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How Giveaways Build a Business - A Guest Posting by Cortney Gaynes

A Note from Matthew:

This post was penned by teacher-author entrepreneur Cortney Gaynes. Cortney's is an amazing story of entrepreneurial growth and success! She first came to my attention by way of our mutual friend and business partner, Gregg Williams, co-founder and CEO of Amped Up Learning. Gregg kept talking to us about the phenomenal success Cortney was having with her store on AUL, TeacherSorce. (Not a typo this time! Its a PUN!)  I had to learn more, so I reached out to her. I asked her if she has a blog, and she said no, she has Palmer, her nine month old daughter, instead! I expected her success to be all social media based, which I am not the best at. According to Cortney, she places the credit on adaptability, building a lemonade stand when the world was handed a bunch of lemons in the form of Covid-19, and - at the heart of it - giveaways. Let me allow her to explain.

Cortney's Biography

Cortney Gaynes,
Teacher-Author Entrepreneur
and Palmer's Mom

My name is Cortney Gaynes, and I am a third grade teacher from the suburbs of Chicago. I am the owner and creator of TeacherSorce, my online outlets and brand for teacher resources and classroom products that I create and off to teachers through both Teachers Pay Teachers and Amped Up Learning. I have been teaching for nine years with a background in first and third grades, and I have my Master's in Curriculum and Instruction, and I also hold an ESL endorsement. My entire teaching career has consisted of students in a low income/high English Learner (EL) population, so I create activities, games, projects, and units based viewed through the lenses of catering to EL learners with limited resources. The beauty of of that is, these lenses allow success for ALL learners! I have been creating graphic organizers, mini projects, games, and activities for years with my teacher team. We are always, as I am sure most of you are as well, trying to fill the gaps of our curriculum to make the work more student engaging, technology based, multi-leveled, and FUN, all while fitting the needs of our students.

Welcome to Distance Learning and Teacher-Author Entrepreneurial-ship

Right before COVID 19, my team and I created this BEAUTIFUL resource of a “Who Would Win” Animal Research Project to go along with our Literacy and Writing units we were on. We had pulled the books, sent the organizers into be copied, created groups, got the students excited about it and BOOM! We never returned back to our classrooms. I was looking over that resource while I was home, in between my 9 month old’s naps and at home learning with my 20 third graders and I thought, could this be done at home? Could I turn this into an at home learning project? Would other teachers use this? We utilize curriculum that are very common and popular across the country so I knew others would be at a similar pacing in the curriculum and hoped other teachers out there could benefit from the countless hours of planning, creating, organizing and discussing we had done over this project. That is what kick started my store! That was my first product I put up for sale on TpT.

I started seeing lots of views with lots of interest. I joined a bunch of teacher groups on Facebook and started seeking out what resources people were looking for and what I had in my “toolbox” of products I had already created. I am a “save-a-holic” or hoarder you might call it….so lucky me I have every year I have taught saved in my work files! All of that hard work! I was so grateful to be able to go back, revamp my work, make it look pretty and create some unique products during an extremely unique time in education.

Every one of my products is Seesaw linked and Google Linked as those are two very common platforms for digital learning, as well as printable for in classroom use. That right there I believe is key. You want to make your products accessible for multiple use, year after year. We couldn’t have predicted this epidemic happening, but I tried my best to capitalize on it. When creating your products, if they are able to be used not only for distance learning but also for in-class learning, they can also be used for homework, stations during workshop, extra practice, acceleration, and differentiation. This makes the product more approachable and interesting to the buyer! Also, let’s be honest: cuteness goes along way, especially in the elementary grade levels. If you create a product that is visually appealing that looks professional, teachers will be drawn to it! TpT has tons of clip art, backgrounds and frames that are free to download if you give credit to the sellers. I also selfishly only create products for the most part that I could see myself using in the future. Not only does it benefit me and my team and our students, but I know for sure that I have created a product with validity; I have used my eight years of experience and knowledge of different curriculum to create what is best, and what I know has worked in the past.

I owe a lot of my success to Amped Up Learning who reached out to me to sell on their site. I had only been selling on TpT and was excited to reach a new audience. Teacher Pay Teachers is a well-known selling database that a lot of teachers utilize and I am grateful for the continued success I have from selling on their page, but there is something to say about having the ability to get tech support and immediate help from the site you are trusting your products with! Gregg has been so incredible with helping me troubleshoot, advertise my products, and supporting me on my selling journey. He has helped me gain a lot of followers and likes as he posts to groups I am not a part of, and he creates different sale codes for me depending on the raffle I am doing or the discount I am trying to run! There is something to be said about a smaller, teacher owned company who wants the best for their teacher sellers!

Here are some different ways I have gained followers and interest in my products on Facebook and Instagram:

1.)    FREEBIES: Create products and make them FREE to download. Post the links on all groups and your social media pages. You can limit the time it will be free and then reveal a coupon or savings or just keep it free to keep the likes and followers coming. Freebies will bring in more teacher likes, more interest in your work and teachers will get to see the quality of your work and want to come back for more!

2.)    Post a product link and explanation and ask for 10 teachers to message you who want to try out the product for FREE. When you give the teachers the info about how to receive the free product let the teacher know you would like feedback/review in return. This will allow you to better your product and gain reviews on the sites you sell on so other teachers see how great your product is! If you have more than 10 teachers message you, have a discount ready for the product to email to the teachers who didn’t get into the 10 “winners” slots.

3.)    RAFFLES: Post a product and ask teachers to LIKE the post or your page, TAG other teachers, COMMENT about a topic you give them on the post to enter the raffle. Then do a live raffle with all the participants and when you do the live raffle, go over the product that the raffle winners will get to entice the buyers and give a preview!

4.)    Join Facebook groups and follow teachers on Instagram that have the same focus as you (grade level, curriculum, etc). Watch the posts and see where you can post a link to one of your products as a recommendation to their needs.

5.)    Create videos tutorials in your products that you can post to preview what your product has to offer! Get teachers excited about the possibilities of your product with their students!

6.)    Get a teacher buddy who you can swap products and edit and give each other feedback on your products and help get reviews on your products.

7.)    Post pictures of the most enticing/fun part of your product!

8.)    Post ideas on your Facebook of resources and tips and tricks you use in your classroom.

I created my Facebook page on March 31st and on today on June 9th, I can proudly say I have 1,145 followers on Facebook and Instagram combined. (Matthew's note: of this huge 10 week climb,  Facebook followers to her page account for 838 of these!) It has been a lot of work and time consuming but so fun in the process as I have helped make a lot of teachers' jobs easier and students happy and engaged in the process! I love what I do and can’t wait to reach more teachers with my Upper Elementary Products. Visit my Facebook page for raffles, giveaways, and tips and tricks! Check out my sellers page on Amped Up Learning:


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