Many of us start our TpT store as a side hustle. Sure, TpT is a great way to bring in a little extra cash to pay for things like Netflix, a daily latte habit, or the Post-It Notes that we just have to buy in every size and color. But, no matter how much money you’re currently making, I would encourage you to think of your store as a business from Day 1. This will not only lead to higher sales, but it will provide the right mindset for getting started too. One thing all entrepreneurs have to do when they’re just getting started is make some strategic investments. Lucky for us, you don’t actually need a lot to get started as a seller on TpT. In this post, I’ll discuss what I think are the best ways to invest in your TpT business as a new seller and why.
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What makes something a good investment for your TpT business?
1. Will the resource save you time?
Time is the most important resource we have as TpT sellers, so I always recommend tools that will make things go faster as long as you’re going to use them regularly.
2. Will the resource provide a return on investment?
It doesn’t make sense to buy products or services that won’t be beneficial in the long run, so I wanted to make sure that each of my recommendations will eventually pay off.
3. Is the resource necessary in order to scale your business?
This goes back to having a business mindset from the very beginning. Even if you can’t imagine ever making enough money on TpT to quit your teaching job, you want to set yourself up for success in case you ever decide that’s the goal.
Best Ways to Invest in Your TeachersPayTeachers Business if You’re Just Getting Started
1. Invest in Software for Product Creation
In order to find success on TpT, you have to set up a solid foundation, and the best way to do that is to create high-quality products. In the early days of TpT, you could upload a PDF or even a Word document and still see sales. But those days are over. Today, you need to make your resources stand out from the rest. You should definitely use a program that you are comfortable with, and some are easier than others. For example, it’s much easier to manipulate text boxes, images, and overall formatting in PowerPoint than it is Word. So most sellers choose to design using PowerPoint. You probably already have access to PowerPoint through work, but remember that you shouldn’t be using school assets for your TpT business, so consider buying a license for commercial use through Microsoft Office Professional.
Alternatives to PowerPoint
If PowerPoint isn’t your thing, many sellers are also starting to create using free programs like Google Slides to create resources. It’s really useful for creating both digital activities and printables. For print versions, you’ll just export the file as a PDF. Some sellers are also using Canva for product creation. Honestly, I find it to be really difficult if a resource involves a lot of text, but it’s amazing for image focused design. So it’s perfect for creating thumbnails, pins, and social media images.
In addition to basic product creation software, you might consider other tools for helping to secure your products. You can do it for free, but it takes a looooot longer than if you just pay for a tool to do it for you. A lot of TpT sellers use Adobe Acrobat Pro or Flatpack from Bearwood Labs to secure resources by flattening the pages to make sure buyers don’t have access to protected content.
2. Invest in Clip Art, Fonts, and Other Design Elements
After you have the software needed to create products, it’s time to make your resources stand out even more by investing in clip art, fonts, and other design elements such as stock photos, digital papers, borders, and frames. These elements will help make your products look more professional and result in more sales.
When you’re first starting out, you should check out all the free clip art and design elements available on TpT so you can find a style that you like. I wouldn’t rely solely on free clip art though. Most sellers only have a few free samples, so you would need to download freebies from a variety of sources. The problem with that, though, is that your products will lack cohesion and overall recognizable branding if you use too many different styles. Instead, I recommend finding just a handful of clip artists whose style you really like and that you know have several different sets you can use across multiple products. Once you’ve found them, don’t be afraid to invest in their work.
Saving Money with Clip Art
Design elements often pay for themselves very quickly. For example, I can usually find a quality set of clip art for less than $10. If I use it to create a $3 resource, it only has to sell a few times for me to get a return on that investment. To maximize the return on my investment, I try to look for clip art that I know I can use for multiple products or an entire product line. I have a rule for myself that I don’t buy any clip art unless I can immediately think of at least 3 uses for it. This prevents me from just buying any clip art that I think is cute.
You can save even more money on clip art by looking for bundles and utilizing TpT sitewide sales. Unless I need something immediately, I just add clip art to my TpT wishlist and wait for the next sale. Sometimes I also use my brain dump tab to keep track of clip art sets I like because it also gives me space to jot down product ideas and how I want to use the clip art. This list helps me prioritize what I actually want to buy when the next sale rolls around.
We would love to hear about all of your great TpT finds when it comes to clip art and other design elements. Share what you find in the comments below! Not sure where to even begin when it comes to finding fonts and clip art? The School of Sellers 101 Facebook group is a perfect place to ask. Search in the group or just start a new post to see which artists other sellers recommend.
3. Invest in Canva Pro
I mentioned Canva earlier when I talked about software for product creation, but I think it’s useful enough to merit its own section. There is a free version of Canva. Feel free to test it out and see if it’s right for you. I used the free version for a while, but I quickly signed up for a Pro account once I saw how useful it was. Here are a few differences between the different types of accounts:
Being able to create a brand kit using your custom colors and fonts is so helpful for creating cohesive branding that your customers will instantly recognize. The access to all of the different templates and the 75+ MILLION stock photos are game changers when it comes to creating images, and being able to design and save your own templates saves a ton of time when you’re creating pins, blog post images, and pictures for social media.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Invest in Courses
One thing I wasn’t prepared for when I first started on TpT is the sheer amount of things to learn. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about creating teacher resources since I could use PowerPoint, but that’s simply not the case. How to create a cohesive brand, what the hell an ideal customer avatar is and why it’s helpful. all about Pinterest, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and blogging best practices are just SOME of the things I’ve had to learn since starting out.
Opportunities for Free Resources
The good news is, there are a ton of free resources out there that will help you get started! For example, we share free TpT seller tips and advice through our podcast, Facebook group for beginner TpT sellers, TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. The only problem is that all of the free resources you can find are scattered all around the internet, and they’re not exactly neatly arranged by topic.
Not only does it make it hard to find what you’re looking for, but it’s also difficult to know whether a resource is providing outdated advice. It also takes a tooooonnn of time to put all of the information together in a way that makes it easy to know what you should be focusing on first and which strategies to prioritize. You also don’t always have a place to ask questions and get specific feedback on your ideas if you’re just reading information on the internet.
How Courses Can Help
That’s why I looove investing in courses. They save me time in the long run since I don’t have to spend time gathering resources, and they provide access to experts for when I want to ask questions. I look for online courses that also come with access to update so I know I’ll always have up-to-date information about the topic. I’m also a big fan of courses that include Facebook groups where I can chat with other people learning about the same topics. Before investing in a course, I highly recommend checking out the course instructor’s free resources to not only judge whether they know what they’re talking about, but to also get a feel for their teaching style.
Looking for the perfect course for new TpT sellers? Well you’re in luck because we’re working hard and it’s going to be ready soon! In the meantime, get on the waitlist and let us know what questions you have in the School of Sellers 101 Facebook group. We’re looking forward to getting to know you!
5. Invest in Templates
We already talked about investing in design elements like fonts and clip art, but don’t forget that lots of time-saving templates are out there too. You can buy templates that help with product creation like task card templates, interactive notebook templates, game templates, and more. There are also mockup templates a lot of sellers use to create thumbnails and social media posts.
Did you know that there is an entire category on TpT called Products for TpT Sellers? It’s a great place to look for resources that you can use in your teacher seller business. Make sure that you see “for commercial use” or other language that lets you know you can use the products to create your own resources.
6. Attend a Conference or Meetup
This is something I wish I would’ve invested in sooner. Even though I’ve been selling on TpT for 8 years, I’ve only attended one conference. After attending my first one last year, it feels like such a waste that I waited so long. Conferences and TpT seller meetups are so valuable not only because of what you’ll learn while you’re there, but also because of who you will meet. The TpT seller life can get a little lonely, but having other people who “get it” is so helpful. The TpT seller community has been so valuable to both my business and me personally that I’m happy to invest in creating those connections.
Are you ready to get started with your teacher seller business? Make sure you grab a copy of The Ultimate Checklist for New Sellers for some important tips you won’t want to miss. Also, please remember to share your clip art, font, and other design element recommendations in the comments below!