Thursday, April 22, 2021

Selling on TPT 101: Terms of Use and Credits

Selling on TPT 101: Credits and Terms of Use | Apples to Applique

Hi, friends! Welcome to TPT 101: Part 6! (Click on these links to find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5!)

Today, we're going to talk about an important part of product creation that can seem a little tedious: crediting artists whose work you've used and creating your own terms of use.

Most clip artists require a link back to their store when you use their art. Typically, they will include their logo as an image file with any clip art you have purchased. The best way to credit them in your product is by including a page in your file that acknowledges them. I put something along the lines of "Clip art and fonts by these talented artists", followed by images of their logos. Then, I link each of their logos to their respective stores. This can be done easily in PowerPoint by right-clicking on the logo and then clicking on "link". Then you simply insert the link to that store. Of course, you will want to double-check the terms of use of each artist, but for most of them, this process meets the criteria.

Speaking of terms of use, you will want to create your own for your products. Personally, I include this at the bottom of my credits page with my copyright information, but some sellers put it as a separate page. It doesn't really matter how you choose to do it, as long as it is included and easy for your buyers to find and understand. 

To create your terms of use, think of what you want to allow with the purchase of your product. Most sellers include some wording about not using the product for commercial use and prohibiting the redistribution to other teachers, indicating that the sale is for a single classroom. Here is the wording I use, which you are welcome to use yourself or adjust to meet your needs: 

"©[Year] Amber Hock, M.Ed., Apples to Applique. All rights reserved. Purchase of this unit entitles the purchaser to reproduce the pages in limited quantity for one classroom use only. Resource may not be uploaded to the internet. Duplication for an entire school, district, or commercial use is prohibited without written permission from the publisher."

Creating your credits and terms of use is one of the less-fun aspects of creating, but is so important! The good news is that, once you have created it, you can easily copy and adapt it for future products.

I hope you're getting more comfortable with the idea of creating and listing your products! Stay tuned for Part 7, where we'll discuss how to flatten and secure your products to prevent elements from being lifted and stolen.

Until then, keep working on bringing your ideas to life, and keep teaching with heart and passion!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Selling on TPT 101: Copyright and Trademark

Selling on TPT 101: Copyright and Trademark | Apples to Applique
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not official legal advice. For specific questions, contact a lawyer who specializes in copyright law.

Welcome to TPT 101: Part 5! (Click on these links to find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4!

When I have talked to other teachers about the possibility of selling on Teachers Pay Teachers, many of them are hesitant because they are afraid of unintentionally breaking copyright law. I understand that fear; it is a legitimate concern, and something to learn about before you dive into creating resources. I am by no means an expert on all things copyright or trademark, and this is NOT legal advice, but I wanted to pass along some things that I have learned over the last 6 years of creating.

1. Many things are copyrighted or trademarked that you would not assume, and you cannot use these terms/characters/images without express permission from the owner. That means you cannot use them at all. You cannot refer to them in your title, description, or product. This includes specific curriculum!

2. Websites like Trademarkia are your friend. If you are unsure about a brand or term, type it into their search bar and see if there is a live trademark on it.

3. Don't trust what you see other TPT sellers doing. You will find thousands of copyright violations on Teachers Pay Teachers. Sadly, TPT does not vet their products and will only take products down if they receive a cease and desist letter. I believe this takes away from the legitimacy of the site as a whole, but they claim they cannot take on this responsibility. It is up to us as sellers to ensure the quality of the site by taking extra care that our resources do not violate copyright and trademark; this helps all of us by enabling buyers to trust that our resources are ethical and legitimate.

Again, just because you see something on TPT does not mean it is not a violation of copyright. Some sellers have gone through the proper channels to receive permission, others are simply innocently unaware, and, disappointingly, some have decided it is worth the risk. I am here to tell you it is not; some companies do frequently go through the site and issue cease and desist letters and TPT can offer refunds on all of those sales, which come out of your earnings. The company can also take legal and financial action against you, so just don't go there. It isn't worth it!

4. Always do your own research and do not blindly trust secondhand research from others, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid common characters and brand names. Use generic terms in place of brand names. Just avoid referring to children's characters all together; these companies simply do not grant permission for their use by entrepreneurs, so don't even waste your time trying. 

I actually have a personal anecdote on this one that also serves as a warning: when I was first starting on TPT, I purchased some clip art featuring some popular children's book characters which stated it was for commercial use. I thought I was in the clear, but I was not. The clip artist had merely saved images from an internet search, packaged them together, and resold them. Of course the seller didn't care if they were used for commercial purposes; they didn't have the rights to them in the first place! Thankfully I realized the error before that particular company did a sweep of TPT (which they do frequently) and I deleted the products. But had I done more research on copyright and trademark, I would have avoided the situation in the first place.

5. Try not to be discouraged by this post! I do not want to scare you away from creating products! Just make sure your work is your original creation and that any clip art you purchase is the original work of the seller. Most clip artists do only sell their own work, and as long as they are not a replication of a familiar character, and they state that you are allowed to use their work commercially, you should be good to go!

Stay tuned for Part 6, in which we will discuss writing your own terms of use and properly crediting artists whose work you've used in your products.

Until then, keep teaching (and creating!) with heart and passion!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Selling on TPT 101: Product Creation - Tips and Tricks for Making Resources


Selling on TPT 101: Product Creation | Apples to Applique

Hello, and welcome to TPT 101, Part 4! (Click on these links to find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).

Let's talk about the most fun part of selling on Teachers Pay Teachers: Product creation!

Creating products at first can seem overwhelming. I promise it gets easier as you go along, and today I want to share with you some tricks I've learned that have made creation faster and easier, as well as more professional.

Personally, I love PowerPoint for creating products, so most of these tips will be specific to PowerPoint, but many can also be used for your program of choice.

First, if you are making printables, set your slide size to 8.5" x 11" (or A4 if you are not in the United States). This will ensure smooth printing for your buyers. I also, personally, like to start with a blank background rather than one of the PowerPoint templates.

Next, just start putting in your text and graphics! Play around with inserting images and text; PowerPoint makes it very easy to resize and rearrange items. It takes time to improve your skills in design, so just take some time to play around with different fonts, color palettes, layouts, etc. Do keep in mind, though, that for printable products, it is best to offer them in black and white, when possible. Many teachers do not have access to colored printers, or that access is limited. Many sellers choose to put both a colored and a black-and-white version in the file so teachers can choose what meets their needs.

Here are some of my favorite PowerPoint shortcuts that make the creation process easier:

To move an image/ text in front of or behind another object, right-click on it and select "send forward" or "send backward".

You can select an object and have it align exactly with the edge of your page or of another object by using the align tool. If only one item is selected, it will align with the page edge. If two or more items are selected, it will move one to match the location of the other. For example, if you click "align top", it will automatically move the lowest object to be in line with the top object.

You can select multiple items at a time using the control key (PC) or the command key (Mac) and selecting them. When they are all selected, you can click on the shape or picture format option at the top to do some handy things. You can group them together so they move as one object. You can resize them together so the proportion remains the same. You can use the align tool to line them all up together or space them out evenly.

Another great trick for lining up text or images is by using tables. You can insert tables with whatever number of cells, rows, or columns you wish. When you click "insert table", you select the number of rows and columns. I believe it caps out in the creation pane at 10 by 8, but after you insert the table, if you need more, you can simply right-click on a cell and choose to add another row or column. Using a table is a fast and easy way to put cutting borders on flash cards, or to ensure text is spaced exactly right. You can leave the borders black or make them invisible, depending on whether or not you want them to show in the final product.

You can easily save slides or pages as an image to be used on covers or thumbnails, or for marketing purposes. Simply click "save as" and then select "jpg" from the drop-down menu under the file type.

Sometimes, you might want to save a picture of a group of images or an element on your page, but not the entire page, for many different reasons, really. Perhaps to use it on a thumbnail or because you need to crop the picture but had it placed at an angle on the page, or for any other number of reasons. To do this, click on any images/text boxes, etc. that are part of what you want to save, right-click, and select "save as picture". It will export just those pieces to a png file which can then be used as needed.

Copy and paste is your friend. You can duplicate entire slides or just parts of them and then change them as needed. This is super helpful when you want to keep the same background, headings, and borders on multiple pages but change some of the other elements. You can copy and paste images to make them all a uniform size. One of my favorite features about copying and pasting in PowerPoint is that if you copy an element on one page--say, for example, you decided to add a header after you've already made several pages--when you paste the element on a different page, it aligns it in the same place. This is a huge time saver for things like going back and adding a copyright to each page.

To easily offer a color and black-and-white version of your product, use the copy and paste tools. Create one version of your page (I like to start with the colored version) and then duplicate the page. Right-click on the clip art and select "change picture". Then you can easily switch out the colored clip art for the black-and-white version of the clip art and it will be the correct size and in the right place.

Whew, that was a lot of information thrown at you all at once! Experience is the best teacher, so open up PowerPoint (or your preferred program) and play around with it. You'll be amazed at the things you can do quickly and easily once you start using all of the tricks available to you.

Until next time, keep teaching (and creating) with heart and passion!


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Selling on TPT 101: Generating Ideas and Making Unique Products

Selling on TPT 101: Generating Ideas and Making Unique Products | Apples to Applique
Hi, friends! Welcome to Part 3 of Selling on TPT 101. If you missed them or need a refresher, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

We've covered setting up your shop and making sure before you start creating that you have commercial rights to elements you are using. Today, we're going to talk about coming up with ideas and creating unique content.

Sometimes the hardest part is generating ideas; there are millions of resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, and it can feel like everything has already been made. However, try not to let that discourage you! There is still a place for your resources, especially with your unique spin. No one has your exact perspective.

In searching for ideas, make sure to take care with where your inspiration comes from. It can be tempting to make a version of some cool thing you found on Pinterest/TPT/your favorite teaching blog, but directly copying someone's work is a definite no-no. Using others' ideas as inspiration is a little more of a gray area. If you take an idea and change it significantly to make it a unique product with your own touches, you are probably in the clear. If you're just remaking it and switching out a few elements here and there, it may be technically legal, but it's not ethical.

Personally, I try to avoid searching on TPT for other products when I have an idea, because I don't want to subconsciously get ideas and copy someone else. However, it happens frequently that sellers inadvertently make a product that is similar to someone else's; after all, teachers have similar needs and are going to think of similar ideas. If you create something and then find something similar on TPT, don't panic. You will see there are thousands of similar products on TPT; most of these people have not copied one another, but are just using tried-and-true activities and formulas. Not searching beforehand increases the likelihood that your product will not look like a carbon copy of others out there.

Speaking of those thousands of similar products, here's my other piece of advice when it comes to making unique products: Don't waste your time making products for areas that are super-saturated. I don't mean a certain niche, I'm talking about specific product types. For example, there are thousands  of alphabet clip cards out there, both on TPT and on blogs. Scroll through Pinterest and you can find hundreds of them for free. There's little point in taking the time to create something that your buyers can find in hundreds of other places for free; your time is better spent creating something new.

The best inspiration comes from things you find yourself wanting in the classroom. You may consider keeping a little list of ideas as these things come along. Think of what would make your life easier as a teacher, and of novel approaches to reach your students in a different way. That is what other teachers are searching for, too. 
Stay tuned for Part 4, where we'll start talking product creation!
Until then, keep teaching with heart and passion!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Selling on TPT 101: The Basics

Selling on TPT 101: The Basics | Apples to Applique 
Welcome to Part 2 of TPT 101! If you missed Part 1, you can find it here! 
Today, we'll be covering the boring nitty-gritty stuff regarding fonts, clip art, and commercial use. This is the part that gets really overwhelming and confusing for people, but it is super important.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. For questions, please contact an attorney who specializes in copyright.

To put things simply: You cannot just use any font, clip art, or photo for anything you want. If you are listing products in your TPT store, you must have a commercial use license for any elements you used. Yes, even if you are listing a product for free.

Just because a font is installed on your computer doesn't mean you can use it commercially!
You can find many free commercial-use fonts on sights such as 1001 Fonts, Font Squirrel, and others. Note: Not all fonts on these types of sites are for commercial-use; make sure to check the terms of use for each one. 
You can also find many reasonably-priced fonts on Teachers Pay Teachers. Some sellers allow you to download the font for free for personal use so you can test it out, and then require a small, one-time fee to use it commercially.

Clip Art
Just like with fonts, you must have the rights to use any clip art commercially. Do not just do a Google search and take images from there! 
I get most of my clip art from TPT because those sellers understand the platform and how the images will be used. They also have the types of images teachers need for common lessons, topics, and themes.
Clip art can be quite the investment! I recommend starting with what you can find for free. There is a decent selection of clip art available on Teachers Pay Teachers that is free for commercial use.

Photos follow the same guidelines as clip art, but can get very expensive through the main stock photo sites. You can find images that are in the public domain and are free for commercial use; sites like Pixabay also have free photographs that can be used in your products.
Take caution of any photos showing people! The company from which you are purchasing should have signed model releases on file. (As a side note in this same vein, do NOT use photos of students in any  of your products or marketing!)
While the odds may be small that you are ever found out or reported if you use fonts or clip art for which you do not have commercial rights, it is simply not worth the gamble. First and foremost, there's the importance of building a business on integrity. I want to set a good example for my children and students and put out good into the world by doing the right thing. Secondly, if you are found to be violating trademark or copyright, TPT issues a strike against your store and you can face financial ramifications. So take care to do things the right way and it will pay off in the end.

We will end there for today; if you are excited to get started, you may want to start searching around for fun fonts and graphics that can be used in your future resources. Practice looking for terms of use (often shortened TOU) to see what the artist allows.

Look for Part 3 coming soon!
Keep teaching (and creating!) with heart and passion!