Back in 2003 I first started selling my novel units on Ebay. At the time I had a huge 9 units available! I tested the water a bit to see if anyone was interested. I knew how much I spent on teaching resources for my own classroom with books by Teacher Created Materials and other similar publishers. The thing that bugged me the most about buying these books was that I would only pick and choose a few things and then have to spend a bunch of time modifying them, putting together a unit and writing the teaching plans for submission to administration. For the money I was spending I felt I shouldn't have to put forth as much work myself! I decided to sell my units with the plans written and get rid of all the "fluff" that I would exclude from all the stuff I would buy. I would sell a unit that was probably smaller than the big publishers (definitely cheaper) but it would be practical and in essence you'd get more bang for your buck!
It worked and I built up a customer base and started getting requests for more units for different books. I went to work creating more. In 2005 I was contacted by enotes.com and was asked to allow them to sell my units on their site. We have had a nice partnership since then.
In 2007 sales at Ebay started to get smaller and smaller as the website changed. Many of the great customers had left the site due to it being overrun with high priced items and a huge increase in fraud. I started to look elsewhere to sell my wares and realized Amazon may be a fit for me. I still have a couple auctions up on Ebay going all the time but I no longer have a store there or much of a presence. My Amazon store on the other hand brought a whole new group of consumers and has been a great fit. It is a much more trusted site and my customers don't have to worry as much about fraud issues. The biggest downside with Amazon however is the inability to sell as a download. I can only sell on a CD and mail it. I know many teachers want the product now! They want to get started planning ASAP, not wait for the postal mail a week later. Not to mention having to pay a higher cost due to shipping fees. Another limitation to this method is when I leave town I have to totally shut down sales since I can't ship them out. I could sell my units in the Kindle format so the customer could get it ASAP but they would not be able to print it out which would be a huge negative.
Things slowly grew at Amazon and last summer I came across the Teachers Pay Teachers site on of all places the disboards, a website for Disney World lovers! I checked it out and realized this could solve my lack of a download problem! I could sell on a CD and as an immediate download. I immediately created a TpT Store and started uploading all my units. Teachers Pay Teachers has been the best fit! Not only can I sell in a way that is best for teachers but there are great forums there full of teacher entrepreneurs like me that I learn so much from and motivate me to challenge myself to create new and improved products. I love being a member of the community there.
This summer I was contacted by a new site, Teacher's Notebook. They are a direct competitor of Teachers Pay Teachers with pretty much the same format for buying items. I set up a TN Storefront and the jury is still out on how it will go. It is a very graphically inviting site but there are still some improvements that will need to be made to be equal to, or better than, Teachers Pay Teachers both from both a buyer and seller's standpoint.
So what does all this mean for the buyer? Where should you shop? Personally I would direct you to TpT Storefront. I say that simply because it has the best options for a buyer. You can purchase on a CD and wait for the mail if you choose. You can download and have your product ASAP. The best thing about them is they allow a seller to notify you when any modifications are made to a product that was previously downloaded. This may be as simple as a typo was fixed or it could be a total overhaul of the product. As a buyer you can download the modified version at no extra cost. That is a huge benefit for the buyer. How many other stores allow you to get upgrades for free? I have spent a good deal of time this summer modifying my existing novel units and adding assessments, new graphics, etc. to them. All of the past buyers have been able to get this new improved unit for free. I still have many units to do and will be working on them throughout the next year. You can bet if you downloaded from TpT you'll be getting an email inviting you to get the new improved version for free!
So that's my story as a teaching entrepreneur. Do you have products that you've created that you know others can use? I encourage you to join me and the many other wonderful teachers at both Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher's Notebook to share your ideas. There are links on the left to direct you to become a seller at both sites. I encourage to give it a shot. It is rewarding to find that not only are your lessons and ideas wonderful in your classroom but that there are teachers all over who want to use them too!