Questions Answered!

05 January 2012
Thank you for all of your questions in the comments from my "Happy New Year - Ask Me Anything Post."  I am going to try my best to answer as many as I can!

Question 1:
Rachelle, Jodi, and Cara want to know "How do you keep such a "Rockin' bod?"  They even suggested that I start another blog, a personal/fitness one!  Haha, that totally made my day.  They were referring to a picture I posted of my family and me on my brother's boat.  It was on a thread in the TpT seller forums under a "Share Pics of You and Your Family."  I am posting the picture below, next to a picture of me, my freshman year of college.  At 33 years old and 5'2, I am in better shape now than when I was 18!  *Please, keep in mind that I have a very petite frame, so 97 lbs. looks healthy on me, but would be probably be too low a weight for someone taller or with a bigger frame.
So, as you can see, I was not always this fit or thin.  In college, I did not workout and ate lots of carbs.  I used to go to this Night Owl Cafe every night and have a soft pretzel!  I pulled myself together senior year of college and got into working out and stopped eating tons of crap.  I have not been over 102 pounds since then.  I don't always look like the picture on the right, my weight will go up and down depending on how much discipline I have.  I find every September I have to cut back on working out because I am overwhelmed with work. I also, don't weigh myself  often.  I prefer to go by how my clothes fit.  Remember, muscle weighs more than fat.   
Usually, I try to go to the gym 5-6 days a week.  Five is ideal and four is good, with three keeping me from losing muscle.  If you are just starting a gym, get a personal trainer for a few sessions.  He or she will help you learn about workouts you can do on your own and will make sure your form is right, so that you don't hurt yourself.  I don't have a personal trainer now, but I have had one in the past.  I like taking classes better.  Here is my workout schedule:
Monday - Rebounding for 30 minutes (Mini-Trampoline Class), 15 min. Pre-Cor Machine, & 15 min. ab class
Tuesday - Elliptical machine for 30 minutes or an hour class
Wednesday - Rebounding with breaks for strength training - 1 hour
Thursday - Boot Camp - 45 minutes
Friday - Off or Zumba - 45 minutes - 1 hour
Saturday - Boot Camp - 1 hour
Sunday - Off
Besides working out, I watch what I eat.  I am reading Skinny Bitch right now and I am freaked out by all processed food and meat.  (I plan to post more on this book on The Best Endings Blog, soon.) I love Zone bars for breakfast, but I am going to try and cut them out since they are made of all chemicals.  I also don't buy junk food.  At night I sometimes crave something sweet, but I have nothing in my house, so then I will make myself some tea.  
I hope this helps you.  I feel working out is such a stress relief for me, that I make it a priority.  

Question 2:
"What advice do you have for someone who wants to get started on Teachers Pay Teacher?"
I have been with Teachers Pay Teachers since 2008 and was even in the NY Times article.  You think that article would have made me a top seller, well it didn’t.  I only started making the big bucks this year!  I would not be making the “big bucks  if I had not been motivated by a TpT email about Deanna Jump’s success. I was floored by the email and needed to find out what she was doing that I was not.  Here's what I found:  1. She created whole units not just individual lessons or downloads.  2.  Her products looked like something I could not make using just Microsoft Word.  3.  She had a blog.  I had never heard of teacher blogs before.   Right then and there she became my teaching idol and I thank her for her model of success. 
So, I started this blog and bought my own clip art and fonts.   I added cover pages and credits to my products.   I also think having 24 freebies in my store helps to gain followers to my store.
Success does not come easy; I consider this my full-time second job.  I get tired and discouraged at times.  I get upset when I see that I still have not made any of the top five lists or that I have not had my store featured or gotten a shout out.  When that happens, I don’t let it get me down, I brush it off and tell myself there is always next week.  I think of what I could make that would sell well and I start working.   Another thing that I find motivating is that if I click on the list of sellers only in NY by earnings; I am number two and that just makes my day!  Click {here} to see that list.  Oh, and I am number one for NY in ratings!
So, after reading this, if you would like to sell, please use this referrel code: 

Question 3:
"Where do you get your clipart and fonts and what program do you use?"  
That is easy, click on the links to the left of this post.  I try to stick to those three sellers and the free site (  This makes it easier for me to create a credit page at the end of my product.  Sometimes, I use other Etsy shops, Whimsy Doodles Graphics, Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files freebies,and/or From the Pond on TpT.  Click {here} to read my previous posts on graphics and fonts.  Click {here} for my Pinterest page on graphics and fonts.
I have a Mac, but I still use Microsoft Word.  I had to purchase it for my Mac.  I was afraid of the learning curve involved in using Mac's Pages.  I also sometimes use PowerPoint to make documents.  I do love my Mac so much!  It is so easy to take screen shots and to work with PDF files.  As with when I had my PC, anything I cannot figure out, I Google.  So please, don't ask me for tech advice!  I am no expert.  I just learn by doing and Googling.  

Question 4:
"How did you get your blog all fancy?"  
I paid someone and it was so worth it!  Cara Carroll of Oh So Spoiled and The First Grade Parade designed my blog.  She is no longer designing blogs, but there are so many others out there who are.  Etsy has a ton.  I used the lovely Kristen of Ladybug's Teacher Files to design my Critters in the Classroom blog and I love it.  For blog tips, go to Kristen's blog and click her awesome tutorials.

Question 5:
"How do I get followers on my blog?"
1. Make your blog look fancy (see above).
2.  Give away lots of free files.  Click {here} to see my freebies.
3.  Comment on other blogs.  Click {here} to see Ladybug's tutorial on leaving a direct link.
4. Post pictures or sample images and Pin yourself!  Yes, I know it is like patting yourself ont he back, but it works!  Click {here} to follow me on Pinterest.
5.  Host a giveaway.  Have people follow you for an entry.
6.  Make a facebook fan page and comment on other facebook fan pages.  Then post links to your blog posts on your fan page.
7.  Make it easier for people to comment on your blog.  Click {here} for What the Teacher Want's tutorial.

Question 6:
"How do you do it all?"
Um, I don't!  I have someone who comes and cleans the main floor of my house every other week and I rarely cook.  I don't have any children and I am not married.  So that leaves a lot of time to work on the computer.  I do get stressed out, overwhelmed, and frazzled.  I feel pressure to keep producing new units and keep blogging.  So when I feel stressed, I try to break things down into smaller manageable tasks or take on one task at a time.  I prioritize.  For example, I wanted to make a big Halloween packet, but I was getting observed in the beginning of October and had a lot going on.  So instead of making a math, literacy, and art packet, I just made a math one (click {here} to check it out on TpT).  It was not as time consuming and I still felt like I got something out there.  
I know there were more questions, but I don't want this post to go on forever!  I will answer when I can or in another post.  Thanks for reading!


  1. I agree, start a work out blog! Or better yet, come be my trainer in Nebraska! I feel you on getting frazzled at our 2nd full time job! And pressure! Keep busting out those great units! You are right up there with Deanna in my eyes!

    The Bubbly Blonde

  2. Okay, so if I call you "Skinny Bitch", please don't take offense!! Holy crap, woman!! You look AMAZING! I haven't weighed 97lbs since I was in junior high! HA!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your tips!! THANK YOU!! I *try* and go to the gym every morning...45 minutes cardio and then about 20-30{ish} minutes of strength training. It's been hard to get back in a routine since the holidays, so I'm starting with Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. Hopefully that'll get me motivated again!! Love reading more about you :) Can't wait for Part 2 :) XOXO

    Cara :)
    The First Grade

  3. I never knew you could search tpt by state.. what do you know.. I am #1 in my state! What a nice thing to know!

  4. Thanks so much for all the answers! You (and lots of others) inspired me to open up my TPT store. I figure, I might as well post it if I'm already making it. Thanks again!
    Mrs. Plant's Press

  5. Wow! Thank you so much for all of the advice and answers! I agree that getting on a schedule for working out is helpful. I ran a marathon in October, and the schedule was SOO helpful...and blogging with my other running buddies! Thanks again!

    Mary Beth
    Run Teacher, Run

  6. Wow! Wow! and Wow!
    I just learned soooo much! I think I have asked every single question you just answered. I have just learned so much. Thank you for taking the time to post this post and link everything. In addition to all that awesomness, you remain a real live human and in this digital world that is so appealing! I love it and you rock!

    Thanks again,

    Randi @ Teach It With Class

    My TPT Store

    My Facebook Page

  7. Wow! You look amazing, Erica! I agree with everyone should start a fitness blog! Thanks for all your TpT tips...they sure are helpful! :)

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. I've always felt like I related to you because of our love of animals, not being married, no children, yada, yada, yada. Anyway, I read Skinny Bitch a few years ago so thanks for reminding me I need to revisit it. After reading your workout regimen, you are not only my teaching/blogging inspiration but my health and fitness inspiration too! Thanks for everything you share!

    1st Grade with Miss Snowden

  10. I don't feel so bad now. When I tell people I weigh 95 lbs they freak out and I have to remind them I am only 5 foot flat!

    I used to weigh a whole lot more, 140, at my largest if I tell the truth. I don't work out though. I know what I do is not for everyone but it works for me. I do Yoga and am Vegan now. I love it.

    Ms. M
    Ms.M's Blog
    A Teacher's Plan

  11. Wowsers, you look amazing!!! I am wanting to get back into working out again, but moving from 7th grade back to first grade has been quite stressful. Also, our school has about a 65% ESL population, and 50-55% of them go to the school I teach at. Sooooo, I am starting ESL classes to earn my ESL endorsement. So you yet again have inspired me to manage my tasks a bit better and at least try to eat better than what I do. And of course, my 2 and 8 year old keep me running at home. Thanks for the post, you keep amazing me.

  12. Love this post! I never knew you could search by state on TPT. It's nice to know someone else checks their ranking every week. I get so excited if I move up and hate it when I move down. I'm also a Mac girl and love it!! So use to create documents on. :)

  13. Great post gave away some great tips to new bloggers/sellers. Now we know where to send people when they write us to ask questions...ha ha!!! Thanks for sharing the link about looking at sellers by state. Surprised to see a few from our neck of the woods that we knew!!!

  14. YearntoLearn- you're not alone! The font does that on my mac too. So annoying!

  15. Thank you for all the tips! Reading this was so inspiring. I love your blog and your TPT store.
    Sarah's First Grade Snippets

  16. I am a new blogger and TpT seller (well I haven't sold anything yet) but your post gives me hope! Thanks for paving the way and helping all us newbies!! You are an inspiration!


    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  17. You are wonderful Erica! Thank you for posting a link to my graphics - I am honoured :)I did not know about sorting by state either, and found I was #2 in Australia! Yay!

  18. thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions!
    Color Me Kinder

  19. What a fun post :) Have you ever tried Crossfit? I started it in September and I'm obsessed. It is hardcore and so addicting. It sounds like something you might like.

  20. Yearn to learn...I had the font problem also when I try to get the font from my sidebar formatting tool, but if I click up top under format and choose font there, I can find all of them to use. Not sure why??

  21. Great info. Thanks for sharing all that!
    Grade ONEderful

  22. Thank you for the post! It has answered many of the questions I had about starting a blog and TPT. My friend Ashley and I are going to start working on our's this weekend!

    And thank you for motivating me to go to the gym today...I was just about to talk myself out of it before I saw your post!

  23. I saw your post about Take Home Bags and I wanted to contact you about showing your picture on my blog and giving you credit. I came by to write to you and read your post and loved it. Please let me know if this is ok with you! Laral Coe

  24. Thank you for sharing so much about yourself! I love that you are blunt about your size. I am the same height and weight and it works for my body type, but sometimes folks aren't so kind. Thanks for sharing all of your tips.


    Hopping Into First Grade

  25. Um....I just love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Seriously, do a work out blog!!!! I'm on board!!!

  27. Awe, thanks for all the awesome comments! I am glad I to help whatever way I can. I wish there was a "like" button on here.

    Cara, you can call me whatever you want! Haha. Jena, maybe this will be our year?!

    Yearn to Learn, I am sorry but I deleted your comment by accident! I thought it was a blank one, I did not scroll up. Again so sorry. Feel free to repost it.

    Thanks again everyone!

  28. Thanks for an inspiring blog post! You are fabulous and you look like a freaking model!!


  29. Hi Erica,

    I just wanted to share with you this book that I read that changed my life, in addition to Skinny Bitch of course! :) The book is called "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone {Yes, it is the actress! lol...} She is also a vegan like the girls who wrote Skinny Bitch. I also have the Skinny Bitch workout dvds which are awesome... you gotta try the Skinny Bitch Boot Camp! It rocks! Anyways, I've become a vegetarian (not yet a vegan, but I'm on my way) and I've never felt healthier, lighter or better in my life! If you're into Skinny Bitch then you should definitely check out the Kind Diet. Thank you for sharing so much with all of us, you are truly an inspiration. Best of luck in the New Year.

    Best wishes,

  30. @ Erica I just sent a reply email to your comment.
    Happy Friday!

    Yearn to Learn Blog

  31. DO they have a "Carb Bitch" diet? LOL I get bitchy when I don't have my carbs. (so bad). I really enjoyed reading. Thanks for sharing!

    Classroom Confections Blog

  32. You are such an inspiration, all around! I need to get back to the gym!!! I'm one of your biggest fans on TpT! You are right up there with Deanna in my book! Thanks for sharing!
    Teaching First

  33. You are a very inspiring person! I'm currently working on my fitness and want to be in great shape. I've never had to try before because I was always active and had a high metabolism. But now I just kinda feel skinny fat and I've gotten older so my metabolism has slowed down. You should totally start a fitness blog-I would read it! Thank you so much for all the information about TPT. I just started selling in October and it's been a great journey but I want to improve. Seeing that you can be a successful teacher, blogger, TPT seller, and have a great body motivates me to do the same! Thanks for this post!
    Rambling About Reading

  34. Oh my word, I need to start working out! You look fabulous Erica!! I agree with Jess, you are so inspirational, on all fronts. Thanks for the sweet shout-out! :)

  35. What a great post! I need to go to NOW! lol

  36. Great post! I LOVE animals, too. I wish I could have more in my classroom. However, I am not allowed to have any animals with "fur" (as they put it) in my classroom. So, the hermit crabs will have to do... Also, I appreciate your honesty about TPT, your blog, and such. I'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way you do about their items they create. I wish I had your courage. I'm too much of a chicken to sell anything. And If I had more money, I'd definitely purchase more of your items on TPT. :(

  37. Loooooove this post! I love your comment about considering this your second job. So do I and it helps me stay focused! 'Course I don't have as many sales as you on TpT, but maybe I'll get there!

    Krazy About Kiddos

  38. First, thank you SO MUCH for all of the great information on getting started with TpT as well as creating a great blog...for the life of me I couldn't figure out how it was I know it's not rocket science! Can't wait to visit more.

    Secondly, kuddos to a great post regarding a healthly lifestyle. Having suffered most of my life from body image issues and an eating disorder...I love that you made certain that you let everyone know that your weight is on a very petite frame and not realistic for someone such as me who is 5'6". I also like that you gave realistic advice as well as said this is what works for you. I have never been overweight, but have been through the very unhealthy period of my young life as aforementioned...and am thankful for posts like this that promote healthy images for women. So, thank you again!

    Finally, I will definitely be checking out the book as I am a bit nuerotic about what goes into my body (and my children and husband) in terms of being processed foods with preservatives/additives/chemicals and such. I look forward to returning to your blog!

  39. Hi Friend. I always enjoy your post. Miss USA, watch out!


  40. Yay! Thanks for answering! I never thought about pinning my own stuff on pinterest! I'll start doing that asap and hope it gets me a few extra followers! :)
    Eberhart’s Explorers

  41. Yes, definitely need to join a gym ASAP!!! lol Thanks for posting this information, I just started blogging and am trying to get my followers number up. I'm pretty sure I'm doing all that you said. I guess I just need to work on commenting more...which as you can see, I am. Thanks for showing us that it's not all rainbows and sunshine, and that we actually need to work for what we want.


    Our Sweet Success

  42. I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award.

  43. I wanted to let you know that I have given you the Versatile Award! Pop on over to my blog to recieve your award. Congrats!

  44. Erica,! I am going to start working out ASAP! There is NO way I am going on a cruise with you if I don't get my fanny in shape. Mercy!
    Other than that I just wanted to say I love how sweet you are! Congratulations on all of your TPT success you deserve every single bit of it.

  45. LOVING what you said in your fitness Q/A!!

  46. Erica, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog and TPT items. I'm just a "regular" 1st grade teacher, not a blogger or TPT seller. I love how candid you are in your posts, I love that your lesson plans and packets are so user-friendly, and I LOVE that you are an animal lover! You are a rock star in my eyes! Keep up the great work!

  47. Thanks for your post. I just started blogging and I'll be referring back to your tips. Thanks for all of your great answers. Your tip on pinning your own items is a good one. Thanks again!

  48. I chose to take some time away from the classroom this year and thought it would be a great opportunity to get serious about TPT. Thank you for your input and resource links. You are quite inspiring!

    The 3AM Teacher

  49. Thank you for all your motivation Erica! Your post was very inspiring. I enjoyed learning more about how you keep it all together!


  50. Erica, I read your suggestions on how to help sales of printables. I made changes that you recommend, cover page, added more color, took better pictures and guess what it has paid off for me. Thanks again for the great suggestions.
    My blog
    I also have a store on Teachers Notebook, Thanks again! Gwyn

  51. Hi, Erica! I love that you have taken the time to answer all of these questions. I am new to TpT and to blogging, and you are an inspiration to me! :) Also, congrats on "20 Super Spelling Centers".


  52. Thank you so much! This is very helpful :)
    You are too sweet <3


    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class Blog

  53. Thank you for the inspiration and all the tips! You are amazing!

  54. This was so helpful, thank you so much for inspiring me!

  55. I feel like I came across this blog post at just the right time! I too am trying to break into the TPT business and realized starting a blog is the best way to go. I was very frustrated today, but reading this has inspired me! Thank you for that and for all your great ideas!! You are awesome!


    Three Cheers for First Grade!

  56. You're an inspiration, Erica! I have lost almost 50 pounds so far and am halfway through my weight loss goal. It's weird, but I found that I ate healthier back home in Texas than I do here in South Korea (I'm teaching English here for a year). You would think that Asian food is healthier, but not here. Thank you!
    Gig ‘Em Teacher

  57. Thanks so much for the tips. You look great! As far as weight, I am steadily working on it. I walk 5 miles almost every day but I do like the idea of changing activities for my daily workout schedule. Thanks for the suggestions. Health experts have emphasized that you shouldn't do the same exercise every day.

    Mrs. Debrew-On-Wheels


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