Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TPT TIPS TUESDAY - Research = Success!

 Hi everyone, I'm Gina from PerfettoWritingRoom - today, we are going to talk in a BIG way about learning from others.

NO, we are not talking about stealing people's good ideas.
In a previous "episode" we have discussed the great value of being yourself. Stealing other people's great ideas will only take away from the time you could be using finding out how GREAT YOU are and what you have to offer.

What we ARE talking about TODAY is RESEARCH. 

A friend of mine told me that MOST BUSINESSES fail withing three years due to lack of research and not knowing the market or the business fully when entering. Despite all of the caveats I thought of about why making teacher resources was different - there's very little overhead! I'm in it for the long run! - after hearing his story I saw that a business is a business, and perhaps I should listen to him. You should, too.

Greg Loxton - Unaffiliated with TpT. 

1. If you keep offering your customers souffles with truffles when they want scrambled eggs, you are essentially turning away your customers. 
Gregg is my friend Jen's husband, and he has made of life of selling ideas. He has sold the program Money 101, which is still in operation and made a hobby out of thinking ahead of the next person. He is currently thinking of a way to sell the idea of vertical landscaping in urban areas where it would be most beneficial.
     The best advice he gave me came by way of a true story (admittedly written like a bad joke).

Friends of his opened a bed in breakfast in a region THEY liked, that THEY always wanted to live in. And it was there that they cooked the food that THEY really liked because one of them was interested in the culinary arts.
      Every day, she cooked breakfast. At a B&B, the proprietors either cook before everyone gets up or at least set the menu to simplify things. People kept asking for scrambled eggs, but she hadn't made that. She had made something altogether more luscious, complicated, more, uh, French or in keeping with what she wanted her bed and breakfast to be. 
      Her brother comes down for a visit. He sees these shenanigans going on and finally says, "People are telling you what they want and you're not giving it to them? How many times do you have to have people ask you for scrambled eggs before you make it for them!" 

Greg continues by saying, either move to a more artsy area where they want souffles with truffle oil, or give customers what they

So HOW Do We Correlate Greg's Lesson to TPT?
2. USE RESEARCH TO LEARN YOUR MARKET. Greg said several things. All of them true. You will fail if you do no research into your industry, and, if you refuse to give people what they want, they will go elsewhere. 
       TpT is VERY different from a bed and breakfast. People often will not tell you they want scrambled eggs. In fact, you often will stumble around blind wondering what you're doing wrong. Conversely, you may be doing great but you wont' know where that money is coming from. Pinterest? Facebook? Your blog? 
Despite this, TpT is a great place to ask for help, or to do some research on your own. It also can shed light on why you are making the amount you are making. 

It is up to you to:
 be at peace with the little you make, knowing you are doing what you love (making souffles for the few who appreciate them), 
 improve if you can by learning a trick or two (getting those eggs to the table on time when people want to eat, and finding that you can provide something both you and the customers like), or . . . 
deciding you need to be where you will be most appreciated (opening a new bed and breakfast somewhere else where people love your culinary acumen),

But no matter what, research will INFORM you about who you are, what you want, and how you will get there. Just remember to be yourself every step of the way. 

BOX . . .

There are several ways to research on TPT that are beneficial or damaging! If you go to the main, Home Page, (See Picture Below)

You will notice a BEIGE "VIEW SELLERS" Box on the LEFT HAND SIDE. So what can you learn?

 - Learn from the Top Sellers.
   Click on Top Sellers. 
   Ways You Can Learn
   - How many of them are providing elementary resources? 
   - How many of them are providing secondary resources? 
   - Specialty items? 
   - How many of them are providing very general items that are 
      easy to download, open and use for a one-day class? 
   - How many of these items are complicated or full units? 
   - How many of these are for all grades - like decor or forms?
   - How are these top sellers describing their items?
   - Are the top sellers using links inside the product descriptions?
   - What do the best covers look like, generally speaking?               
             (Remember no one is copying anyone here, but ask 
              yourself what you might be most drawn to see what your 
              biggest errors might be)
   - What else do you notice that perhaps I am not asking you?

I feel like this is a mini-lesson plan, but the point is, we do have to learn what customers want, and what works well, while also being true to ourselves. YES, the forum is wonderful, but DATA is wonderful too, and wonderfully clear! 

 4. Making a List of YOUR Top Observations is the Best Thing You'll Ever Do. Then Assess.

    You will learn something fascinating, something you can use in your existing products or future products. Make up your list of observations and compare it what your doing. Then get to work

    You might think you already know what you'll find (Oh the top sellers do elementary stuff - I know! And I sell high school music so why bother?).
   But after you do this exercise you can answer more nuanced questions. Not merely what kinds of materials the top sellers are offering but what is the nature of these products, and how are they advertised? 
     Do you think you don't have time to do all this observational study and research? Greg might argue you can't afford not to do the work. Businesses fail because people do what they love without doing any research at all and without putting in the necessary time to know what the customers want. If you are doing TpT as a hobby, fine. If you'd like to join the $1000+ club, put some time in to just looking around on that page. In the long run, it will shorten the path to success. 

- Are you saying I should change what I'm making and doing?
Yes and no. Do not be something you aren't or make what you aren't comfortable making. I WILL say I just recently realized - or at least I believe - that my products might be a tad too complicated. It is possible that some people want to print, hand out, and go. It is possible that if you have to learn about my product in order to use it, you might not want to buy it. In changing what I am doing, I am not being something I am not, I am merely improving my product. Looking around has helped a great deal, and spending the time is worth it - I assure you it will be worth it for you too. You will learn something completely different but equally valuable. 

5. And the Dangerous Part - Going Too Far
Of course, you can also look at Top Sellers, and keep going through the pages, for hours and hours and hours, until you find your all time sales ranking. I found mine once, and for about a week I kept checking it relentlessly like a squirrel caching acorns for winter. It was a sickness I wouldn't wish upon anyone. 
     It makes FAR MORE SENSE to look at the top seller to see what folks are doing right, and see what strategies align naturally with your own personality to help you see success sooner than it does to waste time watching a number you ultimately have very little control over. 

Finally, we are teachers and are always preparing students and expecting them to explore the world and to do research. Why wouldn't we expect anything less of ourselves when undertaking what is essentially a business venture?

Come on Back every Friday and Tuesday for Tips and Features that matter. We'll keep the coffee on for ya!

Follow our blog and get TpT Tips Tuesday and Feature Friday.

                                  Stop by and take a gander . . .
Browsing is fun and there's a sale today. . . 

PerfettoWritingRoom(c) All Things Writing!
Thanks for visiting - here's a freebie, on us!

Here's a reasonably priced Peer Editing pack
students can use in any writing class!

If you haven't joined TpT. . . Let me Refer you!


  1. Great post!!! You are absolutely right, and I've also had that sales ranking sickness before. ;)
    Love these Tuesday TPT tips! Thanks so much!

    1. I commented via google, but first of all thanks for commenting and second, feel free to ADD your own ideas, anytime right here. You are definitely a valued reader and TpT member.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I agree with Kim! You have some great tips! You make some excellent posts about the importance of research. I need to work on that! Thanks. :)

    1. Monica, as I said above anytime you want to add a point please feel free. . . we value other folks opinions. If it weren't for the forum, I wouldn't be doing this. I'm so glad you took the time and I'll be seeing you soon in the forum and in all those other venues.

  4. Great points! Thank You for Sharing!


    1. Alison, I am going to go check out your store! Not sure if we've interacted much. Come on back anytime, and thanks for visiting. Good tips and features every Tuesday and Friday...

  5. Love these Tuesday tips! Thank you so much!

  6. Carla, come back anytime...and feel free to add your own tips or opinions. We value your feedback!
    Gina, PerfettoWritingRoom

  7. Thanks, Gina. One thing I realized by exploring other stores is that everything is an option. I forget sometimes that ideas/products that are just part of my everyday routine as a veteran teacher could be very useful to a new teacher. I'm trying to look at my files from the perspective of someone new to the profession--what can I share that will make their lives easier than mine was in those first few years?

  8. Julie, I am trying to make the "comments" section viewable. This is EXCELLENT and unequivocally true. It can be freeing, daunting, or paralyzing to just keep looking around. BUT you do realize anything is on the table. Once you bring it back to yourself: "What do I do well? What can I offer a new or just a busy teacher?" you realize a whole world of your own potential opens up. This is a fantastic comment and what I've been trying to get across. Thank you so much for this.

  9. Wow - thank you for all the valuable information! I just started my little store and honestly I'm just starting to look at it more like a business, so thank you for the advice!

  10. Love this tips series that you are doing. I normally don't peruse any particular blog beyond the first page or so, but I have been looking over several of your TPT tips posts. Thanks for sharing!

    Second Grade Stampede