Is it too late to see growth or reach levels of success on TPT? The landscape of TPT is always evolving and changing, sometimes due to factors beyond our control. But rather than throw in the towel, it might be time to shake things up, pivot, or do something different.

Some sellers are seeing growth despite the odds (I’m grateful to say my store is thriving)! I wanted to share some insights and tips that have been working (and not working) in my store. I hope you can take away what I share in this episode into your own businesses!

Episode Highlights:

  • Summer Teacher Seller Conference Takeaways
  • Factors in possible lower sales for many sellers in August 2023
  • Tips and Reminders for selling and growing a store on TPT
  • Six things I think are overrated for TPT businesses

Resources and Links

Learn more about Your Data Playbook – Affiliate Link



Kirsten 0:01

You're listening to the creative teacher podcast, a show for busy teachers looking for ways to engage, inspire and make an impact in their teacher businesses. I'm Kiersten, a teacher business owner who is all about simple and actionable tips, strategies and resources that result in wins, big or small. If you're looking for that extra spark of creativity, you've come to the right place. Let's dive in together.

Hey, everybody, welcome to season three of the creative teacher podcast. We're added again, I'm excited to bring you some really great stuff for this upcoming season. I wanted to kind of catch up with you guys today about all things TPT. I know a lot is going on in the last few months since the last episode aired in May. And I just wanted to share my thoughts about you know, some conference takeaways over the summer. Some helpful reminders, as we're coming to a very, very tough time, I know for a lot of sellers in the TPT space. And then we're going to end off with something that I feel is kind of on the more fun side. Six things that I feel are overrated in the TPT world. So stick around for that little list. It's based off of a Instagram posts that I saw, it was like six teacher items that are like overrated, basically. And so I kind of wanted to take a spin on that for TPT sellers.

All right, let's talk conference, I had major FOMO, because I could not attend in person with three kids. Two being under the age of two years old, it is very, very difficult to travel so far away. And I would have loved to go just lots of family stuff at home as far as like my husband has to go to work and who's going to watch the kids. And so it's hopeful, very hopeful, depending on when the location is released and where it is for 2020. For that I will be attending my thoughts fingers crossed is that it's somewhere in the west or somewhere in the South. I don't know yet. But hopefully in that area, that would be really, really great news. So yeah, that's just kind of like I'm just putting it out there. So that it's, it's we're gonna make it come into fruition, we're gonna manifest that. Anyway, I wanted to share with you a few takeaways from the TPT conference. And also another conference, the teacher cellar summit that was so there's so many incredible presentations throughout those two conferences.

So I wanted to share a little bit about it. In the TPT forward conference, Martina C had a really great presentation about how it's time to make the hard resources. And I could not have related to that more because I have been putting off hard resources for a long time for over three years to be exact. I had this idea in my mind that I wanted to create a really robust curriculum. And I remember at that time, I was like, Well, I can do third grade, I can do fifth grade, but Oh, Texas history. I don't know if I want to do all that. That's like a lot of work. It's a lot of different moving pieces in Texas history and what happened. And so I kind of put it to the side. I'm like, I'll possibly think about it later. Three years went by, and here I am making the hard resources. So I've been kind of putting up you know, I've had some good product lines. I've had some success in the product lines that I have put, you know, not all of them. Of course not Everything is 100%. You know, like just, it's, it's really, really hard to get that energy to make really robust, hard resources. But the thing is, and this has happened to me, time and time again, every time, the more time, it seems like the more time I invest into certain resources, it's like my audience knows, or my, like, the people following me on the TPT. Store knows are like, oh, yeah, she spent a ton of time on this, I'm gonna buy it or something like that. Because it seems like there's a trend in the resources that I can create in like, a few hours, versus the resources that I have to like, break it apart into very large chunks, because it's a lot of work. Those tend to do better more times than not. It's always been that way since I started my store up again in 2020. And, you know, like, even the INIA gram resource, which it like, I took a lot of planning in it, it still continues to be one of my best sellers like to this day. So you know, it's it's definitely that if you've, if you need any encouragement to create, if you have a resource idea sitting in your air table base, or in your Google Docs, and like you can probably think of that resource that I'm referring to right now. It's that resource that you don't have, it's going to take a lot of moving pieces and effort to make, I guarantee you that it's worth it. When I launched my curriculum that I'm working on right now, it's a growing bundle for three grade levels, like I'm doing multiple grade levels, the sales on it, it's just immediate, like, some of my product lines take a while to take off if they ever take off. But this one is just like automatic full force. So there's obviously a gap. And I'm filling that need for people looking for it. I mean, me personally, I haven't seen it. You know, before I was leaving the classroom after I left the classroom, that what that needed was was still not there. It's just sitting in my idea bank. And so I'm acting on it, and I'm so glad I did. So I think that's a really important takeaway from the conference is that it is time to make those hard resources. Just do it.

Another really, really great takeaway I had from the TPT forward conference, had to do with a keynote speaker, Gillian star talked about her story about when she was a little girl, as you know, little Julian. That's kind of who she was creating her resources for making sure they were accessible, easy to read, you know, something that won't get students super frustrated just of how its formatted. I think that was a super powerful story. And it made me think of the little Kiersten wins. As a person of color. I'm African American, not being represented in stories in history as a kid, a lot of the stories that I heard about African Americans were, you know, very sad, and it always made me sad as a kid, like hone down another one, you know, it's great to hear their bravery. You know, Harriet Tubman, all of those classic African American heroes that we have in history. But you know, not being able to know more about the positive accomplishments of other African Americans like me, was something that I was kind of sad as a little girl or, you know, not really getting to have that opportunity to learn more about I didn't hear about madam CJ Walker, who is recorded as the first female self made millionaire in the United States, like that's in the Guinness Book of World Records. I didn't hear about that until I was an adult. And I also didn't hear about the Tulsa race riots and how there was it's rising, African American, predominantly African and Asian American neighborhood in Tulsa, where I grew up. I did not hear about that until years later. So I that's kind of why I create the rates, some of the resources that I do, I want little Kiersten like me to see themselves, not just in negative ways, or just something that's always like, we're always pushed down but rather, hearing uplifting stories, the good that they contributed to society. I'm thinking people like Oprah Winfrey, Madam Madam CJ Walker, Wallace Amos, the creator of Famous Amos cookies. People like that. That's why I create some of the resources. I do like the black history posters. And it's incorporated into a lot of my social studies resources and in my membership as well. So that's something that kind of really stuck with me Gillian Starr's story, I think it was very powerful. It was a tear jerker, that is for sure.

The teacher cellar summit was also kind of taking place around the same time as the TPT. Forward conference. And that was something that was amazing, so many great presentations there, like I don't even know where to begin. But a couple that stand out to me is the marketing funnel. From Alyssa McDonald, I've always loved her teacher hustle podcast that she had. And her marketing funnel like blew my mind. I don't know why. But just thinking about how, you know, social media isn't really like your main avenue to going directly into sales, it's really part of the top of the funnel, or even before you get into the funnel, it's more of like brand awareness. And that kind of gives me a little bit peace, because my social media game is just not under par, I do not have over 10k followers. And, you know, it's something that just not something that I'm that great at, and it's okay, and just kind of like using social media to get people into my email list, which does more like I feel like, I can get more people or get more leads into my email list or reading my blog post, more so than getting actual conversions. So that's something that's, you know, kind of like really great reassurance of how I have been doing this, you know, like, Alright, so we got the social media going into our email having a really great opt in. And so that presentation was just really great. That presentation also helps me realize that I have a really big gap in, you know, having a variety of services and offers at a variety of price points. And so that's something that I'm going to be changing in the next few months. So I'm really excited about that. It also helps me kind of think about really who I want to serve and what I really want to be known for. And that is mainly graphic design and branding, something that if you were back in the early days of you know, the TPT branding and design made easy my very first Facebook group that I hosted. That was something that I wanted to focus on. And then I kind of got a little bit more general, you know, there was a plan I had, and that strategy didn't work. So I went digging deep into branding and graphic design, which is what I'm excited to be sharing with you more of in this upcoming season of the podcast. But yeah, there was like, there was so many really great presentations, and I'm so you know, proud of all my colleagues, sharing their knowledge, their expertise, I thought it was a really great learning experience. And I hope you feel the same way whether you attended the teacher seller Summit, or the TPT forward conference, or a little bit of both.

Now moving on to what has been for a lot of people out there, probably a really tough August, like we're coming down on that. I have seen in a lot of Facebook groups, a lot of disappointment, you know, we have this expectation, okay, personalized search is off. We're done with that things will be back to normal. And I think the reality of things is that I don't think there's going to be a I'm saying this in air quotes back to normal of what maybe a majority of people experienced in 2020 and 2021. I think a lot of things have changed in the landscape. Probably one of the main things would be the economy. I think it's taken a hit, you know, my husband's industry where he worked has also taken a hit, they're seeing a decline in demand, you know, for what kind of things he does. And it's just overall we're seeing the effects of a recession. And that's just the thing, teachers are not going to be likely spending as much unless they're given the money from their schools or districts. They're not going to be probably buying it out of pocket as much. The other thing is we have a decline in teachers teachers are leaving in droves. And a lot of newer teachers or people who are coming in to be teachers who may not have you know, the typical route in becoming a teacher or may not be certified to teach may not know about TPT He, I think, really, like I've asked multiple people if they're kind of in the education space. And I mentioned TPT. They know what I'm talking about. If they are not, they're like, oh, what's TPT? You know, you know, I have to do the whole Well, it's kind of like Etsy, but it's for teachers. So a lot more people don't know as much about TPT. As we think, you know, we're in that little bubble. Of course, we've known it for years. And it's just something that is just kind of part of what's changing in the landscape. Another thing is that there's this oversaturation of resources, that can be probably easily more easily more so than ever created with AI tools like chat, GBT or Jasper, and a number of different resources. So there are a few factors that are happening that are probably causing a decline. I don't, I don't want to toot my own horn.

But I do want to kind of be real with y'all. But I haven't experienced a downturn. In fact, I'm experiencing the opposite. I know there are other sellers out there who are experiencing the opposite, but they're not, you know, feeling as comfortable. So if you're one of those people, like, I am so happy for you, I'm so amazed, you know, that's amazing that you're able to continue to grow and experience an increase of growth. Despite the odds, I know that I am so so grateful. It's a lot of work. And I want to kind of give you a little bit of you know what I think why I think it's happening, it probably has to do with the fact that I'm making a resource that just hasn't, it's in a niche that hasn't gotten a lot of love and that social studies, and I'm kind of digging deep, I'm testing out some things, what it would look like if I market my resource to a specific, you know, using specific standards. So far, it's been working really well for me, and I'm so so grateful. One thing I definitely appreciate is a good template because it saves time, and it eliminates a lot of headache and overwhelm. A few years ago, I listed my first product cover templates. And recently, I've added many more templates that will help your TPT product listings and storefront branding, and so much more. In my TPT store, you'll find thumbnail templates, preview templates, for each orientation, slideshow, templates, Lead Magnet templates, pretty much everything you can think of as far as designing things for your TPT business, I've got you. And of course more or soon to come. If you're interested in taking a look at those TPT templates, you can head over to my TPT store the southern teach, or you can click the link in the description, I am a huge proponent of working smarter and not harder. And these TPT templates will help you do just that. It is not the easiest app growing a store right now. And you might have heard of people reaching those first and second and third milestones back in the early days in 2013, or 2016. And I'm sharing this with you just kind of to let you know that it is absolutely still possible to reach those milestones in the 2020s. I'm living proof I got the first milestone in 2021. And I shouldn't be on track to reach the second milestone by the end of next month, if all goes well. So it's something that I am really proud of and excited about. And I know that every business trajectory is different. And so if you're not seeing that growth just yet or you haven't experienced that growth, it is I'm just kind of here as a testament to show you and tell you that it is possible.

A couple of tips to remember as you're you know, ending this 2023 year or Indian quarter three, I should say, we don't have to go too far yet into the future. So let's think about like end of the month. Just know that number one your success is different from others. While yes, some people are experiencing growth. A lot of sellers are experiencing a decline. And there are different factors. It depends on the niche, the type of resources you sell the grade level that you know, there's so many different factors on top of the uncontrollable factors we have such as the economy and less teachers and people not knowing as much about TPT and AI. So there's that's why I say your success is different from others, I hope to be inspiring to you. But I know that you know, we could be implementing things to a tee. And things are just not the same. Like, for example, like, I would love to make millions of dollars on a, me, you know, on a launch, like Amy Porterfield does, but and even if I implement her steps to a tee, I think just because of the niche we're in, and just like different things, I don't have the audience like Amy Porterfield does, I'm not going to make, you know, $5 million on a launch. So it's just something really to think about your success is different from others. So I'm proud of my success. I'm not making millions of dollars a month or in a launch, like Amy Porterfield, but I'm happy with my own success. And so my encouragement is for you to find those little wins those little successes and celebrate them. Like maybe you got your conversion rate up for a resource that has been at like, under 3%, for maybe a long time. And you're finally getting those views up and conversion rates are going up, you're finding little wins in little in the resources you're selling. Or maybe you've grown your email list to 50 subscribers where you added 20 subscribers in two days, think about the positives. And you know, how it's changed from a couple of years ago, there is a positive for every TPT store, I know it.

Another couple of tips I have for you. bundles, bundling things you never thought of I decided to create a grade level specific bundle for my daily passages resource. I had initially published them by the unit, so by domain geography, and history and all of that. And then I decided on a whim, I was like, Well, what if I combined like made a third grade packet for you know, Texas, third grade teachers, then one for fourth grade and one for fifth grade. And it's like not, I guess it's not a bundle in the sense of I'm combining resources that are already listed. But I decided to kind of repackage it and sell it as like a year long, specifically for third grade. And that resulted in sales. And then I also there was a couple of other resources where I never thought to bundle but I looked at it and I was like, this could be some type of like, warm up resource for maybe social studies and ELA teachers. So I bundled those together. And I created you know, I created a bundle cover for it. And I had a preview and I added those in my little bundle listing and that that was also pretty successful there too. So just kind of think about, you know, what you can bundle together, see, if you can maybe think year round, like have some type of year long bundle resource. You'll know you'd be surprised people like if anything that seems like it's robust. People will gravitate toward it in this time. I think less people are, you know, buying those cutesy resources like craft activities and task cards, I'm not seeing a lot of my task card selling as much as they used to. So I think people are looking for something more robust when they go on TPT that they can use throughout the year. So that's one tip to grow your TPT store is just to add more bundles, you can use what you're already what you already have in your store. Another is to niche down even more so than you might already. So if you are selling primarily, let's say upper elementary math resources, rather than get really general with upper elementary math, maybe focus a little bit more, maybe with a specific state or a specific topic in math, like, maybe you can be the go to on fractions like just doubling down on fractions in upper elementary math, whatever's working for your store, seeing what's selling in that and just kind of rather than, you know, try to replicate that just find a way to hone it down even more niche down even more in that subset and create resources that people can utilize for maybe a month long unit or something that is really jam packed with value rather than just one off activities in a resource.

Another thing is consider increasing prices. I'm going to tell you, your data playbook did it again, with their price change tracker. That was a really helpful resource. It's something that's included in all tiers. If you're in your data playbook. The price change tracker has been really, really helpful. I'll increase something by a couple dollars and then I'll check on I believe Mondays when I can to see if that change Ain't was successful. Or if there's still, you know, it could be that it's still learning or it's unsuccessful, and it'll have the original price and the price you change it to. So you can always change your back or you can always increase the price. So that's always a helpful way to know, if you're on the right check as far as pricing things correctly, or, you know, in the right ballpark of pricing it. So that's something that I've been doing in the last couple of months.

All right, we're ending this very long episode, I didn't really make for it to be so long, but here we go. It's the first it's the first episode I'm gonna let it slide, we're gonna have a nice, juicy first episode of season three.

So we're gonna end this off with a really quick list of things I feel are overrated in the TPT world. Maybe you'll agree with me, maybe you won't. That's okay. We can agree to disagree if we need to.

The first one is too many fonts and clip art. Yes, I think it's overrated. I really, I mean, now thinking back, I would always stock up on clipart. And like, fonts, and all of these things like, Oh, I'm gonna use this and this and this, and this and this. And now I just use the same two or three fonts. And I only use one source for specific clipart. So what I did back then, you know, I've kind of learned from that. And it's all part of your branding, and how you want to kind of stay consistent, and it's just easier in general. A

second thing is scheduling apps outside of native platform. So something like tailwind. Like I am not a big scheduler, I used to have what was I think Smarter Queue, I had that for a while. That was pretty cool how you could recycle posts, but for the most part of just use the meta business suite and scheduled posts there or directly on the app. I love how you can schedule reels now. Oh, my gosh, I'm so glad that's I would always be afraid that it would be you know, I have it in my drafts, and then it would go away, I would always be afraid that I was going to lose it. But scheduling reels has been a godsend. And yeah, I just think it's just kind of overrated. Another is posting on Instagram, every day, I have learned that I really want to focus on quality on my Instagram rather than quantity. Because I am not getting as much engagement as it used to anyway. So I feel like I want to spend my energy on other things. So yeah, I think I think more people are doing this, I've noticed, I think, you know, more people are providing quality posts and are not seeing the need to post every single day. And I give them kudos because like, it's a lot, it's a lot to do and manage.

The fourth are elaborate logos. So I'm thinking kind of in the realm of the, you know, 2015 2016 2017, or even a little bit later, where we got these really cool busy looking logos. Yes, and I've created those type of logos as well. So like, that's, you know, I'm kind of calling myself out as well. But I've learned that simplicity is best right now, our profile pictures on TPT and Instagram, just have a nice photo of you can do like just one just as well as having some elaborate logo with like some border design and like Skeletor and wooden backgrounds and all of that, like, I think back to when I was trying to design my first logo when I was becoming an active seller in 2020. And I was just trying too hard. I spent way too much time on it. And really, I would have been fine with just a picture. But you know, you learn sometimes you learned the hard way. But yeah, simplicity is best. Like if you do want just to text logo, I'd say like, using your brand fonts and your brand colors is a really great start. People may have trouble at knowing where to put things. And really that's you know, that's where I want to come in a lot of my more recent clients have been kind of asking for more simplistic logos, and I've been happy to grant that.

All right, a fifth one is buying every course or membership available to TPT sellers. Man I like I am not a course junkie. I'm not one to buy every single course that everybody advertises. But I know the FOMO is real like you see like doors are closing in two hours and you're like, Oh, well I might miss out on something. When I'm just here to tell you like if if you're buying every single course or membership If that's available for TPT sellers, chances are like, are you really implementing those courses? I think a rule of thumb is if you're still in the middle of a course, and haven't finished it, or really actually implemented what you're doing in your business, like, like, let's say you're learning about creating products covers, but you don't have any resources in your store, you have to put the brakes on, you have to, you know, you've got to create things for your store, add things, implement things, that you're actually learning from the courses before you go and buy another course or bundle. Because really, like, it's kind of it's a cycle, you don't want to, you want to learn all the things. But there is a boundary that you have to select for yourself. And you know, financially, it's not feasible. And realistically, if you're buying all of these things, but not implementing them, it's a waste of your time, and it doesn't get you very far just kind of have to stay in the same place. Kind of spinning around in circles.

The last thing I feel that are overrated is buying borders off TPT Yes, I know, call me like, I mean, I, I'm all about simple borders, I'll sometimes do a rounded border on my resource. But for the most part, it's a square border. And that's it, I make it in PowerPoint, or Canva. And that is the extent of my borders. There was a time and place for that. But right now, that's simplicity is best. I you know, I'm a big fan of clean eat resources, clean, neat branding, that's something that is, you know, is appealing to a lot of people as well. All right. So ending on that note, I hope you got a lot of value in this episode. It's kind of like a big rambling of what I've been up to and what I've been thinking and what I've been wanting to share with you all these past few months. So I hope you enjoyed this episode, and I can't wait to talk to you again next week.

Thanks for listening to the creative teacher podcast. If you enjoyed listening to today's episode, feel free to subscribe and leave a review. I'd love to hear your feedback. You can also follow me on Instagram at the southern teach dot designs. Have an amazing day.