I wrote earlier about my experiences setting myself up as a beginning author on the Kindle store. I found the experience pretty painless, overall. But how does another web store compare? Is it easier, or harder, to set oneself up there?
For comparison, here is a recap of my first few days as a seller on the specialty website Teachers Pay Teachers. This website allows teachers to offer free and paid self-created resources for use by other teachers. It has become very popular because they require each seller to offer at least one resource for free, so there are a lot of good freebies available. I have also found that my own school is willing to reimburse me for modest purchases, so I think a teacher who puts out good stuff can do well if they hit the right niche.
I decided to list some of my stuff here instead of Amazon because most of them (student worksheets, for instance) require printing and so are in PDF format. Most of them also involve a three-piece bundle: a teaching guide with tips for use and instructions for how to assemble the reader, the reader book itself, and the student work pages. TPT accepts a variety of formats for their products, including ZIP files. So my teaching stuff will go up at this website.
I already had a seller account; I set it up that way when I first began using the site because I anticipated eventually putting up my own stuff. So from there, it was easy enough to log in, go to my dashboard and let the games begin.
1) The Payment Issue
This was way easier than Amazon; they do everything by Paypal so all I had to do was put in my email address. The dashboard had options as well for printing yearly and monthly reports. I am assuming these will suffice for reporting on my taxes…
2) Uploading the Product
This was a little bit fiddly. My product is a ZIP file, so it could not generate auto-previews for me. I had to save the folder of files as a ZIP archive, then open up the originals again to take some screen grabs for the file preview and main image. I had to upload these at various points in the process.
The category system is also a little bit fiddly. I understand why they use the drop-down menus. It’s a database and must be consistent and searchable. But darn it, did it take a long time! Grade level, subject area and type of resource all had multiple, fiddly drop-down boxes. It took me about twenty minutes to get the whole thing all set up, and I had to go back later and tweak a few details in the product description.
One thing I would have loved: an ‘upload another product using these same settings’ button. I have nine more of these books ready to go, and I am dreading having to go through all these drop-down boxes again. The Beloved suggested I pace myself and do one a day, and not just for the tedium factor; he’s worried if I post too often, they’ll think I am a spambot and said there is no harm in spacing them out.
3) The Results
This was a little more promising, to me. Granted, since it is my first product, I had to make it free, so there is no money. But in three days, I have had 15 page views and 4 downloads. That is not a bad conversion rate. And compared to my zero-sales Kindle title, it’s massive progress.
4) Next Steps
There is still a lot of work to be done. Once I have all ten books in the first series uploaded, I will put together a bundle and offer that too. By them, I should have enough content up, both there and at Amazon, to get a website put together and start working on my marketing. I need to figure out Twitter and add all the authors whose blogs I follow. I need to start posting on Twitter. I need to start developing a bit of a brand for myself; all my planned offerings are educational in nature, even the non-teacher ones, so I think I can get a blog and Twitter feed going that will help each book promote all the other ones.
There is definitely a market for quality educational stuff—for teachers, for homeschoolers, and for adults who enjoy self-education. I am encouraged by these initial results and look forward to having some time off this summer to push myself on this little sideline and see where it goes!