Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wedding DIY: Chalkboard Welcome Sign

Our wedding was back in October, and I've had this huge pile of pictures and DIYs that I wanted to share with you readers! I finally put them together this week and so I should have posts ready for the next seven Monday Made-Its! The first one I'm sharng was a fun project! I bought a simple chalkboard from IKEA and fancied it up for our wedding to greet our guests!

 I cut a piece of fabric to fit in the chalkrail that matched our wedding colors. I used string, hot glue and scrapbooking paper to make a little bunting to drape across the top, and in one corner I glued some paper flowers matching our wedding colors.

Then I found these little jars and popped fake daisies in them to match my bouquet. I printed out the text I wanted on computer paper using fancy fonts and spent about forty-five minutes recreating the lettering and the little bride and groom outfit underneath. It's not perfect, but when I look at it, I'm kind of amazed I did it at all lol. Considering it was the night before the wedding!

Then I wrapped the top part of the chalkboard in saran wrap to protect the chalk from smudging while we transported it to the church. We placed it in front of the church and later in front of the house for the reception and party to greet our guests!
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Monday, July 14, 2014

6 TPT Tips I learned in Vegas

A couple days ago, I blogged about the adventures I had in Vegas, but I knew I was far from done with sharing about this conference. The whole reason I went (aside from the free drink coupons) was to learn about the business!

 I know so many of us have had similar experiences on TPT - we start out as basic sellers and plug along for a few months (or years) and decide that maybe we're ready to take the plunge. We debate the pros and cons of spending the 60.00 to become premium sellers. Finally, we decide to "just go for it" and "hopefully I'll make the 60.00 back!" 

So we put up products, sell items, get feedback and cheer, get feedback and cry, make adjustments, and try to figure this mess out. But it's better to share, because, as Rachel Lynette said (that JRK said before her), "A rising tide lifts all boats."

During the sessions at the conference, I heard a few specific and concrete tips that I have begun implementing and I though you'd like to as well. Here's what I learned in Vegas:

Tip # 1 
This one was big. I know that, because we're teachers, we love cute. We say it all the time, "Oh, that's so cuuuuute!" But in several of the sessions, they mentioned the importance of having functional product names. If your product is titled "Pop the Top!", NO ONE is searching for it. It's cute, but the only people who will end up on that page are the ones who clicked through from a place you're advertising it. Name the product something functional, like "Mixtures and Solutions Science Stations Activity and Game" and people might actually search for some of those words. The product cover can include any name you want, but the name of the product on TPT when you "Add a new product" should be searchable. BIG TIP for me!

Tip # 2
This one's easy. Just do it. Add a custom category and then put you products in it! It makes your store more easily navigated. And it's easy to do! On a Mac, to add more than one custom category for a product, you can select the first category, hold down the command key and then select the second or third one you want. 

Tip # 3
For me, finding a community is tricky. I tend to be a bit of a lone wolf and it's hard for me to sustain relationships when I've never seen you. Consider me like a two-year-old - the face on the screen in the little TPT circle is hard for me to connect to a real living, breathing, problem-solving person. So I have to really work hard on building a community that I consistently communicate and organize with! This conference, I think, really helped me in that respect. I met real people and I'm looking forward to organizing with them!

Tip # 4
I spent all day yesterday doing this one. When a piece of feedback is clicked on the little "Marked as helpful" button, that piece of feedback is cycled to the top of the string of feedback for that product. The more times it's clicked, the higher it goes up the chain. You as a seller can only click it once, but DO IT! Read through your feedback and click "Mark as helpful" for any feedback that is specific and highlights the strengths of your product. That feedback will show up first and it will give your buyers a good picture of why they might like to buy your product. Because let's be honest: "Thanks" or ":)" never convinced anyone to buy anything.

Tip # 5
Rachel Lynette told us this one, and I was like, "Oh. Duh." You know that little quote space on the top of your store? Well, on mine, and apparently on many sellers', it read, "Follow my blog, Buzzing with Ms. B, for teacher tips and tools!" Well, Rachel, (this is so duh that you probably already know it, but I'm going to say it just in case) said, "Don't do that. Don't send people away from your store when you've finally gotten them there. The purpose of your blog is to drive people TO your store, not the other way around." O.M.G. that was embarrassing. Because she was talking to me.

Use your blog, pinterest, and facebook to provide content at least 80% of the time. Don't do freebies all the time, because then your followers/fans/viewers expect something tangible all the time and they'll wait for it. Do freebies and giveaways randomly and infrequently. 

Tip # 6
Possibly my favorite piece of advice. Rachel Lynette was describing how to work with other TPT sellers, and she encapsulated several guidelines into this one guideline. "You know, don't be a jerk." I wrote it down verbatim, because I knew I wanted to quote it. It's my kind of advice. It applies not just to blogging, or selling, or any other specific niche, but to the world. If you're a jerk, according to Rachel Lynette, "you will not get invited to play in other peoples' reindeer games." So if you've made some mistakes, ask for forgiveness and try not to do that again. 

I hope these TPT tips I learned were helpful to you, too. If you got something out of this post, click over to check out all the other blogs that linked up with Mrs. Russell's Room for her Learnin' in Vegas: My Reflections Link-Up. It's worth the visit!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Adventures in Vegas

I'm home again. After a whirlwind three-and-a-half days in Vegas, I'm back. I've resumed my position on the couch, laptop on lap, TV on Weeds (but goodness, how I despise Mary Louise Parker), bowl of frozen cherries at my side. 
I may look calm on the outside, but inside, my brain is racing. You know how you feel when you have 8,000 things on your to-do list but you don't know what order they go in? That's what's happening here. Why am I so full of  stuff?
Four Words: TPT Conference in Vegas.

I. Had. A. Blast. I attended awesome sessions and listened to great TPT and blogging stories that gave me so much to think about, and so now my head is full of list after list of things to consider: ad pages to include in my products, and rewriting my titles and product descriptions. Following up on some of the relationships I started with great people I met, and making myself a schedule and sticking to it.
Unfortunately, I already didn't do one of those things today. I woke up late and then I really HAD to finish the book I was reading, The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. It only took me about five hours (I wasn't really all that close to the end but it was soooo good), but I've already spoiled one of my resolutions about dedicating specific time to blogging, writing, marketing, blah blah blah.
So I guess I really have to jump on it now. Like, for reals. So I'm going to give you a little debrief (Like an episode of Entertainment Weekly, you won't get the whole deal, but you'll get the gist) of my trip! 
Before I left, I had plans to room with four other ladies I'd never met. I mean, we'd "met", you know, by sending irreverent facebook messages to each other, but that was about the extent of our relationship. Oh, and once Natalie sent me wine, forever leaving an indelible mark on my lush's heart.  
But basically, I had no idea what to expect from these (mostly Texan) girls. It's a little nerve-wracking, spending three nights in potentially close quarters with virtual strangers (haha get my pun? Because we only communicated virtually? heehee) But when one of them arrived a double-sized bottle of wine, happily proclaiming that it was only eight dollars, I knew we were going to be A-OK.
These are the ladies:

And they are lovely, indeed.
One of the best things about the conference was that they know what lies deep in the hearts of teachers. This included free drink coupons LOTS of time to talk. Oh, and free stuff. Lots of free stuff. 

These are our swag bags full o'teacher stuff. By the end of the conference, I had collected this variety of freebies:

The happy hours and meet-ups were some of my favorite things. In the midst of this talking- picture 600 teachers smushed into one space and EVERYone uses their teacher voice - the noise was deafening - I managed to squeeze through and around and meet some bloggers and sellers who I really admire. 

Amy, who is an absolutely adorable individual. If I used the word "adorbs", I would use it to describe Amy. But I don't use the word "adorbs" because it's pretty ridiculous.

I met these charming ladies, too, and so many others. 

Confession: when I met Jennifer Runde of Runde's Room, I'd already downed both the free drink coupons TPT had given me. Kind of fast, actually, because big groups aren't exactly my favorite. (I'm not the go-up-and-talk-to-you type.) So when I walked up to Jennifer, full of liquid courage, I said, "Hi Jennifer! I'm Chrissy from Buzzing with Ms. B, and I love your blog. It's so specific and full of thorough teaching practices!" 

I was doing well so far. 

"Thank you!" she said sweetly, gesturing with the international sign for thank you. 

"I'm so impressed with your consistency in posting, too."

"That really makes my day," or something kind along those lines. "I'm blushing!" she said.

To this point, I appeared to be a normal individual. I should've stopped while I was ahead.

It was at now that the wheels came off the cart.

"Well," I stumbled here, not sure what was to come after that grand opening. "You should of yourself?" What? What does that mean? Is that English?

"Thank you," she said, as I silently prayed that the teacher talk in the room was so loud it drowned out my ridiculous words. "I appreciate that!"

Lovely woman. Thanks for not calling me out on my absurdity.

See the glass? My downfall.

At one point in the weekend, some of my roomies and I decided that we wanted to take advantage of the fun photo booth in the corner of the meet-up room. We made our way over to stand in the line and giggle. While I was there, I met Ari, the Science Penguin. Anyway, all of a sudden, Paul (yes, that Paul), Deanna (yes, that Deanna), and John Yoo (yes, that John Yoo. I know, I didn't know who he was either, but he's a muy importante individual.) headed over to the booth where we were standing. They nicely asked (I guess they didn't actually HAVE to ask, because they were the ones paying for the photo booth in the first place) if they could cut. John graciously announced he would trade selfies for a cut in the line. So I did! I snapped a picture of Deanna and Paul, 

and then John snapped a picture with me! 

Considering I was about four drinks deep in my five-free-drinks evening (we met up with some preggos and they gave us their tickets :) I think I'm maintaining pretty well!

Later that night, we hit Fremont street and had some fun adventures there. I'll spare you the details, but our first picture pretty much sums it up. See the photobomber? Yeah? We didn't. 

Natalie, Haley from My Silly Firsties, me, and Cheryl

I close this account with the crowning moment of my trip. I, probably as many of you are, am a big fan of Kristen from a Teeny Tiny Teacher. Her writing style is inspired and I love it. So when someone whispered to me in the midst of a crowded room, "There's Kristen! Like, A Teeny Tiny Teacher Kristen!" I was like, "I must go bother her." So we headed over. Sure enough, there she was in her teeny tiny glory. "Hi, Chrissy!" she said brightly. "What's your blog?" "I'm Buzzing with Ms. B," I said. "Oh, I know your blog! You're hilarious!" Kristen said. "AAAAA! You know who I am!" I squealed, trying not to wet myself. I couldn't believe I was on the teeny tiny radar! She agreed to pose for a picture with us and so my evidence is below:

So there was all the fun stuff from Vegas. I intend (I really do) to share some of the bullet points of my learning from the trip too, as soon as I can muster the energy. Vegas kind of wore me out.

I linked up this post with A Burst in First! Click over to read all of the other fun Vegas posts!

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