20 Talking Points to Keep the Conversation Flowing at the TpT Conference

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.

small talk

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.

  1. How long have you had a store on TpT?
  2. What are some of the things you struggle with the most on TpT?
  3. What is the one thing you’ve done on TpT that has had the most positive impact to your business?
  4. What are your goals with your TpT store?
  5. Are there any tools you use that make your product creation process easier?
  6. What would you do differently if you were just opening up a TpT store today?
  7. How do you market your products on TpT?
  8. What sessions are you attending at the conference?
  9. When do you work on TpT products?
  10. What types of products do you create?
  11. Who are some of the TpT sellers you most admire?  Why?
  12. What’s the most successful product you sell?  Why do you think that is?
  13. What do you think about the future of TpT?
  14. Do you communicate with other sellers outside of the forums?
  15. Do you use the TpT app?  Like the Cha-Ching or not?
  16. What are you hoping to take away from the conference?
  17. Do you blog?  How often?  What do you write about?
  18. What content/grade levels have you taught in the past?
  19. Do you have any plans to attend any of the social events while here in Vegas?
  20. 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.

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.