What’s your background, and how did you get started in education?
When I was in high school, band directors asked me if I would consider giving French horn lessons to some of their students. I decided to try it and quickly found out I loved teaching. Being a part of the process of helping the student grow and improve enriches me. Then I went on to college to get a degree in teaching Music Ed, and later on, I got my elementary education certification.
What’s your favorite memory from your time as an educator?
It’s difficult to choose just one favorite, but I did have a student who had emotional difficulties (crying when frustrated), and he worked with me when he could handle it. The rest of the time he was pulled out to complete work in a quiet, distraction-free setting. He had a difficult time fitting in with his peers and struggled to feel accepted by them. One time, we played a review game. When a student answered the question correctly, they had the chance to try to make a basket by tossing a ball into a container. This boy, who had such a difficult time fitting in with his peers, got the basket, and his whole class cheered for him. He seemed to have an easier time fitting in with his classmates and social group afterward. Overall, he seemed happier and less reactive to frustrations after he scored the basket. I was happy for him!
How did you first hear about Boom Cards?
I had some experience creating printable worksheets for my store. I knew there was a growing trend for digital educational products and wanted to find something digital I could try. Once I looked into trying it, I loved the idea and set about learning how to make decks that were digital-only. There has been a learning curve, but the Boom Learning platform has excellent videos demonstrating how to use the program. I’ve also watched YouTube videos by other Boom Card creators to learn how to make digital products that let kids have fun while learning. Kids these days are growing up in a computer age, so it makes sense they need to learn through the use of computers.
Before you started using Boom Cards, did you have a preconceived idea of what “online learning” meant?
I knew that teachers were teaching online through the pandemic, but I didn’t really understand what programs they were using. At the time I was teaching ESL online. The program I used had its own app and the lessons were all created for me in advance. I just had to guide the students through them.
How did Boom Learning change the way you were thinking about technology in the classroom?
I used to think of technology separately from the other things the kids were doing. Now that I understand that, with Boom Learning, learning and the use of technology is combined. There are so many ways technology can enhance the learning experience of all students, but—in particular—some students do better using computers than learning in the traditional ways with paper and pencil.
When did you realize that you might be really good at designing a curriculum with Boom Cards?
I made a few Boom Card decks and found out I loved them. My Boom Card decks evolved through my process of learning how to use them. I know how to do more things now than when I began. For example, I can add sound effects now, which helps the younger learners use more of their senses. I went back and added some sound effects to make some of my previous Boom Card decks more interesting and engaging.
Who is your audience when you design new decks?
I’m focusing on the primary grades. Most of my 13 years of full-time teaching were with younger kids. For example, I taught first grade for five years.
Can you describe the sequence of events that led to you becoming a successful publisher?
First, I was a teacher in the classroom. I started using the Boom Store to buy resources for my own students. Then I began my own store on Boom. I had to choose a unique name that wasn’t already taken. I came up with Ready Set Think for my store name.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get noticed as a publisher on Boom Learning?
Try it out first. You can preview any Boom Card deck that’s in the store, and it’s free. Trying out the free previews gives you a good idea of what using Boom Cards is like. Watch YouTube videos by Boom Learning and by others. Choose a grade level you want to focus on. This is your target audience.
Set a reasonable goal that works for you and your specific schedule. Create Boom Card decks and be consistent with creating and adding decks. For example, you could set a goal of creating three Boom Card decks per week. Or, if you have more time, you could create one every day. Do what works for you, and if you are putting in a consistent effort over a period of time, you will see results.
What was the biggest surprise you’ve had while making and selling Boom Cards?
It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. There were things to learn since it was brand new to me, but I was able to figure them out.
How has the pandemic changed the way you look at education technology?
Since I was not teaching full-time in the classroom during the pandemic, I was not changed in the same way as others. However, I hope my Boom Card decks help those primary teachers who have had to teach in the classroom during the pandemic and beyond.
What are some opportunities you see for new publishers that are just getting started?
Making a free deck is a good idea to help people find you and discover your brand. That being said, don’t give away everything for free. Charge something for your time and effort, but also keep your prices reasonable so people will want to look at your decks and be interested in what you are doing.
Think of yourself when building your brand. If you saw two brands at the store, which one would you pick? People like familiar brands that they already know, like, and trust. People also like a bargains or good deals. Think about this when pricing your Boom Card decks. Eventually, after you provide consistent products, then you can charge a bit more. Remember that there is a huge audience of people looking for digital products. These are teachers, but also parents who home school, and even grandparents who want to give their grandchildren something educational to do. Taking some time to think of a clever store name and creating a logo is well worth the effort. You can go to a website like Fiverr and get a logo made for not too much money if you don’t know how. This can help you get started.
Can you really make money by selling Boom Cards?
What you get out is related to what you put in. If you can put in consistent time and effort, you can earn some income. If you show up and do the work, you can get paid. Your income can improve gradually over time. It’s really up to you and what goals you want to achieve. Don’t quit your other job right away. Let this be a side hustle to begin with. Consider starting a blog to let people get to know more about the person behind the brand. You can create “know, like, and trust” (KLT factor) through blogging or by creating a YouTube channel, as well.
Have you always considered yourself to be an entrepreneur?
No, I have not always been an entrepreneur. I worked full-time in the classroom as a public school teacher for 13 years.
Now, I love that I can work from home online and wear my pajamas if I want to. There is no commute. I like helping busy teachers by creating digital resources with my Boom Card decks. Currently, I’m also helping my mom because my dad passed away last year. Working at home online gives me the ability to help my mom so she’s not by all by herself. I also have an old dog who needs me more at this time of her life. Working at home lets me be there for my senior dog. Working online is not for everyone, but for some people, it’s the best job. It’s the best job for me at this point in my life, and I’m thankful that Boom Learning allows me to do it.
Any last words of wisdom?
As with any new skill, creating Boom Learning decks takes more time at first—but after you have some practice, it gets easier.
Check out some of Nina’s recent decks in the Boom Store.