Join us biweekly as we open up our collaborative conversations with each other. During these sessions, we'll discuss selling on Teachers Pay Teachers, marketing techniques, and ways to save time/stay sane!
How to Make Digital Learning Interactive
Digital learning is on everyone’s minds these days. So, today we’re talking about what you can do to make digital learning interactive and tips for converting your existing resources. And, we’re continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share what works for you and hear what others are saying: www.growwithusmastermind.com.
Now that teachers everywhere are dabbling in digital learning, it doesn’t look like this is something that’s just going to go away once everyone is back in the classroom. So, digital products will be something we can continue to focus on more than just converting our existing print resources.
It’s something April and I have been wanting to talk about, but it just wasn’t that popular. Obviously, things have changed. So, we are excited to have Erin Flanagan from Erintegration as our guest on the Grow With Us Podcast.
Erin is an expert in interactive digital training. Most of her store has a technology focus and she’s familiar with making resources that can be used on various platforms. It’s the identity of her brand and blog. So, we hit her up with our interactive digital learning questions.
What resources are selling well right now?
Erin has found that fully contained resources seem to be selling the best right now. These are the resources that include all directions, don’t need any other resources, and the students can complete the entire thing within the platform they’re using.
Right now, most teachers are focused on trying to do short lessons with the students and then assign them work they can do independently. So, any products geared towards that are most likely going to be more popular.
For example, Erin has a multiplication fact practice activity that is self-checking, and students can do completely on Google Sheets. The teacher doesn’t even need to be involved in giving directions. Things like this are getting a lot more attention right now.
Teachers are looking for simple resources that don’t need a lot of guidance.
What can we expect next year from digital resources if the classrooms are open?
I think the fact that most of Erin’s store is geared entirely toward digital learning, it shows her answer to this question. Even before the pandemic hit, there has been a shift in general to teachers using more digital tools. Now, schools are realizing that it’s important for them to have a game plan for distance learning in place whether it’s for a pandemic or a snow day. Schools don’t want to be left in the position of scrambling to figure it out after the fact in the future.
Erin believes that as teachers transition back to the classroom they’re going to want to keep some of the things that are great about digital learning. There are some things you can do on a device that you just can’t do without it. She thinks teachers are finding those positives and will be considering them as they buy resources for the fall.
I agree with her. Teachers that were afraid to try digital products in the past are building up confidence in using them right now. They may feel better using some of the more complex digital resources when they’re back in the classroom.
Right now parents are the ones having to troubleshoot the login process and getting their kids set up. When everyone’s back in the classroom, teachers may be thankful to be able to handle these tech issues.
What’s the difference between clip art and moveable clip art?
Erin shared that sometimes teachers are confused that both clip art and moveable pieces are both PNG imag
3 Things to do to Move Your TpT Store Forward
We’ll be completely honest with you. We spent the first few weeks of this pandemic in a bit of panic mode which has the tendency to paralyze people from taking action. But we’re coming out of that now and we want to share what we’re doing to have some movement in our TpT business during this time.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you to shift everything to digital products. And, we’re not going to just focus on the coronavirus. The 3 things that we’re going to share are things that can benefit your business right now in the midst of the pandemic but also at any other time.
1. Survey your audience
This is a tool that we’ve talked about before. This is a great time to be surveying your audience. A month ago, teachers felt like they needed everything.
There was no plan at that time. Everyone was in panic mode. Now, they have a better understanding of what’s expected of them and what they need. So, it’s a great time to survey your audience.
Here are some questions you could ask your audience:
How are you teaching right now? Are you using Google Classroom? Are you sending home packets?
What resources are you using?
What digital options are you interested in?
Is there training you would like to have?
What can I do to support you?
Think about what’s been on the back burner
One of the first things that Angie did when this happened is thought about what resources teachers have asked for in the past that she hadn’t worked on yet.
While something might not have been the right thing for you to create for your store in the past, it might be a better time now. If there is something your audience has asked for in the past, rethink if this is the right time to focus on it now.
Engage with your email list
Angie and I have both become more consistent with our email lists. I’ve been sending emails a few times a week. Teachers are overwhelmed right now and I don’t think they’re reading every email. But I’m being more active with my list and I’m getting more feedback.
In my emails I’m asking what teachers need, offering support, or making them aware of a resource that I have on sale. Teachers are responding with valuable feedback to let me know what they need.
Why this is so important
A lot of times, TpTers look to other TpTers to see what people want. But that’s not necessarily what your audience wants. You need to find out what your specific audience is looking for.
For example, a lot of TpTers quickly started turning all their resources into digital resources, but that’s not what all audiences want. You could be wasting your time doing this if your audience doesn’t care about digital resources.
Think about the long-term
As you get feedback from your audience, think about how it fits into your long-term plans. You don’t want to just focus on a short-term bandaid right now. You want your efforts to be something that can be good for your business for the long-haul.
As we move forward, more teachers will be more fluent with digital resources. But that doesn’t mean they’ll want to use them once they can get back in the classroom. That’s why you need to carefully weigh what is beneficial for right now that will also be beneficial in the future.
Consider offering training sessions
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback by offering training sessions for teachers. I was getting a lot of questions about how to assign one of my writing assignments online. So, I ran a Facebook ad and held a one-hour training.
I got so many questions during th
Growing Your Pinterest Following and Views with The Stellar Teacher Co.
We’ve been hearing from a lot of Tpters lately reporting that their traffic and views are dropping in Pinterest. So, today we’re talking about what you can do to combat that and increase your Pinterest activity. And, we’re continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share what works for you and hear what others are saying: www.growwithusmastermind.com.
On this episode of the Grow With Us Podcast, we have Sara from the Stellar Teacher Company joining our conversation on Pinterest. When we saw the concerns around the current struggle with Pinterest, we put out a call in our group for new Pinterest strategies and someone recommended Sara. Her account has 4.4 million monthly viewers.
Sara creates and sells resources for upper elementary and launched her website earlier this year. We had a long list of questions and discussed the following Pinterest strategies:
The use of video pins
Sara shared with us that she noticed a big increase in her Pinterest views when she started using video pins. She only uses them to share and link to her products and isn’t using them to share blog posts or opt-in offers for her email lists.
A recent video pin had 149k views with 2.4k saves on these pins. It’s her highest percentage of engagement on Pinterest which really surprised her because they are pretty simple and straightforward. However, the videos are able to provide a more comprehensive view of what’s included in the resource which is what teachers are looking for. It allows them to get a good feel for the entire product.
How to create video pins for Pinterest
Sara reassured all of us that it really isn’t that difficult to create video pins. She likes to batch her work so she can create multiple pins at once. She uses her iPhone for all of the videos and photos that she takes for her marketing and really likes the time-lapse feature to help speed things up. This allows her to flip through an entire 50-page resource in a 7-second video.
Apps for video editing
When it comes to editing her videos, Sara likes to use PicPlayPost. She uses the paid version because it’s not that expensive but there is a free version as well. This app allows you to edit things like brightness and timing, which is helpful because your video needs to be at least six seconds long.
The app also allows you to add text and combine multiple videos into one. Sara shared that it’s easy to use and within an hour of playing around you can be pretty set on how to use it.
Importance of consistency
While video pins have contributed to Sara’s recent growth you can’t overlook the importance of consistency. She experienced what she calls the “Pinterest Crisis” last fall just like many others. In order to combat the dip she experienced, she began to post consistently.
While Tailwind was helpful, Sara didn’t enjoy using it so she eventually hired a VA to handle it for her and it’s made a huge difference. It helps here to keep the queue full of new pins or high performing ones that she wants to keep circulating.
This is the first year that she’s been consistently pinning the same number of pins every day. She keeps it to 25-30 pins a day and personally doesn’t use SmartLoop because her VA is helping do the work for her. The consistency has had a good impact on her growth since last fall.
When it comes to creating new resources, she tries to upload 20-30 new pins a month for it. And, while she does do repins of both video and regular pins, she makes a point to get the new pins out there too.
Batching work to save time
As mentioned before, Sara prefers to batch her work. For example, a few weekends before we recorded our episode with her, she created all of her video
Setting Up Your Website Store with Guest Melissa Tallman
Last month we stepped out of our comfort zone to talk about selling on our websites. Today we invited someone who knows way more about the topic than we do to share more information. And, we’re continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share what works for you and hear what others are saying: www.growwithusmastermind.com.
A few podcast episodes ago, Angie and I shared our own experiences with selling directly from our websites. And, now we are really excited to bring Melissa Tallman from Teacher Thrive onto the podcast. She has been running her own store for about eight months and can speak to some of the things that we can’t, like WooCommerce.
What made Melissa decide to sell on her website
Like Angie and I, Melissa is grateful for TpT. It’s a great way for teacher sellers to really get started. But, Melissa is no longer teaching in the classroom and has turned her business into her full-time income.
Because of that, she doesn’t want to keep all of her eggs in one basket. Just in case anything were ever to happen with TpT, she can’t afford to lose all her income. So, she decided to set up her website store and use her own platform.
Deciding on WooCommerce and setting up her store
Melissa gave the DIY path a try when she first started to set up her store but realized it wasn’t for her. So, she hired a developer.
She knew from the start that she wanted to use WooCommerce because she prefers how it’s customizable and knew that it offered the look that she wanted. Some things, like writing a blog post or resource descriptions were really simple. But, when she started to try to customize the storefront to be easy for the customer to use, it wasn’t as simple.
Melissa didn’t want to spend her own time trying to figure out how to set it up from scratch, so she hired a developer.
It can be easy to spend a lot of time trying to make all those little tweaks to get things looking just right and still not end up with what you’re looking for. That’s why sometimes it’s just easier and faster to hire someone that knows what they’re doing.
Melissa’s advice for teacher sellers
When we asked Melissa what advice she had for teacher sellers when setting up a store, it all came back to hiring help. It’s not that she’s against people setting it up on their own. But, she highly recommends finding someone that knows what they are doing.
She found a person on Upwork. Her recommendation is that you find examples of stores that you like the look and functionality, find a developer that you’d like to work with, and ask them for a quote on how much it would cost. There are a lot of talented freelancers on Upwork.
Another area that you might want to consider hiring help in is moving your products over from TpT to your own store. You can go the simple route and just copy them over, but eventually, you’ll want to update all the links so you are keeping your bundles together on your own website store.
Either route is time-consuming, but copying them over is a lot less intensive. You can hire a virtual assistant to help you out if needed. Melissa bit the bullet and did the work all at once from the start with the help of her husband.
Melissa uses a bundle plugin called YITH that works with WooComerce. While she suggested that there might be newer ones, she liked the look of it and that it was similar to setting up bundles on TpT. It also provides pagination where teachers can see all the items within the bundle. It allows them to click on it to see the exact product page that’s included.
Another plugin that she recommends is called Discount R
How to Stay Productive When You’re Overwhelmed with Guest Shelly Rees
As a teacherpreneuer there are so many things to focus on while growing your TpT business. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose focus. Today we’re talking about how to stay productive, and we’re continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share what works for you and hear what others are saying: www.growwithusmastermind.com.
April and I were excited to bring Shelly Rees back as a guest on the Grow With Us Podcast. She was a guest way back in episode 10 when we were live at the 2018 TpT conference. She’s a teacher seller and a productivity guru. On this episode, she shared some incredibly valuable tips on how to stay productive and beat that feeling of overwhelm that we all experience at times.
If you have been trying to figure out how to stay focused, this is the episode for you!
There’s always going to be a little overwhelm
I describe my overwhelm as a sliding scale. Sometimes it’s more and other times it’s not as bad, but there’s always a bit of it there. Remember, you may always feel a little bit of that overwhelm. It’s not that you need to eliminate it all the way, but you do need to learn how to manage it and stay focused. What you don’t want is to get so overwhelmed that it causes you to freeze and not do anything.
Shelly is experienced at this. She has two facets to her business. The first is her TpT store. The second side is helping other teacher authors. She admits that it can be overwhelming, but she has found the right strategies to help her stay productive through it. Here is what she recommends you do to stay focused:
1. Do a brain dump
Shelly suggests that you get a big piece of paper and just start writing everything down that’s rolling around in your head. This includes the big and little things. Write down all the projects you’re working on and tasks that you need to do. It doesn’t have to be business related. It could be something like “clean the kitchen counter”. Just get it all out.
2. Prioritize it
Once you have it all out of your head and down on paper, it’s time to prioritize it. List them as most important to least important.
Or, if you’re really feeling overwhelmed, Shelly recommends that you list them from the smallest task to the biggest task. This allows you to get some easy wins by completing and crossing off the small tasks first. This helps to build momentum and allows you to be more productive.
3. Keep a list of tiny tasks
These are tasks that will only take you 15 minutes or less to complete. It could be something like creating a new pin.
Shelly keeps this list on hand at all times. Then, when she finds that she has a small chunk of time to use, she can do something productive instead of scroll through Instagram or Facebook.
We’re all guilty of wasting those little chunks of time. One of the biggest excuses that Shelly hears from TpTers that are still working in the classroom is that they don’t have enough time. But if you work on focusing during those small chunks of time then you’ll see that you actually have more time than you realized. Or, if you need a little motivation to help see this, look at the breakdown on your phone of your screen time. You’ll most likely see that you are wasting more time than you realize on things like social media.
How to stay productive by organizing your time
While the three steps above can go a long way in helping you stay productive, it’s also helpful to keep the big picture in mind when organizing your time. Here’s how Shelly does it:
Choose a word of the year. For 2019, her word was “intentio
Selling on Your Website: What you need to know when creating a website store
While we aren’t experts on the topic, today we’re sharing our experiences with setting up a website store to sell products from our own websites. And, we’re continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share any tips or ask any of your hiring questions: www.growwithusmastermind.com. Some links are affiliate links. We pay for the podcast costs using revenue generated when people checkout using our links.
This is a bit of a taboo topic that we are going to jump into today—selling on your website. Angie and I are in no way claiming to be experts on this topic, but we’ve received a lot of questions about it lately. Our stores are pretty new and we are still in the beginning phases, but we wanted to share our experiences, what we’ve experimented with and do our best to answer your questions.
Please know that we are in no way encouraging everyone to start a store or to take resources off of TpT. It’s a great platform that drives a lot of traffic to our resources and has been a huge blessing for us both. We are simply exploring options to grow our business which has led us to open website stores in addition to our TpT stores.
This is not something for everyone. We are going to answer your questions as honestly as we can to give you a good indication of if this is a good option for you or not. So, here we go:
When or why should you start a website store?
As mentioned above, it’s not for everyone. If you’re already overwhelmed with creating resources, building an email list, and growing your social media following, it might not be the right time for you. It’s not as simple as just throwing up your resources on one more site and calling it a day.
We don’t recommend for beginners
This is not something for beginners. If you only have a few resources up at TpT, focus on growing your store there first. They drive traffic to the website and teachers naturally come to it to look for resources. This is the best place to start growing your sales. If you’re just starting out, stick with product creation for now.
When you have your own store, you’re the only person driving traffic to it. It’s not going to just start flowing in without you working on it.
We don’t recommend if you aren’t looking for additional features
If you don’t want to use more features than what TpT already has—if you don’t want to pixel customers to retarget them with ads, give coupons to your email list, and things like that—just stick with TpT.
Having your own store allows you to have a lot more analytics about your customers which allows you to target them further. If that’s not important to you right now, it’s probably not worth your time to start a store on your website.
We don’t recommend if you don’t have the money and time
It cost money to set up your shop, get traffic to your store, etc. I know a lot of sellers were interested in starting their own stores when TpT increased their commission from 15% to 20%. However, when they made that jump they realized they weren’t selling as much on their own stores. TpT gets a lot of organic traffic that you just aren’t going to get on your own store. You have to create all of that momentum yourself.
You are going back to square one when you start your own store.
If you’re on the fence and can’t think of any other reason to start a store than wanting to make more commission, it might not be for you.
What sales platforms should you use?
As we mentioned, Angie and I aren’t experts on website stores, so we are only able to share