I know what you're thinking: "How does making some resources for TeachersPayTeachers make someone a better speech therapist?" It does sound a little grandiose, but I can honestly say that it really has made my professional life better in many ways that I never expected when I jumped in to it at 38 weeks pregnant (timing has never been my strong suit! ). Here are 5 that were the most surprising to me:
1. It's given me the ability to make my own products for therapy- and like them! Before I started creating products for my TPT store, I made the occasional therapy resource for my own personal use. These resources were usually made in Microsoft Word, with mismatched clip art and no design knowledge (see below). They filled a need, but they weren't pretty to look at. I was almost a little ashamed to pull them out in therapy, they were so, um, "aesthetically challenged." Now, I'm proud to use my own products in therapy, and get excited to design fun and exciting covers and content!
2. It's improved my time management skills. It goes without saying that most of us SLP's are good at time management- we have to be! Scheduling students or clients from multiple classes, schools, backgrounds, and ethnicities with myriad disabilities while also finding time to evaluate, write reports, attend/set up IEP meetings, talk with parents, eat lunch, and occasionally use the restroom is a full-time job in itself, let alone planning engaging, curriculum- and evidence-based therapy sessions. In much the same way that I thought "What did I DO with myself before I had kids?" after my daughter was born, I found myself thinking the same after I started creating materials for TPT. Adjusting to a flexible job like creating TPT resources was new for me- it's difficult to set boundaries when your computer is so close, ready to help you create resources at 10 pm or 10 am! After a few late nights made even later by a crying newborn, I learned to turn my laptop off at 9 pm and start fresh the next day.
I also didn't realize the time commitment that product creation required before I started. My first product took upwards of 10 hours to create, design, upload, and tweak- and it is a 6 page FREEBIE! But like any good therapist, I took stock of the situation and modified my approach to be the most successful with accommodations (like turning off Facebook and foregoing a lot of TV)... I'm not a time management guru by any means, but I get a lot more done now than I used to!
3. I've learned how to use social media more intentionally. I've been on Facebook and Instagram for years, but when I started getting serious about my TPT store, I learned how to use them- and my blog- to intentionally share information about my products. "Marketing" always seemed like a dirty word to my introverted self before, but in reality, it's simply a way to intentionally share information with others in a visually appealing way- and what SLP doesn't love visuals?! I've still got a lot to learn about Pinterest especially, but I have a lot more information under my belt now. I really love Tabitha Carro's FREE Smartphone Marketing School Couch Hustler course for design beginners like myself! Hallie Sherman from Speech Time Fun also has some excellent free and paid courses through her Teacher Seller School: Teacher Blogging School and TPT Like A Boss, and a new one that I can't wait to check out: Pinterest Like A Boss!
4. I've made some great TPT seller friends! The SLP TPT seller community is not huge, and I've found everyone to be very helpful and supportive of newbies like me! I've "met" a lot of wonderfully creative SLP's through Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and TPT itself, and they have inspired me to continue to create my best products (as well as introduced me to their own amazing products with which to fill up my own TPT cart!)
And lastly, but perhaps most importantly,
5. I've become more confident in my own abilities as a therapist. There is something about creating materials for yourself and others that makes you focus on being the best you can be. Going out on a limb, setting up your own store, and creating products to sell is nerve-wracking and can be exhausting, but once you get the hang of it, it's exhilarating! Now, I can proudly use the resources that I have carefully researched and designed, not shame at their lackluster presentation. When parents ask me about a resource, I can articulate how and why I am using it without floundering. And a confident therapist is a better therapist all around!
Do you have questions about starting your SLP on TPT Seller journey? Leave a comment or send an email using the link above (or to the left, if you're on mobile). Happy Learning!
I'm Jill! I love to create and blog about fun, evidence-based resources that make the lives of parents and busy SLPs easier.