About three to four years ago, I opened my very first Teachers Pay Teachers account. I figured that since I was already putting the time and effort into creating curriculum content for high school English, I might as well sell these items online and/or give them away for free to other English teachers who might also find them useful. And, in today’s climate of Common Core Standards, a new national exam, and teacher rating systems such as Danielson, the need for skills-driven materials is in high demand. The more these new educational directives are implemented, the more time we lose as teachers to create quality content for our students.
As a result, I culled through over ten years of documents and added some to my TpT store just to “see how it went.” I let those documents sit without doing hardly anything else! And they still sold! So, this summer, I began the task of actually promoting my store– which brings me to this very first blog for my TpT store: The Bespoke ELA Classroom.
Even though I have had a TpT “storefront” for about a year, I still consider myself a “newbie” because I am constantly learning the tricks of the trade. But over the course of this past year, I have learned many valuable tips for getting started on TpT, and I’m going to share them with you.
1. Think about how you will market your store.
What will you name your store? Think about what the name says about you, your educational philosophy, and your materials. I chose the name “Bespoke ELA Classroom” because I was living in Brooklyn at the time, and the word “bespoke” kept popping up in advertisements all over town. And I loved this word– the idea that my lessons could be “tailored” to fit the needs of English teachers really “spoke” to me. I would suggest that you peruse through different stores and explore other names. Perhaps, even make a list of possible names and try them out! Avoid names that suggest your work is sloppy and disorganized (i.e. The Last Minute Teacher, Tardy Once Again, etc.). You want to paint yourself and your store in a positive light! Also, think about wording the name of your store so that it communicates the subject/ grade level you teach.
2. Explore and experiment with what actually sells.
What kind of items will do well in your store? The best way to find out is to check out the stores of the Top Sellers, located on the homepage of the Teachers Pay Teachers website. What you will notice is that most sellers create “bundles” or “booklets” that contain multiple items instead of just single lessons. Your buyers want to get a “deal.” They want more for their money. I sell a bit of both booklets and single lessons in my store just to see how things sell. Whenever I create a booklet or bundle, I also list the items within it separately as itemized lessons, but I make sure to advertise in each of these listings that there is an entire booklet full of lessons just like it! Experiment with different types of products at different price points and make adjustments accordingly. I am constantly changing prices to see if that changes the selling trend. A good piece of advice that I picked up along the way is: if it hasn’t sold in a few months, either edit it, drop the price, or make it a free item. Be sure to price it appropriately. Think about pricing it between $.10-.20 per page– and I would recommend NEVER going OVER $10.00. You are selling to teachers after all, and we are ALL on a limited budget.
3. Use the resources on the TpT Dashboard & read up on COPYRIGHT!
Many TpT authors offer free booklets full of advice on how to navigate the copyright laws of literature and clipart. Be careful with the clipart!!! You CANNOT use clipart from MS Word! You CANNOT just go to Google images and copy a picture. If you do, you could potentially be breaking the law! You need to find clipart that you can use for “commercial purposes,” and this often entails your purchasing clipart sets that come with a commercial license. Be careful using free clipart and read the fine print because many free clipart sites require that you flatten images in PDF format and/or provide links back to their websites, etc. Be sure to follow their rules because if you get caught with any copyright infringement on TpT, they could end up shutting your store down. Since I teach high school, my documents look very different than that of elementary school teachers. I do not actually need clipart all that often. But, if you are an elementary teacher, your clipart DEFINITELY MATTERS! Check out sellers on TpT that sell special fonts and clipart– also look for bundles on Etsy and Pinterest. Try to find clipart that is DIFFERENT than everyone else’s so that your materials stand out!
4. Edit, edit, and edit!
Before you ever post a single item to your store, be sure to edit it for grammar/ spelling errors! If this is not your specialty, maybe you can solicit some students at school to edit for you (more applicable to us high school teachers). Just know that if you post a document full of typos and errors, someone out there will put permanent feedback on that item that says it has errors, or they will rate it very low = not good. You want your ratings to be 3.8 or higher. 4.0 is best, of course, but even I have a 3.8 rating on my store because of some ratings pertaining to my essay documents (due to philosophical differences, which often happens with high school content). Just be sure that the documents are clean and professional looking! After all, you are competing against professional publishers… not to mention your ratings stick with you forever.
5. Get the social media working for you!
This is the process I am working on right now. I have started this blog, set up a Pinterest page, a Twitter account, etc. You want to get your name “out there,” but you also want to NETWORK with other sellers. For example, if someone follows or pins your content on Pinterest, respond by pinning some of his/her content. If someone responds to your tweet, respond to one of his/hers. Reach out to other sellers and ask questions. I think you’ll find that most of us teachers are natural born helpers and will respond in kind. That’s a great way to make online “connections.” I’ve also heard of sellers working together to create content and/or edit/revise documents together. I’m not sure how the logistics of this works, but I would imagine that they work out some kind of payment agreement “behind the scenes.” Consider doing that as well.
All in all, I have learned much over the past year about setting up and navigating a TpT store, and I am still learning. I will continue to share my “learned lessons” with you along the way. So, stay tuned for more tips of the trade from The Bespoke ELA Classroom!