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.

37 Responses

  1. Deborah July 14, 2014 / 4:23 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing with those of us who couldn’t go. Do you have a post on how to set up a pinterest account and pin to the boards?

    Thank you again.

    • Chris Kesler July 14, 2014 / 5:56 pm

      I don’t have one….yet. That’s a good idea though. In the coming weeks I’m going to be sending out an email asking for what you guys would like to see with the content here. Please remind me there.

  2. Linda Burns July 14, 2014 / 4:35 pm

    Thanks for these notes! I attended 4 different sessions and now I feel as if I did 8! There were so many great ones to choose from that it was difficult to make a decision. Maybe next year it will be a 2-day conference with repeats on each day!!!!

  3. Martha Carter July 14, 2014 / 4:54 pm

    Wow, they all sound amazing. I attended different sessions and am so thankful for the opportunity to read about the sessions you attended. I particularly enjoyed the Data Extravaganza.

  4. Janet Whitley The Teaching Files July 14, 2014 / 5:06 pm

    I love these notes on the conference. I would love to print your blog page so I won’t lose the tips. Is there a way to copy the blog? I’ve already downloaded some of the conference handouts which are great but your take-away tips are great!

    • Chris Kesler July 14, 2014 / 5:58 pm

      I don’t have any issues with that at all. Simply highlight the text and then print > selected text only from the browser.

      You could also copy and paste it into a document if that works out better for you.

  5. Carrie July 14, 2014 / 5:12 pm

    Thank you so much for this recap!it sounds like this conference was amazing! I so hope to attend next year.

  6. Sally Bondelevitch DeCost July 14, 2014 / 5:16 pm

    What a great summary of the workshops! I attended 2 of the 4 you attended, and I’m glad to see some highlights of what happened at some of the other sessions! I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you during the week. There’s always next year!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  7. Wise Guys July 14, 2014 / 6:24 pm

    Great blog post. I wish we had a chance to connect at the conference. It is great to see other male sellers out there!

    • Chris Kesler July 14, 2014 / 6:58 pm

      I wish that we did too. Next time for sure!

  8. Mom2punkerdoo July 14, 2014 / 7:36 pm

    Wow! Can’t wait to have time to read through all your notes. So bummed I couldn’t go and really appreciate your sharing! Thanks!

  9. Kim Miller July 14, 2014 / 11:23 pm

    I absolutely love your blog! I’ve read it word for word, and I downloaded your e-book. I’m constantly referring to both. I find myself saying…”What would Chris do?” or “What would Chris say about this?” lol! You offer some of the best advice out there! I don’t always comment, but I do always read your posts. Thanks so much for the notes and links! I wish I could have been there!

    For the Love of Teaching

    • Chris Kesler July 15, 2014 / 1:12 am

      I truly appreciate those sweet comments. I don’t ever claim to be an expert, but I do have some experience in internet marketing. I’ve had success with the strategies that I describe, but nothing beats good old hard work.

  10. Crystal July 14, 2014 / 11:45 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your notes! I’ve been trying to read everyone’s blog posts about the conference to learn more, however it seems that most posts I’ve read are more group photos and who met who than actual information others can use. Thanks again!!!

  11. erin July 15, 2014 / 12:14 am

    Hey Chris,
    I totally agree that collaborating with other like-minded teachers and sellers was the highlight of Vegas! Thanks so much for attending my session and for your complimentary review. Funny, I hardly remembered answering that question – I hardly remember the entire session, LOL – and I’m thrilled that it resonated with some.
    🙂 Erin

    • Chris Kesler July 15, 2014 / 1:15 am

      You did a great job, Erin. Hard work is one of the things that gets taken for granted by so many, and I’m glad you helped set the record straight. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Victoria Leon July 15, 2014 / 2:41 am

    Awww…I cannot believe that you were at the TpT Conference and I didn’t get to meet you… I would have given you the biggest hug and thanked you for all of your articles at TpT School. I hope we can see each other at the second TpT Conference.

    • Chris Kesler July 16, 2014 / 12:23 am

      Sorry that I missed you as well. I didn’t realize that you were out there. I should have done a better job promoting that I was going to be there to the newsletter.

  13. Denise July 15, 2014 / 5:46 am

    Thanks so much, Chris, for your TPT conference review. I appreciate the session highlights (and was pretty sure that would be the focus of your post!)

    I’m looking forward to attending next year. A couple of carpal tunnel surgeries sidelined me this summer. Keep up the great work with this site. I look forward to each post.


  14. Cathe McCoy July 15, 2014 / 1:45 pm

    Hi Chris, I have tried a few times to access your free ebook. I am not receiving the verifying email. Can you help? Also, I really appreciate your advice for TPT. I can use all the help out there 🙂 Thanks, Cathe

    • Chris Kesler July 16, 2014 / 12:29 am

      Send me an email at chris at tptschool dot com and I’ll get it squared away.

  15. Shelley Rolston July 15, 2014 / 4:37 pm

    It was great meeting you (even just briefly) at the TPT conference. After visiting your blog for the first time, I am even more impressed with you. This overview was so thorough! It really gives people who were unable to attend, a great look at what all the fuss was about. I liked Rachel Lynette’s session the best. Thanks for the recap of it as I am on information overload! Best of luck in your TPT journey. See you on Twitter!
    🙂 Shelley
    The Write Stuff Teaching

    • Chris Kesler July 16, 2014 / 12:25 am

      Great meeting you as well! Rachel’s session was amazing and packed full of great information.

  16. Kelly A. Serrano July 16, 2014 / 5:21 am

    Best TpT recap I have read – tons of useful tips, straight to the point.

    THANK YOU for putting this together,

    • Chris Kesler July 16, 2014 / 12:18 pm

      Thanks Kelly! Appreciate the thoughtful feedback.

  17. Learning Engineer July 16, 2014 / 5:10 pm

    Well Chris this was a nice piece on the conference. I am very interested in the whole data process thing that goes on at TPT. I think that the algorithms favor the bigger established stores and they grow faster because of this.

    With 1 million products I think many smaller stores just don’t make it in the search results. I do notice that when I pin I get sales. I am not sure if many of my sales are even generated by TPT. I know when I search on the site for things I am looking for the results at times can be off target. Some of the bigger store items pull up that are not related to my search : / I do see that the results have slowly improved without having to capitalize store names which was very telling.

    I read on a forum thread where someone came back from the conference with the information about being able to select more than one category for custom categories. This is something I had no idea about. I found this on someone’s comment from the conference. Got anymore tips like this from the conference?

    After reading the very general breakdown of how TPT approaches the rankings I was surprised that they use the ratio with visits to purchases. I spend a good deal of time updating my products (once I learn better approaches) and I am sure all those visits don’t help my rankings. Yes I do follow my own store since I want to check on my note to followers etc.

    Did they give examples on product descriptions on best ways to approach it? To say to use key words is not enough for me. It would be great if we had access to more information for those of us who could not make it to the conference. I appreciate you sharing your experience at the conference, it has been the most informative one I have come across so far.

    • Chris Kesler July 17, 2014 / 1:26 am

      I’ve got some more tips that I’ll drop into a later post. As far as the whole ‘rich get richer’ thing I think it is only partly true. Products that sell do have precedence in some of the algorithms, but there are a ton of things that go into what gets returned in the results. Check out the session notes for some more detail.

      One thing that was mentioned was that a user would see similar products/stores to those that have been previously purchased by that user. I can’t remember if that exists now or if it’s coming soon.

      Also, he mentioned that once someone adds something to the cart they will no be 4 “You might also like” products. They aren’t necessarily your own products, but they feel that sales will for everyone because of it. I tend to agree.

  18. Jen Strange July 16, 2014 / 7:20 pm

    thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading about what I missed!

    Jen Strange

  19. christina July 17, 2014 / 1:16 am

    As always a VERY informative post…wish I could have made it, next year..enjoy the rest of your summer! 🙂

  20. christina July 17, 2014 / 1:33 am

    So I just took the work “year-long” off the beginning of my title 1st grade spelling program (added it to the end) and my product went from #26 in the search to 2nd!! WOW! 🙂 Happy Dance!

  21. Angie Olson July 17, 2014 / 3:22 am

    This is a great post Chris! I feel like I have now attended 8 sessions instead of 4! Do you know if TpT will be releasing videos of all the sessions? I noticed video cameras in each conference room. I’m going to share your blog post on my Facebook page if you don’t mind?! I’m also your newest follower! (…and how neat is it that Paul follows your blog????)
    Mrs. Olson’s Lucky Little Learners

    • Chris Kesler July 17, 2014 / 5:37 pm

      The only thing that I heard about the videos being shared is what R. Lynette said in her session. She mentioned that she was going to close the collaborative pinterest board before the videos get shared. I did see cameras in every session though.

      My personal opinion is that they don’t share them with least not without a fee. I paid a good chunk of change to go out to Vegas and the conference. I’m not sure I would consider going again if I knew that all the sessions were going to be online.

      Share away..please.

  22. Susan Berkowitz July 17, 2014 / 6:06 pm

    Thank you so much for posting your take-away tips and thoughts. I wasn’t able to make it to the conference and am listening to what others have gotten from it. I’m also hoping TPT will offer videos of some sessions.
    Thanks again. You’r insight are always helpful.

  23. Carli September 30, 2014 / 6:36 pm

    Hey Chris!

    I’m relatively new to your blog and am LOVING it so far. Thanks for taking the time research, organize and share such helpful information. My mom and I work on our store on TPT and it has become a real passion of ours over the last year. I particularly resonate with your online marketing advice and applicable tips for how to boost store traffic, overall sales and profits. The collaborative nature of this community is incredible and your blog is just another example of it. We’re so happy to be a part of it all and hope to give back as much as we can, as we all learn how best to contribute to and positively use this great tool.

    Coincidentally, I attended the TPT Conference (alone, as my mom was unable to attend due to summer school) and was in each of the sessions you recapped above. I even lunched at Public House too. So funny!

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the great work you do here. I’m thoroughly enjoying following along and am learning a ton along the way!

    Start Communications

  24. Beth Wrobel January 2, 2015 / 4:59 am

    Hi there,
    Thanks for the informative info…anyone know when the next TPT conference is?
    We would love to be a vendor with our teacher mist line and heal all.

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