TpT's teacher/author team is clearly erasing the word "timid" from its
collective vocabulary. The fainthearted
would never invest time and talent in a vanguard business venture with few
tried-and-true procedural guidelines and no predictable guarantees. Still, we keep growing in number, moving
along, and learning how things work. Our product quality and presentation continue to reach higher and higher
standards. Our customer base is
now more than a quarter of a million.
We have covered a lot of new territory.
is one area, however, where our forward motion seems to be stalling. To say
that each new product we post is unique is an understatement. No wonder determining prices for our
items is such a confounding task. There
are no precedents. Zero to
zillions. Where do we begin?
In the word of physical storefronts, entrepreneurs use pricing formulas
based on cost of production + 25% profit margin. This traditional concept has applicability to many cyber-based
businesses, but for TpT it's pretty much horse-and-buggy thinking. We have no store-front rent or website hosting fees. Neither
are we responsible for payrolls. None of us shell out big bucks for marketing. TpT does all of that for us! And we
scoff at the 25% profit margin, so blasť in comparison to our 60%--85%!
On this point, we have shoved "timid" off the edge of the earth.
structure and policies make it possible for us to sell our products at
unprecedented low prices and still realize a profit. With no guidelines, however, we appear to be constructing an
undesirable downside to this issue. In our zeal to provide fellow educators with quality materials at
affordable prices and to achieve a perceived competitive edge, we occasionally
lose our grip. A vestige of timidity
takes control (what if nobody wants to buy this?), and we attach unrealistic,
lower-than-low, positively subterranean price tags to our work! Stuffing the site with underpriced
items is not a good idea in terms of meeting operational costs or the over-all public
perception of our product standards.
Now that the TpT has celebrated
its fourth birthday, it seems appropriate to begin developing a few ideas/guidelines
for determining the characteristics of a fair product price. We are at an excellent starting
point. Rather than having to think
about cutting our prices, we simply need to give some extra thought to the true
value of our work and then translate our findings into a commensurable dollar
Let's begin by putting the element of effort into perspective. Though it is a vital part of
product production, it holds no sway as a separate entity in product pricing. Our customers are not concerned with
how much time, exertion, or heavy thinking we weave into our items. Their interests lie in the merits of
the FINISHED product. We USE our
talents, intelligences, experiences, etc. in the production stage. We SELL the product.
on this idea and my experience, I have found that focusing on the completed item and what happens AFTER the sale are
good price-setting strategies. I consider, for example,
- how much work the
material can do in the classroom, especially its duration. Will it hold its audience in tow for 30
minutes, a day or two, a month, or maybe a whole semester?
- he number of pages. Logically a twenty-page, fully developed teaching unit
should be more expensive than a one or two-page activity or idea, but each
page's classroom potential, no matter how many, is an important factor.
- the product's self-sufficiency. Can a
teacher present a successful lesson using only the product? Is it as complete a package as
- it's versatility. Can its components accommodate a
variety of ability and interest levels?
- the potential savings in teacher prep time. No
doubt about it. This is one of the
major reasons teachers buy our products and a top motivator in our authorship. Do
not skip this important element.
- how much I would be willing to pay for the product.
Of course, novice seller/authors will also
find it beneficial to survey the site for ball-park figures on similar items. Purposely underpricing postings as a
way to garner sales, however, is NOT a good idea. Established sellers have learned that
TpT's customers buy products that compliment their teaching styles and meet
their classroom needs. They do not
choose one item over another because it's less expensive. As a matter of fact, gross
underpricing can actually be detrimental as it pretty much removes any aura of
quality from the product. The same
can be said of a TpT store in which a majority (or all) of the items also show
up in the $3.00 or less store. Bottom line-on TpT, cheap does not automatically
No matter what you decide initially, be
prepared to change your mind. Long-standing
sellers (including me) will admit that we have lowered, raised, reconsidered,
and reposted our prices numerous times before settling into our current amounts. Working independently we have constructed
pricing rubrics of sorts, most of them existing only in our heads, to keep us
on track. A recent discussion on
the Seller's Forum indicates that we are very much willing to share our
strategies and to welcome new ideas on the topic. We recognize pricing as a work in progress.
, where I have
started a new chain, to add your pricing-strategy ideas. Because we are such a diverse group of
personalities, writing styles, and technological experts, we need a wide assortment
of options. We especially need to
hear from the Smartboard and Power Point producers.
the meantime, go on a reconnaissance mission through your store and look for
any timid price-setting that might be sticking around. Let's do our best to erase what's
left of this word from our TpT experience. Then, why don't we relegate all of our how-low-can-you-go
skills to the world's limbo dancers?
That should work.