Sunday, March 23, 2014

"In a Flash!" Business Tip #6: Dealing with Criticism


If you are a seller on this site, you create. And when you create, you make yourself vulnerable to a lot of things....including criticism.

I highly encourage you to set aside some time to view this video. She has some great visuals and offers a lot of new ways to deal with the verbal (both from others and ourselves) obstacles in creating.

It can definitely help you put criticism and feedback into a healthy perspective and focus on what you do great....create!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-JXOnFOXQk
Rebecca
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Late-Night-Coffee

Friday, December 20, 2013

Business 101: The Hidden Dangers of Being "In the Zone"



“The Zone" .  A phrase that brings giggles when we read it because a lot of us have experienced it.

“The Zone"  is that tunnel-like vision you have when you are working on a product.  The ability to block everything  out while you are working….noises…distractions….eating.  It's the time tunnel-like experience that starts with a click of the keyboard and ends with the phrase, “Is it really midnight already?" . And I've worn the ability to get in “The Zone"  like a badge of hard work honor for the last few years.

That is… until two weeks ago.

Now,I’ve never been an athlete. Never had a broken bone. My health has been pretty normal throughout my 46 years.  I try and keep my weight at a decent level.  I started walking regularly for exercise over the summer and joined a yoga class to get some flexibility in my old age.  I try and eat a varying diet although I know I could probably do better. A real "yawner" kind of health chart.

But the one thing that I did not pay attention to was the health of my legs and spine.

You see…I’ve always been a huncher. As a kid. As a teenager. As an adult. "Stand up straight" was my mother's mantra. But I continued hunching,especially as an adult….an adult with a computer job.  And that hunching has now led to a very painful experience. One that I would like to share so it might spare someone else what I have just…and will be going through.

It appears, in all the years that I have been cranking out work on my various computers, I was putting horrible pressure on my lower back from not sitting in my chair properly.  As a result, the lower half of my back now feels like Neptune’s trident is wedged in there. They believe one of my discs is bulging from having my spine push on it from an angle for too long.  In addition, the lower part of one of my legs feels like a burning steel rod is inserted there.  I liken it to being invited to a bbq and having to sit on the grill for the event. They don’t know yet what is going on there, but it's probably related to the other.  I have 4 weeks of physical therapy to help relieve some of the pain and hopefully get me back to “normal" . 

Why am I telling you this?

Well, because in the first few days of trying to figure out what was going on with me, I learned a LOT about the legs and spine….and how important it is to “keep ‘em movin’" .  Especially if you do work at a desk.

It may be great to crank out a product in one day but the health risks may outweigh the work ethic.  I encourage you to read the following articles so that you are at least informed about some of these various health problems that can arise from sitting too long in one position.

Back pain from sitting at desk:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/14074 … ting-desk/

How sitting too long can result in blood clots:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/artic … -clot.html

What you can do to help reduce the risks :
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/2 … 95618.html

Right now, I cannot sit for more than 15 minutes. I also can’t stand for more than 15 minutes.  Being a “jack-in-the-box"  is not conducive to good work.  Either is being on painkillers. 

This is not meant to scare…but to inform.  I just wish I had known more about this earlier.

 Rebecca

Monday, November 4, 2013

"In a Flash!" Business Tip #5



There are many different things to think about when developing and marketing your educational product.  One idea that could open more opportunities for your product is considering the homeschool market.

Right now, there are roughly two million homeschoolers in the U.S. That's a pretty good size group!

Here are some great articles that can provide some information if you are interested in the homeschool market:

This one explains what qualities a product and marketing campaign should have to appeal to homeschoolers:
http://www.ihomeschoolnetwork.com/marke … -audience/

This one shows the breakdown (by state) of the number of homeschoolers there are in the U.S.:
http://a2zhomeschooling.com/all_time_fa … _students/

This one shows why marketing to this group could be advantageous:
http://www.noagendahomeschool.com/blogs … ool-market

Just some more tools for your toolbox!

Rebecca
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Late-Night-Coffee

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Business 101: Six Month Observations and Thoughts




When I started TpT back in March, I had no idea what kind of business journey would unfold, but here are a few of my personal observations:

1) It's true. Six months is definitely a marker when things start "popping". And while that is usually the case for a lot of online businesses, the fact that a lot of "6 month anniversaries" can happen around a big sale helps make it even more possible.  It definitely pays to be patient for the first six months.

2) Pinterest is really a good way(if not the best way) for the new seller to get some upfront,start-up exposure.  It really helps the marketing momentum for your store in those first few months and then it's a great way to build business after that.  Joining collaborative boards also ensures that your product is being seen by many different consumers in your market.

3) The forums are an excellent way to gather information to help run your store better.  Chances are the question or problem you have has been answered on the board.  And if not, there's a REALLY good chance someone can help you if you ask.  Even if you just lurk, it's a wonderful resource.  And the more you hang around the forums, the more you'll feel like you know the people behind the avatars.

4) Feedback. Ahhhhh.....the wonderful and sometimes dreaded feedback.  I'll be flat out honest and say that the feedback from an "educational product consumer" is a wee bit more tough than what I've seen on other sites.  BUT....they can also leave some of the nicest comments too.  What is amazing is the fact that you have someone in customer service that will at LEAST listen if you feel a comment/rating has been given unfairly.  That is UNHEARD of in the online community.  Actually, having a real life human in customer service is almost unheard of these days.  So while feedback can sometimes sting, don't take it personally.  It's part of the online business. And if you are going to get it, at least you are here getting it.

5) The things you create first may make you cringe 6 months down the line.  It's a learning curve.  And while you are creating, you are also branding.  Sometimes those first things don't always fit with your brand once you've "found your groove". Perfectly normal.  Thank goodness for the "edit" button.

6)There are times when you just can't create. Writer's block, exhaustion...or whatever.  Don't beat yourself up.  There will be a day when an idea will pop in your head and you'll be off and running again.

7)There is absolutely no quick and easy way to do this.  It's work. Plain and simple. You'll see the success stories and wonder why you aren't able to share one.  Slow and steady wins the race.  There are dues that have been paid behind those success stories. Just keep plugging away....and eventually you'll have one to share.  It truly won't happen right away, so don't get discouraged.

8) If you think you are going to be here in the next six months, upgrade to the "Premium Seller".  Just do it.  You'll thank yourself later when you see what you earned. Also, I would HIGHLY recommend subscribing to Charity Preston's "Teaching Blog Traffic School".  Don't let the name fool you.  It's not only for people with blogs.  I've been selling online for 17 years and I still learned quite a few things.  It's a good investment. And no, I'm not leaving my "affiliate number" lest anyone think I'm earning a few bucks for recommending it.  It seriously is a good business investment for anyone who is serious about selling on this site.  Okay...I think I've spent enough of your money.

9) Speaking of money. The question I see a LOT on these boards is how to price products.  If you can look at it as not really selling the products, but selling the time and energy that it would take to make the SAME product, it can make that part easier. Time and energy are huge commodities these days and people are willing to spend money to save on both. There are, of course, other factors people use to buy our products....but I believe time and energy are huge driving forces. So give that product the VALUE it deserves with a PRICE that it deserves. 

10) This is the most important.  This site, it's ideology, and it's management.....for lack of a better word....ROCK!  I have never worked for a site with nicer people who care.....AND LISTEN!!!  It seriously is one-of-a-kind.  And I'm not getting kick-backs for saying that either.  It's a tough world out there with online businesses.  This place makes it easy to succeed.

Okay...those are my major observations.  I've really enjoyed the last six months and look forward to the coming months.  I hope you all have a GREAT start to this coming holiday season! 



Rebecca

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Business 101: The Art of Self-Discipline and Nachos

When it comes to running your own online business, one thing you'll need  is self-discipline.  But in order to have self-discipline, you have to have motivation and a realistic view of your work style.

Being your "own boss" can be challenging.  There's often a teeter-totter mindset that shifts continually from "Wowzers! I'm rockin' and rollin' on this project!" to "Ugh. I'd rather scrub the lasagna pan than try to come up with another idea right now." Perfectly normal. 

So in an effort to help you feel a bit better,  here are a few things I've tried and have found to be effective:

1) Write a list each day of what you want to accomplish. Notice I said "want". It's good to set "lofty" goals, but it's also good to be realistic at the end of the day. Lining up a list of "impossible to finish" tasks will often lead to feeling  like you need a nap...just from reading your list.  And beating yourself up for not accomplishing your list...will make you feel like taking a nap. And from what I understand, the most productive way to spend your work time isn't taking naps.

2) Tell someone what you are doing that day.  Tell your friend, your spouse....the cashier at the coffee shop.  It works like a nonscary verbal contract. If you do what you said, your confidant will applaud you for great work and if you don't do what you said....well...they can applaud you for your creative excuse.   A win-win.

3) Set the number of hours you want to work for the day....and keep them.  Set an alarm and work until it goes off. And be realistic on this too.  If you know you are pretty much spent when you get home, then only schedule a short amount of time to work.  You'll get more done in a short amount of time focusing than trying to wrestle with your desire to sit on the couch with a spoonful of cookie dough and watch reruns of "The Golden Girls".  Been there.... and it's always the same outcome each time. Those ladies always love being friends.

4) Create a quiet place. You don't need a home office with a fake ficus tree and inspirational posters to do your work.  You just need a place to "think".  And one that is off limits to traffic during your working hours. If you can get everyone in your house to freeze like that scene in "The Matrix"....that's ideal.

5) Get all of your fun websites looked at before you begin.  See what's going on with Facebook. Check out the latest smores recipes on Pinterest.  Read the news story about the baby elephant.  If you don't, they just sit on your shoulder and nag you to do it.  Don't fight it. It's too strong. Save your energy for your work.

6) Get all your snacks together and bring them to your workspace....first.  Spending 20 minutes of your work time making nachos with all the fixins sounds delightful....if your working on a football draft.  But if you are actually trying to accomplish some true work, satisfy your culinary desires beforehand.  This also applies to beverages, desserts, and sudden 7-course dinners.

7) Give yourself some verbal "gold stars". Yes. I am saying to talk to yourself. Out loud.  Finish a page? "Good job!" Create a cover? "That looks fantastic!" Finish the whole product? "Where's my big orange cup...and the wine?!"  I recommend using that last one at the end of your work period.

8) Know when to fold 'em. If you are exhausted....give yourself a pass.  It's okay.  Your "boss" is cool...and empathetic.  They know you don't do this all the time. And they know where you live if you don't show up again.

9) Throw away all those preconceived notions of what you think "work" should look like.  Your working style is YOUR style.  Like mornings? Work in the mornings. Don't have time to work on weeknights? Work on the weekends.  There is no law about when or how you work. You work when YOU can work....and how you can work. So maybe you only can crank out a product once a month. Okay. If deep inside you are good with this...and you aren't letting any outside voices tell you otherwise...then great! You've found YOUR style. You go!

10) And finally.  I saved this one for last. It's my best secret.  If you really want to crank some good work out during your "work time"...pretend you are working for someone else.  Think of a person that you have worked for that you produced your best work, and pretend they are your boss now.  It seriously helps with keeping your products top-notch and your productivity time at its best. And you can put them in better looking clothes....because you can.

Anyway....I've done all of these. Sometimes in one day. Sometimes twice a day. Most of the time with the nachos.

Here's another great article about staying motivated:
http://under30ceo.com/10-tips-for-stayi … -business/

And here's one about self-discipline from an online entrepreneur:
http://ohmyhandmade.com/2013/small-busi … -yourself/
 
Rebecca
 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"In a Flash!" Business Tip #4

 
We've all learned about the life cycles of the frog and the butterfly, but did you know that products actually have life cycles too?

"What?!"
"GASP!"
"Tell me more!"

Well, I won't tell you more....but this article can! It was the clearest article I could find on the subject. It's really interesting to see the different stages our products can take during their "lives".

Just another "tool" for your toolbox!

The Product Life Cycle
http://www.quickmba.com/marketing/product/lifecycle/

Rebecca

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Business 101: "Do you have a minute?"




Well it's almost here.....the start of school. And you know what that means!

SALES! (insert thunderous clapping and shouting here)

So let's relieve some anxiety...

I read recently that successful people not only write down their goals...they make them attainable AND do some physical action to help achieve their goals.

So...if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and need some suggestions for helping your success in the next coming weeks....

Here are 50 easy "physical actions" you can do:

1) Join a collaborative board.
2) Host a collaborative board.
3) Join a "Linky Party".
4) Host a "Linky Party".
5) Join in on a discussion in the forums .
6) Start a discussion in the forums.
7) Pin a product.
8) Pin someone else's product.
9) Rearrange your Pinterest boards.
10) Improve a product title.
11) Improve your banner.
12) Improve your avatar.
13) Improve a description.
14) Improve that space where you put your quotes.
15) Write a blog post.
16) Comment on a blog post.
17) Redo a cover.
18) Add a link to another related product in your description.
19) Improve a category name.
20) Add a category name.
21) Think of a new product.
22) Create a new product.
23) List a new product.
24)Record your statistics.
25) Create a Facebook page.
26) Join a Facebook page.
27) Add a product to your Facebook page.
28) Add an anecdote to your Facebook page.
29) Start a Twitter account.
30) "Tweet" about a product.
31) Order cheap or free business cards.
32) Hand someone your business card.
33) Add your store's name/URL to your email signatures.
34) Follow someone on Pinterest.
35) Follow someone on Facebook.
36) Follow someone on Twitter.
37)Enter a product to the newsletter.
38)Welcome someone new on the "Introduce Yourself" forum.
39) Create a fresh "Free" product.
40) Create a giveaway celebration.
41) Read through the different forums.
42) Read different blogs.
43) Read past newsletters from TpT.
44) Learn a new tip about technology.
45) Learn a new educational topic.
46) Learn a new business tip.
47)Write down your goals for the next month.
48) Write down your goals for the next week.
49) Write down your goals for the next day.
50) Give yourself a pat on the back for all the things you accomplish.

    Rebecca  :)