I am often emailed and asked how to get started on TpT (TeachersPayTeachers). I am going to be honest and tell you that I have yet to respond to those messages. Before you go thinking that I am some big "meanie," here is the reason: It is not some one line explanation I can give someone. I don't want you to think TpT is complicated, but it also is not as easy as making a PB&J sandwich. If it were easy, no one would buy from us! Since, I feel guilty about not answering those messages, and I do want to help, and I do value my followers, I created this post. I plan on copying and pasting this post's address into those unanswered messages and future messages. I have been meaning to create this post for a LONG time but just could never find the time. Just so you know, I spent the whole first day of my vacation working on this post - just wanted to throw that in there so you would understand and forgive me for not responding to the messages.
I do hope this post answers questions. I know I have wanted to show personal friends how to get started on TpT and I just don't have the time. When you teach, blog, and create for TpT full-time, time is something that seems to slip away fast!
I think it also should be stressed that TpT is not some get rich quick plan. Everyone puts in different amounts of effort and that is what is so wonderful about TpT. There is no commitment on your part. You are free to create as little or as many products as you like. Remember though that your expectations for TpT have to match your level of effort and patience. I put in an extreme amount of effort and work into TpT. In turn, I am the top seller for NY. I have also been selling since 2008 and making more than $20 a month did not happen overnight. I am not a top ten seller on the site. TpT has a huge amount of sellers and the top 10 - 20 sellers seem to keep moving around. I try and stay positive and keep on working hard because this is something I love doing. I may not have the current fad in my store, but who knows how the pendulum will swing. If making things for TpT is not something you love doing, then don't torture yourself. If you are like me and find making products on the computer to be a great creative outlet, read on!
Seems simple enough, right?!
Here is my referral link if you are all ready to sell!
Breaking it down further:
I often get asked what computer and what programs I use to make my products. I own a Mac desktop and a MacBook Air. I purchased Microsoft Office for them. I love using PowerPoint and did not feel that Pages was comparable. I did not start out creating in Power Point! I started on TpT in 2008 and I used Word to create my documents. Oh, how I wish I had known about Power Point back then. I actually learned about Power Point from Rachelle Smith of What the Teacher Wants. She posted in the TpT forums about using Power Point and I gave it a shot!
I perfected my Power Point skills with tutorials by Ladybug Teacher Files and Ashley Hughes. You can find many other wonderful tutorials by googling. I googled and found GCF Learn Free, which breaks it down by the version of Power Point you have. I found that the more I used Power Point the better and faster I got with it. It is so easy to duplicate a page, no more copy and pasting like in Word or clicking "enter" to get to the next page. It is also a whole lot easer to manipulate and adjust graphics!
Now you are ready to create a product!
I don't know if this is obvious or not, but do not create products at school or during school time. You are getting paid by your district for that time and it might be considered double dipping, if you used that time to create products. Who has time to create during the school day anyway?! I create all my products at home after work, on weekends, and whenever I have off from school. I always created for my own classroom, even before TpT. The difference is that now, I create products that are above and beyond what I would create for my own personal classroom use. I use commercial use fonts and commercial use graphics instead of just "google imaging." I include directions for teachers, standards, a cover page, etc. All of this takes time and money. Therefore, I have no qualms about selling my products.
I also do not photograph or use my own students to promote products. I often borrow kids I know or since I already take tons of photographs for my classroom Shutterfly site, I use those and block out the students' faces with a graphic.
I think creating for TpT has made me a better teacher. I have been teaching first grade for the past 12 years and I continue to reinvent and change my teaching activities. I am excited to try something new with my students that I created and they are excited to try it. I also share everything I create with all of the teachers on my grade level in my district. I don't expect them to use it all, I just want to share and make their lives a little easier if I can. Their positive feedback and the positive feedback I get from TpT buyers encourages me to keep creating. It is just a lovely cycle! With the extra money I make from TpT, I don't flinch about buying supplies for my classroom. I have the best classroom library around. Other teachers come to me to borrow books! I love that I can help them, too.
The positive feedback makes the isolated world of working alone on your computer, feel like you are part of something bigger. Sometimes you won't get a "thank you" or any "praise." For me, that is one of the toughest things. I will share my products or create a freebie and not one "thank you." I remind myself, not to let it bother me:
Another thing you will have to get accustomed to when putting your products out there and with blogging is criticism. Oh, it hurts, it makes you mad, it can make you nuts! Negative feedback on TpT always bothers me. Teachers by nature are perfectionists and I cannot allow myself to make anything subpar. Often the feedback is just someone complaining for the sake of complaining. I just tell myself that I did my best and that it is not possible to please everyone all the time. If you start selling don't let the negative feedback get you down but don't ignore it either. Is there some validity to what the buyer is saying? Can you update your product or make your description more clear? If so, do it! You can always write a response back to the buyer explaining yourself. Refrain from attacking the buyer. If you are angry with the feedback, wait a couple of days to respond in a polite and professional manner.
I ended up going through three printers before I found the printer that I absolutely love. When you create a lot of products for TpT, you will find yourself printing a lot of TpT products. A good printer is essential. I recommend the HP Laserjet Pro 200 Color M251NW.
I know my readers would never do this, but I have heard of sellers buying products and then remaking it as their own to sell. Seriously? Why? That is just not the TpT way. I actually don't open any products other sellers email me (sorry ladies). I just don't want to be influenced. I also stay away from teaching ideas on Pinterest. Ideas are bound to be similar, don't go jumping to conclusions thinking someone copied your product. One of my good blogging friends and I posted almost the exact same Thanksgiving freebie the same day. Did either of us accuse the other of copying? Nope! We both taught first grade, had a similar need for our classrooms, and used the same Melonheadz freebie turkey clip art. It was just a simple coincidence or occurrence of "great minds thinking alike." A great way to prevent your actual product pages from getting stolen is to put your copyright mark or name on the bottom of each page. I screenshot my image and insert it to ever page.
Getting your own style can take a while to evolve. Look at some of my first products on TpT and look at my newer ones!
Do you remember those 2008 products above? Did you notice the Comic Sans font and Word graphics? Do you think those are my best sellers? Yeah, not even close! I do plan on eventually updating those older packets and have done so to a few. Unfortunately, I did not make them in Power Point and I would just have to start all over rather than copy and paste from Word.
They also sell fonts, too!
You can find all of these sellers on TpT! Did you know that when you leave feedback for purchases, you earn points towards future purposes? I try and only buy my graphics from TpT now.
Graphics from the Pond is a shop by an Australian teacher/graphic artist. I love how her style has evolved over the years. One of my favorite purchases from her store is her Scrappy Kids.
Ashley Hughes is the sweet teacher/blogger from The School Supply Addict. I mentioned her earlier in my post because of the awesome tutorials on her blog!
Susanna of Whimsy Workshop is another multitalented teacher/seller. My favorite set from her store is her farm clip art.
Little Red is a team of two sellers who sells teacher downloads and clip art!
I adore Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah's background papers! She also has great sets for when you need the same image in multiple colors.
Scrappin' Doodles recently started selling on TpT. I usually purchase from them on their own website so I can apply a coupon code.
Krista Walden is the talented creative artist behind Creative Clips. Her graphics are always topnotch.
Melonheadz Graphics are a favorite of sellers and it is not hard to understand why! They are so unique and adorable.
Kari Bolt is a seller I recently discovered. I love that she includes black-lines in her downloads.
Kimberly Geswein (KG Fonts) has all of her fonts listed as free and then you purchase a commercial single commercial use license or a license to cover all her fonts. I LOVE all her fonts, so I bought her All Fonts License.
My friend Cara Carroll of The First Grade Parade has proved herself to be multitalented with her CCFonts. Can you guess which of her font names were inspired by me? This year, she started making graphics, too! She is one multitalented lady!
Lettering Delights has been around since I started on TpT. I love their "alphabets" which work like a graphic. Click here to check out their store. Don't forget to purchase their commercial use products, instead of their personal use products.
Here is a sample credits page:
Tanya Dwyer has a great tutorial on using Picasa:
For some reason you cannot add hyperlinks before you create a PDF with Mac. To get around this problem, I purchased Adobe Pro. It is pretty expensive, so if you are not anticipating making the cost of the program back in TpT products, you may want to look into other cheaper PDF editing programs.
Here is a link for a post I did a while back on merging PDF files. You will need to do this if you are working with both landscape and portrait Power Point files.
More honesty: I am totally guilty of not having my PDF files all locked. When I started selling, I thought a PDF was considered locked. Now, apparently people can manipulate PDF files with PDF editor programs. So it is a good thing to learn how to do. The 3am Teacher has a great tutorial on locking your PDF files. She also has many other useful tutorials. Take some time and check them out.
Here is another post by Teaching with Hope:
Is your product done? Are you ready to post it? Well, now it is time to sign up to become a seller.
Most sellers start selling under the Free Membership. They see how they do creating products and how their products sell. Then once they decide to commit to creating products for TpT, they switch over to the Premium Membership.
Now you are ready to post your first product?
Yay! You did it!
You think you are done once you post a product? Well, if you want A LOT of people to find out about your product, you need to get it out there. You don't have to do the steps above, but they will help you gain followers for your store and hopefully some sales.
Don't have a blog? You should think about starting one.
Here are some blog designers I recommend:
For blog contests, you might want to purchase a TpT gift certificate to give away along with some of your own products. Rafflecopter is a free easy program that allows you to run giveaways on your blog.
I often get asked how do I do it all...and I always laugh because I don't! My house is a mess and I rarely cook. Working two full time jobs means something has got to give.
Do you want to ask me TpT questions in person? I am presenting in Vegas this summer at the TpT Conference and the SDE National I Teach 1st Conference. I hope to see you there.
Here is Cara Carroll's and my handout from our TpT Conference, Q is for Quality:
Here is a handout from the conference I am presenting with Cara Carroll from The First Grade Parade, Greg Smedley from The Kindergarten Smorgasboard, Deedee Wills from Mrs. Wills’ Kindergarten and Elizabeth Hall from Kickin' It in Kindergarten.
One more thing I have to say about blogging and TpT, is that you might not gain financial riches but you will gain friends. I think my TpT friends are worth their weight in gold! I am so glad that TpT brought them all into my life.
Thanks for reading! I hope I helped you with your TpT and blogging adventure.
Scan down for some other helpful tutorials.
I have a few more tutorials to the right if you click "Blogging and TpT Tips."
If you have a TpT or blogging tutorial and would like to share it with my readers, please link the exact post below.
- You MUST link back to this post in your post (it can be an old post you updated to include the link)
- You MUST use this image: