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Becoming a Teacher-Author Entrepreneur Step 10 - Product Descriptions that SELL

"I Don't Understand...Why Aren't My Products Selling? What Am I Doing Wrong?"

An unfortunately all too common question that struggling sellers often ask, even months into their marathon. The answer usually comes down to two factors: covers, which we've already covered; and product descriptions. You can have a masterful product, a cover that is a work of art Rembrandt would envy, and still not have sales if your description falls flat. And there are a couple of areas where this will happen.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is often referred to as "keyword searches" and "search parameters". The simple thing to remember right now, other than that there is a whole section written by a man much more knowledgeable than I on the topic, is that these are the words CUSTOMERS will type into the search bar on your platform when they are looking for a specific product or product type. It becomes extremely important to pepper these terms throughout your description, but not to simply repeat them. The best way to do this is to put yourself in the customer's place, so to speak. Pretend you have never seen the product you are trying to sell, but you have an idea of what it needs to be. Now, go look for it on your store's platform. Go on. I'll wait.

Let's pretend you are looking on a teacher resource site, and you are searching for something to help your 4th grade class learn to write a personal narrative. You may have started out with "Writing Worksheets". That search will give you 322,479 results as of April 30, 2020. Let's start narrowing it down.

We search "Writing Worksheet for Personal Narratives". Wow! That narrows it to 2, 210 results! So let's filter it by grade - 4th Grade: 643 returns. Now, let's assume that you based your writing worksheet on a specific instructional strategy, and let's say it was the Strategic Instructional Method (SIM) Routine of the FRAME. We change our search to "Writing FRAMES for Personal Narrative", 4th Grade... 65 RETURNS!

Writing with FRAMEs
The Elementary Edition:
The Bundle
You happen to notice at this point that an awesome looking product is in the 3rd position even though it only has 2 ratings, and it's a bundle for different essay styles, including the Personal Narrative or Memoir, and look, in position 5 (even though it has only a lone and lonely rating) is a very similar cover, in fact it has the same LOGO, and it's price is only $2.00 US..."Hey! That's ELA in Middle School! I've heard of them!" Sorry...I got carried away...

So, you decide to take it one step more. You search for "Strategic Instructional Method Writing FRAME for Personal Narratives", verify you have 4th grade checked as a filter, and hit <ENTER>. The total results on April 30, 2020 are - TWO. Both from Suzanne and me. And we don't usually do 4th grade.

Writing with FRAMEs
The Elementary Edition
Personal Narratives or Memoirs
So let's change it up a little. We type in "Personal Narrative or Memoir" in our search bar. We get 9,970 results. The FIRST 2 in the entire search are from ELA in Middle School. A large part of that is because of the titles "Writing with FRAMEs: Personal Narrative or Memoir" and "Writing with FRAMEs The Elementary Edition: Personal Narrative or Memoir". But there are a LOT of other products with those in the title, so why ours?

Product Descriptions MATTER

It's the product descriptions. This is where you sell the product. When the perspective customer finishes reading your description, you want them to NEED your product. 

So what do you put into the description? 

  • First, in detail, what is it? (First paragraph)
  • Next, what is its purpose? (First paragraph)
  • Third, how do you use it? (First or second paragraph)
  • Is it differentiated? For whom? How? (First paragraph)
  • What grade level(s) is it targeting? 
  • What is the objective it is being used for?
  • What standards does it align to, if any?
    • Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
    • Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) Standards
    • Standards for a different country or state?
  • How long should the lesson or activity take?
  • Do you provide notes for the teacher to implement and succeed with the product?
  • How many pages or slides, and in what format? Not everyone has the technology for Google Slides or PowerPoint.
  • If this is a digital format, do you offer a print version? And vice-versa?
  • Did you include any special clipart, fonts, or original artwork? If so, did you cite these authors or artists?
  • What are your Terms of Use (I am not showing these here)?

So what do you NOT put into the description?

  • Any reference to a copyrighted work that you do not have express permission to use. This means you cannot use the names or likenesses of:
    • Disney Characters or Titles
    • Lion King items
    • Dr. Seuss
    • Winnie the Pooh
    • Major publishers of textbooks or educational materials
    • Anything else copyrighted that you don't have permission for.
Fair warning. Disney will attack. The Mouse turns into a...never mind. Just know, it ain't pretty.

Did you really just say "Prove it"?

Let's look at some samples of successful product descriptions that may be found out there...
This product bundles four writing units together!
Memoir Writing..................................... pages 3-21
S’More How-to Writing ........................… pages 22-29
Owl Moon Personal Narrative ............….. pages 30-40
Planet Informational Writing ...............…. pages 41-48
Each unit includes a teacher's note to help you, graphic organizers, self checklist, peer editing checklist, a teacher rubric, and decorative paper for the final copy.
The memoir and personal narrative units have ideas to use a mentor text to help students with their writing. The two mentor text that you will need are Owl Moon and Memoirs of a Goldfish. The informational unit has a guide to help them with their research.

One thing I really appreciate about this description is that it tells us that we need to make a separate purchase of the mentor texts if we don't already have them. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT INFORMATION.

Also on the first page of results for this search is a product that has the following description:
This pack contains 11 different forms to use in conjunction with a Personal Narrative Unit.
It includes mini-lessons on personal narrative skills such as:
Show Not Tell
Avoiding Cliches and Common Descriptions
Writing Attention-Grabbing Hooks
Crafting Memorable Conclusions
Writer's Voice
It also includes a self-revision form and three peer revision activities.
This pack will help students write personal narrative essays that leave a lasting impression in the reader's mind.


Now, take a look at our description for "Writing with FRAMEs: Personal Narrative or Memoir" (the cover is not part of the description)...
Writing with FRAMEs:
Personal Narrative or Memoir
was our first paid product
Based on the Strategic Instructional Model (SIM) FRAME routine, this organizer will walk your student- scholars through the process of writing a personal narrative or memoir. Simply use a prompt of your choosing and guide your class through the writing process. Complete with sentence stems for differentiation and language support for SPED and EL students.
Thank you to a wonderful customer for the recommendation that the sentence stems be editable! They are now editable in the PowerPoint format! On page/slide one, you can click on the sentence stems (i.e., "and then, suddenly, ...") and edit them; remove, change, whatever. On page/slide 2, you can change everything except section headings and the longish parenthetical instructions. If you want to add sentence stems, simply insert a text box where you want them, and I used Calibri 18 point font, 1.5 line space for lining up.
Objectives:
The student will complete a first draft of a personal narrative/memoir written to a prompt.
Teacher Prep Time: Just print and go!
Lesson Duration: One to five class periods depending on depth of writing project.
Included in This Product:
Writing FRAME for students
Teacher notes for implementation
Aligned to TEKS: 7.14, 7.18, 8.14, 8.18 (sections A and B for each)
And Adopted 2017 Standards (in effect 2019): Strand 6, 110.23 and 110.24 inclusive
Aligned to CCSS: ELA.Literacy.W.7.3; ELA.Literacy.W.7.10; ELA.Literacy.W.8.3; ELA.Literacy.W.8.10.
This lesson is appropriate for grades 7-8.

Based on these descriptions, which are you most likely to purchase?

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