When I started my Teachers Pay Teachers store in 2016, I had big dreams. Well...sort of. I had bought dozens of items from TpT authors over my short time as a teacher, and I really loved the products that I used. I love the convenience of TpT and how easy it is to get what you need.
But after my first year of teaching, I thought to myself, why don't I put my content on TpT? If they can do it, why can't I? I had gained confidence in writing my own curriculum. My students seemed to really enjoy what I was teaching. And let me tell you - I went after it. I started doing my research, but something I found out quickly was that there are a million different ways to do things for TpT, but not one collective spot where all of that information can be learned and consumed. As a teacher, I wanted to learn exactly what I needed to do in order to be successful. And I quickly found out, there isn't a single equation that'll make you an overnight success on Teachers Pay Teachers. But there are a lot of different skills and tools that you can utilize, along with patience and consistency, that will help you become the success you're destined to be.
My first year of selling on TpT, I was excited to make $30.00 a month. I still remember the very first notification I got on my phone saying that I sold something. I WAS PUMPED. I really didn't know what to expect from selling on TpT. I knew that very few people made a lot of money, so my goal initially was just to make some extra spending money and hopefully help pay down some of my debt I accumulated during grad school. But towards the end of my first year of selling "casually" on TpT, I decided I wanted to build a business for myself. I wanted to brand myself and utilize my skills and tools to grow my business.
As a teacher, I knew that the salary I was making wasn't going to support the kind of life that I wanted to live. My goals also changed. I was getting married, planning to start a family, and decided that I want to make enough money each month to cover a large bill, like a mortgage. I know. Lofty goals. So I took marketing courses, did my research, tapped my husband for his marketing knowledge and built my brand, now known to you as Fairways and Chalkboards.
My first year of selling on TpT, I made a couple of hundred dollars. My second year of TpT, through hard work, patience and focusing on what I considered to be the most important elements of a teacher business, I increased my income substantially, to the point of nearly a true additional income. In my second year of selling. And I think you can do the exact same thing. Over the month of January, I am going to be sharing with you in 4 segments what I think are the most important elements to growing a successful TpT business. If I can do it you can do it. I am by no means an expert. But I want to share with you what I did, what I still do, how I've evolved from the beginning to now, and how I want to continue to grow my brand.
So, without further adieu, segment 1:
Starting off your business, you might be tempted to make ALL OF THE PRODUCTS all at once. You might stay up late into the night, furiously making product after product so that you can upload them and make money $$$. Amiright?
Wrong. Even starting off, QUALITY always wins over quantity. You want to create products that people are going to want and need.
1. Create products that you would use in your own classroom, ESPECIALLY when you’re first starting out. That way, you can test your products out on your own students, make sure they work, tweak anything you need, and provide a flawless product for your customers.
2. Only sell work that you’re proud of. If you’re proud of your work, it will show. If you throw something together and slap it on TpT in hopes of making more money, but don’t put the time and effort into the work to create a quality product, you won’t make many sales. I can promise you that.
3. Create products that are original content. Now, this is tricky. I’m not saying you have to reinvent the wheel every time you create a new product, but make sure that you’re creating a product of your own. Your own design, your own style, and your own work.
For example, I personally sell different graphic organizers. Is this an original idea? No. Of course it isn’t. But I created and designed all of the graphic organizers that I sell. I used my own ideas, my own graphics, my own designs, and my own knowledge of what I know works well for my students. Not an original idea, but original content.
4. Create products with correct content. This aligns well with quality content. As a business, your customers are trusting you to sell them effective, quality, correct content. They should not have to worry whether the analysis of a short passage, or the answers to a math problem are actually correct. Selling your products make you an expert in your content. You are a professional, and your work should display this!
5. Revise and edit your work. If you upload a product that is sloppy and full of errors, the odds of that customer buying from you again will be extremely slim. Remember: your work is going to be used by students. Would you want your own students to comment on your editing errors and typos? Of course you don’t! Create content that is error free.
A helpful TpT hack: ask a friend or another teacher to edit your product for any errors. A second set of eyes is super helpful. I usually have my husband check over my work. And since I usually test run my products through my students first, they’ll ALWAYS let me know if I spelled something wrong.
I've created products that I've taken down since I started TpT. I've redesigned products numerous times. I've posted stuff with errors which I've had to fix. I've made these mistakes. But I've learned and grown from them, and I think that as a business owner, that's very important.
Come back next week for part 2 of the series, focusing on the use of social media and business growth.
Have a wonderful first week of 2018, teacher friends. And for those of you returning to work tomorrow (like me), enjoy!
Check out the following posts in this series:
Week 2: TpT & Social Media
Week 3: Digital vs. Paper
Week 4: Brand Yourself
What are some questions that you have about becoming a successful TpT Teacher Author? Leave your questions in the comments below!