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Why I Changed My Mind About Hashtag Sales | Episode #64

Episode Summary

If you think hashtag sales are all about making a few bucks, you’re wrong–and I was too. Today I’m sharing lessons learned after a year of hosting hashtag sales. It turns out there are tons of non-sale victories to be had. Listen to find out why hashtag sales are worth your time and then some!

Episode #64
I changed my mind about hashtag sales (Here's Why)
Erin Waters School of Sellers

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Why I Changed My Mind About TpT Hashtag Sales

Today I am really excited to share with you a pivot that I’ve had in a certain way of thinking. We are diving into the topic of TpT hashtag sales. And I’ll be honest. I never in a million years thought I would ever devote an entire podcast episode to hashtag sales because this whole episode is actually about how I’ve always turned away from hashtag sales and I’ve always resisted them. So to do one all about why you should be participating in hashtag sales is very comical to me.

But in any case, there’s a reason why I have changed my mind on this topic, and I am so excited to share my thoughts with you today. I want to be clear. This episode is for all sellers, whether you are a brand new seller and you’re thinking like hashtag sales are not even on my radar yet or whether you are a seasoned seller who either does or does not participate in hashtag sales. I guarantee you’re going to want to give this a listen because there are little gems along the way for anyone from any background, any experience level.

What is a hashtag sale?

To start, if you are completely unfamiliar with a hashtag sale or maybe you’ve heard that term and you’re just not sure exactly what it entails, let’s talk really quickly about what exactly a hashtag sale is. We also have an entire post dedicated to how to participate in hashtag sales if you’re looking for more information!

Basically, a hashtag sale is a sale that happens on TeachersPayTeachers, but it’s run by sellers instead of TPT. So essentially what someone does who organizes a hashtag sale, decides on a theme for the hashtag sale. Usually it coincides with like a holiday or special event coming up. So for example, I know there’s a group that does a Super Bowl hashtag sale.

So they come up with a theme. They come up with a date. Usually these take place over the course of two days. And then they come up with a unique hashtag that buyers will search on TPT in order to find the products listed in the hashtag sale. And then of course you have to come up with the rules behind a hashtag sale. So sometimes they tend to be $1 deals where you take products that are usually about $5, and you mark them down to $1. Other times people might do like a half off hashtag sale so all products in the hashtag sale are 50% off and so on.

Basics of Participating in a Hashtag Sale

So what happens then is per the rules of the hashtag sale, you will attach this unique hashtag to the title of your product in your TPT store. Instead of having it be called “Morning Meeting Slides,” it would be “#superbowldeals Morning Meeting Slides.” That way when buyers go to TPT and search that hashtag, #SuperBowldeals, they get search results that are only the products listed under that sale. So whether it’s half off, dollar deals, whatever, they get all of those search results by searching one specific hashtag.

If you have participated or not before in the past, you know that it is important to definitely figure out who is running a hashtag sale and what the rules are before just jumping right in. There’s no formal etiquette for hashtag sales, but the unspoken rule is that when you are part of a hashtag sale, you should get permission first before joining because sometimes these sales are run by private Facebook groups or communities.

Hashtag Sales on TpT
How they work, what to do, and why I think they're beneficial
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So you don’t want to just jump on any hashtag sale that you see happening on TPT. And then also figuring out what the rules are before jumping in because even though they are pretty low maintenance things to participate in, hashtag sales do still require a certain amount of work, and it’s only fair to the participants if everybody does the same amount of work. So when I say rules, again, they’re not like super formal, but there are things you need to know. Remember you can read our post that goes into more depth about how to participate in TpT hashtag sales if you still have questions!

How My Thoughts Have Changed About Hashtag Sales

What I Used to Think

So today though I wanted to talk to you about my change of thought when it comes to the hashtag sales. Because I will be completely honest. When I first started on TPT, I dabbled here and there in certain things like giveaways and hashtag sales and things like that. But then once I got really serious about my business, I decided to start saying no to hashtag sales. And now I look back and I see why that was not the best choice for my business. I mean it wasn’t like the worst choice in the world. But knowing what I know now, I wish I would have given hashtag sales a better chance, a better shot.

My whole reasoning was that nine times out of ten, I would say that the hashtag sales I was being invited to join were sales where I would take like let’s say a $3 to $5 product and mark it down to $1. And while I got sales from those hashtag sales, dollar items in my store weren’t really doing much for me. I definitely operate under a higher pricing structure. I’ve just always gravitated toward that in my store. So the idea of selling things for $1 was very foreign to me. And at the end of the day, I just didn’t feel like I had benefited financially enough from the sale. So that was the only reason I decided to stop doing them because it just wasn’t worth my time because it didn’t make me that much money.

How My Thinking Changed

All right. So let’s fast forward a couple years down the road to last year when Ashley and Katie from Team SOS approached me and said, I really think that we should do a hashtag sale. And they kept mentioning it over the course of a few weeks. We should do a hashtag sale. And they kept saying it. And finally, I was like, fine, sure, let’s do this. In all honesty, I felt kind of lukewarm about it just because of my past experiences with hashtag sales, but I was on board because I’m always willing to try something once. But I just wasn’t totally sold by the idea in general.

However, in the course of that first hashtag sale and then all of our discussions following that sale, I learned some really important things that I wanted to share with you today. After any big launch or event in School of Sellers, Team SOS and I have a debrief where we sit down and we kind of rehash everything and talk about what went well, what didn’t go well, what we want to change for next time.

It was in these conversations that I really started to see the value in hashtag sales that I wasn’t able to see before. And I’m going to share that information with you here today. I want to just kind of tell you if you are someone who is on the fence about hashtag sales or in the past you have resisted them because you don’t think they’re worth your time, then I have some tricks to share with you about how you can make hashtags work beyond the money.

Focus on the Non-Sale Victories

So let’s start with that point. The first thing I wanted to share with you guys today is that to make these hashtag sales beneficial for you and worth your time, you have to focus on the non-sale victories. A lot of times in the weight loss world, you hear about non-scale victories, and it’s all about focusing on the wins that are not attached to numbers. And I think that is one of the cornerstones of hashtag sales because if you focus on the financial benefit of hashtag sales, let’s say you sell 100 products and you make $100 because it’s $1 deal sale, yes, that is awesome. Everyone can use an extra $100. However, there is so much more goodness that comes out of a hashtag sale than just those sales.

When we think about the non-sale victories that we can get out of a hashtag sale, it all comes down to being strategic beyond your sales goal when you participate in a hashtag sale. So we’re going to talk about being strategic about the products that you choose when you participate in a hashtag sale. So for example, most sales encourage you to pick one or two products to use. Usually you can’t choose more than that to include in a hashtag sale. There might be some instances where you can choose more. But the School of Sellers hashtag sales have always been to choose two products to mark down to $1. So when you are choosing which products to include in a hashtag sale, there’s actually a lot more that goes into picking those products than you would normally think.

What kinds of products should you choose for hashtag sales?

So let’s first run down the components of a good product to put in a hashtag sale just in general, right? Let’s say we’re choosing two products for $1 deal hashtag sale. Usually you want to choose products that are less than $5 because if you discount it any more than that, you’re going to be undervaluing your work and other people’s work.

Secondly, you ideally want it to be part of a product line so that it’s something that they can return to and buy even more of if they like the initial taste of that product. And it also really helps to pick something that’s evergreen, that they can use all year round so it’s beneficial to them not only when they buy it but also in the months to come. Upcoming seasonal products can make good options too! And it definitely helps to choose products that have positive reviews because if they’re more positively reviewed and they have a higher number of reviews, then they will show up higher in the search results when people search that hashtag.

The Power of Flagship Hashtag Products

One of the best tips that has surfaced from these conversations with Team SOS is the idea of choosing flagship hashtag products. And Ashley from Team SOS has chosen to include the same products in all of her hashtag sales because by choosing two products and sticking to those products, you can fine-tune them and optimize them as best as possible for all hashtag sales. That way every time a hashtag sale rolls around, you’re not starting from scratch deciding which one am I going to include now, which one will include in this sale.

So if this is a strategy that could work for you and your products, I highly recommend going this route and choosing two, up to four products that you cycle through for all of your hashtag sales that you participate in. Now if you are someone with a ton of seasonal products, then maybe this isn’t the best choice for you. But if you have products that you would feel comfortable including in a hashtag sale at any time of year, then I highly recommend going this direction because it’s going to save you a lot of time and you’re just going to keep fine-tuning your hashtag sale process again and again and again.

Consider a Newer Product That Might Benefit from Views

Now I also recommend along with choosing one product that has a lot of reviews already, hashtag sales are also a great time to choose a product that doesn’t have as many views as you might want it. Okay? So because you’re using a unique hashtag and there’s going to be a concentrated group of people searching out that hashtag, this is your chance to get tons of eyes on a product that wouldn’t normally get eyes because it’s just lost in the general TPT. So as a rule of thumb, I like to include one that has already gotten a lot of traction and then a product that needs traction but hasn’t gotten it yet but one that I know people will love.

Give Your Chosen Products the Royal Treatment

Once you have these products chosen and you’re very confident in the strategy behind these products and why you have chosen them, it’s time to give your products the royal treatment. You want these products to be the best of the best. And if it feels like you’re giving away too much right now, that’s a good thing. You want to feel like you’re over delivering. Much like freebies are like a free taste of what we have in our store, I think that hashtag sale products serve the same purpose, and it’s going to be a lot of people’s first impression of you.

They’re going to be buying products that they wouldn’t be normally buying from you because they’re $1 so chances are your audience is probably a rather cold audience, meaning there’s a lot of new people that have never bought from you before. So you want to wow them and just blow their mind at the very beginning so that way there is no question about whether or not they will come back to get more products from you. This is especially important to take the time to give them the royal treatment if you plan to reuse these for other hashtag sales and promotions because it’s worth it to put in the time now to get these nice and polished so that way you don’t have to do it every single time you enter a sale.

What does it mean to give a product the royal treatment?

And when I say the royal treatment, here’s what I’m talking about. Make sure that you have all of your thumbnail images optimized for people viewing them. Okay? You want them to be clear and crisp, not too cluttered. Make sure they see very clearly what they’re getting. Make sure your thumbnails include real photographs. Then go inside your product description, clean up your description, link to other products that they might be interested in. Bearwood Labs has a great tool for related product linking that you can do that will automatically generate like related product links. So I highly recommend checking that out.

And then also make sure your preview file is good to go. Do a makeover if you have to. Include actual photographs. Don’t put too much text on each slide of the preview. Make sure they really know what they’re getting from that preview file. Bonus points if you have a freebie linked to these products or if you have these products included in a bundle because then not only will your hashtag sale products be popping up in the search but when they click on that listing it’s going to say hey this is also included in this bundle. So you might even luck out and get some sales of bundles during the hashtag sale.

Give Your New Buyers Ways to Find You Again

Another great way to leverage hashtag sales is to make sure that you don’t leave them hanging. Once they purchase that item from you and they open up the files, make sure that they have other pathways that lead to you. You definitely want to find a way to get them on your email list so maybe a link to an opt-in or form inside of the directions file for the product. But definitely sending them to your email list is a no-brainer.

Also, linking them again to other products similar to what they’ve purchased. Maybe you want to include a page in your directions file that says, hey, make sure you check out the other products in my product line if you like this one. Other options for giving them access to you in other ways include like sending them to your social media platforms if you’re active there, may be relevant blog posts or podcast episodes that you’ve done that link to whatever they’ve purchased, maybe want to include a link to follow you on TPT, anything that gives them more exposure to you and what else you have to offer them.

Now at the same time you don’t want to completely overwhelm them. So when I list these options, I’m not telling you to do all of them. I would choose the one or maybe two most valuable moves for your business and start there. So for me, I would definitely include an opt-in to join my email list, and then my second choice would probably be either linking to blog posts because that is also a pathway to my email list because I have a lot of opt-in opportunities on my website or maybe a follow me link on TPT.

Consider Using UTM Codes

Regardless, if you have the opportunity to use UTM codes along the way to track if they are continuing their journey with you, make sure you do that. I think that UTM codes are often kind of pushed to the side, and it’s always like the last thing that I want to do. But it honestly takes two seconds. So make sure you’re using UTM codes wherever you can in your hashtag sales so that you can measure your progress and see what’s working and what’s not.

It’s important to note that you might find yourself using several of these strategies for several hashtag sales and then finally deciding on a technique that works for you. So I’m just trying to offer as many options as you can because these are all things that I just never really thought about before hosting my own hashtag sale. There’s just a lot of ways that they can benefit you and your business beyond the money side of things. All right. So let’s recap.

The first thing that needs to happen in order to make hashtag sales work for you is to make sure that you’re being intentional and strategic. Make sure that you are choosing the right products. Make sure that you are giving them the royal treatment and making them the best of the best. And also make sure that you are giving those people more access to you beyond just that download. Okay? And if you can follow these simple rules, here’s why hashtag sales are so beneficial for you beyond just the sales. Now I don’t know about you guys, but I operate best when I can have actual numbers. So I’m going to use our School of Sellers hashtag sale as an example.

School of Sellers Hashtag Sales

Every spring and every fall we have a School of Sellers hashtag sale. Roughly speaking they’re usually in April and September, but that’s not set in stone. Get all of the latest news about what hashtag sales we have coming up on this page. You can get on the waitlist for our hashtag sales, that way you’re just on the email list for when we announce the next dates and so on.

The Benefits of Working with Other Sellers

But as of right now, we have about 600 sellers who participate in the School of Sellers hashtag sales. So let’s take that number 600, and let’s say that of 600 people, they have an average of 1,000 followers each. And we’re talking about any type of followers. We’re talking about Facebook followers, Instagram followers, TPT followers, email lists. You have to think about all of those numbers. In reality, the average is probably more than 1,000 followers when you take into account all of the places that they can reach their customers, but let’s just lowball it for the sake of this conversation so you can see what the benefit is of hashtag sales even when we’re lowballing our numbers.

So 600 people with an average of 1,000 followers, that’s 600,000 people in our possible audience, right? If we are hitting 600,000 people with marketing about the hashtag sale, that’s a large group of people who wouldn’t typically be exposed to our products. Now of course, not 100% of our audience is going to check out the hashtag sale. In fact, let’s lowball that number and say that only 10% of that large audience decide to check out the hashtag sale. That’s still 60,000 people who are looking at our products who chances are wouldn’t have seen our products before that. And in my opinion, that alone is a gamble worth taking. If you said, hey, Erin, for minimal work, would you like to have 60,000 pairs of eyes on your TPT products for two days, I would be like, absolutely, yes, please. I mean it’s just, it’s a no-brainer.

Other Benefits of Hashtag Sales

So when you think about hashtag sales in terms of those numbers and just the exposure that it brings to your products, you can see the other benefits emerge from hashtag sales that you might not have thought about in the past. The most obvious one to me other than sales is just the statistics it’s going to give you in your TPT products. So more wish listed items, right? Let’s say that all of those people check out our products and we only sell a couple. That’s not to say that we won’t have dozens of wish listed items from the hashtag sale. It’s just harder to measure.

But now that we have the capabilities with our Facebook Pixel, it is even more of a no-brainer to participate in these hashtag sales because you want those wish list numbers. You want those preview numbers. And the fact that we can track them now with Facebook ads makes it even more powerful. You also take into account the number of new follows that you might get on TPT. We can also think about the value of a lifetime customer. If you do offer hashtag sale products that are part of a larger product line, you could very well be making $1 but also making a lifetime customer.

Which hashtag sales should I participate in?

Now it’s important to note that you need to know how to choose a good hashtag sale. So if you’re thinking now like, oh my gosh, this actually sounds like a good idea, I would love to participate in a hashtag sale, here are some things to keep in mind. Make sure that you are choosing a hashtag sale that has a decent number of sellers. I would say at least several hundred people participating is a good rule of thumb. However, it’s okay if you have a super small niche and it’s going to be less than several hundred people. That’s okay too.

How many people are participating in the hashtag sale?

Like I said in School of Sellers, we had about 600 people participate, and that’s been a really good number. But it definitely helps to have a large number of people because of the marketing piece. Marketing is heavily encouraged inside hashtag sales, and it’s pretty simple. Obviously, the more people who find out about the hashtag sale, the more sales you’re going to make and the more customers you’re going to get and so on.

So that’s why the number of people participating really matters because usually what the organizers of hashtag sales will do is provide you images that you can post on your social media platforms or give you email copy to use to send to your list. And you have every participant in the hashtag sale sending out those emails and posting on social media. So getting the word out is really important. So you don’t want to participate in a sale that has like 20 people unless it’s very niched down. That’s just not going to be worth your time.

Why I Changed My Mind About Participating in TpT Hashtag Sales

When is the sale taking place?

It’s also important to think about the timing of hashtag sales. If you have certain products that do well at certain points of the year and it makes more sense to participate in a fall hashtag sale versus a winter hashtag sale, think about the timing as well. It’s also important to limit yourself to the number of hashtag sales you participate in every single year. You definitely don’t want to over participate because by over participating in sales, you are undervaluing your work and the work of others. And you’re sending the message to buyers that you’re always going to have things on sale for $1 and that’s clearly not what you want to do for your business.

So I participate now in two hashtag sales a year. I would recommend doing about two a year, maybe three of four. But I wouldn’t do more than five, maybe even one a quarter would be a good rule of thumb to set for you if you want to participate in more. Remember if you want to learn more about how to participate in hashtag sales, we have a whole other post about it!

Conclusion

The moral of the story here though is don’t knock it till you try it. There are so many reasons to participate in hashtag sales beyond just the money, and I would encourage you to try several hashtag sales. Try more than one. Not all sales are created equal so you’re going to find different rules and expectations across different groups. But just be open to the idea of hashtag sales at the very least.

Like I mentioned earlier, if you are interested in being a part of a hashtag sale, we host School of Sellers hashtag sales and we list the date of the next upcoming hashtag sale on this page. You can get on the waitlist to be alerted when the next hashtag sale is, and you can also just get more information about what hashtag sales are and what you can do in the meantime to prepare for them.

So I really hope that at least one person listening today has decided to get on the hashtag sale bandwagon because it’s a good one to be in. And as usual, I thank you so much for listening. You guys are awesome, and I love you all. And I will see you here next week!

Looking for another way to get this episode? Download the transcript for Why I Changed My Mind About Hashtag Sales here!

Hashtag Sales

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