Wednesday, May 13, 2015

From a Newbie to the Newbies (2 months In): Getting Started on Teachers Pay Teachers for a HIGH SCHOOL teacher

It's been about two months since I started trying seriously to share my curriculum on Teachers Pay Teachers. It's slow going, but so interesting. I have always loved creating lesson plans and project designs, and since I am currently staying home with my little one, it feels great to access this part of my brain again.

I've read A LOT of posts about getting started on Teachers Pay Teachers lately, but many of them seem to come from the perspective of very experienced folks on the site, and they gloss the details a bit. Here's some advice from a newbie to the newbies, with as much detail as I can pack in. 

#1 Create all of your material in Powerpoint. As soon as you open Powerpoint, go to page setup and change your paper to 8 1/2 X 11. Now you are basically creating Word documents as far as anyone knows, since you'll be saving the work as a PDF to export at the end. The difference is that it is wildly easier to shift your graphics around in in Powerpoint. You can easily add shapes, layer clipart, put in colorful backgrounds and dink around with text in small boxes without changing everything else on the page. I thought Powerpoint was just for Powerpoint slide shows, but it turns out it's for EVERYTHING you want to look good. 

#2 Make a template for all your products in powerpoint with the second page filled in with your store/blog/facebook/twitter/instagram information. On this page you can thank your customers, invite them to e-mail you with questions, and include lots of lovely graphics and screenshots of your other products to entice them back to your store. Reminding them to follow you can't hurt either. This way, every time you make a sale, you know the person who bought your product will know how to get in touch with your line again. I also included a third page in my template called "Educator Info." It's just a nicely designed background and header with a text box waiting for my instructions to teachers on how to use each product. With this template, I don't have to keep copying and pasting from my other products when I start something new. 

#3 Buy a little bit of clipart. I wan't sure if I'd ever find some appropriately classy and understated clipart for my secondary products until I stumbled onto Paula Kim Studio. But I've been really happy with the few frames and papers I have purchased from her. I also use Pixabay (free!) for more specific graphics if I want something to really match a product. Pixabay doesn't require you to cite in your products, as almost everything there is public domain (unless the clip is specifically listed as private, which I've only run into once in months of browsing). If I end up making a hit of it on Teachers Pay Teachers (which would be fun!), I'll probably invest in more clipart, because I really enjoy graphic design. But until I am making more money from my products, I don't want to pay too much to create them. I'm sure you can relate. 

4. Browse the popular stores in your area. I've learned a lot about what teachers are looking for by checking out popular middle and high school ELA stores like Laura Randazzo and Tracee Orman. I don't want to copy their products, but I want to see what thousands of teachers are choosing to follow and like, so I can get an idea of the types of assignments and formats that make other teachers happy. Then I use my own material from years of teaching to craft the types of bundles and activity sets I see that people want. 

5. Use the forums sparingly. Boy, is it easy to waste time on the forums when you could be creating products. Try as I might, I haven't found anything on the forums that leads to much in the way of advertising or sales. You can connect with a few other bloggers and facebookers, get your products pinned to Pinterest (which seems to be of dubious merit since Pinterest changed the way they do pin feeds), and slowly watch the little phrase below your name go from "Becoming Active" to "Active" to something like my current status, "Collaborator Extraordinaire." But do you have more followers? Not really. Bottom line in my opinion, it's a nice thing to do when you are totally burnt out on creating products but want to feel productive. 

Good luck! Feel free to post questions below and I'll respond as best I can. 

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