Monday, 25 April 2011

This Blog Has Moved

It's official! This blog is officially closed, and has moved. I suggest you follow my other blogs, please!

The As Was site has been redone, and you can follow the new blog at It'll be much the same as you've seen here with infrequent posts.

The action is now at my Brass Flowers blog. is where you'd go! Brass Flowers is my consulting work. Posts are mostly about UX/UI, usabilty, marketing, and branding. What makes websites or apps easy or hard to use. Examples of great and bad design. Even a few posts about the eBay website... is it easy to use? If you have liked the As Was blog, you'll love the Brass Flowers blog.

And for kicks, once in a while, I write a dating advice blog with the lovely Bryan Goodman, aka Mr Bigfoot. That's at So if you enjoying the personal, wacky posts here about dating, they'll now live there.

Thanks for your loyal readership! This blog started in April 2005 (amazing!), and it lives on... just not on Typepad.

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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Video of My Presentation at PayPal X Innovate 2010

See blog post here for info and video. Thanks!

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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Product Review: Livescribe Echo Pen

PayPal gave attendees a Livescribe Echo pen with 4G of memory at their X Innovate 2010 conference. It's a damn cool item, and I recorded a video to tell everybody about the features.

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Friday, 22 October 2010

Charging Credit Cards from Your iPod, iPhone, or iPad

I was at a mobile commerce conferfence last week, and saw MANY interesting companies and products. One was from They have a snap-in credit card reader called the AirePoint, and it's for your iPhone, iPod, or iPad. They also have an app that'll take your gateway and other info, and then charge the card.

I think this is great for anybody who needs to charge cards remotely. By swiping the card through your device, you'll pay your "card present" rates, which should save you money. I think this device is a must-have for anybody who takes payment at conferences, flea markets, and other on-site events. I hope they will come out with something for Android phones.

Another interesting feature is that the device will snap into your iWhatever even if it has a case on it. Some other card-swiping devices make you take skins and cases off, but not the AirePoint. You can even use one AirePoint, and just plug it into your multiple iDevices as you need to.

This device has been certified by Apple. They passed the MFi Certification for iPhone and iPod, and also passed the certification for iPad. This video is honestly a little boring, but it does have good info about the device and how to use it:

Disclaimer: I wasn't paid or rewarded for this. I don't own any iWhatever so I didn't try the device. I saw it at a conference, and I thought it looked great. I think people should try it!

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Monday, 20 September 2010

Hiring: eCommerce Installation and Customisation

We need someone in North America. We design, install, and customise eCommerce websites like Volusion, Magento, ProStores, Zen Cart, and others. I need someone who can get our designs in, and then do some customsations clients might need like page layouts.

We've done this for years, and lately, I cannot find someone in North America who is awesome at this and wants the work. They reported on TV tonight that nearly 17% of the country is out of work. Surely there must be a genius eCommerce programmer type stuck in that 17% who would like to work with us.

Not being able to find a good North American person, I've tried sending some of this work to India. Time and time again, I am disappointed with the work and communication. I want someone who speaks my language, works on my country's time, and sees things more wholistically. For example, when I ask for categories in a drop down menu where the project is a redesign of a LIVE and existing eCommerce website, please use the client's existing categories. An Indian company given that task recently created a whole bunch of new categories (in a LIVE store), and pressured me to pay, even though the work was nowhere near what I had asked for... and wasn't even logical. Why ignore the categories the guy already had, and the hundreds of products in those categories?

I'm tired of offshore companies over-promising what they can do. I want a great person in North America who cares about the relationship, and will impress me every time. Please get in touch from our website inquiry page. Most of the fields on there won't apply, but just fill it out and send it in. I need you RIGHT AWAY.


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I Live In A Resort Vacation

A handful of old ladies and I are standing in a pool doing water aerobics. People are swimming laps. Other people are on lounge chairs, working on their tans. People with tennis rackets walk by as people in golf carts zoom back from early tee times. The day is bright and hot, and there is a strong smell of hamburgers coming from the cafe.

Add killing my sister in shuffleboard, and you have every Christmastime memory of hanging at at Evil Grandma Rose's retirement condo in Delray Beach, Florida from my formative years. But that description was Saturday morning here in Tucson. I work out and take exercise classes at the local country club, which costs almost nothing to join and then $90/month for a single person. That's nothing for a country club.

Or I could have gone to the pool or gym at my apartment complex. Sitting here in my apartment, I have no lights on. The place is so bright that when people see me on webcams, I'm blindingly backlit. I've got extra tall ceilings and ceiling fans. A wrap-around, L-shaped balcony looking at the mountains. This apartment complex, like many in my area, was built to look and feel more like a time share than a traditional apartment.

They say that Tucson has 320 sunny days a year. I think it's more. Even the days when we get rain start out sunny. Cobalt blue skies, many days with no clouds, the moon out all day. It's picturesque. Cactus everywhere. Tucson is surrounded by 5 mountain ranges, and they all look close. I'm at 2640 feet in altitiude, and the top of the mountain I'm looking at is around 9100 feet. But it looks like it's in my back yard. Comparatively, Phoenix is a flat city with a few hills people think are amazing. :)

Every time I go somewhere, I miss Tucson, and can't wait to get back. Many hotel rooms are SMALLER than my apartment's bedroom and master bathroom. Sure, we get seasons. You have to not mind 104 degrees, and I don't. In the winter, a 50 degree day feels sub-zero to locals. You'll see us in layers of fleece, winter coats, and gloves. :) We're thinking about warmer places in the winter, even as we laugh at the TV reports of feet of snow everywhere else.

No hurricanes or tornados. No snow. No twisters or earthquakes. Terrorists don't seem to want to bomb us. OK, we get a rainy season. Part of a resort vacation is being able to totally relax. If you live in the better parts of town here, it's safe and relaxing all the time.

Tucson also has the top spas (and rehab centres (!) ) in the country. It's so beautiful and inspiring here that people come to change their lives... and then leave. Why leave? I'm staying. :) For spa junkies, we have Miraval, Canyon Ranch, Westward Look, and spas at some top resorts like our JW Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Loews, Omni, and Hilton.

People think it's weird I'm here. They expect me in a major city, especially some place related to my work and industry. They expect me in NY or Silicon Valley. Maybe even the DC area or Chicago or Dallas. Tucson? OK, it's a little out of the way, but it's near perfection.

It's like living in a vacation every day.

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Monday, 30 August 2010

Don't Forget About Color

Seth Godin wrote a great blog post recently called, "Don't Forget About Color."

It reminded me of a conversation I had with him over email a few years ago. I showed him the designs we were doing for eBay, and how effective they were. He was surprised. He figured that designed worked better when there were more white space.

I beileve that we are getting more and more visual, and mood, personality, image, and ease of use are the new white space. I've been saying that, and people smile. But now, Seth Godin is saying something similar, at least that's how I read it.

I don't think websites need more white space. They need more attention to UX/UI, bringing people's eyes to the most important elements, and providing a real feel and mood to the site. You want to stand out from every other website.

It's about colour, but it's also about usability. When you don't really have colour, design, or mood, you have a layout. I don't think you have a design, but you have a layout! We're at the point where if things are the wrong colour, nobody sees them, and your design isn't as easy to use. Take eBay's grey tabs on a white background... nobody sees those, and now they're changing them again.

More and more, our clients are asking us for websites that feel "warm," "inviting," "pull people in," "make them feel involved," etc... That's why all of our designs are custom and unique, from scratch, and based on the image you want to project to your audience or shopper.

That's where design is going. We've been doing that for years, but we know that some people are just getting the memo now. :) Some designers are still making layouts. :)

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

eBay Dumps Third Party Checkout

eBay has announced that third party checkout will be discontinued next June 2011. What does that mean? Well, have you ever bought from an eBay seller, and during the checkout process got dumped on another website to finish your checkout? You'll often see that with sellers who use companies like ChannelAdvisor and Marketworks. I have tended to NOT buy from these sellers for partially that reason. I hate those checkouts.

I'm not the only one. eBay is saying that less than 10% of sales come through third party checkouts, so this doesn't affect most people. I agree. I do a fair amount of shopping and buying on eBay, and I don't see as many checkouts as I used to.

I think this is a good move towards consistency of experience on eBay. We should all go through one checkout, and we should all go through a unified checkout, even if we have bought multiple items from multiple sellers. We are all used to shopping carts and that style of eCommerce. It doesn't make sense for eBay to still make us check out mostly one thing at a time.

So I would say I like the direction in which this is going, but I think it puts pressure on certain outside software companies to offer more value. People used to want those companies partially to have that checkout feature, and that will go away. People might choose third party software based on different criteria, and hopefully those companies will have strong offerings that make what they charge a good value for sellers.

Who do I like right now in third party software? Well, it tends to change based on word on the street and what my clients tell me about their experiences. So right now, I'd pick Vendio, Seller Sourcebook, and Auctiva. For eCommerce, I like Volusion and Magento. And of course, we design for all of these. ;)

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Friday, 13 August 2010

We Design and Customize ChannelAdvisor Stores

Hey, are you a ChannelAdvisor customer? Yes? Well you're in luck. :) We design and customer CA Stores, both their Basic Store as well as their premium ASP DOT NET Store. Here is a very cool Premium store we did.

We're all about matching the design to the mood and image you are looking to project. Otherwise, if your designer isn't doing that, he or she probably just stuck your logo up top, or made you a collage. Booo! Demand better! :)

We can get this ready in time for holiday selling, so contact us now for a quote!

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Thursday, 12 August 2010

Getting Into ProStores?

Are you getting into an eBay ProStore (formerly Kurant Stores, years ago)? Well so are we! We will soon be ProStores Certified Designers, so if you are considering a ProStore, let us give you a quote on unique and custom design.

If you already have a ProStore, but want it more customised, or with a fresh look and mood, that's our specialty! Get in touch. We'd love to get your project done ASAP so it's ready in time for your holiday selling!

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Getting More From Website Design

With over 15 years in the biz of designing websites, I can finally put into words how online sellers and businesses can get more from web design and your website designer.

When starting a project, a typical web designer wants to know what you sell, what colour you like, if you have a logo, and a few pictures of what you sell. You typically end up with a website that looks like everybody else's, but with your logo and a few pictures of what you sell slapped up there.

There is a whole other school of thought when it comes to designing websites, and it's often called UX/UI, standing for "user experience/user interface." The idea is that an expert in this area is not just thinking about the layout and design of a website. He or she is taking into consideration...

  • Profiles of typical users/shoppers. Who are these people? What's important to them? Why are they coming to your website?
  • Messaging... what do we need to tell these people and in what order? How do we phrase it so that people have to do the least reading and thinking?
  • Navigation... how will people get around the website? Are you putting a bunch of rows of choices up top and then more down the sides? Does that really work for non-thinkers and non-readers? :) What are fresher and more intuitive ways to plan the navigation?
  • The best in modern design. Boxy websites with heaps of columns and dizzying home pages seem so 2002. There are better ways to design now. You don't need to settle for the same old ways, which I think for the most part don't really work for how people surf the web and how people think.

As a UX/UI expert, I think bringing in someone like me bring a whole other dimension to your website. It will help it stand out, and be easier to use. The less time people spend thinking and reading, the more important it is to have a website that is easy and obvious to use. It's more important to have a home page that makes sense, connects with your audience, and projects the most important messages in ways that make sense to your shopper.

You have such little time to make an impression on people, and technology is getting wackier... I see more and more sites using Flash while Apple is blocking Flash on everything. So if you build something in Flash, you've just kissed off everybody who might hit your site from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod as well as most mobile phones.

A UX/UI person is dedicated to making something truly work for your business. A website designer (typically) wants to take what you already have, throw it together, and get it online. It's often not very creative, and often doesn't take "deeper" ideas into account, like how your shopper is likely to behave, where your shoppers eyes will naturally go, and what messages your shopper needs in what order. A website designer typically does what you say whereas a UX/UI person is often in more of a consulting and expert role. It's not that I don't do what you say, but it's more of a relationship where the client knows they are coming to me to take advantage of my years of expertise and experience.

If you'd like a quote on some really special website work, please get in touch with us at

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Monday, 09 August 2010

Get Professional Web and eCommerce Design Now!

Holiday selling is coming up soon. It's a GREAT time to be redesigning your website or eCommerce shop with a look that's uniquely yours. You can even be setting up your own website now. Why not drive all your traffic to your own store!

We at As Was have been building websites and designing online stores since 1995. Hey, we do this! And we're ready to start projects right away. Jump in now, and contact us about getting your own website custom designed.

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Tuesday, 03 August 2010

Why I'm Off Twitter

As of a few months ago, I'm pretty much off Twitter. I still have accounts. Some still have feeds going to them. But I haven't posted anything. I check maybe once a week to see if anybody has @ me. I'll respond to a direct message because I get an email. But that's it.

What happened?

Facebook. Let me explain.

Let's say I post an eBay selling tip to Twitter. If someone responds to it, I don't know about it. You didn't see her response. She didn't see your response. It's not threaded or logical in any way. It's really disjointed. And since I have no idea either of you responded anything, I haven't responded either.

I used to live in front of a Twitter app, waiting for someone to respond so I could respond right back. And it just wasn't happening. It was disjointed. Some people responded days later. It didn't seem like a conversation anymore. And when people do respond, you're like, "What are they responding to? I don't even remember."

Facebook has that mostly solved. When I post something, and you respond, I get an email. When someone else responds, it's there under what I said and what you said... so it's linear and logical. You can respond to my other friends. They see what you said. It's more like a conversation.

I think that building communities is about having that conversation. Facebook lets that happen. Twitter seems to be more of a broadcast, a shouting out there through a toilet paper roll, and not really knowing if anybody says anything back.

So I think I'm done with Twitter. I can't make time for it. I'm having quality interactions on Facebook, both on friends' walls and on business/fan pages. My time is best spent where I'm finding quality interactions. So is yours. :)

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Monday, 12 July 2010

Design Deadline For Holiday Selling

Every year, people come to us in October, and want us to do our fantastic eBay listing templates in time for holiday selling. By then, it's really too late for our work to help your holiday selling. Why? Because many or our projects take about a month. All of our design work is custom and from scratch. We don't do the same thing for everybody. You don't get the same layout with a few pictures of what you sell thrown in as some sort of header collage.

Every project at As Was starts with a long phone call about your company's image, mood, and personality. We design from that. Hey, it just takes time to go back and forth with you, perfect it, prepare it, and get it into your software for listing. It can easily take a few weeks.

That's why contacting us in October is really too late. We can't guarantee that your project will be ready. If you are busy with your holiday selling already, you may not get back to us quickly when we need to hear from you... and then project could drag on as we wait for your feedback.

Start now!

In reality, the best time to start is now. Holiday selling for many of our clients seems to start in September. If you want a fresh design to be ready for September, we really should get started now!

Hit for more info, or contact us (through the website) if you need more info or newer examples of our work. Most of our projects start within 1 business day of when you sign our contract, so we're ready when you are!

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Friday, 18 June 2010

Why I Wear (Wore) Skates At Conferences

Some people know me as the girl on skates. When I attend an event, everybody asks where the skates are.

That's good marketing. You remember me for something, and you feel positively about it. You don't hate me for wearing skates. It's like a good logo or slogan. It helps you remember me.

And given that I'm talking about marketing, having something that anchors me in your head in a good way... well, that's great marketing.

The skates are awesome. If you want your own pair, find them here.

But I will not be bringing them to conferences anymore. Why not? Two main reasons.

First, they are 10 pounds. With airlines now charging for checked baggage, these guys add significant weight, and I may incur a charge. And man, they take up room in my luggage. So that's tough.

Second, every time I put them on, someone asked me to take them off because I'm some sort of safety risk, fire hazard, or insurance evil. I can't have the marketing effect I want if I am not wearing them.

So I'm switching to new footwear that you can associate with me. Starting at Dev Con last week, I wore my black 20-hole Dr Martens boots. They look like this and come up nearly to my knees.

I was the girl in the skates, and now I'll be the girl in the boots. Look for me!!!

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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Join Our Live Radio Show and Podcast

Just about every Thursday, we do a live internet radio show. Who is we? Me (Debbie Levitt) and eBay seller Bryan Goodman aka Mister Bigfoot.

It's called Online Marketing Brains, and you can find out radio page at Our topics tend to be about eBay and online selling, marketing, product sourcing, shipping, eBay rules, and more.

So tune in every Thursday at 1pm east coast time for an hour-long show. If you're online, join us in the chat room to ask your questions or throw in your ideas. If you can't join us live, visit our show page to download our podcasts of past shows.

This week's show will be my wrap-up of eBay Dev Con as well as my review of the new HTC Evo 4G cell phone.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

eBay Developer Conference

People, get the eBay Developer Conference in your calendar. Well, it's not the best event for sellers. But if you are a programmer, you should be there.

eBay has a lot of areas where people and companies can build applications for eBay buyers and sellers. You've got PayPal. You've got the eBay Partner Network, which is an affiliate system. You have eBay's API. Open eBay (formerly Project Echo and formerly Selling Manager Apps) lets you build Facebook-style apps for people on the eBay site.

And let's not forget all the possibilities for mobile applications... Blackberry, Android, iPhone, and other mobile apps. Oh I guess I should say iPad, though you know I'm no fan. :)

So next year, get to eBay Dev Con to learn of the opportunities out there for developers!

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Monday, 14 June 2010

Debbie Levitt Does Not Work For inkFrog

Many lovely people approached me at the Developers Conference, telling me they WISHED I could consult for them, but they thought I was "taken." After eBay's Developer Conference, it sounds like this needs to be said out loud and publicly... but briefly.

I'm Debbie Levitt. I did some consulting for inkFrog. That relationship ended as 2009 became 2010. I do not have anything to do with what they do. Looks like they're finally using the Terapeak idea I gave them, and who knows if they'll use any of my other ideas. As far as I can tell, they're not using any of the other ideas or innovations I suggested. Oh well, someone will want those. :)

I was just a consultant, but inkFrog wanted my name out there publicly, and gave me a title. I typically don't do that. I typically just work behind the scenes without a title or anything official/public... so don't think that you have to give me a title and do a whole public thing. :)

I am still the sole owner of As Was, always have been. Some of you thought inkFrog had bought me. Nope, they were just renting. :)

I'm not taken. I am available as a consultant to any company who wants help and expertise in UX/UI (websites, user interface, and process flows), innovations, marketing, branding or rebranding, etc...

Get in touch! Deb AT Debbie Levitt DOT com. Make that an email address, and get in touch. :) I'm happy to take on small or large projects.

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Tuesday, 01 June 2010

Attend the eBay Radio Event in June 2010!

2009 was the first year that eBay Radio hosted its own event in super-fun Las Vegas, NV. This year, this so-called party makes a triumphant return to Vegas. 23-24 June are the dates. I suggest arriving on Tuesday the 22nd for the evening party, and leaving on Friday the 25th so you can catch dinner with everybody on the 24th.

They call it a party, but it's also a GREAT event for networking and education. Last year, I met a lot of great PowerSellers as well as eBay execs there. Plus, you'll also find the wonderful Griff and Lee of eBay Radio. So it's part party, part education, and all cool Vegas conference!

And hey, I'm speaking there! Who am I? Debbie Levitt, CEO of As Was. I'll be giving one of my usual entertaining and informative presentations on how you can make more sales with the right listing and eBay Store design and layouts. Yeah, design and layouts make a difference, and I can prove it!

Click here to learn more about this event, and register.

The event is at the Paris Hotel on the Vegas strip, and they've negotiated the special rate of $89/night. Plus, while rooms are available, you can even extend your trip into the weekend, and get that same low rate (the website says rooms are $170/nt for the weekend, so this is a major deal).

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Monday, 17 May 2010

How To Make Every Day Fun

There's one very silly thing I do every day that helps pick up my day. I'm suggesting you do it.

I have a shower playlist on my phone. Every month or so, I put together songs I love to sing, and make a playlist. I connect my phone to the speakers I keep in the bathroom. :) And I sing my heart out. It's just so FUN. I like to pick songs I might dance to as well (if nobody is looking).

You pretty much CAN'T be sad or down when you are singing and dancing!!!!

What's on the playlist now? It shuffles when it plays, but in alphabetical order:
  • Don't Go - Yaz
  • Hold Back The Rain (Alternate Remix) - Duran Duran
  • Late Last Night - Split Enz
  • Like Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor - Erasure
  • Lovey Dovey - Split Enz
  • New Dress - Jonatha Brooke
  • Of Crime And Passion - Duran Duran
  • Parklife - Blur
  • Secrets And Lies - Jonatha Brooke
  • Sexuality - Erasure
  • Situation - Yaz
  • Sometimes - Erasure
  • Sweet Dreams - Split Enz
  • The Chauffeur (Early Demo) - Duran Duran
  • The Woman Who Loves You - Split Enz
  • Tuesday - Yaz
  • Walking Down A Road - Split Enz

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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Local Business Should Try Groupon

Facebook ads kept telling me check out a big local coupon. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I clicked through, and ended up on

Reminds me of but combined with viral marketing. Both and Groupon offer local discounts. For example, I bought a $35 certificate to a local restaurant I've wanted to try. It cost me $15 on Groupon, and that's a huge savings! The same restaurant is on offering a few certificates... $25 for $10, $50 for $20 (huh?), $75 for $30, and $100 for $40. Wow, that's major savings. I guess if I end up liking that place, I'll buy more certificates at!

Groupon has two differences:

  1. The offers seem to be time-sensitive. By the time you see the "groupon," there may be hours or minutes left to take advantage.
  2. Groupon wants you to get friends to buy in too. Groupons are only "activated" if a certain number get sold. So for the one I bought, it looked it was activated when 10 people bought in. Well, I bought the 418th $35 certificate.

Smart marketing. Cash flow for the biz. Now I'm thinking about their place. I'll make a plan to go there. I'll bring a friend. Our bill will probably be more than my certificate. And if I like it, now they have a new customer they didn't have before.   

According to the FAQ, Groupon collects the money, keeps an unstated portion, and mails the business a check. I'm thinking this portion must be negotiable or they would just state their rates.

If you have a biz that relies on local traffic, I would give this a try. And let me know how it works! I'm always curious.

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Sunday, 09 May 2010

Happy Mothers Day To Pet Moms!

When I was four years old, my life goals were to be a mommy to a puppy and to run my own company. I had a zillion stuffed animal dogs, and I took very good care of them. Had one doll, hated it. Had a cool Wonder Woman figure! She didn't need anybody to take care of her. :)

I've had my dog since she's 7 weeks old, and she's now 12. I also have cats. They're heaps of fun, and bring laughs to each day.

Happy Mothers Day to my fellow pet moms!

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Thursday, 06 May 2010

What To Do If eBay Sales Are Down

A client called today saying his April eBay sales were down. I said how we fix this depends on the answer to this question: Are your items getting lots of hits? The answer changes my advice.

If your items are not getting a decent amount of hits, then one (or both) of two things are going on:

  • Demand may be down. Maybe your item is seasonal. Maybe the newest hottest one just came out, and people really want that. What to do about this: Not much. You can't make people want an item they don't want. I hear this all the time from people who buy liquidation stock, and find out that people kinda don't want what they happened to buy. That's not a blanket statement; plenty of liquidation stock is VERY successful on eBay. My point is that you can't make people want an item they do not want.
  • Something is wrong with your listing strategy that is keeping people who want your item from finding yours. This can range from strategy mistakes you might be making to issues with how eBay sorts you in search results. What to do about this: Check your Seller Dashboard. Check what may be holding you back, and fix that. We'll cover more of that in another post. But these should be things you CAN change.

If your items are getting a decent amount of hits, but not really getting sales, that tends to mean that people want your item but for some reason don't want YOURS from you. Reasons might include:

  • Something about your item is not what people expected. For example, I've been searching laptop batteries lately. Most of the items in search results are not clear about the mAh rating for the batteries. So I am hitting a LOT of items, but I am leaving when I realise that they are half the power of my existing "standard" battery. I'd like something the same power or a more extended life. What to do about this: Build more info into your title. You can also build into into item specifics and the subtitle. In my case, if someone had shown the mAh in the title or subtitle, I wouldn't have bothered looking at low-powered batteries.
  • Something about your listing is turning them off. Not enough pictures, not good/focused pictures. Unclear policies or too many policies that people don't want to read. Fear of what's hidden in the fine print. What to do about this: You can fix this. Clean up your listings. Take better pictures. Make sure your pics tell the story of what this is and the condition it's in. Revise your policies to be more organised, clearer, and in an order that makes sense to eBay shoppers (shipping first). Not everybody who has a question will ask it. Some will just hit their back button. And even if they ask a question, while they wait for your answer, they might hit the back button, and shop your competitors.
  • Your listing design and organisation could be turning people off. Some listings look very unprofessional... clip art, lots of wacky font colours, everything centred, and Comic Sans can make people think you're a small nobody. What to do about this: Revise your listing. Create a template that is organised. Don't try to design your text. Let your info be info. Let your design be design. If you have no design, still let your info be info, and don't try to design it. Make info easy to read and professional-looking.

And as always, hire a pro if you could use more help! :)

This is where we start when looking at why people are having issues with eBay sales. It starts by knowing if you're getting hits, so make sure you are using a (hidden) counter.

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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Tungle Me! (Huh?)

Thanks to Marlene at The Savvy Seller, I recently became aware of a new service called Tungle, which you can find at

The idea is that scheduling appointments with different people all using different calendar software (or none) can be annoying. Lots of back and forth emails about is this time good, what about this time, how's this time, etc... Tungle connects with Google, Outlook, and other calendars, and can then know when you are not available. You can also tell it when you tend to be available, like Monday through Friday, 8am to 4pm. And you can go into specific days and mark yourself out.

It also understands time marked as "free." I use my calendar a lot to remind myself of things. Like don't forget to pay this bill, or don't forget to send a follow-up email to that guy. If someone wanted to schedule a phone call during that time when I scheduled that reminder, sure I can talk then. I still want the calendar reminder to go off so I remember to do it, but I could still schedule something else there.

So let's say you've bought an hour of training time with me, and you want to schedule that. You could "Tungle Me" at I can also drop a widget somewhere, like you see in this post. Basically, you're then shown my calendar, but not what I'm doing when. Just when I have marked myself available... as in default available times minus times when my calendar says I'm busy.

I wish they had a tiny widget that could go in email signatures. If I drop this in, it's not exactly clear WHY it says I'm available or not available. It's reading my calendar to tell you if I should be free RIGHT THIS SECOND. Instead, I think the message should be more about clicking to schedule an appointment based on my live calendar... or something like that.

Once Tungle coordinates the appointment with the multiple parties, it adds it to my calendar. My calendar then syncs with Google calendar, which then syncs with my mobile phone and my Lightning calendar (part of Mozilla Thunderbird). The syncs go in all directions, so if I add something to my calendar in Lightning, it syncs to Google. Tungle picks it up, and shows I'm not available at that time.

I think it's worth a try! And if you want some consulting time with me, Tungle Me! :)

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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

eBay Sellers, "TIM" Will Tell You What Your Time Is Worth

eBay sellers, go buy that. Especially you guys and gals with one-offs, estate sale finds, and collectibles. Because it would illustrate a point I've been trying to make to some of you for years.

You get an item. You photograph it. You describe it. Maybe you even had to research it to understand what you had! You listed it. You answered questions about it. You packed and shipped it. And maybe you had to deal with customer service... chasing them for money, a problem after you shipped, etc...

The "TIM" clock will let you put in an hourly rate of pay, and then run the clock to show you concretely what your time is "worth."

Some eBay sellers end up with $5 after a sale, and feel like they made good money. If TIM showed you that you spent 2 hours to make that $5, would you still feel like that were a success? Or would you feel like a hamster on a wheel?

TIM was designed to make business meetings go shorter so people didn't waste time. I think it would be GREAT for eBay sellers who may not understand what their time is really worth!

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Why A Carls Jr Commercial Sends You To Their Facebook Page

I recently saw another Carls Jr commercial (Hardees for you east coast people). I am used to their web address being on the last screen. But this time, I noticed something that struck me.

They wanted you to go to

If you can control your web traffic, why send them to a website that's not yours? I haven't asked them, but I started asking myself... why would you do that?

I think the main reasons would be the interactivity and how many times you can "touch" someone. If I go to your website, I poke around a bit. I may look at some food or info. I leave, and I have no reason to come back. You have no way to get in touch with me.

If I send you to a Facebook business page that you can "like" (formerly known as "become a fan"), now we're connected. You can write on the wall, and others can respond, making it a community. People feel connected by something (burgers!).

And when Carls Jr has something to say, it's in your news feed on Facebook. As long as you don't unlike my biz page or hide me, you might actually see future messages I have for you. I have a willing, opt-in audience.

And that audience knows how to share what they like. First, when you "like" my page, your friends will see in their news feed that you like the Carls Jr page. They might go there. So this can quickly ripple out. Second, if you see something you think is really fun or cool, you're likely to hit that SHARE button, and pass it to your group of friends.

And what does this cost Carls Jr? Whatever the person who posts and interacts gets paid.

Someone from Carls Jr PR department will be speaking at our upcoming RocketPlace conference about how they use social media... what works for them, what they don't bother with, and hopefully what results they saw from putting their Facebook URL in ads!

Learn more about our conference and register now! Attend both days live and totally online (no travel) for under $50.

PS: Just saw a commercial for Marshalls. It linked to their Facebook page. Get ready for this to become the norm... for a while.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

As Was Anniversary: 21 April 1995

Today is the anniversary of my company, As Was. We specialise in branding, marketing, design, strategy, and consulting for eBay and online sellers... as well as other businesses wanting a professional and unique online presence.

I started that on 21 April 1995, which means today is the start of our 16th year in business. Longer than many companies stay in biz nowadays... especially without changing owners many times or reorganising under some sort of bankruptcy. Some companies have changed names so when you Google them, you can't find old complaints. Nope, not us. Same owner, same name. No complaints. :)

I really started the business in June 2001, when I wanted a company name under which to do some consulting I was doing in college (and getting paid to do). I did some music projects, and I was making really unique jewellery... until my attorney father told me my jewellery breached trademarks. Buzz kill.

I really started the business in 1976, when I was 4, and decided my life dreams were to be a mommy to a puppy, and to run my own company. From then on, anybody who played with me played "Company." I didn't play house or with baby dolls. I didn't play teacher or librarian. I played CEO, and I had lots of stuffed animal dogs.

The idea for the name came in 1974, when I was 2. I saw a crazy cartoon on the Electric Company where a shady guy sells a nice guy a car with an "As Is" sign on it. Luckily, someone has it on YouTube.

So here's to As Was. A company making small and large companies more efficient, happier, stronger, more competitive, and remarkable... for the last 15 years. We couldn't still be doing this if we didn't get it really right just about all the time. Come check out what we can do for you!

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Monday, 19 April 2010

I'll Be In The Northeast In May... Make An Appointment!

Hello! I'm Debbie, CEO of As Was, and I'll be touring the northeast a bit in the last week of May 2010. I'll be hitting the following route:

  • Long Island
  • NYC
  • NJ
  • Philly & suburbs
  • Central southern PA
  • Some tiny bit of Delaware :)
  • Eastern bits of Maryland
  • Back up to NYC since round trip flights and round trip rental cars are nicely priced.

Sorry, but I will not be making it into NC or Virginia (outside of the DC metro area).

I've got some open appointments, so if you're looking for an on-site consulting intensive day or half day, speak now so I can route you in! What can we work on?

  • Branding and company image.
  • Marketing (online and offline) including social media. We can do marketing planning as well as execution.
  • Assessment of eBay selling and strategies.
  • Assessment of website.
  • Operations management. I can check out what you're doing, and suggest ways to be more efficient.
  • Anything you need that's legal and appropriate! :)

Just use the contact form on and I'll be in touch to schedule your time. Thanks!

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Saturday, 03 April 2010

Your Message to eBay Software Developers

2010 marks the 4th year I will be presenting my "Branding and Marketing for eBay Developers" seminar at eBay's Developers Conference.

Each year, I tell the programmers of today and tomorrow what you want. What you need. How you want to be treated. What to NOT name their software. :)

This year, let's try something different. You tell ME what you want these people to know!

  • What problems do you have that some sort of software or tool can fix or improve?
  • What kinds of eBay-related tools do you wish someone would build?
  • How do you like to get customer support? Email, phone, Twitter, something else?
  • What features are important to you?
  • Where do you tend to find new software tools? Blogs, conferences, friends, etc...? What sources do you trust to recommend these to you?
  • Do you check the eBay Solutions Directory or eBay Certified Provider website for companies you can work with?

Comment here ASAP, and good ones will be included in my presentation to programmers. Let's make software better!


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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Social Networking, 1930's Style

I've been thinking lately about how anything got done before all this "social networking." I've been thinking about how did people meet the people they ended up marrying. And that brings me back to old-school social networking.

Few of my friends met their spouse in high school or college. Most met them at or through work after college. Typically, it was that their co-worker knew somebody they should meet.

I thought about my grandparents. On one side, Rose met Arthur because he was the hosiery vendor in the department store where she worked behind the jewellery counter. On the other side, I believe Abe met Lee because he was friends with Lee's oldest brother. Lee's oldest brother married one of Lee's friends.

This made me think about what social networking used to be, which was about rippling out circles. Using today's technology, we don't ripple out as much as leap into other circles. And I am at a circle disadvantage. With no siblings to introduce me to anybody, and no traditional work environment, I'm a pebble without a pond!

Based on the idea that some of the best connections are made from who people know personally, my idea is to tell everybody who will listen to me :) what I am looking for in a guy. Statistically speaking, somebody I'm friends with and trust will know someone he or she trusts that fits my description. I'm going to use new media to do old-school social networking.

I hope you'll join my experiment. :)

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Eating Right Is About Lessons and Logic

I saw some of Jamie Oliver's show the other night. And it looks like he may not be able to get small children to not desire pizza for breakfast, now that they have been given it for so long.

The Today Show does lots of weight loss stories. So many stories talk about how their bad eating started as a kid... usually eating unhealthy food. Many of those stories talk about how parents making them clean their plates lead to overeating later in life.

And I wondered... why do I eat well?

This is one area where my parents did a really good job, and thanks to them. And they are no culinary experts. Jeff loves burgers and cookies. Ellen used to boil everything we ate until it was mushy. But they had good ideas about food way back in the 70s when I was growing up.

Ellen was a public school math teacher. She saw kids when they first got to school, and saw that they were pretty dumb. Just not thinking. She asked what they had for breakfast, and time after time, it was sugary cereals. She was convinced they killed brain cells, so we weren't allowed to eat them. We ate Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Puffed Rice, and sometimes to really splash out, Golden Grahams. No Lucky Charms, no Frosted Flakes, no Froot Loops.

Jeff had severe caffeine allergies, so everything in our house was caffeine free. Turns out I have the same allergy. But it means we didn't grow up drinking caffeine in every soda as many kids do now. They always bought supermarket brand caffeine-free soda, and we loved it. Once in a while, we splashed out on Sprite. We were not allowed to drink "fruit punch." I mostly drank milk, my sister mostly drank orange juice. I've never broken a bone and she's rarely had a cold. :)

We had a microwave in the 80s but never bought TV dinners or packaged meals. Jeff kept lots of high quality chop meat in the house. I bought mountains of pasta and (admittedly) boxed mac & cheese all through high school. When I came home from school, I got out a frying pan and pot. I fried up ground beef while boiling water for pasta. I ate mac and cheese with beef in it probably every day for years. I was a tennis player, and never put on a pound.

We didn't have microwave popcorn. Ellen made popcorn in a large pot on the stove with oil. We never ate Cheetos or Doritos. We weren't allowed to eat Beef-a-roni. Who needs to when you can boil your own pasta and pour sauce on it? Jeff showed us what happens to a penny left overnight in cola, and asked us to think about what is going on in our stomachs when we eat certain things. We really understood what they were teaching us, and I can't speak for my sister, but I never ate the things I wasn't supposed to when I wasn't home. It just didn't make sense to eat crap!

We did eat some junk. We loved candy bars... my fave was the $100,000 bar. We ate a lot of Milano cookies. We ate a lot of Baskin Robbins (I'm talking in the 70s and 80s). We liked chocolate pudding.

I was never told to clean my plate. I was never told someone somewhere else was starving. But food was never thrown away. How did we do it?

Easy. If we couldn't finish anything... a glass of milk, a plate of food, food in a restaurant, we were encouraged to put it in the fridge for later. We were told to eat until we were full, and if anything's left, just put it in the fridge and eat it later when you're hungry. It ALWAYS got eaten later, so nothing went to waste. But we were never encouraged to eat past the point of what we felt like eating.

I remember going to my aunt's house. She demanded that we finish our milk before leaving the table. We were like no, we'll put it in the fridge and drink it later. She was like out of her mind telling us we had to finish it right then. We fought her on it, and called in my uncle (Ellen's brother). He was fine with us putting it in the fridge and having it later. We thought our aunt was weird for trying to get us to drink something we were done drinking in that moment.

And why do I love many vegetables?

I think it was because we ate a lot of Chinese food. I loved beef with broccoli, which meant I was getting a lot of broccoli. Snow peas. Random stuff. But it was really tasty, so I didn't grow to hate it. I do hate carrots.

We have to hold parents to higher food standards. Parents have to stop feeding kids what's "easy" since it's pretty much empty calories or over-processed foods that can really hurt kids. There is mounting evidence that high fructose corn syrup can cause obesity and all kinds of problems, even when you have less of it than you might have had sugar in something.

We've tried "convenience food," and it's not working. We're over-filling ourselves with chemicals and things that came off factory lines. And then we wonder why there is so much obesity and disease. These aren't accidents. You have control over this. This is not out of control. Take control, and teach and live healthy eating habits.

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Monday, 22 March 2010

As Was Special Discount Offer

April is a special time around As Was as it's the company's birthday. Started in April 1995, this April marks the start of our 16th year in business. You read that right! As Was has been working with online sellers for over 15 years. And we're never had to do anything weird like change our name or go into bankruptcy. We haven't gone through a pile of investors and random CEOs. Gosh, some companies who think they compete with us sure are weird.

We've been consistently innovating and offering our clients the best marketing-focused design on the planet. :) To celebrate with you, every year, around our "birthday," we offer a discount. It's discount time again!

Anybody signing a new As Was contract for at least $1000 USD between 22 March 2010 and 15 April 2010 will get 10% off their contract amount. We'll still supply 110% of the usual attention, advice, help, and personal care that we do on every project.

You know you love us. You know you want to work with us. Now, it's a little easier to pay for it! Jump in before mid-April to take advantage of this discount.

And Happy Birthday, As Was!

Learn more at, and also check out the perfect ratings we have from our clients.

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Friday, 19 February 2010

What Marketing Promotional Items Work?

Conference. Ugh. So draining. I was just at one, and thought it would be fun to go through the stuff in the conference bag in a video.

As a marketing-head, lots of people ask me what promo items they should make for conferences, conference bags, booths, or maybe to throw in with the box when you ship. Well, I might have different advice for different people and industries, so I can't just say one thing for everybody.

This video shows me going through the conference bag... what do I keep? What do I throw away? How long does any of these items get my attention? And hey, notice I'm going through the bag AFTER I'm home... which means something that says "visit our booth" is lost on me. I'm home!

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010

Connecting With Us on Twitter and Facebook

We're changing how you can connect with us. Here's what you need to know! will be mostly business-related tweets with a few personal or observational tweets remain as mostly eBay and eCommerce news will be mostly the personal world of As Was CEO Debbie Levitt. If you're tickled by her observations, thoughts, and personal musings, please follow that Twitter.

Our Facebook Fan page will start to get more use. I hadn't really done much with it since 2008, but I'll start using it more.

My personal Facebook page is mostly for people I actually know. So if I do not accept your friend request, it's probably because we aren't friends :) and don't know each other! If you're into my eBay and eCommerce musings, please join the As Was Facebook fan page.

Also, now that eBay is making announcements and new things are going on, we'll be doing more with our educational site at

We'll still be blogging now and then, though we will be moving the blog to our own domain over the next month or so.

Lots of ways to connect with us! Pick the ones that work for your style. :)

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Friday, 08 January 2010

Posting to Other People's Facebook Business Pages

Yesterday, we blogged about an OOPS where an online seller I know found some Facebook pages that looked devoted to what he sells. So he joined them, and when he was holding a sale, he promoted that. He figured hey, the people who are "fans" here tend to like what I sell, they'll want to know about my website.

Seems like a good marketing idea.

Except that the Facebook pages he was on were owned by a jeweller who had created them to promote HER website. So the pages look like they're for people who like cufflinks, but they're really there to be a subtle vehicle to push her website.

OK, also seems like a good marketing idea.

And the two collided badly because her pages were, on the surface, so subtle that the seller I know thought they were just general fan pages. He posted his promos, the woman who runs the pages lost her s**t, and thought someone was sabotaging her business.

Well, she had a zillion reactions available to her, and she chose to start trying to sabotage him. Not OK and not cool. He didn't post his promos to sabotage her. It was just a mistake. Two marketing ideas colliding.

How this could have gone...

If you find a Facebook fan page that looks like it caters to your target audience, contact the people who run the page, and ask if it's OK for you to join, participate, and promote what you do or sell. They may or may not be OK with that, so it's best to get permission first. If you don't hear back, don't take that as a yes. Take that as a NO, and do not post to their wall or anything.

If they say yes, ask if there are any guidelines they need you to follow. Sometimes, they want to limit how much promotion you do, the type of promotion, etc..

So like any online discussion board, make sure you are welcome. You never know when someone else's Facebook "fan" page is really a marketing vehicle for someone... and you don't want to wander into that territory by accident or on purpose.

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Monday, 04 January 2010

We're Hiring!

We are now hiring for our Account Manager job. Click the link to read the whole job description. Here are the highlights.

The As Was Account Manager takes the approved designs that we do, and works directly with our clients to install them. So you'd get policies and links into templates, and get them into the client's listing software. We can teach you the various listing software systems if you don't know all of them (and who does!). You'd create and install our "simple" eBay Store designs based on the approved template design. You'd create and install About Me pages and custom eBay Store pages.

Clients often ask for things that are bad ideas based on what we know about how eBay shoppers behave. You need to be able to comfortably tell someone that you suggest they NOT do that, and why. We're not grunt workers. We're consultants, and part of why people want to work with us is our great and logical advice. :)

This job requires expert-level Photoshop, HTML, and CSS skills. If you have taken a course on HTML, that may not be enough. We do very complicated coding, and we always do it by hand. You cannot get away with having Dreamweaver or Word code this for you.

And we'd like you to know eBay well! Our Account Managers sometimes get questions about a client's eBay selling, and we'd prefer if you had some answers. Sure, we can give you some training on how we like the questions answered, but we do not expect to have to teach you eBay!

So if you have great website skills, great client communication skills, and know eBay, we need you right now! You can work from home as long as you have a good, quiet place, and nobody else will answer the phone line we'd set up for you. Pay is hourly, and you'll be 1099'ed.

Please get in touch ASAP. The job is open right now, and we need to hire right now, even with this being the holiday season. I'm not going on vacation. I'll be right here working on hiring!

Thanks, and please pass this on so we can reach people with this skill set who may be looking for full-time or nearly full-time work-from-home work.

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Saturday, 02 January 2010

Profile-Writing Tips for Men on Dating Sites

Men, I'm here to help. It looks like you guys didn't notice that a PROFILE was your chance for me to preliminarily get to know you. I am reading profile after profile of "I'm a good listener," and "My friends are important to me," and "I'm really funny." But don't worry, I'm here to help.

  1. Tell me details of what you like. You like music! Me too. What are your favourite bands and types of music? If you love death metal and gangsta rap, we're not a match. You like comedy! Me too. Who are your favourite comedians? If it's Dane Cook and Lisa Lampanelli, we're not really a match.
  2. You're funny? Don't TELL me you're funny. Be your naturally funny self, and I'll see if you're funny. If you don't write anything funny, my impression of you will be "not funny."
  3. You're passionate? About WHAT. Is your job your passion? Which of your hobbies is your passion? What do you love SO MUCH that when you do it, you lose track of time? That's your passion, and that's what I want to hear about.
  4. Tell me up front if you have kids or want kids. If you marked yourself as not wanting kids and your profile says you think you may want kids, not only do I wonder if we match, but I wonder if you have self-awareness, especially since you can mark yourself as "not sure" if you want kids. I'm looking for someone who doesn't have kids, so let me know early on if you have kids!
  5. If "athletic and toned" is not what you are, please don't mark it as your body type. If I meet you in real life, I will use the information my eyes pass to my brain rather than holding on to what you checked off in your dating site profile.
  6. Give me an idea of things you like to do. When a dating site asks you what you do in your spare time, "reading, walking, talking, eating," (real, total answer from a profile I read) doesn't help me get to know you. Your profile is supposed to make me excited to get to know you.
  7. Spelling and grammar. Freinds? Not knowing your from you're? How about "instant message speak" like the guy who wrote, "things r important." If you look not so bright, I'm unlikely to want to connect with you. I require bright.
  8. Do NOT write about what sort of lover you are. Maybe it's just a woman thing, but I'm a different lover with each person I've been with since the sex and connection were different with each person. The more you write about sex, the more I think that's what you're mostly looking for (and maybe you are). But this is a dating website. I'm trying to get to know you. If the relationship gets there, I'll know what kind of lover you are, and what you SAID you are won't matter at all. If you're not cuddly or affectionate, it won't matter that you said you were in your dating profile.
  9. Do not write about money. I don't want to hear how financially wonderful you are. It almost sounds defensive. I don't want to hear how happy you are that you finally found a job. It makes me wonder how stable and employable you are.
  10. Slow down. A guy on a dating site asked me if I would relocate for a relationship (no). In a later communication, he started writing about which possible jobs he could get if he moved to where I live. Dude, I don't even know who your favourite band is. I think it's a bit early to think about which of us is relocating to live with the other. 
  11. I'm not here to hook up and find random sex. One thing men forget is that a single and available woman, even an ugly and annoying woman, can usually find at least one guy (each night) that would have sex with her. I don't need to sign on to a dating website so that I can have dirty Yahoo IM chats with you. I don't need a dating site to find people to hook up with. I'm there to find people with things in common, and start by making friends. Stop using dating sites to find people who want IM sex chat or random hook ups. You can easily find sex chat anywhere, and if you want a hook up, go sit in a bar. At least you'll see her first.

Or then again, go ahead and write all the things I'm telling you not to! You make it very clear that I need to stay away. I just hope I'm not missing somebody really great because he wrote nothing about himself. Then again, the right guy will write what I want to know!

Good luck, guys. With profiles like this, some of you need some help! Exactly what does this tell me about this guy? What here would make me excited to meet him?


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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Now Hiring for an Account Manager

We are now hiring for our Account Manager job. Click the link to read the whole job description. Here are the highlights.

The As Was Account Manager takes the approved designs that we do, and works directly with our clients to install them. So you'd get policies and links into templates, and get them into the client's listing software. We can teach you the various listing software systems if you don't know all of them (and who does!). You'd create and install our "simple" eBay Store designs based on the approved template design. You'd create and install About Me pages and custom eBay Store pages.

Clients often ask for things that are bad ideas based on what we know about how eBay shoppers behave. You need to be able to comfortably tell someone that you suggest they NOT do that, and why. We're not grunt workers. We're consultants, and part of why people want to work with us is our great and logical advice. :)

This job requires expert-level Photoshop, HTML, and CSS skills. If you have taken a course on HTML, that may not be enough. We do very complicated coding, and we always do it by hand. You cannot get away with having Dreamweaver or Word code this for you.

And we'd like you to know eBay well! Our Account Managers sometimes get questions about a client's eBay selling, and we'd prefer if you had some answers. Sure, we can give you some training on how we like the questions answered, but we do not expect to have to teach you eBay!

So if you have great website skills, great client communication skills, and know eBay, we need you right now! You can work from home as long as you have a good, quiet place, and nobody else will answer the phone line we'd set up for you. Pay is hourly, and you'll be 1099'ed.

Please get in touch ASAP. The job is open right now, and we need to hire right now, even with this being the holiday season. I'm not going on vacation. I'll be right here working on hiring!

Thanks, and please pass this on so we can reach people with this skill set who may be looking for full-time or nearly full-time work-from-home work.

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Monday, 26 October 2009

I'm Moving Back to Tucson

Yeah, I'm moving back to Tucson. Say what? What's with Deb moving around so much? Well, first of all, I can. I own my businesses, I work for me, I work from home, and I'm single with a dog and cat. The cat is really cool about the car, and the dog knows, "New house." That means no kids to pull out of school or away from friends. So I can live wherever I like, whenever I like, and why not. Do it while you can, I say.

All my phone numbers will still work... no matter what area code and number you're dialing, it'll ring at my desk.

In March 2005, I finally escaped suburban New York to the promised land of Tucson. Yeah, Tucson is really that great. It's everything I wanted... beautiful, friendly, slow-moving, insanely low cost of living, great weather year-round, safer (well the part of town I live in), and populated enough that you can get most of your major stores (1 million people living over 900 square miles). I wanted the opposite of NYC and suburbs, and I sure got it.

It's the first place in my life that has ever felt like home. Where I grew up is not home. My parents' house is not home. Tucson is home, and I'm excited to go back. Most of my best friends are there, and I'm hoping that'll inspire me to stop working 100 hrs/week, and get out a bit more.

Tucson is home to some of the best spas and rehab centres in the country. You might laugh at that sentence, but the reality is that Tucson is a great place to change your life. It's inspiring. It changed mine for the better many times, and that's why I want to stay.

San Jose has been great. The Bay Area is lovely. Can't really say a bad word about it other than I'm not really a city girl, and never quite got back into the swing of how long it takes to drive somewhere "with traffic." We kinda don't get that in Tucson. Cost of living isn't great, but the trade-off is that there's plenty to do here, and the quality of life can be good.

San Jose also gave me some time to "be alone" to redefine my businesses, focus on those, and also grieve for a bad relationship that ended badly (and won't quite go away, but it'll have closure soon enough). I needed space to think about what went wrong and what I really want, and I've been able to make some great changes to some of my bad patterns.

Incredibly good things started happening to me basically from the minute I got to San Jose. I don't really think it was being "here," I think it was just being away from the life I'd been living, but also being in a nice place that supported what I do.

I will save roughly $1000/month living in one of the nicest luxury apartment communities in Tucson, and while the economy is still crappy, I think it's important to save that. So I get to live in paradise surrounded by the friends that have become my family, and save money doing it. Check, please!

My official moving day is in mid-November, and I can't wait. I'm coming home, and I know that I will be so happy that I will be able to take the great things that started happening to me as soon as I got to San Jose, and explode them exponentially. Thanks to everybody for your support.

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Sunday, 25 October 2009

How Your Wish Your Staff Operated

I went into a local Greek place last week to order lunch to take home. It was after the lunch rush. Two tables had patrons, there was nobody behind the counter, and I didn't see a waitress.

I walked up to the counter, and a girl offered to take my order. I gave her my order. She got a guy out from the back, and had him put the order in.

I then noticed she didn't have an apron or anything, and asked if she really worked there. She said yes, but her shift just ended.

So she could have let me wait. Or she could have asked somebody to come deal with me. But she took my order. I found out her name is Nicole.

I watched her tell the guy behind that counter that a certain table was still waiting for his check. The guy printed out the check. She put it in the sleeve, and dropped it off at his table.

Another waitress then came out from the back.

You want all your staff to be like Nicole. She cared. She took action when she could have passed it off or waited for someone else. She could have walked to the back to ignore me. After all, her shift was over.

There are good staff out there. Even waitresses. :) You can find them, and then you should treat them well and reward them.

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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Palm Pre Backup and Restore is Impressive

Yesterday was NOT a cool day for my Palm Pre. After taking a small tumble, the case wasn't cracked, but was no longer sitting correctly. It couldn't be snapped back in. Man, my HTC WinMo phones took many more WAY worse falls, and lived. So I am a bit concerned on construction here.

But I did something weird for me, and I took insurance on the phone when I got it. So I went to the Sprint Store. Showed it to the girl, who went, "OOooooo!" Like ooo, this is bad. I had called that morning, and she said to backup my pictures and any music I've put on the phone. I did. I also hit the "backup" button the phone has, though I didn't know what it did.

I went to Starbucks and got my usual. By the time I walked back, she was just about done reprogramming a brand new phone. Not worth them trying to fix, I guess. Brand new phone. The phone asked for my Palm account. Well, I didn't really know what that was for. I only knew I was creating one when I first got the phone. But having NOT downloaded the desktop software, I didn't know what having the Palm account really did.

So I log back into my account on the new phone, and it says it's downloading. Minutes go by, and then it reboots. When it's back, it's just amazing.

What's there:

  • All of my email settings... I had put in 5 email addresses, and it started sync'ing those accounts, and downloading my mail.
  • My Google account to sync my contacts and calendar, which it started doing.
  • All the apps I had downloaded.
  • So within minutes, I had all of my contacts, calendar, and emails freshly sync'ed. It was NICE.

What's not there:

  • My desktop wallpaper. Easy to reload and assign.
  • Preferences for ring tones, both the main one, and ones I had set for contacts.
  • Settings inside the apps I had downloaded. For example, my Twitter app was there, but it didn't know any of my accounts.
  • I'm hoping that future apps can have some sort of import/export settings so I don't need to redo all my settings if I ever have to factory reset.

But this was impressive and a welcome relief when I think about what it was like after factory resetting my Windows Mobile phones. Note that the Palm automatically syncs with Google accounts... so I have an app sending my Outlook contacts and calendar to Google every 15 minutes (and receiving anything my phone has sent). The Palm syncs periodically, so both are always updated. That's niiiiiiiice. :)

Thanks, Palm. I started out nearly hating you, and ended up converted again. :)

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Monday, 06 July 2009

Saving Money with Google Voice

Following my post last week about Google Voice, I was poking around the forums, and got a great idea from people there on saving lots of money with Google Voice.

I will probably take and make calls through Google Voice from my mobile phone. But I was worried about it burning up my allotted minutes. Well, the folks in the forum had a solution, and I'm going to try it.

Many carriers have some sort of "friends and family" plan or add-on where you can pick a few phone numbers that are outside of your carrier's network, and you will ALWAYS get free calls to and from those numbers. For example, if you call home a lot, you might want those to not count against your minutes.

Well, you add your Google Voice number as one of those! That way, when you call GV to access your voicemail or make outgoing calls, it won't count against your minutes.

What about receiving calls? GV has a feature where the call can show up as your GV number every time OR it can show up as the caller ID of the person calling. I'm setting it to show up as my GV number... and in that case, my carrier should see it as my "friend number" calling, and not dock my minutes.

Play your GV cards right, and you could barely pay for calls ever again!

The next thing that would save me heaps of money would be if GV let us have multiple numbers that we controlled from one account. Sure I can start separate accounts, but it's always easier to control things from one account. If I had multiple GV numbers, here is the problem that would solve.

Right now, I have 4 phone lines. One is my mobile and three are my businesses (As Was, We Are Your People, and inkFrog). When you call one, you expect me to pick that up and say the right company! :) But if you call through Google Voice, and I don't know who you are or why you're calling, then I might not say the right company.

If I had multiple numbers, then I could set GV to show that GV number as my caller ID. Ring the "As Was" number, and I know to answer with "As Was." Ring the "We Are Your People" number, and I know to answer that way. I could then have ONE phone line (instead of three) because I would know who you were trying to reach, and GV would always take voicemail... with a customised outgoing message for each number.

That would be GREAT.

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Friday, 03 July 2009

Google Voice: Review

Well, it finally came... my Google Voice invitation. I decided to check it all out. The interface looks like Gmail, so it should be familiar to many people.

The first step was picking my phone number, and it posed an interesting question... what's more important? An area code you like or your phone number spelling something? I decided that since I tend to move a lot and am not in one area code for long, I would pick a phone number that spelled something nobody can forget. :) The upside? You will probably never forget my number. The down side? I show up on caller ID as calling from Canton, Ohio. OH well.

The next step I took was importing my Outlook contacts. It remembered my categories, and used those as Groups. You can make settings for groups. For example, a group can get a special voicemail outgoing message. And a group can be routed to some of your phone numbers. Or a group can go straight to voicemail. So this means I can have one outgoing message for friends, one for certain business associates, etc...

And my most important peeps can be sent to ring my office and cell phone AT THE SAME TIME... or regular peeps can just ring the office, and I don't have to take it on my cell phone. You can also set temporary numbers (like your mountain cabin, as the help file says) in case you want calls to find you there.

Not sure if you want to take a call from someone? When they call your number, Google Voice calls you, and announces who they are. You then have a pile of choices... take the call, send it to voicemail, send it to voicemail but listen in on the voicemail (and hit a button to interrupt and start talking to the person leaving a voicemail), or record the call.

Yes. Record the call. I think it said it will announce something saying it's recording. I haven't tried that.

Want your calls to look like they come from your number? Two ways to do that. One is to dial your own number (say from your mobile), and then instruct the system to call out. The other is to be on the Google Voice website, and initiate the call from there. You say who to call or what number, and what phone you want to use. It'll call you first, and once you connect, it calls your intended party with your Google Voice number showing up on caller ID.

If you initiate calls from Google Voice, you might get charged. Right now, calls from the US to the 48 continental states are free. Calls to landlines in other countries are pretty comparable to rates I've seen from other services... $0.02/min to the UK, $0.03/min to Australia, $0.01/min to Canada. Calls to mobile phones are always more. But hey, if I'm out on my mobile phone somewhere, it'll cost me less to call through Google Voice than to pay Sprint's fees to make international calls. Google Voice gives you 10 cents free to play around (well, I got 10 cents!).

Text messaging was very cool. Google Voice understands which of my phones is my mobile phone. If you text my Google Voice number, it comes to me as coming from Google Voice. If I reply, it goes through Google Voice back to you. That means that if I go to the SMS dashboard on the Google Voice website, I will see our texts as a threaded conversation. I can send SMS or reply to them right there. That was pretty neat. My cell phone number never showed up in any of it.

Some features I haven't tried out.

  • If you have received a call on one phone, and you want to switch to another phone, you can evidently hit *. Your other phones will ring, and you can pick up the call where you want. Sounds neat!
  • It evidently transcribes voicemails... didn't try that yet. They will be in your Google Voice inbox, and you can have them emailed to you. I love that from Vonage, so I'm sure I'd like that here.
  • It's integrated with GOOG411 when you call into your own number.
  • One of the types of phone numbers you can put in is Gizmo, which seems to be a Skype competitor. Sure, you can put in a Skype number, and just label that as work or home.

I've had it a few hours and have given nobody the number. :) So I'm not totally testing it. I'm afraid of giving out a phone number I'm not sure if I'll really keep and use. But I do like the idea of a business card with ONE phone number on it... call me, and I'll get it in the office, mobile, somewhere else, or on voicemail. And it could be my phone number for LIFE. That is attractive.

I'd love to keep testing this, but am afraid to give out my number! I'll have to give another review once I'm using this more. :)

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Friday, 12 June 2009

All Is Full Of Love

you'll be given love
you'll be taken care of
you'll be given love
you have to trust it

maybe not from the sources
you've poured yours into
maybe not from the directions
you are staring at

twist your head around
it's all around you
all is full of love
all around you

you just ain't receiving
all is full of love
your phone is off the hook
all is full of love
your doors are all shut
 all is full of love

Thanks, Bjork. :)

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Monday, 08 June 2009

A Flight For $9?

A friend just called, and was thinking of coming up to see me for the weekend. This weekend. He lives in San Diego, and I'm now in San Jose.

We started looking around for flights, and he found Allegiant Air. They didn't have any flights up to me on Friday, but that had one up to me on Thursday (in 3 days). He can't make that since he doesn't want to take off of work.

But the price of the one-way flight to see me was $9. That's it. I assume they'll put tax on that, and charge for people checking bags. $9.

His return flight? $19. I mean this is just STUPID.

It doesn't fly in and out of San Jose. They fly in and out of Monterey, California, which is about 73 miles south of me. Yeah I'd go pick him up! But holy cats, I am definitely going to check their schedules next time I want to fly!

$9? $28 round trip? Huh?

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Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Call Your Favourite Moving Company

I am working on another move, and I called United Van Lines. Why? In Sept 2007, they moved my Grandmother's antique dining room set from NY to AZ. They did a WONDERFUL job. So I think of them when I am moving.

Today, I contacted my local United mover here in the Boston area. We had no idea what my Grandmother's furniture weighed, and he suggested calling the company that moved it last time.

So I called Liberty in Suffolk County, NY, and got the comptroller. This super nice guy took time out of his day to go back nearly two years and look up what the weight was. It wasn't in his computer, and he had to pull out old paper faxes of the weight of the truck. He said the fax was very hard to read, so the weight was either 460 or 660 pounds.

This was HUGELY helpful.

He then asked if I had anybody for my next move. I told him I was talking to my local United guy. He then told me that I could have started with him. They could have arranged the move, and then connected me with the local guy. I assume the make money on that, and hey, maybe he should. He was really nice, and gave me great service when he didn't have to.

So now we all know. If you were happy with a moving company, even if you are not moving from or to that area, you can call them and start with them. They probably make money from arranging it, and what better way to thank a company you like than to give them more business. :)

Thank you!

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Tuesday, 12 May 2009

I Could Live at Disney World

I've done the math. Disney Extra Value Resorts at Walt Disney World, Florida used to run around $80/night with tax. 30 nights of that would be $2400/month. That's not far from the rent I pay now! I know people paying more than that in rent.

And they'll clean my room every day!

Disney's dining plan... 2 full meals and one snack each day for $40/day. That's $1200/month. OK, that's more than I spend now on food, but hey, I can eat anything in any Disney restaurant any time. That's neato. :)

And for a few hundred, I can have an unlimited park pass as a FL resident. :)

I can save even more money by moving into the local Comfort Inn. I can have my room cleaned every day! And the room seems to run around $40/night after tax. Hey, that's $1200/mo, which is like half the rent I'm paying now.

I could live at Disney World. What the hell. :)

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Monday, 04 May 2009

Nominate As Was for an eBay Award!

eBay will be giving out its Developer Awards soon, and there is still time to nominate companies you think deserve awards.

That's the page that tells you how to do it. For the nominee's name and contact info, you can use:

As Was
PO Box 68085
Tucson, AZ 85737

eBay knows us, so I think that'll be enough for them to figure out who you mean!

I feel that we should win the awards for the following categories for the following reasons:

  • DSR Rockstar (improving customer service & buyer experience) - Our templates and eBay Stores as well as our strategy help and advice improve sellers' customer service, and definitely improve the shopping and buying experience. Our clients typically see their DSRs raise or stay high after working with us. Just using a piece of software for shipping or answering questions doesn't guarantee that anybody's DSRs will go up, but stick with us, and we'll get you there. :)
  • Most Innovative - That's definitely us! Have you seen anything like our templates? If so, it's because they are copying the original. We are definitely the company to think of when you want a design that is custom, unique, innovative, and will really connect with your target audience. Considering our first eBay client was in early 2001, we wrote the book on eBay design and eBay consulting!
  • Rapid Evolution (boosting seller efficiency in a dynamic marketplace) - Yes, that's us again! Even in a changing marketplace and down economy, many of our clients are still seeing increases in sales and improvements in their businesses. As we finish many projects within 2 months of someone hiring us, we are quickly able to create dramatic changes in eBay businesses. And considering that many clients report sales going up while pre-sales questions and fees go down, we are definitely improving seller efficiency.
  • Early Adopter - Well, this could be us, but I think this category is really designed for the software company that best keeps up with eBay changes. So nominate your favourite eBay software tool for this one!

So please take a moment to email eBay (as per their blog post) and nominate us for one or more categories! Tell them why we deserve to get awards for helping eBay sellers.


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Friday, 24 April 2009

Expert Consultant, At Your Door

Last week, a client called me. He seemed nervous about his business. He was ready to grow and to be more efficient, but wasn't too sure about the big picture or all the little pictures that make up the big picture. He said that if there were an eBay Live event, he'd want to meet with me. But without that event, he wasn't sure how we'd get together.

Long story short, he invited me to fly to where he is. He covered my expenses, and I gave him a well-discounted rate for my personal time. Who am I? Well, if you don't know me, here's my website about me as a public speaker and consultant. Your might also know me as Debbie Levitt, CEO of As Was. :)

So on Thursday 16 April, I bought tickets to fly to him on Saturday 18 April. I stayed through the evening of Monday 20 April. We got an incredible amount done, from planning the big picture, working on changing how his listings would look, fixing a few things in the eBay listing template we had made for him, and training his wife on some HTML and Photoshop so she can help him out.

It was fantastically productive, and it was great to connect with such nice people with a good business model. My client is a bit quirky, so when I asked him to summarise the adventure for my blog, here is what he sent:

With the giant-headed intellect of an alien the smiling, caring, helpful Debbie Levitt, As Was Founder and CEO, came in for a landing at my humble abode, and my eCommerce business and family were enriched spiritually and financially. Debbie is an extraordinary talent and wonderful human being to boot. An on-site visit at my home over a work/fun-filled weekend will be paying big dividends going forward. I highly recommend this type of interaction for any of Debbie’s clients or soon to be clients. It was positively awesome.

I wanted to let people know that I'm available to travel to you, wherever you are, and stay as many days as we need to get you the help you need. You don't have to be an As Was client for me to come and consult on-site for you. And I'm not an alien. :)

If you'd like to get a quote on me travelling to you, please turn the following into an email address, and email me.

deb AAAAAAAAAAT debbie levitt DOOOOOOOOOOOT commmmmmmmm. Trying to avoid spam. :)

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Wednesday, 08 April 2009

Making eBay's View Item Page More Useful

Some of you know my current hobby is trying to improve eBay usability. I want to see View Item pages that make shoppers trust buyers, leave shoppers with no doubts or questions, show them the info they need to know without them having to hunt for it, and make the sale!

I previously toyed with putting more details at the top rather than hiding them at the bottom or behind tabs. This time, I decided to do something really innovative to try to make shopping on eBay easier.

My idea this time is to have a bar at the bottom that carries the most important info so that:

  1. People don't miss it.
  2. Bidding/Buying It Now is never too far away. People hate scrolling. :)

Click this for a real page you can scroll around and experience:


The "bar" at the bottom stays there the whole time, even as people scroll. I can link things in there to different parts of the page. I linked the seller's name to her feedback and DSR record from her feedback page. It'll pop up right on that screen so you don't have to leave the shopping experience to check her out. :)

You might disagree with what info I've put, what colours I used, or how I laid it out... but that's why this is a mockup, a wireframe, an idea. In theory, I'd have a team of people at eBay who'd bounce the idea around, and we'd make it much better. Then we'd test it on focus groups, and test it more, and test it against other things. Then, we might let it run on the site a bit to see if it's more likely to make this item sell, how quickly, and for an auction, for a higher price.

So if eBay does something like this, I'll be taking credit for it since I haven't seen any wireframes or mockups offering this type of concept before mine. I also have piles of ideas for how a technique like this could be used around different eBay pages. Imagine if something like this reminded people to pay for something they won when 2 days have gone by, and they didn't pay yet. Imagine what we can PUSH to people as they move around the site to make using the site easier, faster, more obvious, and better for buyers and sellers.

What do you think of an idea like this? Do you think it would help shoppers and drive sales? How can it be improved? Thanks. :)

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