Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Instagram Inspirations

This post is going to be redundant for those of you who follow my social media pages, and for that I apologize. I have been so busy lately I haven't had time to blog much so many of my long-time readers may be wondering what has become of me. Instagram is the new Pinterest, in my opinion, and I have more than 1500 followers, for which  am extremely grateful. Years ago when I started writing the Mandaline Artful Living blog about doll repair I never thought anyone would read it. And certainly for a long time the only views I got were click bait websites trying to get me to click on their site. Gradually my readership increased. When I started pinning my blog posts to the then-new Pinterest I saw an explosion in views and sales on eBay. Back then I only sold on eBay and didn't even have a store. Nowadays when I post on Instagram I see an almost immediate boost in sales and followers across my network of shops. I find I'm on Instagram more than is probably good for me because I am just learning so much. I have groups of people I follow for business: doll makers and sellers and resellers, and a weight loss group. Then I have my Facebook friends and family members and I find I am learning so much from them all. In my business group someone suggested the 10K On The Bay YouTube channel so I've been watching it and I am so inspired. I feel like a loser most of the time, because all these kids are making so much money on eBay in the one year they've been selling or whatever and I've been selling on eBay for 16 years, but they have such great ideas and insight. Some things don't apply to me because I am a different generation, like, "Try to work weekends so you won't spend all your money poppin' it at the club." Yeah. Not a problem for me! Lately most of my money has gone to impromptu surgeries and hospital visits rather than entertainment!

But anyway, Chris, who broadcasts the 10K channel, is a great person for me to listen to because he is a total numbers person. I am not a numbers person at all. My strength is making things. I can make almost anything and I can look at almost anything and know how it was made so I am good at fixing things. I've struggled over the years to define myself as a business. I've done a good job, better than most of the kids making all the money, establishing my brand, most likely because of my commercial art background, but I am not set up as a business at all. Partly this is from necessity. As you know I am a mom first and I am often called away from the shop to take children to the doctor or to school. We have three kids, two of whom we adopted with special needs. Our youngest was just released from his IEP, so he no longer needs speech therapy, in February, and by March I was consistently hitting the Top 10% of eBay sellers in multiple categories. I was on track to have a really stellar year when in September our oldest son, who has always been healthy, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Because he was away at college we spent nearly all our free time that month staying near him, three hours away and since then we've made multiple trips to help him adjust, take care of his medications, accompany him to the doctor visits, etc. Then we had the infamous two storey water heater flood that put my office out of commission right at the beginning of the holiday crunch time, so I didn't have the fourth quarter I was expecting. I made slightly more than last year. I am proud I was able to improve on my numbers even with all the tragedy and upheaval, but I am really interested in becoming a "real" business and a more automated business so I don't have to constantly be in the shop. Reviewing my numbers after listening to podcasts I realized I only had $10,000 for sale on eBay and most of those prices include shipping. So if every thing I have sold I would still only be making side money. I determined to add to my inventory. Money is tight for us right now because our children have had three surgeries and one ICU stay over the past two years. Our youngest has been complaining about his ears and looks to be on the road to another ear tube surgery, so I can't just spend and spend. So I took the profit I've saved and did some retail arbitrage at IKEA. I have all kinds of limited edition pieces which are now discontinued for sale on eBay. I also stepped up listing my consignment baby and kids' clothes. I've been concentrating on getting Spring and Summer merchandise in place so I have a ton of swimsuits right now. I am trying my hand at wholesale as well. I listed a whole bunch of choker necklaces on Poshmark and eBay. These are so trendy right now my daughter, who modeled them for me, bought some off me before the photo shoot! As my Instagram following has grown I have more and more doll hospital requests as well, so that is another income stream for me. It's not automated, however. I hope this year to grow my Amazon business. I know absolutely nothing about it but everyone who sells on Amazon says it's by far the least hands-on platform. Reviewing my numbers yesterday I found I am down slightly on eBay but up nearly 1200% on Etsy! Thinking more like a business than a person in business is already paying off for me!  So if you aspire to own your own business you should check out 10K On the Bay on YouTube. I really hope you will help me grow by shopping in my stores, all of which you can reach from my website.

On the health front, I switched to the original Atkins Diet back in September when our son was diagnosed. I use ketogenic test strips before and after meals to make sure I am keeping my blood sugar in check. I wanted to test like my son has to because I wanted to understand his disease better. To stay accountable I post photos of all my meals and calorie and carb counts on Instagram. That led me to several doctors and nutritionists and people on their own weight loss journeys as well as Type 1 diabetics and I've learned a great deal from them. Dr. Wade Baskin recommended a book called The Complete Guide To Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung and I read it and started experimenting with intermittent fasting.  I never realized it before, but I used to practice intermittent fasting when we attend the LDS  (Mormon) church. We fasted for 24 hours the first Sunday of every month and then sometimes for extra periods to pray for someone. That fast is more strict than most because it's a dry fast, meaning even water is not allowed. Dr. Fung's fasts are easier, as you are allowed to have broth and coffee and water while fasting. I always wondered how Mormon women stay so thin because they eat quite a bit of processed food due to the requirement they have a food storage that can feed their families for a year in case of emergency. Out of necessity they eat a lot of canned and packaged foods to use up their food storage before it expires. Now I understand it is probably the intermittent fasting keeping them thin. I lost about 12 pounds and have been stuck in a plateau of 8-12 pounds lost ever since so I am hoping fasting can help me break out of it. Supposedly intermittent fasting does not slow your metabolism like constant low calorie dieting. I am going to California next month and I want to be trim for my vacation! We shall see. Yesterday I did my first 24 hour fast for many years. Even though my weight is stuck on the scale I noticed a shirt that was tight in my waist a month ago (when my weight was a few pounds lower) is now so loose I can grab handfuls of fabric. That's great because it means I must be losing visceral fat in my abdomen, the most dangerous fat for health. 

For the first time in a long time I'm actually hopeful and positive about the future. It seems like things are finally moving in the right direction for me and I have high hopes for 2018. I am sorry for this long, long, post, but I just really wanted to share with anyone else who might need some direction in the same areas. I hope you'll follow me on Instagram and participate in my groups: #resellersquad, #resellerfam, #dollrestoration, #dollhospital, #intermittentfasting, #weightlossjourney, #ketogenicdiet. These are just a few of the hashtags I follow but they're the main ones really inspiring me right now.

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