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  :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

"In a Flash!" Business Tip #3



I know a lot of you have blogs or are considering starting a blog.

A blog can be a powerful tool to get potential customers to your products.  Using "Educational Based Marketing" on your blogs can turn people who just see and look at your products on your blog.....to people who want to actually BUY your products.

A lot of teachers, parents, and educational professionals are constantly searching the internet for information that you may be able to provide from being an educator.  Share that knowledge!

Using posts to relay useful information that can easily segue into your products is a great way to build your reputation as a knowledgeable resource. This can transfer to creating a great customer base who not only respects your insights and information, but trusts and uses your products!

Here is a great article that goes more in depth about "Educational Based Marketing":

http://practicemarketing.org/traditiona … marketing/

Rebecca



Thursday, July 18, 2013

"In a Flash!" Business Tip #2


Just another tool for your "Product Description Toolbox"....have fun!

50 Power Words that Sell

http://biznik.com/articles/50-power-words-that-sell

Rebecca

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Business 101: You NEED a Break!



 I was going to write a long article with all kinds of references about our society...and how it doesn't see relaxation as a needed element in our lives...and the effect that constant stress has on our minds...and blah,blah, blah.

But I think we all know about that.....because we live it.....everyday.

So instead, I'm going to do something VERY simple.

If nobody else has done this for you....including yourself.....I'm going to give you guilt-free permission to take a break......to enjoy some days of nothingness....pure, glorious days of endless nothingness.

If you have worked all year in a school.....you...need...a....break.  And your brain needs a break.  Seriously...it does. Especially if you are trying to create new things for your store.

So if you are feeling this "tug-of-war" inside that is telling you that you really SHOULD be working on your products while at the same time longing just to sit outside and read a book......let your leisure side win for a change. 

You'll definitely see better results when you emerge from "Relaxation World".

Here are some great articles that go into even more detail...but if you want to skip them and take a nap.....go for it!

Why Your Personal Brand Wants You to Take Time Off
http://www.karenleland.com/2012/08/why- … -time-off/

5 Reasons Why You Need to Take a Break
http://blog.intuit.com/employees/5-reas … e-a-break/

Three Ways to Be More Creative: Relax, Exercise and Sleep More
http://www.cio.com/article/142900/Three … omyId=3166

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"In a Flash!" Business Tip #1


Sometimes I come across tips that don't need an entire article, but are definitely worth sharing. 

Did you know the top two rows of your Pinterest boards are PRIME REAL ESTATE? 

If you are looking to gain more followers on Pinterest, move your best boards to the first two rows on your boards page, especially boards that highlight your own products.

And that's been today's "In a Flash!" business tip!

Rebecca

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Business 101: A Business Article Designed with You in Mind!

This Business 101 will provide you with:

*Effective ways to write your product descriptions in your store.
*How to choose words that fit your target market.
*What kinds of keywords are best.
*What features to focus on in your writing.
*Why a good description has a good "wrap-up".

You've got a great product. Your marketing efforts are really paying off. And now, people are coming to your store to look at your items.

The question is....are your product descriptions helping to make your sales?

Take advantage of the slower months in the summer and check out your product descriptions. The words and information you choose to write in them can help sell an item or turn someone away.  And bonus, it's really not that hard at all to write an effective description. You just need to know your product and your target market well.

These articles below have some great information on the different features of an effective description.  Combining great marketing, great products, and great descriptions can be the perfect combination for a great online store!

11 Ways to Write a Killer Product Description
http://community.copypress.com/11-ways- … scription/

Six Things to Consider When Writing Product Descriptions
http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/62713-s … scriptions

How to Spruce Up Your Ecommerce Product Descriptions
http://www.forbes.com/sites/katelee/201 … criptions/

You can do it!

Rebecca G.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Business 101:Behavior Management....in Business!



 I found this AWESOME article that I thought you'd enjoy.

The information is great to have in the back of your mind when you are creating your descriptions and pricing your products in your stores.  It has some great images for all the visual learners out there!  Good stuff!

http://www.shopify.com/blog/6563013-usi … z2V6brQoaE

Rebecca G.

 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Some great marketing information about your customers!



Here are some great facts taken from Census.gov that could help when you are developing your products:

Back to School information from 2011-2012:

Back-to-School Shopping


$7.4 billion
The amount of money spent at family clothing stores in August 2010. Only in November and December were sales significantly higher. Similarly, sales at bookstores in August 2010 totaled $2.2 billion, an amount approached in 2010 only by sales in January.

For back-to-school shopping, choices of retail establishments abound: In 2008, there were 28,429 family clothing stores, 7,349 children and infants clothing stores, 28,178 shoe stores, 9,373 office supply and stationery stores, 22,116 sporting goods stores, 9,708 bookstores and 8,813 department stores.

Students

77 million
The number of children and adults enrolled in school throughout the country in October 2009 — from nursery school to college. They comprised 27 percent of the entire population age 3 and older.

Pre-K through 12 Enrollment
52%
Percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school in October 2009.

74%
Percentage of children 3 to 6 enrolled in kindergarten who attended all day, as of October 2009.

55.5 million
The projected number of students to be enrolled in the nation's elementary through high schools (pre-kindergarten - 12th grade) this fall.

11%
Projected percentage of elementary through high school students (pre-kindergarten - 12th grade) enrolled in private schools this fall.

43%
Percentage of elementary through high school students who belonged to a minority population as of October 2009.

23%
Percentage of elementary through high school students who had at least one foreign-born parent in October 2009.

Nearly 80%
Percentage of students ages 12 to 17 who were academically on-track in 2006, up 8 percentage points from 1998. The odds of being on-track were 48 percent higher for these students if they were in a gifted class and 34 percent higher if they had never been suspended or expelled from school.

52%
Percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds who were highly engaged in school (children reported as liking school, being interested in school and working hard in school) in 2006, up 5 percentage points from 1998. For 6- to 11-year-olds, the respective increase was from 56 percent to 59 percent.

Languages

11.2 million
Number of school-age children (5 to 17) who spoke a language other than English at home in 2009; 8 million of these children spoke Spanish at home.

Miscellaneous Info

31.3 million
Average number of children participating each month in the National School Lunch Program in 2009.

9.21 billion
The nation's total apple production, in pounds, in 2010. The chances are good that the apples your children present to their teachers or enjoy for lunch were grown in Washington state, which accounted for more than half of the nation's total production.

19.7 million
The projected number of students enrolled in the nation's colleges and universities this fall. This is up from
14.4 million 20 years ago.

16%
Percentage of all college students 35 and older in October 2009. They made up 37 percent of those attending school part time.

50%
Percentage of 18- and 19-year-olds enrolled in college in 2009.

56%
Percentage of college students who were women in October 2009.

How Many Schools?


98,706
Number of public schools in 2008-09.

In 2007-08, there were 33,740 private schools.

4,409
Number of degree-granting institutions of higher education in 2008-2009.

4,694
The number of public charter schools nationwide in 2008-09. These schools, exempt from selected state and local rules and regulations, enrolled 1,433,116 students.

Teachers and Other School Personnel


7.2 million
Number of teachers in the United States in 2009. Almost 3 million taught at the elementary and middle school level. The remainder included those teaching at the postsecondary, secondary, preschool, kindergarten levels, special education and other teachers or instructors.

$65,800
Average annual salary of public school teachers in California as of the 2007-2008 school year — the highest of any state. Teachers in South Dakota received the lowest pay — $36,700. The national average was $52,800. High school principals earned $99,365 annually in 2008-09.

$16.44
Average hourly wage for the nation's school bus drivers in 2008-09. Custodians earned $14.59, while cafeteria workers made $11.94.

Technology


14.2 million
Number of computers available for classroom use in the nation's schools as of the 2005-2006 school year. That works out to one computer for every four students.

Rising Cost of College

$15,876
Average tuition, room and board (for in-state students) at the nation's four-year public colleges and universities for an academic year (2008-09). That was more than double the cost in 1990.

$40,633
Average tuition, room and board at the nation's four-year private colleges and universities for one academic year (2008-09). That also was more than double the cost in 1990.

Rewards of Staying in School

$83,144
Average annual 2008 earnings of workers 18 and older with an advanced degree. This compares with $21,023 for those without a high school diploma. In addition, those with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $58,613 in 2008, while those with a high school diploma earned $31,283.

$85,417
Average starting salary offered to bachelor's degree candidates in petroleum engineering in 2009, among the highest of any field of study. At the other end of the spectrum were those majoring in a social science, who were offered an average of $36,217.

3.2 million
Projected number of high school diplomas that will be awarded in the 2011-12 school year.
3.4 million

Number of college degrees expected to be conferred in the 2011-12 school year.

Government Spending on Public Education


$10,499
The per-pupil expenditure on public elementary and secondary education nationally in 2009. New York ($18,126) spent the most among states or state equivalents, followed by the District of Columbia ($16,408), New Jersey ($16,271) and Alaska ($15,552). Utah ($6,356) spent the least per student, followed by Idaho ($7,092) and Arizona ($7,813).

Parental Involvement


89%
Among K-12 students, the percentage with a parent or other household member who attended a general school or PTO/PTA meeting during the 2006-07 school year. Additionally, 65 percent had such a relative who participated in school fundraising and 46 percent who volunteered to serve on a school committee.

Following is a list of observances typically covered by the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features series:

    African-American History Month (February)
    Super Bowl
    Valentine's Day (Feb. 14)
    Women's History Month (March)
    Irish-American Heritage Month (March)/
          St. Patrick's Day (March 17)
    Earth Day (April 22)
    Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
    Older Americans Month (May)
    Cinco de Mayo (May 5)
    Mother's Day
    Hurricane Season Begins (June 1)
    Father's Day

    The Fourth of July (July 4)
    Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act (July 26)
    Back to School (August)
    Labor Day
    Grandparents Day
    Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
    Unmarried and Single Americans Week
    Halloween (Oct. 31)
    American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month (November)
    Veterans Day (Nov. 11)
    Thanksgiving Day
    The Holiday Season (December)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Summer Marketing Checklist Sheet for TpT Sellers



Hi all!

I made an easy checklist to keep track of your summer marketing activities!  Easy-to-use...not a LOT of thinking involved. 

Just a good way to help stay disciplined in your marketing efforts....especially when the pool and sunny weather starts calling! smile

Totally free...always and forever. 

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Prod … ers-701684

Rebecca

Business 101: Fiona Frogmouth takes a Pinning Field Trip-Part Four of a Series


Today, we’re going  to take a field trip to the Pin Marketing Museum. 
You’ll be able to observe:

1)    Popular Pins in their Habitat
2)    Educational Pins in their Habitat
3)    Your Pins in their Habitat
4)    The Viral Pin and it’s Life Cycle
5)    Top Follower "Wranglers"

You’ll also be able to stop at the gift shop on the way out to get some fun goodies to remember your trip.
So here we go…..

First stop….POPULAR PINS!  These pins have been viewed many times and are real crowd pleasers! Please note the visual styles, the descriptions, and the amount of repinning  on these pins. 

http://pinterest.com/popular/

Next stop…EDUCATIONAL PINS! These have been randomly selected but still have gained some popular attention while on exhibit. Again, note the visual styles, descriptions, and the ones that are getting repinned the most.

http://pinterest.com/all/education/

Moving on to….YOUR PINS!  You’ll have to go in here alone…but simply click under your name on the phrase “YOUR PINS" …it will take you directly to the page that contains all the pins you have been pinning.  Note which pins are getting the most repinning action and on what boards that is occurring.  Also observe the percentage of your pins that are getting repinned. Useful knowledge you can revisit at your leisure.

(I DON’T HAVE A LINK TO “YOUR PINS" …ONLY YOU CAN DO THAT.)

Now beware…this next stop is the home of “VIRAL PINS" ….these pins have gone CRAZY! Note their characteristics and the life cycle…interesting stuff!

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/going-viral- … g-solution

And thanks to "Fun with Language" on another thread...  http://pinleague.com/viral-pin/

And finally…meet  some of the TOP PINNERS who have wrangled a ton of followers….inspirational! Plus, you can find more “pin exhibits"   on here too!

http://www.repinly.com/popular_pinners.aspx

Well… that concludes our field trip. You’ve been a great audience. Please stop at the gift shop below and pick up some fun goodies to help remember your trip!

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/useful-pinterest-tools/

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-t … -business/

Rebecca

Business 101: Thad Thigglemeyer and His "Rule of Threes" Pin- Part Three in a Series

Veni, Vedi, Vici....

Paper, rock, scissors....

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice....

What do these THREE phrases have in common? Yep...that's right....they are famous quotes AND they all have THREE words in them.  Because three truly is a "magic" number...(thank you,"Schoolhouse Rock"!)

When I was doing improvisational comedy, back in the day....one of the few rules you needed to remember was the "Rule of Threes". And after a few horribly, awkward moments of "crickets chirping" when you were on stage, you learned VERY quickly about the "Rule of Threes".  Now, what I am about to tell you will mess up your sitcom viewing for all time.....you've been warned.

Most GOOD (need to qualify that) sitcom shows on TV follow that rule.  Just watch.  An actor will state three things in order...with the last one being the funniest.  Another may do three things in a row...with the last one being the funniest.  Still there may be three incidents that are happening during the course of the show....

But that's not all....look at these....

The Three Little Pigs. Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Three Blind Mice.

Those are other examples...because comedy isn't the only place that uses the "Rule of Threes".  Authors, advertisers, businesses....use this simple concept.

Why? Because the human brain can remember THREE things easily.  This well-tested theory simply states that two is not enough...and four or more is too much for people to remember.  Our brain works well with threes...it LIKES threes.

So what does this have to do with your pins on Pinterest? Quite a bit.

If you are of the belief that pinning a whole smackload of pins at one time is good...think again.  Besides clogging up the main feed of some of your followers...you have overloaded their brains into "THIS IS TOO MUCH INFO".....making your pins less effective.

Keep in mind,a lot of your pins are going to be seen by followers immediately on their main feed. "FEED" them in threes. And even better ....feed them in AWESOME threes!

What's an AWESOME three?  Here are THREE examples....

1)Blog post on bears, cute bear picture, YOUR Tpt game about Bears.

2)Funny cartoon about shapes in math, news story about teaching perimeter, YOUR "Find the Radius" activity.

3)DIY on how to make gummy worms, A funny picture with gummy worms, YOUR printable "gummy worm" bulletin board pieces

"BUT how I am supposed to pin those?", you ask. "Most of my boards only want my products and nothing else!!", you yell. "Please show me", you whisper. Because you like doing things in threes now.....

In order to do the "awesome three" pinning on " specific niche" boards...you will have to open a tab for each thing you are going to pin.  Then select an appropriate board for each pin. (Ex: The DIY gummy worm pin could go on your "Fun Things to Make" board. The funny picture could go on your "humor" board. And the printable gummy worm pin could go on your "First Grade Fanatics and Fun" board. )Pin as quickly as you can so your three things stay together...or at least very close together on the main feed page.  You say you don't have extra boards for your new kind of pins? Make them!  You could easily  even have ONE board for your extra pins...Call it..."Extra Pin Board" or something equally as boring.

Now, if you are on a board that allows for pinning of all kinds of things....THERE YOU GO! Use the "RULE OF THREES" on that board by pinning your pins together....


And THREE of your products pinned together is NOT optimal UNLESS......there is a VERY,VERY specific common theme.

Good: First grade Geometry lesson, First grade geometry cut-outs,  First grade geometry game

Not so good: First grade bookmarks, First grade science unit on butterflies, First grade homophone game


So there you go.....better pinning...means better results.

So get out there and pin some "threes"!.... ON YOUR MARK!......GET SET!!!!......GO!!!!

And I've included some links to articles on the subject that you might like too!

Rebecca


How to Use the “Rule of Three"  to Create Engaging Content
http://www.copyblogger.com/rule-of-three/

Marketing’s Rule of Three
http://rebelbrown.com/rebelations/marke … three.html

Thomas Jefferson, Steve Jobs, and the Rule of 3
http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegall … rule-of-3/

Business 101:Clara Carmichael's "Clickable" Pin-Part Two of Series



Do you need ......
More traffic?
More business?
More sales?

Want to know how?

Click on this link...and you'll find out! And use the password Clara (with a capital C) to get in.....

http://www.latenight-coffee.com/2013/05 … et-lounge/


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Business 101-Polly Piper Pinned the Perfect Pin-(Part One of a Series)



This is part one of a series about Pinterest pinning that will be broken down into "easy-to-digest", bite-size pieces.  I know how it is at the end of a school year and I'm sure your brains could probably use a break.

This first part will deal with how the human brain actually uses Pinterest...and how that relates to your pins.

We'll begin with a very simple exercise. 

Go to your main feed on Pinterest. This is where ALL the pins from the boards you follow are being pinned.

Now...once you have gotten to your main feed, I want you to:

1) Stare at the word "Pinterest" at the top. Don't take you eyes off the word. If your eyes go a little fuzzy...even better.

2)Now...at a pretty good pace...not super, super fast...start scrolling down the board...BUT STILL KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE WORD!

3) As you are scrolling, just make a mental note of the characteristics of the pins that are capturing your attention.  Don't look at them...but just mentally note their size, color, visual...anything.

4) Do this for about 30 seconds.

NOW...

Answer these questions...

1) What size were the ones that attracted your eyes?

2)What colors attracted your eyes?

3) Can you remember any "pictures" in the pins that stood out..even with "fuzzy" eyes?

4) Can you remember anything about the ones that did not attract your attention?


These are important things to keep in mind when choosing your visual that will be pinned...most namely...your cover.

Pinterest creates a lot of "static" visually. Meaning, your brain doesn't have the capability to soak up all the information on the page of pins at one time, so the visual part of your brain picks and chooses for it to prioritize. The bigger the size...the louder the color...the more appealing the visual is....the more attention it's going to receive both consciously and unconsciously....and the more likely it's moved to the "front of the line" for the prioritizing.  Think of the eye as a "gatekeeper" secretary for the big boss "THE BRAIN".

So what does this mean for you?  It means that if you don't want to be part of the "visual static" on Pinterest...you HAVE to create pins that stand out. Otherwise....your time and energy pinning aren't being used as efficiently or effectively as you would probably like.

Find one of the boards you have pinned on recently (last day or so)...do the same exercise. Don't peek at the board....just scroll through and see if any of your pins stand out. This will at least give you a starting point. (And keep in mind, they could possibly stand out because your brain has already received "priority" on these from the neurons spent creating them).

Remember back in the day, when people would post things on the bulletin board at the grocery store?  And over time, there would just be this MASSIVE amount of paper announcements, lost and found ads, coupons, the works?  There would still be that ONE that would catch your eye...even in all that visual chaos.  It's the same on Pinterest.

Stand out!  It's better to have one REALLY, REALLY good pin...than twenty "eh" pins.    REALLY, REALLY good pins get repinned...which is how your name gets out to MANY people.

Hope this gave you some insight to your individual pins....they'll be more articles in the coming days about pinning effectively.

I linked some articles about the subject below....enjoy!

Rebecca


How Our Brain Finds Waldo
http://outofmygord.com/archive/2010/01/ … Waldo.aspx

10 Item Checklist for Creating Great Visual Ads
http://www.reachli.com/blog/10-item-che … visual-ads

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Business 101: When the Dust Settles...Or What to do AFTER a Big Event.



Big customer events can bring on many kinds of emotions before they happen:

Excitement
Anxiety
Anticipation

And afterwards those can change to:

Happiness
Pride
and the least favorite,but often played out....Disappointment.

The business world is very familiar with that last one.

Black Friday. Valentine's Day. Halloween.  These are all examples of days of the year that some retailers spend a great deal of time preparing for in their store and within the company.   Upper management is stressed. Lower management is stressed. Workers are stressed.  And when the day is over.....the companies that will continue successfully on in business, whether they had a profitable day or not, will all do the same thing......

Analyze their data and start preparing for the next big event.

They will NOT:

Threaten to shut the whole operation down and watch a marathon of "Grey's Anatomy" as a staff.
Take everything out of their store and start all over.
And they will not "high five" each other for three months straight and do nothing else...but that.

Because a big event is just that.....a BIG EVENT. Not a "Big-Event-That-Will-Destroy-Everything-We-Have-Ever-Done-Or-Will-Do-In-The-Future-Just-Like-That-Giant-Metor-In-The-Movie-Whose-Name-I've-Forgotten
".

They will, however, immediately look at several (if not all) of these:

Products sold
Products not sold
What they advertised
What they did not advertise
Hours of preparation
Amount of traffic
Times of traffic
Types of traffic
Comparison of past similar events
Where they advertised
Where they did not advertise
Amount of return customers
Amount of items per purchase
Analyze  their top sellers
Analyze their bottom sellers
Feedback from customers
What competitors did well
What competitors did that did not do well

And the list goes on and on.  Bottom line....the event's outcome, whether positive or not, shouldn't be a stopping point.  Either way, it COMPLETELY matters what you do AFTER the event.

Did the big event go well for you? Congratulations! You have obviously been doing some good things and they are paying off.  Feel good about that and use that as a STARTING point for the next time around. Businesses are everchanging...morphing...improving...there are always places to do better which could put you in an even better spot the next time.  And the data analyzing is just as important for you, too.

Was the big event a little disappointing? 

This is often where a lot of businesses give up. They don't look at this as a chance to improve and learn...but more of an opportunity to bail.  And if you are in this for the long haul, bailing is not an option.

So....Mr and Ms. Teachers...you've heard this before....get in that data....and start digging!  Analyze. Analyze. Analyze. You're a teacher. You know how to come up with strategies if one or more doesn't work.  You certainly wouldn't kick a student out of your class permanently or quit teaching if the students didn't do well on a test. Even the most stringent standardized testing situations allow for an examination of data...and a chance at a "do over". 

There are very few businesses (if any) that have been successful at everything, every event, every single time. I can't even remember the last "Black Friday" positive report I heard. Certainly, none that stand out.

But the ones that do continue to succeed over the long run....pick themselves up and figure new ways to improve. They bend....not break. And you should be too...

As teachers, we are used to "cheerleading" our students into "wins". It's what we are good at...what we know...what we feel is a special skill that we use daily.  And even when our students don't "win"...we still know how to make them feel okay about themselves. And we find multiple ways to help them win the next time. If you can motivate children to learn and use gazillions of strategies to accomplish that....then you can absolutely do the same with your business.

Remember...you can do ANYTHING...

You are a teacher.

Rebecca G. smile

Here are some great articles to read on the topic(ish)....AND even though they use the word "failure" quite a bit....which I believe is too strong to use for some "big events" ...the information is still quite useful in gaining a balanced perspective that still keeps you motivated for the future.

If you tried, at least take a failure bow! I personally LOVE this one....and will be doing what they say...hehe. smile

Great way to keep perspective!

Great insights!

This is definitely an innovative company....and they "get it".





Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Business 101: You and Your New "Garden"


I've been reading through the topics on the forum for a few weeks now and notice there are a lot of people who just need some reassurance that what they are doing will be successful.  (Yikes...that clearly is a run-on sentence...my apologies...I've barely had any coffee this morning).

I am a "newbie" on TpT (started in March 2013) but not a newbie with online selling.

Background:
Teacher: 12 years
Online antique dealer:17 years (Etsy,Ebay, and my own website)
Blog writer: 3 years (www.latenight-coffee.com)

When I first started online selling, it was just for some extra cash. Then I stopped teaching when I had my son and I needed to "ramp up" my business to make up for the lost income.  I had to learn business skills really quickly, but found my teaching skills came in VERY handy.

Why am I boring you with this?

Because I want you to know that if you are a teacher, you are already halfway there to being a successful business owner....

Skills you have that will help tremendously in business:
Communication
Writing
Patience
Creativity
Thinking "Outside the Box"
Empathy
People Skills......VERY important as you know in this day of "poor" customer service.
Math
Frugality/thriftiness
Multi-tasking

I could go on.....but those are important.

So here are the things that might bring some peace of mind as you continue on with your venture....

1) If your store is brand new, don't even think about the money yet.  Just don't.  It will drive you crazy.  Treat it like a 6 month (at the minimum) garden.  Care for it, add new things, grow it.  Just don't count on eating it for 6 months. Seriously.  It will drive you crazy.  The people who are successful at any online business didn't do it overnight.  My online stores took at the very least 6 months to a year before I could say..."Whew, now we are making some dough".  But that was also 6 months of listing, and promoting, and creating,etc,etc.

2)PROMOTE!!!!  We are so lucky to have Pinterest right now. Seriously.  If you don't know how to do it....find someone to teach you FAST!  Join linky parties...don't know how to do it? Ask!  Seriously...there is competition everywhere...and you may have the BEST teaching materials...but if only a handful of people know about it....it won't matter.  Treat promoting like "fertilizer" for your garden!  My businesses took off ten fold the moment I started pinning.....and pinning correctly.  The internet is truly a web....the more your name keeps appearing by your efforts...the more likely it will appear without you doing anything.

3)Research. Research.Research. Find a niche that isn't saturated.  It may be fun to make items in a certain grade or skill...but if there are already a TON of them....you could still be successful...but it is going to take a lot longer. 

4) Add products as frequently as you can. You don't certainly have to do something everyday...just keep your store (garden) fresh and watered and weeded all the time.  Gardeners plant things all growing season....you should too.

And lastly....

Want to stand out from the crowd?

Give AWESOMELY, TERRIFIC customer service. People don't expect it in this day and age. Go over and beyond.  Use your empathy skills and put yourself in their place. What would you want to have happen as a customer? Prompt emails. Polite responses. Awesome answers.

I hope this helps a little.  And it's okay and perfectly normal to check your stats a hundred times a day....it's fun.  It's exciting.  Just don't let it get you down.  Use the info to figure out what you are going to do next in your garden.  Six months from now...you could be very proud of yourself!

TpT is a REALLY a great place to start a business! You've already done the hard part....signing up and starting a business.  So hang in there!
Rebecca :)



Sunday, May 5, 2013

"I'm sooooo confused!"....Your first site-wide sale.

 Hello again!

While everyone is getting their shop ready for the big sale....you might be one of the ones that is still wondering how to participate.  Don't worry. I was right there with you. Seriously.

So in an effort to not "reinvent the wheel"...I've taken the liberty to just link some great threads and info for you that I found very useful.

And please...if you have any questions about how the sale works...the forums on TpT are always there for you!  There are a couple threads already on there that have been started by people with questions...just add yours!

Basic info:

The sale is this week on Tuesday and Wednesday (May 7-8).  The promo code (for customers) is TAD13.

If you want to add more of a discount besides the site's 10% discount, you need to go to the "Throw a Sale" section in your dashboard. It will walk your right through it...very user friendly!

From the newsletter:
Teacher Appreciation Site-Wide Sale
It's coming! It's coming! The next two-day sale is May 7-8 (beginning at 12:01 EDT on Tuesday morning and ending at midnight in Hawaii on Wednesday night). We ask that you hold off promoting the sale until Sunday, May 5, and then promote like crazy!

TeachersSale

It's easy to join the sale. Simply throw your own sale on the same days by using this tool (also linked from your Dashboard under Marketing & Promotion). You can set it up as soon as you like.

We are offering a promo code for 10% off, which will be in addition to the up-to-20% you can take off your products. That means up to 28% off 1000s of products. (The reason it's up to 28% off and not 30% is because our 10% comes off your already discounted prices.) Our Promo Code is TAD13.

Tip: If you notice that your sale doesn't "stick" or not all of your chosen products are appearing on sale, delete and reset your sale until it displays properly.

Almost all of the Top Sellers will be participating and heavily promoting this sale. You can promote it by placing the sale banners on your blogs, Facebook page, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. The more you promote it, the better everyone will do. We will announce it in the Sunday, May 5 "10 FREE Downloads" newsletter.

Sellers have found that joining the rare site-wide sales is a great way to get new followers, feedback, and, most especially, record-breaking sales.


And here are some good links to look over the next couple of days:

From the forum....a question that was posed on the last sale in February:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=13014

Here is the banner link that was given by TpT so you can (if you want) download and put in your store:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Teacher-Appreciation-Two-Day-Sale-Banners

And here are some things that were learned (and then shared) by sellers on the last sale:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=13543

Hope this helps some!  Good luck and much success to you and your store during this big event!

Rebecca








Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Business 101: Coloring Inside the Lines of Business



This one is short and sweet.  In fact, so short...I'm going to send you directly to a link that will show you some FASCINATING information on the effects of colors on consumer behavior.  I couldn't do it justice with my yackety-yack.

Perfect for when you are designing your covers!

http://blog.kissmetrics.com/color-psychology/


Enjoy!

Rebecca

Business 101: TIDAL WAVE!!...or Getting Ready for a Customer Surge


Big sale events, the beginning of a buying season, and the holidays can almost guarantee the potential to see some major traffic going through your store.

And that is when your store needs to be looking its best!

Whether you are a brick and mortar store or an online store, nothing can turn a customer off faster than drab products, an unwelcoming atmosphere, and a feeling that a business owner hasn't even done anything differently in months.  Imagine walking into a store on Black Friday and seeing Halloween decorations, hearing elevator music, and rummaging through racks of summer clothes. 

Customers want to be "dazzled" when they come with money to spend. They want to be welcomed and entertained and charmed. They want the " buyer's high" that comes from clicking the download button and getting something they can show others.  And if your store doesn't offer a chance at that feeling...they will find one that does.

So what can you do?  A lot!  Here are some ideas to get your store ready:

1) Put out a current welcome sign for the event.  Either use that great space where you put your quote...or/and write it on top of each product description.  This lets the online shopper know that there is a live human being who is up on the events happening on the site. Keep in mind any advertising information  or rules that have been given by the site's administrators.

2) Spruce up your products. Think of each product as a RACK of the same product. You want multitudes of them bought.  Need a better cover? Make it.  Need a better description? Write it.  Need something more or different in the product? Do it.  Put your most eyecatching items up in the featured section. You have the potential to earn a lot of REPEAT business.....get them coming back with showing them that ALL of your products are quality made and are up-to-date.

3)Do you have a new product? Get it on! But make sure it's up to your standards before you put it on.  Large events are great for introducing new items.

4)Answer questions as quickly as you can.  Remember, this is the age of quick, quick, quick.  Some customers think all online business owners are glued to their computers...which even with "work at home" owners isn't the case.  You don't have to answer within minutes...but you need to get back to them that day.  I realize teaching can prohibit getting onto the site during the day...so just do it as soon as you can!

5) Direct your customers to other great items you offer by adding suggestions of similar products in your description. The goal is to get them to stay in your store. If you can get them to stay in your store and click around on several products, you have more of a chance of them buying from you.  As simple as it sounds, the time and action of clicking is an "investment" to customers.  More investment=More sales. 

5.5) And related to above, UTILIZE the custom categories option in your store. Make it easy on your customers to find items they are looking for without spending a ton of time searching.  You know the sound you make and the frustration you feel when you are in a new grocery store and you can't find the salad dressing aisle. It's the same online.

6) Pin, link, promote the week before as much as you can.  Get those "wishlist" statistics up so that when events start, customers have a starting place....YOUR store!

7) HOSTS of Collaborative boards should make a pin announcing the big event (adhering to site rules and suggestions).  This will alert followers and get them looking through the board again.  This should really be done by the HOST of the board as too many "big event" pins can be a turn off...and redundant.  The pin should link to the main site...but even better....link it to a general category that fits with your board. (Example: A math board would link to the math category). This will help increase the chance that most of the pins on your board will be seen with that particular pin.  At the end of the event...remove pin....quickly.

8) If you have a blog....get the word out.  Tell teachers at school.  Tell people who homeschool. Tell parents. The more people that come into the "site mall"...the more business everyone gets.

9) And remember..each customer has at least a "mental budget" they are working with during selling events.  The "business game" is to see how much of that budget will end up in your store....and your pocket.

10)And if you are a "datahead"...record the data on your statistics before and after the event.  This will provide good info for you later on. 

Hope these help when it's time to get out those virtual brooms and dustpans, ladders, and any little animated forest animal that will help you to get your store in tip-top shape! 

Keep on...Keepin' on!

Rebecca