Hey there, it’s no secret that I love talking to teacher sellers about how their business is evolving and growing. And I know so many of you love to hear those stories to. This year, I’m excited to share more teacher seller stories on the podcast. Starting with today’s episode.
My guest today is Melissa Martinez from that one cheerful classroom, Melissa was an upper elementary teacher who’s now stay at home mom working full time, but just a few hours a day as she still has toddlers. And as she started taking her TPT store more seriously, she has learned a lot about how to use her data to drive decision making, how to leverage SEO to grow her sales. And I think you will really love this episode, especially if you struggle with balancing your time between TPT and caring for your kids, or even between TPT and working full time as a teacher.
Melissa and I talked about balancing it all learning how to prioritize using your audience to inform your decisions and so much more. This is a jam packed episode. So let’s get right into it.
Hey TPT sellers ready to seek growth in your business. You’re in the right place. Welcome to the savvy teacher seller. I’m Kristen Doyle. And I’m here to give you no fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sale. Let’s get started y’all.
Hi, Melissa, thank you so much for being here today.
Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.
Me too well, let’s just start with telling us a little bit more about yourself. And kind of how you got started selling teaching resources.
So I honestly knew since I was in second grade that I wanted to be a teacher. And I got my first job at a very rural district. We had no set curriculum for anything. Everything was either purchased on TPT, or we made it ourselves. So being a first year teacher could not handle that, like creating everything myself. So I went to TPT. And then I was like, You know what, I am making a lot of things. So I opened my store in 2016 and just listed things but they were all like $1. So I did not have the premium membership or anything. And I was making like 45 cents per sale. I was like, wow, this is kind of cool. I have an extra 45 cents. And then I just kind of dropped it. I didn’t do anything else for maybe like six years. No, not quite six years four, I think, because my son was born the summer of 2020.
And I really kind of started taking it seriously right whenever the shutdown happened with COVID, because I was stuck at home. I was technically supposed to be on bed rest because I had like all of the pregnancy complications. And I was like, Well, I can sit in bed and teach and create things. And then when he was born, he was in the NICU for two weeks. And I could not just sit there and look at him with all of the cords and the wires and everything. And so I was like, Well, I’m gonna have to go back to school, right whenever the year starts. So I may as well get myself prepared, make some resources for my classroom. And I just started posting them. And then they told me since he was born early, I could stay home for the year and just teach virtually all year long. So I was like, yeah, that’s fantastic.
But I was the only third grade teacher in the entire district that was 100% virtual. So I had to make everything because there was nothing. And so I just slowly started like posting them whenever I had a free second or like, while my kids were on their virtual recess, I would like hop on TPT really quick unless something and I saw the potential. And at the end of that school year, they told me, you have to come back to your behavior skills class, or we don’t have a position for you. And I was like, Well, I have a toddler. I don’t want to do that I see the potential. And I talked to my husband and I was like, I can’t keep doing this. Like I cannot work with these behavior kids as much as I loved them. It’s just not healthy. So I quit. And honestly, I don’t know that I’d ever go back.
Yeah, it’s a scary leap to make for sure. I don’t know if you’re the same way. But when I finally decided to quit teaching, it was a pretty short window. I had been mulling it around for a while, but for about two weeks, I went back and forth on what felt like an hourly basis like I’m done. I’m out. I know I really want to stay. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m really ready back and forth for probably at no week or two, a couple weeks maybe. And then when I finally made the decision, it just felt like such a weight off my shoulders.
Yeah, I mean, the reason I had to go back was because literally nobody wanted to teach the class that I was teaching. That’s why they told me that that was the only position they would give me but I was getting hit and kicked and spit out every single day, and I was like, I have a baby, I should not be having to deal with that and then not want to come deal with him at night.
It’s definitely hard. And you definitely need a break after you know, so long of doing that kind of job. It would be really nice if principals would kind of rotate people in and out of those positions, so you can catch a breather, but that doesn’t seem to ever happen.
No, and nobody wants to have that kind of class they want like the perfect angels. Not that that ever actually happens.
But there aren’t.
No, there aren’t. But it was nice to like, take a step back. And honestly, now I think about it. And I’m like, my business is not where I want it to be yet, but it will be because I now have the time to actually like put into it.
Yeah. So that was a big step of faith that you took to just decide to go ahead and leave the classroom before your business was where you wanted it to be in order to do that. Are you seeing results pay off now that you’re spending most of your time working on your business?
So much! It was nicer whenever my son actually took a nap. He’s two and a half now. And he stopped taking naps right after he turned two. So when he was napping, I would have a solid two to three hours where I could just sit down and like hammer out a lot of stuff. And now I’m like working on the couch occasionally. And he’ll come up and like close the computer on my hands. And I’m like, No, mommy’s working. So I have my family that will watch him. But it’s like, now I don’t have that set time. So maybe work still two to three hours a day, but it’s after he goes to sleep or my mom can watch him for a little bit.
Yeah, and you really do have to learn to prioritize your time. When you’re in that type of situation. It’s you know, season of life. And like everyone says it will go away and you will miss it. But you really do have to learn to prioritize your time and to kind of embrace a different schedule. For me, that’s been one of the big things that I’ve had to learn working for myself is that I don’t have to work Monday through Friday eight to four, just because that’s work days if I want to work on Saturday morning, because that’s a good time for me. That’s okay. And that doesn’t mean that I am overdoing it on work or that I’m not taking any breaks or whatever. Sometimes my break is on a Thursday, because I want to take the kids to the zoo when no one else is there.
Right? Yeah, it’s nice though, because I am able to do things and I’ve set like a schedule for myself. But it’s just like this day, I’m going to work on these types of tasks. Or whenever I’m doing like my blog post batches, I’ll work two weeks just on my six months of blog posts, and then I’ll be done for a while. Well, for six months.
I’m still amazed that you can do, you can batch six months of blog posts, my brain just does not work that far in advance.
Well, it’s nice, my email list has kind of helped me figure out like, at the beginning of the school year, I sent them a survey. And I was like, Hey, what are the topics you’re going to be teaching from August through December. And I gave away a few like TPT gift cards in exchange for them answering my survey. And then in the middle of December, I was like, Hey, what are you teaching January through May or June. So that way, I have an idea of what they are teaching. So I know what to write about. And I’m just planning on keeping that so that way I can get those ideas out.
Yeah, that’s so smart to to use your audience to kind of drive that.
It’s very helpful, because I just like plug it into Asana, and then it’ll alert me like, hey, this blog post needs to be written.
Yeah. I do love a good task management tool, I use clickup. But same thing, you plug your stuff in there, and it will remind you, hey, you need to do this. Sometimes it reminds me of important things like you need to pay yourself this month. Because that’s the thing I somehow managed to forget. And then I realized I have no money. Oh, it’s because I didn’t pay myself.
I forget that sometimes, too. And I’m like, What am I doing? I have bills to pay besides business bills.
Right? It’s the I guess, struggle of working for yourself and being the boss. The boss has to remember to pay herself sometimes. So when it comes to growing your business, I know you had tried some things that weren’t working for you. What have you tried that really wasn’t working out well for you?
Well, I tried just posting and hoping it would come up because I had no idea about like SEO or anything. And then I was like, there’s gotta be a way to like, play with words and figure out a way to do it. And I had done some Googling and heard about SEO. And I was like, well, there’s got to be something more specific. And so I had seen that you had released SEO for teacher authors, like I think I was in either the first or the second like launch. I can’t remember. But then I never touched it. So I was like, Oh, why did I do this? I do that all the time. I buy courses and then I don’t actually look at them.
I know and you’re not alone. So many people do. In fact, you’re reminding me right now that I bought a course on Black Friday, and I committed I’m going to get it done and I did the first third and I have two thirds left and I haven’t touched it in probably a month. So you’re reminding me to get back on it too,
And once I figured out SEO like that helped, but I also I was doing Pinterest and I was like, Well, this is a waste of time because it’s not doing anything, which I am still kind of doing Pinterest just kind of like trying
And so many of us are struggling with Pinterest right now.
Yeah, it did a little bit for me at first, but then just kind of nothing. So I tried Instagram. And I do not like social media. Social media was huge whenever I was in high school, and there was so much like negative energy coming off of it and stuff. And I just can’t handle that. Like, it causes me anxiety to go on there. So I had to hire that out now because I can’t handle it. And I was not being very consistent either. So I was not building a very like good audience that could trust me to like, send out good stuff. I feel like I tried a little bit of everything.
It’s a give and take game for sure. I mean, sometimes it seems to be going really well. And other times you posted it to crickets. And it does feel like a lot of work, just constant work. And yeah, like you said, it can get so easy to get sucked into this negative rabbit hole, especially when you get those negative comments that we all I’m sure have gotten on some of our posts, I keep being reminded that the more successful you are in whatever it is you’re doing, the more negative people come out and start to comment. And we just it’s part of the price that we pay for doing what we do. And for being a recognized name and somebody that has a good sales audience.
Yeah, that’s why I hired it out. Because I was like, I don’t want to see the comments. I don’t want to see anything, like take my blog posts, create them into posts, I don’t care. Just do whatever you think’s right. And I’ll pay you because I’m not touching it. So that’s been really helpful now, but back then I was not consistent. I started a blog and an email list at the same time, which was a lot.
Yeah, I mean, it’s smart to do together. But it’s also it’s a lot of work if you’re trying to do both of them. Well,
yeah. And I had committed to myself, like I had heard people saying, Oh, I email weekly, or I email two to three times a week. And I was like, Well, I can’t do that. But I could probably do it once a week. And so I decided to blog once a week and email once a week, both at the same time having no clue what I was doing. And that helped my sales a little bit. But I was not being found in Google, the email was what was sending people to the blog, that was sending people to TPT. So I feel like I’ve tried literally everything you could try. But then SEO is what really kind of got me going better.
So you are one of my repeat, SEO and boot camp friends. You’ve done the profit booster boot camp, what three times?
All of them every single time, all four, all of them.
What did you learn out of the boot camp that has really helped you?
Honestly, like, the spreadsheet that you shared was like mind blowing to me. I was like, I have this many resources without previews like this is crazy.
Oh, yeah, the data spreadsheet.
Uh huh. I still have a huge chunk with no previous because there’s other things that I think of there on my to do list to go back and put on there. And I really loved like, the individual sessions where it was broken down. Like, today we’re focusing on the Preview, or the snippet, or whatever. And that way I knew, Okay, this is what I need to work on right now with one resource, because sometimes I get so into it. And I’m like, I can’t look at all of my products at the same time, because I’ve got over 600, which is crazy.
So I like how it’s just like this day, we’re focusing on this. And don’t worry about picking like a whole bunch of products. Just think about like, one, two, whatever, it’s manageable.
Yeah. And that’s the biggest thing is really just in your business in general, taking one step at a time instead of trying to do everything all at once. Because we all get overwhelmed when we do that. We try to tackle our entire store full of hundreds of products and fix whatever the latest thing is that needs to be changed. We just get burnt out and it takes forever. So you really do have to prioritize and just focus on one thing at a time. That’s what I like to start the bootcamp with digging into our data and picking out something to prioritize for the week.
Yes, and I still use that spreadsheet, like whenever I’m figuring out what I’m going to work on to like prioritize for the week for what I’m going to maybe update or what needs a little SEO tweak or something
That’a awesome, and I’m so glad you’re still using it. So after boot camp, this last boot camp is that when you join the group coaching program?
It is! And oh my gosh, I love my mastermind group. They’re amazing. We had to take a few weeks off, but that’s one of my favorite parts of group coaching is that little mini mastermind.
That’s so great. I love hearing that. You know, you wonder when you put together many masterminds with people who don’t already know each other how the this is going work out. And yours has just been amazing. Most of them are going really, really well. But yours has just been, this has been great for you guys from what I’m hearing. So glad!
Yeah, we’ve been meeting every week except for around the holidays, we skipped a few weeks. But we meet on Monday evenings, we come up with a plan, the next one we’re doing is going to be like sellers choice. So you get to pick what we’re going to look at on your specific listing. But before we were doing, like, everybody picks one resource to do a cover on. And we would give feedback like little mini hot seats. And it was so helpful.
And I know you’ve been working hard on updates this last few months, while we’ve been in group coaching together, how are your results from those things that you’re updating?
At first one of her search changed, I panicked. Because I was like, Oh, well, And I know, I know, I know, I’m not alone, I act like I am? No, I was like I’m a really small store. How is this going to affect me, not small, but like newer, and I freaked out. But then after I started watching my data, I was like, whenever I change this, it immediately started selling. And honestly, after 2022 was over, I looked at my data and I doubled my sales from 2021 to 2022.
That’s amazing, so excited for you.
And with me being smaller. That’s not like huge, because I know whenever you’re newer, your sales grow faster, and then they start slowing down. But I was amazed, I was like, wow, this is working for me, because I’m actually doing what I know is the right thing to do. Even if I can’t check where my rank is anymore, I still at least know that the keywords are not changing. I mean, they change whenever people start changing the way they search. But I know the ways to find out what I need to be putting in my titles in my descriptions.
Which is such a big key knowing that, at least right now we can’t tell where our product ranks. Hopefully, that data will be coming soon. TPT has said they’re gonna give us some more data around that. But we don’t have a timeline for that. So for right now, it is just so important to stay the course. And to know that the underlying SEO hasn’t changed. And just keep our heads in the game and keep focused on doing the things that we know were working before because we could see them moving before. And we could see those results happening. So just sticking to the thing we know has always worked, because we’re being told, but nothing is changing on the algorithm side of things. It’s just that sort order on the front end that’s changing, which I know is frustrating and stressful and all sorts of other things.
But when it comes down to it, we can’t control any of that. But we can control what we put in on the back end of the search algorithm, the things that we have always done that have always worked, we can control all of those. And as I know, you know, I’ve been encouraging people to focus on some new metrics, some things like your conversion rate, and how are your previews actually, because those things now can help with our SEO as well, now that we’re in this world of personalized search.
Right, and having that data that I had gotten from the bootcamp helps me to know Okay, TPT says previews are going to be prioritized now. So I was able to quickly go back and like make a list of all of the resources that I needed to go in and put previews on. They don’t all have them yet. But I know what needs to be done.
Well, and it’s a work in progress. And once you have the data, you know which ones you need to do first, which ones you need to get done right now and which ones you can put on the backburner and work on a little later.
And I even noticed based on like, Okay, so my email list filled out that survey, I knew that they were going to be teaching area in February. So I went through and realized some of my titles that deal with area are not specific enough. And they’re very, very short. So I was like, well, that’s not gonna help me in search. So I use what I knew about SEO to tweak it. And hopefully that’ll help once February rolls around.
Yeah, and I love the idea of using that data from your audience to drive what product to work on updating and focus on the SEO for because we can look at our products that sold well say in February last year, and go ahead and make tweaks to those. But if they sold well, they may not need a lot of tweaks. It’s the things that we don’t realize should be selling well, in February that really can benefit the most from going in and changing titles, updating your snippet, adding a preview if you don’t have one, those sorts of things.
Yes. And I’ve started even overhauling some of my covers because I had paid somebody a few years ago to make me like covers because I did not know how I am not a design person. Like my design skills are very, very lacking. And then I saw the templates that you had shared with us in group coaching and I was like holy cow my need a lot of work. So I’ve been going through an overhauling that too.
Yeah, your covers have come a long way. And I’m so excited to see where you go with them in the future.
Yes, and I have a template now. So I’m like, okay, drop in a mock up, drop in your pictures and go, because I don’t have time for product photography with a two year old. Like, he always tries and comes and puts his hands in the pictures. And I was like, your hands are not realistic. You’re two, they’re too small.
One day, you’ll be able to use him. It’s nice when your kids are at the age, you can use their hands with things.
So mock ups are my life, because that’s all I’ve got time for.
And templates are such a huge time saver. I know I preach templates everywhere. Templatized everything that you can, because it saves so much time when you start working on things. And I know it takes out a little bit of maybe the fun and creativity. But for me, that just sends me down a rabbit trail of too many options. When if I just stick to my template, I can knock this out. And it will look great, because my template is already all set up. And it’ll be done.
Yep, I’m the same way. I’ve got covered templates and preview templates. And each of my product lines has its own template. So then whenever I go in, I don’t have to worry about Ooh, what cute font am I going to use? Because I’ve got way too many on my computer.
Yes, well, and using fewer fonts, kind of sticking to a set of branded fonts is really better for your recognition anyway. Because that helps people when they see something, draw that connection between the product or the social media posts or whatever and you and that’s what we we always want us for people to be thinking of us and remembering that our story exists and that they like our resources, right?
So I have a question for you. One of the questions I get from people who are thinking about coming to the boot camp is if I already did the boot camp once, should I come back? And you are one of those people who has come back over and over. So what keeps you coming back to the profit booster boot camp again, and again?
The accountability, I love the posts that are in the Facebook group saying hey, drop this. And then you get feedback from all of these different people that you’ve possibly never even talked to before. And you’re all starting to learn it together. And even though I’ve been through it four times, I feel like every time somebody has a new perspective, and somebody has a new suggestion that I maybe never would have thought of. And that way I can focus.
You’re in a different place as far as what you know, and what you don’t know. And maybe also in a different place as far as what your focus is for your business right now. So I think even if the content was the exact same, you would probably pick up on different things, and hone in on, you know, different parts during different seasons of your life, too.
Every time we go through boot camp, I like I’m listening to the video. So I was like, Oh, I did not notice that last time. And whenever we had the recordings for a longer period of time, I went back and I was like, Oh, that’s not new. I just didn’t hear it. Or there was so many other things that I was getting.
Yeah, it’s always good to go back and listen to things again, when you know you’re in a different frame of mind. And you might like I said, notice something totally different. But one of my favorite parts of bootcamp is always that live, everybody’s working through this together feel, where we have all of that energy and all of the progress happening in the Facebook group. And everybody is sharing what’s working for them and getting feedback on things. That is really, I think, my favorite part of the bootcamp and it’s one of the reasons that I only do it live. And I only do it a couple of times a year, because it is a lot. It’s a packed week for me. But I don’t think I would ever run it as a an evergreen kind of, do it yourself course, because you just would miss out on all of that collaboration. And I think that really is one of the best parts.
Right. And like we said before, like a lot of people will buy courses and never touch them. And this kind of a workshop or bootcamp, whatever you want to call it, you can’t just do that, like you need to have that momentum going to actually be successful with it.
There’s definitely something about going through something in a cohort of people who are all doing the same thing at the same time that keeps you motivated and keeps you on track. And I know even in the SEO course, you’ve had the self paced course for a long time. But you really didn’t go through it all until you were in the group coaching program. So you’re with a group of people who are all focusing on the same thing. And that’s really the benefit of working live alongside people.
Yes, I have had the SEO for teacher authors for a long time. And I would listen to like bits and pieces but because I did not have that accountability piece. I was like, why bother? Like I’ll have it whenever I need it. And then I would need a certain part and come back.
Well, thank you so so much for talking with me today. I loved hearing kind of your whole story about how you’re balancing being a mom and having a little one at home and that you know first couple years out of the classroom and working on your business full time. I just love hearing those kinds of stories. And I so appreciate you coming and talking to us today.
Thank you for having me.
You’re welcome. Would you like to tell everybody where they can find you if they want to connect?
You can find me on Instagram, I get two times a day notifications because I don’t do social media, you can find me @thatwonderfulclassroom on Instagram. And it’s either 6pm or 8am, I will see that you have sent me a message. So I would love to chat with you.
That is genius. And I am going to need you to tell me how you set up your Instagram notifications to certain times of the day.
It was the new iPhone update, and it’s the best thing ever. All of my social media is just twice a day. Otherwise, I would be there all day.
That is amazing. Is it just in the iPhone notification thing?
So I don’t remember whenever I updated.
All right, that’s amazing. I’m sure other people are wondering, I will look for it. And if I figure it out, we’ll put it in the show notes for today’s episode. All right. Well, thank you again so much. It was so good talking to you today.
Thank you so much for tuning in today. If you want to learn more about the Profit Booster Bootcamp that Melissa keeps coming back to time and again, you can get all the details at Profitboosterbootcamp.com or the link in today’s show notes. I know she and I would both love to see you in the next boot camp session and give you that same accountability and collaboration that we both love so much. Talk to you soon.
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you did, please share it with another teacher seller who would also find it helpful. For more resources on Growing Your TPT business. Head to Kristendoyle.co/TPT. Talk to you soon.