So you’ve done the initial legwork of creating a seller account on Teachers Pay Teachers with your name and logo uploaded (Lesson 1) AND researched a niche to sell in (Lesson 2); you’re ready to start creating your first resource!
The first product you post on your TpT store MUST be a freebie. Every teacher author has to offer at least 1 free resource on the platform (it helps to bring traffic to the site aka potential buyers). It’s vitally important that your mindset when making this freebie is to make an AMAZING product. This is your calling card, your advertisement, a sample of the quality of your work. You want to “wow” every teacher that downloads it.
This is not easy to do. I found out about the mandated free lesson when it came time to upload my first lesson and TpT wouldn’t let me add a price. And I was horrified. Finally figured out they won’t let me upload a paid product until I offer a free one. “You mean I just spent 8 hours making a resource and I HAVE TO GIVE IT AWAY? Noooo!!!”
I’ve come a long way since then. Now, whenever I create a bundle one part of it is a freebie.
When you go to the food court at the mall are there people with plates of bourdon chicken, giving away delicious bites in order to get you to buy? Does the supermarket offer sales that are below cost to get you in the door? Do I offer hundreds of free downloads on this website to get you to come back? Yup.
You are starting a business. All businesses must market their products or services. Lucky for us, we can do a lot of marketing using just our time and no money. Freebies are a great example.
Are you ready? It’s time to create a resource that will make teachers THRILLED to download!
Step 1: Decide What Your First Few Resources Will Be
Now let’s get down to business. You’ve chosen a niche and probably have a few ideas of what you want to make. Plan out 3-5 resources. It could be a mini unit, or several versions of a particular type of worksheet. Perhaps you have a certain style of lesson that works great in your class and you want to share it. If you haven’t thought this through yet stop now and start brainstorming.
Your freebie should be related to your other products. It could be day 1 of a mini unit. Then your next resource (which you can charge for — yay!) would be day 2 of the unit. You might be a ninja at making a certain type of math game. Create your freebie for addition and your first paid product for subtraction. The freebie leads to another lesson in your store (and you get to showcase on the instruction page of the freebie — more on that later). Capeesh? That’s New York Italian for do you undertand:)
Step 2: Open Up Your PowerPoint and Start Creating
Time to start making your magic. Here is another reality that some have a hard time wrappingtheir brain around: TpT products are created — almost always — in PowerPoint. Say what!? Yes. I actually pushed back on this idea and made a few early lessons in word. I regretted it.
PowerPoint allows you much more flexibility to format your pages. You can place and move images with ease. And when it comes time to “lock down” your worksheet it’s easy in PowerPoint. You’ll finish by converting it to a PDF, which is what the buyer receives.
Plan out your lesson. My lessons usually entail a slide deck and student activity, or a reading passage and student activity. Let’s saying you’re making a worksheet. Open PowerPoint and click design on the top ribbon, slide size (on the right-hand side) and custom. Choose either 8.5″ by 11″ or 11″ by 8.5″. Voila, you have paper size slide to work with.
Use insert and textboxes and start roughing out the worksheet. Generally speaking make font sizes and pictures a little larger than you might normally. It’s more visually appealing and if you make a digital copy that page will be a little easier to read.
Step 3: Fonts, Clip Art and the Law
Teacher buyers expect “pretty” when they purchase. They’re paying for a “professional” product, not something they would normally do themselves. As such, it’s important to use nice fonts and add pictures, shapes, arrows, etc. You can buy fonts on TpT rather cheaply. This is especially important for elementary level resources.
Can I use PowerPoint fonts for commercial use? Good question! Here is Microsoft’s answer:
“Can I sell things I print from Windows or make using these printouts, say a book, logo, advertisement, report, t-shirt, or crafts that use fonts that come with Windows?
Unless you are using an application that is specifically licensed for home, student, or non-commercial use, we do not restrict you from selling the things you print and make using the Windows-supplied fonts.”
So if you want to be legal and safe you’ll need to purchase a commercial version of Microsoft. Do teacher authors use their personal or school version to make TpT products. Definitely. Do you want to? At least until you’re making enough money to pay for a commercial version? That’s up to you.
Most Pictures are Copyrighted — Don’t Use Them
Let’s talk clip art and pictures. You cannot copy and paste most things you find when you Google. I use the Bing browser instead of Google because they have more privacy choices.
For example, in Bing search for “flag”, images. Once you’re there on the ribbon to the right you’ll see “filter”. Click it.
Now click filter and you will get a dropdown menu. Choose “free to use commercially”. Those are the results you can use.
Unsplash offers lots of free photographs. Teachers Pay Teachers sellers offer clipart for sale. You can buy a little at a time on your selling journey.
I will write a separate article about clip art and photos, because it’s a big topic.
Step 4: Proofread and Tweak
How are you doing? Have you mapped out your masterpiece, then spent time making it visually appealing? Used fonts and clip art that are legal? Awesome!
Take your time. Your first few resources will probably take an inordinate amount of time to complete and post. Trust me, it gets faster and easier with each product. As a teacher you went to college for 4-6 years to get your certification. Now you’re getting another one: professional teacher author:)
Once you’ve completed all parts of your first resource it’s time to proofread it. Do this at least twice, with time in between.
It’s a fact that finding your own errors is harder than finding others’. Your brain naturally “fixes” typos as you read. I was a court reporter prior to teaching and have proofed tens of thousands of pages; it’s not easy.
One trick is to reread everything on each page forward, then backward. As you read from the last word backwards the meaning is less clear and you can “see” the words better.
By the way: If you come across a typo in my work PLEASE let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. TIA!
Step 5: Secure Your Resource
Everything’s perfect? Now it’s time to make it difficult to steal your work. It happens. I’ve read many times in Facebook groups about teacher authors having their stuff posted on the open web and people repurposing and selling their proprietary work. It stinks, but it happens.
We’re business owners now; time to put on the big-boy and big-girl pants. Or, as I tell my students: life’s tough, get a helmet!
My philosophy is a bit more laissez-faire than other sellers. I offer my PowerPoints in an editable format. Can someone change it a bit, then resell it? Yes. But I believe the vast majority of humanity is honest. And, more importantly, an editable PowerPoint is more valuable to a buyer. It gives me an advantage over a seller that locks everything down.
This is easier for a secondary teacher to do. I don’t often use purchased fonts and clip art. It’s a personal choice how far you want to go to ensure your stuff is not stolen.
One caveat is when you use fonts and clip art from other sellers. Almost all of them insist on being given credit and “flattening” their artwork. In this case you don’t have a choice.
Step 6: Embed Your Logo on Each Page
I always put my logo in a corner of each page. Here’s how to do it. Go to the first slide of your PowerPoint and choose view in the ribbon. Click Slide Master. Once you’re in click insert, picture and upload your logo.
You want your “stamp” on each product, but don’t want to detract from the product by being too intrusive. Make the logo small and use the transparency option to make it light. I always choose the 2nd from last transparency.
When you’re done exit Slide Master. If you want to “lock down” your work here’s the process. Go to “save as” like you normally do. Under the name of your document click the dopdown menu. It says PowerPoint, you want to choose jpeg. It will ask you if you want to save 1 slide of all slides. Choose all slides.
You just saved each slide of your PowerPoint as a picture that can’t be edited. You’ll see it as a folder on your thumbdrive or wherever you save your work.
Next step: Open another PowerPoint and insert each jpeg slide. You now have your origianal slide presentation created and each slide is a picture of the original. It cannot be edited. This is what you will share with buyers, it’s your finished product and it’s locked down. Success!
If you would like to offer Google slides rather then PowerPoint open a slide deck. In slide 1 click background and upload your jpeg picture of slide 1. Continue through all your slides.
A Word About Sharing Google Files
Another trick you need to know: how to share Google slides, docs, etc so that a buyer is not messing with your original. It’s called creating a forced copy. Again, not hard. Here we go.
In your Google slides, doc, etc click share in the upper right. Change “restricted” to “Anyone on the internet with this link can view”. Then click “copy link”. Paste the link somewhere to edit (I just paste it on the instruction page and delete when done).
Once you’ve pasted the link somewhere you’re going to delete the last part up to and including “edit” and replace it with “copy”. Hit enter. You’ve just created a new link that, when clicked on, will prompt someone to make a copy of your resource.
You’re getting there. There are approximately 1,149 steps to creating each and every product for your TpT store. Okay, I’m exagerating, but not by much.
My first few products took so long I was disheartened and actually quit for several months. Luckily, my daughter started posting her math worksheets and making some money and that kicked me back into action. Thank you, Jacqueline💕
It will get better. I have some systems in place and just shear repetition have made most steps automatic and quick.
That was just a quick mindset adjustment. Sooooo many podcasts, posts and YouTube videos I consume on business adamantly declare mindset is EVERYTHING. I mostly said, “Yeah, yeah — more woowoo talk.” I finally got on board. When 430 (hyperbole again) successful entrepreneaurs say the same thing there’s probably some truth to it.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Back to your product. You finished the lesson, PowerPoint, handouts, task cards, etc. Next was placing your logo, small and transparent on each slide using Master Slide.
You saved everything as jpegs (You’ll use these for your preview, too). A new PowerPoint was created using the jpeg pics so no one can edit it.
Buyer Instructions and Terms of Service
Two more steps. Your resource needs at least 1 slide for you to give your buyers instructions, sell them something else and explain your terms of service. Some sellers have several pages for this information.
I find it annoying to wade through page after page of blahblahblah before getting to the actual resource. Originally my Terms of Service was a whole page by itself. I’ve truncated is to a small text box. My buyer instruction page and terms of service are on 1 page. I also fit in another resource they may be interested in. Here’s an example:
Finally — yes, this is it — if you used any fonts or clip art that you bought the sellers want attribution. You need to create a slide for them. It could be the last page. Title it it “Credits” and include the store name, their logo, a link to their store.
Hack: Make 1 credit slide with any and all fonts and clip art you’ve purchased. Save it as “Credit Page”. Any time you buy another add it to the page.
Now, each time you make a resource you can copy and paste the pre-made slide and just delete the creators you did not use on that particular product. It will take about 1 and a half seconds (yes, I DO like to exagerate!)
Step 8: Making the Final Version
It’s time to put it all together for your buyer. Worksheets and handouts, anything that’s meant to be printed out needs to be converted to PDF format. This will be printed and used by your buyer.
It’s super easy. Just open your PowerPoint and click “save as”. Choose “export”. It will prompt you to make a PDF and make it in about 2 seconds (not exaggerating).
Do you have a PowerPoint that goes with your resource? If so, you’ve locked it down (if necessary or desired).
If there is more than one component to your resource creating a zip file is necessary. This is fast and easy, too. Click on all parts of your lesson, PowerPoints, hnadouts, etc. Right click and choose “send to” then “condensed zip folder”. Done!
Click on the zip folder and look inside to doublecheck that everything is there. Your product is ready for your first buyer!
Let’s Wrap it Up
Congratulations — woohoo — yay — yeah, baby; you’ve created your very first Teachers Pay Teachers product! Yes, it’s a freebie, and yes your potted plant grew 6 inches in the time it took you to finish. But YOU DID IT!
Stop and breath. Treat yourself to your favorite pizza or Thai curry.
“Joan, I’m not done. It’s not up on TpT.” It will be. I think it’s crucial to stop and celebrate each little win (mindset again).
Lesson 4 will be posting your resource on Teachers Pay Teachers. It involves cover creation, previews and copywriting. It will take forever again. And, again, it gets much, much better with time.
I would suggest that before you even start the next lesson make a 2nd resource and even a 3rd. It’s a good idea for a few reasons.
- You will immediately practice what you’ve just learned so it will start to get embedded in your brain.
- You’ll be making a PAID product:)
- Making a few connected products is a good idea, so stay with the topic you just finished and build it out into a group of interrelated resources.
I’m so glad you’re following these lessons. There is a lot of info on the web that you can cull from and it’s very helpful. But I couldn’t find a step-by-step, hold-my-hand-through-the-process guide out there for free.
Hence this TpT U series.
See you in the next lesson.
Keep on teaching AND thriving, Joan
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