Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dealing With Negative Feedback on Ebay

Ebay’s feedback system is the backbone of sellers’ success. All the top sellers have large quantities of positive feedback. On the flipside, negative feedback can hurt sales and prevent businesses from taking off. The feedback system was intended to be a collection of impartial reviews of the performance of buyers and sellers. If a buyer pays quickly, their seller will leave positive feedback. If a seller ships quickly, their buyer will leave positive feedback. This way, future buyers and sellers can get the scoop on who to buy from and who to avoid, from people who have been there.

Negative feedback has an enormous impact on sellers in particular. If your feedback score falls below the nineties, or even into the lower ninetieth percentile, buyers might take their business elsewhere. But what if you feel like the negative feedback was unjustified? Maybe the buyer was just unpleasant to work with, or had unrealistic demands. As a seller, do you have any recourse?

You do, but it’s not easy. The best strategy is to avoid negative feedback in the first place. But if that’s not possible, turn to a mediation service like Square Trade. With a mediation service, you’re able to file a case regarding your negative feedback. Explain why you think the charge is unjustified. The other party will have two weeks to respond. Square Trade says that most cases are resolved for free without having to turn to a mediator. But if a mediator’s services are used, case resolution will cost between twenty and thirty dollars. There are certainly times when amicable resolution is worth the price. As a seller, it’s up to you to decide when to pay up, and when to leave things as they are.

Never make the mistake of arguing with or harassing customers who leave you negative feedback, deserved or not. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a seller and buyer fighting back and forth over feedback comments. It’s understandable that you might be angry or emotional when hit with negative feedback, especially if you don’t feel that you did anything wrong. But for the sake of your professional reputation, learn to overcome those emotions before responding. Employ the 24 Hour Rule; that is, don’t make a reply until you’ve had a day to cool down.

When you do respond to unfair negative feedback, stick to the facts. If the buyer claims that the item was not as described, point out that every defect was carefully documented in the item’s description. (It was, wasn’t it?) If they complain about slow shipping, post the shipping dates as well as the shipping policy that they agreed to when they purchased the item. Never use personal attacks, only facts.

If you did make a mistake that earned you negative feedback, respond with courtesy. Apologize for the honest mistake you made, and mention that you were not given a chance to rectify the situation before feedback was left. This type of follow-up can make buyers more sympathetic to your situation.

There are right ways and wrong ways to deal with negative feedback on Ebay. As long as you respond with class and professionalism, you can minimize the damage to your reputation.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Selling General Goods on EBay

General goods are products that we use every day. Selling these items on Ebay might not sound as exciting as selling collectibles or antiques, but it is possible to make a good, constant income from selling general goods. Tools, bulk consumables, and hobby supplies are examples of items which are always “in season”. Someone will need them year-round. This makes general goods a steady market for Ebay sellers.

This is not to say that the market for such items never fluctuates; it does. But the rises and falls happen over much longer periods of time and tend to be less dramatic. One pitfall for sellers of general goods is market saturation. If someone is browsing Ebay and notices that bulk yarn is fetching a decent price, they will be tempted to list yarn of their own. Others will follow suit, and soon the bottom will fall out of the yarn market. This will happen over time rather than overnight. Still, it can be frustration to lose revenue due to market saturation. If you decide to sell general goods on Ebay, do frequent searches for items similar to those you’re selling. If you see too many, start listing different goods until some of the competition is gone. You don’t want to have to sell off your inventory at a loss.

One good way to undercut competitors’ prices is selling used or refurbished items. You can often get these products for low prices, then sell them for a profit on Ebay. As long as the items are in top condition, buyers will appreciate the lower listing price and buy the items from you rather than a higher-priced listing. Quality and honesty are key when dealing with used items. List all flaws in the item’s description, and document spots, tears, or scratches with photos. The last thing you want to is send a worn item to a buyer who was expecting something pristine and perfect. Be forthcoming about item quality, or risk negative feedback and a bad reputation.

Of all the types of items that can be sold on Ebay, general goods and consumables behave the most like traditional business goods. This market allows sellers to put old fashioned virtues to work. Effort, frugality, and excellent customer service will have a huge impact on a merchant’s success. The huge sales are more elusive in this market, but general goods and consumables make for a slow and steady income that is quite dependable.

Be realistic with your goals. There are true stories about sellers who made instant fortunes on Ebay. But for every overnight success, there are thousands who have to use hard work and common sense to make ends meet. Aim for a solid supplemental income, then slowly expand your business until it can be your sole endeavor. And diversify, diversify, diversify! You don’t want to depend on one item, or even a few items, to generate your income. The market can and will change, and not always in your favor. Instead, offer many different types of general goods so that one slow market won’t affect your overall income.

General goods and consumables will always have a place on Ebay. Set up an Ebay store or make frequent auction listings to showcase the diversity of your inventory. Once you’ve built up a reputation for having what everyone needs, when they need it, at a fair price, you will have a bright future as a seller of general goods.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Register a Domain to Promote Your Ebay Auctions

Branding and name recognition are sought after by merchants and marketers both online and off. Some names have gotten so big that they’re now used as verbs, such as ‘Google’, ‘Photoshop’ and, yes, ‘Ebay’. On a smaller scale, you can get your own name recognition by registering a custom domain name and using it to promote your Ebay stores and auctions.

Why would you pay for a domain name when you could just use your Ebay storefront URL to draw customers? Two reasons: marketability and customer convenience. It’s much easier to market a custom domain name than it is to market a long URL filled with random numbers, letters, and other characters. Likewise, it’s easy for customers to remember a custom domain name. Marketing is all about getting people’s attention and keeping it long enough to cinch a sale. Most domain names can be reserved for under ten dollars a year. With the potential payoff that name recognition brings with it, those ten dollars are definitely a worthy investment.

There are some rules to remember before you reserve a domain name for your Ebay store. First, never reserve a domain name that actually includes the word ‘Ebay’. Name recognition is a hot commodity, and Ebay will not be happy if you try to capitalize on their trademark. There’s a secondary issue as well. The Internet is a very fluid place. Ten years ago, we didn’t have YouTube, MySpace, or many other modern day giants. Ten year down the road, who’s to say that Ebay will be the auction site of choice? It would be a shame to spend several years cultivating your name recognition, only to have another auction site spring up overnight and bump Ebay out of top position.

What you do with your registered domain is entirely up to you. Some Ebayers simply have the new URL forward to their Ebay store. Others build an entire web site around their auction listings and seller bio. With widgets, feeds, and other little extras, it’s possible to have a very informative web site that still promotes your auctions and storefront.

The Ebay pros do caution against using affiliate links on your web site to promote your own auctions. This is against Ebay’s terms of use, and can get your account suspended. You can, however, use your web site to promote other goods that you sell elsewhere. If you have an offline store, post contact information so that local buyers can drop in and check out your goods. You can also sell merchandise directly through your web site. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination – and, of course, by Ebay’s rules!

If you’re having trouble thinking of a snazzy name for your new domain, try using your Ebay account name. If that name is taken, try following it with ‘auctions’ or ‘auctionsite’. Many domain registration services make suggestions for alternate domain names. Remember to make the name easy to spell and remember, and look at it with a critical eye to make sure the words don’t inadvertently combine to spell something embarrassing or offensive.

Ebay stores and auctions offer modern solutions for sellers. But to take full advantage of the possibilities, serious sellers should never underestimate the power of branding. Get an inexpensive custom domain name that will stick in buyers’ minds, and watch those bids roll in.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sell What You Love on EBay

EBay is a non traditional way to make money, but one some of the old rules still apply. In particular: do what you love, and your job will be a positive, rewarding experience. Work is so much easier when you enjoy what you're doing. For that reason, it's important for EBay sellers to list items that they actually enjoy selling.

How do you know what you'd like to sell before you start listing merchandise? Start with your hobbies, things you enjoy doing offline. Then look at all the items associated with that hobby. If you are passionate about scrapbooking, you could sell scrapbooking supplies, specialty papers, stickers, punches, and other materials. If you love surfing, you could sell surf boards and equipment. But don't stop there; list related products on your EBay auctions, such as beach wear. Beach goers need flip-flops, sunscreen, swim suits and cover-ups. Try to sell as many related items as you can to outfit customers for a trip to the beach. Be a one-stop shop. If you open an EBay store, it's even simpler to put up an entire inventory of merchandise related to surfing - or any other hobby or passion.

Before you start your first EBay auction, explore the Internet to see which items are hot sellers. Using other auction and merchant sites, look for items within your niche market. Does one jump out at you because it has more demand than supply? If so, you should try selling that item yourself.

Use your connections to your advantage. If you have access to a large supply of items that your competitors aren't listing, put those items up for sale. Buy wholesale whenever you can, especially if you're into arts and crafts. Most materials can be purchased in bulk and listed on EBay for a nice profit. Candle makers can sell wax and wicks, and jewelry makes can sell bands, beads, and all sorts of baubles. Remember that finished products sell best around the holidays, but component parts can also bring in a lot of profit, especially if they’re rare or hard to find.

Figuring out what to sell on EBay is easy once you figure out what you love. But remember other family members' hobbies, too. If your little girl is into ballet, you might try listing ballerina gear and related toys and products. If your husband really loves to fish, try your hand at selling fishing equipment and novelties on EBay. Parents have an advantage here, because they can use their children’s sports and activities to come with all kinds of exciting ideas. Look to other relatives for inspiration, too. If your mother collects figurines or your father is a wood worker, you have probably watched and listened as they went about their tasks. This gives you a perfect inroad to start selling those craft-related items on EBay.

I made a lot of money from 1999-2001 selling Pokemon merchandise when my son was consumed by collecting the cards. If you can spot a trend in children's toys or video games, this is an area people are willing to spend more, especially at the holidays. I actually felt compelled to return money to a customer who clearly thought she was buying a rare item and just didn't know what she was doing. I couldn't justify charging her quadruple what the card was worth just because she was ignorant and really wanted something special for her child for Christmas.

We won't debate for now whether the cards were ever actually "worth" anything. But at that time they were in great demand and they flew off the shelves at almost any price.

When you do something you love, it makes work enjoyable. The same goes for EBay: when you sell what you love, listing merchandise seems less like work and more like a hobby unto itself. The best part is that this hobby can be both fun and profitable. Find a niche market and sell products you enjoy selling. Buyers will appreciate your enthusiasm and your inventory. Once you become known as the place to go for certain items, you’ll be all set for a great selling experience on EBay.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Many Benefits of eBay Stores

Ebay can be a fast and fun place to sell your merchandise. Everyone dreams of buying an item for pennies at a rummage sale, only to find out that it was a rare antique worth thousands on Ebay. Stories like that do happen on occasion, but the majority of Ebay profits come from good old-fashioned effort.

Many sellers list a vast collection of items in search of that single smoking hot sale that will make them rich. Unfortunately, it might take hundreds or even thousands of listings to turn up such a sale, and sellers have to pay a fee every time they list an item. Ebay listings only last for seven days. If items don’t sell by the end of those seven days, the seller must pay to list them again. This can get expensive if the seller has hundreds of items to list every week. Some sellers get discouraged when they have to pay repeat listing fees.

Fortunately for sellers with large inventories, Ebay offers stores that allow items to be listed permanently. Ebay stores are virtual storefronts where merchandise can be displayed and sold. Ebay stores are similar to regular auction listings, in that sellers can add photos and descriptive text to give buyers a good idea of what they’re purchasing. But if some Ebay store items take a while to sell, the seller isn’t required to pay for additional listings. Once listed in an Ebay store, the items stay put until they are removed by the seller.

Ebay stores offer convenience to buyers and sellers alike. They can be linked to directly, and they do not expire. For a small monthly fee, Ebay sellers get an e-store that they can customize, link to, and even temporarily take offline if they go on vacation or become otherwise indisposed. Since Ebay stores have static URLs, sellers can even register their own domain names and set them up to forward readers to the store itself. Convenience for the buyer leads to profits for the seller. Buyers will appreciate a convenient custom URL.

Niche Ebay stores are especially appealing. If you have lots of listings that fall under a common category, you should definitely think about setting up an Ebay store. Some stores are devoted to electronics or maternity clothes, while others are devoted to rare vintage items. Whatever your passion, you can build an Ebay store around it.

Another benefit of having an Ebay store is the increased exposure your merchandise receives. Ebay searches now turn up auction listings as well as store items. That means more potential buyers see your items whenever they do a search. More views translate into more money for you, the seller! And because you have a store with a static URL, you can also promote your business by placing links in your e-mail and message forum signatures. You can link to your store from your personal blog or web site. Submit the store’s URL to search engines and social networking sites. Marketing is the key to making money with your Ebay store.

For detailed store terms and conditions, visit the Ebay site. They have a host of information for prospective sellers, including everything you will need to get your Ebay store off and running. If you’re a high-volume seller or frequently list similar items, this research would be well worth your time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Biggest Drug Problem in Schools is not Street Drugs

Anyone who has an interest in what is going on in the world of children’s health has noticed the explosion of medications and diagnosis of children with ADD, ADHD, Asperger syndrome or Autism. Does is strike you as strange that all of a sudden a huge percentage of otherwise normal and healthy children are being diagnosed with these dire diseases and schools and their associated medical counterparts are prescribing all manner of strange sounding drugs to “fix” these problems?

This is not to say that these conditions do not exist. The rates of new autism cases in New Jersey is astronomical, and they are not a figment of some drug rep's imagination. But I am suggesting that there are many children who do NOT have have these conditions who are nevertheless offered as candidates for medication by some school psychologist.

When we were growing up, just because a child didn’t sit still in class, particularly a boy, the teacher didn’t scream that the child had some disease and demand that he be drugged. But that is exactly what is happening to thousands of children in public schools all over this country. And at some point, it’s up to parents to stand up and say, “STOP. You are not going to keep pumping drugs into our kids just because you can’t control your classroom.”

If you were to make that kind of statement to a school on behalf of your own child, you would face tremendous amount of pressure to have your child tested medically for one of these “behavioral diseases” so the medical community can cooperate with the schools and prescribe Ritalin, Concerta, Paxel or one of the other common behavior control drugs. Schools have a fair amount of leverage over us when it comes to forcing us to drug up our kids. Because these diagnoses are supposedly backed up by medical experts, the schools can maintain that you must comply and get your child on medication or be guilty of child neglect or abuse.

Schools often use the threat of holding a child back, expelling them or putting them in special needs classes, knowing that each holds a terror that works very well at getting parents to play along with their plan. Now this is not to say that there are no children who are not good candidates for such medication. But the use of these drugs is being pushed for such a large percentage of children that its easy to see that what is going on here is nothing short of criminal.

There are plenty of reasons to believe that neither the schools nor the medical “experts” who peddle these drugs are being objective about what your child really needs. One big clue that your child is not a chronic problem is if he or she is perfectly happy and social at home and the problems only occur at the school. We hear many reports of children whose school behavior "problems" normalize when they are homeschooled. So while the problem may not be with a particular school, the fact is that most children thrive in an environment where there are only a few students per teacher.

We teach our kids to say no to drugs. So it’s about time we also taught our schools to say no to the idea of drugging up our kids just so they are more compliant in the classroom. The first thing to do is to take the teeth out of their threats to hold your child back or otherwise punish you or your child. And that can be done by researching your private school options, or homeschooling.

It might sound harsh but unless your child’s pediatrician that you know and trust has independently diagnosed your child with one of these behavioral problems, the minute the school tries to put that label on your child without any other evidence outside the school, it might be time to consider either private school or homeschooling. The last thing you want is to give the public school the leverage to threaten you and get away with it.

And if they begin to lose students because of these threats, maybe they will get the message that parents don’t want their kids pumped full of drugs and that we want our children to learn with all of their mental and emotional faculties fully alive each and every day of their lives.

Other articles in this vein can be seen at Homeschooling Causes Measles! and Watch This Before You Get A Flu Shot.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday - Wanted: Time Traveling Companion

finds this stuff, but you simply must spend a few minutes visiting her at JUST COOL - Adventure in Design for a...well, an adventure in design.

You'll laugh, you'll scratch your head, but you will NOT be bored, even for a moment. For instance:

travel :: a serious traveling companion


I'll go! But is it really safe to travel with this guy?

time travel - it's JUST COOL!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time Your Ebay Listings for Maximum Profit

When it comes to selling goods on Ebay, what you have and how you present it are two vital characteristics of successful auctions. Buyers like to know that they’re getting a good deal, and they like to know details about the merchandise they are paying for. But did you know that the timing of your Ebay auctions can also affect their success? It’s true. Real Ebay pros use timing strategies to maximize their profits, and you can, too.

Some sellers are discouraged when their auctions fail to get bids within the first few days of the listing. This is very common; most bids are placed in an auction’s final hours or even minutes. Buyers who have been watching the auction will try to place the winning bid just before time runs out, to cut down on competition. Since this is the case, Ebay sellers will benefit from making sure their auctions end during peak buying times.

When are Ebay’s peak buying times? According to the pros, daily purchases spike between 8 and 10PM Eastern Standard Time. Weekly sales reach their summit on Sunday evenings. If your auction closes during any of those time periods, your listing is more likely to be seen and bid on. If your auction closes in the wee hours of the morning, it’s unlikely that you will benefit from the last-minute buying scramble.

So how do you time your auctions to end when Ebay has the most visitors? Time your listings carefully. If you put up an item in a three day listing, the auction will end at the exact listing time, three days later. The same goes for other auctions of longer durations. For example, a seven day listing made at 8PM on Sunday evening will end at 8PM the following Sunday evening. It sounds simple, but careful auction timing is an oft-overlooked strategy that can drastically increase your sales on Ebay.

Also, consider the length of your listings. If you list an item for three days, you are shutting out thousands of potential bidders. You want to leave items up for as long as possible. Not only does this give buyers time to find and place bids on your merchandise, it also cuts down on listing fees. Why would you list an item for three days over and over again when you could just list it for seven or ten days from the beginning? Some types of merchandise, such as antiques and collectibles, can take a while to find purchasers. By listing them for three days, you’re losing out on lots of potential visibility. Increase the length of your auctions and increased profits will follow close behind. Items listed for a week or longer have time to attract plenty of auction watchers who could turn into bidders in the auction’s final moments.

Time your auctions for maximum visibility, and your profits will improve. You don’t want to lose out on sales because your auction ended at 3AM when nobody was looking! Close the bidding at a peak time to make the most of your Ebay business.

And for goodness sake, don't end your auction - or post blog articles about eBay selling - on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when millions of people are NOT online.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:8-14)

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Using Ebay to Advertise Offline Stores

Ebay is a fabulous way to sell items, but did you know that it can also be used to advertise and drive sales for your offline business? When you list items on Ebay, you can also include information about other offline businesses. This results in a marketing one-two punch; buyers are drawn to your auction as well as your store information. It’s a legitimate tactic that does not violate Ebay’s terms of use, and savvy sellers are taking advantage of it.

With a bit of research and practice, you can soon come up with auction titles that catch the eyes of potential buyers. When these buyers view your item description, they will also be exposed to any information you list about an offline business. This is particularly useful for sellers of antiques, collectibles, and other items that can take a long time to sell. Smaller items can be listed on Ebay, along with the address and phone number to the seller’s offline store where larger merchandise can be found. If this sounds like an easy and effective marketing tool, that’s because it is.

There are a few tips to remember before you advertise your other businesses on Ebay. First, consider whether this sort of advertising will benefit you. If you sell products within a niche market, such as musical instruments or rare artwork, advertising your shop in your auction listings will probably drive business to your offline store. But if you’re a supplier of general goods that are easily obtained, you might not benefit as much.

Successful merchants who use this marketing strategy always include basic information about their offline stores. You need to list a phone number and physical store address so that buyers can contact you. Put up a schedule of store hours. If your store is in an urban location where parking is a bit tricky, be sure to give a brief description of the parking situation. Will buyers need to pay to park? Will they need to park down the street? Extra information like this will prepare buyers for a trip to your boutique.

Another thing to consider is a map of your store and the surrounding area. Buyers like to know where they are going. If they can visualize your store’s location, they will be more likely to visit. Also, put up a picture of your storefront and interior. This makes your store seem more familiar to buyers and paints an accurate picture of your establishment.

Finally, buyers like to know that you want their business. In your Ebay listing, put in a brief paragraph about how your business prides itself on excellent service. Then invite buyers to call or come by. Even a simple invitation can make the difference between a casual browser and someone who will take the time to come and look at your merchandise.

Many offline shops use Ebay to sell their overstock, but really sharp sellers use Ebay to market their other stores, too. Advertise your business on your Ebay auction listings and you will bring your store’s name to a whole new audience.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Criminal Charges Dropped against German Homeschoolers

HSLDA brings us an update on a criminal case against a German home schooling family. Please continue to keep them in your prayers.

The Brause family of Zittau, Germany, appeared in court recently to defend against criminal charges aimed at punishing them because they homeschool. The family had lost partial custody of their children about a year ago after the German Youth Welfare Office, also known as the Jugendamt, had filed a petition of neglect in family court because the children were homeschooled. According to a report by the International Human Rights Group (IHRG), the criminal charges have now been dropped. German Attorney Johannes Hildebrandt represented the family in the criminal matter and told HSLDA that the family court matter remains. HSLDA requests that you continue to keep this family in your prayers as they seek to regain full custody of their children.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Eye Candy: How to get Your Listings Seen on Ebay

Wait, didn't we do this already? How to get 100,000 people to look at your auction?

No, that article was about having a killer headline so your buyer will want to take a look. This is about having an attractive, informative and accurate ad that will set you apart from your competitors.

It’s true that Ebay is an enormous virtual marketplace with millions of vendors all over the world. With that kind of competition, it’s vitally important to go above and beyond the competition to get buyers to notice your listings. Luckily, the steps you should take, though critical, are few in number. Anyone can implement these tips to draw more eyes to their Ebay auctions.

  1. Guard Your Feedback
  2. Organize Your Listing
  3. Provide Clear Descriptions and Photographs
  4. No Typos
  5. Multiple Payment Options

First, think like a buyer. Would you want to buy merchandise sight unseen, or would you prefer auctions with pictures? Do rushed or incomplete descriptions put you off? What if you saw a listing from a seller with several negative feedback comments stating that the merchandise was shipped late, or wasn’t as described? Chances are you wouldn’t want to buy from such a seller. Neither will buyers feel comfortable buying from you if these things are true of your listings and reputation.

So, to get Ebay shoppers to click on your auctions, always include clear photos of the item. Be sure to photograph any damaged spots as well. Use Ebay’s inexpensive photo hosting service, and always upload your pictures as 400 by 300 pixel jpegs of high quality. Ebay will resize the photographs to those dimensions anyway; if you create the pictures at that size, you will lose minimal detail after uploading.

Listings should be easy to read. Very disorganized listings can be distracting, and some buyers won’t want to spend time trying to decipher them when there are so many other, more user-friendly listings available. To keep buyers reading, use a template or HTML to make the item description easier on the eyes. You don’t need a lot of fancy code to make your item description clean and readable. Ebay offers an inexpensive listing designer that you can use if you’re not comfortable writing your own HTML tags.

While you’re evaluating the layout of your item description, also make sure that your listing isn’t filled with typos. If it’s hard to read, buyers will go elsewhere. Another thing to watch out for is the length of your item description. Buyers like to know details. If your listing has one short paragraph passing for an item description, you probably haven’t given them all the details they want. Go back and share more information about the item. If the product is damaged in some way, in addition to documenting the damage with a picture, you should also describe it in the text of your listing.

Offer a variety of payment options, including PayPal. Buyers will frequently skip auctions that require a check or money order as payment. PayPal allows buyers to use their PayPal account, bank account, or credit card to make a purchase. Most Ebay auctions offer Paypal, so yours should, too.

On Ebay, sellers have to compete against many other sellers hawking the same wares. If one seller has well-organized information and a good photograph of their item, they will draw the most views and bids. Don’t run buyers off with a hard-to-read listing. Employ these simple tips instead to make sure your auction gets seen on Ebay.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Experience True Love and High Adventure for under $10!

How often do you get to have fun playing a video game with your child that isn't so boring that you want to jump out the window before it is over? What if you could also share one of your favorite movies with your young child in a way that they could actually understand and that would enhance your experience of the film together?

For under $10?

This review is kind of a departure for this blog. It is about something new and something old at the same time. When my kids were younger, there were not too many movies that we allowed them to watch. One of those movies was Rob Reiner's 1987 classic, The Princess Bride, from the book by S. Morgenstern - I mean, by William Goldman.

Fast forward twenty years, and you have The Princess Bride Game - a romp for kids about age 6-12, and really anyone at all who loves the movie. The game features some voices from the original cast, including Wally Shawn as Vizzini, Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, and Robin Wright Penn as Buttercup. In the same way that Sesame Street and Bill Nye the Science Guy were able to keep parents' attention with allusions to things they were familiar with that were over the kids' heads, The Princess Bride game succeeds in engaging the parent as well as the child with the many references and memories that come from the beloved film.

"Never go up against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!"

This is a series of five mini-game modules with themes and dialogue taken from the movie. My now adult daughter couldn't resist playing it just to see what it was like, since The Princess Bride is still one of her favorite movies, and she verified the accuracy of the voice acting and the movie quotes.

Before each module there is an animated sequence that reenacts the events of the movie to explain what will he happening in the module. It is possible to skip those parts and go directly to the games, but the animation is charming and the scenes are faithful to the movie.

Grab some popcorn.

Each module has an easy, medium and hard mode, but you don't get to choose which one you start with. Everyone starts at easy and moves up through the levels. Players do need to either be able to read the instructions or have a parent or caregiver playing with them who can explain what to do. The modules are "borderline educational". In addition to being related to the movie, young players are clicking to perform tasks in a certain order and within a time limit, blending colors to mix a particular potion, finding hidden objects, devising strategies to escape the fire swamp, answering "inconceivable" trivia questions and unscrambling words, and collecting and assembling inventory needed to defeat the evil Humperdinck.

Think "Jump Start" meets "Super Mario." Fun, interesting, addictive.

The easy level is really easy, and appropriate for the very youngest Princess Bride fans. But there are several activities per module, and several levels per activity, with a possible 72 levels in all, providing hours of play before beating the game. There is apparently also a film clip that activates at the end of each module, but you have to complete all the levels to get that last movie to activate.

Visit the official game website for trailers, and demos of several modules, as well as information about how to purchase the game as a download from the site, or at retailers online and nationwide. Then grab that popcorn and settle in.

As the original tagline for the movie says, "She gets kidnapped. He gets killed. But it all ends up okay."

Rated E for Everyone. (Comic Micschief and Mild Cartoon Violence.)

Use Ebay’s Buy It Now Feature to Your Advantage

Online auction sites like Ebay are very competitive. Sellers do whatever they can to make sure buyers bid on their items rather than a competitor’s. The lengths they go to include keywording, careful auction timing, and the use of Ebay’s many features which make life easier for buyers and sellers alike.

One of Ebay’s most popular features is the “Buy It Now” option. With Buy It Now, bidders can choose to purchase the item outright at a predetermined price. This option is best suited to buyers who want the item and don’t want to risk losing it to a higher bidder. Its appeal comes from its limited availability: once a bid has been placed, Buy It Now is no longer an option. Buyers will be tempted to make the purchase right away, before someone else places a bid.

But some pros caution sellers to be careful when deciding whether to use Buy It Now on their Ebay auctions. Should you offer this option? If so, how should you price your products? Are there times when you shouldn’t offer Buy It Now?

Buy It Now can be risky for sellers. If an item is listed for its full course of seven to ten days, it has the chance to attract watchers who will place bids at the last minute. But if someone comes along and snaps up the item at its Buy It Now price, the seller will never know how much money the item would have generated otherwise. They might even wonder if they should have listed the item at a higher price.

Sometimes it makes perfect sense to use Buy It Now. Holiday shoppers in particular are going online to look for gifts, and many won’t want to wait for auctions to run their course. Additionally, the holidays are a time when impulse shopping is at its peak. By using Ebay’s Buy It Now feature over the holidays, you’re allowing buyers to make purchases before they change their minds.

When should sellers avoid Buy It Now? If you’re selling an item of uncertain value, it’s best to let that item remain on the auction block for a full seven to ten days. For example, let’s say you’ve got some collectible plates but aren’t sure how much they’re worth. If you put them up with the Buy It Now option, you might be asking for much less than the plates’ actual value. Keen collectors would certainly buy the items right away, but you would have made a much larger profit had you forced buyers to place bids.

Ebay sellers should do some research before listing items with the Buy It Now feature. Search completed auctions to see how similar items have been performing. It’s a safe rule to price your items slightly on the low side, since Buy It Now makes it much more likely that they will be purchased quickly. But take care not to price items so low that they’re no longer profitable! Keep an eye on market trends by doing frequent searches for items in similar categories. If the market is saturated with items of this type, you could set your Buy It Now prices low, or switch to different items until the market recovered. If demand outweighs supply, go ahead and set your Buy It Now prices higher than normal.

Buy It Now is a useful feature when used correctly. Take this advice to heart and you’ll have no problem deciding which of your auctions should incorporate Buy It Now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday: Beware of the Doghouse

Wow, this is too funny! A cautionary tale for males during this Christmas shopping season.

Parental Rights in the Crosshairs

Tuesday's Moms In the Right article issues a warning about the danger to our parental rights posed by the likelihood of a huge push by the Obama administration to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) treaty. The appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has particular import for this treaty, as it was her husband who was in office when it was first signed, and it was her goal to see it ratified. As Secretary of State, she would have direct control over the submission of this treaty to the Senate.

What could possibly be bad about Children's Rights?


From the website at, here are 10 things you should know about how this treaty will affect YOUR family.

1. Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.
2. A murderer aged 17 years, 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.
3. Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.
4. The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision.
5. A child’s “right to be heard” would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.
6. According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children’s welfare.
7. Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.
8. Teaching children about Christianity in schools has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.
9. Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.
10. Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Using PayPal as a Payment Method on eBay

eBay auctions are more likely to be successful if the seller offers a variety of payment methods. It’s always a good idea to give buyers every possible chance to make a purchase. Checks and money orders work fine, but the preferred payment method for Ebay auctions is, and always has been, PayPal. If your auctions don’t list PayPal as a payment method, you might be turning away a lot of business. Here’s why:

PayPal was purchased by eBay, and the two services work seamlessly together. PayPal is like an online bank account. Users can deposit and withdraw money to and from their offline accounts, or they can make online purchases using their PayPal balance directly. Users like PayPal’s security and convenience. PayPal can also be used as a way to accept credit card payments from buyers, which is increasingly vital these days.

To sign up for PayPal, go to You can create a free account and start accepting payments immediately. Your PayPal account must be linked to an actual bank account or credit card. Note that Ebay pros recommend that you create a bank account specifically to use with PayPal. That way, if one of your transactions gets hit with a chargeback, your main bank account won’t be in danger of going negative.

PayPal will verify your account by sending two small auto-deposits of different amounts. Don’t get too excited, though. These deposits are just a few pennies. They take a couple of days to show up in your bank account. Once you see them, log back into PayPal to verify your account by entering the exact monetary amount of these deposits. Once your account is verified in this way, you can start withdrawing money to your offline account. You can accept payments into your PayPal account from the moment you open it, though.

Now that you’ve signed up for a PayPal account, you need to add Paypal as a payment option. This is a simple way to get more bidders and more money from your Ebay auctions. To add PayPal as a payment choice, go to your “Sell Your Item” details and check the box next to “PayPal”. Then you will need to enter the e-mail address you used to open your PayPal account. Once this is done, buyers will be able to pay you immediately via PayPal whenever an auction ends.

If you want to be able to deal with unlimited amounts of money each month in your PayPal account (which is recommended for high volume sellers), you should upgrade your account. Upgrading is free, and also gives you the option of accepting payment by credit card. To upgrade your PayPal account, simply log into PayPal and click “Enhance Account”. There will be a small fee taken from each transaction after you upgrade, but it is nominal when compared to the benefits of using PayPal.

Take a lesson from Ebay’s top sellers: give buyers as many payment choices as you can. This includes PayPal, Ebay’s number one preferred choice for payments.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Making Money with eBay's Affiliate Program

Ebay offers plenty of ways to make money. Sellers can put items up for sale or even open their own virtual storefronts. But did you know that Ebay also has an affiliate program? You can sign up to be an Ebay affiliate and have the potential to earn lots of revenue just by driving traffic to Ebay.

Let’s say that you have a web site that gets thousands of hits each month. When you sign up with the Ebay affiliate program, you will be able to place links on your web site that lead back to Ebay. When users click these links, they are able to browse items for sale and even sign up for a seller account if they want to. For all sales and sign-ups that occur within one week of the user clicking on your affiliate links, you earn money. It’s that simple.

Signing up with eBay's Partner Network is easy. For every active registration that occurs through one of your affiliate links, you will receive $25-35. Ebay considers a registration to be active if a user places a bid within thirty days of registration. In addition, you will receive a commission of 50-75% on all winning bids or Buy It Nows within seven days of an affiliate action. That means users who click your affiliate link and make an Ebay purchase are putting 50-75% of that transaction’s revenue in your pocket. And all you did was put some code on your web site. What could be easier?

Ebay uses a tiered payment structure for determining commission rates. If you bring over 1-49 active accounts, you will earn a commission of $25 per account. 50-1,999 active accounts will earn you $28 per account. If you bring in 2,000-29,999 active accounts, each one will earn you a $31 commission. And for recruiting 30,000 or more new accounts, you will receive $35 per account. Those are generous terms for an affiliate program. The revenues system is similarly tiered. For every $0-$99 you generate, you will earn 50% commission. The amounts increase incrementally, up to 75% commission for revenue of $3 million and more.

Ebay’s affiliate program is painless for participants and easy to get involved in. Drive traffic back to eBay and get rewarded. Every little bit helps, right? To learn more about this affiliate program, visit the eBay's Partner Network.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

TGIF - The Finger of God

The Finger of God
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
Friday, December 12 2008

When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God. - Exodus 31:18

Throughout the Bible, the word testimony is used in many ways. Testimony comes from the Hebrew word eduwth, which means "witness." The Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandments, written and inscribed personally by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai. These became known as the testimony. The ark was a divinely inspired structure that was to be used as a witness to the people of Israel and the whole world of God's power and majesty. These divinely created tablets were a witness of God's activity on earth with man.

Throughout the Bible, God looked to create testimonies with His people. At the Red Sea, He created a testimony through Moses. God created a testimony through Joshua when He parted the Jordan River and allowed the people with the Ark to cross on dry land. When Lazarus lay dead for days, Jesus came and created a testimony of His ability to raise the dead.

Jesus is still looking for those who are willing to have a testimony created through their lives. One of the major characteristics of a God-ordained testimony is for something to happen that cannot be explained in the natural. In other words, if you can make it happen through your abilities, it is not a testimony about God, but about you.

One time, I was invited to go to South Africa to a major conference, but I did not have the funds to go. I sensed that I was to attend this conference, but refused to use a credit card to fund the trip. I waited and waited. Finally, on the day of the registration closing, a man came to my office and said I was to go to this conference and he would fund the trip. He took out his checkbook and wrote a check for $2,500. That has become a testimony of God's activity in my life.

God wants to create a testimony in every aspect of your life - your family, your work, your church, and in your community. He is waiting to put His finger on your next endeavor to reveal His power through your life. Look carefully at the events where God might want to create a testimony out of an impossible situation. He delights in using His children for this purpose because it brings Him glory.

Photo Credit:

Reprinted by permission from the author. Os Hillman is an international speaker and author of more than 10 books on workplace calling. To learn more, visit

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Maximize Your Ebay Holiday Sales

Just as with other retailers, eBay sees a sales peak each November and December as buyers get serious about holiday gifts. Wise Ebay sellers enjoy a surge in income during the gift-giving season. What can you do to maximize your own profits during the holidays?

One good rule to follow is this: don't wait until the holidays roll around to start your sales campaign. Lots of online holiday shoppers start shopping early to avoid the last-minute shipping rush. To make the most of your Ebay holiday sales, you'll need to start early, too.

Start listing your holiday items in September or October. This will give you several listing cycles in which to promote your eBay items before the holidays.

Do some research on "hot gifts" months before you start listing. That way, you'll have time to build up your stock of items projected to be top sellers. News programs and web sites often have lists of the year's must-have toys and gadgets. You can also use Ebay's "What’s Hot" page to see which items are top sellers. Ebay Pulse lets you keep an eye on current trends. Remember that hot gifts are hot both online and off. If you find the next must-have at a great price, snatch it up! It will almost certainly turn nice a profit on Ebay.

Speaking of hot items, what else should you sell on Ebay around the holidays? Anything that would make a good gift. Finished products tend to sell better than component parts. Think about it: would you rather be gifted with a package of candle-making supplies, or finished candles? Most people will want the finished product. If you're a craft maker, really market and promote your finished crafts during the holiday season.

The holiday season is the perfect time to target impulse buyers. You can do this on Ebay by adding the “Buy It Now” option to most or all of your listings. And you can even sweeten the deal by offering free shipping for your Buy It Now items. With a deal this tempting, even casual browsers will be persuaded to make a purchase. The small amount of revenue you lose on shipping will more than pay for itself with your increase in overall sales.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What You Should Know BEFORE You Sell on eBay

There's no doubt about it: eBay is a popular way to make money from home. eBay sellers rave about the online auction's ease of use and the large pool of potential buyers. Millions of sellers report eBay as their sole source of income. If they can work from home with eBay, why can't you?

You can. But if you want to make money on eBay, you need to ask yourself some questions.

What do you want to sell on eBay? Some people make a fine income reselling items they found at yard or estate sales. Other eBay sellers list their items again and again because they just don't seem to be in demand.

Why the discrepancy?

Successful eBay resellers are very familiar with their items. They know how much each item is worth, and they know how much competition they can expect from other sellers listing similar items. They also know whether or not there is a market for a given item, and they pass up items that might prove difficult to sell.

One top eBay seller follows a simply rule of thumb: she never pays more than $5 for an item when she's not sure what it's worth. This has brought her great success while minimizing her losses. If a $5 item turns out to be a hot seller, she gladly pockets the extra money. If the item bombs instead, she hasn't lost much of her initial investment. Like other eBay power sellers, she also knows that the really big sales come sporadically. They should be enjoyed, but never counted on.

How do you assess the competition for a given item? Do an eBay search for similar items and see what comes up. If it looks like the market is saturated, find something else to list. You can always list your item later, when competition isn't so stiff. Doing an eBay search is a great idea because it also lets you see how much others are charging for items like yours. If you can undercut the competition without going broke, do it. If not, wait.

While vintage furniture and other bulky items often find enthusiastic new homes, you should be familiar with shipping prices and procedures before you list the big stuff. You don't want to spend a hundred dollars shipping an item that just sold for $150. Consult your local post office, UPS, and freight carriers to learn vital shipping details.

Finally, ask yourself if you want to sell general merchandise or cater to a niche market. Having a wide selection of diverse items can mean a larger market for your wares. It also means a pretty hefty initial investment of time and money while you build up your stock. If you’re experienced with a certain type of merchandise, like designer clothing or toys, why not specialize in that niche? With the advent of eBay stores, you can create a low-cost, permanent showcase for your items. Niche stores tend to do very well, because customers will visit them when they need a specific type of item. Some specialize in gothic jewelry, while others focus on collectible figurines. I made a boatload of money on eBay in 1999-2000 selling Pokemon merchandise. There is a niche market for just about everything, so choose items that you’re familiar with and display them in your eBay store.

Making money on eBay is easy to do, if you do your homework. Sellers who research their items and their markets beforehand lead the pack in eBay success stories. Take a page out of their book. Before you build your inventory, know what you want to sell, to whom, and for how much. A little research now will save you a lot of unpleasant surprises later.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The True Value of a Two-Year College

Higher education in this country is rapidly becoming a necessity in the business community rather than a luxury. There was a time when those who had a high school education still had the opportunity to build a better world for themselves and their families. But now, if you hope to have significant earning potential during your lifetime you are almost completely limited by your learning potential and the level of education you have received.

The good news is that you do not have to have an all or nothing approach when it comes to higher education. You can begin by taking baby steps. If you have a community college in your area, this is one of the greatest resources for beginning your college education at any stage in your life. Most community colleges offer classes at various times during the day and evening, even some on Saturday in order to accommodate students of different ages and backgrounds. Many community colleges now offer courses for homeschoolers.

Community colleges also offer an excellent opportunity to begin your learning quest in a manner that is much more easily affordable to the average citizen than a four-year university. Community colleges are largely commuter colleges, though there are several that allow students the experience of living on a college campus at a much lower price than most major universities charge for the same or very similar privileges.

Community colleges also allow you to explore your options if you aren't really sure what direction you wish for your education to take without paying such a high price for the process. If you know the career path you wish to take you might find a two-year degree program that can have you out of school and into a career much sooner than a four-year program will allow.

If that isn't good enough news for you, many of the two-year programs of study that are offered at the community college level may very well transfer quite easily into bachelor degree programs at the university level. Many community colleges have a reciprocal agreement with certain four year institutions that guarantees transfer of certain credits to a degree program.

Community colleges offer an excellent start for many people who are seeking higher education whether to further their careers or just to find fulfillment on a personal level in life. There are many wonderful programs in vocational fields as well as academic fields that can be explored at the community college level.

For graduating high school students, community colleges help students ease into the adjustment from high school to college without going through the culture shock that some universities can put students through. You will find that there are many opportunities to meet educational as well as social needs on the community college campus.

You should also discover that community colleges are much easier to budget when it comes to setting aside funds and savings for either your personal college education or the educational expenses of your children. Having your children attend a community college for two years before transferring to a university can save a great deal of money and provide you peace of mind that your children are still receiving an excellent level of education.

Frequently, students have no idea what they would like to study. Why spend upwards of $20,000 per year for them to experiment with various courses of study? At the end of their two year degree they may discover they do not wish to pursue the career that seemed so compelling two years before, and you will have saved a lot of money while they were figuring that out.

If you are looking for an excellent value when it comes to education you would be doing yourself or your children a disservice if you do not check out the community college options in your area before taking the plunge and diving into the university lifestyle. You will find that community colleges often offer an equal level of education for the introductory classes that first and second year college students often take, they are a much better value for the money. They are also an outstanding values for those who are trying to juggle their education with family and work responsibilities.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday: Top Ten Irritating Phrases

I have been suffering from writers block for about a week and apologize for the large number of "guest bloggers" lately, but I just had to include this one. Utterly Off Topic Wednesday returns with a visit to Judy Aron's Consent of the Governed. While you are there, you should read some of her insightful political and economic commentary!

Judy has cataloged the ten most irritating phrases recently compiled by Oxford University.

At the end of the day, I discovered that each and every fairly unique individual I personally have come in contact with at this moment in time finds me absolutely irritating 24/7. It's a nightmare.

Would you like fries with that?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Why Women Start Businesses - And Why Men Should Pay Attention

Today's guest blogger is Melissa Mashtonio.

Ask any female business owner you know why she decided to be her own boss and the answers you get may surprise you. For women, it’s rarely about money.

Currently there are 11 million women-owned businesses in the United States. What’s motivating women to start their own businesses? According to a survey by Ladies Who Launch, women launch a new business to:

* Have more freedom and control over their schedules and lives.
* Pursue their passion and dreams.
* Create revenue and make money doing what they love.

In study after study, women are more likely than men to cite personal interests, a desire for self-fulfillment, and job satisfaction as their reasons for starting businesses. Male entrepreneurs are much more likely to say that they started their businesses because of the desire to make money or to build a company.

In her article, “Women Entrepreneurs – Doing Business in a Feminine Way,” author Kim DeYoung (aka "The Metromom") found that while specific motives for starting a business are unique to every woman, they reflect a clear pattern: “Women want their work to fit in with the rest of their priorities and values in life.”

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's YOUR Choice - Wage Slave or Entrepreneur?

Is it better to keep on working for someone else for a regular paycheck or start your own business and earn your own paycheck?

It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time most of us were slaves to persons of privilege called masters, who in turn were owned by a ruling class of people. Slaves did the master’s bidding under threat of bodily harm or banishment, both of which often resulted in death. Some masters took minimal care of their slaves by feeding, clothing, and housing them, but for the most part slaves were worked until they ceased to be of value to their masters and were then disposed of.

It wasn’t long, however, before the slave-master realized that rewards for good work caused the slaves to do better work. Rewards included better food, cover from the weather and trinkets. Slaves were quick to discover that other slaves would trade amongst themselves for these rewards.

Giving slaves too much in the way of payment meant it was conceivable they could accumulate enough to break out of the system. To guard against this, the concept of requiring slaves to pay a tribute to the owner arose. For this tribute the owner would offer lifetime protection to the slave.

Slaves were still able to break away and set up shops and establishments of their own, and although these renegades competed with the slave masters, they provided so many of the goods and services slave masters valued, and provided them at such a low cost, the renegades were not only allowed to remain in business, they were encouraged.

Today we call these people small business persons or entrepreneurs.

And today a two-part system of exacting tributes continues to exist, one of which favors and encourages entrepreneurs. These are the W-2 and the "1099" (sometimes called "Schedule C") systems.

If you are a wage earner under W-2 you receive a paycheck with many of the "tributes" already deducted, and you can spend the remainder on food, shelter, clothing, transportation, education and other desirable things. No, you don’t earn $60,000 a year as you thought; you earn $30,000. Half your earnings are taken by various levels of government: federal, state, county, city and others.

If you operate under 1099, however, you receive the $60,000 up front, and you get to deduct the cost of sheltering your business, the cost of employees and other expenses before you pay taxes on the remainder. It is possible to arrange your business affairs so that you live well and only have to pay taxes on what is left after expenses. Sometimes this can result in $0 taxes!

Of course, you will have to hire accountants to get to that point, but even this cost can be subtracted in advance, further reducing your tax bite.

Now, which is better? Pay taxes of $30,000 on the front end of $60,000 in earnings, or paying little or no tax on the same earnings and still have all the perks of ownership?

This, of course, is a highly abbreviated view of why going into business for yourself can be one of the most rewarding things you can do with your life. But it gives you a starting point for thinking about the subject.

Paul Tulenko writes a newspaper column called "Small Business" for the Scripps Howard News Service. This article appeared in The Trentonian on September 21, 2002.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

TGIF - Signs and Wonders Today

TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman Friday, November 28 2008

"The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them." - Acts 15:12

"I was a pastor for 19 years before I went into business," said the man sitting across the table from me as we were sharing lunch together. What led him from being a pastor to a businessman was both a move of God and an attack from the enemy.

"I was a pastor of a particular denomination that did not embrace all of God's Word. It was a time in my life when I was experiencing many physical problems. I was on the verge of being admitted to the hospital. I had been seeking God about whether He was truly a God of healing and whether His Word was applicable in all areas of life as it was in the early Church. I was to go into the hospital the next day. That night I cried out to the Lord. I confronted God about His Word. I asked Him if He still did miracles today. Just then, I turned on my TV and saw an evangelist preaching. At that very moment, he stopped preaching, looked into the TV camera, and said these words: 'There is a man in the viewing audience who has been a pastor for many years and is struggling to know whether God heals today. His own denomination does not believe He does. [He even named his denomination.] God is healing you right now to demonstrate to you that His healing is for today, and you are to know that His Word is true for today just like it was for the early Church.' "

My friend was shocked. The TV evangelist could not have described him more accurately if he had been sitting in the same living room with him. God healed him that very night. He was not admitted to the hospital. He was forced to go before his church and witness to God's power in his life. He was soon fired as pastor of this church, and this is what led him into business.

So often when we experience God in greater and deeper ways, the persecution comes not from the world, but from those who are closest to us. The religious community persecuted Jesus. He was betrayed by one of His own disciples. However, we must realize this betrayal was necessary for God to accomplish His work through Jesus.

God will bring each of us to a crisis of faith to test what we really believe. For my friend, he had to experience God in a new way. Then he had to be tested in that belief to the point of losing his job.

Have you experienced God in all of your life? Are there areas in which you believe God does not operate today? Before you discount God, seek Him with a whole heart. You might be surprised at what you will find.

Reprinted by permission from the author. Os Hillman is an international speaker and author of more than 10 books on workplace calling. To learn more, visit

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blogging for Prematurity Awareness - Tale of Two NICU's

This is an odd story for a Thanksgiving Day, but maybe not really, as I am particulary thankful that my two preemies have grown up to be brilliant, gorgeous, and mostly healthy.

Incredibly, I never knew that November was "Prematurity Awareness Month". I discovered Cara's blog pages about it on StumbleUpon and they immediately drew me back in time to my own experiences as a Mom of Two Preemies - one in 1985, and a micropreemie in 1991.

I remember when my daughter was born a little over a week before Christmas, 1985, weighing in at what now seems like a giant 4 lbs. 6 1/2 oz.

In the preemie world, she was not all that early at 34 weeks, but it was still a frightening experience that was heightened by the hostile environment of the NICU and the hospital generally.

I didn't realize it was a hostile environment until I experienced the nurturing environment of the NICU in a different hospital where my son was cared for 5 1/2 years later. But NO ONE should ever have to be treated the way we were. Her doctor was wonderful, but the rest of the hospital experience left everything to be desired.

I had left Wall Street to get married and become a mom, and I was accustomed to being accomplished, efficient, and respected. But in this place, it did not take me long to view myself, and my child, as slightly undesirable, inept, dirty, maybe a little stupid. They also asked me loads of questions about whether I was in an abusive relationship, or whether drug use had caused my child's low birth weight, eyeing me suspiciously when I said no to both.

I felt like some kind of modern day leper.

Whether or not her early birth was even in part precipitated by my outbreak of herpes, the nurses came into my room dressed in hazmat suits, looking like some kind of mutant astronauts, refusing to touch me without being covered from head to toe and having a healthy supply of antibacterial agents. No one looked me in the eye, they barely spoke to me if it did not pertain to my treatment.

It took almost a week for me to recover from my C-section enough to go home, and at first, I tried to joke with them that I understood their concerns but that they weren't in any danger of contamination.

I didn't realize till later that they also handled her roughly and kept her in isolation because of suspected herpes - which she did not, in fact, have. Because of the trouble with my C-section I had a hard time walking, but when I was able to drag myself out of bed and down to the NICU, she was always alone in an isolette in an isolation room.

I was only allowed to see her at specific times, and to feed her at specific times, and I was not allowed to touch her without gloves or bring her home until after the New Year. She weighed enough to come home sooner, but they kept her there for observation. The only concession they made to Christmas was to tape a little red bow on her head, since she didn't have enough hair to tie one in. No decorations, no celebrations, just curt updates on her status. Nobody gave me any tips on how to express milk, or offered me any direction on how to use the plastic manual pump they gave me. Nobody explained to me how beneficial breast milk would have been for her, or encouraged me to keep trying.

Shortly before I left there, after one particlarly unpleasant encounter with a nurse, I threw a plastic pitcher of water against the wall and screamed for them to get out and leave me alone. I then sank into post-partum depression for the next six months, and I am sure their contribution to that was my callous treatment in the hospital. I don't even want to know how it affected their treatment of her between the time I went home and the time she was released.

Well, now that I have probably scared the pants off some moms with new preemies, I want to remind you that this happened 23 years ago, and that thanks to the March of Dimes, much has been discovered about prematurity in those years, and many improvements have been made in NICU treatment, particularly for the earliest, smallest and most delicate among us, who might not have even been considered "viable" a long time ago.

Even just 5 years later when my 1275 gram micropreemie son was born at 30 weeks in 1991, the experience was as different from that horror show as night is from day. After being on bedrest for 10 weeks, I had developed preeclampsia, and my blood pressure was in the stratosphere.

It was immediately apparent that they had a different philosophy of care at this hospital. They took polaroids of him right after he was born, and then whisked him away to another hospital where there was a NICU that could provide the care he needed. After a day when I couldn't stand being there without him, they showed me how to care for my incision and allowed me to make the call to leave.

At the NICU, we were encouraged to hold him and talk to him, even to hold him without gloves as long as we washed and gowned up before we entered. We were allowed to stay there for hours on end, where we had every kind of test and treatment thoroughly explained. We were referred to a pharmacy that rented industrial strength electric breast pumps, and told that since I couldn't be there all the time the best thing I could do for him was to provide frozen breast milk.

They called us twice a day, or more often, with every little update on his weight and statistics. Our daughter was allowed to visit with us and hold him. They patiently answered her 5 year old questions and gave her paper and crayons to draw pictures about how she was feeling about what was going on. They showed me how to bathe him and change the leads on the apnea monitor he would be going home with. They gave us classes in infant CPR and told us that we should never leave him with a babysitter who was not proficient in same.

They explained that he was extra sensitive, and pointed out some of his particular coping methods when he was overstimulated, showing us signs to watch for. They let me tape and retape his feeding tubes, and work with them as they taught him to suck on a preemie sized rubber nipple. They explained what bradycardia and elevated bilirubin were, and when we needed to worry and when we didn't.

Just before he left the hospital, they worked with us to make the transition from the feeding tube to breast feeding. And they sent him home after 36 days with a little party complete with balloons, a special outfit embroidered "Daddy's Boy" and a little cap to keep his head warm. As you can see from the photo below, neither of them needs a cap any more to keep their heads warm.

That is the kind of treatment every preemie (and preemie's Mom) deserves, but even better would be a day in which there was no risk of prematurity. The March of Dimes is working to raise awareness of the rise in premature births and discovering their causes so that they can be stopped.

You may want to visit Kristie McNealy's website, which contains extensive resources and information for parents of preemies, and more information about "Blogging for Prematurity Awareness."

Blogging for Prematurity Awareness

Monday, November 24, 2008

Using Educational Software in your Home School

If you have chosen to home school your child you may be considering incorporating educational software into your child's curriculum. Is it really beneficial? How do you know which programs to use? Can educational software replace teaching?

If you are home schooling you are obviously very concerned with your child's progress. You may ask "will using this software help or hinder my child's learning?"


Taking on the responsibility of educating your children is difficult enough when you are not a professional educator, without the added burden of finding ways to engage them and provide stimulating lessons.

New educational software programs help parents to provide quality education while also offering children a rich and entertaining medium to learn skills and acquire knowledge related to their curriculum.

Children learn more quickly and easily when they can be drawn into the experience. Good teachers know how to bring a subject to life for their students which helps children retain the information. Games, stories and other educational software provide the excitement and interaction children are attracted to while improving skills such as reading and math and building on their knowledge of history, science or geography.

Many programs also give instant feedback to the child, helping him or her build on previous experience or knowledge while also developing a sense of pride in accomplishment.


Not all educational software is created equal. Cute animations and popular characters will not build your child's skills or even hold their attention if they do not teach or challenge your child.

Most software for children will give an age or grade reference that can be used as a guide for finding suitable topics and are appropriately challenging for your child. Review the contents to determine if the curriculum is too basic for your child since every child learns at a different speed.

Games often have different levels to customize your child's experience to their level of play. Games may adapt themselves based on your child's performance or levels can be selected by the child for each game. Some programs offer an overview of the progress your child has made; showing which steps have been completed and which are still to be done.


Educational software is a great complement to the home schooling curriculum. It is especially helpful in providing an engaging format for practicing skills such as reading and math. Sofeware also enhances the acquisition of knowledge of science or geography. But it can never substitute for the attention and teaching of basic skills by an interested teacher.

Once basic skills are learned, games and interactive books can offer your child a forum to build their skill levels or delve deeper into a topic of interest. For younger children, these programs can introduce shapes, letters, numbers and teach useful computer skills. Older children can dig more deeply into the details of a special interest without interfering with the schedule of teaching.

Software can also be used to relieve some of the administrative burden of the homeschooling parent. The feedback given to the child may be a part of a more comprehensive reporting program to the parent that can assist with grading and help the parent accurately assess the child's progress.

This was originally posted here on May 26, 2006.
Photo Credit: Critelli Family Photo, 1995

Sunday, November 23, 2008

No Fear. No Excuses. Start Your Own BailOut for $37

Lessons and tips for a $500 to $1000 a day earner.

Nov 23, 2008

As we watch Billion dollar companies collapse, subways and train service decline in NYC because of cut backs and we watch behemoths like Chrysler, Ford and GM choke for more funding, this is no time to skin each other alive and expect each other to blindly step into our own financial doom.

We can NOT and will not allow BLIND foolishness in respect to each of our individual steps to gather more funds.

** Did you notice the empty parking lots at malls lately?

During this all, I have taught and profited with these four simple, but very timely and precise ideas.

Number #1

It’s simply not prudent and could be considered na├»ve to enter the field and ask anyone, any longer, to trust you for beyond maybe a hundred dollars.

Yes, you may have a killer $1,000 program that works. Great!

Yes, you may even have a fabulous product that helps people. Even better.

However, it will prove to be certain biz suicide to ask or expect new people who you are luring into your prosperity program to “test” and trust you with a higher than $10 and $50 price point.

Let's be realistic.

Do you really think the neighbors will now risk or even fathom risking $200 to $500 to $1,000 in something they FIRST can’t justify?

Uh, no.

They won’t and even more to the point, they can’t.

The solution is to enter the market with a SAMPLE or mini version of what you sell for an irresistible $10 to $50. Everyone can “risk” $10 and $20 and if it has a 100% guarantee even better.

Example: Our $597 program pays $500 YES, people pay by CC card or cash or money order and it pays $500 per $597.

The beauty though, is that the front end is just $37 and you earn $20.

See PDF + single sheet flyer + make copies show everyone

The fact is, people will no longer allow themselves to be fooled or be made the fool; is why Star-Bucks and teenage clothing store American Eagle is on the list of “oh that is so over.”

Tip #2

The operative word is sacrifice.

Which in it’s greek root means “sacred”

Which means that we as a people right now simply can not afford to do anything that we haven’t first made sacred by thorough and certain ACTION. And action that fails is not sacred.

An action that is risky, filled with caution and is less than likened to a perfect laser beam,is an action that you can no longer afford. Each move has to be calculated. Each action has to be well thought out and a price must be paid as in, you now must move with sacred intent.

Example: doing the mundane like getting up before work and being at the PC by 4 am, is a sacrifice. It’s also a sacred act of action by you.

This is where you want to be in these dark days in order to re-visit the light of prosperity that DOES still exist.

  • Sacrifice being impatient and make being PRUDENT the solution.
  • Sacrifice the games and only decide to deliver and sell total value.
  • Sacrifice inactivity and add 4% more time and more energy into your work.

In today’s market, the ones with not enough action to justify a profit will be eaten and expelled by the market itself. Money games, unprofitable fast buck programs that prey on the greed of others, those will shortly be utterly banished.


Because the market that used to “fall” for such bastardized means of money making, that market will not even any longer have two dimes to rub together

What the new normal will look like is

Patience. Grace. Sacrifice. Value. Risk-free and Cash rich.

The people will play. The people will earn. But not at each other’s expense. And no longer will they risk even one thin dime.

And if you aren’t in sacred display of loverage, all bets are off because the game will eat the “players.”

The birds have enough. I have more than enough.

And so will you.

You simply have to now MASTER the mundane.

Make every step you take BLESS the steps you take in the future.

And what you do TO others has to be a healing. Not a hurt.

Just pretend the new biz valuation is WAL-MART. Always ask, “Am I being prudent and value driven like Wal-Mart?”

Here is the concept

“To make and get more GET value you have to lead with more GIVE value.”

The people will give you $597 and it pays $500 commission per sale. But, until they can sample and inspect the program for $37 they won’t.

If you lead today with “OH PLEASE TRUST ME with your $1,000,” you will not be here in this industry in 6-10 months. Because the market will vote with this,“you are asking for too much trust too soon please go away.”

No Fear. No Excuses. Start your own bail-out and teach others to as well.

Start now only $37

Receive FAST START guide and 8 x 11 binder + 2 CD + booklet


Call with questions 609-647-8589. Leave a message.

Samples are at: The MillionMind March.

See PDF and see single sheet flyer / PDF

Recorded 24 Hr. “save me” 1-800 BAIL-OUT message

1-800-772-9781 EXT 40, 41, 42

NIGHTLY calls and live Q & A and Support

MONDAY + TUES at 9:27 PM (est)

1-641-594-7000 PIN 600088#

I promised you four new IDEAS. I gave you two so far

Here is # 3

ANSWER your phone.

People will no longer BLINDLY play and work and buy things with faceless gamers on the internet. They simply can no longer afford to RISK working with “your voice mailbox is full” people. People who CANT even make their own voice mail messages.

People who HAVE NO VOICE will not survive the new economy of 2008-2009.

The solution is to be MORE YOU now more than ever. The answer is to be MORE available and twice as transparent as everyone else.

Here is Tip and Solution # 4

Oops! Send me an email at with "Bailout" in the subject line and I will send it to you.

See you soon.

Stay Close.

Susan Critelli

Homeschool Mom/Pioneer Doer/Good News Merchant