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My Favorite Programs, Apps, and products

These are the tools that help me keep all of my teaching materials organized and work more efficiently.

Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This just means that part of your purchase goes to support me and my family, at no extra cost to you!

I will never post a link to any product — affiliate or otherwise — that I don’t personally use and love. If it’s on here, it’s because I have found it helpful and think you will too!

If you ever have a question about why I’m recommending a particular product, please feel free to reach out, and I’ll be happy to talk to you more about my experiences!

Scrivener

This is designed as a tool for writers (and it’s FABULOUS for that too – it got me through my doctoral dissertation!), but it’s also fantastic for keeping my teaching materials organized!

A Scrivener project opens as a digital binder, where I can create different sections to store course documents and resources, such as the syllabus, grading rubrics, or authentic materials to use in class, along with my daily lesson plans.

The template function makes lesson planning more efficient, and the ability to add comments to the document helps me remember what I want to adjust for next time.

Scapple

This is my favorite mind-mapping tool, created by Literature and Latte, the same company that puts out Scrivener! I use it for planning out lessons and thematic units, as well as for organizing my thoughts when working on my research.

I especially love using the color coding features to make sure my lesson plans are equally covering all the skills we’re working on. I also find it helpful to use the different styles of connectors (lines, one-way arrows, two-way arrows, etc.) to track how different concepts and skills are related to each other. 

RocketBook

I am obsessed with my Rocketbook! This is the notebook I use for everything!

If you haven’t yet heard of the wonder that is Rocketbook, it’s a reusable notebook. You write in it using Pilot Gel Frixion pens, and then scan the pages, and your notes get converted to either a .pdf or a .jpg and transferred to the cloud (and you can have multiple preset destinations set up, so you can send personal documents to your Dropbox account while work documents get stashed on OneDrive, for example).

Then comes the magical part – you simply wipe off the pages using a damp cloth, and they erase completely! I love being able to handwrite my notes, but not have to keep track of which notebook I left them in. And it’s thinner than my Kindle, so it’s easy to carry around in my purse.

TextExpander

TextExpander is a tool that lets you create keyboard shortcuts for frequently used bits of text. I use it for everything from comments on student work to emails that I have to send every semester. You can even create customizable “snippets,” with optional sections, drop-down menus, and fill-in-the-blank fields.

According to my analytics, I saved roughly 18.5 hours of time in 2021 by using TextExpander!

(This link will give you a 20% discount on your first year of TextExpander!) 

Calendly

This is a great meeting scheduler! It syncs with my calendar (we use Outlook at work, but it can sync with other calendars as well), and lets me set my availability, and then all I have to do is send people my link and they can book a meeting with me automatically!

I absolutely LOVE not having to do the back and forth dance of “Well, I have time next Tuesday morning…” “Nope, not good for me. How about Wednesday at 3:30?” “Can’t do that. Should we try…”

There are also lots of customization options, such as setting a buffer between meetings or requiring a certain amount of advanced notice, and Calendly adjusts your availability accordingly.

Adobe Creative Cloud

I am a diehard Adobe fan. I use the various Adobe programs to create everything both in my TPT store and for use in my own classroom. I personally use InDesign the most, as it’s the best for text layout, but I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with the Illustrator as well, for those occasions where I need to add more graphic elements.

Not only does Adobe help me create materials that look professional, but it has sped up my workflow by about a gajillion percent. (I arrived at that figure through highly scientific calculations!) I love using features like parent pages, the content collector/placer tools, libraries, and paragraph styling to help me work more efficiently.

I’ve only barely scratched the surface of figuring out all of the functions that the Adobe suite has to offer, but I already can’t imagine using anything else.

The best courses & Memberships for TPT Teacher-Authors

These are the courses I’ve taken or the memberships I am a part of that have helped me grow my TPT business.

Cultivate: FB Ads for TPT Sellers

Tracy Morgan is known as the “FB Ads Fairy Godmother,” and the description couldn’t be more accurate! She walks you through every step of the process for running ads on Facebook and Instagram, from how to set up your business manager to how to analyze your results.

Cultivate is specifically designed for TPT Sellers, so all of the advice, such as how to select a target audience, how to add the TPT Pixel, and what kind of campaigns to run, is tailored to the TPT market, which I found particularly helpful!

When I participated in Cultivate, it was a course, but Tracy is transitioning to a membership model that looks awesome! She’s added new monthly workshops, a private podcast, and additional office hours, along with all of the original course material, and you can get access to all of it for much less than the course originally cost!

Your Data Playbook

This is an unbelievably helpful membership that crunches my TPT data and delivers it in a visual, easy-to-digest format, along with customized recommendations for how to optimize my TPT product listings. The membership also includes monthly trainings on best practices in marketing, tailored to the TPT world.

They are continually adding new features and tools, too! For example, they recently added a feature that compares our conversion rates on each of our products to other products at the same price point, so we can have a better sense of how well our products are doing.

Working Dog Resources

Stef Bowker, of Working Dog Resources, is an Adobe Certified Instructor with over two decades of graphic design experience. She created my logo for me and has also been coaching me in brand development, as well as teaching me the ins and outs of the various Adobe CC programs.

She offers various courses and memberships designed for TPT teacher authors, including a course on the fundamentals of graphic design and another that teaches how to use Adobe CC for resource creation. Stef is absolutely wonderful to work with, and her course materials are clear and easy to follow. I have learned SO much from her this year, and think all TPT teacher authors would benefit from working with her!

TPT Focused Success

Shelly Rees’ TPT Focused Success course is the #1 course I’d recommend for anyone looking to take their TPT store to the next level!

The program comes with video modules, planners & organizers, tutorials, and lots of helpful bonus materials. You also get access to a private Facebook group, which is hands-down the most helpful community for TPT teacher authors!

The Teacher Author Instaplanner

This is a monthly Instagram calendar specifically designed for teacher authors. Each day includes a goal, prompt, ideas, and an engagement piece for your audience. Some days also include links to more support!

It has saved me SO much time while helping me be more strategic in my Instagram posting. (And while the planner is geared towards Instagram, I use the ideas on all of my social media platforms, so if you’re more of a Facebook or Twitter kind of person, I think you’d still find tons of value in the membership!)

SmarterQueue

Once I use the InstaPlanner to create my social media content, I use SmarterQueue to automatically post for me! It is easy to use and has tons of great features, like custom categories, RSS importers, the ability to bulk upload posts, and analytic tools.

 

MailerLite

This is the service I use for my email list. It was by far the most affordable of the options I researched (it’s free for the first 1,000 subscribers — doesn’t get any more affordable than that!), and yet it still offers me all the features I was looking for, like automated sequences, email templates, groups and segments, A/B testing, automatic resend options, and the ability to build pop-ups, sign-up forms, and landing pages.

It’s easy to use, too! Everything is drag and drop, no coding required!