I’m not an introvert by any means, but I do struggle with small talk. It’s especially difficult in a situation where it’s expected to take place like a conference or party.
Many of us are going to be face to face with each other in just a few short weeks at the Teachers Pay Teachers conference. I know the thought of being in a room with hundreds of others of teachers makes many of you want to lock the hotel room door and not even come out.
Believe it or not, even us extroverts think about these kinds of situations.
There are going to be plenty of opportunities to network with other people, and I will tell you from personal experience that you don’t want to miss out on these types of conversations. You never know how someone else can help you or how you can help someone else. We’re all in this together.
It’s great to find out everyone else’s name, store names, and where they’re from, but where do you go from there?
“Soooooo….do you like stuff?” is really not a good conversation starter. Why not try these 20 questions to find out more about the person in front of you.
- How long have you had a store on TpT?
- What are some of the things you struggle with the most on TpT?
- What is the one thing you’ve done on TpT that has had the most positive impact to your business?
- What are your goals with your TpT store?
- Are there any tools you use that make your product creation process easier?
- What would you do differently if you were just opening up a TpT store today?
- How do you market your products on TpT?
- What sessions are you attending at the conference?
- When do you work on TpT products?
- What types of products do you create?
- Who are some of the TpT sellers you most admire? Why?
- What’s the most successful product you sell? Why do you think that is?
- What do you think about the future of TpT?
- Do you communicate with other sellers outside of the forums?
- Do you use the TpT app? Like the Cha-Ching or not?
- What are you hoping to take away from the conference?
- Do you blog? How often? What do you write about?
- What content/grade levels have you taught in the past?
- Do you have any plans to attend any of the social events while here in Vegas?
- Have you ever seen a Vegas show? Which one is your favorite? (for the record the correct answer is Beatles Love @ the Mirage)
The conversation isn’t meant to be a job interview and shouldn’t be forced. It should be fun and light-hearted. No one wants to listen to a complainer either. Leave that crap at the airport.
Remember, the person across from you is likely just as nervous as you are. Have a blast at the conference, and I look forward to meeting everyone.
I’d love to see some other questions that could be added to the list in the comments. Post em if ya got em.
I used to spend a ton of time searching for the perfect copyright-free images for my products. Those days are over. A few months ago I started using a new service called Dollar Photo Club for all of my TpT images.
The premise is simple. You get access to 25 million great stock images photos for just $1 each. There’s no catch or extra fees. You don’t even have to credit the photographer. There are a lot of photo subscription sites out there, but I’ve found Dollar Photo Club to be the best financial fit for my needs.
They have great photos high-quality photos for backgrounds and products enhancements.
I recently redesigned all of my TpT covers and most of the photos came from Dollar Photo Club. Photos really allow your covers to pop!
This is one of those services I wish I would have spent a little coin on right up front. I’m all about easy, and this service is definitely that.
Checkout Dollar Photo Club.
Note: Links to Dollar Photo Club are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission for each sign-up. As always, I would never recommend anything to fellow TpT’ers unless I use the product or service myself.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of my secrets for getting things done is to batch process a lot of my social media activities. When I say batch process I mean that I spend a set amount of time writing my posts, tweets, and Facebook updates and schedule them to release at certain times.
In this post I’m going to teach you how to the processes that I use to batch process my social media.
Schedule a WordPress Post
I like to write a bunch of blog posts at once and then drip them out a couple of times a week. This serves two purposes. The first is that I can focus on my writing for a few hours. I won’t have to worry about always meeting a deadline each week. The second is that my readers are getting a consistent stream of new information. This post was actually written 3 weeks before it actually published to the blog.
- From within a post of WordPress look in the upper right hand corner of the post. You will see “Publish Immediately” with an edit link next to it.
- Select the Edit link and choose a date that you want to have the post go live on the blog.
- Once you are ready to schedule the post click on the blue “Schedule” button.
If you are using Blogger you can view how to schedule a post here.
Schedule a Tweet with Tweetdeck or Hootsuite
The official Twitter product does not let you schedule tweets unless they are promoted tweets which cost money. However, both Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to schedule Tweets to post in the future.
Schedule a Facebook Post
Facebook posts are a little more difficult for me to schedule since they are generally more about building relationships than linking to a post. However, there is a benefit to scheduling a status update to a time when more teachers would be reading their Facebook streams (late afternoon, evenings).
- Go to your Facebook page
- Type the status update as you normally would
- Before you hit ‘post’ click on the clock to schedule
- Choose the day and time that you want to schedule the post
- Click Schedule
It’s the little things like batch processing activities that allow you to stay focused on the tasks that you need to get completed.