Episode 1: How I Started My TpT Store and What I Did Right

In 2019 I left the classroom to be a stay-at-home mom for a little while, and my husband got a new job with a two-hour commute to support us.  After about 10 months, him being unemployed and my part-time coach gig ending due to Covid – 19 we needed money.  I needed a job I could do at home during nap time.  I needed a job that was the epitome of flexibility.  I needed a job I had the skills to do or could learn easily.  

I had thought about starting a Teachers Pay Teachers store when I first left the classroom, but an eight-month-old baby proved to be a full-time job.  When August 2020 came around I knew I was not going to be going back to the classroom this school year, under these conditions.  I decided that I would tutor as I heard the world was going crazy for private teachers.  

I also decided that I would start TpT.  I would learn how to do it all.  I’ve downloaded resources from TpT, but I have never bought a single product. 

What I Did Right

  1. Create Content

To learn how to do everything, I did what my students do, watched YouTube.  I found a few people out there that had some good “how-to” videos.  Then I started to create products while learning how to use Powerpoint effectively.  

I felt like this was the hardest part because I had to think about what lessons I taught in the past.  Fortunately for me, I have three file cabinets in my attic with teaching materials (now if only I could find my thumb drives.)

I upgraded my account to the free seller’s version but waited to buy the premium.  I looked around at the features of the seller’s account to try to get familiar and see what questions I had.  

  1. Upload Products

After about a month of creating products at naptime and bedtime, I finally had my first 10 products. In the videos I watched the TpT authors suggested getting to 50 products.  That should be my goal.  The more products there are the better chance that people will see them.  I didn’t want to wait until I made 50 products, but 10 seemed like a good place to start.  

After talking to my husband, we agreed that my desire to spend the money on a premium account would be worth it.  I upgraded and uploaded my products, including my first product which TpT requires to be a free sample of your work.  Step 3  My First Month

In my first month, I made $0 dollars.  I was just sitting here waiting for something or anything to sell.  It took some time.  I wish I had learned how to look around the website better because I eventually found the Product Statistics page and if you look at Activity you see how many times your product has: been on the search page, when people clicked on it, who wish-listed it, as well as purchases.  I would have found it encouraging to see even my free products downloaded.  It would mean I am doing something right.

  1.  Learn About SEO

I learned that something called SEO or Search Engine Optimization existed.  If I could figure out a little bit more about what other teachers are searching for I can make my titles match it better.  I try to make my titles descriptive of what the product is for the teachers, not give it a cute name.

  1. TpT Digital

I am a big believer in little steps.  As I got the hang of making products I knew it was time to try to enter them into TpT’s digital activities.  It’s actually quite easy.  Add a few directions and text boxes where you think they would be needed and publish.  The buyer can change it if they want.  Since half the USA is digital at least half the time it made a lot of sense.

  1. My Second Month

I earned $18.08 and I was so proud.  There are a few people I’ve been talking to for encouragement on this crazy little venture and I couldn’t wait to tell them.  A lot of what I happened to sell was holiday activities.  It’s just how it worked out this time.

  1. Goal Setting 

As we entered December I was continuing to learn all about how to make my business more successful.  A big part of that is setting goals.  

My December goal was to sell $20 worth of products. My goal was not high above what I earned in November, but as I set my goal I was considering that schools close for vacation.  I wanted to make this goal reasonable as I considered that. 

 I will tell you that as I am sitting here writing this I have hit that goal.  I’ve actually gone over it making $30.32.  I’m ecstatic.  

Another goal I had for December was to upload 10 new products.  I uploaded 12.  

I am looking ahead to the goals I can set for 2021.  I want to go beyond the number of products made and the amount of money earned.

  1. This is My Business

So many of the videos I watched told me to make sure that my mindset is “This is a business, not a hobby.” To me, it’s always been a business.  My goal is to make money with my knowledge and on my schedule.  In order to do that I have to treat this as a business.

I know some people only want TpT to be a hobby for them and there is nothing wrong with that either.

  1. Take Time to Create A Brand

I left this out of my video so it’s added on at the end, but it’s a big one.  Before I started anything TpT I spent time thinking about the name of my store, asking for opinions about it.  I took time to check URLs and see if I could make it a business if it grew.  I thought about my Logo and tried to design it.  Actually, I made one that didn’t look great and my sister took my idea and made it look much nicer.

It was worth the time to make sure I had room to grow this business bigger without having to go back and redo everything later.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey of becoming a TpT seller.