Sunday, July 20, 2014

Favorite Pinterest Board - Linky




To say I am a bit addicted to Pinterest would be a bit of an understatement!  I am linking up with What I Have Learned to share our favorite Pinterest boards.    All of the boards have ideas, anchor charts, activities, and more - not just a bunch of product covers.

The board I am linking up is Elementary Ideas

A few of my other favorites are:

Elementary Reading

Elementary Math

You can follow all of my Pinterest Boards here.

Do you have a favorite Pinterest Board we should follow?  Link up and let us know!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Together Teacher Book Study


I am so excited to be working on a book study of The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin starting this Wednesday!  Each week we will work on a chapter from the book with different blogger hosts.  There will also be giveaways and freebies!

From Amazon:

An essential guide for over-scheduled teachers
Maia Heyck-Merlin helps teachers build the habits, customize the tools, and create space to become a Together Teacher. This practical resource shows teachers how to be effective and have a life! Author and educator Maia Heyck-Merlin explores the key habits of Together Teachers—how they plan ahead, organize work and their classrooms, and how they spend their limited free time. The end goal is always strong outcomes for their students.
So what does Together, or Together Enough, look like? To some teachers it might mean neat filing systems. To others it might mean using time efficiently to get more done in fewer minutes. Regardless, Together Teachers all rely on the same skills. In six parts, the book clearly lays out these essential skills. Heyck-Merlin walks the reader through how to establish simple yet successful organizational systems. There are concrete steps that every teacher can implement to achieve greater stability and success in their classrooms and in their lives.
  • Contains templates and tutorials to create and customize a personal organizational system and includes a companion website: www.thetogetherteacher.com
  • Recommends various electronic or online tools to make a teacher's school day (and life!) more efficient and productive
  • Includes a Reader's Guide, a great professional development resource; teachers will answer reflection questions, make notes about habits, and select tools that best match individual needs and preferences

You can watch this video of the author explaining a little bit about her system and the website where she features both freebies from the book along with other great ideas about organization.  You do have to register for the site to access the freebies, but it is free to register.  As she says in the video, try out some of the ideas and see if they help you become a more together teacher!



I am also still looking for several bloggers who would like to host a chapter on their blog.  I will provide you with the giveaway item and the linky, you just have to write about your thoughts on your chapter.  I would also encourage weekly posts with the other chapters if possible, but you are just committing to the one chapter.  I will highlight you and your blog on my blog the week of your chapter.  If you have any questions feel free to email me or comment below.

If you would like to host a chapter, fill out this form picking your day and chapter.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Five for Friday - July 18, 2014


It's Friday!  Fridays in summer just don't have the same meaning, but one thing is the same - time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

This last week has felt kind of like the grand finale of a fireworks display.  You know how they send a ton of different fireworks off all at once?  I feel like this week has been a rush of activities getting ready for the end of summer. Although our kiddos don't go back to school until August 18th - I go back for training and PD on the 31st!  Where is my summer going???




My week started out last Friday with the TpT conference!  I had so much fun and learned a ton!  If you want to read more about my experience (along with my notes from the conference) you can find a link to all of the posts I wrote with my notes here.  That is Natalie from File Folder Heaven.  She has had a website for YEARS but has only recently started selling on TpT.




The day after I got back from the TpT conference we went to the water park for my hubby's company picnic.




Then the next day my husband's uncle came to visit from Boise.  He has a time share in Reno (about 35 minutes west of where we live) and he reserved us a room to staycation with him.


We had to have a silly and serious pose!

Here was my view for the rest of the week:



We spent a lot of time at the pool!




And we finished this crazy week last night at a Reno Ace's ball game!



 It was a crazy week for sure!  I hope you had a good week too.  Link up and share!





Thursday, July 17, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Conference July 2014 - My Story



I have been blogging all this week about my experiences at the Teachers Pay Teachers First conference in Vegas!  If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here:

                                                                          Keynote
                                                                          Session 1
Session 3
Session 4

Now time for my story (I hope it doesn't put you to sleep! LOL!). Make sure you read (or at least scroll to) to the bottom - I have a few freebies and resources I've found for you!

Anyway, it started in February when this happened.


I am really bad about doing things for myself.  My hubby convinced me to register and said it could be my birthday/Christmas present since I hadn't asked for anything.  I agreed and excitedly waited and counted down the days until July.  

My TpT sales were steadily increasing, so it made me feel a little better about making the trip and spending the money.  I am not going to lie, the trip was an expense, but it was so worth it!  My advice to you, start putting away a portion of your TpT sales away each month towards next year.  If your not making enough, make it a goal to at least get there!

I had attended BlogHer a few years ago, and was completely overwhelmed!  There were over 3,000 bloggers there and I never felt so alone in my life.  I didn't meet any bloggers who blogged about things that I blogged about, and I felt a little out of place the whole time.  I was a little nervous that this might happen again.  Luckily, there was a post on the forum at Teachers Pay Teachers about other bloggers who were also nervous.  They also were planning to meet for dinner while at the conference.  I was lucky enough to meet up with Nancy from the Apple Basket Teacher and we decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory.  

Unfortunately, I had no idea where I was going and couldn't find the Cheesecake Factory. Fortunately, I met up with a few teachers who were attending the SDE conference and they walked me the whole way!  They even snapped a few pictures for me!




Nancy and I had a great dinner and chatted like old friends! 


 Then we headed back to the Venetian for a blogger meetup where we met several other blogging buddies.  Meeting all of these wonderful ladies set my mind at ease for the conference.  Teachers really are a wonderful group of people and are so warm and welcoming.  If you are worried about going because you won't know anyone - get that out of your head because you WILL make new friends while you are there!

Even the bigger name bloggers were open and willing to talk to anyone who came up to them.  I got to meet:






and Laura Candler (one of my idols) 



as I was walking to pick up my registration packet and swag bag.  This bag was filled with a water bottle, a pen, and a bumper sticker.  I forgot to take a pic!

The morning of the conference the jitters kicked in a bit as I wasn't sure where to sit.  I didn't see anyone I had met the night before.  


But, again teachers are so warm and inviting I was able to find a table next to some more lovely people.  Besides, I was there to meet new people right?!  If you go next year, definitely step outside of your comfort zone.

At the beginning of the conference they asked us to stand up based on when we had started selling on TpT.  I started way back in 2008 - Rachel Lynette (TpT's 2nd millionaire) was one of the few to stand up with me.  My journey has been much different from hers, and from this conference I realized that this was ok.  Everyone is on their own journey.

A few people balked at the idea of posting on Facebook daily, or even having a blog.  I think that is perfectly ok.  Every one of us should have our own journey and our own pace.  Deanna Jump had said at the beginning that "comparison is the thief of joy" quoting Roosevelt.  I couldn't agree more.  We should each be happy with the road we are on.  Maybe we will all be TpT millionaires and maybe we won't and that is ok.  Each of our paths are different.

Erin Cobb had mentioned that she gave up on things and sacrificed in order to get where she was.  Maybe some things are not meant to be sacrificed by all people.  If you have small ones at home - they need your attention too!  If you didn't go to the conference because of that - again that is ok.  You need to make the decisions that are right for you.  I am going to share my own sales graph. I couldn't commit the time I do now when I first started - I had 6 boys to take care of!  Now 3 of those boys are grown and my other three are 8, 12, and 13 and don't need as much time as they did when I was nursing and potty training.  Even though I am no where near millionaire status, I am very proud of my journey!



I am also proud of the fact that I can share my picture on my blog (I have always been self conscious about that, and I'm not going to be anymore!  I will leave you with this final shot from Vegas at the end of the conference.  I went in the photo booth with Nancy (ignore the middle picture - we thought we had a lot more time than we did! LOL)



During my entire TpT journey (not just the conference) I have gained so much more than the money.  I have gained life long friends, confidence, and empowerment that I never would have had before!


I have a few ideas for collaboration that I will be sharing in the upcoming days.  If you would like to be a part of it send me an email, and I will be sure to let you know ahead of time!


I found a few freebies from other sellers about the conference to share:

Deanna Jump Inspirational Quote Free!

This was a quote from Deanna Jump's keynote speech.  Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd made a few different versions that you could print out and hang near your work space.  I know I will be hanging this up along with my goal pages.


Tips from the TpT Premium Seller Conference ~ Las Vegas 2014

Mrs. Renz' Class put together a set of tips based on her notes from the conference. 


I hope you have enjoyed this series!  I also hope that you stick around for other upcoming projects that I hope will be just as useful!

If you have any other TpT or blogging questions (beginner or advanced) let me know!



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Conference July 2014 Session 4 Notes




It seems like day 4 of these posts has come up so quickly!  Kind of like the conference it is a bit of a blur!  If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here:

                                                                          Keynote
                                                                          Session 1


All of the presenters uploaded their session handouts to TpT for free.  You can find the handout for this session here.

TpT Conference 2014 Handout - Session T-19: Accelerate You

When I hear the words interactive notebook, I automatically think Lovin Lit!  Erin has not only dominated the interactive notebook sales, but she has also quickly found a way to the top 100 sellers list!  Here are the notes from her session:

Erin started selling on Teachers Pay Teachers in February 2013.  In just 6 months (yes, 6 months) she had made the top 10 sellers list and reached two milestones. For those of you who don't know, the first milestone is $20,000!  


According to Erin, the first step in sky rocketing your own success is to find your magic ingredient.  For Erin, hers was her interactive notebooks.  

Where do I spend my time?

You need to ask yourself where you are spending your time.  Is it on the products that you are actually selling?  You should spend your time making items that are similar to the ones that ARE selling in your store.  Task cards are popular, but if yours aren't selling, focus your efforts on the things that do sell in your store.

 Does that really belong in my store?

Erin mentioned some items that she had in her store from when she first started.  She says they were awful so she pulled them from her store.  Look at your store with a critical eye.  Do your early products still shine, or do they need to be revamped or pulled from your store.

What's My Magic Ingredient?

This will obviously be different for everyone, but for Erin she said it was her foldables.  She noticed that a product she made with foldables was really popular.  That is when she focused on her interactive notebooks. She also said to make sure that your magic ingredients are also included in your freebies so people can get a sense of what it is you do that makes your products special and uniquely yours.


Use your customers' eyes

Look at your storefront from your customers' eyes. What do they notice when they first see your store?  Erin suggested changing your store banner to reflect what you sell.

Do all of your items fit, or are some of them just fillers?  

It's all about the numbers

When you look at your store, there are a whole lot of numbers to look at!  There is the number following you and the number of votes.  Do your numbers make you look credible.  Buyers will buy from brand new sellers, but many will often go with more established sellers with bigger numbers.

 How can you grow your numbers?  Erin suggests hosting and joining giveaways where entrants are asked to follow you.  One of the first giveaways I joined was one of Erin's! She has also donated items to several of mine as well!

You can also use Flash Freebies to increase your vote number.  I saw a significant upswing when I started doing these things.

Do I really need a blog?

Yes. A blog drives traffic to your store!  Erin tries to blog at least once a week, but she thinks 3 blog posts a week is optimal. You can see her blog here.

Am I Pinning responsibly?

We all know that Pinterest drives traffic to our stores, but people don't want to see pages and pages of nothing but products.  Make sure you pin a mix of items along with your products.  You can find Erin's Pinterest here.  I have been pretty successful with my Pinterest as well, so I thought I'd share mine as well.


Erin also suggested using looong pins instead of shorter pins.  Vertical pins tend to be re-pinned more often.  An example of this is one of her pins:

This Interactive Grammar Notebook is the latest in my series of interactive notebook products for reading and ELA grades 4-8. Click for a list of lessons included. $12

You can make these long pics using PowerPoint and then embed them in your blog posts as well.

Applying for the Newsletter and Advertising

Erin says you should apply for the newsletter every week until you are chosen.  She says it will have an amazing impact on your sales.  She also says to advertise on TpT - I have had decent results with advertising, but I haven't been selected for the newsletter yet.


Like I said in the beginning, I can't believe how fast these posts have gone by!  Tomorrow I will tell you a little more about me, why I attended the conference, and why I will definitely be going again.  I will also be asking about you!  I have gotten a great response to these posts and I heard some people chatting throughout the conference about some things they wish WOULD have been shared that weren't that I am going to be posting about in the future.  

Do you have any must knows or things you are wondering about?  If I know, I will share right away, if I don't I will find out for you!





Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Conference July 2014 Session 3 Notes


I am really enjoying sharing my experience and notes from the TpT conference with you!

If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here:

                                                                   Keynote
                                                                   Session 1
                                                                   Session 2


All of the presenters uploaded their session handouts to TpT for free.  You can find the handout for this session here.

Build Your Magnet Marketing Plan Handouts: Session T-11, T

Today I am focusing on what I learned during my third session which was presented by Rachel Lynette. Like yesterday, I don't have a ton of great pictures for you because of the seating I was in, but I did manage to take this one.


I also found this adorable photo of her on her blog.  She is being hugged by Paul Edelman, the founder of TpT.

Those blurry words say, "Let's Network" In all of the sessions I attended, the speakers really spoke about networking with other sellers.  It may seem counter intuitive to network with other sellers who would appear to be your "competition" but all of the successful sellers collaborate A LOT!  If you have followed teaching blogs for awhile you have no doubt come across linkies, giveaways, and even collaborative blogs.  One thing I really love about the Teachers Pay Teachers and teacher blogging world is just that collaborative spirit. 


Web Presence 

Rachel Lynette recommended having some sort of web presence beyond your TpT store.  That could be Facebook, your own blog, a collaborative blog with other sellers, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. 

Provide Value

Before you post on any of these channels, you should ask yourself, "Does what I'm about to post bring value?"  According to Rachel, the answer to that question should be "yes" at least 80% of the time. In essence, 20% of the time your posts should focus on direct marketing (i.e. this is my newest TpT product) and the other 80 % of the time should be something else that provides value to your followers. She mentioned that in an earlier session, Laura Candler had said it could be 50/50 but then again Laura Candler's Facebook page does have over 460,000 followers, so what works for her might not work for everyone else.  Rachel Lynette kept saying "If it works for you - keep doing it!"

She asked us to look back at our own posts and reflect on them.  

Do our last few posts follow this rule?  
Pay attention to the posts and pins that are most popular.  Ask yourself, what made them so popular?
What value are they providing?


She suggested making lists for each of our social networks and thinking about all the different ways we could provide value to those followers.  She suggested looking beyond freebies, sales, and contests.  What about an interesting article you read?  What about a blog post by another seller that you thought could be helpful?  What about an inspiring quote or a joke to lighten their day?



You can have the most amazing product that has ever been posted to Teachers Pay Teachers, but if no one is looking at it, you won't make any sales.  So, how do you attract buyers to your store?  

Rachel says that right now there are 3 main social networking platforms that are the best bet for driving traffic to your store.  Ideally, you should be using all 3 together.  She provided a picture of this (you can see this in the slides that you download as well).

Blogger

This is your home base.  This is where you should provide value to your customers through lesson suggestions and ideas, how-to's, contests, freebies, full-out product demonstrations in your class, etc.

Facebook

This is your community where you can interact with your followers and buyers.  Rachel suggested using this as market research.  You can ask buyers, "Which cover do you prefer?"  "Do you like colored or black and white task cards?" "Would this type of product be useful?"  Not only do you get feedback, but you are pre-marketing the products you are making.  Rachel's Facebook is here.

Pinterest

This is your reach.  Buyers will find you based on pictures that are shared by you and by others.  This is how you grow your base even larger. Rachel's Pinterest is here.

Action Steps

1. If you are missing one of these above components. Fix that and get it!

2. Learn how to create appealing, pinnable pictures.  You can use PowerPoint or a number of on-line apps such as PicMonkey to do this.  Larger pictures (vertical) are more pinnable.

3. Revise old blog posts with more pinnable images.

4. Take a good look at your sidebars.  What are you promoting on them?  Your products should be in these spots not links to other blogs!  This is valuable real estate.  Take a good look at Rachel's blog.  See the way she uses her sidebars.  She is not about to be the second TpT millionaire for nothing!

5. Choose one of your products to focus marketing actions around.  Think of three ways you could promote that product.  Track sales to see the effect.


You have probably all heard the saying, "What goes around comes around." or possibly "Give to get."  Rachel says that these sayings are certainly true in the Teachers Pay Teachers marketplace as well.  When you give your time, knowledge, and energy not only to your buyers but also to your TpT colleagues, you will benefit in ways that you can not even imagine.  This was a resounding theme throughout the conference!

Action Steps

1. Create a collaborative opportunity.  Maybe it is a a group Pinterest board where you invite other sellers to pin, maybe it is a contest or giveaway where you invite others to donate their items.  Just collaborate!  I know personally, I have received a ton of benefits not only from hosting my own giveaways, but also in joining with other blogs for their giveaways.

2. Reach out in a positive way to at least 3 other sellers you admire.  Think of how you could help them.  Perhaps you have used one of their products in your classroom and you blogged about it, share the blog post with them.  

When I created my product Can We Get A Class Pet? I wanted to include resources about having a class pet.  I reached out to Erica Bohrer to ask her permission because she had posted about it and even had a collaborative blog about classroom pets.  She not only gave me permission to use her information, but she invited me to post on that collaborative board.

Can We Get A Class Pet? A Lesson in Persuasive Writing and

3.Look at the collaborations you are currently working on.  Are they worth your time and effort?  Leave boards that have low repinning rates.  It is ok to say, "no", you don't have to take every opportunity that comes your way.

4. When you are part of a collaborative board FOLLOW THE RULES.  If the board owner says only pin three times a day - only pin three times a day.  If you make a newbie mistake, ask for forgiveness, teachers are generally understanding people.  Just make sure you don't make that mistake again!  We all have our limits on patience!



Rachel says that ideally, when buyers come to your store, they should not leave until they have purchased something.  Of course, that is in an ideal world, but what are you doing to make sure that the likelihood of purchase is increased?

Action Steps

1. Look at your store from a new perspective, your buyer's perspective. Do your product pages tell them all they need to know to make an informed decision?  Have you provided accurate information?  Is the grade range correct? Are your best comments listed first.  Remember that Mark Guy from Jen Jones' presentation?  Use him!

2. Update your product pages to include links to other relevant products.  If you don't know how to make your own hyperlinks you can use this generator.  It makes them for you!  (That is my own tip - not from the conference).

3. Is your store easy to navigate?

4. Do you love your logo? If not, do some research and make changes.  I did this with my blog recently, I didn't love my design, so I had Megan from A Bird In Hand Designs create a new one for me!



According to Rachel, freebies should be just like those freebies in the store, a taste, not a meal.  She also gave us a few reminders.

1. Your pages should all have the name of your store and copyright info on them somewhere.  What if a teacher has downloaded your fabulous freebie, and then wants to buy more from you, but he/she can't remember where he/she found it?  Make sure your info is there for them.

2. Select a product from your store and make a freebie that complements it.  Make sure the freebie is top-notch.  Include a promo page for the original product including links. Then, blog about it, pin it, share it on Facebook, and other social networks.  Track it to see if it effected the sales of the product.

3. Submit your best freebies to the newsletter every week for a month. Make sure that freebie is complete, unique, and not out of season. If it is not selected, choose a new freebie.


These posts are really helping me remember everything I learned in such a short amount of time, and I am glad that they appear to be providing value for you as well!  Remember to come back tomorrow when I give you my notes from Erin Cobb of  Lovin Lit's presentation.  She grew her store in a very short time, and her presentation was about accelerating your growth on TpT.  


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