I’m still kind of in awe as I write this that I am actually to this point. It seems like it was YESTERDAY that I started my little TpT store, never dreaming of what it could become. It seems like just HOURS ago I wrote my 1st year and 1st milestone reflections. As my high school students would say, I’m truly “shook” by how my store and blog have evolved over the last two years. If you want to hear more about the early days, click those two links above to read my thoughts 5 months into this journey and then a year in. For this 2nd year reflection, I want to write about some of the things that have been hard over this last year and what I’ve learned from them as a TpT teacherpreneur.
1. The bigger you get, the more open you are to negativity. It comes with the territory.
It’s been amazing to see my store grow and to track my followers, sales, and blog views monthly on my little Excel spreadsheet. But with each view and sale, I became more and more exposed to the criticism of others – and that was much harder for me to handle than I thought. I have been so fortunate to get very little negative feedback, but each and every harsh email, threatening comment, and/or social media savagery (as I like to refer to it) affected me more than I anticipated.
Of course I knew that critics would come, but I didn’t expect them to affect me as much as they did. I think they affected me so much because I pour my heart and soul into each and every product. My units and full curriculum especially are truly my entire life’s work up until this point in my professional teaching career. I sacrificed so many evenings with my husband and friends and every waking moment of my time off school the last two summers to write up my curriculum in a way that others could use it. Because of that, it feels like each product is a piece of my soul contained in a zip file of secured PDFs. Needless to say, I didn’t take the negativity well at first.
I wanted to send a picture of my face through the internet in response to each negative interaction and say, “I’m a real person!! I teach all day too!! I’m just like you!” to remind others that I too am a real life human teacher. But, TpT doesn’t quite have the infrastructure for that feature just yet.
What I’ve learned through it all and what I hope other Teacher Authors know – my identity (and yours) is not in what someone on the other side of a computer screen hundreds or thousands of miles away says about me. I am a successful teacher. My students love my work and my products ARE making other teachers’ lives easier. The amount of people benefitting, students and teachers alike, will always and forever outweigh those who tear up my work to shreds. Listen to what they say, because they may be giving you constructive feedback to improve your work, and then move forward.
2. It is impossible to do it all.
Being a teacher, wife, friend, and teacher author is a LOT. You truly can’t do it all and that is okay. You have to set up your priorities and work from there. You can’t do all the things, and you shouldn’t have to. If you need help figuring out your priorities, check out PowerSheets.
What I’ve learned through it all and what I hope other Teacher Authors know – I cannot please everyone, and I cannot live my life to be a people pleaser. You can’t schedule every second of every day and expect to maintain that pace forever. Build margin into your day so you have the space to breathe, rest, and be a little spontaneous every once in a while. That’s the only way I can embrace this season rather than rush through it.
3. Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
In the early days of my TpT store I LOVED stalking the rankings and seeing where I fell among other sellers. I loved to see my little number bump up the list. Now that I’m two years in, the growth has majorly slowed and at some points, totally stalled. I had so many ideas for products and growth in my store and no time to get them done with all of my responsibilities at school this year and volunteering alongside my husband in the ministry he runs. It was really hard to get the “New Resources From Your Favorite Sellers” emails and see other people making products I had hoped to make myself, but didn’t have the time (or energy) to execute.
What I’ve learned through it all and what I hope other Teacher Authors know – Comparing myself to other sellers truly does take away all of the joy that sharing my work with other teachers has brought me. I am SO thankful for all that having this store has done for my life (see our big life update below!) but I have to constantly remind myself that this store and this blog are NOT my life! They are just a piece of it. I didn’t start this store to become the #1 secondary science seller on TpT. I started this store to try to help other tired and overwhelmed secondary science teachers find a little reprieve by sharing what I enjoy doing for my own students. When I reorient my perspective, I can then CELEBRATE that another AMAZING TpT science seller saw the same need I did and filled it, and that teachers all over the world are benefitting from that, even if I am not the one who gave it to them.
I am so thankful for the success that my little piece of the internet has created because thanks to ALL that have supported my store, my husband and are financially able to start our family through ADOPTION! We can’t wait to bring our sweet little newborn baby home in 2018! All of the craziness and growing pains of this last year will be worth it when we hold this little babe. Plus, I am excited for my long term sub to use all of my TpT resources so I can learn how I can make even more clear implementation notes for non-science teachers 🙂
If you can relate in any way, have any advice for me moving forward into year 3 and a future maternity leave, or have any questions about my journey, I’d truly LOVE to hear from you in the comments below!