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Lessons from Teachstone's Free Resources

06 Jun 2017 by Meghan Cornwell

If you’re reading this blog post, then there’s now a 100% chance that you’ve engaged with Teachstone’s free resources. After all—our blog is just one type of our free resources. You might have also attended a webinar, downloaded an e-book, or even scanned through our research papers. 

As the marketing specialist, one of my roles at Teachstone is to oversee the production of our great online resources. I hope you enjoy consuming them as much as I love helping create them. But, I want you to know that you, too, can—and should—create content for your organization. That’s why my colleague, Jessica Swope, and I presented “Lessons from Teachstone’s Free Resources” at InterAct and why I’m sharing a post here. 

Why Your Program Should Offer Free Resources

So, why would you want to spend your valuable resources writing blog posts, creating infographics, or hosting webinars?

First, it establishes your program as an expert in your area and field. Would you rather pay for services from a company with little information, or from one that has written multiple e-books on the services you need? Your potential customers feel the same way.

Offering loads of informative content also increases the chance that someone will find your program by searching online. For example, if you’re a child care provider in Smalltown, USA, and you want to advertise to local parents, you could create an e-book called, “Picking the Best Child Care Provider in Smalltown, USA.” When they search that phrase, they are more likely to click to your website because you have an enticing guide that answers their exact question.

Finally, your content can bring people together. Once you write a blog post, you’ve started a dialogue on a topic that’s relevant to your audience. They’ll digest your content and maybe write a comment (on your blog or on social media), that gives you instant feedback. Don’t forget to respond to their comments to keep the conversation going! Continuing this back and forth dialogue helps you build a community of folks who are all interested in what you do and in your resources.

You’re probably thinking, “That’s great, but I don’t have the time. I don’t have the expertise. And I certainly don’t have the budget for this.” We used to think the same thing. But we were wrong. Adding a free resources to your website doesn’t have to take a ton of time or money. Along our journey, we discovered several methods for creating content that helped us save time and money.

The 3 Step Guide to Create Engaging Resources

Download our Free Resource Sheet to get a full list of the resources that we use at Teachstone that save us time and money. Bonus! You can also see an example content schedule that will help you stick with deadlines and continue to prioritize creating resources in your organization.

1. Know Your Audience

Who do you want to read and download your resources? Maybe you want to create a blog for teachers or maybe you want to create an internal library for the teachers in your organization. Both are great ideas, but always keep your audience in mind when creating content. 

Maybe you only want to reach one audience, or maybe you have a couple different kinds of readers. For us, we create different kinds of content that are aimed school administrators, coaches, and teachers. Try to avoid targeting more than three types of readers.

2. Find Expertise within Your Organization

Now that you’ve decide who you’re trying to reach, but before you can host your first webinar, you’ll need to figure out what you want to talk about. That might seem obvious, but many people get stuck at this step. Good news—you (and your staff) are experts in more than you think.

Do you have a lead teacher who is really good at asking children open-ended questions? Invite her to write a blog listing her favorite questions that she uses in the classroom. Share her post in a newsletter to parents so they can use her awesome strategies.

Are you a school administrator that finds yourself answering the same question a hundred times a day from teachers? You’re already the expert, so record a video that addresses the question in a fun way.

While some people might enjoy writing, others might prefer getting up in front of a camera, and others still might be more interested in creating an infographic. Allow your in-house experts flexibility to show off their knowledge. Consider rotating blog authors and resource types to add variety to your library.

3. Save Time and Money with these Resources

You’re strapped for time at work with parent-teacher conferences, paperwork, conducting observations, recertification, and more. On top of that, your budget is probably tight, too. We get it. That’s why we use these time-saving resources:

Adobe Spark - Create videos in minutes by choosing a video template, entering your text, selecting music, and then hitting publish. From there, you can easily share your new video to all of your social media accounts.

Canva - Canva is the best free design software out there. You can pick a template (from Facebook cover images to greeting cards to flyers), edit text, and BOOM - you’re done.

Infogr.am - Looking to create a Pinterest-worthy infographic with the latest stats from your program? All you have to do is import your data and add their icons and you’ll have a infographic before you know it.

Download our resource sheet above to find more!

Finally, my biggest advice to any program that is considering offering free resources—stick with it. Hosting a single webinar or writing a single blog post is a good start. But, to see a real impact, you have to continue creating content. Start small - host one webinar a quarter or aim to post on your blog twice a month.

What are you waiting for? I’d love to hear how you’ve incorporated e-books, blogs, webinars, Facebook Lives, infographics, etc. into your program. Have an especially useful resource that you think others might find useful? Share them with us by becoming a guest blogger.

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