Saturday, June 13, 2009

Danna Crawford -

Through our stages in life, I think we have to look up to someone and admire their accomplishments and hope to learn just a tiny bit from them.

One such person is our friend Danna Crawford better known as

We met Danna and her husband Jimmy at YABIE’s Kansas Jubilee, an eBay event, in Hays, KS in Oct. 2008. I have blogged about our meeting before but briefly we rode together from Hays to Denver after the event.

And that started our deep and caring friendship.

Danna started her eBay life as a single mom of 3 children - 1 boy and twin girls, selling Beanie Babies. Time went by and her eBay career evolved. She became an Education Specialist, teaching others how to be better eBay sellers and has written several e-books, too. Besides being a teacher she has been a motivator, inspiration and mentor to thousands, not only in her classes and teachings, but by example.

Part of Danna’s career has been to become involved with MissionFish – eBay’s charity arm. Non-profits register with MissionFish and then sellers can donate all or part of the proceeds of a sale to their favorite charity (as long as it is registered.)
Not one to be complacent Danna is constantly investigating new ways to promote her teaching,
eBay and the non-profits. Right now her Twitter Wall is hot.
About 18 months ago she started her radio show on BlogTalk Radio every Friday night at 8 PM ET. 3 out of the 4 weeks she has a guest that she visits with. Everyone who sells on eBay has their way of selling, obtaining product and their own business practices. Danna has a talent for getting hints from these successful sellers. The 3rd Friday is reserved for call in tips and conversation.
In recognition of Danna’s loyalty and commitment to eBay, she was inducted into the eBay Hall of Fame last year at the eBay Live convention in Chicago. Process this thought, there are over 8 Million users on eBay and only 30 or so people in the Hall of Fame.
What an honor! And she really deserves it, especially at this time when so many are branching off and trying other venues or bad mouthing eBay’s policy changes, Danna has remained eBay loyal in word, thought and deed.
In addition to the Hall of Fame she also received an award from MissionFish for not only her work with the charities but with promoting them as well. Picture is at the Kansas Jubilee with Jason Minor (from PayPal) and Joyce Banbury (organizer of the event) with a traveling lab coat that was auctioned for a school that was devastated in a tornado in KS.

Her web site has so many opportunities for sellers to self promote and to learn – all for free. Her slogan is “There is enough eBay for everyone to grow and prosper”. On the web site one is able to find wholesale lots and promotes shipping ‘green’ besides this eBay loyalist loves to blog; is always on Twitter; and has several BUMP opportunities on the home page. (You will have to visit that page to see what they are – fun to do and profitable!)

I love the calendar she sells too. Each month has a featured charity, and there are lists of positive thoughts & phrases and another list of chores to be accomplished that month. She includes a CD with each one that instructs how to make best use of our time and best use the calender.

We were able to visit with Danna and her family when we were eBaying in the RV and visiting Florida last winter. She is really just a down to earth gal who puts family first. She is passionate about helping people and works hard to help everyone.
I am proud to call Danna Crawford friend and learn from her all the time. Her model of no drama in her life has led me away from situations & people that have caused stress in my life and made me so much more productive in our own career. THANK YOU DANNA.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

Can you believe the size of this steak???

Remember the Burma Shave signs along the highway? Well, as you approach Amarillo, Texas there are many signs for The Big Texan and they sorta reminded me of those signs of years gone by.

The Big Texan Steak Ranch is a steak house famous for the 72 oz. Steak contest. If anyone can eat it in 1 hour it is free.

When we 1st stayed in Amarillo, a year ago, we thought HA! too cliché or hype for us. But then when we got our motel key (no RV yet) there was an ad on it that said they had free limo service. So we called and they picked us up in a white stretch limo that had the long horns on the front with a very friendly driver. OMG too funny. So on our way home from FL this year, they picked us up at the RV park. Very kewl!!

The inside has all sorts of stuffed animal heads and is very western, rustic.

When we visited the restaurant again this time we requested the exact same table as the 1st time right next to the platform where the contestants sit to eat the huge steak. Did you notice the garbage pails next to the table? Well, if they have to use them they are disqualified. Lovely thought!!!

The nice thing about having the limo driver doing the driving is that we could have a drink and not worry about driving ourselves. Gene had the beer sampler. It was 4 small glasses of his choice from over 12 different kinds of beer.

In order to cook the steak properly it has to be filleted, so it fills the plate even more.

This night 2 men were attempting to eat the steak, but there is a twist. Not only do they have to eat all the meat, they have to eat a salad, 2 fried shrimp, dinner roll and a drink

One of them was beginning to look like he was going to use the pail, so it was time for us to leave.
Besides all the decorations, the strolling musicians and hype, the staff is all very friendly and amazingly the food is great with huge portions. Love the gift shop too.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Camping at Indy Lakes, Indianapolis, IN

4001 West Southport Road Indianapolis, IN 46217 (317) 888-6006.

The RV campground we stayed at in Indianapolis, IN is Indy Lakes. I found them a camping guide book and then checked out their website. Our spot was #10. All RV spots are back in. The young couple is the 3rd generation running the lakes.
There are 3 lakes with a road around all of them. The RV sites are on the other side of that road and the edge of the lake is wide enough to allow primitive tent camping. It was lovely after dark when those campers had a small fire and the flames were bouncing off the water
The lakes are mostly stocked with catfish and carp. The Sat. we were there, the stock truck came from Ohio and we watched them put in over 40 carp. None of them were smaller than 15 pounds and the largest was 30 pounds. They actually weighed it before they put it into the water

Even though a license is not required, since it is privately owned, it is pay to fish. They have ongoing fishing contests all season with the top prize of $10,000.00. The fishermen catch the fish and net them in. Then bring them to the office to be weighed and put into a tank. The fish are held in the tank for a few days and then re-released. They say there is still an 80 pound carp in there.

I loved this power line. Folks were just a little ambitious with their casting.

Gene wandered over to talk to this man who is over 90 years old. He lives nearby and has been fishing here for many years. He told Gene that these lakes are formed from ground water in abandoned gravel pits. The deepest part is over 30 feet.

We had 6 tickets to the race and Gene’s daughter Kathy and Ray came from Maryland and my cousin Ed and Terry came from Florida. It was so special that they drove so far to visit and then to enjoy an event like the Indy 500. I was especially good since they are family.

There are more than RVers, campers and fish living in and around the lake. These 2 Canadian geese families would travel together and take the babies down to the water 2x a day and then wander off.

The whole area has lots of trees including female cotton wood trees. We do not have them in CO but know them from NM. They make long clusters of seedpods that look like grapes, only smaller. At this time of year they burst open and the cotton inside flies and it looks like snow.

There are thousands and thousands from each cluster. Each one looks like 1 piece of dandelion fluff, only smaller and more compact. As the wind blows them, they will build up along the curb, or stones or in the grass.

After the race and everyone was gone and the eBay packages were sent, it was time to kick back and enjoy. Notice the white spots on the water? It is the 'cotton' floating.
We highly recommend this campground and anytime we are crossing the country on I 70 we will drive the few extra miles to stay here for a few days.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Self Empolyment Self Promotion Time Management

Being self-employed requires a lot of discipline especially when it comes to time scheduling and advertising

Having an eBay or any online business has obstacles that a brick and mortar business does not have. Working at home can have many distractions, all in the name of becoming more educated to enhance the business.

I have found recently that learning is great, but does not sell product. I have eliminated a lot of the excess and am concentrating on listing and listing and listing. As a result May was out best month ever and June is starting off just as good.

We reached 5.0 on all 4 stars several times during the last 6 months with the longest run being 22 days. We also received the 20% discount for the 9th consecutive month and because a lot of our listings have free shipping, we also got a 40% discount on the FVF on those items.

At least with a real store, you have certain hours you are open and know where your customers are coming from. Deciding where to advertise and how to self promote is a constant concern for online sellers .

There are all the social networks now, like Twitter and Facebook, to help promote us and offer social interaction. Truthfully, I guess I don’t know Twitter well enough to say, I get it. I sort of get Facebook but then I do not have as many followers there as I do on Twitter.

But the other venue that is becoming more popular is blogging. At first I thought of it as a personal diary and also as a way to promote my business and then as a way to share our travels with friends and acquaintances. I never really decided which one was most prevalent but do think a blog can be all of the above.

So how to write an effective blog? Great question. I can only talk from our limited experience. My biggest suggestion is to outline the blog in your mind with the tags (keywords) you want to include. Then write it, hopefully with pictures or illustrations.

If it is a lot of information divide it up into several posts. I have found that within minutes of posting a blog Google notifies me they have found it. (You can set that up on Google to be notified each time a name or term is searched including your eBay name & / or store!)

Last week after I did the Indy 500 Car race blogs, I landed on the first page of Google 2x. One search was Police Escort and the other was Balloon release. Holy smokes!! How much money is spent each year on paid per click advertising and there we were.

Someone did a search for “crafts to make with herbs”. We were number 6 on the 1st page out of over 3 million possible answers.

Then yesterday someone did a search for White Castle Hamburgers in Branson, MO. Well I had done a blog on White Castle and several weeks before that done one on a certain theater in Branson. Obviously Google remembered all those tags and out of the 14,000+ possible answers we were #1 of the free listings. Yep #1 – even above White Castle Corporate.
So my bottom line is to not be distracted or lured into activities that take me away from promoting our business and to remember those tags.