Saturday, 19 January 2013

Free Stuff for Teachers on TPT

What are your thoughts on freebies?

Freebies are great, aren't they? They are a fab way of seeing what a seller has to offer, and giving a taste of your own material for others to see. But there's more to it. . .

There was a really insightful conversation on the TPT sellers' forum recently that I got hooked into. It seems that many people (334 people contributed their views) are concerned that lots of visitors to the site only do so for the freebies. Not only that, but there seem to be more and more large free items on TPT that could (and should) easily be priced at $5 or more. To quote one contributor, "If the teacher can get it for free, why would he/she pay money? I just saw a whole Mitten Unit {53 pages} for free and that same person has a free Christmas Unit {over 50 pages} as well."hy buy milk when you can have the cow?

For some time now I too have been concerned about the length of freebies being offered through TPT. Regular followers of my blog will know that I am a fan of freebies - they are a great way of attracting traffic (new and existing), generating new business and rewarding loyalty. Freebies are short, crisp adverts for the full product - a taster to whet the appetite. But many freebies I have seen are huge (some as large as 40 or 50 pages!) and should really sell with a price tag of at least $5 and upwards.


Yes, let's be honest. Wouldn't you think twice about spending money when you could get it for free...?!

In the approach to Christmas and New Year I had so many ideas for units, packets and lesson plans. I had all the graphics lined up at some cost, and I set aside some time. But I thought twice about it, partly because I knew that there were so many free resources floating around out there at that time of year. Yes, I managed to get my Polar Express unit out (because I love Polar Express and because I needed it anyway for my own children), and a few smaller resources, but my grand ideas were shelved.

As a result I have become quite selective about what I produce - units and study guides based on picture books that contain lots of supporting activities and centres, literacy and maths activities that target a specific area, stuff designed for my own kids etc. I loved making my unit based on the book "Jesus' Party" - it took a lot of time and effort (a full script for a Christmas pageant with a difference, plus a full pack of activities to accompany the book) but I was very pleased with the result and I knew that there was nothing similar being offered as a freebie. I am also at this moment mind mapping units on some fantastic picture books and some phonics resources, all of which I know I will be able to use with my own kids.

How Do You Solve a Problem like Freebies?

Reading the posts on the sellers' forum, it's pretty obvious that feeling on this subject runs high. I was so pleased when Paul, TPT founder, joined the conversation in his usual level-headed way. As a result, he issued new guidelines to TPT sellers in his January 2013 update message. It is good news that sellers are being encouraged to keep freebies short and sweet - under 10 pages if you include accreditations, cover sheets etc, with 2-5 for the meat of the resource. As he says, "10's of thousands of short and sweet freebies is really fantastic for our users. We don't need to give away the whole kit and caboodle, and we don't want to begin undercutting each other or starting price wars or anything. TpT is already famous for being good value and we have to remember that we are businesspeople now (who work hard on our stores), and that this new approach to freebies is better suited for long term success for everyone, and that's good for our buyers."

You can read Paul's message here.

My Freebies?

I do have a few freebies on my site but they all tend to be a short taster for the larger units or stand-alone items like reward tags or bookmarks. From now on, all of my freebies will be available either as a short preview attached to the full items, or here on my blog as downloadable Google docs. I have also recently started a new group on my FB page (separate to my SOS-Supply page) where my followers can pick up my freebies, keeping TPT for the bulk of my stuff - the stuff that has a price tag. Click here to join the SOS-Supply Facebook Freebies Group and receive alerts about new freebies.

The Future is Rosy

With the new guidelines and with people being more mindful of how they price their work (I have already noticed a change in the size of freebies), hopefully things will move forward. After all, we're all on TPT to make a little extra through our hard work and imaginations, and not to sell ourselves short!

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