I often have fellow SLPs ask me, “How do you find time for it all? Your blog, TeachersPayTeachers store, Facebook, plus handling your regular job and family?”
I won’t lie, it certainly is challenging, but I have found some ways to make it easier. (Check out this post for tips on how I handle my “day” job.)
First of all, you need to take a step back, and think about the following questions:
- Why do you want to have an online presence? Do you have lots of ideas you have always wanted to share with other SLPs? Do you have a passion for creating therapy materials? Have you seen other SLPs online, and thought, “I could do that”? Are you looking for a new hobby?
- How much time are you willing to invest? What could you give up to find some extra time to work on this?
- Are you the type of person that starts a lot of ideas or projects, but doesn’t always finish them? Or are you the type of person that tends to stick with things for the long haul?
Honestly, if you aren’t serious about it, or are seriously overloaded in life right now, it’s not worth the time commitment. I’ve seen many people start stores or blogs, post things for about two weeks, and then stop, because it’s just too much work. But if this is something you are committed to, and want to continue with in the long run, here are some tips that I have found to make things easier:
- Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is tempting to fall into the trap of, “Well, she can get three new products and two new blog posts done in a week, so why can’t I?” We are all in different stages of life, and yes, some people will have more time or energy than you to devote to this. If you compare yourself to others, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Focus on what you can do in the time you have available and not on what others are doing, and you will be much happier.
- Figure out where you have “margin” time in your week, and use that for creating new materials. Do you tend to spend an hour in front of the tv at night? Bring your computer to the couch to work at the same time as your favorite shows, or cut out some of the t.v. time. Are you a morning person? Try getting up 15 or 20 minutes earlier in the morning. Do you usually have an hour to yourself while the kids are napping? You may think you can’t get much done in that time, but it definitely adds up.
- Educate yourself about copyright and trademark before you start creating products. You don’t want to have to remove items later on down the road because you made mistakes when starting out! Some highlights: Don’t use images in products or on your blog that you don’t have permission to use. The images you use need to clearly say they allow commercial use (and this doesn’t matter if your items are free or paid); this means DO NOT use images from Google or any other search engine. Don’t use trademarked names in your products, especially in the titles. (Not sure if a name is trademarked? Check trademarkia.com. Some definite names to stay away from include Eric Carle, Elf on the Shelf, Pete the Cat, and anything related to Dr. Seuss or Disney.) Don’t use look-alike character clip art – even though it is for sale, the clip artist has likely already violated copyright by creating it.
- Keep something with you at all times to jot down product ideas, whether it is on your phone or in a small notebook. You never know when inspiration will strike!
- Keep an ongoing to-do list, and re-prioritize things as necessary. Do you have several product ideas, but need one in particular for your own therapy this week? Work on that first.
- Make templates for yourself. I prefer to create materials in Powerpoint, and I have a couple of template files that I can copy and paste from to save myself time. I have a template for task cards with all of my copyright and store info already typed in, as well as credit and thank you pages. You could also do this for cover pages or product hyperlinks.
- If your store is just starting out, focus mainly on product creation, rather than social media. You can go ahead and create a Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram account for your brand, but don’t worry too much about posting there until you have at least 20 products or so, especially if your time is limited.
- When creating products, consider the marketability of your idea. Is this something you have needed for your students because you couldn’t find anything else like it online? Or is this similar to other products out there? It is a much more productive use of your time to make something original than to copy something else that has already been done. (For example, there are literally hundreds of articulation cards on the market, both on TpT and through traditional publishing companies. Don’t waste your valuable time making another set when the competition is so fierce.) Also, directly copying others’ ideas is considered akin to plagiarism, and is very inconsiderate to fellow sellers.
- Once you are ready to start posting more to social media, take advantage of things like being able to schedule Facebook posts in advance and having your Instagram account post directly to your Facebook page.
- Take time to pin new products to Pinterest when you make them. It only takes a minute or two. Don’t worry about pinning more than this if you don’t have the time.
- When you are preparing for therapy in the morning, take a few quick pictures of the therapy materials you plan on using that day or week. This is an easy way to find ideas of what to post on your Facebook and Instagram pages.
- Make friends with fellow sellers and bloggers! Collaboration is key. These people have been walking the same path for years now, and have helpful advice and tips. They also make great editors, cheerleaders, and proofreaders, and can help give your platform a much needed visibility boost.
- Keep track of your statistics (number of followers, products in your store, total sales, etc.) every month. The process can feel discouraging if you look at how slow your growth is every day, but if you look at your progress monthly, you will see growth!
What other tips do you have to share?
Heidi Britz says
I am dipping my toe into the TPT/blogging waters and so appreciate this great advice, thank you!
Great advice. I also think it's important to recognize what I am able to do with well without compromising my professionalism or sanity. I realized early on that materials creation is a time consuming and demanding task. It is better suited to those with the energy and I am very grateful to them (and you).
Cory Phil says
Purpose directs everything. It is what instills discipline. It is also what drives people to try out new things to make their brand known and make sure it sticks. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to establish one’s online presence during these times, whether you’re a new start up business, or an established one stepping into the digital age. In the end, every little thing counts for the improvement of the company. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter. Cheers!
Cory Phil @ Front Burner Marketing
Keri Vandongen says
Thank you, Natalie for sharing some of your valuable time and expertise with new sellers. I shall always be grateful for your support. I'll try to pay it forwards and back, however I can in the future. ~Keri
Lee Swanson says
It certainly takes discipline to succeed! As with the right amount of self-discipline, you will be able to manage your time well, and get to do the things you’re committed and passionate about right. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Natalie! Continue to enjoy what you're doing!
Lee Swanson @ Your Marketing Crew