What Product Should You Create Next? Ask Your Audience

I recently finished up my science interactive notebook series and have been sitting on the beach all week contemplating my next move.  I’ve been going back and forth with a couple of new product ideas, but I don’t have any concrete data to back up which ones would be better to create first.  I decided to go straight to the source and ask my fans/followers/readers (tribe) what they thought.

How to Create a Google Form

Everyone has filled out an online form at some point, but did you know that they are  super easy to make with Google Forms?  I was asked to create this tutorial for a summer learning series.  It shows you exactly how to setup a Google Form to so that you can collect data on just about anything you want.

Sharing Your Google Form

Once I created the survey, I then shared it out with my tribe.  If you have a large enough following on the social networks you might not have to entice people to fill out the form.  However, my facebook fans are still growing and I wanted to throw them an extra incentive for getting the data that I needed.  I offered up a chance to win a $10 TpT gift card if they filled out the quick survey for me.

Ask Your Audience

The People Have Spoken

I was surprised at the number of responses I received and feel like I got more than enough useful information.  This is the best part though.  I was leaning in one direction on what to create next, but it turns out my followers have other plans for me.  They have overwhelming chosen something that I was considering putting off until maybe next year, or maybe never.  This little exercise cost me $10, and I learned some very valuable information.  I also feel like I have earned some goodwill with my fans because I asked for opinions.  They are now invested in the direction of my store which creates trust and loyalty.

Have you ever created a survey for your fans?  Did you learn something valuable that you may not have known before?  I’d love to hear any comments below.

 

Analyzing Data Trends – Guest Post from SpanishPlans.org

The following is a guest post from Justin over at SpanishPlans.org.  I encourage you to take a hard look at the data trends chart that he provided.  I think it unveils a lot of answers to growth over time and trends throughout the year.  Take it away, Justin!

Keeping track of your TeachersPayTeachers data is an important business activity. It will allow you to see trends over time and also allow you to see the growth of your business. There are 2 different pieces of data you will want to collect.

First, are the sales you make on a monthly basis. Keeping track of how much you earn over a monthly period, will allow you to see big trends in your business. When the slow months come around, you can compare your figures from the previous years.

After five years of selling on TpT, my data shows me the enormous growth of my business and when to expect big sales and down periods. For new sellers, you can expect your sales to be quite low at the beginning. It does take some time to reach success; it doesn’t happen overnight. You will hear the success of people who are making a great deal of money, but this doesn’t happen automatically. You will need to market yourself through social media such as pinterest, twitter, facebook, google+, and also be an active member of TpT and the sellers’ forum. tpt graph

Looking at the trends overtime you can see how the summer months are always really low in sales, but that number picks up big time in August (second half of the month as many head back to school). September is also great. February is usually a bit lower than January, but January picks up as teachers return to school after the break. December also has a slight decline as winter break looms. The more products you add over time, the more opportunities you will have to make sales. Perhaps if your big seller is a winter unit, maybe your December sales will be higher than other months.

You can track your monthly sales on your sales page by changing the range of the sales to the first and last of each month. mysales

When you have the total in sales for each month, plug that number into an excel spreadsheet. You can download our free template and it will automatically generate a graph like the one you see above as you enter the data for each month. The second set of data you will want to collect is the number of followers. Track such data as the number of followers from your TpT store, as well as your social media (pinterest, twitter, facebook).

following

If you have a blog, you might track your number of posts, overall hits, or any other figures you think might be helpful. You can download this free template to track your followers. Every month, look at the numbers of followers and see how many you’ve added since the previous month.

This post was written by Justin of SpanishPlans.org. You can visit his TpT store here. You may also be interested in his most success post featuring hilarious teacher memes.

link

Supercharged at the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference

I spent the last week in Las Vegas with 750+ other amazing teachers at the Teachers pay Teachers: Supercharge Seller Success conference.  To say that it was an epic experience is a complete understatement.  If you have never heard of Teachers pay Teachers I encourage  you to read my blog post about it. 

Dinner & Blogger Meet Up

After arriving in Vegas my wife and I headed straight to Tao in the Venetian to meet up with some friends for dinner.  The conversations and ideas that came from this dinner are ones that will stick with me for a very long time.  It’s so refreshing to be around other people that look at education, and their own brands, through the same lenses that I do.  Special thanks to Go Noodle for such a generous gesture after the meal.

Tao Dinner

After dinner we headed over to the  blogger meetup which was crazy event and was packed with enthusiastic teachers.  I ran into a ton of people that I have only met online, and it was a lot of fun to get to meet them in person.  At some point I just stood back and looked around the room.  I thought about the collective number of lives that we had changed as a group.  The lessons that were created by people in that room have been used to educate children in classrooms all over the world.   It was very powerful.

I also got to meet many of the people that work at TpT.  It was such an honor to be recognized by some of them.  It really makes me realize that the work that I do matters.  I can’t say enough good things about each and every one of the employees at TpT.  They truly are in a class by themselves.  The picture below is from the side of the room during the blogger meet-up.

Blogger meet up

 The Keynote

Amy kicked off the keynote Friday morning to a sea of raving fans.  She got to introduce Paul to which he received a standing ovation.  I’ve read a couple of interviews with Paul before but didn’t really know much about him prior to the keynote.  I’m glad that he was able to share the back-story of TpT and some of the iterations that it went through along the way.  He was very gracious and humble in his speech and seemed like someone that the TpT employees loved working for.

I also found out a couple of days prior to the conference that he was actually a subscriber to the TpTschool newsletter which is pretty cool.  When meeting him he made a joke about me using TpT in the domain and sending his lawyers after me.  I assured him that I had run the domain by the office before publishing my first article, and they were cool with it.  I wish that I had stuck around a little longer to chat, but he was being mauled people wanting to take their photos with him.

Paul Edelman Teachers pay Teachers conference

Deanna Jump was up next and she continued the theme of humility as she shared her TpT story.  One of the things that I took away from her speech was that she mentioned giving away her products to schools early on with the hopes that they would come back and buy more from her.  I think this is a fantastic idea that I haven’t ever thought about.  Deanna is such a great ambassador for all of us and super accessible.  I did an interview with her here if you are interested in learning more about her story.

John Yoo spoke next and talked about the state of the company.  One of the things that stood out to me was that by July 15th, 2014 TpT will have done $100,000,000 in total sales.  WHAT?!  That number is staggering when you consider the price points of most of our items.  He also mentioned that around 4500 new people register on TpT every single day.  This is huge for sellers and huge for TpT.

Copyright and Copywrong

The first session I attended dealt with copyrights.  It was more of an informative session that dove into the different types of copyrights and how you could avoid stealing someone else’s work.

The biggest takeaway from this session was a little behind the scenes look at how the process works on TpT when someone reports a copyright infringement.  TpT will remove a product if an infringement is reported, and it is up to the seller to provide evidence that the product does not violate a copyright if they want to have the product published again to the website.

I also learned that TpT has safe harbor from copyright laws and cannot get in trouble since they have a process in place to deal with copyright infringements.

Data Extravaganza

This was the session that I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint.  Download the session notes here for all the data.

A few of the tips that I learned from this session about search

  • Keep your titles simple and keyword rich – Don’t use phrases that people aren’t searching for (i.e. Mr Kesler’s Chemistry Extravaganza Product)
  • Keywords at the top of  your item description hold more value to search than those at the bottom of the item description
  • Don’t overtag your products – TpT is going to implement some search changes that will help users find your products better if they are tagged properly.  There is also a new tag coming that is for all grade levels.
  • Social buttons matter – I used to believe that linking my pins to my blog would allow the customer learn more about my products before buying.  I felt like that was a little less in your face than “HERE’S MY PRODUCT, GO BUY IT!” Now I believe that linking them directly to the TpT product is the way to go because social shares matter in search.  Basically, if it’s shared a lot then you have a higher chance of it showing up in front of a product that isn’t shared as much (all things equal).
  • Logout of the site to check ranking.  If you remain logged in you may see results based on your specific login which uses algorithms based on your preferences and buying habits.  By logging out the search function treats you as it would any first time customer without a login.
  • Sales matter – Better selling items will show first (all things equal)

There are some good changes that are coming, and I feel like search and the customer experience is only going to get better from here on out.

 Build Your Magnet Marketing Plan

After mowing through a $34 (burger and beer) lunch at the Public House it was off to Rachel Lynette’s session on marketing.  This session was packed full of information on how to market your brand.  Her session was well rehearsed, and I could tell that she truly takes care of business when it come to marketing her brand.  Download the session notes here.

Some takeaways from the session:

  • The magic trifecta of marketing consists of your store being surrounded by your blog (1), your pin boards (2), and Facebook page (3).  Each play a vital role in success.
  • Success comes through the marketing process.
  • Use prime real estate on your blog (sidebar) wisely.  Don’t waste that space with blogrolls, etc.
  • Network, Network, Network
  • Remove links at the top of your TpT store out to your blog or facebook page.  You want people staying in your store…not leaving.  Love this tip.  I will add that I market my blogs to customers inside the product (after it has been purchased).
  • Use the 80/20 rule in your marketing efforts.  80% of the marketing you do should add value to a potential customer, and 20% is asking for the sale.  This is similar to the Jab, Jab, Jab, Uppercut approach that I mention in my free e-book.  It’s solid advice that is followed by top internet marketers.

There is a reason that Rachel Lynette is one of the top sellers.  She works her butt off and has one of the best grasps of marketing that I have seen on TpT.  It was an awesome presentation.

She even offered everyone in the room access to a Pinterest collaborative board just for being there.  Win!

Ready, Set, Grow: Accelerate Your Store’s Success

I was really excited about the last session because it was hosted by middle school teacher, Erin Cobb.  I’m personally drawn to her because she is a middle school teacher, and she does a lot with interactive notebooks.  Both of these things are close to my heart. Download the session notes here.

Much like many of the other top sellers, Erin started her TpT store out of necessity to help her family.  I have a personal connection with that story, because I started my store for similar reasons.

She showed some graphs of her earnings through 2013 and the peaks on it were staggering.   Throughout her session she talked about finding your magic ingredient which I believe is highly important to any successful store.  It’s the thing that drives long-term success.

The real standout of this session to me was during the Q&A session when someone asked a question about work ethic and time management (can’t remember the exact question).  The response was the important part though.  Erin paused for a second before answering and then attributed her success to hard work, long hours, and even sacrificing things around the home for the sake of the business.  It took some people by surprise that she was so honest with her response, but it was the right way to answer that question.

We often think that success finds certain people, but that totally discounts all of the hard work and  that those people have put into their projects or businesses.  There is no shortcut to success, and throughout the week I was reminded of that constantly.

Wrapping Up

I was genuinely floored to witness the level of dedication that each one of us puts into our business.   I’m also very excited about the future of Teachers pay Teachers as a company.  They put on an amazing conference and I’m looking forward to attending again in 2015.

Pinterest is NOT an OPTION for Teachers Pay Teachers Sellers – It’s a REQUIREMENT

This post is a guest post from my friend Jill over at UtahRoots.  She originally published this information in the TpT forums.  She adds a ton of value to Teachers pay Teachers as you can see in this high-quality post.

UtahRoots

 Pinterest is NOT an Option

This is just my little push for anybody who thinks they don’t have time to be consistent and strategic about Pinterest.  Don’t feel like you have to read it if you already are using Pinterest effectively.  This is for people who think it’s optional.

Pinterest drives the majority of traffic to TpT.  You can’t upload a product and expect it to take off if you’re relying only on the TpT search function to get it noticed.  Pinterest is my only method of marketing, so I’m really deadly serious about it.  It’s taken me a year and a half of consistent work, but I’m starting (JUST starting) to get clear and obvious results from that work.  I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

Pinterest is not an option for teachers pay teachers sellers

1. Learn Pinterest etiquette

Don’t spam.  When you go to Pinterest, click on the red cursive Pinterest word at the top center of your main page.  That’s called the main feed.  You will see there the pins of everybody you’re following on Pinterest and pins from everybody who collaborates on boards you’re on.  When you sit down and pin your new product to every single board you can pin to, everybody else on those boards will see your pin appear on their main feed.  There is nothing more annoying that you could do on Pinterest than to fill the main feed with fifteen of the same pin one after another.  That’s what you’re doing when you “vomit the pin” onto every board you can pin it to. Pin your product to one board.  Wait awhile.  Pin it to another board.  Wait awhile.  Don’t pin it more than three times in one day.

Be a good collaborator. If you’re invited to pin on a collaborative board you’re expected to act like a collaborator. You should pin at least two items of interest that are not products for every product you pin.  If you pin your new product to a collaborative board, the MINIMUM STANDARD OF POLITENESS is to follow up with at least two interesting appropriate non-product pins to that board.  Individual boards may require more than that.

Boards that are a solid wall of product covers are boards where pins go to die.  Some professional marketing consultants recommend up to 5:1 non-product pins to product pins. So if you’re not going to take the job of collaborator seriously enough to find and pin at least 2:1, don’t ask to be allowed to pin to that board.  And don’t be surprised if you’re kicked off.  People who start boards and invite others to collaborate are not obligated to let you keep pinning.  If you act like the board and everyone else on it exist to serve you, you’re going to get a rude awakening.

When you’ve pinned a product once to a board – any board – you need to go delete that pin before you pin the product again to that same board.  It will have no effect on that pin anywhere else.  I spend a lot of time on one of my boards where I made the mistake of inviting a seller who pins the same three or four products… Every. Single. Day.  If I wasn’t following along behind, deleting the pins, the board would be a wall of that seller’s same four pins.  I’m very close to just kicking the seller off that board.  Pay attention to what you’re doing.  Go visit the boards that you’re pinning to. Make sure you’re not monopolizing all the real estate.

2.  Start your own boards

When you first start your store, you’re pretty much dependent on finding and being allowed to join good collaborative boards.  But they’re good collaborative boards because the owner has been nurturing them for a long time.  If you ever want to have a board like that, you have to start your own.  It’s going to take you a year or more to get your own board(s) to a point where they’re getting you the results you’d like to see.  It’s never too soon to start.

3.  Design great pins

If you are pinning directly from your store, and your pins are those tiny little rectangular pictures of your cover, with a font that’s barely legible, don’t be surprised if they don’t get repinned.  That kind of pin can’t compete with pins that are well designed and pinned to good boards.  There are at least five or six forum threads and several free products from successful sellers that will teach you how to make a good pin.  Do your homework.

4.  Be consistent

Pin every day if you can.  You won’t be able to pin your own products when you don’t have many to select from, but you can always find something good to contribute to a collaborative board or pin to your own fledgling boards. Fifteen minutes.  Surely you can devote that much time every day or every other day.

5.  Pin at the right time.

Data suggests that the best time to pin is between 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern time (US).

If you take Pinterest seriously and have patience, your pins will eventually circle the globe and get onto networks that will give you the results you hope for.  It is going to take a long time to get to the point where you can count on a pin being repinned many times every day.  But you have to start somewhere.

Jill, UtahRoots