Before You Jump Right In
Here are a few things to think about and start marking off your to-do list before you jump right in. You can download the checklist to keep track of your progress. Some of these you can do right away, some you will work on over time, and some you might already have ready to go.
1. A Store Name
Write down your store name. And then write down variations of your store name. Now go do a Google search and see if that domain is already taken. How about Social Media handles? And most importantly, you need to search that store name on Teachers Pay Teachers.
If it’s already taken, you are back to the drawing board. If it isn’t taken, how close is it to other store names? Almost identical? Different enough it doesn’t seem like you are copying them?
There will always be other stores with similar words or parts of catch phrases. That’s unavoidable. My name isn’t very common at all. Search “Rhoda” on TPT and you find two of us! But our shop names are different and our styles and products are very different!
What you are checking for is that it’s not just one small article or vowel combination off. Right?
Once you have that, sign up for a seller account!
Do you want your store emails to be separate from your personal emails? Setting up a second Gmail account is easy and quick. It also keeps your business correspondence, payments, and receipts separate from your personal items and easier to find later. Is it necessary? No. Just a suggestion :)
3. PayPal or Dwolla
You need to get paid! Once a month Teachers Pay Teachers will send you a payment for your earnings. You will need a PayPal account or a Dwolla account.
I use PayPal and I have been using it for over 13 years. It’s easy to set up, secure, and you can use it to make purchases on TPT and most other websites. If you sign up for a seller account, they will send you a debit card that you can use anywhere, just like a regular debit card. It’s online banking at it’s finest.
They have an app so you can check your balance, add money, or send money directly to your checking account. Follow the prompts to set one up if you haven’t already. If you chose to set up a separate Gmail account for your shop, I would use that for your payment account.
PayPal will make two really tiny deposits into your checking account, so you will need to have your routing number and account number handy when you are signing up. After a few days, you will check the deposit amounts and then verify the amounts on the PayPal website. This guarantees them that it’s you and not someone hacking your account and information.
*I don’t have any tips or advice on setting up Dwolla, but I would imagine that it’s very similar to PayPal.
4. Logo and Branding
If you do any research online at all about having a business (online or off) you will see something about branding. This is more than your colors and style, but for now we are only concerned with your colors and style. The rest will come with time. It’s possible to “rebrand” your style and images at some point, but a little thought up front can save you some major time down the road.
What colors do yo like? What style fits you the best? Are you a bright primary person. A muted jewel or earth town person? Do you like realistic images such as stock photos or illustrations and clipart. Look around on TPT and Pinterest. What design elements and colors catch your eye? Start doodling these things on paper. Fit a little bit of this and a little bit of that together to make your own wonderful creation. Choose 3 or 4 colors that you will be happy looking at ALL THE TIME. They should make your teacher/designer heart happy!
You need to have a logo and color palette. These can be changed, tweaked, and updated over time, but having this decided now will give your store and brand a more cohesive look. It makes you look more professional right from the get go. You will also be adding your logo to your work to protect what you create. Being happy with it now means you won’t have to go back and change all your covers and images later.
Designing your own logo isn’t really hard. Usually just a few color and images that you like and your store name. If that just isn’t your thing, there are a number of sellers on TPT that create logos. There are also loads of people who help with logos and branding on Etsy. Be sure and read reviews before you put down some cold hard cash! Most designers are awesome though :)
Don’t freeze on this step. It’s important, but not so important that you shouldn’t get started without having it “just right”. It’s all a process. This is just one step before many!
5. A Device
This one might seem like a “duh” statement. You need your own personal device to create resources on.
Not your district’s device!
It has to be yours.
There are districts that have clauses in their contracts, handbooks, etc. that state if you create lessons or resources on district devices, programs or during contract time that they own the products you make. Not you.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so get yourself a laptop or other device that you are comfortable working on to create your resources. It can be a Chromebook or a Macbook or anything in between. That part is entirely up to you and your budget. I work on a Macbook, just in case you were wondering :)
6. A Program to Design In
Which to choose. The majority of sellers on TPT use PowerPoint (Apple’s version is Keynote). This is a great way to make products. You can even use Google Slides.
This course will show you how to use both of those programs. I will actually create in Keynote, but save as PowerPoint which is very similar as far as tools and how the process works.
I’m also going to show you how to create in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. It’s what I use and what I would recommend if you are very serious about making products and having a smooth work flow. It’s not that a smooth workflow isn’t possible with PowerPoint/Keynote, but I think the program is more powerful and it’s what it was designed for. Digital product creation as well as working with images and design techniques. The learning curve and price are a little bit higher, but if you are willing to push through, I think it will save you time/money in the long run. My two cents :)
If you already have a device and program, then I would recommend you use them until you are ready to upgrade or make an investment. When you are ready to try it, Adobe offers a Creative Cloud package for educators and you can get Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat Pro for $20/month.
7. Clipart, Backgrounds, Borders, Fonts, OH MY!!
This is the fun part. And it can get a little pricey/addicting. You need a collection of digital papers for backgrounds, some borders, clipart and a few creative fonts. My recommendation is that you go to Teachers Pay Teachers and type in backgrounds and then filter by “free” over on the right hand side. Find papers that you like and download them. Do the same for clipart and borders. There are a number of sellers who offer samples of their work for free and it’s a great way to get started. If you find a set that isn’t free, that you think you can use for more than one type of project, then by all means you should get it. You can write off your “supply” purchases as a business expense.
Fonts are a little different. When you are searching for them on TPT you will see that they are usually free. That is for personal use only. If you want to use them on your commercial projects (which you do) then you need to buy a license for that font from the designer. They are usually around $5 and that is per font. Having 3 or 4 in your collection will be enough to see you through a handful of projects!