How to Bulletproof Your Customer Base Using Lists

I’ve been hesitant to publish this blog post for some time now.  The post takes on some issues that could make it appear that I am being negative, and I don’t want anyone to presume that.  I also don’t want anyone to think I’m bashing social media, or TpT in anyway.  I’m so grateful and forever indebted to the doors that both platforms have opened.  I love social media, and I’m as bullish as they come on TpT.

What I’m going to teach you in these next couple of posts is how to bulletproof your business.  I want you to be prepared in case any external changes happen that you may not have control over.  Think of this post as the blueprint the third little pig used to build his house. Before we start I want to throw some hypothetical scenarios out there.  While you’re reading through them I want you to consider how you would respond to these situations.

  • Pinterest makes a change that blocks you from linking any of your pins to Teacher pay Teachers without paying a fee to ‘boost’ that post.
  • Your blog hosting company goes bankrupt and closes shop before you can export your site to another host.
  • Teachers pay Teachers makes a change that cripples your store in some way.
  • Teachers pay Teachers somehow goes out of business (let the record show that I believe TpT is a fantastic company and is in great health)

How would these things impact your current business model?  How could you continue to sell all of the phenomenal products that you have spent so many hours creating?  The answer to all of these questions is in the list, and I’ll show you how to set it up. If you think I’m being chicken little, let me walk you through a couple of changes that have happened over the years.  Facebook is continuously updating it’s algorithm which determines which posts we see in our news feeds.  Did you know that when you post status updates to your Facebook page that not everyone may see it?  Check your insights.  These changes were made within the last year and have devastated a lot of small businesses.

Another change I recently heard about was a podcast hosting company that sent out an email saying that they were going out of business and that users had 7 days to transfer their files off of the site.  What happens if you were on vacation during that time and didn’t have a backup?  Yikes!

The Day I Lost it All

One of my other businesses is StubSearch.com.  It’s a ticket broker site that sells tickets to sold out events.  I used to post ads on craigslist to hot events.  It made me a ton of money.  There were several months each year that I was making ridiculous money ($xx,xxx per month).  I generated nearly 3 million dollars in revenue over a few years, but I was totally dependent on craigslist.  That was my fatal flaw.

One morning I woke up to post my daily ads and noticed craigslist had made a tiny change.  They were now charging $5 per ad (free prior)  if you wanted to post in the tickets by dealer section.  They have every right to do that, but I was crippled overnight.  I was literally devastated.  Although it is still lucrative to post paid ads in some markets, my traffic totally died.  I had no way to contact previous customers and basically watched a thriving business turn into something that just pays for my son’s daycare. In the midst of the trauma I learned a valuable lesson.  I should have been keeping an email list of former and potential customers.  If I had a list I would still be able to market to them and have some control over my future.

The Money Is In the List

Since that dreadful day I have been studying internet marketing from the best of the best.  I listen to podcasts. I read the blogs.  I’ve taken some courses.  I have even joined a small mastermind group where we help each other with our online businesses. When successful internet marketers are asked, “What is the most important piece of internet marketing?”, nearly every one of them responds with, “Build your email list first.”  Jeff Walker, a top internet marketer, takes it a step farther and says, “You list is a license to print money.”

If you sat down and discussed important assets with anyone from TpT they would almost certainly include their massive email list as one of their top assets.  They realized early on that the email list was super important to growing their business and connecting with their customers.  We should be doing the same with our customer bases. I’m not suggesting that you should try and sell your products on your own.  The TpT marketplace is on fire and you would be a fool not to focus your energy there.  They know what they are doing and I firmly believe that we are still in the beginning stages of what this company is going to look like in a couple of years. However, I am suggesting that you need to be prepared for changes that are beyond your control with all aspects of your TpT business.

The next blog post will describe how I have setup my list and engage my tribe.  Stay tuned.

How to Create Animated Gifs for Marketing on Pinterest and Blogs

This is a guest post from Regina Frazier over at 123KTeach.  I’ve seen these types of pins popping up on Pinterest, and it looks like they allow for a lot of creative ideas when it comes to marketing your store and products.  Take it away, Regina!

I just recently discovered the Free Online Animated Gif and I just love it. It is so easy to create a mini slide show and post. I started using it to create animated Gifs on Pinterest to try and promote some of the products I created this summer. I am happy to see that these pins seem to be getting more attention as they are repinned more often than regular sized pins or even some of my longer style pins. Here is the link to get started. http://gifmaker.me/

Begin by created your product as you normally would on Powerpoint or Word and save as JPEGS or PNG’s. I ususally just save them to my desktop to make it easy for me to find. Next, open up gifmaker and upload the slides you want. You can rearrange them in any order you want. I uploaded a few slides from my Kindergarten Back to School Bundle to show as an example.   Your screen will look like this.

 On the top where it says canvas slide, I just leave it at 100% 720 X 960.  Next, you will need to select animation speed. This tells how many seconds between slides. I just set mine to about 3400 miliseconds. As I count in my head, it is about 5 seconds between switching to the next slide. You can set music to the slides only from YOU Tube, but keep in mind that this music will not be playing on Pinterest. Once you are happy with the order of your slides, click create now at the bottom of the screen. Then hit download the Gif Image now. It should go directly into your picture folder. 

Next, if you want to use these images on Pinterest, you will need to open up your Pinterest page and hit the + sign next to your name. Click on upload a pin and choose your Gif Image from your files. Write out your pin description and do not forget to link it back to your TPT or TN store. 

Below is the example of my Gif found on Pinterest.  If you click on the image below, it will enlarge on your screen to even get a closer look. This is pretty cool! There are some boards on Pinterest that do not allow you to pin long pins and this is just another way to show off your products. Learning how to create animated pins was one of my summer goals. I am so happy that I learned how and now I can share this information with you. It is super easy and it only takes about five minutes to upload a great looking pin. Since I am out for the summer and these are brand new products, I do not have pictures of the kids using them as of yet. However, it is great to show slides of your products actually being used in your classroom. 

Another one of my summer goals was to create lots more products. I really wanted to have 100 products posted by August 1st. I am so excited to have reached this goal. I worked for several hours with my head buried  behind my laptop this summer to finally get there. I was even able to make a few bundle packs. Below are slides from one of the bundle packs I put together. I began created products for TPT during my February vacation in 2013. It has taken time to reach 100 products. Most of the products I posted were during my winter, spring or summer breaks. I just can’t seem to be productive during the school year, since every ounce of my energy needs to be focused in on my kindergarten class. I am hoping these animated Gifs will bring some more attention to my store and I am hoping this tutorial helps you to be more successful. I learned so much from reading the forums and I am so very grateful for all that I have learned so far from some amazing teachers. Now it is time that I give back something I learned and pass it on to you. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can all be successful. Happy Pinning with your new animated Gifs! 

Connect with Regina Frazier