Selling Art Lessons Online

Do you want to create pages to use in your classroom or even maybe sell ...  Here is some info and advice I recently gave about my process of creating PDFs for teachers and the products I use to make and sell them.

 I use Adobe software, Illustrator for making anything graphic and InDesign for putting together the PDF and adding instructions, etc ... Yes, it's a little more expensive than other software, but it's the best out there and I wouldn't switch.  If you are a teacher, you are in luck!  They have a big discount for teachers and students :-)  

Here is a link to Adobe's pricing and teacher discount.  You could get just Photoshop for $10 a month, then use Powerpoint instead of InDesign to put things together.  Most teachers on TpT just use Powerpoint to make their PDFs.  It's better than Word because you can work on one page at a time without the software constantly shifting things around.

There is a huge learning curve, but if you start watching some Skillshare videos, you can learn some techniques a little at a time, then you'll be able to put them together and make the software work for you.  I've been using Adobe software for over 15 years, but still watch videos to pick up some new tricks and new workflow shortcuts.  They are always making changes, so that's a factor too in needing to constantly brush up on how to do things. I'll give you my affiliate link, this will give you 2 free months

I also love watching videos on crochet, illustrations done by hand, etc.  They have lots of videos on how to turn your drawings into graphic art using Photoshop as well.  (You could even be a seller on Skillshare if you enjoy making how-to videos.) If I had Skillshare when I was first learning, I think I would have learned much quicker, so take a look at a few videos (there are some that you can watch without signing up) and see if you enjoy learning that way.

So if you're looking for a "starter version" I'd just try Photoshop and Powerpoint.  Some of what you learn about Powerpoint can be applied to Illustrator later if you want to take the leap.

Teachers Pay Teachers makes it easy to get started selling.  You can get started here.  TpT takes care of a lot of the time-consuming part of building your own store and gives people customer service and tech help, etc...  It was also helpful to read feedback learn from them to tweak my products and marketing.

For my own website.  I set up a store using Shopify.  I've had a good experience with Shopify.  There may be a cheaper way using Wordpress and Woo Commerce, but I wanted EASY.  I'd rather spend time making things :-)

Here is a typical chain of events I follow when making a lesson to sell.  First, take what you'd use in the classroom and polish it up fonts and graphics. Then write detailed instructions that an untrained teacher could use. Take photos, make examples, create a cover, description, preview PDF and thumbnails ... then you are ready to post. To market, write a blog post that is related, create pins, make a Facebook post and some Instagram images. I wish it was as easy and just creating the pages, but all that other stuff has to be done as well. With that said, if you enjoy making things, it can be really rewarding both in dollars and in the enjoyment of creating and helping others. 

Here are a few paid and free products (not affiliate links) that can be helpful:
There are actually a class you can take from a TpT seller on creating quality products and selling (the closest thing to a TpT boot camp). I've been to her presentation at a TpT conference and she is really good.  Here is a how-to on getting  your store set up from a successful music teacher.  Here is a free template for making a product page in Powerpoint.   TpT also offers webinars, tutorials and an annual conference that are all helpful.  Here are some of their FAQs.  I would highly recommend starting with this last link and go from there.

You still need to do your own marketing even if you use a site like Teachers Pay TeachersPinterest has worked the best for me so far, but Instagram is good too.  (I just need to build my audience there.)

It's also helpful to have a blog.  If you want to start building a following, try starting a blog and giving away some lesson ideas and one-page handouts. It can be overwhelming and there will always be more to do that you have time for.  Just take one step at a time, like blogging and making some simple things to give away with Photoshop and Powerpoint.

There is a great online class called Pinning Perfect (not an affiliate link) that I took that really helped me write better blog posts and create pins to go with them.  They did a free facebook challenge that I did before signing up.  Maybe you can find something like that ...  It's a really good class and you get all the updates they do for free when Pinterest changes the rules.

Oh, and if you are wondering about hardware, here's what I use:
I have a MacBook Pro laptop that I work on with 2 peripheral devices.  I hook into a larger monitor so I can have 2 screens and a larger work space.  I also use an Intuit Wacom tablet and pen for drawing.  It makes a world of difference when making graphics.  

It's important to test out your products.  I like to try them out myself and create images that can be used in the product and marketing.  I use a wide variety of art media, but try to stay with what is accessible to most art teachers.  Here are some of my favorite go-to supplies:

First I print on cardstock.  It's smoother than regular copy paper and seems to work really well for texture rubbings.  It also stays flatter for photographing. 
When I work on blank paper, especially for painting, I prefer 90lb drawing paper. It's amazing how much better it is than 70lb paper!
Colored Crayola Markers are nice for outline and also when you want the color to bleed.
Woodless Colored Pencils (Crayola has some as well that I haven't tried) are great for texture rubbings.
Prismacolor Colored Pencils are my favorite but are expensive ... but SO smooth for blending colors.
When I was teaching, I spent a big part of my budget on Lyra colored pencils.  I loved them because they were so thick and didn't need to be sharpened as often.
It's best to have students use a hand sharpener for colored pencils. I put a sharpener in a small dish at each table.  
For watercolor painting, I like Prang best.  I took the strip of paint out of the box which made it dry faster and also made it easier to refill by popping out the oval of paint.
Another favorite for painting is Alphacolor Biggie cakes.  The  colors are intense and prepping is so much easier.  To clean off the paints, let them dry first, then quickly rinse under the faucet.

Getting good photos can be tricky!  (Especially if you have lots of white in the picture.)  If you have the space you can set up a photography area in the basement or corner of a room. 

I like having 2 light sources and this light kit made it easy.  For the white backdrop, I bought some white window shade material from Joann's and have it draped from the wall onto the table 

For a quick portable version, this white box works well for some people, but it would only work for small objects and photographing one page at a time.   

I hope this was helpful and not too overwhelming ... it's a LONG process, but rewarding, I really love creating things and it's a great feeling to know that you are helping both teachers and students enjoy the art process.

This post contains some (not all) affiliate links that don't cost you a dime but give me a small amount ... hey, a girl has to buy art supplies, right?!  The only products I recommend are those I use and find helpful.  


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