Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TpT Followers - What are They and Why do I Want Them?

Followers are a good thing for four main reasons.

First, when someone has decided to follow you, they will receive a notification email every time you post a new product. At this time, this is probably the biggest advantage to having a lot of followers.

Second, when the TpT site redesign is implemented (which should happen very, very soon), people who have followed you will see updates from you at the top of their screens when they log in. These will include recently posted products, sales you may be having, and if you have sent them a TpT email.

Third, once a month you can send a note to your followers that they will receive in their TpT email boxes. While this is a good thing, I am not sure how many buyers actually bother to read these notes since they do not go to their regular email accounts. However, the fact that a notification about these emails will soon show up on their TpT homepages may help. You can use the TpT email to link products you want to highlight, advertise a sale, contest, or special deal, and  talk about what you are developing. At this point, this is the only way to communicate with your buyers.

Fourth, it looks good to have a lot of followers. A large number of followers shouts, "This is a great seller who lots of other people like!" Who doesn't want that?

Buyers can follow you by clicking on the green follow me box on the left side of your TpT store. So, how can you get more followers? Here are some ideas:

  • Use your "personal quote" field on the store editing page to ask people to follow you.
  • Ask people to follow you in your product descriptions
  • Ask people to follow you in your product ads
  • Ask people to follow you on your facebook or blog
  • Create a contest (using Facebook) that requires people to follow you in order to enter.
  • Participate in someone else's contest that requires people to follow you in order to enter (seller's sometimes announce these in the seller forums.)
  • And most importantly, create really stunning products and people will follow you without even having to be asked!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ten TpT Milestones to Shoot for

Milestones are important. They help us to see how far we have come and give us a feeling of accomplishment. So celebrate yours!
  1. Your first sale
  2. Your first great comment/rating
  3. The first time you sell ten or more products in one day
  4. Your first $100 in sales
  5. Making it on to the Top 100 list
  6. Getting a paper check ($500+ in a quarter)
  7. Making the Top 10 list
  8. Crossing the 20K mark
  9. Making more from you sales on TpT than you do from your job
  10. Becoming a TpT millionaire
I wonder how many of us will someday make it to Number 10....

What milestones have you hit? What are you looking forward to?

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    A Year of Sales on TpT

    This chart is a roughly shows my sales over the course of the last year (June 1, 2010 - June 11, 2011). I am posting it here for a few reasons.

    First, for those of you who haven't been around for a full year and are feeling discouraged by poor sales, here is proof of the sales slump that TpT sees every summer. Fortunately, when you look ahead to August and September, things pick up significantly. Sales dip again in December for the holidays and a bit in April because of spring break and testing.

    Second, sponsored slots in the weekly TpT newsletter are a good thing, as long as you choose your product carefully. That said, that first line is a bit of an anomaly because I was lucky enough to get to participate in the first set of sponsored slots - it was new, so lots of people clicked. The other taller lines are also from Newsletter slots and are more typical.

    Third, in mid February I raised prices on almost all my products, sometimes quite significantly. Sales did not decline. I tweaked them a little more in mid March. Don't be afraid to sell your products for what they are worth!

    Some other bits of interesting information:

    I sold well over twice as many products this year (June-June) as I did last year - TpT is growing rapidly!

    Last calendar year (Jan-Dec), I was #6 on TpT for products sold. However, I have lost some ground to the K-1 sellers since then and am probably closer to #18 now or possibly even further down the list.

    I have 81 products for sale on TpT (and a bunch of freebies). My sales seem to follow the 80/20 rule to some extent - about 80% of my sales come from about about 20% of my products (15 or so best sellers). Some of  those 81 products have less than ten sales. I have another chart that shows the sales of each product.

    If you are wondering how to make these handy-dandy charts, you start by exporting your data from the TpT sales page to an Excel document (there is a button to do this at the bottom of the page). Then, if you are me, you get your math-genius boyfriend to make cool charts for you. Another option is to contact TpT seller Derrick Brown, who will give you a customized report about your sales with all kinds of neat stuff for $25.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    TpT Top 100: Information and Inspiration

    Did you know that you can see the Top 100 best selling products and sellers on TpT?  Checking out these lists can give you some valuable information in terms of what is selling well on TpT. Of course, the best part of the Top 100 is when you see your own name or product on it!

    If you scroll down to the bottom of the TpT homepage, you will see the grey. By clicking on either of the red links at the bottom, you will have access to four Top 100 Lists:

    • Top 100 by Number Sold
    • Top 100 Highest Rated Products
    • Top 100 Sellers by Number of Products Sold
    • Top 100 Sellers by Total Earnings
    The default for the list is "All Time," but you can sort the list for the year, month and week. At this time, the all time list is in real time. The year and the month lists renew on the first day of each. The weekly list changes on Sunday night at Midnight central time.

    One thing to be aware of is that currently, the Top 100 is dominated by K-1 sellers and products. That can be a little discouraging for those of us who sell to the upper grades. However, it is worth noting that it has not always been that way. This is a relatively recent development. It is likely that the Top 100 will even out at least somewhat over the next year or so. It is also worth noting that the #1 all time best selling product on TpT is a unit for The Hunger Games - clearly a product for middle school and high school.

    Using the Top 100
    The Top 100 is a great resource for sellers. Study those sellers and products that make the list. What are they doing that you are not? How do they present their products? What kinds of products show up repeatedly on the Top 100? If you are also a buyer, the Top 100 is a great place to find those best sellers - which are likely to be quality products.

    Getting your store or product onto the Top 100 is also a great goal to have. Anywhere on the list is a good thing. Getting to the Top 10, especially the All Time Top Ten puts you on the homepage and that means more product views for you! It may look like the Top Ten All Time Best Selling Products list never seems to change, but I can promise you that it does. For quite awhile, I held the four of those top spots, including the number one spot. But since then, many newer sellers have moved up. You may just develop the next product to make it to the top!

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Why isn't Anyone Buying my Product?

    You love this resource. You created for your own classroom and your students love it! You have been using it for years with great success. So why isn't anyone buying it? There are many possible reasons for this sad state of affairs. Here are some diagnostic questions to ask yourself about your product.

    Presentation on TpT is super important. Buyers cannot simply flip through the pages as they would in an educational bookstore. All they have to go on to decide whether or not to buy the product is what you give them. Here is a checklist for presentation:

    • Did I include thumbnails?
    • Does my primary thumbnail catch people's attention and make them want to see more?
    • Is my description detailed enough to tell the buyer what he or she is actually getting?
    • Did I include a free preview?
    • Is my preview helpful (a random page or two with no explanation may not be)
    • Did I give away so much in my preview that there is no reason to buy the actual product?
    • In my description or preview, or both, do I have a table of contents and/or a page/slide count?
    • Is it clear how this product would be used and purpose it serves?
    • Did I choose appropriate grade levels? If a kindergarten teacher sees a product for grades K-12, he or she may doubt that it can really cover all those grade ranges. Same for the high school teachers. 
    You may also want to look at the post Product Posting DOs and DON'Ts.

    The Market
    Your product may not be selling because of the present market conditions. It can help to look at other, similar products to see where you might be able to make a change for better sales. Here is a marketing checklist:

    • Is my product priced too high compared to other similar products (adjusting for the size of the product)?
    • Is my product priced too low? In many buyers' minds low prices = low quality.
    • Are there many other products already listed that are similar to mine that already have high ratings? If so, what makes mine different?
    • Is my product so obscure or niche-y that very few other teachers actually need it?
    • Is my product something that is widely available for free on the internet?
    • Is it summertime, winter break, or April? Sales naturally decrease during these times - especially June and July. You might just need to wait a few weeks. 
    The Product
    It could be the product itself is the problem. Many products on TpT (not yours, of course, but other people's) are of poor quality. The concept may be excellent, but it has been so badly executed that few teachers want to buy it. Here is a quick checklist, but you can learn more about creating quality products here.

    • Is my product visually appealing (consider layout, fonts, clipart, color)?
    • Is my product appropriate for the grade level it is specified for (consider font size, line spacing, clip art)?
    • Is my product complete? 
    • Is my product free of errors and typos?
    Sellers - got more to add? I'm sure I've missed a few!

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Free Products - Doorway to Your Store

    SoS on TpT is pleased to welcome guest blogger Margaret Whisnant. Margaret is one of TpT's top sellers and has been selling on TpT for years. She also author's a newsletter specifically for TpT sellers (another benefit of signing up to sell!). This post about the importance of creating free products comes directly from her last newsletter installment.  

    Stop selling. Start helping.
    Zig Ziglar

    Even in a cyber-world populated with blogs, Facebook, and other linking social media, the free downloads we offer on TeachersPayTeachers are still our best sales reps.  Nothing can match their ability to give potential customers such a clear view of our authorship skills and the quality of our products.  Our electronic sales staff leaves the site every day to speak for us in classrooms around the world. Each one represents an individual seller and, at the same time, mirrors the whole of TpT.  Super merchant Laura Candler summarized it well on a forum discussion chain:  “It hurts us all when people post poor quality items, even free ones. . . Does an ice cream shop give free samples of bad-tasting ice cream and say you have to pay if you want something better?"

    Great analogy!   A TpT newcomer on a fact-finding mission is not likely to return after downloading a “ bad-tasting” freebie or two.  Furthermore, no customer is going to hand over hard-earned cash for a seller’s products when the free item offers no assurance that quality will be part of the exchange.  Posting a mediocre sample of one’s work just doesn’t make sense. Right now, our collection runs the gamut from great freebies, to lackluster, to pugh!   With a few do’s and don’ts and some effort, we can eliminate the poor reps and build a stronger, “tastier” staff.

    Clearly, our free items should be constructed around the same framework of excellence as our commercial products.  They should be genuinely helpful in a classroom setting and carry enough pizzazz to leave no doubt as to what our full-sized products can do. 

    Use the following ideas to lay the groundwork and then add the unique flourishes that make your samples your own:

    ·   Avoid passive lists (vocabulary words, titles, resources, etc.) If, however, you can create a short, but complete lesson that puts the list to good use, then do it and offer the two as a working duo. Remember that adding action to a product is our specialty.  Our free items should certainly illustrate this quality.  
    ·   Offering a complimentary sample from a larger work is a great idea, but only if it can function independently as a complete activity.  Imagine a shopper downloading a free item for a topic of interest only to find a useless snippet and directions for purchasing the parent work. Someone just spooned out a glob of Laura’s aforementioned bad-tasting ice cream!  Additional writing and reformatting might be necessary to create your representative mini-lesson, but the extra effort will certainly spark a heightened interest in the priced item.
    ·     Expect scant, if any, results from a brief lesson idea coupled with an advertising blitz for your store and your products.  Let the free item do the selling.  It will always do a better job than a list of links.
    ·     What would you think if you found a single free item separated and posted as two downloads?  We actually have a collection of these TpT splits!  Get your ice cream sample here. Go elsewhere for the toppings.  This would lead a shopper to wonder how many purchases would be required to get a seller’s full product.  Let’s get rid of the splits right away!
    ·     Answer keys! Answer keys! Answer keys!  If your freebie has questions, puzzles, math problems, etc., provide answer keys.  Never skip this component. 
    ·     What’s wrong with this picture?  A free download about following directions with no directions.  We have one!   Making one’s product free does not negate one’s obligation to explain how to use it!  Like answer keys, instructions for use are a must for all products, and they should be attached to the item itself, rather than presented as part of the product description.
    ·     Dress up your free handout with its own colorful cover page that will, in turn, do double duty as an eye-catching thumbnail.
    ·     Give your free item as much general appeal as possible. Create a lesson that will be helpful to any teacher who needs materials for your freebie’s particular topic.
    ·     Remember that teachers are always on the lookout for sponge activities, puzzles, games, and classroom management materials.  Some of our most popular free downloads are these types of resources.
    ·     Mark your free items with appropriate grade-level(s) rather than presenting them as K-12 adaptable.    
    ·     Ask someone to proofread your free item.  Ask a second person to read it.  Then post it.

    What could be better than having a top-notch sales rep working for you 24/7?  A whole fleet of them, that’s what!  Why not create a variety of free downloads to reflect your particular skills and the assortment of products in your store? Send several of your favorites into the field via the weekly 10 Free Downloads.  If you have filled their sample cases with useful tidbits, the results will be sweet.  Guaranteed!

    Margaret's TpT Store