Episode 16: Teacherpreneur Struggles: Tips for When You Miss the Mark on Your Goals

In this episode Angie and April discuss the strategies they use when they see a drop in sales or don’t meet their goals in order to turn things around.

Episode 16: Teacherpreneur Struggles: Tips for When You Miss the Mark on Your Goals

 
 
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Being a teacherpreneur comes with challenges. Do you ever struggle with feeling like a failure because you failed to meet the goals you set for yourself? Or, maybe your sales have dropped from this time last year? If so, you aren’t alone. Join us in our Facebook group www.growwithusmastermind.com  after checking out this podcast. It’s a great place to get support and advice when you are struggling to build your Teacher Pay Teachers businesses.

We’ll be honest. We want you all to think that we are awesome sellers and that things always go our way. But, that’s just not true. We’ve had failures and flops. We have times when our sales drop. It happens to the best of us. And, we have found that it really helps us to talk to each other during these times. It’s a good reminder that we aren’t alone and it isn’t just happening to us, but it’s something that everyone experiences from time to time.

We thought if this is something that we struggle with at times there’s a good chance you do as well. So, we are addressing it in our podcast. We don’t want you to feel alone.

Rough times happen to everyone

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure that our numbers are always increasing. And, at times we experience an intense feeling of failure when that doesn’t happen. It can be frustrating because sometimes it seems like people online are saying things like, “My sales are always up. If your sales are down just run a Facebook ad.” But, that’s not always the way it works. Honestly, that USUALLY isn’t the way it works.

Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break. Life happens, babies are born, the holidays come along, and all sorts of other things that steal our time and attention away from our business. When the twins were born things slowed down for April. They were born in June and when the following January rolled around there was a drop in sales that really made her nervous. She had to sit down and reevaluate things.

It’s important to remember that dips don’t always happen immediately. It can take months for changes to show. Something you are doing right now or not doing right now could be the reason your sales go up or down six months from now. That’s why it’s all about being consistent in what you are doing to keep moving forward.

You need to build the momentum

Everything in this business needs momentum. So, if sales drop you may decide to master Facebook sales as a way to increase your sales. But, if you quit after one week of trying you will not see an improvement. People do this a lot and then get frustrated that they aren’t seeing improvement. But, there just is no quick fix and advertising isn’t always the answer.

When April experienced this dip she had to do a lot of thinking about what to do in order to bring sales back up. She focused on getting Tailwind up and back in order, making sure her Pins were getting out there, and looking at what products were doing well and which ones weren’t. She made a decision to not let it go any longer and start addressing the areas that needed attention. After a few months sales started coming back.

I think one of the most important things to remember when we see a dip in sales is to focus on the things that we can control. This includes things like using Tailwind, posting consistently, and writing blog posts.

Not meeting your goals

Sometimes the stress comes from seeing a dip in your sales and other times it comes from not reaching a goal you set. Your business might even be growing still, just not by the numbers that you expected and planned for. This can be frustrating and even a little scary. We understand that because both April and I aren’t teaching any longer. This is our source of income, so, when the numbers don’t do what we expect them to it’s kind of alarming.

April and I both experienced this with ‘back to school’ this year. We set our goals based on the ‘end of the year’ numbers that we saw last year but didn’t end up being able to reach those goals. While our sales didn’t drop, they didn’t come close to doing what we had projected. This really surprised and frustrated us. So, we decided to take action to turn things around.

Check your data

When things aren’t going well it’s easy to get stressed and put a lot of pressure on yourself. But, that’s not going to help you. Instead, you need to just stay calm and check the data. Doing this helps you pinpoint what area is making the difference. For example, you may see that you had a pin last year that went viral and that didn’t happen for you this year. Once you figure out what’s different from one year to the next you can move forward with addressing it.

Once you look at your data you need to focus on the things that you can control. For me, it’s focusing on my email list and blogging. These are things that are in my control.

On our last podcast, we had Jennifer Findley on to chat with us about building an email list. This really hit home with us when she talked about how important it is to focus on bringing value to the teachers. April shared how much that strategy really works. When she turns her focus onto providing value she sees an increase in her sales. She shared with us in this podcast how that was her original focus when she started building her business, but it’s easy to get distracted with all the “other” tasks.

We can get so wrapped up in trying to create the perfect Facebook ads and other advertising strategies that blogging and social media content falls by the wayside. But, if we want to see our businesses continue to grow we need to make providing value one of the most important things.

Look at what numbers you are checking

Remember when checking numbers it’s important to know what numbers you are checking. Make sure you are comparing the month you want to look at to the same month the previous year. Different times of the year bring different ebs and flows, so you don’t want to just compare to your previous month.

Sometimes it’s also helpful to look at an entire quarter instead of just a single month. Sometimes you will even want to compare the entire year to the year before for a big picture. Things happen in the teaching climate that are outside of our control. You need to just focus on what you can.

Where to focus to see improvement

In our experience, we have found a few strategies that consistently work at improving our sales. If you are seeing dips in your sales right now, or not hitting your goals, these could be areas where you need to turn your focus.

Blogging

Blogging is a great way to provide value to teachers. And, blogging is still selling, it’s just not as much of the hard sell as what we think advertising is. For example, if you start sending regular emails to your list you send them content that is valuable to them. Then, when they go to your blog you should include links to your products for things they may want to purchase. It’s a great way to sell without being super “salesy”.

Recently, I had moved ad money to Facebook. But, all of a sudden I was struggling with the ads that I had used last year that were really successful. I was spending so much time trying to figure out the ads that it was stealing the time that I could have been being more helpful to teachers and writing a blog post with a soft sell.

The blog posts that I have written have done pretty well. You can see the teachers’ excitement when you give them a little freebie. And, then they remember you when they are looking for other resources. Freebies leave them thinking, “If they have this awesome resource they are just giving away, I wonder what they have in their store.”

And, the last thing that makes blogging so great is—it’s free! You can get draw readers in, provide value to teachers, and bring attention to your products without spending money.

Looking at particular products

Look at the dashboard and see resources are slipping. Look at what you made money from last year. Think about what you did to make that money. Were you doing advertising and marketing that you aren’t doing now?

When April was looking at why her ‘end of year’ did so much better than her ‘beginning of the year’ she realized that she was making a hard push at the end of the year. She was releasing new test prep resources weekly at the end of the year. A lot of her sales were coming through the TpT emails because her products were being featured. And, while she did release a new resource for the start of the year it didn’t have the same impact that the end of the year products did.

Update your resources

Sometimes just looking at the products will help you easily spot what needs to be improved. Whenever I go through this process I find resources that could use updating, new cover photos, or new descriptions. I recently created a new game to add to an existing line. I thought about the feedback I had received about the line and requests that teachers had made. Now, I’m going to fix all of the resources in that line. I know the changes will add value to the teachers but I’m going to keep the price the same because I believe these are things that should have been included from the start.

Sometimes it’s not a big thing that needs to change, but just a few products that need to be improved. It could be redesigning it or taking new cover photos. It’s easy to move on to new products and forget about the old ones, but when you take the time to refresh your products it creates new opportunities for you to share them.

Don’t give in to fear of failure

Stop being so hard on yourself. Even if you don’t meet the goal you set, you aren’t failing. We set goals and then feel like failures because we don’t accomplish them. Then we work our butts off trying to get it back and don’t give ourselves a break.

If you notice your numbers slipping or just not growing the way you want don’t be too hard on yourself. But, be honest and look for the areas that you are missing that you were previously doing when sales were up.

Find yourself an accountability partner

The #1 thing that is helping my business right now is having April as an accountability partner. It works because we can be totally honest with each other. And, we think everyone should have someone like that. If my numbers are down or I’m not hitting my goals I can admit that to her, and her to me.

We share a content calendar where we can each see what the other is working on and if they are getting done what they said they were going to. I use the calendar like my boss telling me what to do and what to work on. It helps me to stay on task. Now, when I sit down to work I know exactly what I need to focus on. And, I’m more motivated to do it because I know April will see if I’m not getting my work done.

This is a strategy we started using because our ‘back to school’ numbers weren’t what we wanted to see this year. It’s reminding us to be consistent with the calendar, our blogging efforts, and our social media.

Recap

Teacherpreneurs have a lot of grit but sometimes you just need to hear that it’s ok. Everyone fails at some point or another and most are just not talking about it. The things you are doing today might not effect you for months. Don’t think what you are doing isn’t working just because you don’t see immediate results. Being constisent is key. And, make sure you are always working to provide value to teachers. That’s the whole purpose of what our businesses are all about, so don’t forget that.

As a quick heads up, our next few episodes are going to be all about blogging! It’s something we are going to be focusing on since it’s such an effective way to provide value and bring sales up. These coming episodes will help you get focused and consistent with your blogging efforts. We are going to talk about everything from WordPress and Blogger to blogging strategies.

Don’t forget to join us on Facebook

Come and join us over on our Facebook group to continue the conversation. You can post at any time if you aconcernedred, if sales are dipping, if you need advice, or just want a group to share with. Don’t be shy. We are all struggling to keep our business growing. And, no one will laugh at you because we are all in the same siuation seeing the ups and downs. Don’t forget, failing is your first attempt at learning. Sometimes, from your failures come your greatest successes!