Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Your TpT Profile Picture

If at all possible, post a picture of some kind. The default gray icon that will appear if you don't is not at all appealing and will not help your brand or your sales. Most people post a photo of themselves, however, a good percentage of sellers use a cartoon/clip art image. There are advantages to both. A real photo of you puts a face behind your work and people like that. Many buyers like to know that they are buying from a real person. If you choose to go with the photo option:

  • Opt for a professional looking photo if possible. A head shot with a neutral background. Nature or classroom backgrounds are also good.

  • The picture should be of your adult self. I wouldn't worry too much about making sure it is a recent photo, this isn't a dating site and your age is not really relevant.  If you have a great picture from a few years back, go ahead and use it. Do not post a baby or childhood picture. While this is a cute little gimmick, it does not make you look professional.

  • The focus of the picture should be you and you should be the only person in the picture. No kids, no spouse, no dogs, no large monuments in the background. Yes your baby is adorable, but for this venture, you want to look professional and trustworthy. Save the baby pictures for facebook.

  • Smile! For goodness sake, look like you are happy to be selling on TpT!

The clip art/cartoon option is not as popular, but does offer some advantages. If you are choosing to sell under an alias, you will definitely want to use this option. Using clip art is also a great way to brand or to tie in with your store name. I used a photo for awhile, but then switched to my curly-haired icon. I did this because I started putting this icon on the cover of all of my products and I wanted to increase my brand recognition. If you choose to use clip art:

  • Choose something appealing and colorful. Avoid black and white line drawings. Ask for opinions before you post. I recently asked for opinions on my facebook page about a clip art image I thought was adorable. The overwhelming consensus was: scary! What appeals to you  may not appeal to your buyers!

  • If you have words on your icon, such as your store name, make sure they are big enough to be readable.

  • Make sure your image is legal to use. If you are using someone else's clip art, be sure the licensing allows for this kind of use.

  • Consider creating your own. I made mine using a bamboo tablet and Inkscape. Even if you don't want to start from scratch, you can still alter and image, change the background etc. 

Remember, people will associate your products and your store with your profile picture. If you would never dream of posting poor-quality products, then don't post a poor-quality picture. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why Your Blog Sucks

There are many reasons this could be true, but the one I want to focus on is this:

Your blog sucks because it offers no real value to your readers.

Here is a test you can take to see if your blog sucks. If you answer yes to any one of these, then you may have figured out the reason why you don't get much traffic.

  • The majority of your posts are about for-purchase products that you have created. They are basically ads. This is the main one that I see. You are not offering value to anyone. Your blog is a waste of space. 

  • A lot of your posts are focused on gathering more followers. Whether you are bragging about how many you have, noting that you only need a few more to hit a round number (and asking your reader to help you achieve it), running a contest in which people must follow you in order to enter, or advertising someone else's contest, if you do too much you are wasting your readers' time.

  • You talk about yourself...a lot. Writing about a lesson you did with your students that was really successful (and giving instructions on how to duplicate it) is great. So are pictures of your students doing interesting work or of your cool bulletin board or organizing system. Even the occasional rant can be fine if it is written with an entertaining flair. But just sort of rambling on and on about your day...not so much. 

  • Your blog is difficult to look at. The font is hard to read, the background does not contrast enough with the text. Images are often misaligned, you have taken cute to an such an extreme it is frighening etc. 

You may have a blog for many reasons. Possibly, the only reason you started your blog was to help you sell your products. However, that is not a good enough reason for others to read it. You must offer valuable content. Give your readers something they can use, whether it is an informative article, a list of ideas they can use with their students, a freebie, an interesting video, etc.

Before you post ask yourself:

"Would I want to read this post if I weren't me?" 
If the answer is "no," don't post it.

 If you do this, guess what? Your blog won't suck anymore!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Quick Tip: Making Thumbnails

Did you know there are a few really easy ways to create thumbnails? Thumbnails are great for your preview or you might also want them for a blog post. There are several other ways to create thumbnails, but these are my favorites:

  • If you are on a PC, use your snipping tool. This is a little scissors that you  can find in your accessories folder. Once you find it, you will see how easy it is to use. I use mine so often that I have it pinned to my toolbar. I think that Mac has something similar.
  • If you want to make thumbnails of a whole bunch of pages and don't care about arranging them into a cute design, use the zoom feature to zoom out so that you can see several pages on the screen, then use the snipping tool above to snip a large group of o pages. 
  • If you create in PowerPoint, you can simply save your slides as JPGs. Super easy. 
Of course you can also do a screen shot and then crop in paint, but I think the snipping tool is much faster and easier. One last tip: be sure to give your thumbnails meaningful names. Search engines pick up on images just like they do text, so the name you give your thumbnail can actually drive traffic to your product or blog post. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Back Online

As you can see from the note above, SoS on TpT has been offline for quite awhile. But now that we are back, I hope you will find many ideas for improving your TpT business here. If you are new, the best way to explore the site is to use the "Start Here" tab above or look "The Basics" posts on the sidebar. Posts about Pinterest and other ways to promote your products are coming soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Free TpT Pricing Charts

I was inspired to make these charts by a post in the TpT forums by TpT seller Lisa Frase. She was responding to a post about a seller who under priced and she makes some excellent points.. Here is her post (used with permission):

First of all, the seller who has 30 pages for $4 is under pricing, and this hurts all of us. I have bit of a system I've used with pricing: For 1-3 pages I price it at $1 or $1.49 depending on the level of work involved. For 3-10 pages, I price it at a quarter a page. I might increase or decrease a bit depending on the level of work involved. If I create more than 10 pages, I consider the quarter a page, and then increase or decrease depending on the level of work, and other similar product's pricing (although I won't go too low or too high). 

I've seen people under price and over price. I try to think of the price of a book I would buy at a teacher supply store and keep it in range. When I first started, I think I under priced a bit, so I am slowly increasing my prices. 

Now here is something that I'd like to discuss w/everyone: For items that are 20 pages or more, I think a lot of people under price them. I think we should consider how much Scholastic charges for a teacher resource book. 

Some examples from Amazon:

48 pages - List price: $10.99 (Amazon sells it cheaper than the list price.)
63 pages - List price: $11.99
160 pages - List price: $18.99
224 pages - List price: $23.00

This ranges from .10 cents a page to .23 cents a page. The more pages -the lower the amount per page. If you followed this logic @ .25 cents a page, you would price your product $1.75. Now we do have a nitch in that we can create 1 page or 100 pages. Remember that when you make an item -you make it once, but it can be downloaded thousands of times. The sky is the limit. I'm still tweaking and thinking about pricing too. The rule of pricing is to charge what the customer would pay for it. That doesn't mean you have to give it away (there are some people who expect to be given things for free), but it does mean that you must consider what the market will bear. You can't worry about what others charge. It doesn't do any good whatsoever. You can't change their prices, so you can only price your products fairly and consistently. JMHO.

For more on Pricing check out the SoS on TpT post: Product Pricing

No Copy Cats!

As a new seller, you may be tempted to copy products of successful sellers. DON'T do it! Here is why:

  • Obviously, if you copy too closely, you are violating copyright, which not only rude and illegal, it will also get you kicked off the site. 
  • Even if you change enough so you are possibly not violating the original author's copyright, you are creating a lot of bad will. We collaborate a lot on TpT. Other sellers can really help you out, especially the ones who are successful. Many of them have huge followings and enjoy helping out newbies. Don't make them angry at you. 
  • Copying not only shows a lack of respect for the other seller, it also shows a lack of respect for your own abilities...if you are selling on TpT, you should be able to come up with your own ideas. 
Of course, the line between copying and simply using a similar idea is a tricky one and it is up to you to use your best judgement. Many formats, games, puzzles etc. have been around for years and no one really "owns" them. If you are working with one of these older formats, the trick is to put your own spin on it. 

Finding your own style and niche is super important and in fact is the way to be successful on TpT. If you look at all of the top sellers, you will see that is exactly what they did. So find yours!