Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pinterest Tips Part 1

Pinterest Tips Part 1: business account, boards, covers

I have used Pinterest for quite awhile. I started well before I started on TPT. I used it to find recipes, craft ideas, and teaching ideas. Pinterest has made some changes over the years but one thing remains. Pinterest is a visual site. It works for me because I am a visual person. Here are some tips for using Pinterest as a marketing tool for your TPT business.

1) Business Account - Be sure you change your personal account over to a business account or start a new business account. I changed mine over from a personal account to a business one instead of starting over. I don't have enough time in my day to keep track of 2 Pinterest Accounts. To convert your account, go to Pinterest Business. Choose Convert Now and follow the steps. You will not lose followers by doing this, and you will not lose your boards.

ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ Add your logo or picture that you use in your store & social media. Your profile description is only 160 characters, so be short and sweet in your description.

2) Boards - Set up boards for your TPT Store, your blog, and any teaching boards pertaining to your area. For mine, I have general boards for math and teaching and then boards for different math areas. Put your store, blog, and teaching boards at the top. If you have seasonal boards, be sure to move those towards the top for that season.

ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ Moving boards is very easy. Just click on the board and while holding the mouse button down, move the board to where you want it to be.

3) Personal Boards - I also have some personal boards in my collection. I don't feel bad about it, and I don't apologize for it. I know there are some "camps" that say you should NOT have personal boards in with your teaching boards. I don't agree. Teachers are real people. They look for recipes, craft ideas, home decorating ideas, faith, quotes, etc. I've not lost any followers just because I kept my personal boards. I will say that I did make a few of my personal boards secret like my camping board. I also make my business boards secret with one exception. I do have a board titled: Create an Amazing TPT Store. (Click on the link if you are interested.) I created it to go along with this blog. I put it at the very end of my 70+ boards.

ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ If you want personal boards mixed in, I suggest putting them after your teaching boards. If you don't want them mixed in, edit the boards and make them secret.

3) Board Covers - Your board covers don't need to match. If that's your style, great! If it's not, great! I had matching boards at one time but no longer. From what I've read and heard, choose a pin that best represents your board. You can change your board cover whenever you find a different pin/image that best represents your board. Nothing to make = TIME SAVER!

ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ To change your board cover, click on Edit Board. Choose CHANGE next to cover. Then scroll through the images and pick the one you want. Your image (if it is not a pin already) has to be on your board.

4) Board Titles & Descriptions - Pinterest is now very big into keywords. You know that list of words that appears across the screen when you search Pinterest? Those are keywords that Pinterest uses. Create titles that are specific so people can find you. Don't go with cutesy, fun titles. Be sure to give each of your boards a keyword-rich description. These do show under your board title just an FYI, so don't get carried away with keywords. Give a helpful description telling what your board is about.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Organizing Your Computer Files

Organizing Your Computer Files for TPT
Everyone has a different way to organize. This system has worked for me for several years.

I start with a main folder for Teachers Pay Teachers. Inside that folder, I break it down into some categories: Marketing, Completed Products, Products to Finish, Data, etc.
Organizing Your Computer Files for TPT: Main TPT Categories
I then break each of those folders down. For example inside the Completed Products Folder is a folder for each product I have created. Inside the product folder is a copy of the product, a copy of the preview, and the editable pieces for the product.
Organizing Your Computer Files for TPT: Each Product has its own folder
In my Design Tools folder, I have a Clip Art for TPT folder. Inside are several category folders including graphics, photos, borders, etc. I keep each product together inside the category. I don't group them by theme or artist.
Organizing Your Computer Files for TPT: Organized by Type of Clip Art
I did change the folder preview to the clip art preview to help me find things easier. On my Mac, I use Img2icns, which is a free download, to change my folder preview.
Organizing Your Computer Files for TPT: Graphics by Product
This keeps me organized. Of course, I am terrible at putting things in the right folder when I download something. So every now and then I have to go in and clean up my folders. In fact, it is time to straighten them up.

I encourage you to find a system that works best for you!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Motivational Monday

Are you looking for success and the get-rich-quick scheme? Or are you looking to help others and be of value? As sellers, we should be providing value to TPT. We are helping teachers by creating quality resources that can be used with students in meaningful lessons. Be sure you are a seller that is providing value to others.

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Idea Explosion

Idea Explosion write your ideas down, notebook, Evernote, Trello
You try to go to sleep at night - product ideas pop into your head. You drive to work - product ideas pop into your head. You sit down to create a product. Next thing you know 20 ideas are popping into your head for other products. What do you do? It's time to get those ideas out of your head and onto a list.
Idea Explosion write your ideas down, notebook, Evernote, Trello
You can create the standard list on paper. Keep a notebook handy just for product ideas. You can also make your list part of your planner.
Idea Explosion write your ideas down, notebook, Evernote, Trello
Use Evernote or Trello. With these apps, you can jot down your ideas and the app will sync across your devices. Both of these apps allow you to create notebooks or boards for organizing similar ideas or subjects. You could create a notebook/board for each idea and jot in some specifics you want to remember. I have tried both and prefer Evernote over Trello. In Evernote, I am able to do what I need to do without paying for the upgrade.

The main thing is to do a "brain dump". Get your ideas and some specifics out of your head to clear your mind. Whenever you feel on idea overload, jot 'em down.

One word of caution. Be careful of "your" ideas. We take inspiration from a lot of places. We see products on TPT, in our Pinterest/FB/IG feeds, in the newsletter, and from the products we purchase. Be sure your ideas are YOUR IDEAS and not someone else's.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Should You Give it Away for Free?

Everyone loves a good freebie. Myself included! As a teacher, I would scrounge around for anything I could find to work with my kids. Funds were small and student needs were greatly varied. I found free things, and I paid for resources. I believe we should give back to teachers. Most teachers work hard at their profession and giving back feels great! But I feel that we should think through why we are providing a free resource.
should you give it away for free
I have some thoughts on freebies.
should you give it away for free
If you post it to your store as free, it should stay free. Some people call them Forever Freebies. Now I do think it is different if you post something for free, decide to add to it, and price it after that. Although the free piece could lead to the larger paid product. 
should you give it away for free
No more than 10% of products in your store set to FREE. This is just a general rule. Some have less, some have more. I personally keep mine at or below this number. I do provide freebies on my blog and Facebook that are not posted in my store.
should you give it away for free
Giving a product away for free just to get feedback is NOT a good move. Many people don't give feedback on free products. Some people leave poor feedback on freebies. In both of these situations, sellers often get upset because "IT WAS FREE FOR GOODNESS SAKES!" Save yourself the drama.

Feedback or follower challenge freebies - If I get X number of followers/feedback, I'll give more away for free. I don't understand this concept as I want my followers and feedback to be genuine.  
should you give it away for free
Setting a product to free for X number of hours after first posting just to get feedback - NOT a good idea. People will buy your product even if it doesn't have feedback. There are people who will never buy anything from you because they will catch your posting and get it for free every time.
should you give it away for free
Flash Freebies - These can be fine as long as you aren't doing these every time you turn around. An occasional, unexpected Flash Freebie won't hurt you. Maybe you want to celebrate a personal milestone once in awhile. That would be okay. If you do them every Friday, people will stop buying because they can get something from your store every Friday.

Provide some freebies in your store. Provide a freebie here and there on Facebook. Provide freebies on your blog. Give back to teachers! Just be mindful of how many freebies you are offering along the way. Think about WHY you are providing the freebie - to gain a follower, to gain feedback, to show the quality of your work, or to give back. We are all on this journey together. When freebies are handled in a thoughtful way it helps everyone.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Motivational Monday

You don't have to do it all perfectly. Maybe you only post to your blog once a month. Maybe you only post to Facebook 3 times in a month. Maybe you only create one new product a month. You have other life responsibilities. Do what you can, when you can. Sometimes you have to let your idea of perfection go and do what works for you and your life.

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Why Does Everyone Want to Throw a Sale?

Why Does Everyone Want to Throw a Sale? Should you throw a sale?

Sales, sales everywhere! It's my mother's birthday - throw a sale. I have a new puppy - throw a sale. I think the weather changed - throw a sale. I might eat at a fancy restaurant tonight - throw a sale.

Okay, these are exaggerations, but it seems people are throwing sales all the time. You don't need to throw a sale every time the wind changes. That would be a lot here in Indiana. If you have something special you want to celebrate, then by all means do that. If you are throwing a sale just to throw a sale and get customers, don't do it.

If you are new, you might be thinking that people will buy from you if it is on sale. Yes, I thought that as well when I was new. It isn't true! I wanted people to buy my resources right away. So I tried to have sales here and there. They never worked. I was a new seller that no one knew and I didn't have a marketing plan. Of course, I didn't think like that. I was just down on myself and my products. I didn't understand that I just needed to be patient and wait for the buyers.

If you throw a sale every time you turn around or give away Flash Freebies every Friday, customers will get used to that and never buy anything at full price. These are gimmicks. They do not create long term buyers. 

TPT throws 4 site wide sales a year. Yes, it is technically 5 if you count the 2 for Back to School. They do not tell us when they will be until right before it happens. You can ask until your hearts content, but they aren't telling. It's just one per quarter. For new sellers, these are usually not spectacular. But sales will probably improve the longer you sell at TpT. Why are these sales more successful? The large amount of advertising that takes place brings more buyers to the site and creates more sales! When you throw a sale by yourself or with a small group, you aren't likely to see a lot of success. A larger group sale might get you a little more success since there would be more people advertising it.

Think about it before you jump on the sale wagon. Ask yourself:
1) When was the last time I had a sale?
2) Why am I having a sale now?

Be wise about when you are having a sale and how many you are having throughout the year.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Make Your Descriptions POP!

Make your Descriptions POP! HTML codes for symbols in TPT descriptions

When writing product descriptions, you are able to use some HTML coding. This will allow you to:
1) bold text
2) italicize text
3) center items
4) create hyperlinks to other products
5) have bullets
6) create decorative separating lines

So how do you do it? Be sure to take out the spaces!

Bold: < strong>TEXT HERE< /strong>

Italics: < em>TEXT HERE< /em>

Center: < center>TEXT HERE< /center>

Hyperlinks: < a href=INSERT URL HERE>TEXT HERE< /a> You should have a space between a and href.

Bullets: Different bullets have different codes. Here are a few examples. Again leave out the spaces.
Make Your Descriptions POP! HTML code to use in TPT descriptions

Decorative Separating Lines: Use a repeating bullet or repeating symbol from your keyboard to create separating lines.


Here are a few websites with different symbols that you can try. for arrows
Computer Tips Free has different symbols that can be copy and pasted. They do not give the codes.
Sabina Nore has different symbols with the codes.
There are many more sites out there if you wish to do a search.

Here's an example of how one of my descriptions looks. Fraction Decimal Percent BINGO

Take some time to make your descriptions POP!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Motivational Monday

It takes consistent hard work to make your dreams happen. Keep working hard. Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Do You Wonder?

So you've started selling on TPT. You have a few products in your store. You are ready to sell, sell, sell. You sell an item one day. Maybe two sales another day. You get excited. Maybe this will work. And then ... no sales for several days. Now you are feeling bad about yourself and your store. Maybe this isn't for you.

Any of that sound familiar? That's how it goes for most TPT sellers. Selling at TPT is like a roller coaster ride. There will be ups and downs. Some days you'll feel like you're in a spiral downward slide. And some days you'll be thrown for a loop. You have to roll with the ups and downs, the twists and turns. The thing about this roller coaster ride is that it's yours and you are in control. It takes a lot of patience and hard work. You can't get down and out about not making a sale. You can't whine when sales are slow or non-existent. You can't compare your journey to someone else's. We've all been there - no sales days, feeling like our products are worthless, feeling like this journey just isn't for us. Guess what? Many sellers before me have survived! I have survived! You will too!
Just creating and posting a resource does not always get it noticed. Are you able to look objectively at your product that hasn't sold yet? Why isn't it selling? Does it have a great cover? Does it have a preview? Is the description buyer friendly (not stuffed with keywords)? Am I marketing my product in a non-spammy, non-pushy way?

Are you comparing yourself to others? Stop! It doesn't matter if they've been selling for 1 month or 5 years. Your journey is different from theirs.

What's your "why" for creating products? Is it about the teachers and students who will benefit from your resources? Or are you just hoping to make a quick buck? The quick bucks most likely aren't going to happen.

Are you running your store with integrity? Are your products free from trademarks that you don't have permission for? Are your products original ideas and not just copies of someone else's hard work? Be original and put your own spin on your resources.

Mindset is especially important on this ride. You need to be positive each and every day about your store and the teachers you are serving.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What to Add to Your Product

Your final resource that you upload to TPT should have the following added to it:
⇛ An amazing cover
⇛ Your quality product
⇛ A Terms of Use (TOU) page
⇛ Your email, blog, and social media contacts with hyperlinks
⇛ Credit for clip art/photos and font artists per their TOU
⇛ Other products you offer (upsell) with hyperlinks

Some people put all of this on one page. I use 3 pages in my products: 1) Terms of Use Page, 2) Contacts/Upsell Page, and 3) Credit Page. I have a page long TOU (just covering my bases), and I use a lot of different artists in most of my products. I always give credit even if it is optional.

➯ The Terms of Use (TOU) page is highly important to include. We all know teachers are a sharing bunch. Most of us have shared a worksheet or activity in our time. The TOU page tells the buyer that the resource is only for their personal use and is not to be shared including in an on-line space that isn't password protected. I let them know what is okay as the buyer and what is not okay. Here's a copy of mine. I hope you find it useful. Feel free to use it, tweak it, or disregard it. If you are looking at others' TOUs, do not just copy it. Ask the seller first!

➯ Don't forget to add your contact information - email, blog, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Be sure to hyperlink them so buyers can just click and go. Check all links after securing your product to be sure they are live and headed in the right direction.

➯ Offer other products. What else do you have that the buyer might like? I do 3 products with the cover image and hyperlinked to the product. You can choose however many you would like to do. Here's an example of my contact/upsell page. All images are hyperlinked to the contact or product.

➯ Be sure to give credit to all of the wonderful clip art and font artists. They each will have a Terms of Use. Be sure to read each one and give credit according to their directions. Here's how mine looks. All images are hyperlinked in my product to each person's store.

You can condense this information to 1 or 2 pages but be sure to add it to every product.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Motivational Monday

What are you wanting to accomplish this week? Write it down to keep your goal in mind.

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Creating Original Quality Products

Many teachers make resources to use in their classroom. I know as a Special Education Resource teacher, I was always creating things for my students due to lack of curriculum, supplies, and just to meet their needs. Now it's time to take those created resources and get them ready to sell. Here are some things to think about before you post an item to sell.

1) Does your product contain original content? You cannot sell a worksheet that you've downloaded from the internet. You cannot retype the workbook page and call it yours. You cannot retype a passage and call it yours. I've created learning centers for my students. I would take a worksheet or workbook page and rewrite the information on cute, themed cards. That was okay as I was just using it in my classroom. I cannot turn around and type it up on cute, themed cards to sell. It wasn't my original content. You need to write your own reading passages, create your own math problems, or write your own social studies questions.

2) Is your product free from existing trademarks? I am not a lawyer and will only say to check for trademarks before creating a product. There are many popular names and characters that are trademarked. I suggest the United States Patent and Trademark website: Do your research before jumping in with some popular characters and themes. Just because someone else is doing it doesn't mean it is okay for you to make. They may have permission and you don't. If a Cease & Desist letter (which does not have to be sent first) is sent to TPT, your product will be removed and you will have a strike against your store - 3 strikes you're out.

3) Is your resource a quality product? Be sure to edit and re-edit your work before posting. Spelling or grammatical errors are a turn-off and buyers might not return. They also might rate you poorly on their feedback instead of leaving a comment in the Q&A. Are words lined up properly? Does it look professional? Does the product include what the teacher needs to use the product or have a list of materials that would be needed? Do you include teacher directions? Not everything needs teacher directions, but be sure to include directions when there is a need. I didn't think to include directions to play the card game War in one of my products. Boy, was I wrong! The buyer certainly let me know about it in the feedback. Do you include an answer key if appropriate? Yes, teachers want answer keys. It makes it a lot easier on them. I had someone ask me for a key because they were too lazy (their words) to make one. Make sure the fonts you use on the material is suitable for your age group. Save the cute fonts for titles!

4) Does your product contain commercial use design elements? Any clipart, photos, fonts, or backgrounds you use in your products should be for commercial use (even free products). You cannot just pull an image off of Google and stick it on a product to sell or give away. Remember that what you make for your classroom is different than creating to sell. TPT has many wonderful artists who provide clipart, photos, fonts, and backgrounds for you to use in your product. Be sure to read and comply with their Terms of Use as each one is different.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February is Over, Time to Look Back

track your data

February has come and gone. It's hard to believe it is already March 1st. Hopefully, spring is just around the corner.

The first day of the month for me is a day spent charting data and thinking over the previous month. I have a routine that I follow and thought I'd share it. I'm always tweaking my routine, but here is what I am currently doing.

I will start by saying that I LOVE data. I track a lot of data. That doesn't mean you have to track everything I mention, but I do suggest taking a look at your numbers. I don't suggest you track numbers you aren't going to look at just to be tracking something.

So what do I track?
✎ Amount earned daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly
✎ Average $ Earned Daily/Monthly
✎ Average Number of Products Sold Daily/Monthly
✎ Number of TPT Followers/Votes/Overall Rank/State Rank
✎ Number of Followers on my blog, FB, IG, Google+, each Pinterest board I have for TPT
✎ Number of Products
✎ Number of Each Product Sold Each Month
✎ Number of New (from that month) Products Sold & Amount Earned
✎ Types of Products Sold Each Month (ex: Activity Packs, Interactive Notebooks, Stations, Trashketball, etc)
✎ Popularity of Skills Each Month (ex: add/subtract decimals,  multiply/divide fractions, integers, etc)
✎ Top 5 Products in Earnings for the Month
✎ Top 5 Products in Earnings Overall
✎ Bottom 5 Products in Earnings Overall
✎ Ad/TPT Promos Information

Here's one of my graphs.
tracking data

Did I mention I LOVE data? Now, I don't track this just to have pretty charts and graphs. I actually spend time looking at this data to see what it might tell me. Some things I've learned:
✿ Recently I decided to look at my Types of Products Sold Each Month and discovered a similar pattern for the percentage of types sold. I have 2 types of products that create 40-50% of my sales each month. That tells me I want to make more of that type of product.
✿ I can compare this February to last February and see what percentage of increase I had.
✿ I know that what I'm doing on Pinterest is helping as I am seeing an increase in followers and hopefully, that is leading to an increase in sales.
✿ I know whether my marketing on FB and TPT promotions are working or not.
✿ I can see what math skills are being sold more in which month.

After I track my data, I do analyze it and think about (and write down) what worked, what didn't, what can be improved on, and what is going fine. Sometimes it's a guessing game since we don't actually know how people land in our store. I also like to write down any ideas floating around in my head.

Now it's time to make plans for the new month. I look at what skills might be selling this month and next, set some realistic goals, and make realistic plans such as:
✔ Number of Products to Create
✔ Number of Blog Posts to Write
✔ FB Ads I want to Schedule & When
✔ I sketch out what products I will be creating each week of the month.
✔ I check to see how many pins I have scheduled and plan to add more so it's filled for the month.
✔ Ideas for blog posts for the month
✔ Revenue goal

I have a monthly calendar to write everything down that is happening for the month (business and personal). I also have a weekly calendar that I plan at the beginning of each week. Things happen and ideas change. I only plan one week at a time, so I can change things as needed. Some weeks I get more accomplished than I planned. Other weeks, I don't get much accomplished and need to push it to the next week.

So that's my monthly data tracking and planning in a nutshell. Track the information you are comfortable with tracking. Make monthly goals and plans to help you focus when you have time to create. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or contact me via email: littleroomunderthestairs AT gmail DOT com.

If you would like my Monthly Goals/Stats pages, click here or on the image below.
tracking data

I do have data tracking spreadsheets uploaded to my TPT store. If you are interested, you can find them here.

If you would like more of my planner, be sure to sign up for the newsletter. I will be sending it out on Friday with a link to the planner pages for free.