Inside: Tips for starting your own teacher blog or Teacher Pay Teachers (TPT) account.
I have gotten quite a few requests recently with people wanting to know more about starting a teacher blog or Teachers Pay Teachers store. If you are interested in blogging, first check out Martina Bex has a great post on blogging, as well as Elizabeth Dentlinger’s insider blogging tips. Did you soak up all of their wisdom? I will add on to what they already said and expand a bit into the TPT side.
I love that Martina says to come from a place of contribution, which is exactly how I started this blog over four years ago. I wanted to give back to those who had shared so but with me during my first critical years teaching. Start with sharing on Twitter, Facebook groups, Instagram or a blog and post some free ideas to get started. You do not have to have a set niche or angle. Just share what is working well and what you are struggling with. It is OK to be real.
Then maybe later create something for TPT with a price tag. Your contributions could also be to share your talents by presenting at a world language conference, or starting a local PLC. This will help people to know who you are and maybe to trust using a resource you have created. At the same time, do not spread yourself too thin. You do not need to be on every single social media platform. Pick those you enjoy and stick with that.
It Takes Time
Creating resources and selling them is not a get rich quick scam. My first month on TPT over four years ago, I made $1.50. I had one resource for many months and very slowly have added more over the years. I know some people do this full time and have a lot more time to dedicate and may grow a bit faster. I have always taught full time, as well as have young kids, so slow and steady it is. I also had an inner struggle for a while with wanting to just share everything for free. But I figure I would gladly pay a few dollars myself to save myself precious time. Do not get discouraged if it seems to take a while to get going. But if it is your goal to be serious with TPT, pay to upgrade to the premium membership right away, so you will make a much higher commission.
Do Copyright Research
Along with being unique, follow copyright and study up on it! I was ignorant to this for a while, which has caused me to remove multiple items from my store in the past year. Basically, if the owner of the copyright, such as an author or producer of a show does not want derivative works (using the names, storyline, etc) out there, that is their choice. Be smart and ask first. The safest thing is to create resources that are general or complement a novel or unit of study. For example, I wrote a comprehensible article about Mexico to go with a novel study set in that country.
The same goes for images in blog posts and resources. Pixabay is an example of a site with royalty free photos, or you can purchase individual images on sites such as Canva (where I make blog post images).
It is not about fonts, clip art and borders
I know I am the minority in this unpopular opinion, but I personally could care less about a pretty document. As a high school teacher I would much rather have a functional Google Drive compatible resource that I can upload on classroom for students to edit that is just plain black text, as opposed to some pretty PDF. I know very little about fonts, except that I want my students to be able to easily read a document. If you are creating for Kindergarten, sure make it cutesy, but for high school, please make it functional.
What do I use to create? I have a Mac and sometimes use Pages and Keynote, which do have some pretty templates, but this will not be editable for many users if they do not have a Mac. Because of this I have moved to mostly creating using Google Slides. You can change the layout to be a normal size paper 8.5 x 11 vertical document and it is much easier to manipulate things than with just Docs. For blog images I use Canva (and just upgraded because the automatic resize is amazing).
- Be consistent with your social media handles for your “brand.” (I am finally @misclaseslocas on all social media)
- Get a professional logo. A couple years in, I finally had a logo designed by Rachel, and I wish I would have done it sooner. I later had her revamp my blog as well.
- Keep track of business expenses for taxes or you will be very mad at yourself later. (Things like that logo design above, TPT Premium, Canva for work, Tailwind etc.).
- Get Tailwind to schedule your Pinterest pins for marketing. I just started recently, but I love it. If you use my referral code, you will get a $30 credit (& I get one too).
- Less is more – You are better off with a few quality resources than a bunch of small items.
- Bundle – Once you have some related items, use the bundle feature to group them together for easy purchasing.
- Make good descriptions – Use your TPT resource description area to really give a lot of good information to a potential customer and link to related resources. This resource has good tips.
- Participate in Site wide Sales – There are usually four site wide sales a year that are big sale days if you put your store at a discount.
- Prices – First think about what you would pay for this resource and also check out this pricing chart to see if you are on the right track.
- Great products over marketing. If you have a limited amount of time, use it to create great resources. Useful, unique resources will begin to market themselves once you have people recommending them. Social media becomes a time suck if you are not careful, so use it wisely.
Investing time into a teacher blog and/or TPT takes a lot of time and energy, so only do it if you truly enjoy it. I love the connections it has helped me make with teachers all over the world. It is like being a teacher of teachers, and hearing great reports back from my “students” is the best feeling ever. I especially love helping to support teachers who are early in their career or are isolated like myself, since I see so much in them and know that without my own virtual mentors, I would not still be in the education field!