Last month we stepped out of our comfort zone to talk about selling on our websites. Today we invited someone who knows way more about the topic than we do to share more information. And, we’re continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share what works for you and hear what others are saying: www.growwithusmastermind.com.
A few podcast episodes ago, Angie and I shared our own experiences with selling directly from our websites. And, now we are really excited to bring Melissa Tallman from Teacher Thrive onto the podcast. She has been running her own store for about eight months and can speak to some of the things that we can’t, like WooCommerce.
What made Melissa decide to sell on her website
Like Angie and I, Melissa is grateful for TpT. It’s a great way for teacher sellers to really get started. But, Melissa is no longer teaching in the classroom and has turned her business into her full-time income.
Because of that, she doesn’t want to keep all of her eggs in one basket. Just in case anything were ever to happen with TpT, she can’t afford to lose all her income. So, she decided to set up her website store and use her own platform.
Deciding on WooCommerce and setting up her store
Melissa gave the DIY path a try when she first started to set up her store but realized it wasn’t for her. So, she hired a developer.
She knew from the start that she wanted to use WooCommerce because she prefers how it’s customizable and knew that it offered the look that she wanted. Some things, like writing a blog post or resource descriptions were really simple. But, when she started to try to customize the storefront to be easy for the customer to use, it wasn’t as simple.
Melissa didn’t want to spend her own time trying to figure out how to set it up from scratch, so she hired a developer.
It can be easy to spend a lot of time trying to make all those little tweaks to get things looking just right and still not end up with what you’re looking for. That’s why sometimes it’s just easier and faster to hire someone that knows what they’re doing.
Melissa’s advice for teacher sellers
When we asked Melissa what advice she had for teacher sellers when setting up a store, it all came back to hiring help. It’s not that she’s against people setting it up on their own. But, she highly recommends finding someone that knows what they are doing.
She found a person on Upwork. Her recommendation is that you find examples of stores that you like the look and functionality, find a developer that you’d like to work with, and ask them for a quote on how much it would cost. There are a lot of talented freelancers on Upwork.
Another area that you might want to consider hiring help in is moving your products over from TpT to your own store. You can go the simple route and just copy them over, but eventually, you’ll want to update all the links so you are keeping your bundles together on your own website store.
Either route is time-consuming, but copying them over is a lot less intensive. You can hire a virtual assistant to help you out if needed. Melissa bit the bullet and did the work all at once from the start with the help of her husband.
Melissa uses a bundle plugin called YITH that works with WooComerce. While she suggested that there might be newer ones, she liked the look of it and that it was similar to setting up bundles on TpT. It also provides pagination where teachers can see all the items within the bundle. It allows them to click on it to see the exact product page that’s included.
Another plugin that she recommends is called Discount Rules by Flycart Technologies. This allows you to offer a “build your own bundle” option on your website. Melissa used the example of the grammar units that she sells. She offers them for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade, but many times a teacher will want a few lessons from multiple grades while still getting the bundle discount.
This plugin allows for dynamic pricing which makes this possible. She’s able to set up various tiers of discounts. For example, if a teacher buys 5 products they get 5% off, if they buy 10 products they get 10%, and so on. On her store when they have enough in the cart to hit the threshold for the “build your own bundle” it will show them what other resources qualify.
If you’ve ever tried to allow teachers to build their own bundles on TpT, you know how much manual work this can be and just how valuable this plugin is.
How much traffic to send to TpT store vs your website store
This is a big question that Angie and I often hear. It was also something that made Melissa nervousness enough that she had the developer create a button on each item that gave people the option to purchase it on Tpt. She was worried teachers might not be comfortable buying right from her website.
After several months she had the developer create a toggle so she could easily add the “buy it on TpT” button or turn it off. She turned it off for three weeks to see how things went. During that time, sales went up a lot on her website and she didn’t see a decline on TpT.
Now, the button is still turned off on her store and the only traffic that she sends to her TpT store is from some of her pins. She creates one pin that goes to her store and one that goes to TpT.
Tips for marketing your website store
One of the disadvantages of selling on your website is that teachers are used to buying on TpT. They are familiar with the layout and menus on the website. So, Melissa wanted to make sure that her website and store were not only mobile-friendly but as user-friendly as they could be. A lot of people are on mobile so having a clean and simple design and menus are really important.
While Melissa doesn’t do a lot of paid advertising, she does have free resources in her store similar to TpT. She also creates pins for those resources.
Another thing that Melissa does, is run a VIP sale twice a year. She’s doing it twice a year—June and December. She sends a discount code to her email list and it’s for 30%, which is the most they will ever save. It was huge in June and received great feedback from the teachers as well. This is something that we also discussed doing in episode 42 of the podcast as well.
Sales goals for the store
Right now, Melissa admitted that she isn’t setting a ton of goals for TpT or her own website. She does have overall goals for her business and in other areas now that she’s branching out to offering courses and things that aren’t on TpT. Since then, it’s been a little harder to gauge success.
When it comes to TpT, she’s happy if she makes the same or more than she made the same month the previous year. When it comes to her website sales, she hasn’t been selling for a year so she hasn’t created goals yet. However, the sales are increasing month after month.
Right now, she has the same feelings about the store that she had when starting TpT. The growth is natural and just seems to snowball as it goes.
Do you have more questions? Or, do you already have a store on your website?
We’d love to keep the conversation going about setting up and running a store on your website. We know this is a topic that many of you have lots of questions around. Join us on the mastermind group to ask your questions and share your success stories. And, if you want to find out more about Melissa, you can find her here.