Flynn’s Educational Grotto Blog#2: Year 1 of Publishing Oct 2016 – Aug 2017 Selling Teaching Resources Online by Michael Flynn

22 Jul

Grotto Hindsight Wisdoms: Make your resources engaging for the students.

Dynamic resources are the foundation of an outstanding lesson. There is nothing worse for the student than staring at a white PowerPoint slide with black text. There is nothing more challenging than trying to bring a sterile slide to life as a teacher. 

When constructing PowerPoint lessons, colour is essential. In my own slides, I present any informational text in framed black boxes, I present all class tasks in framed red boxes. I believe this simple consistency helps reduce create a methodical routine for the students – If I want information or guidance, look for the black box on the slide. If I want to know what to do next, I look for the red box on the slide. Believe me, it works!

I believe that every PowerPoint slide should have an image, related directly or indirectly to the information on the slide itself. In my humble opinion, this is critical in aiding the learning experience. Images and text work most effectively and assertively together (why do you think newspapers and magazines contain a mix of both?). Images and text working together bring both lobes of the brain together, meaning that the learning you are providing is more likely to be stored in long-term memory. An image on a slide also helps to cater to the visual learners within the classroom. The image on the slide can also spark further discussion and debate … if time permits, as we are always chasing the clock.

In year 1, I had created and uploaded a total of 300 products and generated a total of £1900 in net sales. I don't often blow my own trumpet, sing my own praises, or brag about the milestones of my life. But I was damn impressed ... Yes .. damn impressed with myself! 

You see, other than a bit of personal tutoring there had been very few ways to make an extra buck in teaching. Yes, you could take on extra responsibility at school, but you really sold your soul to the devil when you did that. Taking a yearly £1500 TLR point was the same as tattooing 'exploit me' across your forehead. So, netting £1900 as a teacher-author on the TES was more profitable in terms of actual earnings vs time, but more importantly, it was rewarding on a personal level. The figure of £1900 told me that this thing I'd stumbled across, had the potential to become a business. I had never been good with numbers, but simple maths told me, if I generated a further 300 products, I would logically turnover something in the region £3800.

An excited, and dare I say it, 'greedy' feeling took over. Yes, I was really smug at that point. Look at me: without a formalized plan or strategy, I had created products for my day-to-day job and then sold those same products to other educators. It took 10 minutes to upload something and then you could essentially forget about it. The TES promoted it, the website showcased it, no timely or costly promotional work required. I couldn't understand why every teacher in every school wasn't doing it.

A capitalist throb pounded through my veins and with it went a vow to plunge full-steam ahead. 'Volume' was the battle cry. A larger volume of products simply equated to a larger sales volume. It was decided. 'Volume' was the panacea to cure all ills, an early retirement by the pool, the fast car I could never afford, and the clothes I truly deserved to adorn myself in.

How wrong I was...

Now in 2021, I have that marvelous thing called hindsight. I don't remember exactly how the dictionary defines it, but I understand 'hindsight' as, understanding failed opportunities, cringing ... and accepting your earned place as an impulsive dipshit.
If you are selling anything, of course, it's important to have a catalog of products. Products that are designed with a target market in mind. However, a dynamic product requires the critical foundations to make its structure secure. I am now very clear that the foundations of my resources all have to consider the following things:

1. Value for Money.

2. Clearly Targeted.

3. Engaging for the Students.

And from my wonderful position of hindsight, I learned the following things:

1. Sales are seasonal. During holiday periods, turnover drops dramatically. 

2. Teachers do not have large disposable incomes - price your products reasonably.

3. Only create products that represent complete lessons - if someone is purchasing a teaching resource, they are either short of time or lack experience in a particular area. They have paid for a product to save them time, and therefore shouldn't be expected to add to it, or finish it off. 



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