Sunday, July 19, 2015

Blogger to Blogger: Basics

I feel like the teacher blogoshpere has absolutely exploded since the TPT conference in Vegas. I didn't go, but somehow even I have been thrust out of my comfort zone and into the world of networking and building relationships. Thanks to Ashley and Angie scoping the whole TPT experience, we at home were motivated to find our tribes. One tribe that I became apart of is the Third Grade Tribe facebook group. I feel like I have been getting to know some of my other "tribesmen" already. I have been able to give advice to teacher-preneurs who are just starting out on TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) or in the bloggy world and get advice from more experienced "big fish".

All this collaboration and support gave me the idea for a new series:

My goal is to share my journey to help teacher-prenuers who are at the beginning of their own. I am in no way claiming to be an expert or a "big fish" in our online teaching community. I have however been on the scene for a while and I have learned. I've learned from mistakes that have resulted in me still being a lesser-known blogger. I've learned from smart moves that have resulted in the growth of my blog and sale of my products.

I just want to share what I've learned from my journey so far. That's it. I always appreciate when teacher-bloggers are real and I hope to do that for you.

Today I want to talk about the basics of becoming a teacher-preneur in this online-TPT-bloggy-world.

You have to be patient. I have seen so many new bloggers and TPT sellers asking for help because their items aren't selling or no one is visiting their blog. It takes time. You have to build and audience and gain followers by the repeated posting of solid content and/or quality products. It takes time. No one wants to read a blog post you threw together about a topic you're not passionate about just so you can say you blogged today. No one wants to buy a product that you threw together just so you could add a new product to your store. Quantity is not the main idea here, it's quality. It takes time.

My advice is to just do you. Do you and do it well and people will start to notice. I read a piece of advice on one of those "How to Grow Your Blog" websites once that said that you shouldn't even start promoting your blog until you have 5-10 solid posts with content that your audience will want to read. Be patient, you'll get there. I'm still on my way, but I've reached a point where I can look back at where I came from and see the growth I've made. It's taken me time.

TPT, Blogging, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Periscope, OH MY! There are oh so many forms of social media to keep up with. What you will notice is that most top sellers or well-known bloggers have 5 out of the 6, if not all. This took time. I am proud to say that I have all six of these platforms, but I am at different places with each. I've been selling on TPT since 2011, so now I'm making a consistent amount every month that goes a long way and is such a blessing to my family. I've had Pinterest since it was in beta (2011?), so I have a good following and full boards there. I've only been on Instagram for about a year, so I am still adding followers and I think I am starting to get the hang of how to make it work for me. Twitter scares me. I just made an account 3 days ago. LITERALLY, I have on been on Twitter for ONLY 3 DAYS! I am still learning and it is very confusing since I don't have a personal Twitter account. The point to all this is that I didn't decide to open up a TPT store and jump on all the other platforms on the same day. That would be crazy and overwhelming. It takes time.

As a teacher-preneur, you need to focus on what is the most important to you first. I suggest making a list. Want to start making money on TPT first? Well then, my advice to you would be to dedicate time each day to working on and posting quality products in your store. Bundles and bigger documents sell more, but take longer to create. Make a goal. Maybe when you sell a certain amount or get a certain amount of products posted, you will move to the next platform on your list.

Want to start sharing your ideas and get your name known? Then you should start working on a blog first. Take your time to pick a hosting site, set up your blog, and post content that engages your audience. Maybe your goal could be that once you have 7 posts or 10 followers, you'll move on to the next platform on your list. You have to decide what is the most important to you and work it. The rest will come. It takes time.

Research is the best way to learn. Here are some of the ways I have found researching helps me:

Study Tutorials: 
Google and YouTube are your friend. You can learn how to design your blog, use a program to create a product, write a user friendly post, anything. It seems like a no-brainer to google something when you need help, but I just couldn't write a blog post about this topic and not mention it.

Study the platform:
This is where the focus piece really comes in. When you are focusing on mastering one platform at a time, you can really invest in researching it. Here are some examples of what I mean, based on what your focus might be:

-Blog: Read as many blogs as you can. Note how the authors hook their reader and use voice to infuse their personality. Pay attention to the use of images and pictures. How long are the posts that receive the most attention? How often do successful bloggers post?

-TPT: Download products from the top sellers. You can start by downloading and studying their free products, but I really encourage you to buy a product and examine the quality of work expected. How is the product laid out? What is the title page and thank you page like? Do they have a terms of use? What clip art and fonts did they use? Was there a table of contents? You can also look at the descriptions page to study how successful sellers are tagging and describing their products.

-Instagram: Create an account and find other people who share your audience to follow. What types of things are they posting? What is the typical ratio of school to personal to product posts? Make sure to comment on the pictures of the people you follow and leave questions that require a response to spark dialogue.

-Facebook: Like, follow, read posts, comment. Forget (for now) about trying to get the most likes and follows on your page. Focus on building community and engaging in discussions with other teachers through comments. How often do the pages with the most likes post? What are they posting about? What groups are they a part of? Are there groups that you could be a part of?

-Twitter: I am currently in the study phase for twitter. I have a brand new account that has less than 20 followers, but I'm not stressed. I am making sure to log on 2-3 times a day to check out my feed (I followed over 100 amazing teachers that I already knew from the other platforms). I am posting at least one thing a day. I am really just learning how to use the tool effectively. I know that once I catch on to how it's used and make it known to the amazing people who follow me on other platforms, my stats will increase.

-Periscope: Follow, watch, give hearts, and comment. People will start to know you just because your name always pops up on their broadcast or because you are participating in their scope with comments. I've only done 3 scopes so far, but I've already met a handful of people that I've connected with across Facebook and Instagram because we interacted through comments while I was scoping. This is a fantastic way to get started and it is no pressure. If you have the desire to do a broadcast, build your followers and go for it! Someone will watch and the more you broadcast, the more your audience will grow.

Study a person:
You know there is at least one person that you consider your personal teacher-rockstar. Someone that is a "big fish" and you feel like you've been following forever. Someone who you feel is the definition of success for online teacher-preneurs... Without being creepy- study that person. Keep an eye for them across all platforms to see how often they are blogging, posting new products, or involved with various types of social media on the average day-to-day. Reach out to them with questions and download some of their work. This will help you get a well-rounded idea of what to expect.

Ok, so..this post was a lot longer than I expected it to be when I first sat down. Hopefully you've caught the main idea which is that It.Takes.Time. Absolutely no one became a teacher rockstar overnight. I can guarantee you that long nights, hours of work, and months (if not years) were poured into their labor of love before anyone struck gold. It's no fun to hear, but it's the truth. The silver lining is that while the time is passing, you don't have to just sit around. You can get busy with focusing and researching to achieve your goals.

Thanks for stopping by, I can't wait to talk with you guys more about this next time. I think I'll tackle Pinterest. See you then!

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  1. this is GREAT stuff! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for all the awesome advice!!! I just downloaded periscope TODAY after reading the word "periscope" in blog after blog post recently. Looking forward to watching one of your broadcasts:)
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