It's SUMMER! (so sorry if you're still teaching...) For me, this means lots of spare time. Of course I plan on laying by the pool, playing with the pups, getting lunch with friends... but there will still be time to fill. If you're in the same situation, and you've got a few creative bones in your body, you should consider starting your own TPT store! I started my store in April of last year and I can NOT believe the success, and more importantly, the FUN it has brought into my life. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my ideas, collaborate with others, and make a substantial second income. So whether you're a retired teacher, a SAHM taking a break from teaching, a homeschool teacher, or actively teaching -- TPT has room for everyone's ideas.
I have had several personal friends and TPT buyers ask me questions about starting on TPT, so instead of repeating myself, I thought I'd make a blog post for the beginners of beginners - hopefully this will make beginning your journey a little easier! :)
1 - Make Your First Product a Good One!
On TPT, the first product you upload must be a freebie. Your primary freebie should be an item that represents you and your store well. People will download it and then choose whether to follow your store and come back to see more. You probably shouldn't make your primary freebie something seasonal, but rather, something that could span the school year. There has been a lot of talk about freebies on TPT lately. You should follow these guidelines for greatest personal AND sitewide success: Keep your freebie under 10 pages. Make sure your freebie is a STAND ALONE product, meaning they don't have to buy something to make it work. And lastly, keep your store to under 20% freebies. I personally like to keep my store around 10% free.
2 - Create Attractive Cover Pages
What is a Cover Page? Cover Pages are the little thumbnails in your store front that show next to the titles of your products. Cover Pages are SO important because they are the FIRST thing a person sees. I, personally, will not click to view an item if it does not have an attractive and organized Cover Page. I create my products in Microsoft Powerpoint using Fonts, Graphics, and Backgrounds from TPT sellers! I like to use Bright Colors and Layering to make my Cover Pages pleasing to the eye. Without a good cover, I know that in a competitive marketplace like TPT, my items will get passed over.
3 - Pricing
There is a lot to take into account when you set a price for your items. It is very easy when you're first starting out to say, "Since I am not an established store and there is so much competition, I'm going to start out with very low prices." I do not suggest this approach. You are undervaluing your VERY hard work. Also, if enough sellers have this mindset, TPT will turn into a glorified Dollar Store and quality will lessen. There are various pricing guides available on TPT (http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Suggested-Product-Pricing-Guide-for-TpT-Sellers-536514) that you can use as a guide, however, in a marketplace like this -- Pricing is really up to you. I take into account 4 factors.
- How often and in how many ways can this product be used?
- What is the number of USEABLE pages?
- How much did I spend (money and time) creating this product?
My products range from $1.00 to $11.00 in price, though most fall in the $3-$5 range, and I'm very happy with my sales. I feel that my pricing is consistent and fair. My buyers know what to expect. Please note, there is a $3.00 minimum when purchasing anything from TPT, so pricing at $2.99 is a bad idea. :)
4 - Market Your Store in a Way that Works for YOU!
In the age of Social Media, marketing venues have become increasingly more accessible. Though you could just set up your store, do nothing, and make sales -- you will find that sales REALLY take off when marketing in some outside venue. The options seem endless -- Pinterest, Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The key here is to find what works for you. I have found Pinterest to be an easy and quick way to market products. You can join collaborative boards and share your products, freebies, and great teaching ideas. Blogging is a great way to build a following, however, it takes a lot of time and work. I encourage you to market your store in order to gain followers and increase awareness of your items, but you have to think about what works with your schedule and life. Don't try to do it all! :) I personally, do Pinterest and Blogging.
5 - Create a Brand for Yourself
However you choose to market yourself, it is a good idea to create a Brand that connects everything together. Create a store Name, Copyright, and Logo that you can smack on everything. This kind of branding assures that people know where to find you and makes you more recognizable in a sea of sellers/bloggers. It also creates consistency across the board, which makes things easier for buyers.
You can see the consistency between my Blog and my Store. They share a name, "Mrs. Kelly's Klass" and I plaster that name everywhere I can. My blog links to my Store/Pinterest/and Email. My store links to my Blog. It's all connected.
6 - Take the Plunge!
If you get to the point in your sales where you're asking yourself, "Should I upgrade to a Premium account?" The answer is a resounding ***YESSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*** Don't hesitate. Do it as soon as you possibly can and I guarantee you will not regret it. Nothing changes in your account, you don't suddenly become more visible to buyers, and you will still have to put in just as much effort in creating quality products and marketing. The difference is -- YOU MAKE MORE MONEY! Lots more money! If you're selling a product for a dollar, you only make $0.30 with a basic account. You make $0.85 with a Premium. On larger products, this difference is really substantial and adds up quickly!
7 - Visit the Forums Frequently
I have only shared the very BEGINNING of starting a TPT store. There is SO much to learn. I've been at this for over a year and I'm still learning. There is a wealth of knowledge available to sellers on the Forum. Upon signing up, this should be the FIRST place you go. The best possible thing you can do for your TPT "career" is to learn from other sellers. Once you get started and are feeling comfortable, you'll want to use the "search" function in the forums to learn about these things: Newsletter Promotion, Throwing a Sale, Making Previews, Product Descriptions, Linky Parties, and So much more!
I hope some of this information was useful to you, whether you have recently started a store or you are toying with the idea of starting one. Looking to get started this summer? Below you will find a link to sign up! This is my affiliate link, which helps me out. If you know someone who has encouraged you to sign up before -- ask them for their affiliate link. Otherwise, you are welcome to use mine! :)