Thursday, March 28, 2019

10 Habits to Achieve Success as a Teacher-Author

If you work from home, you might have a difficult time keeping yourself on track. I’ve found success with my Teachers Pay Teachers store by doing the following ten habits to set goals, meet deadlines, and achieve the dreams I have for my own business.


#1: Stay organized.

Making lists, keeping notes, maintaining a calendar with set deadlines, and setting a budget are great ways to keep your business on the right track. This goes for ideas, too. I am guilty of jotting down ideas on sticky notes and hanging on to them. But 95% of the time, if I don't get those "last minute inspiration" resources created right away after sketching out a rough idea of what they are, they end up staying in that pile of sticky notes full of potential, but not making any sales. Since I have created "product to-do grids" by type (for example, task cards, writing packs, graphic organizers, holiday resources), I have found myself to be much more productive. Resources end up completed and in my store instead of in my head when I have specific lists to check off.

#2: Set time aside for your work. 

I don’t care if you are home 24/7, there are always ways to get distracted and avoid working. Turn off the notifications on your phone, leave the laundry until later, keep the television off (even if you swear it's just for background noise), and arrange for someone else watch your kids for a while so you can focus on your work. It's amazing what you can get accomplished when you are focusing solely on the task at hand.

#3: Hold “staff” meetings. 

Sure, you might be the only staff member on your payroll, but having monthly meetings is a great way to assess how everything is going in your business. I have a specific list of questions I make sure I answer each month to keep myself on track. It helps me reflect and remember what I'm doing (since I have the tendency to go off on tangents or create a new, unplanned product when the mood strikes instead of staying focused on my schedule). I also have a monthly guide to keep myself completing tasks on a weekly basis. I've found myself to be much more productive since I've started holding myself accountable.

#4: Set a Budget (and stick to it). 

Make sure you’re not spending too much money on clipart you don't have a plan for (it's easy to do... you should see my current wishlist!) or classes you don't have time to take yet (taking classes to learn more about your business is a great idea, but don't buy them and let them sit there, undone). Setting a budget and sticking to it helps keep your business headed in the right direction. There's nothing worse than realizing your entire income has been spent before you've even earned it.

#5: Don't be afraid to spend money. 

On the flip-side of sticking to a budget, don't be afraid of spending money to improve upon your business. This doesn't mean buying thousands of dollars worth of flair pens and sticky notes (although, let's face it, that's easy to do for a lot of us teachers!), but it does mean investing in quality clipart and fonts, taking informative classes to improve your marketing skills, design abilities, and knowledge of the curriculum you're supplementing, and possibly spending money to attend conferences related to your business. They say you have to spend money to make money and in a lot of ways, I believe that to be true. When I started spending money on my business, I started earning a lot more!

#6: Network with other creators.

I used to think being a teacher-author was a pretty solo gig. I just created in my bubble, told some real-life teacher friends about my resources, but otherwise just sort of posted my products and sat back and hoped teachers would find them from random searches they did on TpT. After I had my kids and decided to get back to creating, I discovered a whole community of teacher-authors were actively sharing their ideas, giving tricks of the trade, and discussing the business with one another. And if you're worried about competition, don't be! There will be competition out there whether you communicate with them or not. Isn't it better to be social and help each other out instead of being afraid of sharing ideas and secrets to your personal success?

#7: Spend time in the field.

If you're still a full-time teacher, you're in the trenches and you probably have an incredibly good handle on what types of resources will truly work and which ones probably won't. I am a part-time substitute teacher and a part-time stay at home mom, so my days are a bit of a mix of things. Sometimes I have a lot of time to create and other days it's just basic survival getting my little ones fed, bathed, and napping. But days when I sub? I feel inspired to create. I remember who I'm creating for (whether it's the busy teacher I'm working for/with or the students who need quality resources for authentic, meaningful learning experiences). It keeps me in the "real world" and I truly believe my resources are enhanced when I regularly work with the students who could possibly be using them.

#8: Work smarter, not harder.

It may be a cliche, but it's said over and over for a reason. If you are reinventing the wheel every time you create a new resource, you're breaking your back for no reason. When I started planning out similar products and creating templates to make them, the design process became streamlined and I was able to produce more products in a shorter amount of time. The number of products in my store in the past several months, in fact, has actually doubled since I really started devoting more time to my store and the creative process. The same goes for product covers and pins. Use a template or a variety of templates and I promise you'll find your work becomes a much smoother, more efficient experience.

#9: Market your resources. 

I used to just think traffic came to my store by teachers searching on the Teachers Pay Teachers site itself. While a lot of my traffic does come from the site, I have found that since I started using Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram to reach out to potential buyers, my traffic has increased and my sales have, too, as a result. You don't have to spend a ton of money, either. I think that is a common myth people have about marketing. Sure, there are courses you can take that guarantee growth and services you can subscribe to that will help you post on social media more efficiently (I recommend Tailwind for this!), but it's not a must-have, especially if you're just starting out. Post and pin yourself daily and you should see some traffic start coming from social media sources.

#10: Be patient.

This may be the toughest habit to have, but just remember that your store will probably not blow up overnight. It takes time and energy and a lot of hard work to be successful. My sales increased a lot once I had 100 products in my store. Was I getting more sales on each product? Not really. But I was getting a few sales on each product, which added up. And I was creating product lines that encouraged buyers to return if they were happy with their original purchase. Did I have a huge following on social media right away? No. I posted and tagged my posts and pinned and hoped the right people would see my content and love it (just like I find and fall in love with content from others). In time, my followers increased and my sales started reflecting that. I'm still not a huge seller, but I'm growing more every day and I believe you can, too!

I hope you will find these habits as valuable as I have! If you have any questions for me, I would be happy to answer them.

Happy Creating!

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