Oh boy! It’s a big week for TpT Teacher-Author Rachel Lynette. Did you happen to see that she surpassed a little milestone? Well, that’s certainly excitement enough BUT… there’s more. Rachel and her wonderful, long-term partner Adam got engaged this week during a trip to New York City.
Given all that, we just had to put her in the hot seat for 5 Questions With the Teacher-Author! Read on to hear about the experience of one seller whose been with TpT since nearly the very beginning.
1. How did you get started on TpT?
Way back in 2006, my then husband was out of work and I was looking for something I could do part time (in addition to teaching) to keep us out of debt. I was searching help wanted ads on Craigslist when I came across one for TpT. I think my heart skipped a beat I was so excited! I started making my first product that night. It was the 44th product posted on the site and it is still one of my best sellers. My life would be completely different if Paul had not chosen Seattle as one of the cities to post to, so I am extremely grateful that he did!
2. What are the biggest changes from when you started to now?
When TpT began, there was no community. No sellers forums, no way to communicate with each other. I saw names like Secondary Solutions, Lisa Michalek, and Tracee Orman, but we couldn’t share our experiences. Now we can share our stories, help each other out, and even meet in person! On a related note, the addition of Amy as community manager has also been a positive change. I love the tone she sets for the forums (despite my occasional snarkiness) and how she has taken both the TpT newsletter and Facebook page to a new level.
Another huge change has been the rise of social media. Facebook, Blogging, and Pinterest have made it possible for us to get to know our buyers and to hopefully help them to find what they need. I can honestly say that I have never had as much respect for teachers as I do now. I hear so many stories — some frustrating, some down-right depressing, and of course, some that are heartwarming and uplifting, and I am quite simply in awe of those of you who are in the classroom (I no longer am) doing your very best to do what is right for your students under extremely challenging circumstances. I am more than humbled to think that the products I create play a small part in that.
3. What’s your process from idea stage to product launch?
I usually get my best ideas somewhere totally goofy like the shower or on the elliptical. Since I do mostly task cards now, I don’t usually have to start from scratch — I have the basic template. I write down a few ideas… sometimes I sketch a sample card and then I design the cards in PowerPoint.
Sometimes, I ask my Facebook followers a question if I am unsure about what would be most useful or even post a sample card so they can give me their thoughts. They are awesome! I have often made changes suggested by Facebook followers. When I finish the set along with the answer key, teacher instructions etc., it goes to my proofreader (Yay, Maria!) and sometimes to another proofer as well. Then I make the changes, create a Preview file, and post. I usually pin new posts and announce on Facebook, but I rarely blog about them.
4. Speaking of blogs, you have a very popular blog. What’s your advice for teachers who are just starting out with blogging?
Whenever you post, ask yourself, “Would this post be useful to me if I was not going to buy anything?” I think the majority of your posts should focus on useful content – teaching tips and ideas, classroom management, step-by-step instructions on how to make or teach something, even an opinion post about some aspect of teaching. These types of posts get a lot more page views than ones that focus primarily around a for-purchase product and they build your reputation as someone who provides worthwhile content.
If you want to do a little marketing, mention a product in context or include it at the end of the post. For example, this post on inference has gotten over 114,000 page views. It would have gotten much fewer if I had just talked about how great my inference task card are. Instead, I gave my readers lots of ideas and resources and tacked mine onto the end. Sidebars and tabs are another great place for marketing. Another important point is to make sure that all of your posts include at least one appealing image for Pinterest.
- The Task Card Handbook: Everything You Need to Know – FREE! (Amy: Link is fixed.)
As you may have picked up, I am rather keen on task cards! I think every teacher should give them a try, so I wrote a free Guidebook with everything you need to know. Tons of ideas for prepping, using, and storing task cards, and free task cards too! I hope you will take a peek and even share it with your colleagues. This one is a freebie!
- Literature Response QUESTION Cards for Any Book: 64 Cards! CCSS Aligned
I love this set of Reading Response Question Cards because there are so many ways to use them — as writing prompts, in literature circles, with interactive notebooks, etc. The questions are open-ended in order to get your kids to think really deeply about their reading.
- Figurative Language: Idioms, Similes, Metaphors, etc. CCSS Aligned +Answer Keys
This set of figurative language printables was really fun to create because figurative language is so much fun! Most of the activities require some creative or critical thinking and there is plenty of opportunity for practice.
Wow! Fascinating stuff here. If you missed any of our previous posts, be sure to check out the 5 Questions With the Teacher-Author series.