Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Check it Out Before You Create

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer of any type. I am a former teacher creating and selling educational resources. You should do your own research into the matter of trademarks and/or consult an actual attorney. This is not legal advice.

Did you know that when you are selling resources you cannot use every name out there? There is this thing called TRADEMARK. When you started creating resources to sell (or give for free to promote your store), you pretty much no longer fell under fair use.

When you create your educational resources, it is your responsibility to look to see if there is an existing trademark on the name you want to use and the category for the trademark.

⇝ Just because you have a reading textbook that needs supplemental material doesn't mean you can use the name of the reading series in your product.

⇝ Just because you see 10,000 products on TPT using a certain name doesn't mean it is okay for you to use.

⇝ Just because you like a certain author doesn't mean it is okay for you to use that author's name or product/book names.

⇝ Just because you purchased clip art does not mean it is okay for you to use if it depicts popular characters that are quite recognizable.

You must do your homework! (Isn't that what you tell your students?)

Here are a couple of places to check for trademarks:
United States Patent and Trademark Office


When you do your trademark search and you find the name you want to use, you also need to look at the category. Not everything is trademarked for Educational Goods or Toys/Games. Those are probably the most popular categories you are looking for.

How do people use trademarked names and get away with it?
⇝ It is important to remember that not everyone on TPT is violating trademark law. You can actually contact the trademark holder and ask permission to use the trademarked name in your product. Some sellers have taken steps to do this.

⇝ Those that do NOT have permission to use the trademarked name run the risk of receiving a Cease & Desist (C&D) letter from the trademark holder. A C&D does not have to be sent first. The trademark holder can file a lawsuit.

⇝ If a C&D letter is received by TPT, your product will be removed. You can appeal this decision. TPT does have a "3 strikes you're out" rule. So 3 violations and your STORE is removed.

Sometimes new sellers just don't know all of the rules. We were all new at one time. If someone mentions to you that you should check a name for trademark, please listen. Don't just delete their comment or your post or ignore them. So many times sellers don't want to hear that they may have a trademark violation because they have such a fabulous product. They want to do their own thing and make as much money as possible. To me, it's about what's right - what's ethical. You have to choose your path.

Be smart and do your research into names of products or people that you want to use to sell your resources. Be ethical and don't use trademarked names unless you have permission.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pinterest Tips Part 3

Pinterest Tips: Creating Pins
In Part 1, we talked about setting up your Pinterest account and boards. In Part 2, we talked about pinning and repinning things. In Part 3, we are going to discuss creating pins.

Programs to Use
I use Photoshop to design my pins. I use Photoshop because I own the program and know how to use it. You don't need to rush out and purchase Photoshop. There are several choices for designing your pins. Here are a few programs you can use:
 Canva (They do charge for some design elements.)
✔ PicMonkey

Pin Size
Pinterest says that a 2:3 ratio is best. Canva has the Pinterest Pin size at 735px x 1102px. That is the great thing about Canva. You just click on the Pinterest size image (or whatever social media) and design using that size.

You want your image to be the focus.
✔ Use images that are engaging and colorful. No product covers. If you don't have a photo of your product in action, then stage the product.
✔ Use relevant text. Don't get crazy on the fonts or the amount of text. They need to be readable on mobile.
✔ Use your branding: logo, name, colors, etc. If you're using your logo, keep it small.

Uploading Your Pin (if it is for a product)
✔ Click on the plus at the top of your Pinterest page.
✔ Choose "Upload an Image".
✔ Upload your image. It can be housed on your computer or the internet.
✔ Add a KEYWORD rich description. Make it useful not just a list of keywords. Think about a description that is 200-300 characters long.
✔ Choose your board.
✔ Click "See it Now".
✔ Click "Edit" and add your link. DON'T FORGET TO ADD THE LINK!
✔ Save.

Go design some amazing pins for Pinterest instead of using your product covers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How to Use the "Create a Similar Product" Function

Uploading Similar TpT Products - video

I have a video for you today on uploading similar products quickly.

Don't forget to join the newsletter for more tips!  Click here! 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Motivational Monday: Mindset

I had one of THOSE days the other day. You know the one - nothing is going right, numbers drop, your mind can't think of anything positive, work is not getting done, you're frustrated, etc. I woke up that way and just could not shake it off because I looked at my stats for the day before and they weren't that impressive - revenue was low, lost a follower in one area, and on and on. Let's face it. We ALL have those kinds of days. So what do you do to get yourself out of the "funk"? Change your mindset!

❊ Meditate
❊ Pray
❊ Read quotes that are inspirational, positive, motivational
❊ Look at the whole scheme of things not just a small part
❊ Think about who you are helping - teachers and students
❊ Have some "me time" by doing something else that you love to do

It takes more of an effort on days like this, but you can do it.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Internet Search

Monthly Internet Search for illegally posted tpt resources
Each month I do an internet search for any of my resources that have been posted illegally online. Yes, I have found some over the last couple of years. Sometimes I find my free items and sometimes paid ones. It is important to do the search and take the action necessary to have the illegally posted items removed. I even ask that the free items be removed as it isn't getting people into my store.

How to Search
Searching can be difficult if you have a common name. I never knew my name to be common but there's evidently a singer out there with the same name. On my copyright tagline, I always include my name and social media name so it looks like this: ©Misty Miller, Little Room Under the Stairs 2016.
 I can then search for Misty Miller Little Room Under the Stairs or just Little Room Under the Stairs.
 I also search with filetype: pdf at the end.
 Another way I search is with resource titles. I will choose a few each month and do a random search.

What happens when you find your resource?
 Send an email. I send them an email letting them know that the resource is mine and that my Terms of Use does not allow it to be posted on-line. Sometimes it's a teacher, sometimes a principal, sometimes a superintendent, and sometimes it's a website. Email whoever you can trace it to.
 Follow up. I continually check to be sure the item has been removed. They won't always email you back. If it has, then it's over until the next month. If it is still up, I send another email after 4 or 5 days.

The copyright/trademark forum on TPT is a great source of information and helpful people if you have questions after finding your resources illegally posted. There are also a couple of resources on TPT that can help you with wording for violation letters. I've been lucky to have only dealt with this through email. Everyone so far has complied with my requests. Click here to take a look at the resources on TPT. If there are others, they did not come up in my search.

Mark it on your calendar and do your monthly checks!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pinterest Tips Part 2

Pinterest Tips Part 2: pinning and repinning

In Part 1, we talked about setting up your Pinterest account and boards. In Part 2, we are going to talk about pinning and repinning things.

Once you have boards set up, you want to start pinning images that will fit on those boards.

Here are some things to remember when pinning or repinning images.
1) Pin to the correct board. I often get in a hurry when pinning and accidentally pin a recipe to a sewing board. Not good, so double check where your pin went to!

ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ You can always edit the pin and change the board. Click on the pin. Click on Edit. Change the wrong board to the correct board. Save. It's that EASY! Now your pin appears on the correct board.

2) Check your link before repinning. Before pinning ANYTHING, check the source. Click on the pin to see where it leads to. Not everything goes to the right place or even has a link. If it doesn't go to the correct place on the blog, find it on the blog or don't repin it. It is frustrating for people clicking on pins for ideas to discover the idea isn't there when they click. If it is just an image, then say that in the description.

ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ If you can find the actual link, then pin directly from the blog. You can no longer edit someone else's pin source.

3) Pin from the direct blog post. Don't just pin from the blog. I made that mistake SO MANY TIMES when I first started pinning. Be sure you are on the actual blog post you want to pin.

ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ To pin the actual blog post, click on the post title. Then pin from that page. It will pin the correct post, not the blog home page.

4) Check the pin description before repinning. There are sometimes strange things in those descriptions. You can edit the description to include keywords. Write a description that will get noticed.

ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ A good pin description includes keywords and is no more than 300 characters long.

5) Things to pin on your education boards. Don't just pin products. Pin things from others as well as your own. Include teacher ideas, blog posts, education articles, parenting articles that relate to school, comics, quotes, memes, etc. Pin a variety of items.

ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ A good ratio to keep in mind is 80% content and 20% product.

6) Other information about pinning according to experts.
ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ Red, orange, and brown are repinned twice as much as blue.
ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ Close up images are repinned more often than pins with a lot of background.
ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ Pins without faces are pinned more often than those with faces.
ⓣⓘⓟ ☞ Prime times for pinning according to experts is 2-4 pm EST and 7 pm - 12 am EST.

Stay tuned for more information about Pinterest and pinning next week. If you have a question, feel free to add a comment or email me.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Motivational Monday

What is your mindset today? Expect greatness every day!

Have an amazing week!