Thursday, July 30, 2015

Is there really a big pot of gold at the end of the TPT rainbow? - Business Side

One of the most common questions I hear is:  Do you actually make money selling products on Teachers Pay Teachers.

The simple answer . . .  YES!

The extended answer . . . it depends on many factors:

What is your definition of success?  Some teachers make hundreds of thousands of dollars selling products on TPT.  Some just make a few dollars.  How do you define success?  If your aspiring for a million, yes it's possible, but not likely.  If your happy with a little extra spending money to help pay the electric bill then your in the ball park.

How much time do you have?  Some sellers have quit teaching to sell.  It is hard for a full time teacher, blogger, TPT seller, working mom to compare themselves to a single, stay at home, entrepreneur when it comes to sales.  It is ok for TPT to be a part time job.  It doesn't need to consume your whole life.

How creative are you?  There are thousands of sellers on TPT.  Will your products stand out?  If you copy what already exists you will have a hard time standing up to the competition.  However, if your products are unique, desirable, and saves teachers time, your products will sell like hot cakes.

Do you use social media?  I truly believe social media (i.e. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, etc) are a huge part of my success.  You need other teachers to be able to find your products.  Once they have found it, you need them to know what it is and want it.  This can be easily done with great photographs of your products in use, posted on social media, with links back to your TPT store.

Do you like to collaborate?  A huge part of TPT success comes with collaboration.  Finding and connecting with teachers all over the world to edit and revise each others products, to share ideas, and to exchange valuable information.  TPT has a wonderful forum for sellers.  Check it out.

What TPT Membership is right for you?  You can sell items for free using a standard membership.   It is perfect for someone who just wants to get their feet wet.  You can upload a fee products and see if they sell.  However, if you are serious I strongly suggest you upgrade to a premium sellers membership.  Why?  Although you receive 60% of your sales with the standard membership, you lose an extra $0.30 for each transaction.  However, with an upgrade to a premium seller, the transaction fee is waved (when the purchaser spends at least $3) and you earn 85% of your sale price.  Doesn't seem like much at first, but it really does add up.  It costs $59.95 to upgrade your account.  When I first started it only took a few weeks to earn the money back.  It is a yearly expense but now that I have been selling for four years, it takes less than a day to earn that money back.  Not bad!

There is no scientific algorithm that I can give you that will say if you will or will not make enough money on TPT to consider yourself successful.  However, one thing is for sure, whether you upload one product, or one thousand products, teachers all over the world will access your work and you will touch the lives of children everywhere.

Here is a graph that I created in Excel that illustrates my sales trends.  Every year my sales have increased.  You can see patterns, such as summer being the slowest months and August through November being my strongest.  So, if you are just starting to sell, don't be discouraged.  Things will pick up if you stick with it.

Another major point I'd like to make is success did not occur over night.  It took months for me to fill my store with worthy products and for other teachers to find and purchase my products.  But the wait was worth it.

In my fourth year I consider my profits successful.  In my slowest summer months my TPT income (minus taxes) could easily pay my car payment for the month.  In my most profitable, back to school months, my TPT income could pay my mortgage, school expenses, and part of Natalie's daycare costs.

Although I occasionally dream of making one million dollars, I know that is not my reality.  However, the real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is that this is the best paying "part time job" I could ever find.  I can work from home, at my pace, and everything I make can be used in my classroom or by my own daughter one day.  I've met many new teacher friends through TPT and social media and I have kept current with educational trends.  The positives are endless.  The extra cash is really just a bonus!

You can do it too!

Are you considering joining TPT?  Use my referral link here.

Tune in next Thursday to learn if you really have to pay taxes on your TPT earnings.

Have a question about selling on Teachers Pay Teachers, blogging, or running a small business?  Comment below and I will try to answer all of your questions over the next few weeks!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Natalie's Crayons - Monday Made It

In our family we eat a lot of cheese.

Mozzarella, Muenster, Colby...

Slices of cheese, grated cheese, cheese sticks....

...and Ricotta.

Lots of Ricotta cheese.

I never know what to do with the leftover containers.

Usually we just toss them in the recycling bin.

Until today.

As I walked them out to the garage I had an idea.

These containers are the perfect size for storing all sorts of items.

In fact, I pay top dollar for containers like these in the stores.

So, I borrowed some of my husband's spray paint and painted them.

I created a few labels and taped them on.

I might hot glue them tomorrow.  The corners are peeling up a little and a dab of hot glue under each corner should do the trick.

Crayon boxes don't stand a chance against my 20-month old.  These little plastic containers will be the perfect holder of her most prized possessions.

I plan to save these throughout the summer for classroom storage.

Want a copy of these labels?  Download them here.  Just make sure to download the fonts so that you can view the labels correctly.  They were created in Power Point so that you can edit the text.

Check out all the other Monday Made It's at Tara's blog, Fourth Grade Frolics.

Oh, and don't forget to enter for a chance to win some fabulous BIC Back to School Supplies.  

Check out yesterday's post to learn more.

Good luck! 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

BIC Back to School Giveaway!

Does your school teach handwriting?

BIC is on a mission to save handwriting through its Fight For Your Write initiative.  This initiative aims to educate everyone about the importance of writing by hand, and providing parents and educators with information, activities, and supplies that encourage and inspire writing.

By taking the pledge at you can help join their crusade as well - for every signature collected, BIC will donate a pen or pencil to students in need across the country through their partnership with

That's right!

BIC products have always been my favorite.  (...and no, they did not pay me to say that.)  I always stock up on BIC supplies over the summer in anticipation of the new school year.

Have you seen their new Back to School Products?  BIC has some amazing things in store for the new school year:

BIC®Xtra-Fun #2 Pencil
This is the only #2 pencil around that has two-toned color barrels.  I love the ultra-solid, break resistant lead that sharpens easily.  The latex-free erasers erase with ease.  It's hard to find pencils that are this durable.

BIC® Xtra-Craze Mechanical Pencil
Mechanical pencils are always a huge hit with my fourth graders.  These fun designs come in a four-pack and would make amazing birthday treats.

BIC® Cristal Stylus
This stylus will give you the best of both worlds!  One end features a lightweight stylus that easily glides across your classroom tablets.  The other end is an iconic BIC Cristal pen!  I want to keep this one just for myself, hidden in my teacher bag!  It will help cut back on all the fingerprints on my Smartphone screen.

BIC Atlantis® Ultra Comfort Pen
My husband loves how smoothly these pens write, and now they come in colors that I enjoy:  gray, pink, aqua, and blue barrels with black and blue ink.  I love the soft silicone grip that conforms to your hand.  These are perfect for lesson planning or writing long notes.

....and I've saved the BEST for LAST:

BIC Brite Liner® Erasable Highlighter
These contain a highlighter on one end and an erasing ink tip on the other end for fast and easy edits.  I want a whole class set of these.  How perfect are they?

Do you ever have students highlight like this?

You turn your back for one second and then realize they have highlighted ... every ... single ... word?

No problem!

Now they can erase the extra highlighting that they do not need.

They can erase any mistakes that they make.

Are you interested in trying out BIC's new Back to School Product line for yourself?  Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to snag all of these new products!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How I Got Started - The Business Side

How did I get started selling products on Teachers Pay Teachers? - I thought this would be a good place to start my new Business Side Series.

I'm not sure how to answer in a simple, short, and concise journey has been a personal one.

First, a little background.  After graduating with my Bachelor's degree from SUNY Brockport I was immediately hired to teach 4th grade.  I completed my Master's degree at St. John Fisher while teaching for my first year.  By then I had gained 4 teaching Early Childhood, Childhood, Health, and Literacy.

I got married and moved into a cute little ranch halfway between our jobs.  I started driving an hour to work.

Not being the "sit back and relax" kind of person, I wanted more.

So I pursued National Board Certification and achieved it the first time around.

And then....we decided to start a family.

But....after a year of trying.....there was no baby.

At our first appointment to find out "why" I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes....MAJOR SURPRISE.  I thought only kids had that.

I started using an Omnipod Insulin Pump and a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor.  They saved my life and my sanity.

I was told to hold off on starting a family.

Frustrated, confused, and annoyed I wanted to do something.  In a desperate search for inspiration I came across an amazing website....Teachers Pay Teachers.  And I thought to myself, "I could do that!"

That night I signed up, uploaded my first free product, and began creating.  Joining Teachers Pay Teachers as a seller forced me to look at my worksheets, lessons, and teaching materials with a more critical eye.

It has opened me up to the possibilities, inspired my creativity, and enhanced my collaboration.  I have met teachers across the globe, exchanged resources with them, and received oodles of great feedback to better myself as a teacher.  Overall, creating products and collaborating with amazing teachers from the site has been one of the best professional development moves that I have ever tried.  It forces me to stay current, to constantly rethink and reflect on my teaching, and to be the best I can be.

Selling products on Teachers Pay Teachers was also a wonderful distraction from the stress Type 1 Diabetes brought and the frustration of having to put off starting a family.

Sure enough, as my happiness increased and my stress level reduced, my blood sugar levels got back on track and we were able to welcome my sweet daughter Natalie into the world.

Balancing teaching, a family, and a small business is no easy feat, but it has all been worth it.

The benefits are endless.

What do I do with my Teachers Pay Teachers income?  

I put it back into the business and my classroom.

The fonts and clipart that I use in my products require special licenses that (although you can often find for free) I usually pay for.  I can create most products for my classroom for free, but in order to make them "sell-able" on Teachers Pay Teachers, I like to invest.

Plus, there is ink, paper, software, and all the other secretarial expenses that come along with selling products.

I invest money into my classroom as well.

I want my students to have the best of the best.

I want the classroom to look friendly, colorful, and inviting.

Teachers Pay Teachers provides me with the income to make my dreams a reality.

Lastly, I spend my money on sweet baby Natalie.  Money to move us into a bigger house (with office space and a home classroom), money to afford quality daycare when I can no be home, and money for her to have the best of the best.

When do I find the time to create?

I want to make one thing very clear, I never create products at school.

I only create products at home and in my free time.

I only create products on my own computer.

I only print my rough drafts with my own paper and ink that I purchased myself.

I work while Natalie naps (she is a great napper) and I work while my husband sleeps (he goes to bed an hour earlier than I do over the summer.

Some how, it works out and here I am today.  Joining Teachers Pay Teachers as a seller was one of the best decisions I could have ever made.

Are you considering joining?  Use my referral link here.

Tune in next Thursday to learn how much money you can make selling products on TPT.

Have a question about selling on Teachers Pay Teachers, blogging, or running a small business?  Comment below and I will try to answer all of your questions over the next few weeks!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Random Printable Fun for Monday Made It

Summer is flying by.  These last few weeks have been a complete whirlwind.  Between selling our house, switching school districts, and everything in-between.  Sometimes the best choice, is all of the choices and I have certainly chosen it all.  So, it is in the wee hours of Sunday night that I am creating, pinning, printing, laminating, and prepping some amazing Monday Made It's to share with you. 

I love these printable posters from Digital Divide and Conquer.  

I downloaded two different sets of posters: How to be a Friend and All About Respect.  These will look wonderful in my new fourth grade classroom.  I love the light blue color on the friend's poster.  Some of the walls in my new classroom are light blue.

You can download them for free on TPT.  Be sure to leave some fab feedback.

 I love the Total Participation Mastery Cards that Teacher's Desk 6 shared.

These will assist students in being active participants during whole group and small group activities.  They will provide me with a wonderful assessment tool during various lessons.

I stuck all of them together on the same ring for easy access.

I can't wait to try them out!

Last but not least, after many request, I finally caved and began creating review packs for Engage NY's 3rd grade Math Modules!!!

You can download the first and second module review packs for third grade here.

Looking for fourth grade?  You can find them here.

Check out all the other Monday Made It's at Tara's blog, Fourth Grade Frolics.

What have you been working on this summer?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Robot Theme Teacher Toolbox Labels for Monday Made It

Well, I've finally made up my mind.  This school year my classroom theme will be...


...and I have already begun collecting, customizing, and creating new materials to match my theme.

I've decided to post about my teacher toolbox for Monday Made It!

Coincidentally, the first time I created a teacher toolbox was a few years ago, when I also had a robot theme.  You can view that post here.

Back then my color scheme was a little different and my computer skills were still developing.

This year I plan to integrate my primary colored plastic bins with my other classroom decor so my toolbox was in need of a little face lift.

I created the new labels for my teacher toolbox in Power Point with Krista Wallden's borders and robot clipart.  I printed them on thick paper.

Then I ran them through my trusty laminator for durability.

I cut out each label and taped them to the outside of each drawer.  Last time I taped them to the inside of each drawer but the color pops more from the outside.

Here is a peak at the final product:

All that I have left to do is restock each drawer with new supplies.

Want to create your own teacher toolbox labels?  Download the template here.

Create, print, cut, and tape them on to your own toolbox.  Easy peasy!

Check out all the other Monday Made It's at Tara's blog, Fourth Grade Frolics.

Have a teacher toolbox of your own?  Share a photo with me on my Facebook page!  I'd love to see your personal creations!