As teachers, we make countless daily decisions in our classrooms. In fact, I’ve read that teachers make well over 1,000 decisions each day!
My own job as a reading specialist requires a ton of decision-making. I have to decide which students should receive interventions, what interventions they will receive, how those interventions should be modified to better meet their needs… and the list goes on.
Providing resources to other educators on TpT requires lots of decision-making, too! Sellers have to decide what products to create, how to effectively promote their products to other teachers, and how to maintain their stores over time. All of those responsibilities require lots of decisions, and it’s not always easy to know which path is best.
In this post, I’ll share my answers to some commonly asked questions that Sellers have about decision-making for a TpT store. Since collaborating with other Sellers is incredibly helpful for making choices about your store, I’ll also be sharing ideas from some of my wonderful Seller friends.
How do I set goals for my business?
I try to distinguish between “goals” and “to-dos.” Daily to-dos are things like responding to emails, editing resources, writing blog posts, and so on. It’s easy for me to get super busy and caught up in checking things off my to-do list!
Goals, on the other hand, are broader objectives that serve as the overarching purpose for my TpT store and blog. When I create goals, I ask myself things like, “How can I reach more educators in the teaching community?” and “What content and resources should I create to better meet teachers’ needs?”
When I sit down to create goals, I take a look at how my business is doing as a whole. I look at the number of views I’m getting on my blog, how many teachers I’m reaching via social media, how my products are selling, how my products are being rated, etc. I look for things that are going well, as well as areas that need improvement.
Then, I ask myself, “What’s next?” What resources are teachers telling me that they need? How could I change the topics and/or frequency of my social media posts to let more teachers know about the products in my store? What topics do I want to cover in upcoming blog posts? Could I better meet the needs of my audience by providing content in a different format, like videos? These are all things that I consider when setting goals.
Once I’ve set my goals, I then turn these goals into actionable to-dos. For example, if I want more people to know about my Kindergarten literacy homework, I might add to my to-do list:
- Take photos of homework materials
- Pin five literacy homework images to Pinterest
- Write two blog posts about using the materials
Using my goals to guide my daily and weekly to-dos helps me stay on track and keep the “big picture” in sight.
Lucy from For French Immersion also recommends setting goals around factors that we can control — such as how many resources we create, how many blog posts we write, how many newsletters we send out, and so on. Lucy thinks it’s a great idea to set goals around consistency instead of quantity. Instead of trying to write 10 blog posts, for example, commit to publishing once a week, or once a month, or whatever is realistic for your schedule.
How do I decide what products to promote when I have so many different products in my store?
I currently have over 160 products in my store, so this has been a challenge for me! I want to help teachers find what they need, when they need it. Sometimes making decisions about promotions is easy — when fall is coming up, for example, I pin, blog, and post Instagram photos about fall products. I usually try to spread the word about seasonal products between 1 and 2 months ahead of time. We teachers love to plan ahead.
Some of my resources, however, can be used all year long. I try to promote these resources on a schedule of alternating months. For example, I might promote one of my writing units during the month of November, again in January, again in March, and so on. I might promote a reading unit during the alternating months of October, December, and February.
I created a month-by-month schedule for myself to keep track of what resources I’ll be promoting when. It’s very simple — just a spreadsheet that I update as I create new resources.
I then refer to this spreadsheet when I’m writing posts for my blog, posting on social media, or reaching out to teachers via my email newsletter. Not only does the spreadsheet keep me on track with my promotions, but it also makes posting on social media quicker because it provides me with ideas for some of my posts.
Lucy has another great strategy for deciding when to promote products. She takes a peek at the “Sales Details” category on the TpT dashboard and looks for products that sold well in a given month. For example, if a product sold well last November, it’s likely that other teachers will also need it this year.
Amanda Zanchelli has a similar strategy for determining a product promotion schedule. She looks at Pinterest data to see what is being pinned and repinned during particular times of the year, so she knows when teachers need certain products.
Seller Aylin Claahsen tends to promote the products that she uses most often in her own classroom. She says, “I know how much of a life saver those specific products have been for me, and I’m so happy that I get to share them with other teachers around the world!” She posts on Pinterest, her blog, Facebook, and Instagram because she knows that those products will help other teachers save time planning and create meaningful lessons!
How often do I update “old” products?
I’m always trying to learn and get better at creating resources, so that teachers are getting my very best work! This, of course, means that a product I created a year ago is not at the same level as the product I finished last week (at least not in my eyes, anyway).
I try to go back and update older products as time permits. I don’t have a set schedule, but I do try to update most products once a year. (If there is a typo or some other kind of error that requires an immediate fix, I take care of it right away, of course!)
What works well for me is blocking out a chunk of time — usually several weeks — where I only update old products, without working on anything new. This gets me in the “improvement” mindset and goes more quickly for me than updating products here and there. Amanda Zanchelli recommends using winter and summer break to catch up on product updates.
Sarah Barnett brings up another great point about revising old products. She says, “I have a lot of technology products, so I look at them often to make sure the links aren’t broken.” This is a super important reason for giving older products a check-up!
What data should I use to decide when to change up what I’m doing?
When I think about using data to change up what I’m doing (as it relates to my TpT store), I ask myself, “Are teachers finding my resources?” and “Do the resources that I offer meet their needs?” Using the “Product Statistics” option on my seller dashboard can help me find answers to both of those questions.
To answer the first question, I take a look at the number of page views I’m getting on each product. If certain products aren’t getting many views, then I may decide to write a blog post that features them, create and pin new images of the product to Pinterest, or feature the product in a Facebook or Instagram post.
To answer the second question, I look at my conversion rate (the percentage of people who purchase the resource after viewing it). This helps me understand if the educators who are finding a product believe that the product will meet their needs. If I have a lower conversion rate, around 1 or 2%, I might need to a) revise the product description to make it clearer, b) provide additional information and explanations of how I use the product (like in a blog post), or c) revise the product itself to better meet teachers’ needs.
Like me, Kristin Kennedy uses page views and conversion rates to make adjustments. She adds that tweaking the product title or pricing can also be helpful in improving a low conversion rate. Kristin finds that Buyer feedback is the most valuable tool of all in making changes to her products.
Nicole from Nicole and Eliceo also utilizes her Seller dashboard when making decisions about product creation. When she creates a new type of resource, she makes just a few products like that resource. If teachers need those materials and they sell well, she makes additional similar resources. If not, she moves on and tries something else.
I hope that this little peek into our Seller brains was helpful! There are so many different (and great) ways to make decisions about your TpT store. In many ways, working on your TpT store is just like teaching — you try something, reflect on its effectiveness, and just keep on going until you find something that works.
Alison of Ms Lilypad is a K-2 bilingual reading specialist who lives and works just outside Chicago. She has worked in schools for over a decade and has classroom teaching experience in preschool through 2nd grade. Alison loves writing for teachers on her blog and has also done work in the educational publishing industry. When she’s not teaching, writing, or presenting, she loves traveling with her husband and playing with her two crazy cats. You can follow along with Alison at LearningAtThePrimaryPond.