I frequently get asked what kind of equipment, fonts and random things I use as a Teachers Pay Teachers seller and always share my go-to tools and gadgets (sidenote: I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I’ve got whosits and whatsits galore, but who cares, no big deal, I want mooooooore….name that movie for extra bonus points). I’ve decided to compile a list of my absolute favorite things I’ve purchased that I recommend to any seller that is either starting out or super serious about their business. In no particular order, here are my list of favorite tax deductions (I’ll update this list as I come across new goodies throughout the year, so you may want to bookmark it to check back again next year at some point if you’re looking to buy things again before the year is over).
This post most definitely contains affiliate links. I have tried and tested each of these items personally and would never recommend anything blindly. Clicking on a link may result in a tiny portion of sales, which support my business and family.
- White Foam Board. Once upon a time, I had a fancy light box for taking photos. I hated it. Everyone I know was recommending them, so I thought it would be amazing. The setup took too long. I ended up having to edit for brightness even with all the lights I used. The backdrop fabric was always wrinkly and I don’t want to iron for something I just need a quick photo of. Now, I use a white piece of foam board and put it right next to my window. I have Snapseed (a phone app) for brightness, but I actually prefer to just brighten it in Powerpoint (I mess with the “Corrections” and “Recolor” options until I get the look I want). And they all lived happily ever after.
- Contact Paper. On top of foam board, this magically becomes the top of a student desk. Except you can tuck this student desk behind your actual desk when you’re not using it. You might be thinking, “Oh, I take photos at school with an actual desk.” If you’re taking photos in your classroom using school district furniture (i.e. an actual student desk), make sure you have permission from the right people because that would not be fun to deal with later…better safe than sorry.
- Clear Page Protectors. I keep all of my resources that I’ve printed in binders. Some of them need to be printed in regular size because I’m taking photos using crayons/pencils/etc. Some of them are printed at 1/4 page and put in ziploc bags and then in a page protector. I can keep an entire 30 page unit in a single page protector. I definitely don’t just use them for a single page.
- These Binders. See above. I keep those page protectors in binders. That’s my storage solution. I use these ones in particular because they’re cheap but they look classy, and they double as actual binders for when I take photos of resources.
- Adobe Acrobat Pro. If you don’t own this already, I ask you, how are you securing YOUR work AND the graphics you are using? If someone can highlight your text and copy/paste it into another document, it’s not secure. If the same can be said for clipart, it’s not secure. If your clipartist has language in their TOU about securing the clipart, you are required to follow it. No ifs, ands, or buts. We aren’t talking about just saving it as a PDF. You know how you feel about your own TOU being followed by teachers that purchase your resources and posting all over the internet for their friends to grab? That’s how a clipartist feels about their work as well. Keep it secure, friends. It’s best for everyone involved.
- Microsoft Office–BUSINESS. You’re likely using the student/teacher version of Powerpoint, which is a big fat no-no and by now you are probably averting your eyes so you don’t feel guilty, but I’m not the TpT police, so you put on your business pants and do what you think is right here.
- This phone holder. I’ve gone through a ton of random phone holders. Some of them are flimsy. Some of them I would have to stack books under. This one is perfect and if you do any video, it’s what I recommend. I reach for it 90% of the time now.
- This phone holder. The other 10% of the time, when I am wanting birdseye (filming video from up above so you can see both my hands working), I reach for this one.
- Tripod. This one is basically just for anyone that is thinking about doing video. These ones are cheap, lightweight and sturdy. Not a combo you usually see in camera equipment, but I stand by them. I have two of them (for filming 2 different angles, like a close up of my hands that I can use as “B roll” and one positioned in front of me so you can see my face talking).
- Desk. I like this desk because it folds flat when I’m not using it. I have a small house and no office. You get the idea.
- Lapel Microphone. I like this one because it has a long cord. I use it for recording audio that I add to Powerpoint presentations, as well as video. I used to think a mic wouldn’t be noticeable, but now when I hear people that don’t use one, it’s like watching a tape on VCR, it burns my eyes (or in this case, my ears). It’s very noticeable and for that price, it’s something we can easily fix so we don’t have to go back in a few years and redo audio.
- iPad Mount. I don’t always use an iPad for filming (I have an iPhone and DSLR, but sometimes those are being used for other parts of videoing), but when I do, I use this one.
- Phone Light. I live in Alaska. It gets dark early in the winter. I don’t always have window light, so this is my backup (I stick it on my phone and take photos of resources, not myself). You might also have the issue of taking photos at night and not having light (i.e. your darn kids don’t go to bed until 8 so that’s when you work).
- Paper cutter. Small, lightweight, easy to use. Can pack it in a bag to work on cuttin’ yo stuff anywhere.
- External hard drive storage. I’m an Apple girl, so this is what I use. It backs up my files, WIRELESSLY. That means I don’t have to plug in anything when I want to backup. Whatever you are, Mac or PC, make sure you backup your hard work or you’ll regret it. Big time.
- Dropbox. In addition to an external hard drive, I use Dropbox. I LOVE that I can access my files anywhere in the world and that it all syncs seamlessly.
- Printer. I had another brand and was seriously disgusted with their customer service when I had a small issue (FYI it was an Epson). I’ll never go back again.
- Cardstock. I like this kind. It’s the thickest I could find (110 lb). It prints beautifully, is super white, and holds up well in my binder storage.
- HP Instant Ink. I am STILL kicking myself for not signing up for this sooner. I don’t print a lot of full size pages (I prefer to print 4/page so I can take photos easier), so I didn’t see how beneficial this was to me. The thing I didn’t realize? I can sign up for the 300 pages/month plan, use a few codes I collected to get 5 free months, and viola, that’s 5 months @300 pages….1500 pages, FREE. Color OR black and white. Unused pages roll over to the next month. When my 5 months are up, I can change my plan to something more reasonable to my printing needs (100/month). The cartridges are some kind of magic that are filled more than a regular cartridge (which, I used to easily drop $100 on to print a binder full of resources), so they last longer. I don’t have to go to the store in my jammies when I run out of ink. It’s mailed way before I even run out. I feel like they get me and could sense my jammies weren’t cute enough for public viewing.
- Travel charger. If you go to conferences or meet ups, this lil buddy is your best friend. You do not want to run out of cell battery when you’re trying to figure out which restaurant you are supposed to go to and where it is.
- Clipart. I make my own clipart, but I still want to mention it because A LOT of people tell me about their husbands limiting their clipart purchases, so I feel like it should be mentioned here. It’s a business deduction. Your husband might see “cute” or whatever, but it’s as valid of a deduction as your printer. Look for MEGA Bundles with a lot of variety like these and shop during the sitewide sales while thinking about your next resource and upcoming holidays to save money.
- Internet. I have an accountant, so I won’t pretend to be one. I just know that I get a portion of my monthly internet bills deducted because my business depends on it. If you don’t have an accountant, I highly recommend talking to one rather than googling this one (I tried to find you a good article, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so let’s leave it to the experts, shall we?).
- Travel. Meetups and conferences. Airfare, hotel and registration. Mark it down.
- Annual Seller Fee.
- The 20% TpT gets. You report the overall sales, but deduct the portion TpT gets. It might sound weird, but that’s how it works.
- Paypal fees.
- Blog fees. Domain fees, hosting, special domain email, etc.
- Newsletter fees. I use this.
- Trademarks. If you registered for a Trademark this year, don’t forget to deduct that expense.
- Legal. Any legal fees associated with your business (for instance, if you hired a lawyer to register a trademark or deal with some super fun copyright stuff).
- Fonts. I have a bunch of font bundles from Hungry Jpeg. I also have all of these font bundles. Like most sellers, I have a few from each bundle that are my go-to’s, but it’s nice to own something that grows because I change my mind just about my favorites every time a new set of fonts is added to the bundle.
- APL Fonts
- Artsy Fonts
- KA Fonts
- GB Fonts
- PB Fonts
- AG Fonts
- Babbling Abby Fonts
- CC Fonts
- Hello Fonts
- KG Fonts
So that’s my big ol’ fat list. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few, but if I remember them I’ll come back and add them.
When I make a purchase, it’s usually online, which means I’m emailed a receipt. I prefer a clean Inbox, so I use folders for anything I need to keep. When I get a receipt, I leave it in my Inbox until I update my “Taxes Spreadsheet” (I update it a couple of times a month). After I update my spreadsheet, I put the email receipt in a folder for that tax year (i.e. all receipts from 2017 go in the “2017 Taxes” email folder). For paper receipts, I take a photo of it with my phone and email it to myself (I’ve used apps that essentially do the same thing, but this is easier for me). I currently keep it all organized in a plain ol’ spreadsheet that my accountant has a Dropbox link to so he can access it anytime he’s ready to prep stuff for me (like quarterly taxes). The spreadsheet looks a little like this (this is just an example so you can see what it would look like). Notice the categories on top and the tabs at the bottom that separate the quarters. The last tab is where I add my Sales and Earnings. It’s all kept in a folder in Dropbox where I put any other tax and legal documents for that year.
I hope you found this somewhat helpful! Feel free to comment below and share any that I may have forgotten.
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