Monday, June 3, 2013

The Podcasting TpT Logo

A month ago, I told you about a service called Fiverr that provides services for $5 each. Through this outsourcing site, I purchased the logo for my podcast that you see on the left. Soon, I hope to place it in my header and later I'll use it for my iTunes image. Even though the artist did not create exactly what I asked, I was pleased with the outcome. After receiving the finished product, I wrote this review: "My logo turned out great, and I'm interested in buying a new gig for the source file. Thanks, simone_1982. There were a couple of requests that were not addressed in the logo, but the work was done well in a short amount of time. I'm satisfied with the result."

After having gone through this process, I do recommend Fiverr, and the seller simone_1982. If you visit her store page, you will see a lot of samples of her creative work. I'm impressed with her creativity, especially for the price. However, there are a couple of things you should be aware of if you're interested in using her services.

  1. She is not a communicator. Some of my requests were ignored with no explanation. Also, now that I've purchased the logo, I'm trying to buy the original .psd source file. Though I continue to send her messages, she doesn't respond. (This could be because she is from Vietnam.) 
  2. Also, when you purchase a "gig," you have an option to purchase what Fiverr calls "Gig Extras." These are upgrades that cost extra, and you may or may not be better off selecting them for your initial purchase. For example, I'm trying to purchase the source file for my logo for $10, but it looks like I might have to pay $15 since I didn't select this option when I made my original purchase.
I'll let you know how the rest of the process goes. In the meantime, I'd love to know what you think of the logo. Please leave your comments below.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Chance to Salute a Parent Volunteer on Live TV!


Yesterday, we took our fifth grade students to the park to celebrate the end of standardized testing. It was a beautiful day, and we had a great time. One of our parent volunteers happens to work as a camera man at Fox 6, and he got Mickey Ferguson to come and do his weather forecast from the park. Mickey and I decided to surprise him by taking his camera and turning it on him! He deserved to be honored for his dedication and generosity. He's been giving his time for math tutoring all year! If we had more parents like this, we could drastically change the state of education in our nation. Thank you, Mr. Greg Long!

If you are viewing this on an iPhone or iPad, you probably can't see the video I have embedded below because it's a flash video. Try going to your computer and viewing it, and it should work. Click here to see the video on the Fox 6 News page. Thanks for following the PodcastingTpT blog. More updates about the podcast are coming very soon.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The TeachersPayTeachers Appreciation Sale

Are you a teacher with some items on your wish list for TeachersPayTeachers? If so, this week is a good opportunity for you to get some deals on those ready-to-use lesson plans, educational songs, or Power Point presentations. 

Using the TpT Teacher Appreciation sale and promo code TAD13, you can get 10% off anything on the entire site. Also, many of the TpT sellers will have additional sales with up to 20% off per store. In short, now's the time to buy. TpT only has these sales two or three times per year, so take advantage of this one while you can.

Sellers Should Set Sale!

If you are a seller on TpT, I want to encourage you to run a sale between May 7-8. It's easy to do. Just log in and access your dashboard. Scroll down until you see the words "Throw a Sale!" underneath the caption "Marketing & Promotion". Click the orange, rectangular button that says "NEW SALE". Select the amount you want to discount. (I recommend the maximum 20%.) Then set the start and end date of your sale. Click "NEXT," and it will take you to a listing of your products where you can select which ones you want to be on sale. (Again, I recommend putting all of your items on sale.) Click "SUBMIT" and you should be good to go.

Why should TpT sellers throw a sale? Here are a few reasons:

  1. Teachers who have wish-listed your items have been waiting for this moment.
  2. Throwing a sale gives you more visibility by including you in a list of sellers on the "Sales & Discounts" page.
  3. Increasing your sales means increasing the possibility for more ratings and comments.
  4. Buyers who get a discount are more likely to leave a positive rating.
  5. Most of the customers on May 7th and 8th will be purchasing products that are on sale. Those products might as well be yours.
Good luck with all your buying and selling. In the end, I hope your students derive the greatest benefits.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Outsourcing with Fiverr

The Podcasting TpT podcast will need a logo for iTunes and web branding as soon as possible, and I have a lot of ideas. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time to draw and perfect my own logo. So I decided to turn to a web site called Fiverr for help.


Fiverr

At Fiverr.com you can find someone to do just about anything for $5. Do you need someone to draw a caricature of your face? How about a few seconds of voice over work? Perhaps you're in need of a video of a bird flying around a picture of your company's logo. You can find it all on Fiverr. 

A few days ago, I signed up for an account on Fiverr, and searched for an artist who had good ratings and matched my needs for the job. I answered a few questions and described what I wanted. Then I used PayPal to send my $5. It only took a few minutes to place my order. According to the information on the site's dashboard for my profile, my logo should be ready sometime this weekend. I'm looking forward to receiving the product and sharing it with you. If I'm satisfied, I'll use the logo from now on. I'll also let you know who did the work in case you want to use the same person on your own project.

Fiverr is not the only outsourcing site that has recently emerged. You might also want to take a look at tenerr.com and Elance.com, especially if you need help on larger, more intensive jobs.


A New TeachersPayTeachers Blog

On a side note, TeachersPayTeachers announced the other day that they are planning to start a blog! That's great news for all of us who buy and sell on the TeachersPayTeachers.com online marketplace. It seems as though they will be doing a lot of the same things I'll be doing here, such as highlighting teacher-authors and sharing TpT news. Let's all participate so that the community will grow in a way that enhances teaching everywhere!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Podcasting TpT

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post, and some of you may have thought that I had given up on my mission to produce a podcast for and about TeachersPayTeachers. WRONG! As a matter of fact, I have been securing another domain name and branding option that will be free of the trademark concerns I discussed on my last post, "Thumbs Up."

Soon, the home of this blog and the show notes for the podcast will move from TeachersPayTeachersPodcast.com to another shorter domain with a similar, but trademark-free brand. If you're interested in following the progress of my work, and you want to be involved in the growth of a new podcast, please direct your browser to PodcastingTpT.com in the future.

Why did I select PodcastingTpT as the new name for the show? Here are a few reasons:
  1. Podcasting TpT describes exactly what I'll be doing on the show. I will podcast (publish, broadcast, etc.) the best free products and their sellers as well as news and tech tips relative to TeachersPayTeachers.
  2. "Podcasting" and "TpT" are both search engine-friendly keywords. Over three million people search Google for the word "podcasting" every month.
  3. TpT is a much easier way to refer to TeachersPayTeachers, and it makes the url shorter as well.
  4. "Podcasting TpT" will be part of my lead-in for the show. For example, "This is Ash Kizer, and I'm podcasting TpT."
My next step will be designing a logo for the podcast as I continue to work on the branding for the site and the podcast. I hope you'll leave a comment below with any ideas you might have. Also I'd like to know what you think about the new name. Until then, this is Ash Kizer, and I'm "PodcastingTpT"!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thumbs Up

The other day, I was excited to receive the following email from TpT's community manager, Amy Borrell Berner. She generously allowed me to share it with you in this blog post:

"Hi Ash,

Thank you for your email. This is a really great idea and it's terrific that you've taken it on. It's a wonderful thing when TpT teachers are passionate enough about what's happening here to share it in such positive ways. Thumbs up.

We do have a couple of small requests: First, please don't use 'teacherspayteachers' in your URL or in the name of the Podcast. Teachers Pay Teachers is a trademarked name and although we support your endeavor, it's important to make it clear that this is something that you are doing, not something that TpT is doing. You could use something like 'One TpT Seller' 'Insights From a TpT Seller' or 'One TpT Podcast,' and I'm sure as such a creative person you'll come up with lots of other great names. Along those same lines, we ask you to include a brief disclaimer that states that this your content and it may not reflect the viewpoint of TeachersPayTeachers.

That being said, once you've clarified the branding and established some podcasts, we'd love to take a look and possibly feature it and you in the newsletter or elsewhere. We can't commit to publicizing it before seeing the actual product, but it really sounds exciting and we certainly support your giving it a go. Thanks again for reaching out and good luck with your project.

Best,

Amy
TpT Community Manager"

At first glance, it might seem like a polite rejection. Obviously, I will have to change the domain name that I have already purchased, and I can't use my chosen name for the podcast. However, if you look closely, you'll see that she has more in mind than I ever asked for: "...we'd love to take a look and possibly feature it and you in the newsletter or elsewhere." Wow! That's a very generous thought! Being featured in the newsletter would mean instant subscribers and a public validation from the company itself. I would never be so bold as to ask for such a thing, especially at this stage. 

Possibly the most exciting aspect of the email from Ms. Berner is the enthusiasm she seems to have for an idea that apparently hasn't been realized yet. I honestly cannot believe that no one has been podcasting about TeachersPayTeachers. This just seems like something that has to be done!

Even so, I will gladly respect the wishes of TeachersPayTeachers, and move this blog to a new url. I will also be changing the name of The Teachers Pay Teachers Podcast to something that does not include the company's trademark. If you have any ideas, please include your thoughts in a comment below. In my next post, I'll announce the new name and tell you where to go for the future of this teacher's podcasting adventure.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Permission

Last Thursday, I sent a message to Teachers pay Teachers requesting permission to produce the Teachers pay Teachers Podcast. In the interest of total transparency, I've included an exact quote of my inquiry below.
I've been with TpT since September of 2007, and I have benefited from being a member for many years. In addition to continuing to share resources and earn supplemental income through the site, I'd like to become a more active member of the community. It is my wish to use my talents to create a TpT podcast to showcase the work of my fellow teacher-authors. Please visit teacherspayteacherspodcast.com to see some of my thoughts from over the past few weeks. May I have your permission to continue with this endeavor? If I'm going to do this well, I'd like to have your support and input. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Do I need permission from TpT? Well, it depends on what kind of podcast I want to produce. Technically, I could develop a podcast that features teacher-authors and their work and call it almost anything I like as long as I don't leave the impression to my viewers that I'm associated with the company. According to the Creative Commons "Podcasting Legal Guide," a registered trademark such as TeachersPayTeachers can be violated in two ways: direct infringement and dilution. Obviously, I'm not planning on infringing upon anyone's trademark, and dilution is not going to be an issue because my goal is to promote the TpT company and its sellers' work.

For me, the question is not whether or not I need permission. I want permission from Mr. Edelman and anyone else in the position to make decisions for the company. Remember, I am part of TeachersPayTeachers too, and I want it to continue to be a blessing to me and all of my teacher-author colleagues.

As far as the podcast is concerned, permission would offer the following:

  • Confidence and validation,
  • Security,
  • Access to future communications, and 
  • Opportunities for marketing and growth.
Will they say, "yes" or "no"? I guess you'll have to wait until the next post to find out.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Format

Picture of Brainstorming Graphic
Over the past few weeks, I've put a lot of thought into what the Teachers pay Teachers podcast should include. My main goal is to showcase the work of other teachers in order to give them more exposure and boost their sales. However, I also want the show to be a practical and useful tool for teachers who are not selling educational products.

By watching the TpT podcast, teachers will receive the following information:
  • Brief and concise educational news pertaining to TpT or the world educational system,
  • Timely information about amazing and undiscovered free products,
  • Technology tips to make teaching more effective on a routine basis.


Why should I include news about education?
This not only makes the episode fresh, but keeps us all up to speed about what's going on in the world outside of our classrooms. In this segment, I might highlight a particular breakthrough in the world of education that is inspiring to us all.

Why should I only include free products?
This might be obvious, but I don't want the podcast to seem like a big infomercial. Sellers should encourage each other to give products away that will help students in classrooms all over the world. This, in turn, will boost traffic to their respective sites, and ultimately increase their sales in the long run.

Finally, why should there be a tech segment at the end?
Technology is something that every teacher can use to boost his or her productivity and effectiveness. It knows no language or cultural barriers and it is constantly changing. I've had a lot of success using technology in my classroom, and I want to share what I've learned with the community. I also hope that other teachers will submit ideas for the podcast so that I can share them with others.

By the way, if you have any ideas for the format of this podcast, you can submit them as a comment below. Thanks!

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Studio

The Teachers pay Teachers podcast must achieve to the level of greatness that we have seen every day on TeacherspayTeachers.com. That's a tall order. I know. But I don't see any point in creating this content unless it is going to be really good. Besides, one of my main goals is to showcase great teachers and their content, so I need to make them look good; very good. In order to do that, I need a studio.

Fortunately, I have a plan to create a professional studio of my own in the very near future.

The Background

About four years ago, my wife and I bought a foreclosure next door to our house. It had burned down and no one seemed to want it. As a result, it was an eyesore in the neighborhood. We thought we could at least clean it up to keep our property value from going down. Not long after the purchase, I came up with the idea of turning it into a studio for audio/video production. However, by that time our family had begun to grow. In the meantime, we have put so much effort into the project, that we plan to move our family into it this summer. That will leave our current house empty, and we plan to keep it for use in producing the TeacherspayTeachers Podcast.

The Future

As soon as my family moves into our other house, my current home will be my office and studio. It will be a fully functional recording studio with a set and green screen capability. I'm going to invest in lighting, technology, and cameras that will help to make the podcast extremely professional.

Next time, I'll tell you more about the podcast format. Keep creating excellent content. Maybe you can be one of my first, featured teacher-authors!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Mastermind Group

As I was listening to some of my online mentors such as Cliff Ravenscraft and Pat Flynn, I kept hearing them talk about "mastermind groups". They casually mentioned how they had met with their groups and shared ideas with people who would lend support and hold them accountable for making progress toward their goals. Listening to this, I couldn't help thinking, "I need that!" So, I began contacting a small number of long-time friends that I thought could both benefit and contribute to a mastermind group.

So far, things are going well. We have four, like-minded individuals in the group, and plan to have our first meeting this week. I won't mention their names just yet, but I will say that we all went to the same university. We have a lot in common, but we are working in different careers. One of us is a licensed counselor, another is an aspiring children's book author and youth and family minister, another is a musician and stay at home dad, and I teach 5th grade. This should be a pretty good mix with lots of similarities and differences.

I can't wait to hear what these guys think about my dream to begin a podcast about the amazing teacher-author-entrepreneurs on TeacherspayTeachers. Stay tuned, and I'll let you know.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

My "Aha!" Moment

A few weeks ago, I was putting together some packets of graded papers to send home to my students' parents, and I was watching a podcast called TWIT, which stands for "This Week in Tech".  I've been a fan and subscriber for a few years because I like to stay informed about the quickly changing world of technology and I just enjoy the show. The host, Leo Laporte is very knowledgeable and fun to listen to, and he always has entertaining guests. The production quality of the show is very professional.

For some reason, while I was listening to this show, it occurred to me that Teachers pay Teachers does not have a podcast. There is a weekly newsletter that keeps us up to date with news and seller successes, but there is not a weekly broadcast that we can enjoy as a community. Immediately, I knew that I had to produce a show for TpT.

Soon after that, I was perusing the podcasts in the iTunes store, and I came across "Podcast Answer Man". Since I was interested in producing a first class podcast for a large and growing community of excellent people, I began to listen. And boy did I listen! I could not stop listening! It was as though everything was falling into place. The host Cliff Ravenscraft unknowingly became my mentor as I began to zero in on my goals for this new show.

Just wait until you read my next post about how the other circumstances in my life are slowly coming together to create a perfect storm for this important production. Thank you for joining me on this adventure. Please let me know how you feel about this undertaking in the comments section. And, by all means, if you have any ideas for the show, just sound off!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Dream

When I was a little boy, I remember thinking, "I'm not sure exactly what I will be when I grow up, but I know that I will never be a teacher." Now that I have been a teacher for 14 years, I realize that it has always been the best occupation for me. Teaching allows me to do all of the things I enjoy on a regular basis. I work with kids every day. I can incorporate my artistic talents. Most of all, I love teaching because I know that I am making a positive impact in the lives of others.

Portrait Drawn by a 5th Grader
When I began to use my talents for writing music in the classroom, I just knew I was onto something. It was more fun for me to write songs about nouns and mythology than it was for me to write pop ballads and jingles. Furthermore, I thought that my music would be used by teachers all over the country to help their students learn. To make a long story short, in 2003, I produced an album that seemed like it would be my masterpiece. I was very proud of it (and I still am), but it never took off.

Then I learned about Teachers pay Teachers in 2007. I was certain again that my music would quickly infiltrate the educational world, and I would finally have the satisfaction of knowing that my talents were making a big impact. However, that did not happen. I uploaded a few MP3's and waited. Sure, I sold a song once in a while, and my free product, "The Low Down Noun Eater," was being downloaded often. But where were the comments? Where was the recognition from the community?

Recently, my sales have increased, and I'm learning a lot about the business of TpT, but my interest has veered more and more into this concept of community. I realize that this is actually what I want - to be a bigger part of the community. To have a bigger role to play in this great, big, fantastic experiment called Teachers pay Teachers. I believe that teachers are excellent human beings. This is my dream: to be more connected, more involved, and to make a bigger impact. I want to help these awesome people to continue to make a difference on an even greater scale. I want to make a podcast.