These TpT seller mistakes keep you from growing your store to its full potential
Most people who start a TpT store are teachers, NOT business people. So it’s easy, especially at the beginning, to get caught up on the wrong things. There are some mistakes that can really limit your sales – but the good news is that these missteps can become powerful learning experiences, and it’s never too late to start making some changes.
Below, we’ll take a look at the top mistakes I see being made by TpT sellers and how to fix them so you can feel more confident in your business AND your sales.
Mistake #1: Not defining your niche and unique message
So many sellers think that if they choose a smaller niche for their store, they will be turning away customers – so they try to sell everything and anything. All grades, all subjects, all types of support materials – everything but the kitchen sink.
With a store like this, it’s really hard to build a return customer base, because your products are all over the place. Remember, every customer comes to TpT because they have a specific problem they are trying to solve. You might attract a customer once for a specific product, but when they find out that your store doesn’t have anything else that will help them with that problem in the future, they’ll leave permanently. Unless you plan to have a TpT store catalogue the size of Amazon, it’s just not possible to solve every teacher’s problem.
Do this instead:
When you choose one teacher with a specific problem that you are REALLY good at solving, then you can gain a reputation for being able to solve that problem. Teachers with that problem will return to YOUR store again and again, because they know you have what they need.
Mistake #2: Not starting an email list
Teachers Pay Teachers has created a wonderful opportunity for teachers to make money. But if you plan on making your teacher store a serious business (and especially if you want it to replace your teaching income) it’s really important to start building your own business assets.
The biggest problem with having a TpT store as your main career is that you don’t actually own the store itself, and that makes your business vulnerable. You own your products, of course, but at any time TpT could make major decisions that affect your profits. What if they increase their commission? What if the search algorithm buries your products and no one can find them? What if they closed your store completely?
The best way to prevent a devastating situation is by building your own business assets, and having an email list is the first and most important asset you should build.
An email list allows you to contact your customers directly (not with a “message to followers” through TpT that no one reads.) With an email list, you can:
- Build a connection with your customers and get feedback and suggestions
- Let your customers know about new products
- Draw attention to products, even if they are not showing up well in TpT’s search
- Redirect your customers to another store (aka your own website) if it was ever necessary
Do this instead:
If you want to build an email list, it’s actually not that hard. All you need is an email provider and a simple marketing funnel. Click here to download a free marketing funnel planner to build your email list.
Mistake #3: Posting “commercials” on social media as their main marketing strategy
It annoys me SOO MUCH when TpT sellers refer to Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube as “marketing platforms”. They’re not marketing platforms. They do not exist so you can sell things. They are social media platforms. They exist to entertain their users, and make the people who created them lots of money.
Unfortunately, a lot of “marketing” advice for sellers centers around spamming your FB and insta followers with lots of photos of your products – and this is not only mostly ineffective but also a waste of time.
You already have too much to do in not enough time. If you’re going to put energy into social media, you need to do it in a way that will actually make a difference in your business.
Do this instead:
- Build a proper marketing plan, and work the plan
- Stop being an interrupter and post content that is useful to your audience
Mistake #4: Not using their stats to drive their decisions
The single most important piece of information you have available to you as a TpT seller is your store statistics. Your store statistics are literally a gold mine of information about your store, products, and customers, but you have to take the time to read and understand them.
When you ignore your store stats, you are essentially flying blind in your business. You don’t know who your customers are, what they are buying, what makes them come back for more, or where they are coming from tin the first place.
But when you make time in your regular schedule to study your stats, it actually saves you time, because it allows you make more intelligent decisions about what you should be working on. Your stats can tell you what types of products you should be making more of, what products need better SEO optimization, what products need better listings, etc
Do this instead:
Get obsessive about your numbers:
- Schedule a regular time to check in with your traffic and product stats
- Use UTM codes on every bit of promotion you do
- Pick the lowest-hanging fruit: Put your marketing efforts into the products that already sell well
Mistake #5: Not optimizing their store & product pages
describe the mistake
how it impacts the reader
what to do instead
For a lot of sellers, as soon as they finish creating a product they immediately jump to external marketing such as social media. Unfortunately, if your product listing itself isn’t compelling, then that traffic won’t convert to sales. If your product page hasn’t been optimized, you will waste any traffic you drive there.
In order for external marketing to work effectively, the landing page customers come to (aka your product page) needs to seal the deal. This means that the product page clearly tells the customer:
- What the product is
- How the product can solve their problem
- Why they need it
- What to expect when they purchase
If your product page fails to deliver this information, it’s highly likely that the customer will leave without buying. Marketing efforts wasted.
Do this instead
Take the time to really work through your listings before putting any additional marketing behind them (especially paid ads!)
Every product must have:
- Clear messaging to promote your product as a solution to the customer’s problem (see mistake #1)
- Eye-catching, professional looking covers and thumbnails
- A preview that provides additional information about what customers will receive and experience when they purchase the product
- A strong call to action – why customers should buy now
Listen friend – your TpT store is never going to be perfect. There’s always going to be something you could improve. But by taking the time to tackle just these five things, you can take some HUGE leaps forward:
- Identify your unique message and product niche
- Start an email list
- Create content that is meaningful to your social media audience
- Use UTM codes and study your stats
- Optimize your product pages
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made, or have seen others make? Tell me what it was and how you grew from it in the Marketing Tips for TpT Sellers FB group.