Mastering the Art of Selling to School Districts with Dawn Vinas


Selling to School Districts

Have you ever thought about branching into professional development or wondered how to get your foot in the door to selling to school districts? Today’s episode will give you all the information you need and show you another option for diversifying your income. 

Today’s guest, Dawn Vinas, has over 30 years of experience in education and shares how she went from being a social studies teacher to creating a business dedicated to improving social studies instruction in multiple school districts. Dawn shares her journey from TPT to selling to school districts and everything in between.

In this episode, Dawn shares how she built credibility in her niche and has consistent traffic to her website, the process of getting in front of administrators and curriculum coordinators, the difference between selling to teachers vs. selling to school districts and her advice for TPT Sellers looking to get started.

01:47 Dawn shares her journey from selling on TPT to Selling to School Districts 

07:14 How Dawn built credibility in her niche and gets consistent traffic to her website

09:33 – The process of getting in front of administrators and curriculum coordinators

19:36 – The difference between selling to teachers vs. selling to school districts

21:56 – Dawn shares about her membership model and the lessons she learned 

28:52 – The best advice for TPT Sellers getting started with selling to school districts


Our Guest on This Episode:

Dawn’s journey spans 30 years in education. After teaching for 13 years, she became an instructional coach. This window into other teachers’ classrooms motivated her to improve social studies instruction. The next step in her journey was to the central office. She served a district of over 55,000 students as a Social Studies Coordinator. Her goal of improving Social Studies instruction increased as she worked with over 600 K-12 Social Studies teachers to implement her vision of transformative Social Studies education. In 2015, she reached for her life-long goal, one that had taken 22 years to achieve. She created Social Studies Success LLC, her vision of improving Social Studies instruction in multiple school districts, not just her own. She provides professional development, consulting services and resources to thousands of teachers. Social media has intensified her efforts to share best practices by allowing her to share ideas and teaching strategies around the globe.

You can visit Dawns’s website, follow on Instagram @social_studies_success, and Facebook.

Kristen Doyle 0:00
Hey y’all, and welcome back to another episode in our diversifying series. I’m your host, Kristen Doyle. And today I am joined by Dawn Vinas, we are talking all about selling your TPT resources to school districts. Dawn learned a lot in her role as a district social studies coordinator about how school districts work, and especially about how they decide where to purchase curriculum. And she’s used that expertise to sell her social studies curriculum to school districts in a yearly membership model that gives her recurring revenue and it is wildly successful. So if you have ever thought about branching into professional development, or you’ve wondered how to get your foot in the door to sell your products to school districts, then you will love what Dawn has to share with us today. Let’s get started.

Kristen Doyle 0:53
Hey, TPT sellers, ready to see 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.

Kristen Doyle 1:17
Hi, Dawn, thank you so much for being here today. I am super excited to chat with you, and share some of the things you’ve been doing with the rest of our listeners.

Dawn 1:27
Well, thank you so much. I’m really excited to be given this opportunity to talk about one of my favorite topics, of course. So I really appreciate that.

Kristen Doyle 1:34
Yeah, so can you share just a little bit about your TPT seller journey and kind of what led you to branch out to start selling on your own website and then to focus on selling to districts specifically?

Dawn 1:47
Okay, so my TPT journey, I kind of think of as like falling into TPT. Because of the role that I was in when I first started, I was in the role of a curriculum coordinator for the school district. And I had heard my teachers talking about TPT. And this was back in 2014. And I didn’t really know what TPT was, because I had no reason to be on it in my current role. But I heard teachers talking about it and how they had made $100 a month. And I was like, oh my $100 a month that would help pay for my vacation, because I’m vacation queen. So I went and dug through my old resources from when I was a classroom teacher and I put up my first lesson, which had to do with Texas history. And I sold it, and I made 85 cents. And I was thrilled with that at 85 cents.

Dawn 2:15
But I was more thrilled with the fact that what I had put out there, I knew was going to help another teacher. Because in the field that I’m in, there’s a lot of gaps in knowledge. And there’s a lot of gaps and resources in my particular niche. So I knew that what I had made would be helping another teacher. And that was exciting. So then I made something else that I pulled from my files, cleaned up, put it out there, and it sold. And I’m like, I’m a rock star. And I can remember having a conversation with my husband, when we went on our first trip, which was to Cancun, and I was like, oh, about a Diet Coke with my money from TPT. And this is my TPT Diet Coke, it kind of grew to I paid for the parking on this vacation, and then it grew to I paid for the vacation. And then it just kept growing to the point of if I don’t start taking this seriously, I think I’m missing out on a big opportunity.

Dawn 3:38
So that’s kind of like where it grew with TPT. And after about doing it for a year and a half in the spring of 2015. I decided that I wanted to like jump out of the school district and start my own particular journey in my field. So I offer professional development and consulting and of course, my resources. And then that kind of I call it a trifecta of social studies instruction, that kind of snowballed from there to create professional development and my own website. I didn’t create a website, of course, but somebody else did that for me, but I put my stuff up on my own website, and it rolled from there.

Kristen Doyle 4:17
I love that. And I think so many of us have such a similar journey. I remember my first $100 month I think it was actually $153 And I was so excited about it. We just kind of you know start something you think is gonna be a hobby and maybe it’ll pay for your coffee or help pay for vacations and then it turns into this whole big thing. And I love that you have branched out into something a lot of sellers want to branch out into which is doing things like professional development and selling your resources to school districts instead of just to individual teachers because there is definitely so much potential there for growing your business and reaching more teachers.

Dawn 4:57
Absolutely. One of the things that I really feel strongly about is that school districts should be supporting their teachers. And we have too many school districts that have too much money rolling around. And they’re buying things that aren’t necessarily in the best interest of their kids. But to be honest, they all have a budget, and they have to spend that budget by the end of a school year. And if it doesn’t get spent, they don’t get that same amount the next year. So they’ll be buying things that aren’t necessarily in the best interest of kids. And so my goal was, let’s tap into that untapped market. And let’s start bringing that income into what really teachers want.

Dawn 5:35
They want these resources, they’re using these resources, they need these resources. And I think it is a disservice to our students that we are providing teachers with the resources that they need in order to teach. So that was my particular goal. And then it also tied in with my professional development. So if I’m teaching teachers on a specific strategy, let’s say we’re doing literacy strategies for social studies, I have to have something to model with. So while I’m making the model for the literacy strategies, I can then roll that into a resource and put that onto my own website for teachers to use. And then I had like a backdoor for teachers to get the resources I would use and the PDS, they would get for free. And then any other teacher who saw that lesson that I had written, that was based on that model, they would also have the opportunity to purchase it, use it in their classroom with their kids.

Kristen Doyle 6:26
That is such a smart approach. And I love that you are doing that. One of the biggest challenges really, that we have when you start selling on your own website, or really anywhere off of a big platform like TPT is that it doesn’t have built in traffic. So you have to work to get people to purchase things from your website. They have to get to the website first of all, they have to know you exist and get there. But then they also have to trust you. Trust you, personally, as an expert, trust your website as a safe place to put in their credit card number, all of those sorts of things. Can we talk a little bit about some of the ways that you have built that credibility and gotten people to your site? I know you’ve used conferences and social media a lot. Can you share a little bit about that?

Dawn 7:14
Yes. So I had a friend talk to me about the reason that teachers are buying my resources is because they love what they do with the kids, right? They love how the kids are using them and how they’re engaged. The issue to me always was that because of certain algorithm changes, or you know, the moon shines a different way, my resources weren’t always getting to the teachers that they needed to be getting to. So I have a background in professional development, and I’m very comfortable presenting to teachers. And I actually raise that bar up a notch and started presenting to administrators. Because when we look at making school district purchases, we want to look at who are the money holders, right? Who’s in control of the budget. It’s the school principals, and it is the school administrator curriculum coordinators, so your science coordinator or your math coordinator, or your junior high principal.

Dawn 8:09
They’re the ones who have the money. So they are the ones that you need to be able to get in front of and say, look how this resource is going to benefit your kids. Look how this resource is based on solid pedagogy. Look how this resource fills a gap that you need. So like for example, word walls. Word walls are great for emerging bilinguals. all school districts in the state and I’m in in Texas are like you need to have word walls up, you need have word walls up.

Dawn 8:38
But what they don’t ever take into account is the amount of time that it takes to make these word walls and to make good word walls that really work for the students. So by discovering that this is a niche that is needed. Presenting on word walls for bilingual strategies to district administrators to principals, then they’re like, oh, you know what, we really do need that. And it’s not like here, you have to buy my stuff. It’s more like I’m solving a problem. But the only way to do that is to get in front of these people who have the money, and that’s through those conferences.

Kristen Doyle 9:13
I love that one question I’ve heard a lot of TPT sellers ask when they’re thinking about districts. I’ve heard so many sellers say I want to sell to districts. I just don’t know how to get my foot in that door. What suggestions do you have what has worked for you as far as getting in front of administrators and those curriculum coordinators?

Dawn 9:33
Okay, so what I’m going to say is before you can even think about getting in front of them, you have to have that product line. It has to be a product line, all ready to go. Right? So district administrators aren’t going to be going oh, I need to buy a $2 Worksheet on you know, Christopher Columbus. They’re thinking, I need a course of eighth grade resources for math, or I need a course of middle school resources for science, they are looking for those big ticket items because they have that budget that they can spend and this need that they have to fill.

Dawn 10:07
So don’t start like oh, going to administrator with I have a cool worksheet, you’re not gonna get anywhere, you have to have done all the backward to prepare your resource, that it is a full complete bundle, a full complete curriculum, a year long resource, before you even begin to get yourself in front of the administrators. Then, the next thing I would start doing is once you have that full year resource written is to start advertising it in a professional way, such as you have a blog, and your blog is about how novice teachers could get students engaged. And of course, then while you’re writing about the process of engagement, you’re also featuring your products.

Dawn 10:50
And then you write another resource on are your kids bored in class?, let’s look at engagement. And then you write another blog post on engagement, so that you start to have multiple blog posts from different points of view, but all towards that same niche that you’re trying to present. That’s then when you’ve done that prep work, you started to build that background credibility, because they need to know who you are, before you even get into the conference.

Dawn 11:14
Let’s say that I’m going to go present at the National Science conference or the state science conference, I submit a proposal, and there’s going to be a panel of people who are going to look at my proposal, if they don’t know who I am, if they don’t see that I’ve done stuff in the field, if I’ve got some type of background, that’s going to just get thrown away, and you can get your foot in the door. So before you waste the time on putting together a proposal and making a presentation, you have to do everything that’s in the background, to make them want to choose you for their conference. Because they’re trying to put together a good conference.

Dawn 11:51
So then once you’ve got your proposal written, I mean, you’ve done all that work, which is going to take a year or more, then you’re ready to say, hey, I want to present to the money people. And this is the problem that I’m going to solve, if you’re always going with this is the problem that we have, this is the problem that I’m going to solve, this is how what I have is going to help you. But it’s got to be a soft sell and I always mask it in pedagogy. So this is how we’re going to get our emergent bilinguals talking more is by using this, or this is how we’re going to get our emergent bilinguals learning more vocabulary. And then I’m gonna show word walls and how to use Word walls. So it’s the, hey, you want this for your teachers, because you see the quality of it. But it’s all based in pedagogy and it’s all based in best practices.

Kristen Doyle 12:39
Yeah, and that’s something that’s so different from TPT. Because when we’re selling on TPT, the teachers who are there are buyers, or freebie downloaders, at least. They’re they’re looking for a product. So we don’t really have to soft sell, it’s a store, you just tell them what’s in your product and how it’s going to help their students. And here’s the price in the add to cart button. But when you’re presenting in a different environment, when you’re at a conference, when you’re doing a PD for a school district, they’re not shopping, they’re there to learn. And so you do really have to focus on it in a different way.

Kristen Doyle 13:13
I’ve heard it said a lot of times, and it’s something that I kind of embrace in my own business as well. We need to sell people what they want, and then give them what they need. And that really comes into play when you’re in a non selling kind of role. When you are there for professional development, you pitch to them in your proposal what they want. And then in that presentation, you’ve got to give them the stuff that they really need to show off why your resources are so good, and why they’re going to help the school district. And I’m sure as you know, data is so important if you’ve got data on how this has helped students and results that different school districts or teachers have seen as far as testing is concerned course, think testing is the bane of every teacher’s existence.

Dawn 13:59
Yes, exactly.

Kristen Doyle 14:01
And it matters to the people who spend the money.

Dawn 14:03
Yeah. And I think one really good thing is that once you get this ball rolling, your momentum will grow without you necessarily having to do anything. So for example, once you start making those sales to those school districts, and school districts, they all meet, they have their region service centers, they have their network. And once you become a part, or are named in that network, you could get sales from people that you’ve never even met. Because oh, well so and so down in this district recommended you. Can you give me some more information? Yes, of course. Let’s meet Let’s talk. I can absolutely do that.

Dawn 14:40
But it’s like as your credibility grows in the field, your name starts popping up more and more in conversations that you’re not necessarily a part of, but in conversations of, oh my god, our scores are so bad, what can we do to help? And then somebody else would be like my scores jumped 10 points because we started using XYZ product. Oh really tell me more about XYZ product. So those conversations start having, but it’s about momentum and all that building towards the momentum. This is eight years worth of work that I’ve been in. I still feel like I’m pushing that ball. But I know that I’m starting to get that name recognition when I go to state conferences.

Dawn 15:23
And, in fact, this last session in October, we had our state Texas social studies conference, I had to put a sign on the door that said session full, because I had been working with school districts and because I had a presence on social media, people knew who I was, and they wanted to be in my session. And I actually had to turn teachers way which I hated doing. But that to me was like, the ball is rolling. Now we’re getting that momentum.

Kristen Doyle 15:47
Yeah, as much as you hate to do it. It’s a great indicator of your success in that niche for sure.

Dawn 15:53
Yes. It’s like, I so strongly believe that I want school districts paying for the resources, then I want those teachers to go back and say, hey, buy this for me. And so I also help them do that.

Kristen Doyle 16:04
So you mentioned that you are kind of helping those teachers who come to your PD sessions, to be able to go to their district and get the district to purchase, can you talk a little bit about some strategies you use to sort of facilitate that transition?

Dawn 16:19
So what I do is I start off every session talking about pedagogy, here are the best practices in social studies instruction. And then here is the model lessons I’m going to do that’s based on those best practices. Then at the end of the session, I’m going to give them like a brochure or a flyer or handout on hey, are these your district’s goals? And it’s all the same, every district has the same goal, worded you know, oh, by this research, or you know, that research.

Dawn 16:50
You put those out there, you’re like, oh, my district needs this latest bandwagon goal of high yield strategies, or, you know, engagement, design quality principles, or whatever. But putting those words in your pamphlet, or your brochure that you’re sharing with the teachers, helps the teachers have this conversation with their administrators, because the administrators don’t want to hear oh, this is a pretty worksheet. The administrators want to hear well, what pedagogical research backs up this resource?

Dawn 17:17
Why would I want to spend taxpayer money on this resource for students, if I don’t have any pedagogy behind it. So as a seller being clear what your resource, the problem that it solves, like the niche that you’re in, but then also the pedagogy that backs up what you’re doing.

Kristen Doyle 17:38
And that’s another place where if you want to sell to districts, you are selling to a whole new audience now. Were on TPT, it works really well to sell things and say, this is high quality, pedagogically based content, but your kids are going to love it, they’re going to be so engaged, it’s gonna be so much fun. Because teachers eat that up, they love that. And it’s not because teachers don’t care about the learning. It’s because they know that when the kids are engaged, they’re going to learn more.

Kristen Doyle 18:08
That’s not what districts see, they honestly, I think most school administrators could care less if the kids are engaged when they’re buying things, they want to see test scores, they want to see, like you said, those current buzzwords that whatever is trending right now in terms of best practices, they want to see those things. And so I would imagine you have to rethink the way that you’re structuring your products and the way that you’re packaging them up, so that you’re hitting on all those buzzwords.

Dawn 18:37
Yes, exactly. Because that’s what principals want to be able to do or administrators want to be able to do. They want to be able to say, well, I bought this resource that will help us meet the goal of, you know, whatever. So being very cognizant of what those goals are that administrators want. And you could pick that up in conversation, you could pick that up by reading Edutopia articles or ACSD articles. They’re all saying the same thing. They’re all saying we have this problem that needs to be solved. That is just the different buzzwords that they’re using currently solve the problem. That’s your key in the door.

Kristen Doyle 19:10
And it’s so smart. Let’s talk a little bit about what you are selling to school districts. So you are a middle school history for Texas teachers and what districts are buying from you is, like you said earlier year long curriculum for what they require to be taught at the different grade level. So tell me a little bit about how you are doing that and how it’s different from what you sell to teachers on TPT?

Dawn 19:36
So, it’s not different. It’s not different in the fact that I have a resource here that is only for teachers through my membership, and then a resource over here that is only on TPT. Because I am writing with that same goal. I have two platforms that I can sell with. The one over here on TPT is going to be the classroom teacher who has $5 that they’re going to spend, the one over here, inside of the membership is part of 300 other resources that districts have $5,000 that they’re going to spend on that.

Dawn 20:09
So it’s really when I’m writing to the standards, which is very important, because we are such a unique state. So when I’m writing to the standards, and I’m writing to the buzzwords and the pedagogy that’s fitting that need, so it’s just different avenues. School districts don’t like to buy on TPT, they will buy from me with my name and my brand and my website. But I have very little school districts buying a whole year of curriculum from TPT.

Kristen Doyle 20:35
Yeah, and I know TPT is working on that some but the fact remains, school districts like to buy from people and from huge curriculum company, as opposed to off TPT. So on TPT, you have your like you said, it’s the same activities, the same lessons, the same content. But on TPT, you’re selling little bits and pieces, you have a bundle?

Kristen Doyle 20:56
On your website, it’s a membership instead, can we talk a little bit about that? I know you’ve had kind of several iterations of the membership, you’ve adjusted, what’s available, pricing points, and all of those things, can you kind of talk through maybe a few of the things you’ve tried and why you changed them what wasn’t working and kind of what is working now.

Dawn 21:16
So when I first started selling to school districts, I was selling from the point of view of former administrator, as in I want something easy, right? And so my mindset was, I sell to them once, they have access to everything that I put on the website for, you know, eighth grade US history. And then I made a password, oh, this, just share the password with your teachers. Well, then, two problems occurred.

Dawn 21:46
Number one, teachers were sharing the password to everybody they knew in they’re going own social media groups. And then too, I didn’t have a return client, because the client had already purchased the resource, and they were good. With my website, anytime I make a new product, it goes up, they get it, if I make a revision, it goes up, they get it, if the test change, which is has, and I make a new resource line in order to meet the new changes at the test, they get it. They pay me once back in 2017. So that membership worked for me for a while. But for long term growth, I could see an end, like when do you stop selling to all the districts, when you’ve sold all the districts, then you’re done.

Kristen Doyle 22:30
And you’re selling to a single state. So the number of schools are a little more limited than people who have a broader niche, of course, as they say, the riches are in the niches. And I really do think the fact that you focus on the Texas standards as part of what makes you successful in Texas specifically, but it does limit your potential customer base.

Dawn 22:51
It really does. I’m fortunate in the fact that Texas is so big that I have a huge customer base, and I’ve got maybe 10% of it. So I do have a potential for growth. But then at the same time there is a finite ending, right. So somebody in Singapore is not buying my curriculum.

Kristen Doyle 23:06
Yeah. And I think it’s so smart of you to see that end, even though it’s way down the road. It would be who knows, decades, maybe before you really reach the end of your customer base. But it’s so smart to be forward thinking about that and avoiding that problem wow, instead of waiting until it is a problem.

Dawn 23:23
Right. I said I fell into this, right? I don’t have a business background, I have a teaching background. I know all about education, I don’t know business at all, I made more mistakes on the business end, simply because of ignorance, I just didn’t know. And that was one of those ignorant mistakes of, I’m going to start off and I’m going to make it easy for my customers, not realizing I was doing myself damage. So right when I was going to make the shift to doing a membership based site was when the pandemic hit.

Dawn 23:52
And then that scared me because everybody all of a sudden needed completely different things than what I had. And I’m like, Well, I can’t charge a membership to something that I don’t even know if this is going to work. I don’t know if this is going to meet their needs anymore. So I just continued kind of in a holding pattern while making resources for teachers as fast as I could, that would meet the needs of COVID.

Dawn 24:15
Then, after about two years, I was ready to transition into the membership model. And this is my second year. I’ve had people re-up for a second time which was I was nervous because when you do a membership model, you’re basically slashing the price that they would pay for all, everything at once. With the concept of this is going to be reoccurring income and after about three years, I will have made up what I lost by them not purchasing it just completely outright. So I was nervous that they were going to buy from me download everything and then not renew the membership.

Kristen Doyle 24:51
Yeah, and that is something that came up. I talked to Sara Marie about her membership, a couple of weeks back and that is something that came up with her as well. That she was nervous Initially, I think it’s so common for sellers to be nervous that teachers are going to sign up for a membership, download, cancel their membership, and then they’ve got all your stuff for a really low price. She said it happens, but not enough to outweigh the positives of the membership, are you seeing the same thing?

Dawn 25:15
So also, the difference is that school districts are bound by very strict copyright laws. So when I send my contract to them with my purchase, like, here’s your quote, here’s the contract of what you are getting, I very specifically say in the contract that you are purchasing the license for one year, if you choose to not renew the license, you must destroy all resources by Social Studies Success. Now, whether they do that or not, I don’t know, but that’s some language that I have at the beginning.

Dawn 25:48
So that they know this is what it should be, it should be a continuing license. And then I continue to work to provide value for these resources. So for example, my eighth grade, which is my number one seller, because we’re tested, looked at the star tests that came out this last spring, identified some huge issues with the way that they’re testing now. And then I created a whole product line, specifically to resolve that issue. So that’s then added value for them at no additional cost. But if they want it, they have to renew.

Kristen Doyle 26:20
And once the district sees you do this for a year or two consistently, then they buy in that, okay, she’s always going to keep this up to date. And that gives you a big bonus, I guess that’s a big benefit of using your resources over a curriculum company. Because they don’t change the textbook on the fly like that. They’re not uploading new digital resources to adjust for last year’s content, they require the district to buy a whole new set of ridiculously expensive textbooks and online access and all of those things. And so for the district, they probably are saving money and getting a better product by working with you because you’re not doing the physical books and things that big curriculum companies are doing.

Kristen Doyle 27:03
So smart. I love that you have thought through all of that. I know it’s been a little bit of a journey. I know that because I’ve helped you change those membership options and prices, all the things several times.

Dawn 27:18
Several times, it’s a journey.

Kristen Doyle 27:20
It is a journey, just like everything else. And like you said, we’re all I think all I don’t know of any TPT sellers, who were business majors first. We all are teachers who started a business and some of us maybe had the benefit of like, I had a little bit of a leg up. I feel like in the business world because my dad was a businessman. He ran a small town bank for years and years, he is very business minded. And some of that you just absorb sitting at the dinner table, which is fantastic.

Kristen Doyle 27:50
But for most of us, you just don’t have a lot of business sense and you don’t know what it takes. And we’re all just kind of learning as we go. I think it’s so important to keep in mind that where we start is not where we end up. Imagine if you had panicked over the long term stuff before you put out that membership the first time, you wouldn’t have had a chance to grow it and to adjust it. And you know, when you saw a problem, you changed it.

Dawn 28:15

Kristen Doyle 28:15
Throw something out there and try it and then tweak it when you need to.

Dawn 28:18

Kristen Doyle 28:19
So like I mentioned earlier, I know there are a lot of sellers who want to start selling more to school districts, for a lot of the same reasons that you shared. As much as I love TPT. As much as I love being able to reach these individual teachers, there is a little part of it that I don’t like because I don’t feel like the individual teacher should have to make these purchases. I do feel like the district should be paying for this stuff. So I know a lot of sellers are wanting to sell more to school districts. What advice would you give to them about getting started?

Dawn 28:52
I would say you have to get your ducks in a row. You have to have everything ready to go your product line, your blog posts, your social media, you have to have a presence in the pond before you start moving towards selling to school districts. Because if you just pop up at a conference like a math conference, and nobody knows who you are, you don’t have the credibility to sell to school districts, they’re not going to spend $10,000, $20,000 on your resource.

Dawn 29:22
If you have no social proof, if you have no background that you’ve been advertising, no niche that you’re working. So if your long term goal is to work towards selling to school districts, which is lucrative I make three to four times what I make on TPT selling to school districts. If that is your goal, then you have to get your ducks in a row and you have to be aiming for it. So like maybe if this is the beginning of 2024, maybe 2025 in the spring you’ll be presenting at a state conference on your niche topic that your work through.

Dawn 29:59
But getting every thing lined up everything ready to go. So I think you’re established sellers who have been in the game for a while they do have a social following. They do have those blog posts, and they do have a complete curriculum, they’re going to have a leg up. And they just need to steer that boat towards, hey, how do I get my face and my product in front of the people who have the money.

Kristen Doyle 30:22
So in terms of action steps that sellers should be taking now, let’s assume they’ve not done any of those things yet. The first action step then would be to start thinking of your individual products in terms of how you can make that a curriculum, right? And what those pedagogical best practices are that you can start working into the language around your product. I would also imagine school districts would rather see curriculum than bundle,

Dawn 30:52

Kristen Doyle 30:53
Because it’s just different language. So start paying attention to the language we’re using in terms of how we are presenting what we’ve created. And

Dawn 31:01
Then, also start researching where you could be presenting. So I mentioned my own curriculum, social studies like but that’s not the only place that I can be doing. My next step is actually going to present at the National Conference, I’ve already put in a proposal for that. But then there’s also principal conferences, and there’s superintendent conferences, and there’s region service centers, and there’s district get togethers, there’s just so many different opportunities that you’re not aware of. So start talking to your principal, start talking to any curriculum coordinators that you know, and ask them, where do they meet? Where do they get their professional development, and do some internet research on that.

Kristen Doyle 31:44
Get on email lists for associations and groups that have conferences, all of those things. And one thing I think people who haven’t done a lot of presenting at conferences, forget, is that most of the time, especially big conferences like this, you have to apply to present many, many months in advance. Sometimes it’s soon as the last conference is over. They are working on presenters for the next one. So you really do need to have a plan and start looking at that stuff pretty early.

Dawn 32:15
Yes. So it’s a multi year project in order to get into these places.

Kristen Doyle 32:21
I love hearing about some of your future plans and branching out to national conferences and things. Are you thinking about branching out some of your products that way too?

Dawn 32:30
I’m kind of torn, where I’ve had teachers contact me on social media on like, when are you going to be writing middle school world history? Well, we don’t offer middle school world history Texas. So I have a customer base here, which is my Texas buyers, who will buy anything that I make. And I have a base over here of people who want me to make stuff for them. But that won’t work here. So I have to decide between Okay, here is a giant untapped market. But here’s a giant proven market.

Dawn 33:04
I’m not lying when I’m telling you that it takes a year to two years to write a whole year’s worth of curriculum.

Kristen Doyle 33:10
Oh, absolutely.

Dawn 33:12
Make your decisions like that. I have to, like really think through of where do I see myself a few years down the road. So I’m going to try, i’m centered in middle school, my next step is to try high school and see how that’s received. But I’ve had specific districts request, Dawn, when are you going to start running high school social studies. So when I know that the people who have the money are asking me when I can deliver a product? I’ve got that in mind.

Kristen Doyle 33:41
Yeah, and it’s so much easier to branch out to something that is niche adjacent. As opposed to shifting gears. I know I’ve kind of gone through the same thing in my TPT store. I’m mostly have ELA resources, there are plenty of ELA standards I don’t have covered yet. And there was a time a year or so ago that I thought, you know, I don’t have any math, maybe I should start making math. And thank goodness, I came to my senses.

Kristen Doyle 34:06
Because my audience knows me for ELA. And if I branch into math, at fifth grade, are they the same teachers? Yes. But I still have the things they’re already coming to me for that I haven’t created all of.

Dawn 34:18

Kristen Doyle 34:19
I have all of this niche adjacent territory where I can shift into maybe grammar as opposed to just writing or branch into things close to the same area, because that market will be so much easier to sell to than switching to something brand new.

Dawn 34:35
Yeah. If they don’t know you for that, then they wouldn’t even come to look for you for that.

Kristen Doyle 34:39
And there’s a big difference in your case between selling to school districts for a new grade level versus individual teachers who want different standards, because your earning potential is so much more with the school district.

Dawn 34:52

Kristen Doyle 34:53
Well, thank you so much for being here today. I feel like we talked about so many things.

Dawn 35:00
Well, I hope it was beneficial to you and your audience.

Kristen Doyle 35:02
Yeah, absolutely. I just love talking to you about some of the business side of things and how you’re making those decisions. Because I know that’s something that we don’t always talk about as much in the TPT world is thinking long term and making those decisions based on the business outcomes. So definitely good to hear some of your thought process around those things.

Dawn 35:22
Thank you.

Dawn 35:23
Well, so it’s like cost benefit analysis, where my time is money. So how much is it going to cost me to develop this new product line versus how much does it benefit me? I wrote fifth grade this year, it has not benefited me. Because I’m not known in the elementary world. I’m known in middle school. So like, that was enough of a okay, this cost me too much to develop this line. I’m not going to go down to fourth grade, probably would benefit me for me to go up because they know me more.

Kristen Doyle 35:54
Yeah. Because middle school teachers, middle school administrators talk to high school administrators.

Dawn 36:00

Kristen Doyle 36:00
Elementary is kind of its own little animal.

Dawn 36:03

Kristen Doyle 36:05
I mean, we even call it in some cases, you call it elementary, and secondary and middle and high school are lumped together.

Dawn 36:10
Yeah. And then their needs are so different.

Kristen Doyle 36:13
Well tell everyone where they can find you if they want to take a peek at some of the things that you are doing and connect with you.

Dawn 36:20
Okay, so it’s Social Studies Success, www.socialstudiessuccess.com. And then I have all my curriculum listed on there, my individual resources, professional development that I offer, it’s all there.

Kristen Doyle 36:34
Awesome and we’ll drop links to your website and your social media in the show notes so people can find you easily. Thank you so much for being here Dawn, it was so nice chatting with you today.

Dawn 36:42
It was so nice. Thank you for all you did to help me build my website. You’ve made it a success.

Kristen Doyle 36:48
You are welcome. I love working on your site.

Dawn 36:51
Thank you.

Kristen Doyle 36:52
That brings us to the end of this episode. Dawn, thank you so much for sharing your journey, and the practical steps that you’ve taken to make a more significant impact on classrooms and teachers in your niche. I hope this episode inspires everyone listening to think about how you can expand your reach and venture into new territories like district level sales and professional development.

Kristen Doyle 37:15
For more information about Dawn and her work, check out the links in the show notes at Kristendoyle.co/episode83. Talk to you soon.

Kristen Doyle 37:27
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.

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About Your Host

Your host, Kristen Doyle, has a decade of experience selling on TpT and has made all the mistakes so that you don’t have to! As a web designer and the go-to SEO expert in the TpT world, she loves helping TpT sellers stand out in the crowd & grow their businesses with passive income strategies.

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