Hey y’all and welcome to another episode of the savvy teacher sellar. I’m your host, Kristen Doyle. And today I have a special guest with me that I cannot wait for you to hear from. Today I am chatting with Ashley Rossi. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, and she’s been selling on TPT since 2015.
We had a great conversation all about how she was able to find a niche within her niche, ways that she has found to build lasting success as a TPT seller over time, and we also chatted about how she is dealing with the current challenges that we’re facing with TPT sales overall being lower than most of us are used to and just being in a difficult and challenging season as TPT sellers right now.
Whether you’re in the SLP niche, like Ashley is or you’re in a totally different market. It is a great conversation, and I cannot wait for you to listen in. So let’s get right to it.
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 sales. Let’s get started y’all.
Hey, Ashley, thank you so much for being here today.
It’s good to be here, it’s good to talk to you.
You too. Well, let’s dive straight in. Because I know we have a lot of things that we want to talk about on this episode. So tell us a little bit about how you got started creating resources for TPT. And how you found your niche.
So I’m a speech pathologist, and I started I think it was 2015. And I was just creating resources to use with my own students in my practice at school. And I just thought I would put them on this new platform TPT. And I mean, I didn’t even have social media before, you know, when I started, so I wasn’t, you know, sharing stuff already. And when people started to respond to like, the materials, I would post and I enjoyed the creation process.
So I just kept putting more of the resources that I was already using with my own students on the platform. And, you know, it was helping my students my approach to how I would create them and use them. And so I felt like it was helping other SLPs too, you know.
In our like speech therapy world, we have all these like giant workbooks with different resources that you make copies and copies and copies of, but you’re spending $50 on a workbook, and then you’re only using a small percentage of it. So I loved the fact that TPT offered a like a place that you could be have very specific units for buyers, and so they could print off and use just that one aspect to meet the needs for their students.
Yeah, I think that’s something that really does help TPT stand out and be different from some of the other resources teachers have available. We can find exactly what we need. Exactly, because it was created by someone who gets it, who knows what we need to work with different students for their different struggles that they have and the things that we’re trying to help them with. Right.
Speaker 2 3:17
I think a lot of people, you know, TPT has really changed and evolved over the years. And most of us who started back in 2015 2016, we weren’t necessarily using social media. But now I think a lot of the people are already naturally sharing on social media, like they start on social media, and then like, oh, gosh, people are responding, so I’m going to post them to TPT. And, and so it was kind of a reverse process for me. I I didn’t even have an Instagram account when I went to that first conference.
Well, I started in 2012. So the Yeah, I didn’t have anything. I just need some stuff on TV, right and waited to see what would happen,
Speaker 2 3:59
And it was interesting, though, because you know, when people start responding and buying stuff, you’re like, oh, okay, they really liked this. So I’ll make more, you know, and and I think you just build that relationship with your buyers. Yeah, absolutely.
So when it comes to being in a really specific niche, you know, it has its ups and downs. Right? You are very, very focused in what you’re create. That narrows your audience a little bit. It does, it really does. And it can sometimes make it a little more difficult to stand out, especially in a niche like SLPs where there are a lot of other sellers there. What do you do that kind of makes you stand out?
Speaker 2 4:39
I think, you know, having product lines that you’re known for is helpful. And then also having even in that already targeted SLP niche, you can even be even more specific in the areas that you cover. So there are some SLPs that sell on TPT that are really focused on apraxia, or speech sound disorders.
Speaker 2 5:02
There are some that focus a lot on AAC, which is like an alternative communication. I specifically have carved a path for a literacy based approach to speech therapy. That’s because that was my natural background. That’s what my whole private practice as an SLP was was built on was language and literacy disorders.
So that’s been my kind of area that I have focused on and, you know, built up my following and my background and shared on social media with and so I think that’s helpful, because there’s a lot of crossover materials that regular classroom teachers or homeschool parents can use from speech therapist. But I do think if you can carve out even a smaller niche within your niche, it can be helpful.
Yeah, especially as you’re getting started, and then, you know, you might branch into some other smaller niches within your niche. Oh, sure, especially as you’re getting started getting really focused, I think, can definitely help. And I love that you just leaned in to what you were already doing. The thing that you are already super passionate about.
Right? I think that’s what I was getting a lot of feedback from a lot of questions on social media, when I would share specific things. I think when you have experience and a knowledge set, people want more of it.
Yeah, a lot of times, I think people look for an a specific niche, and they’re trying to force themselves into a niche they think will be profitable. I see that a lot. Yeah. But when you lean into the thing you’re already just naturally drawn to and knowledgeable about, that just makes your product so much better for the teachers that are using them and easier for you to create. Because it’s the thing that you’re already passionate about.
Speaker 2 6:53
And I think that can be sometimes the curse of social media is following and seeing what other people in your area are doing. And you’re thinking, Oh, well, I can do that, too. Let me share about that one thing. And me specifically for SLPs, I would say we we have to rely so heavily on research and evidence based practices that if that’s not your natural, you know, knowledge set, it’s going to show in your resources.
It’s going to be evident in the products that people download, they’re going to not get the depth that they’re actually looking for, especially if you are doing a therapeutic approach in your therapy. I mean, if you’re a therapist, you really need depth of materials.
Yeah, absolutely. So you mentioned that niching down super specific to literacy based speech therapy has been one of the things that really helped you build a devoted audience, and you do have a very strong audience of followers who really, you know, know, like, and trust you. How did you grow that audience? Are there any kind of unique strategies that you can share?
Speaker 2 8:05
Well, I will say some of it is, by mistake, not mistake, but to a fault. Because I think for a long time, I did focus on that follower count. And I really had to change my mindset into pouring into my audience, serving my audience, and, you know, sharing only high quality stuff. And I think, when buyers and even your followers on social media, you know, know that they can trust you, then they’re gonna want to tune in more.
They’re gonna respond more, they’re gonna message you more, and trust you more. And I think, if you can tap into that, and just serve your the audience that you do have, it will grow organically. I actually have two social media accounts. Because, you know, sometimes I just do things impulsively.
So my main account is just Ashley Rossi. But I did start another account because I have such a huge passion for sharing books and how to use them in your therapy sessions. But I was like, I can’t just only share here. So I created a second account. And I do everything wrong on that account as far as what you’re supposed to do.
I do nothing of what you’re supposed to do nothing what the algorithm tells you you’re supposed to do. But I have grown that organically, so fast. And it’s because I think a I’m not super salesy over there. And it’s a valuable resource for people. It’s a what people are wanting to see. So I think that has told me, you don’t have to chase the algorithm. You need to serve your audience. And I think having that always front of mind will then turn into sales when they can again like you said know like and trust you they will turn into buyers.
Yeah. And when you’re really focused hard on serving them that keeps your audience engaged. And it keeps them coming back to you, whether they’re coming back to your Instagram to see new books, or they’re going into your store or over your website, listening to your podcast,
Speaker 2 10:16
Right, I mean, we can say a following. But I include my email list in that following. And actually, I focus now way more on that audience because that’s where my buyers are.
And I don’t know about you, I have noticed a big shift, I used to get sales off of Instagram or Facebook.
Oh, it’s a huge shift.
And it has shifted so much Instagram and Facebook now are just where I increase your awareness. Yes, absolutely. This is for sharing, making sure people know I exist, providing some help.
Speaker 2 10:54
And data has told me that. It’s using my data has told me that otherwise, I would still be spending an hour or two a day thinking of what content can I share? Because I know, I have to post today, I no longer think of Instagram that way. I no longer think of it that way. It’s been good for my mental health. I will say, because I can see Yeah, I can see it in my data that I don’t have to stress out about that as much anymore.
And I really, you know, I love I love sharing on social media. You know, I love that experience and that relationship that you can build with your followers. But for sales, those come from my email. Yeah. And I have a really strong following on my email. So they know what to expect from me.
Yeah, and I’ve seen the same thing. And I feel like, that makes me feel a little safer in a way with my business, too. Because social media algorithms change, and you’re constantly chasing them and fighting them. Oh, yeah. But if you know that, that’s just a place to grow some visibility, create some engagement, serve your audience, your email list, you own that. So it feels a whole lot safer for that to be the place that generating more sales anyway, I kind of love it.
Speaker 2 12:11
Oh, 100%. And I just I don’t have to chase the algorithm anymore. I don’t have to worry about, you know, entertaining people by creating a reel because I’m just not, it’s just not like, Nope, it’s just not my thing. Just not not going to do it.
I’m the same way. But I’ve gotten better. I create some reels here. And I do too.
Speaker 2 12:34
And I the ones I do I enjoy. But I, I don’t want to have to sit around thinking, what reel Am I gonna make? What reel am I gonna make? What am I gonna do?
Yeah, definitely is not where I am naturally gifted either. So not at all. Well, speaking of algorithms, I know SEO has also been a big piece of your growth strategy for your business. So can you share a little bit about how you’ve been using SEO to grow your sales?
Speaker 2 12:59
Well, I’ve learned from the best. Honestly, actually, it really saved me. We actually last year moved across the country. Mm hmm.
You had a big year?
Speaker 2 13:10
Yes, so just even listing a house selling a house moving, moving into a new house and all of that change, I wasn’t able to focus as much on actively the daily work. And so I was able to, because of the work I had put in before, with like your SEO courses, and really focusing on that, I was able to sit back and relax a little bit and not be so stressed at Oh, I haven’t worked in seven days. And things are still chugging along.
It’s because I had put in that foundation. And I will say, I’m not as good at SEO on my website. But I feel very confident on my SEO approach on TPT. And it’s because you know, and that is, you know, this is not like a sales thing. But after you’re taking your courses and watching you do it. And even you know, you doing some for me. I was like, oh, okay, this makes sense now. I know the wording. I know the placement, I know the strategies. And I feel so confident doing it on my own now.
Yeah, it’s one of those things that once it clicks, yes, it gets so much easier. So it’s natural, and it almost just comes out. Yes, it almost just comes out naturally as you’re writing it because you’re just built that in. It’s built into your systems now. Yes. And I love that and you’re gonna get there on your website, too. I know.
Speaker 2 14:37
It’s a daily grind. It is you can only focus on so many things at one time, right? We all have a long to do list.
Absolutely. But that’s the big thing with SEO for me is when you have those hard seasons, where life is busy and you can’t pour as much time and effort into your business for a little while. That can carry you through those seasons, it does the work for you. Yeah. And it also frees you up during the regular seasons. When you do have time to focus. It frees you up to focus on other things. Yes. Like I know you’ve had some fun and exciting things going on lately started. Yeah, podcast not too long ago.
Speaker 2 15:17
Yeah. Well, that was in you know, starting the podcast, because I love actually enjoy being more on like Instagram stories, because I feel more casual and conversational there. But again, I don’t want to have to chase that algorithm anymore. And you only get so much time on stories.
You don’t want to spend 15 minutes, you know, doing nobody’s watching an Instagram story for 15 minutes. No, if you’ve got all those dots at the top, people just swipe on through. And so especially with you know, a literacy based on what I am sharing is using books, you need more time.
And one of the girls who works for me, Kaylin, we enjoy it so much chatting about books and how SLPs can use them were like, you know, let’s just start a podcast because it gives you more time to be more conversational about it. And so we’re, you know, it’s a huge learning process. But it’s another avenue to serve my audience. So we’ll see where it takes us. We’ll see.
Yeah, I love that you’re doing this. And I love that you’re doing it with someone because these episodes where I have a guest on, they’re my favorite to record, guys are just so fun to just sit and chat with somebody, and then record that and share it. And then people get to hear the conversation. I don’t know. It feels like so much less pressure. Very. Yeah. So much less pressure in planning.
Speaker 2 16:33
Yes, we just bring people into the conversation we’re already having daily anyway. So it’s fun. It’s fun.
Love it! Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about where we are right now on TPT. It is challenging, very tough season.
And it’s a season we haven’t seen before. We’ve kind of been on a steady every year, every one is growing kind of plan aside from some weird hiccups during COVID. But suddenly, we’re in a down season. So what are some things that you do sort of to help you deal with the challenging times, maybe find some work life balance when you’re when you have a stressful season?
Speaker 2 17:17
You know, honestly, for me, it’s staying above the fray. And not getting too caught up in some of the I wouldn’t say drama, but the anxiety that people are posting about in some of our TPT groups where people are, and you know, legitimately, people have seen huge, huge changes and declines, and it has changed their household financial abilities.
And so I get the panic. I honestly do. And I think people are so validated in, we’ve been very comfortable in seeing year over year growth. But I think, you know, it’s good to have a small group of, I would say TPT friends that you know, that you can rely on and go to, instead of a panic. And what I see daily, in a lot of the Facebook groups is, oh my gosh, my sales are down. What am I going to do? I’m going to quit is anyone else’s sales down? Because mine are plummeting today.
You can’t get down in the weeds in the daily analysis, because this day doesn’t necessarily compare to last year or the year before. We’re in a different season. And yes, it could be the economy. It could be teacher morale, it could be so so so many factors. But that’s not going to solve the problem. You really have to think okay, well, what are the strategies that are currently working for my business?
What are people buying? What are people needing, and just again, continue to serve them. But being mindful of things are just uncertain right now, but I think staying above the fray. Staying out of the job, carve your own path, serve your audience, and follow your data.
I have definitely I’ve seen a lot of the same. You know, when I scroll through Facebook, it’s every single time I open Facebook, I see a comment in a TPT seller group, someone is asking about sales being down. And that’s fine. I know not everyone is as plugged into the seller community as you and I are and so maybe some of them haven’t heard other people saying their sales are down and so they’re panicked because they think it’s just me.
And so that’s fine. I understand why they need me to ask those questions. But for me, I have had to stop clicking on the comments.
Oh, I don’t even look.
It’ll put my mindset back into that same spiral that they’re in. And that’s not productive. It’s not productive. Not that I’m saying I bury my head in the sand and pretend it’s okay. It’s unhealthy. Yeah, it’s unhealthy. Yeah.
Speaker 2 19:55
It’s it’s a business if you look at it as a business and you know, I do have background, my private, I had to run my own private practice. So I did, you know already had some kind of a business mindset. And I think you even whatever business you’re running, you have to, you know, follow your data, not get too concentrated in the drama and other things that are going on and stay really focused on your business.
Yeah, and focus on what is working.
Do more of that. Follow your data. I rely so heavily on my data to make decisions. And even when I have like a plan, or an agenda for what I’m going to currently like, share or work on or a product I’m going to make, I’m still using that data to make those decisions.
Because it is changing so frequently, even like if you have a if you’re having a sale, are you promoting higher priced items or lower, you know, what are your buyers buying? Are they buying more smaller dollar resources? And maybe that’s all your buyers can do right now? Then I would be promoting and sharing more of those, really look at what they’re buying and, and continue to feed into that.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s a big shift. Right now, a lot of our buyers are shifting away from buying big bundles and higher price things to buying lower price things. Absolutely. So when it comes to site wide sales, I’m not going to promote huge bundles, I’m gonna promote smaller things. And typically, I would promote the big bundle, because I want to highlight like, look how much you can save on this
For an entire year. This gets you an entire year, but they can’t do that. You know, I mean, even if you think about people in their daily lives right now, they may not be able to buy, you know, they may not be able to buy those bigger dollar items that they typically would. You know, I mean, it may be even as simple as when you’re when they’re at the grocery store. You know, not buying the giant bottle of ketchup or the big big box of cereal they may be buying
Are they buying it at Sam’s and spending the 30 bucks on cereals or are they buying the one thing that’s cheaper at the grocery store?
Just to get them by to the next paycheck, right? Yes. Yes,
Yeah it’s a shift that we’re seeing outside of TPT 201 101 thing that has helped me is not staying so focused on what’s happening on TPT. But thinking about what’s happening in the rest of the world, listening to other entrepreneurs, and other businesses, and seeing that they’re down too. That helps me not feel like TPT is crashed and burned. It’s time has come and it’s all over. But that this is symptomatic of the world right now.
It really is. It really is. We were on vacation this summer. And we did a fishing trip a duck a day, you know, like a charter and the fishing captain. He said I’ve been doing this 10 or 12 years and he said we’re we’re down to only 30% of what we typically the business we typically do.
And so I felt I was heartbroken for him because this is their livelihood, obviously. But a part of me was like, like you said, Okay, it’s not just TPT it’s everywhere. My husband sees it in his industry as well. We we’ve had this conversation because you my sales are are lower than they typically are. But everywhere. I mean, it’s it’s just
And I’m down a little too. I’ve shared in some other episodes that have come out recently. I’m a little down right now too like everybody else. My husband is in the real estate industry. And today it’s Friday. We were recording on a Friday. Today’s the first day he’s worked all week. Yeah.
Because sales are just down. And and so you have fortunately, we have Yeah, you adjust Fortunately, we have been saving when things were good, right? And we’ve adjusted some of our budget and some of those things because you have to, but it does make me feel better knowing it’s not just TPT.
It does. And you know, I mean, I still you know, I still have really good sales. I’m happy and I’m comfortable. I’m not I’m not one of the people who are panicking. But again, I think that does come back to have you laid a really strong foundation for SEO? Are you you know, do you have an audience that you are serving?
And are you following your data? Because if you have those three things in place, you should not be panicking. Because I think if you are if you have built your whole business relying completely on search, then you need to adjust your approach because I make most of my sales off of, you know, things I’ve driven my sales to from my email list or from social media. And so yeah, you cannot rely you can’t put all your baskets in. Well, I’ve always been on page one or page two.
On a lot of people who have always been on page one or page two, that may have been more sales driven versus SEO driven. Exactly. And if you start seeing yourself slip, then it’s time to really evaluate work on that strategy and work on that, that SEO, we’re really at a point now, where it is a multifaceted approach where if you want to stay successful, it needs to be a combination of SEO on the site with building an audience of your own.
we talked about earlier, I think email is the way to do that right now. For sure, as far as building your audience of people who are buyers, definitely emails the place to do that.
And meeting their needs for what they need now.
Yeah. And that comes from just being in tune with your audience.
Even looking at the I even look at, you know, the analytics of, of my email, you know, I don’t worry too much about how many unsubscribers but I look at what emails did they open? You know, what are they clicking on? What are they responding to?
And I have shifted, like I said, instead of spending so much time on creating content for social media, I spend more time looking at SEO and my data and really thinking about, okay, what is this trend for my buyers? What are they showing? What are they showing me? And so what do I need to keep doing or change?
Yeah, absolutely. This has been such a great conversation. Thank you so much for being here. Before we close out, can you share one piece of advice that you would offer to somebody just starting out as a TPT seller?
Find your niche of what is natural for you to share. Serve your audience, follow your data, and hire people to work for you.
I love that. Don’t be afraid to hire people.
Oh my gosh, it is life changing. And I waited too long to do that. But once I did, the light bulb just went off, you get that money back so quickly. And just you know, you get your life back and peace of mind. You no longer have to work in the afternoons. You know, I used to it. We were all you know, on our laptops in front of the TV after dinner.
And I don’t have to do that anymore. And I don’t work weekends anymore. And I’m much more present with my family. So definitely having people help you with even small tasks.
Yeah. And I’m always weighing what is the value of my time and what am I good at doing? Versus if I pay someone else? Yes, it costs money. But how much of my time do I free up to do the other things that are more important? The things that that I need to do to move the needle in my business?
Because I can hire anyone to edit resources? Oh, for sure. You, you know, make even to make resources to make another version of something I’ve already created a template for I’ve already laid out the plan. And we just need to create it again with different vocabulary words or different math problems or whatever it is.
Having someone else finish those out so that I can create another new thing is so much more valuable.
And there’s so many other educators and even SLPs, who would love you know, a little bit of outside money. And, you know, the three people that work with me, or they’re all SLPs, they were all from well, one of them was my, Kalin is my cousin. And she’s also you know, on my pocket.
So the other two girls are also SLPs. And they were in my audience. And that’s how, you know, they love you know, they have different tasks. You know, one of them is more like a weekly and she has regular tasks that I we don’t even have to communicate all that much that often.
But then another girl, she helps me, you know, edits, you know, she does one-off tasks, but I can rely on her. And when I email her and she can edit something so fast, get it back to me. And I see you know, I get that money back so easily. But it took me a while to figure that out.
For people just starting out, I would say the first thing you should look to hire out is someone to edit your resources for. Because that is something that honestly none of us are really great at doing ourselves because we’re the one who typed to the mistake in the first place and it’s hard to see it.
You need another set of eyes regardless of if they are skilled in your niche.
It will help so much in terms of having happy buyers, having people come back, not leaving you low ratings, or bad mouthing you on a Facebook post, right, because they bought the resource you’re talking about and it had a bunch of errors in it. Yeah, or asking for refunds it it just is so important for setting you up as a professional.
Well and I’ve even had so many times with the resources that we are creating. It’s another brain. That’s like oh well I have you thought about doing it this way. What about this idea? Because they’re, you know, they’re in the trenches in the classroom working with students and their ideas just give you more opinions and more value to your resources. So yeah, for sure one of the for if I was starting right now, that’s one of the first things I would do is to have more help early on.
Thank you so much for being here. It has been so nice catching up with you and talking about some of how you have found your niche and how you found a way to be successful and to stay that way, even through, you know, some of all the changes that you’ve had lately.
Yeah. Thanks so much. It was it was great to chat with you.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode. Ashley’s wisdom is something I know so many of us can relate to, especially her take on what to do when times get tough on TPT. I loved her advice about stepping away from the Facebook groups when the noise gets to be too much to handle. And we’re noticing that it isn’t feeling healthy for us.
Finding that core group of sellers you can talk to who are forward thinking even though they obviously recognize where we are, but they’re not getting caught up in that downward spiral of stress and worry and just imagining that the sky is falling. That really can make a world of difference.
It’s all about focusing on the things that we can do to improve our businesses right now. Building that solid foundation with strong SEO on your products, nurturing and growing our own audiences and our email list and in our social media, and definitely following our data is the path forward on TPTright now.
It is the strategy that really can help us all to grow without feeling too overwhelmed and it can help us to sustain and survive difficult seasons like the one that we’re in right now. If you want to connect with Ashley, you can find her website and her social media links in the show notes. Remember, seller friends, it isn’t about doing all the things it’s about doing the right things. Talk to you soon friends.
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 Kristindoyle.co/TPT. Talk to you soon.