Let’s chat all about why you have a drop in sales every summer when it comes to selling online. Especially as it relates to Teachers Pay Teachers. You may be feeling the pressure. You may be feeling a little anxiety about a drop in sales and it's totally normal. A few months ago, when we were talking about all things Instagram we chatted with Allie from Team Kayse. I thought I would bring her back to have a conversation about a concern we hear every single day between the months of May and September in our communities.
First, we need to chat about what the summer slump is. Because if this is your first year with TPT, you may not understand that the drop in sales every summer is a real thing. May, June, and July, especially, your sales kind of plummet, even though you are still doing everything that you're supposed to be doing. You're doing all of your content creation, SEO optimization, your research, and social media marketing. But something happens where it all just slows way down. Because let’s be real, that's kind of what we're doing as teachers too. We're getting to the end of this school year, we're pushing through, we're making those final plans for the final days of school. We're cleaning up. We are so overly done. And then we just kind of drop off the face of the planet for a few weeks and enjoy time with our family or go on vacation.
And teachers are just not as focused on school. And so that just means that they're not shopping on Teachers Pay Teachers. They're not looking for ideas on Instagram or Pinterest. And so it's, it's something that happens every year and it's something to not be afraid of. But just to know that it will happen, it's coming, and it's normal for that drop in sales each summer.
Allie is the voice of reason in all things inside of Team Kayse. And she just kind of shared a little bit of insight into why everyone needs an Allie in their life because it's just not that deep. We get really worked up and we think to ourselves, Oh my gosh, my business is going to fail. But Allie is giving you the real reason why your sales are suffering. It's not because you're not good at what you do. It's not because your business is failing. It's not because you need a new game plan. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the ebb and flow of life. As a teacher, we live on this 180-day life cycle of, Hey, we need to start school, and then we're going to have summertime and then we're going to chill out.
We also see a little bit of a sales slump in the spring as well. And what do you think that that might be related to? You guessed it! Spring fever with all of our kids kind of bouncing off the walls, plus there's state testing and spring break. And again, teachers are kind of in that mode where they're finding their groove. So maybe they didn’t need as many supplemental resources. They're also hoping for summer break to come as quickly as possible. So their mind isn't as focused on what they can do to really make their classroom the best it can be. Yes, that is always our goal, but let’s be honest, our minds are a little bit more distracted in the spring.
So once you realize it's just not that deep and you can prepare for these moments, you can rest a little bit easier. Even if you're thinking to yourself, okay, Kayse, but I want a plan of action right now. How can I make this better? That's what we're going to get into today, but I just don't want you to freak out.
One of the main things you can do to prepare for the sales drop, that I don't think many people do, is to –actually prepare for a drop in sales. So when the sales are great, you could potentially space that money out over your summer months so that it's not so hard. If you're expecting to have money come in because you typically make $500 to $1000 a month on Teachers Pay Teachers and the summer hits and boom, you only made $73 in June that can be stressful. One great way that you could prepare for that is to help lighten the load a little bit by saving up money incrementally every single month. So that it's not that big of a deal in the summertime without doing anything extra to your TPT store.
In May, we talked to Tiffany Aliche about budgeting, I would highly recommend going back to that episode. Summers are a great time for learning too. So maybe creating your own budget is something that you want to learn and prepare for next year. But I think that just making a budget and sticking to it and not spending as much when you're making good money. That way you have more for the summertime.
You know I love a good quote… Dave Ramsey says, “If you live like no one else, then you can really live like no one else.” And what that means is doing the hard things in the now and waiting for that delayed gratification. So that later on, you can actually enjoy life and live it to the fullest. Take time and budget during the school year, when the money is coming in, then you can have time in the summer for a vacation or for just making that money last until sales start again in August and September.
And even though I think budgeting is a great place to start, I really want to give you some actionable strategies that you can start implementing now. That way you don't feel the summer sales slump. Because believe it or not, even though there is a real season and an ebb and flow to life as a teacher, our sales don't drastically decrease in the summer. Actually, it's quite the opposite. Our online presence is better in the summer because our people are at home and they're on social media. So I want to give you some tips and tricks to help you with your TPT store and other ways that you can make extra income so you're not feeling the summer sales slump.
You know I love a good analogy around here so as Allie and I were chatting she shared a great farming analogy and it applies to our CEO Teacher® businesses too. In farming, there are planting seasons and harvesting seasons and growing seasons. And then there's the season that kind of feels like everything is dead. There's not a whole lot going on that you can see. But there's a lot of growing and planning going on in the background. And you know you're going to come upon a season of harvest in August, September, October, November when teachers really need your products.
So if you can think about your business in seasons and not necessarily in the up and down linear form of things, and really use this time to prepare and plan, that is where you're going to find the most bang for your buck. Spend your summer planting those seeds and creating a lot of new content and products and plan things out. So that way over time, you have that content to go back to and post, you're going to flourish and have a larger harvest when the time comes.
And one way to do that is to see yourself a couple of months from now. We had a podcast episode at the beginning of the year where we referenced our quarter calendar and Allie has been instrumental in making that a really big deal in our business. We try to plan our quarters out ahead of time so that we know what's coming. And so I love that analogy of needing to plant the seeds. And then we know that a harvest is on the way. Warren Buffet once said, “Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” So what can you plant today and nurture over the next few months that's going to really bring a harvest for your business? We know when it comes to social media, that planning ahead of time is so crucial, especially with Pinterest. It's important to plan ahead for May, June, and July when it comes to Pinterest!
For Pinterest you want to be thinking at least three months ahead of time. So if you are currently just starting quarter three or in the middle of quarter three of your year, and you know that three months from now is going to be back to school and fall and October and Halloween. You start planning and thinking about how teachers are going to be feeling and thinking and searching three months from now. That is what you want to be posting about during May, June, and July. So in July, you want to be thinking about Halloween and pumpkins and fall and place value, even though you are at the beach. Start thinking about seasonal items with your content creation on Pinterest. Start pinning those things now so that when that time comes, you've built up that engagement. When people are searching for those content topics in your niche, you pop up to the top of the search and Pinterest.
With Pinterest similar to Google, if you can start writing blog posts a few months in advance, you're able to gain a little bit of traction so that your content will appear first. And planning ahead is just better with most things in life. I used to not be a planner at all. And now that we have started to plan ahead, I get severe anxiety if we aren't three or four months ahead at a time.
Although planning ahead is so crucial, we also need to talk about the moment right now. Everyone's feeling the stress of the summer sales drop and they want to see if they can help make the resources they've already created, be even better. I wanted to share a few tips for TPT sellers in the months of June and July that they can start doing to help their sales increase when it's time to harvest. Instead of just putting out new content all the time, you can go in and almost do a decluttering and reorganizing of all of your current content. There are so many things we can touch on right here, especially things we've coached recently on in the CEO Teacher® school. Here is a list of the top 5 things that we suggest for people to go into their TPT store and reassess.
So the first thing I would recommend reassessing is your TPT store and storefront. Take a look at it from a very critical perspective, not overly critical, but think about your ideal customer. We talk about this a lot in the CEO Teacher® School. Your ideal customer is that person who is exactly who you're trying to speak to with the resources that you're creating. You are creating a marketing plan for that exact person. We like to come up with an actual name for that person. We search for a picture on Google and assign it to that person. Whenever you're creating content, whenever you're marketing your TPT store, whenever you're posting on social media, whenever you are creating a new resource, I want you to think about how you are serving your ideal customer. And how you can help your store, your products, everything that you do resonate with this specific person better.
So when that comes to your TPT store, go take a look at your store and ask, “does my ideal customer know who I am and how I serve them?” And would they be able to find what they're looking for on your page? And if the answer is yes. Awesome. If not, think about what you could do to update things and make them really focused for your ideal customer.
OK, but you might be asking yourself, “I don't know what I'm passionate about.” “I teach eighth grade English, but I really like making kindergarten resources because I have a kindergartner and I actually have a degree in early childhood education. So when people come to my store, they get a smorgasbord of things.” And here at Team Kayse we say it's okay to do that, but we also recommend that you really try to laser focus on more specific ideal customers.
So the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing, Stephen Covey says that all the time. And if you are part of our programs you know you have heard me say it a thousand times. But it is so true. Allie shares her testament of being the teacher who did all the things. She started her TPT store straight out of college and kind of posted whatever she felt like. She taught kindergarten and first grade and was just posting resources that she made for my classroom. And then she moved up to fourth grade and was posting those resources. And so she has that smorgasbord. And what she found is once you really hone in on that one customer, that one thing~ you're going to find, not only are people more attracted to that one thing, but content creation is easier when you are focused on one thing.
So if you don't know what your main thing is yet, I want you to ask yourself a couple of questions.
If the answer is yes, for all three of those, you've got a major winner on your hands and I recommend going all in.
Just like Allie, I kind of went and created all the things when I first started too, because I was unsure of what I was passionate about. And that's okay to try to figure out what you want ‘your thing’ to be. I didn't figure out my thing until I was four years in. And so if you go to either of our stores and you think, yeah, but they're telling us this and they're not following that concept: do as we say, not as we do! Because we've learned the hard way. It took both Allie and I years to figure that out. And now that we've gone through coaching thousands of students, we see that there is a direct correlation between their level of success and how close they are to their main thing. And so they're known for something. I think about Kristy DeRoche all the time and how she's known as the digital planner queen. I mean, that's what we call her internally inside the CEO Teacher® School. I don't know if she's known as that, everywhere, but she loves doing digital planners. And once she started really honing in and focusing on that her business began to thrive exponentially. And I think about Rachel Hull from Teaching Firsties. Rachel is doing an amazing job at really honing in on what she is great at and selling not only on TPT but also with Boom Learning.
Once you find your thing, it makes everything easier, too. It really makes everything easier because you can set a game plan and a mind map, and we can work on our bundles together and realize that there's such a bigger picture than just the product you're going to put out tomorrow. Also the product you're going to put out next week and next month and next year.
Let’s think about custom categories and rewriting some of our TPT descriptions. Allie, one of our certified CEO Teacher® Coaches inside of the CEO Teacher® School goes into the depths of data with our students. And recently we've chatted about what is so important about the TPT descriptions and our custom categories.
So according to Allie, just like with everything else in your store, your banners, your covers, and your profile picture, you also want your categories to resonate with your ideal customer and to showcase your main thing. If you don't know what custom categories are, they show up on the left side of TPT storefronts when sellers are utilizing them. Basically, it's TPT giving you the option to group your products together. Think of Target or any bigger store, you have the grocery department and the home department and the stationary department, etc.
And some of those things might overlap a little bit. You might find pillows in your living area and also your bedding area, but you're not going to find pillows in the grocery section of your store. So custom categories are like that. They give your customers a better customer experience when you utilize them as a marketing strategy.
Go into your product listings behind the scenes on TPT, and create custom categories. You can create as many as you want. Inside the CEO Teacher® School, I highly recommend that you put your highest selling categories up at the top of the list. We also recommend having a category for bundles. And then we really want you to hone in on the ideal customer.
So if you are someone like Allie or myself who has a bunch of different kinds of products in your store, we highly recommend making your custom categories work for you. Create a category, or two, specific to your ideal customer. So that way, when a prospective buyer comes to your store, they're not like, wait a second, she has eighth-grade resources and kindergarten resources. I'm not sure this seller is going to be the best fit for me.
Another fun thing Allie recommends is using emojis to really bring attention to your specific categories. You have to do a lot of playing around to get emojis to work. She actually just gave our CEO Teacher® School teachers a little cheat sheet to help them with those emojis. But that's a fun way to draw attention and to separate your categories. Definitely use those categories to also track your TPT sales and see what's working and what's not.
And you can go to other people's TPT stores and kind of take a look at their categories to get a better idea of something that you may want to do as well. You may not know exactly what order you want to put them in, but getting a look at other people's storefronts will give you some ideas on how to organize your own custom categories. We do feel like this is a really important strategy because our minds work logically a lot of times and sequentially. And so as we teach our students to write their blog posts or write emails or their descriptions or their custom categories, the main focus for us is to make sure that we have something that's easily accessible to all learners.
Keep in mind if your customer can find what they are looking for easily you will pop up higher in a search too. Computer search engines and computer algorithms try to cull through everything online to see if you made it easier on the person coming to your store. And the better you can make your customer’s lives at first glance, the more that the search engines will reward you. So make sure you're doing that in custom categories.
Now let's flip a little bit and talk about TPT descriptions. We have a whole method called the CEO Teacher® Strategy, and we share our pyramid, in our communities, with our suggestions for killer TPT descriptions and product names. But we really want to talk about your TPT descriptions here. We actually follow a template on how we write our descriptions, but revising those can make a significant difference in the amount of money that you make when it's time to harvest.
TPT descriptions can be the bane of your existence according to Allie. Because you feel like you’ve finally just made this amazing product. You have images ready to go. And now you have to write a description. You want to have something that we call a hook and get people interested in what your amazing product is and how it can help them. You might think your audience just looks at the pictures or checks out the preview, but people do look for and read the descriptions. So the more information you can give them the better. Once you've kind of given them the hook and you're using some keywords, we teach all about using keywords in our CEO Teacher® School. But if you use keywords that people are searching for in your hook and throughout your whole description, you are going to rank better on TPT. And people may even find your products on Google before they get to TPT.
We recommend outlining every single thing that's in your product because we like to be extra. Allie says “I always think of guacamole. You might not be thinking about getting guac at Chipotle. But it's there and offered as an extra, right?” So you want to be extra for those teachers and you want to give them those extra details to make your product stand out. So outline it all for them, show it, tell them what it would look like for them to use it in their classroom or with their students. We recommend having an area where you link related products. So that way people can find other resources in your store that are similar, that will help them out as well.
One other thing that we're trying, and we're going to start collecting data on; we've seen a significant increase in traffic when we include related articles inside of our blog posts. And we have been chatting with some SEO experts who talk about the importance of linking outbound links to related articles that could help your potential buyer. Not necessarily links that you've created not necessarily links within your blog. But anything that could help the buyer make a decision on why they want to purchase your product. This is not data-focused yet. I just want you to know we are trying it in case you are into trying new things, but we've seen a significant increase in traffic using the strategy.
Google loves it. So that would be a really cool thing for you to try. You always want to make sure you are giving the best user experience possible. And usually, the search engines will reward you handsomely for doing that.
Allie is such a wealth of information and loves to share and serve. She also mentions utilizing all of your marketing space. She does a lot of individual coaching calls and group coaching calls for the CEO Teacher® School. And she can look at your product right away using some key indicators, and know if people are buying or not buying. One of the things that she highly recommends doing, just like being extra with your TPT descriptions is being extra with what information you give those teachers in your images and your marketing.
So what that means is you uploading a square cover of your product. It can look like your paper-size product cover. However, Allie always recommends doing some sort of a cover page, just so people know what they're getting. But you want to make that cover square instead of the 8.5×11 size. TPT gives you a square domain basically to show off that product. So if you're not using that real estate, you're wasting valuable market space, their marketing space that you are getting essentially for free. And then also you have three other spaces that you can then elaborate. Allie likes to call them your mini billboards. Use those spaces to give more information to the teacher.
Many times Allie will see teachers upload a square cover for their product, but then they'll use the TPT-generated images to give the teachers a little look into their product with a few regular pages. We call them the thumbnails of your product listing. Allie recommends making three other images that are square, just like your cover, and showing off what the resource may look like in their classroom or at least some cool features of the product. So if you have printable and digital elements, show that off. If you made it differentiated, show it off. Give as much information to the buyer as possible in your thumbnails and images. Then go even more above and beyond that with a preview. And if you really want to get really extra, include a video preview, Because then you're giving the teacher every possible piece of information that you have about your product, ultimately helping them formulate whether they want to purchase from you or not.
When you give the information to them, most often, they're going to want to purchase from you. If you hide things; for instance, there are 120 pages in your document, but you're only showing one or two. It doesn't offer that trust factor that will help a teacher want to purchase from you.
We want you to over-deliver in everything that you do. So we want you to show them everything that they're going to be getting so that they don't feel blindsided or feel cheated. I feel like a lot of times, if you ever receive a negative review it's because you didn't disclose all of the information in the very beginning. But if you're open and you're honest with people the sales happen more naturally and the reviews are positive.
We talk about the importance of pricing a lot in our programs. The difference between what is easily replicated content and what is really researched content. So if it's easily replicated, that means that you create sight word games, and there are 125 pages, but there are just 12 different games and all of the games look very similar because you copied and pasted them. Then you put different words in all of the games that shouldn't be priced at the same price as a middle school teacher resource. A product where the seller did a lot of research for their 125-page product that teaches children how to write different types of essays. So just think about that as you're pricing your products, we could have a whole post on just pricing your products alone, but I just wanted you to think about that.
So now that we've chatted a little bit about Teachers Pay Teachers, Allie and I want you to fix your mindset here. We want you to think beyond the power of just TPT. I was recently reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. He was giving an example of Tim McGraw's father, Tug McGraw, a famous baseball player. He won a world series game. Basically, he struck the last batter out to win the game. And after the game they interviewed Tug and they said, how did you do it? And he said I've done that my entire life. And they said, what do you mean? You've only been in the world series once. What do you mean you've done that your entire life? And he said, since I was a little boy, I've been playing ball with my dad. And every single time I would pitch to him, it would always be the top of the ninth in a world series game. And the bases were loaded. He said I've done this pitch a thousand times.
What a cool way to think about life and to even think about our teacherpreneur business. What if you said to yourself that this isn't going to be this summer where we have a drop in sales. We're going to have the best summer ever. And we're going to recreate that year after year. So we don't have to say, I made more money this summer than ever before. We can say, I've always known this was in me. I knew this was a possibility.
So fixing your mindset to believe that you've done this a million times before. And even though everyone else in every other Facebook Group is telling you that your sales are going to drop, it's going to be a hard summer. You can flip the script and say, not this time, not for me. Allie has seen the importance of fixing your mindset on things that you wanted to accomplish and believing them to have already happened for them to come true.
It's so easy to get down on yourself when you don't have a good sales month or you're not making as much as last year or you're not getting as much done as you would hope. But it really is important and crucial to have that mindset that is infinite. Knowing that things can always turn around and that you do have that success within you. And it is going to come to fruition and just taking the time to fix that mindset and just really focus on the good and what could happen with your hard work and dedication. Because a lot of times we trip ourselves up. Asking if it's even going to be worth it to take the time, put in the effort, fix your mindset. Building those habits to keep yourself motivated and keep you going, is going to help you, not only in the short game but when you're really playing the long game of your business.
Allie has seen success with Teachers Pay Teachers and still encourages our students as they move from level one in our programs to level two, to start thinking beyond Teachers Pay Teachers. And as much as we love TPT and everything that it's done for us, we also love to help as many teachers, students as parents as possible. And we don't want to limit ourselves to the thinking that if our sales on TPT are down in the summer, that means that sales everywhere online are down in the summer ~ because it's just not true.
Our ideal customers are online in the summertime. We may have to think uniquely when it comes to selling to them or creating a product that would serve them. But let's just give a few examples. Let's say that you create your products primarily for students and it is the summertime. I'm just thinking along the lines of like a struggling reader and outside of TPT if you have created a program or a service for someone that was struggling reading. What could you do in the summertime that could help them as they start the next year, but could help increase your sales too? You're still getting sales, you're helping students and you're helping struggling readers become better. That could potentially become even more customers.
Allie gives some concrete examples of how you could create a summer offer that would help increase sales during that summer sales drop. First, she recommends doing some coaching with them. You could coach them individually or in a group, you can hop on a Zoom call, do a little live session and offer some coaching sessions to those students who are struggling with reading. Those sessions could be where you are breaking those concepts down. Allie also suggests creating a course or a mini-course to help them. And Allie being the queen of community engagement recommends game-ifying your mini-course so the kids are actually engaged with it. Creating different levels or tokens or choosing their own adventure styles of learning, would help you market it to serve those students. You are helping them with their reading, but also making it exciting. Then they won't feel like your offer is just more learning in the summer.
One of my resources that sells really well is the summer site word games. So it's for parents to play with their students. Inadvertently helps everyone. Think about creating games that you can play in the summertime that are super easy if you're outside playing in the water or on a hike or at the beach. You just need to organize your marketing strategies to align with parents.
And when it comes to teachers in the summer and you're trying to get their attention, is there anything you can think of outside of the TPT world that you could do for teachers that could help them get ready for the next school year that they would want to buy in the summer?
Allie recommends really getting them set up for success. So creating planning tools or a community like a membership where they're not feeling so alone and you help set them up for success. So if your ideal customer really struggles with planning lessons, then you're going to give them some of those lessons, but also help set them up. That way they are ready to plan those lessons for the year.
Maybe you are preparing all of their lessons ahead of time for them. So that way they don't have to do the prep work. And they can just say, yes, I want what you have and be able to implement it throughout the school year. Using your amazing trait as a teacher to teach, but also to help and make teacher's lives easier. Your customers are going to be all for that.
As Allie mentioned new teachers I started to think about three CEO Teacher® School students in particular that are currently helping new teachers. Either as teacher mentors that are serving teachers moving into their first year. Or those that may need additional support with resume creation or the application process or preparing for an interview. Those things are so needed in the summertime. And so right now, as we are preparing to slow down, some of our students are speeding up. Because they know that summer is their time to shine.
They're going to be supporting their ideal customers all summer long so that when they do launch their programs in the fall they've created the ‘know like, and trust factor’ with their ideal customer audience. So remember, as Allie has helped us see, summertime can be a great time to plant those seeds to prepare for a bountiful harvest. You could be working exponentially preparing for August and September when sales are through the roof for not only TPT but for a lot of things that teachers do just because it is back-to-school time.
Allie shared so many amazing strategies to help you keep from panicking every summer. But if you are still wondering how can you market your resources and ideas to combat that dreaded drop in sales this summer, check out these articles and get inspired to plant those seeds.
Allie has officially rebranded since the last time that we chatted. I know that Allie has a lot of things that can help teachers when school starts back. So I wanted you to be able to find Allie. She is over at The Classroom Community Copilot, where she helps teachers, especially in upper elementary, create a classroom that feels like a class family. Allie’s goal is to get teachers from strangers to family and build that classroom community authentically in a way that celebrates and connects and calms.
Do you want to hear the full interview with Allie from Team Kayse? Head over to the podcast and listen to all the goodness!