Selling on TPT turned my life around, and I have shared that story so many times. But I want to showcase these three amazing ladies who are students inside of the CEO Teacher® School. And we're going to talk about how they are rocking it in their business. As we start I want to share a bit about each of them and their journey to selling on TPT through the CEO Teacher® School.
Keeana Funderburk lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and teaches in the burbs. She’s a fourth-grade teacher who teaches math science and social studies All of her business accounts are under the Art of Funnology. It's a play on her last name. She started her TPT journey in January of 2019. You would never ever think she is fairly new to all of this after looking at everything she’s got going on.
Jocelynn Hubbard lives just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. She was a seventh and eighth-grade language arts and social studies teacher. She transitioned out of the classroom a few years ago and is now a coach and consultant. She helps teachers to adapt and navigate the cultural differences in their classrooms. She also has a TPT store called Custom Teaching Solutions, which is also the name of her consulting business. She actually opened her TPT store back in 2013. So it was open for quite a while before she found the CEO Teacher® School and got serious about it. Jocelynn totally understands the struggles of being a mom and trying to be a teacher and trying to run a business. She too has 5 babies!
Sydney LaFrenz can be found at Learning With LaFrenz on TPT and Instagram. She taught fourth grade for seven years in central Iowa. Sydney feels that although the year of 2020 has such a negative connotation, that year brought a lot of unexpected blessings thanks to the CEO Teacher® School. She took that year off and decided to stay home with her girls, but knew she had to make supplemental income. That was the year she asked her husband to join the CEO Teacher® program as a birthday gift. Then she actually stepped away from the classroom and began her dream job to continue pursuing this whole avenue that she didn't even know existed. She got started reading the Entrepreneurs Side Hustle Handbook that she bought on a whim from Amazon. She was simply trying to find a way to make money.
She credits finding the CEO Teacher® on Instagram from that book, and then joined the course, and put the book away. Although she is not going back into the school directly, she works a lot with new teachers and student teachers.
The reason why we chose these three amazing women is that their stories are so unique. And I think that it's just a really cool testament about the community inside of the CEO Teacher®. And I want to brag about each of them, not necessarily the program. Instead how far they've come, how much they’ve done, all the cool things that they have going on.
Keeana didn't really know that this whole teacher side hustle world existed until around the end of 2018. November 2018 is when she first discovered Teachergram and realized teachers had Instagram accounts she was amazed. Because she was just sharing tips and tricks with personal friends and family. And then as she ventured into the world of Teachergram she started to see so many teachers making their own products. She started taking the things that she made in my classroom and adding them to her TeachersPayTeachers store.
Honestly, she wasn't doing much at all and not being consistent selling on TPT. And then the pandemic hit, she literally had made probably less than a hundred dollars that whole year. She decided in April 2020 to take this business seriously, so she joined the CEO Teacher® School after much debate. She and a teacher friend made the decision to join together. She recalls it was a very emotional moment. Although her friend decided that the side hustle life was not the life for her, Keeana stuck with it and her world has changed.
She thought I knew PowerPoint and knew certain things about resource creation. She began thinking about so many different avenues she could take her products like emails and blogging. Then she felt that she needed a following on Instagram. She thought that it would help her. But what she learned is that IG followers play no role in her Teachers Pay Teachers store, or a very small role compared to the other business aspects. She credits learning a lot of those aspects through the CEO Teachers® School. Her first real year during the back-to-school season on TPT she made over $1,200 in August. So from April to August, after joining the CEO Teacher® School, she had already made a very significant amount of money, much more than anticipated.
Keeana is still in the classroom and has a unique perspective on the CEO Teacher® journey. So for someone that's in the classroom right now, wondering, I don't know if I can even start this whole journey. I love that Keeana said it was a moment because I want everyone to feel like it's a moment. And to know that it was for her means so much. And in such a short amount of time, she really put in the work to make $1,200 in August. That's crazy town. But let’s talk about how she did that. Being a teacher, plus she went back to school and tried to take on a whole lot of different jobs. So how did that work out?
Keeana was fortunate in that the pandemic did offer some free time since a lot of the time she was at home. So she was able to really go through the content inside the modules pretty quickly. She wasn’t able to just binge all of the videos at one time. So as the school year was starting, she would just pick two days out of the week to watch the videos. And then she would create on the weekends. So Saturday was kind of her day to create because Sunday she spent getting ready for the week. She really had to put herself on a schedule. She likens it to being in grad school. If you want to accomplish something, you'll get it done. And the scheduling is what helped her the most.
I love that advice, stick to a schedule. You know we are all about our systems and processes over here! And speaking of schedules Sydney had to put herself on a schedule to be a stay-at-home mom and get anything done. Sydney began branching out by helping new teachers. And she’s got another unique perspective that we love. So let's talk about how the coaching part of the CEO Teacher® School has helped Sydney stay accountable for creating this amazing business.
According to Sydney, the coaching part might be easily one of her favorite parts. She feels like the feedback directly from myself or a CEO Teacher® Master Coach on the calls is invaluable. But then the comment section is almost crazy to keep up with, because everyone's like, what about this? Have you thought about this? It's just wild, the community. Sydney has made lifelong friends in the community. And she feels like in the coaching calls, everyone is interacting and helping each other get better and do better. Sydney tries to never miss a call for that reason. The coaching calls are a game-changer for sure.
That's part of the whole thing is that you have to put in the work and I get to see your beautiful faces each week for our coaching. And these ladies continue to show up! Jocelynn has been a committed member for a while too. She started her TPT store in 2013, which was when I started selling on TPT. But since I feel like I've seen her on each of these calls. I mean, it's been years now for Jocelyn, and she still shows up, which is amazing.
The coaching for Jocelynn has been important for her journey as well. Even though Jocelynn started her TPT store in 2013, that was also the year that she came out of the classroom. She had their first child in 2012 and then moved from North Carolina to Missouri. And her husband didn't know how long they were going to be there. Jocelynn didn’t want to be a part of the teacher turnover rate. She wanted to stay home. She started her TPT store, but then kind of fell into a depression and forgot about TPT.
But then years later, she came back to it. She had been following me a bit on YouTube at this point. Her husband kept saying, Jocelynn, if you would just take this thing seriously, I think you can be successful. Who can you find to help you with this journey? Who can coach you? Then she came back to one of my YouTube videos. Then she somebody she was talking to made a comment about something that was in my program. So she looked further into the CEO Teacher® and when it opened for enrollment she joined. Literally, a month after joining she found out she was pregnant with her fifth child and just cried.
She was so emotional over the fact that she was finally ready to take herself seriously. And then found out she was pregnant. But the reason she continued to show up on the coaching calls is that she feels like this journey, especially once you get out of the classroom, can be really lonely. Not that many people understand what you're doing and they don't understand what it takes to be successful in this space. And so having that community has been a game-changer, seriously, lifelong friends for Jocelynn. She is constantly in her DMS talking to some of her friends that she met through the CEO Teacher® community. They accidentally called on IG the other day. And they were on the call for 40 minutes.
You start to connect with different people inside the comment section of the coaching calls and then ask why don't we talk offline? And then they connect with them on Instagram. And then the conversation turns into a collaboration. Inside the CEO Teacher® program we talk about link juice. So then the conversation turns to link from one blog to the other. According to Jocelynn, having this community makes you feel like you can do this. You’re not alone and you can do this.
Sydney feels like she is always trying to explain the course to people who are not in education and don't really understand Teachers Pay Teachers. She wants to explain her goals and dreams and aspirations. She wants everyone to know that you can leave the classroom and still understand the ins and out of education. The passion for education doesn't stop, it just transforms in a different direction.
Sydney felt like she had something to prove, and her husband is not a spender at all. So she wanted to prove to him how much becoming a CEO Teacher® was going to help. In two months of joining the program, her sales increased by 375%. She was hoping to see a return on investment in a year, and in two months she saw that return. That was the push she needed to keep going. She joined the CEO Teacher® Academy (level 2) when it was offered to her. She felt empowered to go after what she wanted, that she didn't need to stay in the classroom to go after those things.
Jocelynn recalls that she didn't really have clarity. She knew she enjoyed creating products, but she didn't KNOW. She was just doing a bunch of random things and wasn't pricing products appropriately. The designs were all over the place. And she couldn't figure out what it was that she was really trying to do and where to focus her energies. And then she didn't have the confidence to make it actually happen, so it was like a combination of things.
After she joined the CEO Teacher® Programs and did the mind mapping module was the transformative piece. She mentions having done some other mind mapping situations and the CEO Teacher® Mind Mapping literally gave her the clarity that she needed. And it helped her to realize because she loves TPT and still creates for that platform. But doing the mind mapping helped her to realize that she could achieve more than she originally thought. She had a different dream than she originally realized, and once she mapped it out she could see the path. Awesome. It's not just a dream anymore. It's reality.
Keena feels like the CEO Teacher® School has made her realize that she is limitless. And when she says that she means that for so long she wanted to just be a teacher and a really good teacher. She was working toward that goal. She was the teacher of the year and her students had great scores. But she started to realize that there's like so much more to teaching that she had not expected. And she always said that adults are not really her thing. She was very much meant to work with children. This is her way to help other teachers and share what she does in her classroom with other teachers. And it's something that she enjoys doing.
She tries to focus on making things that she knows she is going to use anyway. So it's a natural fit. It is also nice to be able to share that and be able to make money for herself. And she knows, not everything's about money. Keenana’s family was very concerned that she was going to be a teacher and that would limit her. They said she would never make over a certain amount. Now she sees that there literally is no ceiling to what she can do while still teaching. And just knowing that she is limitless is a very exciting and liberating feeling.
This interview had me holding back tears, listening to all of these amazing women talk. My purpose and passion are to help teachers see their worth and act on those dreams. Jocelynn talked about mind mapping and how she got to see the bigger picture. It was just a few years ago that I was in her shoes thinking about this program and how transformative it could be. Full circle moment for me to listen to all of them talk about blessings on blessings and limitless possibilities. This is why I was put on this planet to help teachers, like these 3 awesome ladies, and all of my students. I don't get to hear the stories enough. Sometimes we just feel like we go through the motions, you know, we are trying our best at everything. I am so thankful for my students breathing life into me. That single piece has been such a joy.
We have two programs or levels that make up our CEO Teacher® brand. The CEO Teacher® School, and the CEO Teacher® Academy. We are currently about to launch the CEO Teacher® School, which all these ladies are a part of. And yes the program helps you get started, but you can also have products created when you join us. We're going to show you how to turn your idea into a business. A real business that lasts for a lifetime.
We start with the CEO Teacher® School (level 1) and then you can upgrade to level 2 after you have been a member of the School first. Level 2 teaches you to go even further if you're into creating an online course or a membership. What we're really talking about in the school is taking your products and ideas and turning it into a real business, selling on TPT and beyond.
Keaana is still in the classroom and creating resources. One of our students' most asked questions is “how does that work?” So for Teachers' Pay Teachers, Keeana typically focuses on things that she would use herself. Most of her resources are fourth and fifth grade, upper elementary math things. Because that's what she teaches and that's what she is going to use. So she will get an idea that just pops into her head and she goes for it.
And if it went well, then she decides to share with other teachers on Instagram and YouTube. That does help to support her sales, but with the audience that she has on IG, it doesn't necessarily mean that she will get the sales that you would think with a bigger audience. So that's when having YouTube videos definitely help because people can refer back to those for longer periods of time. But having an email list has definitely been the key to her marketing efforts. She can actually see who's opening emails and see that conversion rate. Whereas with Instagram, again, some people are going to say that's such a cool idea and maybe buy it instantly. But it's not going to be nearly as many as directly hitting people in their inbox when she emails them.
She does have a lot of digital products because they're easy for her students to use in the classroom, especially things that are self-graded. She loves it because now her students are able to check their understanding as they go. So that's kind of how she shaped her business. Instagram and YouTube are supplemental to the things that she does in the classroom. Everything revolves around what's actually happening in the classroom.
I love that Keeana is really honest about the Instagram world because if someone goes to your Instagram, and they're like, oh my gosh, she is a sensation. It's really important to know that just because you have a whole lot of followers doesn't mean that that directly correlates with sales or change in the TPT world. And we know it's not all about money. Money can't buy happiness. I agree with all of those statements, but a lot of us start this journey to help ourselves financially because let's get real, we're teachers. We don't make a lot of money.
So if you are reading this and teaching, let's say fourth-grade math and are pregnant, how does this apply to you? Maybe you are thinking of staying at home and doing this thing on the side. I don't think people really understand that this can truly be an income for your family. Sydney tells us she wouldn't have been able to make it last year without this side hustle. She had lots of products that she just usually gave out for free. To everyone in her district. So her kids go down for a nap, she gets as much work as she can get done. Gets up at five, gets as much work done as she can. As soon as they go to bed, she works until midnight. And her husband watched her work, as hard as she could, because it was important to her to see this through.
And the nice thing is she could have taken her time. There are a lot of people that take their time through the course, and that works really well for them as well. Sydney thought if she was in the classroom, like Keeana, that might've been more what she had to do. But she needed to figure out if this was going to bring an income. And it did. It was like a 375% increase from October of 2019 to October of 2020. In the beginning, she was worried it was all a fluke, and every month it just continued and continued.
Sydney says so much of what she learned in the CEO Teacher® School, just made her fall in love with everything inside the program. And keep her going. While it felt like a risk at the time, it ultimately wasn't. It was so minor in the grand scheme, she says she would have never been where she is right now had she not joined. She didn't know people blogged and sent emails. She had no idea about SEO, which is a mind-blowing, golden ticket to our marketing efforts. She says she would've never been able to Google ALL the things on her own.
Jocelynn says there is this whole system, this whole world that people just don't know about until they get into the CEO Teacher® School. Even though Jocelynn is on TPT, that is not the largest part of her focus. She has taken what she learned in the program and applied it to her consulting business. She is still working with teachers coaching them in schools. And so all of the things that we teach in the program about design and resources, she has applied to her business. She does create resources as a part of the package she offers when she’s working with schools. So she may not necessarily put all that stuff on TPT. But she is using all of the lessons and all of the marketing lessons on how to design all these things and make them look professional. All of that is learned from all the lessons in the CEO Teacher® school.
Keeana feels like she was able to make the Art of Funology a brand after being a part of the CEO Teacher® School. Before it was just something she did as a hobby. She loves that I walk my students through how to make it a business. And like Jocelynn was saying, she's able to apply that to consulting, Sydney applies it to helping new teachers, and Keeana is able to apply that to influencing or whatever else. Because she has made this brand for herself that she learned how to do through the CEO Teacher® School program. The lessons aren't just limited to Teachers Pay Teachers, my students are becoming edupreneurs. CEO Teachers® in all different assets because they have the core knowledge it's able to be applied in so many other areas.
Sydney thinks everyone who goes through the course should be able to earn a business degree. Honestly, she doesn't even feel the need for college at this point. Jocelynn says people DM her and ask, “do you work with somebody to create your designs?” And she is able to answer, “nope I do them myself.” Because the CEO Teacher® reaches all aspects like Pinterest and all that other stuff. The program has helped her to really create a brand, not just random stuff all over the place.
So this is pushback that I get, “Kayse can't you just Google anything that you're looking for when it comes to making your own business and being a teacher?” Jocelynn says Google is great for getting those basic little random things, but there's no system. And she feels that's the key; when you are able to do the steps in order.
And even though I share a ton of content on my blog and podcast, Jocelynn says that's just the surface, there's a whole other level in the program. But the part you can Google. Is what you can find from the podcast. But the program is at a deeper level and the system of how to do it. And Jocelynn says that's how you get successful when you put together a plan. Keeana says before entering the CEO Teacher® school there were just so many things she hadn't considered. And she would not even know what to Google. She would not have known what comes first, next, et cetera. She would be so out of the loop and missing so many pieces. Even the things that she thought she knew, like PowerPoint, are different when you're using them to create teacher resources. After she took the course she realized wow this is so much simpler if I do X, Y, Z.
Sydney says if she were to Google, back before she took the course, it would have been how to be successful on Teachers Pay Teachers. She literally doesn't know what else she could have possibly learned. After the course, she says Search Engine Optimization still blows her mind. It makes so much sense now that she knows about it. But she didn't even know it was a thing and she wouldn't even have known to start Googling stuff like that.
Sydney is thankful for someone who experienced it before her. Especially when it's an educator and someone who works on Teachers Pay Teachers. She would have spent way too long Googling things if she had to do it alone with zero feedback. Jocelynn wants to point that out too. There are other business coaches out there. But they're not educators, they're not teachers. So they don’t understand that unique space and they don't know how to talk to teachers. That's why she keeps showing up to the coaching calls because she needs an educator's lens. As she presents things like her website and different marketing materials, she has a teacher's lens on it. The program comes from a teacher perspective so it really helps you to narrow your scope and be able to reach your target audience better.
These ladies kept bringing up Search Engine Optimization. It just trips me out because S E O is not the same thing as a CEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization. And back in the day on TPT, you could show up and you could say, “Hey, I want to sell some kindergarten sight word resources”, and you could make crazy great money, but things have changed. It's a lot more people that are going after the same things that you may want to sell on your Teachers Pay Teachers store. And that's what I was dealing with. I wanted to make the same amount of money that everyone who had started when TPT started made. But I didn't know how to get there because I wasn't the first one out the gate. So I started learning about search engine optimization. Keeana gave us a little rundown on how S E O or search engine optimization has changed the game for her.
Keeana said, “SEO took me a while to understand. I must admit that is really why I had to attend the coaching calls because I feel like people ask questions in ways that I would be confused about, but wouldn't know how to ask.” She was able to gain so much more knowledge with the coaching calls because other people were experiencing the same things. But once you get your SEO down and you're able to figure out what those long-tail keywords are, it really does help you stay ahead of the game. It helps your resources get seen ahead of the competition because people that are searching for whatever resource you might have will see your things first.
For Keeana, that definitely helped with her digital interactive notebooks. She accredits the money she made last summer to SEO. She was able to stand above the crowd because she was able to be found easier. She believes SEO really helped transform the amount of income she was able to make from Teachers Pay Teachers.
Jocelynn said, “I literally had no idea what SEO was before I joined the school. And like Keeana said, I remember watching the lesson, and saying to myself, let me figure this out. Let me do the things that she's saying.” But Jocelynn remembers jumping on the coaching calls because there are a number of coaching calls where we really work on SEO. That's where Jocelynn believes the game changed for her. Because students can ask specific questions and I can show you my process for searching. How I actually go about finding those words to rank for. So having someone who is an expert on SEO is so helpful to walk us through it. Jocelynn says, “sometimes we don’t even know which words to put together to make things make sense.”
Sydney recalled how many times (as a teacher) she would Google fourth-grade geometry activity or fourth-grade precise overwriting. And you know, all these resources from Teachers Pay Teachers would pop up and it never dawned on her that behind the scenes there was a reason why. She actually kind of figured people would pay for that to happen.
And some do, but you don't have to. There's a whole behind the computer screen system. That's a little bit of a game to get your resource to show up first. And that's what search engine optimization is, it's kind of about bringing your resources to the top of a search engine. And it's fascinating. Sydney said, “And it's even more fun when you go to Google and search your own long-tail keyword, and there comes your resource #1, and you're like the best feeling ever.”
It’s funny for me to look back to three years ago when I started this program and we're redoing all the videos now. So I'm rewatching some of the videos. And I remember I was Googling certain long-tail keywords, praying, cause I was teaching that they were going to show up like first, second, and third. Even though I knew what I was teaching my students worked, II was always so shocked to see those words at the top of a google search.
I know it works, but you almost feel like an imposter. So to hear them say they all felt the same way is super motivating to me too. Because it's just so wonderful. The best part is, it didn’t just work for me. Now we have over 3000 students and all of these amazing success stories. So if someone is reading this and they're thinking to themselves, okay. Yeah, it seems like these 3 have it all together. But I just don't really understand enough or I'm not sure I want to get there just yet. Or I'm not going to get there just yet. These ladies were kind enough to share what they would say to anyone on the fence of starting this journey. Are you asking yourself if I should take the leap of faith of joining the CEO Teacher® school or investing in a program?
Jocelynn would say do it. She easily made her money back, quickly, probably in the first two months. She recalls making that initial investment back before she even applied all of the lessons. Then she thought, “if I can do this with just half of the things that she taught me, what can I do with the rest?” And we all feel like everything in our lives is delivered in seasons. So if you are here and reading this now then this is your season And even though you may not apply everything that you learn right away, something's going to happen and you're going to come right back to it and you're going to be ready for that next level.
Keanna believes that this is an investment in yourself. She knew that this was like the cost of a new beginning. Once she had made that investment, she knew that she wanted to go far with this. It gave me the motivation she needed to keep going. And so even when the school year got hard because last year was a really tough school year. She was not creating as much as she wanted to, but she still was on the coaching calls because she knew that when she was ready to create over the summer, she would have those ideas and that knowledge. And that part is what she thinks is the most beneficial part of the coaching and the community. It’s the things that you wouldn't consider, the things you wouldn't think about. But you hear them while you're collaborating with others, that is what's the best.
Sydney says, “I feel like there are so many examples if you need supplemental income if you love creating resources, if you feel like there's more for you to contribute to education outside the classroom, all of those scenarios are reasons to join.”
It's not just my program but the fact that these ladies have put in the effort because they've worked really hard to get to where they are today. And for those blog readers who are interested in joining us, we're doing an absolutely free challenge. It's called the classroom to chaching challenge. It all starts on September the 23rd at 8:00 PM EST. It's a free way that you can get started learning with us. I'm going to take you through that very beginning process of creating your first resource (or uplevel your current resources). I'm going to show you how to list it on Teachers Pay Teachers. Give you the perfect description. We're even going to go over some of that SEO stuff we were talking about before, and it's all free, before we invite you to join our program. The CEO Teacher® School.
It's happening on September the 23rd at 8:00 PM EST. All you have to do is go to kaysemorris.com/challenge to sign up for the classroom to chaching challenge. I'll give you a Google calendar and I'll show you how to join the Facebook group, where I'll be going live every night for four nights and teach you how to get started on the business of your dreams.
© kayse morris 2020 / legal / design by saffron ave
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