
Using functions like faceted search and filter, visitors examine individual downloadable resources that catch their eye. The visitor builts up a short list of potential purchases by adding them one at a time to their shopping cart/basket.
Gradually, during the shopping episode, the visitor collect a number of products in their shopping cart and upon review, refines their choices leaving certain purchases in the basket.
Go To Checkout
Pleased with their selection of downloads, the visitor now makes their purchase decision. They weigh up the pros and cons for you various buying options including subscription vs. one-off purchase.
After confirming the items in the basket and progressing to checkout, the customer now enters their billing information into the eCommerce engine.
Personal details including email address for delivery of the download are submitted here.
Confirm Order Details
The customer is now reminded of the items to be purchased and their personal/delivery details.
Add Delivery Notes
Any additional notes to the vendor are communicated to assist in a smooth delivery experience.
Finally, the customer chooses their preferred payment method and actions electronic payment.
Once the order is completed, the digital products are available for download via email link and an invoice accompanies the product.
Having laid out a map for how you expect visitors to become converted to subscribers in your site, let’s explore why WordPress is the ideal tool for managing this and how it’s all done.
Tutorial: How To Sell Lesson Plans And Teaching Resources Online With WordPress
Powering more than 43% of websites on the internet, WordPress is reported in leading research studies as the world’s most popular content management system and web builder.
And as such WordPress offers outstanding benefits for running your online shop for selling lesson plan downloads.
The key WordPress advantages being:
WordPress is an ecosystem.
And this is the best solution for businesses because of the uniqueness of your requirements.
From starting up to growing, you will learn more about your audience and will begin to appreciate that even the smallest or most deft tweaks in your online store’s function could bring significant ROI.
Inflexible single solutions seem easy at the first, but bring serious frustrations when your project takes on more commercial complexity and lack of flexibility loses you money.
Easy to customise
You can change WordPress is diverse ways and quickly.
And this becomes more critical as your online store grows because a quick fix to a functional limitation brings immediate improvement to the user’s experience.
This is done in WordPress by plugins. Plugins provide essential business functioning. And they are made by developers who compete with one another to satisfy the needs of the customer.
Because of this healthy competition between plugin providers, the bigger picture for you as a store owner is a continually growing and improving array of mission-critical (beginner-friendly) tools at your fingertips.
So, in short, with a single ecommerce app you have:
- one solution to hand
- made and supported by one team
But with WordPress, you have:
- thousands of solutions under one roof
- made and supported by thousands and thousands of developers and teams worldwide
And WordPress is proven – it’s economy (mostly supported by plugin sales) is estimated to be worth $635.5 billion.
If WordPress were a country, it’s equivalent revenue as GDP would rank 39th in the world according to stats from the International Monetary Fund.
A far greater investment in your business success than any SaaS.
Here are step-by-step instructions for selling your lesson plans and downloadable teaching resources with WordPress.
How To Set-Up Online Shop For Selling Worksheets and Teaching Resources Using WordPress
Step 1. Setting Up WordPress
a. Set up a web hosting account
WordPress needs to be hosted somewhere. And there are umpteen choices.
However, the important thing you need to know is that there are only options:
- Specialist WordPress-only hosts
- Generalist web hosts that also do WordPress
Why is this important?
In a word:
WordPress is a world-class technical product, although made to look very easy and accessible at the front end.
Under the hood however, it’s code, assortment of files, functions and software routines is tough to handle without development help.
And the best of the bunch is WPMUDEV.
Their support team are actually expert developers, rather than support personnel. Their front-line support are also the experienced problem solvers.
Whether you want advice on improving your online shop or need help fixing something, with WPMUDEV you have an expert resource that is available 24/7.
Zero waiting, always a solution.
b. Install a WordPress theme
Themes give your website immediate shape and form.
But frameworks grant control.
Whilst your online shop in its infancy might not require much chopping and changing, as it matures you’ll surely want it to do much more. Your customers will too.
Frameworks offer easily customisable structure and order to how your website operates, performed by PHP code, principally in:
- actions: making your website dynamic (and limitless), rather than static (and limited)
- filters: using conditional rules to dictate what users see
This control and handling in the form of a framework helps you build a better foundation for a customised website.
I recommend StudioPress’s Genesis Framework.
It goes unchallenged as the #1 WordPress theme building framework.
Many top WordPress websites are built on Genesis Framework and it been installed over half-a-million times.
Time: 3 hrs
Step 2. Learning WordPress
Like with any technical product, there is a learning curve to WordPress.
For personal projects, because the requirements are relatively bland, users need little more than the instructions out of the box.
But the financial risk of commercial projects call for WordPress mastery.
This is where WP101 WordPress video tutorials come in.
Besides hosting and a theme, you next most worthy WordPress investment will be buying a WP101 license.
WP101 is a series of well planned and executed WordPress tutorial videos that are the perfect roadmap for getting from A-to-B. And Shawn (your patient, knowledgeable guide) is the perfect interpreter for making things plain inside the WordPress website builder.
- Your expert tutor, Shawn Hesketh, worked with WordPress for 30 years
- Top online pros – Chris Lema & Neil Patel use WP101 to instruct clients
- Videos are easy to pick up, difficult to put down and need only 1 watch
Step 3a. Install Easy Digital Downloads
As the name suggests, Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) is WordPress’s answer for anyone selling digital downloads.
Consider EDD as the engine that will drive your download enterprise on WordPress.
In fact, the vast majority of the thousands of WordPress plugin vendors out there use EDD themselves. The plugin currently supports over 50,000 download-based businesses.
I recommend Easy Digital Downloads as the engine for powering your WordPress downloads store.
- It’s makes complicated download needs – easy.
- You don’t need a single keystroke of code, it’s all drag-and-drop.
The EDD professional license is the package you’ll need. It has all of the necessary functions to fulfil the next step.
Time: 2 hr
Step 3b. Install & Configure Easy Digital Download Add-Ons
Consider this a wish list for essential and ideal functions for your store:
Process credit card and debit card transactions with ease
Offer PayPal as an alternative form of payment at checkout
Easily manage and track your subscriber's recurring payments
Offer free sample downloads to nuture visitors into subscribers
Additional checkout fields to handle special requests
Add ConverKit to your checkout process for email marketing opt-in
Easily host your images using Amazon S3 for optimal website speed & performance
Offer custom deliverable download products for an added premium
Collect and publish product reviews to increase new subscriber conversion
Get deeper sales insights for getting ahead of the curve on strategy
Offer up relevant products at the point of sale
Do some gentle fact finding with customers at the point of sale
Allow Customers the flexibility of paying securely online via debit or credit card
Offer discounted prices in exchange for social media shares
Allow subscribers and visitors to highlights their favourite downloads
Allow your visitors and subscribers to line up a wish list of downloads
Block non-subscribers from accessing premium resource pages
Track user activity through your website for insights to improve user journey
Increase revenue per sale on individual products with cross-sell and upsell
Time: 40 hrs
Step 4. Install FacetWP
A filterable ‘resource wall’ is a very user-friendly interface for site visitors to sort through what on offer.
For example, the maths resources page for WhiteRose has this Kanban-style presentation which is a popular tactile way of listing products:
To achieve this in WordPress you need the FacetWP plugin.
It’s an impressively flexible way of producing these filterable resource walls.
Plus, FacetWP has LOTS more built-in and add-on functionality to further wow your users.
(It will effortlessly make searching and finding the ideal maths worksheet a joy in itself!)
For demo examples featuring the full array of what you can make FacetWP do, visit the page linked to below (*note: the showcase not only has tons of LIVE examples of how FacetWP is used, but itself is powered by FacetWP – enjoy):
Visit the FacetWP showcase.
Time: 3 hrs
Step 5. Install AIOSEO (All-In-One SEO plugin)
Getting your website visible on Google and Bing search is becoming increasingly challenging.
For a start, you need a continual stream of content and lots of it to persuade the search engines to yield you an audience.
And of course, you need a well optimised site.
For on-site SEO, I recommend AIOSEO. It will give you the best advantage for acing Google’s Search Ranking algorithm.
- built-in content scanning SEO prompts and scores to keep your content on point
- all the right tagging inputs to set you pages up to rank well
- over 3 million users worldwide lean on AIOSEO to top Google’s rankings
You’ll mostly only ever have a need for the free version of this plugin.
Step 5. Build Your Site, Plus – Configure and Upload Download Products For Sale
Now, you need to get your custom graphics, written content and of course your product pages installed within your WordPress website.
- uploading image collateral
- writing product pages
- configuring ecommerce rules, pricing etc
- lining up your subscription gateway
- protecting your premium assets from being accessed by non-subscribers
- connecting your site with a payment service, like PayPal, or Stripe
Time: 40 hrs
Things To Consider Before You Start…
(Do-It-Yourself) Skills Required & Difficulty Level = Beginner Friendly
✅ Basic proficiency with computers
✅ Learn WordPress yourself and master all you need to know over time
✅ Tweak to your heart’s content for the ideal balance of style and function
✅ The simplest of HTML/CSS coding ability will go a long way
Again, I can’t recommend just how important the WP101 tutorial videos are in flattening the learning curve.
Your WordPress online download store will cost between $422.00 for all the hosting and plugins you need, plus your custom domain name.
Against Teachers Pay Teachers you’ll save 50% on every sale, and against Sellfy saving over $500.00 YoY (year-on-year)
More flexibility and advanced features for better subscription conversion and retention
Other Tools Needed:
Image manipulation software to produce the product images
Email marketing platform for engaging your audience
Time To Set-Up MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
20 – 35 hrs
Time To Set-Up A Custom WordPress Online Store
150 – 250 hrs
(Done For You, Professionally) Hire A WordPress Web Developer
✅ No-hands from your perspective – a totally ‘white gloves’ concierge service
✅ No irritating ‘newbie’ sticking points in the set-up process
✅ You get to continue running your business with 100% focus
✅ Quick turnaround for the soonest launch possible
Your hire charge will be £1,950.00 for the entire web build and this includes: custom-made graphics, copy writing and Google Analytics set-up.
Great (if you factor in the time saved against your personal hourly rate)
Your site will convert subscribers optimally from day 1
Professional quality implementation including tweaks you wouldn’t have considered
Other Tools Needed:
Email marketing platform for engaging your audience
Lead time to launch
10 working days (+ 1-3 days for redrafts and amendments)
Planning To Go-Live With Selling Your Lesson Plans Online
So, once you’ve set-up your new WordPress website to sell your downloadable lessons and worksheets – you’ll want to let your audience know.
Here’s how to do that most effectively, for best results and least cost:
Promotional Ideas To Launch Your Teaching Resources Online Shop
Audience engagement is critical to keeping online subscription-based businesses afloat.
You need to regularly comb through your prospects and segment your audience to best match needs with solutions.
The ideal method of doing this is email marketing.
It’s laser guided for precision, and literally lands in the pockets of your prospects.
Plus, email marketing lends itself well to teaching-based businesses. It keeps a relevant dialogue going, helps unearth problems you may not be aware of and drives direct traffic to your money pages in an instant.
Here are some recommended ways to kick starting your new subscriber revenue through your WordPress shop using email marketing:
- Email newsletter
- New product announcements
- Email courses
- Case studies and success stories
- Cart abandonment mailshots
These are just some of the ways the email marketing can be used to seriously boost your marketing ROI. In fact email marketing is on average brings in $36 for every $1 spent (that’s a 3,600% ROI – astounding, but very achievable.)
Need help building your list? Here’s a detailed tutorial to keep you on top of email list growth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who do you recommend as a reliable WordPress development company to help me build by website?
If you have difficulties making WordPress do exactly what you want – or just want a pro-build – contact us today . A dedicated account manager will contact you within 4 hrs of enquiry.
Alternatively, you we’d recommed trying Codeable. Their the #1 online marketplace for finding a reliable WordPress developer.
How should I get good quality product images into my website?
Product images make all the difference to online sales conversion, even in the case of digital products.
We’ve always found Google Slides a great free tool for basic to intermediate level image manipulation tasks for most small business needs.
Above this, there is always Adobe Photoshop (pricey) or open source equivalent (free) online.
Should I use PayPal or Stripe as my preferred payment portal?
In our opinion, the less friction at the checkout – means more sales. Offer both.
Easy Digital Downloads has add-ons for both payment options, so this is easily done in WordPress.
It’s Time To Launch That WordPress Online Shop And Sell Those Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources…
Now, it’s up to you to get this new site development project off the ground. You’ve learned why WordPress is the best option for the long term sustainability of your business.
Plus, you’ve got a good understanding of all the plugins you need to convert WordPress into a online download subscription business.
What are we waiting for?
Get started started and buy your domain name and hosting package today.
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