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

 

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started on Teachers Pay Teachers

Time and Money

My ninety-eight-year-old grandfather’s best piece of advice is, “In your life have the correct balance between your TIME and your MONEY.”  If you’re anything like me, you’re probably deficient in both areas. You don’t have to settle for these circumstances.

Living this kind of life can make you worried and stressed out.  Last year I told myself that enough was enough, and I made the choice to take control of my TIME and my MONEY.

I discovered a platform that allows educators to live out my grandfather’s mantra.  I’m now making a substantial income, and my hard work has allowed me a lot more freedom with my time. Teachers Pay Teachers is the first and largest open marketplace for educators to buy, sell, and share their original resources.  They were founded in 2006 and have exploded to over 3 million users this year.

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I started selling my products on Teachers Pay Teachers towards the end of 2013, and I’m already seeing 4-figure monthly paychecks.  Yes, you read that correctly.  My wife and I went from a household that once struggled on two teachers’  incomes, to one with a much greater sense of financial freedom.

7 things I love about being a teachers pay teachers seller

7 Reasons That I Love Being a Teachers pay Teachers Seller

  1. My effort is rewarded monetarily –  One of the main reasons that I love Teachers pay Teachers is that my effort is rewarded by customers purchasing my products.  If I work hard and create a fantastic TpT products, that work will be rewarded with steady and consistent sales.  I love the classroom as much as any teacher out there;  however, the reality is that I’m not going to get paid any more than the person next door no matter how much effort I put into my class.  Fortunately money is not a driving motivator in my teaching, and I strive to give my best every single day.  TpT allows me to make supplemental income from my efforts.
  2. My students benefit – My students are the beneficiaries of all the hard work that goes into producing an amazing product. Prior to becoming an active seller on TpT, I provided my students with engaging activities; however,  afterwards  my classroom lessons improved tremendously.  I always get a kick out of a student that sees my copyright on their work and exclaims, “You MADE this?!”
  3. I get to teach students across the country – When customers purchase my products a little piece of me gets to go with it into their classroom.  I have several products that include videos where I am quite literally teaching someone else’s class.  Teachers are very appreciative of a great lesson.
  4. Relationships and collaboration – Since joining teachers pay teachers, I have forged many great relationships with like-minded individuals who I never would have otherwise met.  Although each of us has our own individual store on TpT, the spirit of collaboration outweighs competition in every way imaginable.
  5. It’s just so darn easy – TpT has made it very easy to upload and sell your products in their marketplace.  I have sold items online before and had to deal with all of the headaches that go with merchant accounts, fraudulent transactions, etc.  TpT handles all of that on their servers and takes a very nominal commission for doing so.  The current commission rate is 15% if you are a premium seller which means that you keep .85 of every $1 that is spent on your products.   Each month a check is sent to you either by mail or by PayPal.  It really doesn’t get any easier.

Winners Have Systems, Losers Have Goals

Becoming a seller on Teachers pay Teachers has been one of the most rewarding things that I have done in my teaching career.  I have learned that if I work hard and smart, success will follow in the form of sales.

I would love to tell you that you can just upload your current lesson plans and the sales will start rolling in, but that isn’t likely going to be the case.  There is definitely a strategy that needs to be followed, and many sellers either don’t have a plan in place or simply haven’t figured out the system to success yet. One of my favorite quotes when it comes to success is,

“Winners have systems, losers have goals.”

It’s great to have a set of goals, but in order to reach your goals you need to have a proven system in place.  I think of goals as very broad outcomes that you would like to achieve; whereas, systems are a fine-tuned blueprint on how to obtain your goals.  Without a system you have nothing.

Winners have systems.Losers have goals
When I first started on Teachers pay Teachers, I was having minimal success.  I only had about 3 products uploaded at the time and looking back they were just a mess.  The products themselves weren’t that bad, but I was missing out on many opportunities that only the successful sellers knew about. I quickly realized that there had to be something that I was missing, and I spent countless hours consuming as much information on how to be successful.  I was developing my system.

Once I had my methods in place, I began to see significant increases in my sales.  I now have enough data and experience with my system to know that I can reproduce my successes by scaling  up my business.  Having a system in place is not a replacement for hard work, but it allows me to calculate success much easier. Along my journey I created a list of 25 things that I had wish that I known when I first started on teachers pay teachers.  I want to share 7 of those with you now.

7 Things I wish that I had known as a new TPT seller

7 Things That I Wish I Had Known as a New Teachers Pay Teachers Seller

  1. Product linking – If it’s good enough for Amazon to do then it’s good enough for me.  Your item descriptions for each product should link to other related products or bundles that may be of interest to customers.  TpT does put related products in the sidebar, but this technique is far more effective because you can control exactly what you want each customer to see in the description.  I created a hyperlink generator to make this very easy for you to do.  Don’t stop with the item description.  Link your products from within your products also.  If someone has already showed that they trust you by purchasing your product, then they are far more likely to buy related products from you.
  2. Connect and collaborate with others – It took me a few weeks to even find the Teachers pay Teachers forums, but once I did “it was on.”  There are so many helpful sellers in the forums.  This is a place where you can ask questions about anything and share your own experiences.  I will also suggest that you give back to the forums.  If you learn something new, this is a great place to share that information.  The entire forum is better if everyone is sharing and learning from each other.
  3. Become a premium seller immediately – I wrote a list of 5 reasons why you should become a premium seller in an earlier blog post.  The single greatest reason is that you get to keep more money in your pocket.  Once you become a premium seller you are making the statement to yourself that you’re serious about Teachers pay Teachers and the actions that follow will support that.  Honestly, I think this should be the first thing that you do after creating your account.
  4. TpT is a great resource for clip art and fonts – One of the things that can make your products stand out from the rest is to use professional looking clip art and fonts.  There are a ton of TpT sellers who specialize in selling themed clip art that can be used for commercial purposes.  Do yourself a favor and invest in some of these products.  They will add value to your own products and help other sellers out at the same time.
  5. Don’t undervalue your work – One of the costliest mistakes I made when starting out was that I undervalued my work and set my prices too low.  Many new sellers are just worried about selling something and don’t consider that they may be losing money in the long run by pricing themselves too low.  Lower prices do not equal more sales.  I recently adjusted the price on one of my products, using this method, from $5 to $7 and saw zero slowdown in sales.  I was giving away 40% in profit!  You’ve worked hard on those products.  Don’t undervalue your work.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others – I’m a competitor by nature and one of the things I found myself doing early on was comparing myself to others.  There are many talented TpT sellers who are having lots of success of TpT.  I feel like it’s a huge mistake to compare yourself to them.  As a new seller you cannot expect to match them in terms of sales and reach.  That will come with time.  Focus on the system, and growth will come with time.
  7. Hard work now leads to passive income later –  The first time that I made a sale on Teachers pay Teachers I came running downstairs to tell my wife that I had made $2.55.  I was so excited.  She then reminded me that I had worked for 10 hours+ to make that money and by her calculation that was .25/hour.  I believe that many sellers begin working on their first product and never finish it because they start doing the calculations in their head and decide the work they put into TpT isn’t worth it.  This is huge mistake.  My wife was correct about my measly hourly wage, but I knew something that she didn’t.  I knew the power of passive income.  I would have worked 20 hours for that same $3 because from here on out every bit of income from that product will increase my bottom line.  That product has now earned me over $500 for that same 10 hours of work that I had originally put into it.  My hourly rate is now $50/hr and we’re only 6 months removed from that first sale.  I expect that product to continue to sell well for many years to come.  Trust in the fact that your hard work now will reap benefits later.

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Interview with Deanna Jump

Last night I was able to sit down with Deanna Jump as part of one of my other projects called EduAllStars.  When I’m not being a husband and father of a new baby boy, or teaching 8th graders, or going to grad school, or creating Teachers pay Teachers products, I’m working as a host on a podcast called EduAllStars.  We interview the difference makers in education and I’m super proud of the lineup that we have spoken with over the last year.  I find a ton of inspiration from listening to these amazing people talk about how they impact the education world.

Deanna Jump is everything that you want her to be.  She’s funny, smart, and seriously dedicated to her work.  She’s also grounded, and to me, that’s the icing on the cake.  I like that she has her own opinions and isn’t afraid to share them with the world either.  I hope that you enjoy this interview as much as I did.

Here are a couple of ways that you can connect with us at EduAllStars

Setting Goals for Teachers Pay Teachers

I listen to a lot of entrepreneur podcasts and recently listened to an episode from Amy Porterfield about how to set goals for an online business.  I took away a WEALTH of information from this episode and think that it would benefit any serious seller on TpT to give it a listen.

You can listen to it HERE

One of the many takeaways that I got was to chunk your time for individual actions, and then schedule it prior to performing the actions.  Right now I’m creating products, marketing them, writing blog posts, creating facebook posts, tweeting, etc., all at the same time.  It gets to be a little chaotic and definitely unproductive.  Let me go look at my stats again for the 7th time today!

I’m always thinking of something else I could be doing while working on any given task.  It’s just they way that my brain is wired.  This is all changing though.  In the new year my goals  look something like this for any particular week.

Week 1:
Sun – Schedule 5 FB posts, 5 tweets, 10 science pins, and 3 blog posts for the entire week. (2.5 hours)  All of these tasks can be scheduled within their programs with the exception of Pinterest.  Marketing for the week…done.
Mon – Work on a product (2-4 hours)
Tues – Off
Wed – Catch up on forums for 1 hour.  Work on a product (2-4 hours)
Thurs – Off
Fri – Respond to all feedback, check metrics, and build new relationships with others that might be interested in my brand. (1 hour)
Sat – off

The point of doing this is to have laser like focus on the task that is in front of me.  Some of you are born with that gift…I am not.  I am easily distracted by shiny objects and other things that I think will help build my business.  My business will be much more successful if I just keep pumping out quality products.  At the end of the day without quality products I have nothing.  That is where my focus needs to be.

Working on TPT is fun to me.  Obviously the money that it generates doesn’t hurt anything, but it truly is fun to me.  I don’t think that you can be successful if you look at it like at it like work, but the reality for me is that I have to setup a schedule or I will be all over the place.  This may be different to for each individual.

I would love to hear some feedback on that podcast or this post.  You don’t have to have iTunes.  You can listen to it right from her website.

Dealing With Negative or Non-Descriptive Feedback

We have all been victims to negative or non-descriptive feedback on teachers pay teachers, but there is something that we can do about it.  TPT has put in a feature that allows you to “mark as helpful” and pushes that particular feedback to the front of the list.

Watch the video tutorial below on how I occasionally deal with this type of feedback.

I would highly suggest that you use caution when using this technique.  The feedback system is in place for a reason, but there are definitely times when it breaks down and could have a negative impact on your sales.  If you are getting negative feedback because because your product needs to be tweaked or re-worked I would take the time to make those adjustments.  In the end you will have a better product and customers will leave TPT happy.  Remember, we don’t survive without them!

 

Top 5 Reasons You Should Be Blogging In Addition to Teachers Pay Teachers

One question that I see asked on the teachers pay teachers forum over and over is, “Should I be blogging?”  I’ve put together a list of reasons why I think blogging is essential to building your TPT store.

Reasons to Blog with Teachers pay Teachers

1. Building relationships – This is a great place to build relationships with your readers which will ultimately turn into sales.  In my opinion you should be blogging about what is happening in your class, lessons learned, best practices, new ideas, etc.  From there you can explain how you have used your products and what impact they had on students.  That is a far better approach than, “I created this new product, here it is.”

See my post on 5 reasons why you should be using interactive notebooks as an example.

2. SEO – Search Engine Optimization – When you create blog posts you are also creating pages that can be indexed for Google and other search engines.  This is highly valuable.  If someone goes to google and types “5 reasons to use interactive notebooks” they will find me at the top of the search results.  It’s very unlikely that anyone will search that term, but a search of “reasons for interactive notebooks” returns me on page 2 of Google.  My blog is very new (less than 2 months) and doesn’t have much authority…yet.  The goal with any blog should be to build authority.  Once the search engines notice that you regularly post original content then they will reward you with top search engine results.  This takes TIME and PERSEVERANCE.  It may be another year and 100 blog posts before Google’s algorithms decides that I’m worthy of top results, but when they do it opens up all kinds of doors.

3. Juice for TPT – Creating links to my TPT store from blogs, pinterest, facebook, etc. it gives authority (link juice) to my TPT store pages and helps them rank higher in search engine results.  We want this.  If someone searches ‘moon phase cards’ in Google I definitely want my TPT product link to pop up first in Google.  TPT is an authority site already and ranks well, but providing backlinks to our store pages using relevant keywords helps out.

For example, if you searched out “Guided Reading 101” in Google you will find that Deanna Jump’s top selling product page and blog post about that product are in the top of the search results.  It’s a marketer’s dream to have 2 of the top 3 results for a particular keyword in Google.  I don’t know how many people are searching ‘guided reading 101’ but Deanna is getting the bulk of that traffic for those that do.  This should be the ultimate goal for all of your products.

4. Follow the Top Sellers – Look at the top 10 sellers.  Do they have blogs?  8 out of 10 of them have a blog in their tagline or profile.  I didn’t do an extensive search on the two that didn’t but my guess is that they probably blog also.  I’m going out on a limb here, but I would guess that the majority of the top 100 blog.  Follow the leader wink

5. Own Your Audience – One thing that may be tough to think about is that Teachers Pay Teachers may not be around forever.  I think they have positioned themselves well, but for arguments sake let’s pretend that they disappear tomorrow.  What do you do then?  You don’t own any customer data and have no way to communicate with former buyers.  However, if you build a solid foundation through social media (including blogs) you will still  have access to your core base.  Maybe you’ll ultimately setup a shopping cart on your own site and sell products there, but without that foundation and following you could be up the creek without a paddle.

Blogging is time consuming but it can be very rewarding once you have a community built.  The hardest part is writing for what seems like no one in the beginning.  I have a couple of very successful blogs and a couple that I didn’t put the time into.  The ones that I cultivated have rewarded me handsomely for several years.

Agree or disagree?  Did I leave anything out?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Analyzing Teachers Pay Teachers Conversion Rates

This was a popular post that I made on the TPT forums a few months ago.  I think it’s worthy of being the first blog post on TPT School.

I’m not claiming to be an expert by any means, but I have been working with internet marketing for the last seven  years and have learned a thing or two.  I’d like to start a conversation and see if we can’t learn from each other.

What is a conversion rate? The conversion rate is the proportion of visits to a website who take action to go beyond a casual content view or website visit, as a result of subtle or direct requests from marketers, advertisers, and content creators.

In our case it’s the number of sales per product divided by the number of views that it generates * 100 gives you the percent.  Every market has it’s own conversion rate average, but generally speaking I’ve always heard the retail conversion rate was about 3%.  Amazon’s rate is actually higher than that because they are basically the best in the business at upselling/cross-selling you something that you need.

Let’s get back to TPT.  I’m going to list some of my products, their views, sales, and then their conversion rates.  I’ve only been here a month and have a small sample size which can definitely skew things.

Product 1  104  1  .96%
Product 2  149  8  5.33%
Product 3  167  4  2.3%
Product 4  46  2  4.3%
Product 5  441  33  7.5%
Product 6  234  3  1.2%
Product 7  110  4  3.6%
Product 8  184  11  5.9%

None of these products are bundles or  holiday specific.  They are regular lesson-based products.

Clearly, the front runners are products 2, 5, and 8.  I’m very happy with those conversions and the action that I’m going to take with those products will be to promote them more on Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, FB, etc.  People like what they are getting, the price seems right, and they are selling well.  It’s a numbers game at this point with these products.  The more views I get the more sales that come in.

It’s not necessarily the same with some of the lower selling products like products 1, 3, and 6.  With those products I need to take a look at why they aren’t performing as well as some of the others.  Remember, this is a numbers game.  If I have 100 views I should EXPECT 3 sales (3% conversion).  The fact that I’m not getting that is reason for concern.

These are the things that I’ll take a look at with these products.
1. Price – did I set the price right.  Would lowering the price increase conversions?  That’s an easy test to do.  Take a snapshot, lower the price and then take a snapshot later on and compare
2. Cover – Does my cover page need a refresh?
3. Item description – Have I described the item well enough?  Does my ad copy need any adjustments?

The other products are in decent shape right now and I’ll probably just continue to promote them as I have been.

You could over think this stuff until the cows come hope but the steps that I have listed above should really clean up a few messes that you may have lying around.  One thing that you need to remember is to not be married to a product.  If you’re dead set that your word wall package is worth $10 but your analysis tells you otherwise then it may be take to swallow your pride and lower the price.

That said, you may uncover a product that has a conversion of 15% or more.  Maybe you didn’t list high enough.  Would 10% at a higher price yield more money in your pocket?

Anyway, just some thoughts.  I’d love to hear your comments, analysis, etc.

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