While it's tempting to say that teacher-authors simply create lesson plans to sell online, it's more complicated than that. Specifically, music teachers can find items such as daily planners, classroom decor, printable activity packets, interactive notebooks, manipulatives, and much more. I often describe it as "Etsy for teachers". However, just like other online shops, it's important to make educated purchases in order to receive products that will most benefit your students and classroom. Below is a list of tips for getting the most out of your TpT purchases.
Most of the items sold on TpT are digital. This means that once you download a product, there's no going back (at least not easily). It's important that you read the product description word for word.
If a product contains 100 pages, but only has a few sentences of description, you have no way of knowing what you're getting. A thorough product description will give you the details you need to decide whether or not to purchase the item. Some descriptions also include links to other products that may better suit your needs.
Thumbnails and Previews
Thumbnails and previews are your first glimpse into a product's layout.
Some sellers provide only thumbnail images for very small products, which may be the only information you need to make a smart purchase. For example, if you're buying a printable welcome banner for your school's open house, you really only need a few sample images to give you an idea of what you'll be getting.
On the other hand, if you're purchasing a large bundle full of worksheets or assessments, you'll want to click on the "Preview" button to gain a better understanding of the layout of each page. Also keep in mind that if the seller took the time to create a preview (not a quick task), chances are that he or she has also been diligent in creating a valuable product.
Number of Followers
This factor is a bit more complicated than the rest. Some dedicated TpT'ers might tell you to pay close attention to the number of followers of a store, as it shows the amount of that store's loyal followers. However, I would caution against putting blind trust into follower numbers. They do imply a certain level of satisfaction in the store, but follower numbers are not always a reliable indicator of overall satisfaction with the store or its products. The shop you're browsing may have just started last month and therefore might lack a high number of followers. It's more important to read through the descriptions and study the previews of the products rather than rely on follower numbers.
Store and product ratings are generally a good indication of the satisfaction level of customers. Just like Amazon customer reviews, the more positive ratings that exist, the better your chances of being satisfied with your purchase. However, don't let one negative rating among a majority of positives deter you from your purchase. The highest rated stores and products of all time have received a few negative ratings. It's not proof that the products aren't valuable, it's just proof that you can't please everyone.
There is no right or wrong way to begin your search for a product on TpT. Some buyers head directly to the stores they follow. Others simply type in the search bar for the products they need.
Both methods will guide you in finding what you want. However, if you do tend to use TPT as a search engine, it's still a good idea to become a follower of the sellers you trust in order to build a solid base of go-to stores. Over time, you'll discover the niche of each store and learn how to make the most out of your purchases.
For example, I'm a follower of several graphic artists on TpT, but I don't follow them all for the same reasons. Some artists make backgrounds that I adore, while others create addicting fonts that appear in nearly all of my products. In my mind, one store isn't better than another, they just serve different purposes for my work.
If you do choose to browse TpT, or if you're already a loyal shopper, I hope this list will help you to make the best purchases possible for your students and for yourself. If you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences of TpT, please leave a message in the comments.
Thanks for reading!