a super honest post | Teaching in the Tongass

Saturday, January 17, 2015

a super honest post

So, I've just hit my first official TpT Milestone. Woohooooo! I am humbly amazed.  I started officially selling on TpT in March of 2013, so it's been almost 2 years of this wild ride.  If you aren't a seller or are just starting out, please, for the love of God, do not hate me for it! As most sellers do, I've worked my butt off and I can say without hesitation that I've earned that income and I refuse to feel guilty about it. I am so incredibly grateful for all of my customers. I am so thankful for every encouraging word from the beginning of this journey.  I still get excited about every single purchase from the very first item sold.  I will never forget that feeling.  I even took a screenshot of it when it happened! In fact, I take screenshots of pretty much every happy moment I have (I keep them in a file on my computer called "TpT memories"...#nerd).  Here are a few of my favorite memories from the last couple of years:
I know people reading this can feel many things, but I sincerely wish the strange jealousy and snarky half-true comments (another seller/blogger put it best here) didn't come with this part-time job. As a teaching community, and as women in particular, I know we can feel bad about ourselves, but that doesn't mean we can't be happy for others. I didn't hit the jackpot, I work a part-time job. Making that money doesn't come without sacrifices (time spent on a computer rather than playing with my toddler or helping my husband with dinner for instance), just the same as if I were delivering pizza after teaching all day.  

Yes, it is a part-time job, and some weeks a full time job in addition to the other full time job I have as a teacher. Please understand nobody on TpT whips up a worksheet in 2 seconds and gets to the first milestone. It takes time. Lots. of. time. I typically spend about 3-4 hours after school and on weekends (in between taking care of my toddler and now, a newborn). Then there's the marketing, advertising, building relationships, customer service, blogging....it can be a lot at times if I'm not careful.

Please also understand that we put our own money into this job as well (for instance, I spent over $3000 in 2014). All those cute fonts and graphics on covers? Yep, they cost money. You might not know it, but most TpT sellers have a huge investment in clipart and fonts. They cost money to be used commercially (most fonts are about $3-5 dollars EACH). Most clipart bundles are about $5 each (or if you create your own, time spent working on them is how you value them). I also pay $60 a year to sell on TpT. And $100 a year to store my files on Dropbox. And $120 annual subscription for commercial photos (for product covers).  Also, the income is reported when filing for taxes, so a seller has to take that into consideration as well.  These are just a few of the costs of running a business like this. Which is why, every time I hear someone say they only go to TpT for free resources or that they made copies of a product for a coworker (most of the time, that's not only unethical, but illegal), I silently cringe.

I like to think of TpT as sort of like a Costco...they have free samples, but I don't go there for that. The sample helps me decide if I will actually like it.  I can definitely get a sense of a seller's products by downloading a freebie from their store and decide if a paid product is something I would like to purchase.  Plus, most TpT products that cost money are for less than a mocha (there are of course some spendy ones, but those big bundles can be huuuge timesavers and great deals for what you are really getting), so if you do buy something, you can probably feel good about where the money is going (personally, I feel good about giving my hard earned money to another teacher over a big publishing company).  Oh, and I'm not saying you should buy something, but at the very least, I would like people to appreciate the fact that the person (typically a teacher just.like.you) who made the freebie you just downloaded, put money and probably more time than you think into that product.

So, when you download anything for free that you know you will use, LEAVE FEEDBACK. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's like the tip you would leave your server at a restaurant. It's not required, but it's simply rude not to say thank you. I don't even care if you put a smiley face in the comment section. Just leave something. Anything. Our feedback ratings help our store get noticed.  It's disheartening when I go to download a freebie and see thousands have been downloaded and the seller only has 10 ratings. Sad. Of course, I can't speak for all sellers, but for me, a positive feedback rating is what makes my day. I continue to put out freebies when I reach a certain amount of feedback (the amount is my little secret!). So, head to your "My Purchases" on TpT and "Free Downloads" to make sure you've left some feedback love for the things you've used lately :)

To sum it all up and end on a happy note, I am so incredibly grateful for TpT and the kind people who have helped me get to where I am. I've gained some great friendships and in this online community, a sense of accomplishment. The money I've earned has allowed me to make some changes in my life I will write about later (oh the suspense!). I am taking my family on a Hawaiian vacation this summer and am so excited to see my kids play in the warm sun after this terribly yucky winter we've been having (lots of rain, a bit of snow) and splurging on a super nice hotel for once in my life. I'll probably leave my computer at home so I can really enjoy myself and spend that time with my family. So, from the bottom of my heart and in the weirdest way possible over the internet (hubs calls it the "world wide webs" haha), I want to send a huge thank you to my customers.  This milestone wouldn't be possible without your support! THANK YOU!!!

On another note, my new year's resolution this year is to PLAY. Play with my kids while they are still little. Like I said, this TpT thing can be a little overwhelming sometimes...my to-do list is a mile long and there are only so many hours in a day. I need to remember to be present and focus on my family and not that darn list. Speaking of, someone is asking me to play trucks on the floor with him...


  1. Congrats on your well-deserved milestone!

  2. Congratulations on your milestone! Your blog post is very stated.
    Enjoy spending time with your 2 little ones!!!

  3. And you have so many products that I LOVE, so that hundred dollars would be quickly spent......I like the Superhero Clipart Bundle.

  4. This is such a fantastic post Jen! You said it all so well! Congratulations to you for reaching this big milestone! Thanks for creating so many cute sets for our teaching materials. :) I've never tried Jamberry nails, but I might have to now!

    Creative Lesson Cafe

  5. I so enjoy following you. Congratulations hunny

  6. Congrats on your milestone! I just bought some sports clip art from you last night :) Thanks for all your cute stuff.

    Fantastic First Grade Froggies 

  7. Jen, you put so much work into your store. I am a huge fan and have been following for a looong time! Thank you!

  8. Well said!! Thanks for sharing :)

  9. Congrats on your milestone! I have been a buyer on TPT for over 4 years. I never resented sellers making money & have appreciated all their hard work (and have a HUGE file on my computer to show for it). I have now been a seller for 6 months and totally get HOW MUCH hard work it takes (and how much money I've spent building files of quality clip art & fonts)- your blog post was great at expressing this. I've made some money in the past 6 months but have yet to break even yet- I know it's coming though! Again, congratulations- YOU deserve it!!!

  10. Congrats. It is a shame that so many people do not understand what it takes to create a product and get 'mad' at sellers. You work is fantastic.

  11. Congratulations on reaching your milestone! I have recently discovered your clip art and I am hooked! Thank you for making such wonderful images for buyers to use in their products!
    A side note... my family is taking a cruise to Alaska in June! We can't wait to discover the beauty of your state, that you get to see on a daily basis :)

  12. Congratulations on reaching your milestone! First of many, I'm sure!

  13. First of all, congratulations on your milestone!! :) WELL deserved! I love your products.
    Thank you for writing this post. There's so much more to being a seller than creating products!
    Your next milestone will be here before you know it!

  14. Congrats on your new baby and your TpT milestone! Thank you so much for your freebies. I am loving your clip art. I especially liked the Alaska Mega Bundle. I am excited to create with it.

  15. Congrats on your milestone!! You've worked hard and deserve every aspect of it!!

    A Tall Drink of Water


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