Viva Las Vegas! A TPT Conference Linky Party

WOW. This was my first time attending a TPT Conference and all I can say is WOW.

I am linking up with The Elementary Entourage to share our Vegas adventures from last week. WOWzas! I wish I could share EVERYTHING; however, a lot of the information was intended for attendees only and I need to be cautious and respectful of the presenters' wishes.

Before I begin, I have a disclaimer. It is SO easy to get wrapped up in the "business" side of TPT. Throughout this conference I would hear about the best marketing strategies, product appeal, and countless ways to "sell" your "stuff".  However, we have to remember the true reason why we do what we do....simply to help other educators. So I would like to share my first sticky note with you:

If I had to sum up this entire trip in one word, I would choose INSPIRING. Listening and talking to hundreds of teachers about their TPT journey was so emotional. I realized that we are a community full of support and we all have the same passion: to help teachers save time by providing QUALITY resources. TPT sellers are "selling" time for teachers to spend with their families, travel and other endeavors. New financial opportunities have given sellers a chance to:

  • expand their product lines (many are going full time!)
  • research the more effective teaching strategies
  • the chance to attend quality professional development
  • being able to travel and network with educators around the world

Some interesting statistics that I learned during the Keynote presentation included:
  • TPT launched in 2006
  • Currently there are 5.25 million users (3 million are active)
  • Currently there are 50,000 active authors
  • 1.5 million products have been posted (I actually thought it was more!)
  • 25 million downloads each month
  • The average item costs about the price of a Starbuck's coffee
  • There are 3.75 million teachers in America
  • There are 2 million homeschooling parents in America
It was pointed out that PARENTS are very active in the TPT community. These parents are looking for supplementary materials, extensions and extra practice for their child. Also, they want more than PDFs (amen!!).

So...what did I learn? A LOT! Here are just a few highlights:

Session 1: The Superpowers of Powerpoint Michelle Oaks, Hope King and Rachelle Smith

At first I was not sure why I signed up for this session because I have been a high user of PowerPoint. Honestly, I almost switched sessions at the last minute but some "powerful" force prevented me from switching it up. That would have been a HUGE MISTAKE. I think this session was one of my faves! The girls were awesome presenters and the entire session was very interactive. I learned so many tricks I didn't know existed and it just proved how powerful that program continues to be. We learned how to:

  •  add shadows to images to make them pop
  •  secure files 
  •  add images inside of shapes
  •  create quality previews
  •  and so much more!
I'm excited to go back and update some of my products with some new twists!

Session 2: Advanced Marketing Panel Shelley Gray, Chris Kesler, Kelley Dolling, Rachel Lynette and Tabitha Carro 

There are so many ways to market these days: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, etc. so I was VERY pleased to hear a reoccurring theme throughout these sessions: Choose just a few to pursue! There is no way one could do ALL social media platforms and be effective (without a virtual assistant). My personal go tos for now are Facebook, Blogger and Pinterest.

Another reoccurring theme throughout the week was hearing about how powerful photos of your products in action can be for marketing. Seeing is believing. Photos make it authentic. This will be one of my goals for this upcoming year.

This session was jam packed full of amazing marketing strategies. Time to start cranking!

Session 3: Design Panel Kimberly Geswein, Nikki Casassa, Michelle Tsivgadellis, Blair Turner and Julie Faulkner 

These women are true artists! My biggest take away was that white space should be your friend. I am one who looooves some color and I think I go a bit overboard when designing products because I get so excited to use my fun digital papers, frames and clipart. However, white space can make things less overwhelming to the eye and has a cleaner look. I have a lot to learn when it comes to "design"...

Kimberly Geswein (KG Fonts) literally has the BEST fonts out there. I highly recommend biting the bullet and investing in her font license. I'm not sure where I have been but I didn't realize she has posted several font pairing guides (like THIS one) in her store. Be sure to check them out if you haven't done so already :)

One last thing I want to share without going overboard is an excellent tip that one of the presenters mentioned. When you finish a product, reduce it to 20% and see if you can read the cover clearly. This helps determine what people see when using mobile devices.

Session 4: Fix Your Brand and Take it to the Next Level Ariane Huddleston, Blair Turner and Mary Montero 

Many topics were covered in this sessions such as:

  • finding your product niche 
  • branding your logo and style
  • how to deal with snarky feedback
  • Pinterest/Tailwind
  • pin like a person, not all worksheets (amen!)

Session 5: Did I Really Sell That? Deanna Jump and Deedee Willis

I really enjoyed this presentation by these top sellers. Some take aways include:

  • revise your older products (uhhhh! But I know I need to hop on this)
  • TPT style constantly changes (chevron is OUT people!)
  • Don't use color on student response sheets for printing purposes
  • Spacing your fonts using the AV tool in PowerPoint
  • Need to resize your thumbnails? Use Picresize.com
  • #1 TAKE AWAY: easyhyperlinks.com will hyperlink any link for you without you having to manipulate the html code. Once again, where have I been???
Session 6: Do This, Not That Rachel Lynette

I walked away from this session chanting "Create with Intention!". She had so many awesome insights and tips for sellers. I really can't share too much on this session without violating copyright. Moving on...

Session 7: Your TPT Business: Taxes, Finance and Copyright Jared Cohen and Amy Borrell Berner 

Okay...so I wasn't "excited" about attending this session but I went to Vegas to learn all about this topic. I won't bore you with the details. However, having your own small business isn't all sparkles and rainbows. You have to invest time, $$$$ and effort..a lot of each. Even after this session I am still unsure of many details but it sounds like things vary state to state. I guess I will be headed back to my accountant at the end of this month to get everything ironed out :)

Hands down the most AMAZING part of this adventure was getting to network with other bloggers!

Other activities:

Wednesday evening I met up with Carla from Comprehension Connection and her reading crew. We attended the What the Teacher Wants meet-up and it was HIGH ENERGY. I met a ton of incredible bloggers and was blown away with the swag bags and amazing giveaways that were handed out. The bloggers who threw this bash did an incredible job. 

Thursday I had to take a break and hang out with my mom :) Yup...you heard me...MY MOM. She hadn't been to Vegas in 54 years so she wanted to make it into a girls trip! We had a blast eating out and even went to the Michael Jackson One Cirque du Soleil..

Mom was SO excited that she tracked down Elvis. I do have video of Elvis serenading her. I think she was in heaven.

Friday evening ended with Primary Pack's Kickback. Once again, HIGH ENERGY, swag bags and giveaways galore! It was so nice to kickback and meet even more bloggers I follow and make new connections.

Would I attend again? In a heart beat! I definitely was out of my comfort zone going into TPT Vegas week not knowing anyone. However, every single person I talked to was so friendly and down to earth. At the end of the day we are all teachers and teachers are special individuals that have huge hearts.

Be sure to check out other posts about TPT in Vegas by heading to The Elementary Entourage.