From One Teacherprenuer to Another: My Blogger Beginning & Tips for Beginners

Hi Everyone!!

Today, I am devoting this post to tell you a little bit about how I became a blogger/teacherprenuer, offer some helpful tools and tips to new teacher bloggers, and plant a little helping seed in those of you who desire to start a new teacher blog.

I receive countless emails from new bloggers and others who want to become a blogger, trying to pick my brain for tips about blogging as they begin on their own journey. Some of the questions I receive… and I quote:

1. “How did you become so rich and famous blogging?” Author unknown (and possibly made up) haha

2. How do I get more followers?
3. How do I make a blog button?
4. How do I get more followers?
5. What is the best way to connect with other bloggers?
6. How do I get more followers?
7. How do I re-size an image using HTML code?
8. How do I get more followers?
9. Can you tell me how to draw? 
10. How do I get more followers?
11. How do I make a cute header for my blog?
12. How do I get more Followers?
13. How do I add social media buttons to my sidebar?
14. How do I get more followers?
15. Will you design and create products for TpT that I can sell?
16. How do I get more followers?
17. Should I have a Twitter account?
18. How do I get more followers?
19. Will blogging help increase my TpT sales?
20. How do I get more followers?

Although I am far from rich and famous, starting a blog had a {HUGE} positive impact on my life when I needed it the very most. And like most of the questions I receive, I too was clueless as to how to get started. 

I knew NOTHING about blogging – I know – Shocker, right?

How I became a blogger…

In 20ll, I resigned from teaching (after spending thousands on a duel Master’s Degree) because I was desperate for a change of pace. For years, I had worked full-time, juggled two kids and their activities full time, went to school full time at nights, and devoted my extra time to grading papers, planning, conferences, professional development, barely talking to my own children, a strict “hi & bye” relationship with my husband, and still barely making enough to put food on the table. 
A few years before started working on my Master’s Degree, my husband decided to start his own Heating and Air Conditioning business. Needless to say, I am sure that my children will have some sour thoughts about our lack of commitment to them. Actually, I don’t want to say that it was a lack of commitment. My drive to make a better life for my children just blinded me from the fact that they needed me more than anything else….

I created all of our forms, PDF’s, proposal designs, logos, t-shirts designs, business cards and the website (which we are changing now) and add that with the work-load of the Master’s program and teaching full-time, I was getting about 2-3 hours (at the most) of sleep every night. I even continued working this schedule for three weeks with walking pneumonia. 

I was pretty sick and feverish on and off for those three weeks, but I kept on working and thinking that I would eventually get over it!! BOY was I ever wrong… I worked through that pneumonia until I could literally not get up one morning. I could barely talk and all I could think about was how I would ever get a sub in time. I was so sick that my own husband had to call in sick for me – bad – I know….. luckily, I had become very close with the “boss” and she was more than helpful!! My husband took me in to the ER and after taking one glance at me, the sweet nurse in the waiting room bumped me to the front of the line. I must have looked terrible!! Because I chose not to slow down when my body was giving me all of the signals, I ended up being out of work for 2 WEEKS!!! That is a LONG time when you are a teacher!!! A good lesson for all of you this year!! TAKE THE DAY… or you might end up losing two weeks!!

My point in the story is that I worked myself to complete exhaustion. While I was working on my Master’s Degree I was offered a Special Education position for 8th grade. I felt terrible having to turn down the position, but I had m=several reasons for doing so. One, the demands of Special Education teachers are beyond insanity… yes, I used the correct word… beyond INSANITY!!! Second, I am a reading and writing specialist. I love teaching reading and writing at any age and I am DANG good at it… I am not bragging… I am just stating facts – and that is a fact…. MATH on the other hand…. has no business being in my job description. I ENVY those who are great at teaching math because it is my biggest weakness!! I don’t “hate” math, I am just not very good at it and I don’t feel like I have any business teaching the subject!! Accepting the 8th grade Special Education position would require that I teach math at the 8th grade level….. Those kids need help the most and they need someone at their best in all subject areas….I would be doing those kids a disservice! Third, I needed a break. My marriage was breaking at the seams, my past had come to bite me in the “behind”, and I was beginning to feel the effects ware heavily on my mind, spirit, and body. 

Making the choice to resign was very difficult. I loved teaching and I loved being in that environment!! I intended to make this post short and sweet, so let me get to the good part fairly quick… After a couple of months at home, I went crazy!!! I am not the content, happy-go-lucky stay at home type of mom…. I have accepted the fact that I am self-motivated and hot-wired to work… I became very closed up and suffered from depression after only a few months of being at home. I was not prepared for the change of pace and/or prepared to deal with the aftermath of problems I had to face after having ignored those problems in the past by staying busy.. Insanely busy!!!

Our HVAC business had slowed down dramatically and I was not bringing in an income. We lost our beautiful luxury truck – only owing $8,000 more to have it paid off!! We could barely afford groceries and I was so blessed by the people in our church that helped us with food. We had never struggled to that extent before and neither had our children. It was very difficult for all of us. We did not have a vehicle and if it weren’t for the loyalty of one of our employees, we would not have been able to keep the HVAC business running. God is forever gracious and good, I tell ya!! We were walking to the grocery store to get groceries and we were unable to take our kids anywhere for several months. We were barely making our minimum monthly bills. 

I decided that I HAD to do something to bring in some money… Something from home…

This is the pivotal moment where having a TpT store made all the difference…
I started a TpT store in 2008, but I did not have the time to really put effort into making it a lucrative business. One morning I woke up and read an article about a teacher who and made 1 MILLION dollars selling products on TPT. I thought, I could do that… and I have time now…

I quickly sat down to review my TpT store and make some attainable goals for myself to work towards.
At the time I first sat down and created my goals, here were my stats from May 2008 to October of 2011… (Remember, I had about 3 things in my store and I had not visited the site in over two years)

Date: October 6th, 2011
Store Name: My own name
Followers: 19 (as in the ones and tens place….)
Sold Items: 16
Rating: (here is where it gets truly embarrassing) – 3.6!!!

My goals:
1. Remove outdated products
2. Create new products
3. Get my rating up
4. Market??
5. How am I going to get more sales… and followers???

I am telling you all this because we all have to start somewhere. I began doing a little research before creating anything new…

I began improving and adding products to my shop. I also discovered the forums!!! I had never visited the forums before this point!! I began reading tips and connecting with others right away. 

By the end of December, I recorded my TpT stats once again:

Store name: Still my own name – no change there yet
Followers: 18 (WOO HOO…up one)
Sold items: 94 (again… woo hoo)
Rating: 3.7… the averages are getting better
Earnings for that quarter: $267.71!!! Wow!! Until that point, I had made a total of about $60.00 on TpT… This was very motivating for me. 

Even though there was money present in my Paypal account, I did not have a business account at that time and did not have the Paypal Credit card to pull funds out. It was exciting and frustrating all at the same time. Here, I had money that I could use to buy food, but I could not pull the money out. For that first quarter, I ordered things like shampoo and other bathroom and kitchen stuff through Amazon. Where there’s a will, there is always a way…

I can’t tell you how excited I was to be able to buy simple necessities online with the money I had earned.
I quickly set up a Paypal business account, verified my bank to lift the spending and receiving limits and ordered my fancy Smanshy Paypal business card. I felt so sophisticated…hahaha

Even though I was happy that my efforts were beginning to pay off, I was a little discouraged at how long it was taking, compared to how much work I was putting in. I then read something in the forums about starting a blog!!?? Someone mentioned that having a blog was essential and directly connected to sales on TpT. 

So what did I do with that new information you ask?? I set new goals…or one new goal…

Start a blog… sounds easy enough, right? WRONG!!
The first week after I started my blog, I still had no followers (aside from the three followers I created myself using my kids and my husband) hahaha… I did not know how to connect at that time and I truly was not moving towards my goals at a rate that would make any sort of a difference… I needed a plan… and fast!! My first few posts were absolutely pathetic and I was terrified by the idea that I was talking to everyone… and no one at the same time. 

I turned to Google search. I can’t recall my specific search; however, I can recall the blog post that changed my life and got me headed in the right direction…

I found a blog post by a small-town blogger (tehehe) named Erica Bohrer. You may or may not have heard of her… tehehe… 

Now, you might be asking yourself why I didn’t go to Deanna Jump’s blog and copy everything she did to become a millionaire and try to contact her to get with the “in” crowd?

Let me answer that for you…. I did NOT know anything about blogging or its significance related to sales. Even more so, I did not want to contact anyone because I was completely embarrassed by my own store stats… I was focused on the task at hand… how to improve, grow… and feed my family… Thirdly and most importantly… it is ILLEGAL to copy someone else’s work… and… who could ever take pride in that??

There was one particular post by Erica Bohrer titled, Questions Answered… that made all the difference!!It was a short and sweet (unlike mine at this point) little post she did to answer some questions that she had received about blogging and other things. One of those Q & A topics included: How did you get your blog all fancy… and How do I get followers on my blog (DING - DING – DING) – the lights immediately came on and I was sucked in…

I already knew a lot about computers, coding and design, but I knew nothing about blogging. I knew I had to start a blog, but I didn’t know how to go about connecting with other bloggers. Now, what I am about to tell you next is a little bit embarrassing…

I read this little excerpt and followed EVERY step to its fullest…

Question 5:
"How do I get followers on my blog?"
1. Make your blog look fancy (see above).
2. Give away lots of free files. Click {here} to see my freebies.
3. Comment on other blogs. Click {here} to see Ladybug's tutorial on leaving a direct link.
4. Post pictures or sample images and Pin yourself! Yes, I know it is like patting yourself ont he back, but it works! Click {here} to follow me on Pinterest.
5. Host a giveaway. Have people follow you for an entry.
6. Make a facebook fan page and comment on other facebook fan pages. Then post links to your blog posts on your fan page.
7. Make it easier for people to comment on your blog. Click {here} for What the Teacher Want's tutorial.

Let me walk you through my thought process while reading this…

1. Well, I already have those skills…. CHECK!! Wait…. is what I have considered fancy? Is my blog too dark? Will everyone hate the name? Is the image of the “working” American girl under copyright protection? Am I legal? 

Luckily for Erica, I did not have the nerve to email her with my rant of questions… mostly because I am a prideful woman…. to a fault…

*Quick note to beginners - this should be done in balance and not the way I took it…. I was giving everything away for free and realized that I was gaining followers, but losing time and money.

3. Comment? What do I say?

4. Pin?? What is a pin and how much is this going to cost me?? hahaha

5. I need a break….

6. Facebook fan page… fun… check!!

7. CHECK!! I did that as soon as I started the blog… those robot thingys are ANNOYING!!!

Even though I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, I decided that I had to stick with it and I was excited that I had some new goals in front of me. I began keeping track of my blog stats along with my TpT stats on a weekly basis to determine what I needed to improve and what I needed to throw out!!

Here are my blog stats from January 22nd, 2012:
Followers: 11 (I AM POP-U-LAR)
Visits: 1, 358 (wait… does this mean that 1, 347 people that visited my blog chose not to follow??.. This can’t be good news…)

From February 17th, 2012:
Followers: 99
Visits: 6, 980

As you can see, sometimes people need more of an incentive to make that initial commitment to follow your blog. Especially if you are not that interesting (which I was not). I continued following Erica’s advice and learned how to effectively connect with other bloggers, host giveaways, offer freebies, and include quality content. 

These steps take time and dedication, so don’t give up on yourselves. Just keep moving forward and working towards small, attainable goals, and you will get there in time. 

By the end of the first quarter in 2012 (January 1- March 30st), diligently working hard every day…. 

Updated Stats: First Quarter (Jan. 1- march 30st 2012):

TpT Stats: 
Followers: 419
Products Sold in that quarter: 630
Earnings: $3, 355.10

Blog Stats:
Followers: 532
Visits: 42,760

As you can see from the stats… my efforts paid off in a big way!! It was not ONE MILLION DOLLARS big, but that money paid bills, groceries, clothes and more for one month. Break down the total earnings into three months and I was still only making a little more than $1,000 a month. Not much by any means, but it was a lot for me and a HUGE blessing for my family when we really needed it. By the second quarter, I made a little bit more, but I was able to purchase a used car for $3,000!!! We had been using a car of a friend of ours after winter came and it began to rain. I just couldn't stand to watch my kids have to walk to school in the rain even one more day. Since then, I have continued to set goals for myself. I believe that setting goals… ATTAINABLE goals... are very important. I never set goals for earning a certain amount of money. Slow times on TpT can’t be controlled. I did; however, find new ways to generate extra income to supplement and grow. 

I have invested quite a lot of money into my business and I continue to grow in small increments. Sometimes, the payouts are larger and sometimes they are smaller. Either way, I continue to work as hard as I possibly can. I can’t bear to see my children hungry. 

I am truly thankful for the amount of support and advice I have received from other bloggers along the way. I am also pretty excited and impressed by the level of talent of my circle of blogger/ Facebook friends I am the closest to. They are absolutely AMAZING and continue to motivate me in ways that I never thought possible. 

Before I give you some tips and resources, I want to give a special thanks to Erica Bohrer, who unknowingly (until now), changed my life with one simple, yet thoughtful little post. If I had not come across that post that day (I read through all of her posts that day.. actually..haha), I am not sure that my mindset would have changed. I was in a pretty dark place and her post peeked through the hundreds of search results like a light at the end of a tunnel. We may have lost our house if I hadn't started at that exact time… towards a goal. 

If you have not had the pleasure of visiting her blog, please take a moment of silence while I choke.... hahaha Just kidding... you can click her cute button and take a visit for yourself....

I only hope that I can impact a new blogger in the same way!! So here’s to a new adventure and setting new goals. Now for the part you have all been waiting for… 

Tips for new Bloggers:
1. Make sure to have an organized and attractive blog. If it is in your budget, get a custom designed blog that will help you stand out and create a brand for yourself. 
Exclusive Custom Blog Designs: I will not be available this September, but I am accepting Custom Blog Design orders now for October-December. You can click the link to complete a form to reserve a spot: CLICK HERE 

I will have pre-made design choices available in October as well…

If getting a Custom Blog Design by me is not in your budget, there are many free, pre-made templates you can choose from. These designs are free to everyone, so there might be other people with your same design; however, it is something to get your blog “fancy” for the time being. The Cutest Blog on the Block has several free options to choose from & they are ALL super cute!!
2. Don’t be afraid of social media – those will be your best marketing opportunities and ways to find bloggers to connect with. 

My Top Social Media Suggestions for newbies:

*Facebook fan page (this is different from your personal Facebook page)
*A Pinterest Account. I encourage you to join collaborative Pinterest boards, as they are very helpful, but make sure to join boards that will help you work towards your goals. Also, make sure to follow the board guidelines, so you don’t get yourself kicked off. I have never been removed from a collaborative board; however, I know those who have… it is never fun, so make sure you know the posting rules and Pinterest Etiquette. 
*A Gmail account for your business only. 

Twitter is a great choice as well, but can be overwhelming for many new bloggers. If this is the case, then add Twitter as a goal for the future and stick with Facebook and Pinterest for the time being.

Here is a great video by Charity Preston to help you get started using Pinterest if you are unfamilair with it.

Getting Started with Pinterest with Charity Preston: 

Pinterest Etiquette Resource Links:

3. Visit the TpT Forum every now and again to connect and learn!!
4. Don’t whine or complain about not having enough sales or many followers. No one is likely to help a whiner, so take in all of the advice and tips you can, be diligent in your work ethics, and BE PATIENT… this does not happen overnight. 

5. Offer quality freebies. I once received a question from someone I helped learn a few things and she asked: “I have a few old sets that are not great compared to what I am doing now, I am thinking about making these freebies on TpT. What do you think?”

If you have also had this thought cross your mind – ERASE IT!!! If you offer your worst as a freebie, people are less likely to trust that your quality resources are worth paying for. I am not telling you to create a resource with over 70 clip art images or 100 pages of activities and offer that for free…. by all means…. refrain from doing that!! Create small freebies, but put forth your best work. What is the point of creating anything if you are not going to do your very best? 

Some things take me several months to complete… but I do not rush the process. Don’t rush just to have the most products. Some of the very top sellers have fewer than 100 product listings!

I have seen many clip artists adding one image in a million colors onto their shop and then bragging that they have X amount of product listings… big deal…. I can assure you that anything that is up there can most likely be created by anyone and will be created by more people. Create unique products that reflect your talent and set you a part from the crowd. DO not worry about the number of product listings you have, but rather the quality of the listings you have. There are so many people taking every opportunity to copy and the less unique a product is, the easier it is to duplicate… don’t be afraid to take your time. You will be glad you did in the long run.

6. Join linky’s, but make sure your blog does not become a staple for giveaways only… Trust me, it is difficult to turn down the opportunity to join, but saying no is sometimes necessary for your own sanity…. If you join too many all at one time, then keeping up with all of them will be very difficult. It is more meaningful to put forth your effort to a few than a bunch that you will have no time to post about. I have been there… trust me….

7. Have fun meeting people from around the world!!
I have gained such a great deal of knowledge and respect for bloggers all over the world! I started this to help support my family, but gained a HUGE family in the process. The friendships I have built and the people I have met has truly become what I look forward to. I am never amazed by the talent and love of the bloggers that I have connected with and I am blessed by the life-long friendships I have made. One of my long-term goals is to pack a back and visit all of my close bloggers friends - what an adventure that will be!!! 

8. Get used to the idea that you could be a bit of a celebrity “in the blogging world anyway”… hahaha

Funny Story: When I purchased my car, my husband surprised me by ordering a custom license place: 3AMTCH. One afternoon, I was a little early to pick up my son (not normal behavior for me) and I was waiting in the car for the bell to ring. I pulled out my phone to get a little FB fix when I noticed someone staring at me from the passenger side window…. It was not someone I knew, not someone I had ever seen before, but there she was… standing at the window with a big smile on her face and waving…. I rolled down the window, hoping that I didn’t forget that I knew her from somewhere or thinking she might need some help with something… and right away she asked me, “Are you The 3AM Teacher?!!!” Her legs began to wobble just a bit… sort of like a cute kindergartener wanting to show you something they made… I told her I was as my face began to turn beat RED… possibly hot pink… not quite sure about that, but I did feel the heat rise heavily in my cheeks. Then she said, “I LOVE YOUR BLOG AND YOUR ART - I can’t wait to tell my friends that I met you!!” 

I had no idea how to take that, but I did thank her while trying not to cry…. how sweet and strange that experience was….I did not think I was a big deal, but she did… then I thought… I would probably feel the same if I spotted some of the bloggers I admire in person!!! I was truly embarrassed, yet completely blessed. My point… don’t ignore someone staring at you through your car window when your blog gets more out there… you might have a fan… not one who likes your looks or how famous you are, but someone who genuinely admires your talent and love for others…. there could be no better complement than that!!!

Thank you for visiting - now go on and start your own adventure!!!!

Click the links below to check out some great tips from fellow bloggers and more.  Don’t try to do it all at once, but take small steps in the right direction and you will be blessed for your efforts and diligence!!! I will continue to add more links as I go through my files....


  1. Great post, Michelle! It takes time and a lot of hard work to get started.
    I'm so glad you shared you story. So inspiring!

    Read With Me ABC

  2. Michelle, you are generous and inspiring. Your post was so genuine, thoughtful and full of great advice. You are a blessing to others :)

  3. I love this post! Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    One Lesson at a Time

    1. You are very welcome and I can't thank you enough for reading this post!!

  4. So thankful that you took the time to do this. I'm especially appreciative of you posting your stats! Very motivational.

    Fourth Grade Lemonade

    1. Thank you!! I am a goal-setting kind of gal and I love being able to track progress... it helps when I find myself in a slump.... haha

  5. Wow! That was an inspiring post. Thank you for all of your tips. I have found that many people had to come close to loosing everything before gaining so much more--that must have been so hard for you and your family, but you got through it : ).

    I have a lot of goals, I just have to be patient and persistent. If you ever come to LA, CA I'd love to meet you too : )

    Kids Math Teacher

  6. Your story is very inspirational and heart warming. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  7. Wow...I have followed you for a long time and absolutely adore you. I just started my blogging journey a little over a month ago and have already been through such a range of emotions. I appreciate everything you have said in this post and appreciate you so much. Thank you, thank you!!! :)

    ♡ Lori

    ♥ Owl in a Vowel Tree Blog ♥

    ✎ Owl in a Vowel Tree TPT ✎

    1. Blogging has definitely been a journey, but an exciting one!! Thank you so much for your kind words & I wish you all the very best on your own journey. I just checked out and followed your blog and store!! How cute!! I can't wait to "snoop" around and read some of your posts!!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Blogging has really improved my teaching! I am very thankful to you and all the other wonderful people who take the time to share their stories and to create quality products to use in the classroom. You are an inspiration to others :)
    First Grade Carousel

    1. Thank you so much!! I am amazed by the creative talent of this community and their willingness to share ideas. I love that we can all teach and learn so much from one another!! This has been such a blessing!!

  9. Thanks for sharing your story, Michelle. Isn't it amazing the way our bodies take control and stop us when our minds are out of control?

    When I started TPT, I saw no purpose in blogging or FB. And then the purpose came to me and find I quite enjoy it. Who knew?! It's the best way I know for this retired (from testing, still a) teacher to stay connected.
    Desktop Learning Adventures

    1. I completely agree.... I am so blessed by the friends I have made through blogging and I had no idea how close people can become through online interaction... This has been a lot of fun and I only hope to learn more!!

  10. I love your blog. I just wonder if you could help out someone that is not a teacher?

  11. Michelle, I think another point to make is that you want your blog to be useful and personable. I love to follow blogs where I feel like I know the person behind it and they're someone I want to be friends with. It's a lot of why I started following your blog, and everything else has been great perks :) This is a great post, and I'm so happy TpT (and your hard work) have helped your family so much!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

    1. That is an EXCELLENT point, Jenny!! I think a lot of use choose blogs for that same reason. Thank you so much!!!

  12. Wow - awesome post! I needed to read this! You have motivated me to keep on plugging away at this! THANKS!
    ღ Diane

    1. Thank you so much!!! One can easily get discouraged on this journey, but sticking it out and staying connected has allowed me to meet and learn from people all over the world!!! Keep monthly (and not daily) stats and you will progress in time!! I think for me, I wanted everyone to know that progress does not happen overnight - and it takes a great deal of perseverance to get through that slow beginning. Keep at it - if anything, the friendships you will make on this journey will be most valuable in the long run (-;

  13. Wow....what an amazing post! I loved reading your story...especially since it has a good ending. I can't imagine the struggle you experienced..but look at you and your family now! :) Thanks so much for sharing!!

    Mind Sparks

    1. Hahaha.... I knew I should have written a suspenseful twist.. hahaha.. Thank you so much and I am thankful that we did have quite a storm. I am not sure I would have had the motivation to put in all in place...

      Thank you so much for stopping by!!

  14. I loved your story!! Thanks so much for that and all the amazing resources. I'm working on growing my blog as well and can't wait to start checking out all your resources and use some of your tips.

    Resource Room Rules

    1. Thank you so much!! I have had a lot of fun blogging & wish you the very best!

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this! I love following your blog. I just started blogging and my TPT store so this has a lot of great information for me! I love it!

    1. Congratulations!! You might get discouraged in the beginning, but $ or not, the family you will build through blogging will certainly change your life in some way. I wish you the very best and look forward to watching your journey unfold!!

      You will have to send me your blog link, so I can check it out!

  16. What an inspirational post! Thank you so much for sharing.

    Hooty's Homeroom

    1. Thank you so much!!! AND I am cracking up at your blog nae!!! By far, the best Owl-themed title ever!!! Can't wait to check out your blog!!

  17. Thank you so much for this! I just started my blog last week and I am still getting the hang of it but have learned so much through this post!! I haven't started creating anything yet for TPT- any tips for starting that process??

    The Land of I Can

    1. Congratulations!!! The beginning is so exciting! I remember jumping up and down like a nerdy school girl each time I got a new follower!! It is still exciting actually. I love being able to see where people are visiting from - it is amazing to me that we can connect with each other from across the world!!! I have learned so much from this experience!!

      I believe that Erica Bohrer is actually working on that part of the post right now. She took several questions from her FB and her focus is TpT. There is so much to tell you, that I would not even know where to begin!! haha... Is there anything specifically that you are wanting help with?

      You are more than welcome to email me

      I look forward to checking out your blog and I am sure your adventure, although different, will be equally inspiring and meaningful!!

  18. First of all, I hear ya on that pneumonia thing. I had it 3 years ago and I was down for the count for 2 weeks. Took a few months to shake the cough too. Have no idea how you powered through it for 3 weeks before you finally saw a doc. Two days into it, I begged for an emergency appt. and laid in bed thinking I was going to die. Hope you got that pneumonia vaccine when it was all over. : )

    I'm 3.5 weeks into my first blog and I'm really enjoying it. So many questions about how fellow "veteran" bloggers do all this cool stuff, so thank goodness for the tutorials. All veteran bloggers: keep going with the tutorials! I'm not a computer idiot, but I have no idea how to do half the things I want to do. But I learn fast. ; )
    I feel like everything you said and felt in this post is how I feel....thanks for the validation. I appreciate your honest words and advice. I will surely be referring back to it many many times as I try to grow my own blog.

    Teaching Powered by Caffeine

    1. Thank you so much and I was right where you are now. I am a fast learner, but I tend to want to learn anything and everything...hahaha... My own brain can often be my largest distraction...hahaha

      Congrats on your first blog - you are going to have a lot of fun!!

  19. This is so great! I began blogging and selling in January and I pretty much need all the help I can get. I really appreciate you sharing all the resources/tutorials you found along the way! I find it hard to ask for help and I'm not sure if it's always wanted but most of the people here in bloggy (bloggy? bloggie?) land are so nice and helpful, so thank you for sharing all this information. Now I'm off to all your links!

    Teach Train Triumph!

    1. You are so sweet!!! Open forums are a great pace to start. If you have several questions, you will most likely find several other who also had those questions within the forum threads. It is a great place to meet new people, learn new tricks and ask questions without having to feel embarrassed. EVERYONE posts questions in the forums....

      Thank you for stopping by & I wish you the VERY best!!

  20. Hey my love... I just had to tell YOU that you have changed my life along with a few other bloggers.. honestly. You are AMAZING and I can't thank you for all you do... I hope my earnings per quarter go up like yours have, but I am thankful for every small dollar in the mean time. I love you and this post was beautiful - it'll help so many new bloggers and we will continue to change the world (muahaha) ;)


    1. You equally impacted my life, sweet Laura Love!!! Just hang in there and keep at it - it will eventually pay off and you will soon be writing your own helpful post!! We are definitely changing the world.... one small post for us... one giant letter for the world...hahaha

  21. Michelle, you are simply the BEST! I agree with Laura above. You have done that for ME, too! You changed my life. Thank you for your inspirational post.

    All week I have been on an emotional roller coaster as a my "stuff" good enough...will I make sense on my blogs? maybe I shouldn't have? is my stuff good enough (I know I already asked that)?

    Your humility and willingness to admit that you had to start somewhere! Wow! I'm going to go for it! THANK YOU!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that Deborah!! You are so sweet & I feel honored that I had a chance to be a part of your "beginning"!! You are going to have such a fun journey!!

      My private FB group that I added you to (Tickle Me Tech) is a great place to ask others for help when you need it. Many people even ask others to look over a product before it is posted... You can trust that the help and advice you receive will be done with love and respect...

      Thank you so much!!!

  22. Michelle, this is amazing! I just re-launched my blog from being a Student- Teaching reflection into a (very new) Teacher blog. I'm still playing with the idea of creating items to share with others, but I just don't know what to create! This post really helped me, but I am still open to any advice you have to share!! You are truly and inspiration!

    Thank you!

    A New Box of Crayons

    1. Hi Megan!!

      Congrats on a many new adventures!! I suggest that you only create things you are passionate about and things you would use yourself... It takes a bit of time to find a niche, but it will be an important part of your success. There are many new sellers that feel overwhelmed and stress to create something good, that they will often try to re-create something already copyrighted.... don't feel pressured to have something right away and eventually, you will know exactly what type of resources will be your focus.

      Your first year teaching will be your toughest. You will learn a great deal about yourself. Your hours will be brutal and your relationships will be rocky... don't feel bad if your have to step back and slow down every once in a is good for the soul and for the mind. My best suggestion (which I always have to remind myself of) is make sure to get at least 30 minutes of sunshine every day (even if the sun is not shiny). I am not talking about with friends or your walk to your car.....hahaha... Just time when you can sit ALL by yourself and BREATHE... it will make all the difference in your mood. I am a bit of a work-a-holic and I always push myself too hard.... I need to remind myself daily to stop and breathe..

      I wish you all the best!!

  23. This must be karma or luck or divine intervention that you made this inspirational and SUPER helpful blog post when you did. I just created my very first blog the other night. I didn't even write a post yet, that's how brand spankin' new it is! haha! I have been reading blogs for about two years now and thought it was time to start one of my own. I have a CRAZY busy year this school year (teaching my lil firsties <3, finishing up grad school to be a reading and lang specialist as well :), and oh getting MARRIED! ahh!), so I thought I could use it as a way to keep myself organized and sane? We'll see haha. So anywways, I just wanted to thank you for this post, because it is exactly what I needed! I actually used your link to The Cutest Blog on the Block to find my background and I LOVE it! Also, I do a lot of pinning so the tips and links about what to do and not do are really useful. The LAST thing I want to do is offend someone because I completely look up to you and all of the other amazing ladies that I follow. So now that I've rambled forever... thank you again for all you do and the advice you give. It is truly appreciated. :)

    Samantha Kearns
    (I'm not sure how to post my blog link yet so that just the name of my blog comes up. Not that I have anything posted yet, but when I do it would be great to know how to do it. Would you be able to help me with that one?)

    1. How exciting!!! You have quite a mountain to climb this year!!! Your blog will definitely help to keep you organized (not really sure about that...hahaha); however, the connections and friendships you create through blogging will definitely be a positive outlet and escape from the daily grind and stresses.

      I am so glad you found a free blog design from TCBOTB!! That is the only free design site I will recommend. I have seen many bloggers install free blog designs and completely mess up their blog template!!

      I have a little tip for you that you can try:

      How to add a hypertext link to your blog in blog comments...

      Create a file of links and other things that you can easily access any time. This way, you do not need to re-write the code every time you comment. You will just copy and paste...

      What I include:

      Blog Link
      FB link

      Here is the code you can use to create your own hypertext link:


      Make sure you do not add extra spaces or exclude any of the code. Something as little as the "a" can break down the code..

      Thank you for stopping by & I wish you the very best!! I can't wait to check out your blog!!

    2. Darn.... it linked it... hahaha...

      Email me and I will send you the code to create your hypertext link...

  24. What a great post! As a new blogger, you gave wonderful tips! I really appreciate you sharing your experiences. I really enjoy coming to your blog for ideas!:)

    Alma Solis

  25. Hi Michelle! This is easily one of the best posts I've ever read - thank you for sharing your journey in so much detail. I also made that hard choice to back off the full time teaching treadmill long ago and find more balance - yes, a financial hit but I've never regretted it and neither have my kids. Another door always seems to open for sharing, teaching and expressing! Funny how teachers, even when removed from a classroom, continue to find ways to teach!
    Whimsy Workshop

    1. That is sooo true!! We never do ever really stop teaching...hahaha

      Thank you so much!!!

  26. Awesome post, Michelle! I wish I had read it a year ago when I started blogging and selling on TpT. It would've saved me so much time and anguish. I am still working my little butt off to get more in my store, but man it takes me FOREVER! I am just so happy with the little I've accomplished so far and hope to someday be looking back like you and see how far I have come. You deserve it - your work is amazing and I love reading your blog! I'd love to be driving someday and see your license plate and think - Hey, that's her! =)

    First Grade Smiles

  27. This blog post was sooo timely for me since I created my blog recently! I started because I have been reading teaching blogs all summer, and figured since I keep gravitating and reading the same blogs, I wanted to create my own to start connecting with other teachers and share my ideas. I love the designs you have on TpT and definitely plan to look into creating my own products at some point. I just have to get blogging down first!!! Oh, and by the way, I LOVE that you have Rosie the Riveter on your header. It's very fresh and unique!

    Tacky the Teacher

    1. Hi Ashley!!

      Thank you so much! I just visited your blog and you are definitely off to a great start!!!

  28. A million thank yous for this piece! It is really a work of art!!! You are not only talented in graphic design but your word choice, poise and presence in this is a Masterpiece! The advice offered will serve teachers for years to come! Thank you for taking the time to put this all together.

  29. Wow, thanks so much for sharing this information!! You are amazing for working so hard and reaching your goals! You are an inspiration. :) I'm very excited to work hard towards my own blogging goals.

    Rockin' in Resource Room

    1. Thank you very much!! I wish you the very best and look forward to reading about your journey as well!!

  30. Wow, thanks so much for being so open with yourself. This post was very helpful and personal. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Sweet n Sassy in 2nd

    1. Thank you Shannon!! I debated whether or not to share some of the info (like my original rating) was a little scary to put out there, but I thought adding that information was important. I believe that I would like for most people to gain an understanding that everyone has a pivotal starting point and it is not always a pretty one..hahaha

      You are soo sweet!!

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  32. Okay, I did it!! I wrote my very first post *happy dance*! This is my tester to see if I hypertexted correctly. When I want to thank or acknowledge another blog/blogger, do I use the same code you gave me and just insert their info?

    Samantha :)
    Tales of a #teachernerd

  33. Thank you so much for this post!! I am in the same boat you were in back in 2010!! Guess what I just did! Created my first post and uploaded a fun template off of your website you gave us! Thank you so much. There is also a link to your page on mine!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  34. This blog post was truly the answer to my payers tonight! I had grown frustrated with my lack of understanding of all of the technical aspects of blogging and feeling very defeated. I recently started a blog hoping that it would help me better market my TPT products and truly begin to earn some additional income and realized very quickly that there was ALOT more to it than just creating a blog! Thank you so much for sharing your story and motivating me to keep at it!


  35. Hi Michelle! I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I loved reading your story and it was very encouraging and motivating! I am new at blogging and started my blog in June 2013. I have so much to learn still! I just sat down and wrote some goals for myself. This was incredibly helpful and thank you again! :)

  36. This is the BEST business post I have seen so far for TPT! You rock! Thanks for sharing so much of the nitty gritty details! I identify so much with your story too! I quit teaching to stay home with my kids 7 years ago and my husband suddenly had to medically retire from law enforcement due to a work injury. We're in this hard life phase where he's going back to school and I still have 3 young kids to care for. I'm aiming for my TPT store to get us through the next two years and I so needed to hear your story today! When I was teaching I got several awards and people were always asking for my stuff. I'm planning and goal setting today and just came across this post. It was like a message from God.

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  38. Hi there! Thank you so much for your post! I know you posted back in August but I haven’t been on the internet much since I just had a baby!! I really enjoyed reading your story and how things have worked out for you. I began a blog last year but I am still slowing adding things to it. I am also on TpT and I have really enjoyed making products to sell on there. I am still in the beginning stages of both so it was great to come across your blog. I am definitely more motivated! I still am wondering how to build up followers on my blog and TpT but hopefully I will get there. It’s hard to write posts if no one is going to see them!  heh! Do you have any tips about giveaways?! For example, what kinds of things to giveaway and how to get that out there so people will actually see your giveaway? Any help would be greatly appreciated! And again, thank you so much! I have already begun my list of goals since I will be home with my little one.
    Tricks of the Trade in First Grade

  39. I am so glad I ran across this post. I really identified with how you started out with your blogging and your TpT adventure! I started blogging a few months ago and have been on TpT for a year or so, but I just feel a bit overwhelmed with it all. I finally made the decision to get a CUTE blog design and have a professional do it right! (I wish I had to knowledge to do that cause it looks soooo fun!) So, my blog is all pretty and I needed to know where to go next and then.....I was looking through your blog and TA-DA! I can't wait to look through all of the resources and links you have posted. Blogging is just a hobby for now, but over the next year I will be going through a move that would be much easier if I had a little extra income. (My HUGE teacher salary just isn't enough for me! lol) I really appreciate that you took the time to give so many tips and also encouragement. I am excited to see the rest of your posts!

  40. Hi! Thank you for this blog post! I do have a question for you about changing your TPT name. Right now, my name is Mme Vallee (my teaching name), but I was thinking of changing it. Not sure to what yet, but something different than simply my name.

    When you made the switch, was it tough to do so? Any pointers you can give me?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Linda!!

      I am so glad this was helpful to you. I actually waited some time to change my TpT shop name because I, like you, was worried that it might cause some problems or confusion.

      To change my shop name, I opened a TpT ticket and the amazing staff at TpT did all of the changing for me. It was a very simple process and I am so glad that I made the change. The only thing that did reset was my commenting status in the forums. When you change your shop name, your status in the forum changes from Collaborator Extraordinaire (if you have participated in many discussions in the forums), to Beginner. The number of followers you have, your ratings, shop products, and other important information will not be lost. It was very simple and I highly suggest you make the change. I am very pleased that I did.

      I hope that helps you a little bit (-;


    2. Wow, that's a lot easier than I thought! Thank you so much!!

  41. I sure enjoyed your post! Thank you so much for sharing it! And best of luck as well as many blessings on you in the future!
    Heidi Butkus

  42. I just wanted to let you know that this post was THE post that made me decide to put forth more effort with my TpT store. Reading about your struggles and how you overcame them really inspired me. I am so thankful that I found your blog! Thank you for sharing your story and your wonderful tips. I am still working on my first blog post. I just hope I can stick it out like you have!

    The Lesson Chef

  43. Thank you so much for this post. I am just getting started in TPT and blogging. This was WONDERFUL to read. It was encouraging in that it showed me that I was heading in the right direction! THANK YOU!!

  44. Thank you for your post. It's great!

  45. Almost 2 years later and this post is just what I needed! I tagged someone in a post about my Lego Centers and she asked me to write a guest post for her blog. I was scared to death!!!! Then she told me to include the link to my blog and she would post that as well. I was completely embarrassed!!! I didn't have a blog! All it took was 5 simple words from her, "Your ideas are worth sharing"! Wow that was the boost I needed to break out of my comfort zone. quickly made a blog & wrote a post for her! Then I began working on my documents (pretty embarrassed to share them with the world) Now I am starting the same journey you did many years ago! Thank you for taking the time to share about your journey! I too was Googling (how to start a new blog) & I found you!!!! You are my Erica Bohrer!

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  47. Thank you for the great tips and advice! Such inspiring words of wisdom for a newbie to the field! :) I am just starting my blogging I appreciate the encouragement!

  48. Thank you for the tips and advice. You are a blessing. I have been a TPT seller for a long time and need advice on how to increase my followers. I really appreciate the time and effort you spent in writing this blog. I have created a blog but I haven't posted on it in awhile. With your steps to follow and suggestions for setting goals, I will update my blog. Again, thank you.

    I have also used some of your clip arts in my products. They are beautiful!

    Mrs. Debrew-On-Wheels

  49. I've hit kind of a snag in my TPT store and feel like I have plateaued. I found your blog at just the right time because I have been asking myself: "What do I do next?" While I have a blog, I may update it once a year. The same with a Facebook page. So, I'm excited to try some of your new tips and tricks. Hopefully I will have some of the same success as you do! :) Thank you!

  50. Thanks for all the advice! I am extremely new at blogging and TpT. I can take all the advice I can get!

  51. Thanks for your inspirational post and walking us through the steps of your evolution as a seller! :)


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