First of all, this title has multiple meanings, but the purpose of this blog is to give some useful tips to teacher-authors who need help managing, organizing, and growing their TpT shops. Maybe, you’re like me and look around at other awesome teacher-authors and wonder how they are doing so many amazing things while juggling everything else. How do they have time to blog and grade papers and feed a family? One time, I even emailed a teacher-author to tell her that I wanted to be her when I grow up—and I’m not kidding! My jaw DROPS whenever I see her products, blogs, Pinterest Posts—basically, EVERYTHING she does is incredible.
But seriously, how do these awesome teacher-authors do it all? And how am I supposed to do all that? How do we create products, promote the products, and network all while holding down the fort of our daily teaching jobs and taking care of our families? It was overwhelming to think about how to organize everything because it seemed like a MOUNTAIN of work—until I came up with this philosophy: The Power of ONE.
I just needed an easier way to think about the necessary tasks for building a high-quality online curriculum shop. I needed to “re-see” it, to “re-envision” the workload so that it was something I could digest instead of just feeling so overwhelmed that I wanted to quit before I ever got ahead. “The Power of ONE” helped me do just that! It helped me to stay organized and on top of my TpT business by giving me a simple and straightforward approach for organizing and managing the workload. And I’m going to share it with you!
The main categories of operating an online curriculum shop entail: creating products, promoting products, and networking. And these aren’t just categories for curriculum shops but for all other businesses as well! So, the essential idea behind The Power of ONE is to do ONE task in each of these categories on a regular basis. But, what does that mean?
It means this:
1 Smaller Product Per Week
1 Bundle Per Month (ish*)
1 Social Media Plug Per Day @ Peak Hours
1 Pinning Session Per Day @ Peak Hours
1 Ad Per Month—Pinterest or Facebook
1 Short Blog Post Per Week or 1 Long Blog Post Per Month
1 Networking Action Per Week
I have to tell you that when I implemented this plan, my sales went up 500% at first and then even higher! I’m NOT KIDDING! The secret was staying “relatively” consistent. Although I can’t lie.... I have not been as consistent with blogging every week. But that’s OK! We all have times when we can’t meet a deadline, but it’s about being mostly consistent overall. It’s not about being perfect. And the more I realized that consistency was the key, the more it began to make sense that awesome teacher-authors out there have so many fantastic products, blogs, and Pins to put on display—because they’ve been consistent in creating and promoting their work!
Let’s take a look at a few key comments on The Power of ONE in action!
Now, the strategy here is to think in terms of creating bundles, or units, when you set out to create new products. Why? Well, it’s a matter of efficiency, which I’ve learned the hard way. I have definitely been one to waste time, but if you create products around a unit, you can post each product individually, and then bundle them up and sell them all together-- about once per month. This gives your buyers the opportunity to purchase individual lessons within a unit a la carte OR to purchase the entire bundle and save money. I think it’s also a good idea to list products within a bundle a la carte because you can point buyers to the bundle by linking each individual lesson to the bundle.
By doing this, a potential buyer may see the bundle mentioned several times and that exposure leads to sales. Don’t forget to make at least one product in each bundle a FREEBIE! Freebies are a great way to market your products and expose buyers to the entire bundle.
This area has been the most difficult for me because I am NOT tech savvy at all, and I hadn’t even heard of Instagram when I first started my TpT shop. There is nothing that can make a person feel OLD like social media!
But, it’s a powerful tool, and the secret to making it work for you is to link it together. I have my Instagram linked to my Twitter and Facebook accounts so that whenever I make a post, it automatically posts in all three locations at once. It saves time and energy. And I can do it from my iPhone in less than 2-3 minutes. The goal is to post once per day at a “peak” time for teachers. How do you know when it’ s a peak time? The simple rule is this: if you’re on Facebook, they are, too. Chances are that when you have time to troll through Facebook, it’s probably a peak time. Go ahead and post. But remember NOT to post only about teacher products or teacher-related topics. That will bore your followers. Try to keep it interesting and let your personality shine through. If you love cats, post funny cat memes. If you love tea, then post about that! Think of using social media as a means of promoting your “lifestyle.” And every now and then, mention a product you’re working on or one that you’ve recently posted. You’ll have a following that will listen.
It’s no secret that many teachers use Pinterest to look for lesson plans, and it’s one of the best places to promote your products. So, Pin away at least once per day! And Pin on several boards, not just one. This will expose teachers to your products, and they will get used to seeing them “out there.” If you have the funds to invest in Tailwind, then great! It will save you even more time because you can plan out your pins in advance, and it will automatically do the pinning for you. But don’t worry if you don’t want to spend the money! You can still pin manually—in fact, I am still pinning manually! I have held out on spending the money on Tailwind just yet. If you’re pinning manually once per day then I’d aim to pin the same product on at least TEN boards. Do you want to know my pinning secret? I have the App on my phone. But that’s not the secret. I follow lots of teachers and teacher boards from my Pinterest account, and I watch for the alert numbers to spike. The App will have a little number on it to show how many people you’re following are pinning—it’s called “news” on Pinterest. If I see the number 3, I know it’s not a peak time. But, if I see that number jump up to 60 (meaning that the teacher-authors I follow have suddenly posted 60 Pins), I know it’s time to pin something. So, I open the App, and manually pin a few things, then go about my business. It’s that simple! This is an especially useful tip if you follow teacher-authors that you know for sure are pinning through Tailwind because Tailwind uses algorithms to pin at peak times. So, if that teacher is pinning, it’s time for you to pin, too.
The other marketing strategy I also try to implement once per month is an ad for $10.00 on Facebook or Instagram in order to promote one of my products. In fact, more people use Facebook than any other social media site. So, take that into consideration when deciding where to run an ad. You can always try one and then the other to see which gives you the best results. But do not fret if you don’t have the money to spend on an ad, or if you do not want to spend money on ads at all. Just keep pinning, and your sales will go up! (Cue the Dory song: “Just keep pinning, pinning, pinning!”)
The Power of ONE isn’t just about the frequency of actionable items. It’s about the power of togetherness within the educational community. We are stronger together. We can accomplish more together. We push one other, and we learn from one another. When you go to New York City, there is a reason why you will find a “Diamond District” and a “Fashion District” and a “Meatpacking District,” etc. with hundreds of similar stores all packed into a few blocks. The reason is because these businesses make more money when their customers know where to go to find what they’re looking for. If you need diamond jewelry, you go to the “Diamond District.” The idea behind this is The Power of ONE—the power of sticking together. TpT really works hard to promote togetherness among its teacher-authors because they realize how much we can help one another to be our best and achieve our best!
Therefore, networking is important to the success of your TpT shop, and here are a few ways you can network once per week:
There are excellent resources for networking through the TpT message boards. Write a message or respond to a message on the TpT website.
Contact a seller you admire and ask for some tips or advice.
Find other teachers in your content area and contact them about doing a group giveaway or a group FREEBIE product such as an e-book that you can all put in your TpT shops as a marketing tool.
Join TpT Facebook groups such as Teacherpreneurs, which provides all kinds of FANTASTIC networking opportunities from commenting on blogs to following each other’s TpT shops, etc. Not to mention, there is a wealth of advice at your fingertips!
Make a conscientious effort to comment on another teacher-author’s blog, Facebook post, Instagram, or Twitter. This will go a long way in encouraging the other teacher-author to reciprocate in kind.
And then, there’s blogging! I recommend ONE shorter blog post per week, OR ONE longer blog post per month. I didn’t start this blog until the fall of 2016. I will admit that I was a skeptic. I just didn’t see how writing blog articles would translate into followers and sales, but it has! I was surprised at how many people read my blog articles and how often those readers ended up purchasing a product! It’s been an incredible journey! So, I would say blogging is a must! You never know who is going to read what you have to offer. A college professor has even contacted me about one of my blog articles—the one about groupthink. Check it out HERE.
What I hope you glean from this blog is not to feel frustrated but to feel EMPOWERED. I hope that I broke the TpT workload down into small enough units for you so that it’s not overwhelming and so that you realize YOU CAN DO THIS! And even if you fall behind, don’t worry about it! Tomorrow is another day; next week is another week; next month is another month. You can always jump back in and work the steps of The Power of ONE to get back on track. That’s what’s so great about TpT. No matter what you have time to do—even if it’s not very much—every little bit helps, and at some point, things will begin to snowball, in a good way. For now, hang in there and keep working through The Power of ONE checklist, and you’ll be there before you know it!
About the Author
Meredith is the founder and creator of TeachWriting.org and Bespoke ELA. She has taught high school English for 10+ years in Dallas, Chicago, and New York City and holds a M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University. She has always had a connection to the written word-- through songwriting, screenplay writing, and essay writing-- and she enjoys the process of teaching students how to express their ideas. Meredith enjoys life with her husband, daughter, and sweet pups.