Today I’d like to share a bit of my entrepreneurial journey and talk a little bit about the question I’ve heard asked from time-to-time in the education space: “Shouldn’t educational resources be free?”
Now before I answer this question, I have to say, my audience is amazing. I have never once had anyone tell me that I should be giving out all my resources or online courses for free. Instead, they thank me for all the things that I do give for free, and it’s encouraging to hear this responses.
But the question still remains, and it still gets asked from time to time – Should all these resources be free? Why do people charge for educational resources? Are they just trying to get rich off the backs of teachers?
I’m not going to answer that question by talking about whether or not the time & effort of the author deserves compensation (which, I believe, has a pretty obvious answer).
Instead I want to give 2 reasons why it’s good for the buyers that everything isn’t free (which I hope will make you feel a little better if you’ve been going crazy with back-to-school purchases 🙂
When products are purchased…..
1. The author can devote more time to creating more products.
To further elaborate this point, let me tell you a little bit about my blogging journey.
When I stopped teaching to stay home with my newborn, my husband asked if I could try to make some money to cover the hole in our budget left by my (not very large) teaching salary. When I ran the numbers, it came to between $1,000 and $2,000 a month – a seemingly impossible amount to me at the time.
But I knew God would provide, and I started looking for things I could do from home. I started finding freelance projects, and somehow God started providing that seemingly impossible amount of money each month.
Around this time (May of 2013), I finished writing Create Your Dream Classroom and started Teach 4 the Heart. At that point, I just wanted to share what I could to help other teachers, regardless of whether or not it ever made any significant money.
For the first year, a typical month of blogging netted me somewhere around $2.13. (impressive, I know.) And the book didn’t do much better. So I spent most of my time doing freelance work to make our budget work.
But I started to get a dream. What if I could someday make enough money from Teach 4 the Heart that I could spend all my time (i.e. a couple hours during naps) creating helps & resources for teachers instead of doing this random freelance work that, while I don’t hate, I’m not really that passionate about either.
What if I could spend more time creating helps & resources for teachers?
With this dream in my mind, I started to get a little bit more intentional about my blog. I continued to improve it and put time into it, even though it made hardly any money.
Then in the summer of 2014, I started working on an online classroom management course. I would share all the things I wish I had understood as a first-year teacher with the goal of helping other teacher avoid the pitfalls I fell into and get to the point where they could actually be effective (and finally enjoy teaching, too).
So I created the course (working feverishly to finish it before I had my 2nd baby and finally putting on the finishing touches literally as I was going into labor).
When I released the course, things started to change. That first launch made $1,316, and I was in somewhat of a state of shock.
But before you think “Shopping spree!!” remember my goal. I needed to make up this hole in my budget, and to this point I had been doing it with freelance work. Now, for the first time, I was able to make up a huge chunk of that hole with work from what I loved – helping teachers.
Something switched that day. I now knew that I could and should spend more time working on Teach 4 the Heart and less time on freelance – something I simply could not have done if I had given away the course for free.
This past year I’ve been working to tip the scales so that I spend more time on the blog and on creating more resources than I do on freelance.
And just this last week, I finally hit an awesome milestone. With the success of the back-to-school promotion for Classroom Management 101, I finally got to say “I’m sorry, I’m not available to work on this freelance project.”
I’m finally officially 100% working for Teach 4 the Heart. 🙂
Now I can work towards creating more online courses, more resources, and more free articles to help teachers grow and improve. I have so many ideas, and now I don’t have to split my time between creating them and doing random freelance projects to make ends meet.
Now I don’t have to split my time.
This is what happens with every author who charges for their products. If they gave them all away for free, then they would only have time to create a few things here and there because they have to pay their bills and that money has to come from somewhere. When they charge for their products, they can say no to other things and spend the time necessary to create more awesome things that people will be thrilled to buy. It really is a win-win
2. The author can invest more money into creating better products.
If someone’s giving everything away for free and no cash is coming in, there’s no money available to purchase better software or better equipment. And hiring extra help or bringing in experts to collaborate on a course or project seems like a distant fantasy.
But when products start bringing in money, they can start to reinvest that money back into the brand to create better products, improve the blog, make a great free video series, and so much more.
So next time you purchase a great educational resource, I hope you’ll be a little happier with your purchase knowing that you’re giving that author the ability to invest more time and money to create more resources that are better than ever – resources you may just buy & love.
Oh, and if you’ve been thinking about becoming a teacher-author-blogger (or are already one and want to take your business to the next level), I recommend Angela Watson’s Ed Consulting School*.
*This is an affiliate link. I receive a commission if you decide to enroll in any of Angela’s courses. I highly recommend these courses as Angela is extremely knowledgeable, experienced, and generously shares her best tips and strategies in these videos.