The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

When a Pandemic Pauses Your Business

Episode Summary

"I cried."

Episode Notes

Julie Elster (as in Mrs. Elster) joins us again for a candid update on how 2020 impacted her travel business, hosted on Shopify.

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Episode Transcription

Kurt Elster: I am joined now by the one and only Julie Elster, AKA Mrs.-

Ezra Firestone Sound Board: Tech Nasty.

Julie Elster: Sup?

Kurt Elster: How you doing?

Julie Elster: Hi. I’m okay.

Kurt Elster: Good.

Julie Elster: I don’t know how I feel about being referred to as Mrs. Tech Nasty.

Ezra Firestone Sound Board: Tech Nasty.

Julie Elster: But other than that, I’m good.

Kurt Elster: I have a sound drop for it, so just roll with it.

Julie Elster: Okay.

Kurt Elster: So, remind our listeners, what is it you do professionally?

Julie Elster: Other than being Mrs. Tech Nasty?

Ezra Firestone Sound Board: Tech Nasty.

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Julie Elster: Okay.

Kurt Elster: I’ve thoroughly beaten Tech Nasty to death.

Julie Elster: Thank God. I have a Disney World planning website. I help people plan. I can give them free resources. I refer them to a professional travel planner. I have an eBook to help you plan. I have shirts for your vacation, so I’m your Disney World go-to person.

Kurt Elster: Now, ignoring that the name of this business is plastered on the back of your car, what is the name of this business?

Julie Elster: Double Your WDW.

Kurt Elster: All right, so when did you start this?

Julie Elster: What do you want with me? Why am I here?

Kurt Elster: When did you start this business?

Julie Elster: Oh, gosh. Three years ago.

Kurt Elster: Three years ago?

Julie Elster: Almost. Yeah. Something like that. Two to three years ago.

Kurt Elster: Okay. Why did you start a Disney World planning business three years ago? That seems insane.

Julie Elster: Okay. Well, there was no pandemic three years ago.

Kurt Elster: I see.

Julie Elster: Because Disney World’s awesome, and I love it, and it’s a lot of fun, and I-

Kurt Elster: It sparks joy.

Julie Elster: Yeah. I thought this was something I could do. And for a while, it was something I could do.

Kurt Elster: And then-

Julie Elster: And then.

Kurt Elster: What happened? 2020, the pandemic.

Julie Elster: Pandemic.

Kurt Elster: How was your business going? Paint the picture for me. January, February 2020, we went to Disney World with Andy Bedell’s family.

Julie Elster: I went.

Kurt Elster: Master marketer from KeySmart.

Julie Elster: Multiple times before everything closed. I was there… Everything closed in March.

Kurt Elster: How many times a year do were going to Disney World?

Julie Elster: So, I was like 2020’s the year I’m gonna go every six weeks. That was my plan, was like-

Kurt Elster: Jesus, that sounds crazy to hear it.

Julie Elster: Like every other month was my plan.

Kurt Elster: I was on board with it.

Julie Elster: Approximately six weeks, but like every other month.

Kurt Elster: Just on that Monorail nonstop.

Julie Elster: Yeah. Yes.

Sound Board: Please stand clear of the doors.

Julie Elster: So, that was my plan. Things were picking up enough that I felt comfortable, I felt confident that every other month I’d be going to the parks, and that’s really where it was. We went as a family, like with our children, November of 2019. Then you and I went with our toddler and Andy Bedell, our friend Andy, January of 2020. I went in February, just myself for a work trip, and then I was planning, so it was the very end of February and then I was planning to go again early, like the first week in April, which obviously didn’t happen. Obviously, that got canceled.

Kurt Elster: And I realize-

Julie Elster: But yeah, I was planning on going fairly regularly.

Kurt Elster: Hearing it described like that, we have a truly insane and blessed lifestyle business. The both of us put together.

Julie Elster: Well, you know what? I will say, though, like 2018, 2019, it wasn’t like that.

Kurt Elster: No. It was like all of a sudden it was about to take off.

Julie Elster: It was a build up. Yes. And I was at a point where I was making enough money, like I was able to pay for trips as I was going, so I felt comfortable, with the exception of our family trips, that was a little bit different because when you have to buy tickets for five people, that adds up very quickly. But as far as like me going for work purposes, I was making enough where I felt comfortable paying for that with the business, so 2020 was supposed to be my year.

Kurt Elster: To be clear, this website was hosted on Shopify.

Julie Elster: Yes.

Kurt Elster: Okay. All right, and in these, your content marketing efforts, you’re going to Disney World all the time, and the thing has achieved break even. It’s really exciting, because this was a dream, and an experiment, and a wonderful, wonderful vision that we were so close to getting. What happened?

Julie Elster: Well-

Kurt Elster: Because what you just described was the last time either of us have ever been to Disney World.

Julie Elster: Okay. So, well, February, I went without you in February. That was my last time there. It was the end of February and at the time, I knew. I was like, “Coronavirus is a thing I’m vaguely familiar with.” And I remember thinking, I’ve said this before, but I remember thinking about this. I was at the airport, at Orlando Airport, on my way home, and I was thinking, “There’s this virus out there and I’m at an airport. It’s probably not the best place for me to be.”

But at the time, we did not know of any confirmed cases in the U.S. I’m like, “Eh, I’m sure it’s no big deal.” And then I got home and was sick for like three-plus weeks, which I don’t think was COVID. It could have been maybe a mild case. I don’t know.

Kurt Elster: That was just whatever you get from traveling through Orlando’s airport.

Julie Elster: That was just being in Orlando. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Sorry, Orlando, but you know what that airport is like.

Julie Elster: So, I got home, and we knew things were getting bad, but we weren’t quite sure how bad they were, and then it was like a week or two later that everything shut. I knew Disney Parks were shutting down in March. It was right after I got home. So, I knew all this stuff was going to be shutting down, and then once stuff started shutting down, I knew. I was like, “Well, it’s not opening up anytime soon.” Things aren’t getting better.

Kurt Elster: What impact did this have on your Shopify business?

Julie Elster: Well, okay, so people… How people find me, whether it’s just for free resources or to purchase something from me, it’s because they’re planning a trip to Disneyworld. That’s how they find me, whether it’s Google, or Pinterest, or social media. They find me because they’re searching like Disney World vacations, or Disney World planning, so nobody’s looking for that anywhere, whether on social, or on Google, nobody’s looking for it. So, things just tanked like immediately.

Kurt Elster: I want some hard numbers here. Give me metrics. When we say tanked, where were we going and where did we end up?

Julie Elster: So, I was at several hundred website visits a day, and really-

Kurt Elster: Organic, thank you. Not paid.

Julie Elster: Yes. Yeah. No, no. Yeah, not paid.

Kurt Elster: Organic SEO.

Julie Elster: No, I don’t… Yeah, I don’t pay for that. It was organic. My goal had been, really my goal for by 2021, I wanted to be closer to or at 1,000 website visits per day. It was like that’s really where I need to be at minimum by… I assumed by now I would be there and beyond. So, I went from like several, like 300 to 500 maybe, to like less than 100. If I posted on social about like, “Oh, here’s news,” that would get a boost in clicks, because people were very curious. They wanted to know what was happening. Are the parks reopening? Are they staying closed? What’s the plan?

Because nobody knew what was going on, so that would get a boost in clicks, but that’s not… I mean, I’m not here to post news. That’s not what I do. So, yeah, it went from several hundred a day to next to nothing.

Kurt Elster: How long did this go on for?

Julie Elster: Until recently. So, for a while, I was trying different things just to keep people engaged, to keep people talking to me on social, to keep people going to the website. Anything I could think of. So, I did like a March Madness bracket last year with Disney… Gosh, how did I even do it? I think I did it with Disney characters was how I did it, and so it was just like a fun competition with anybody who followed me on Facebook, I believe is how I did it, and so I had them vote via Facebook polls and that would determine the winner of the brackets, and then at the end, if you ended up… So, if you won a certain bracket, you’d be eligible for a prize. If you won the whole thing, you’d be eligible for a prize. So, that definitely kept people entertained for a while. It kept people clicking through the website to get the game board.

So, just anything I could think of just to keep people-

Kurt Elster: We started making food videos.

Julie Elster: Yeah, like I was really just throwing shit at the wall to see what would stick. Can I say shit? Am I allowed to say that?

Sound Board: Beep.

Julie Elster: Okay, sorry. I was throwing stuff at the wall.

Kurt Elster: Okay, I say yes, but random weirdos email me that they listen to their show with your kids, which, don’t do that. Don’t subject them to me. I’m strange.

Julie Elster: Yeah, it’s true. He is. Yeah. This isn’t a kid pod, like not so much that you’re strange-

Kurt Elster: If I were a kid-

Julie Elster: It’s that you’re boring for children.

Kurt Elster: I know. If I were a kid, I’d be in the back seat like:

Sound Board: Eww!

Kurt Elster: What’s this old guy talking about Spotify for? Okay, it’s Shopify, not Spotify. Focus, wife!

Julie Elster: Yeah, so I was just doing whatever I could to see what would work, and really it turns out I’m not great at other stuff, and there’s so many other people, like planning, and just the real nerd stuff is my bread and butter. That’s what I’m good at. That’s what I enjoy.

Kurt Elster: I like the nerd stuff.

Julie Elster: Cooking videos, while I thought we did… I have a Star Wars cookbook, so we did… We. I say we. I cooked. You don’t cook.

Kurt Elster: I filmed.

Julie Elster: Yeah. You set up the tripod and then left.

Kurt Elster: I did not leave.

Julie Elster: So, I made stuff from the Star Wars cookbook. Okay, so you did help me with this. We tried making Dole Whip, like we filmed stuff like that, and it was fun, and it was okay, I guess. It did nothing as far as my business, so like trying to pivot-

Kurt Elster: Okay, but it was fun, and I like that Star Wars cookbook.

Sound Board: R2-D2 sounds.

Julie Elster: It was so much work and to edit the video, unless you’re good at that and have the time to do that, you have to pay somebody to do it, and trying to make money via YouTube is like next to impossible, so it just… It didn’t feel worth it to me. I have a toddler at home. It was a ton of effort. It just…

Kurt Elster: At some point during 2020, did you just stop marketing your business and say, “This is on hold for now.”

Julie Elster: Yes. And I’m still not marketing, as a matter of fact. So, the parks reopened over the summer. I felt a strong moral dilemma pushing traveling to Disney World, and so I don’t really market much of anything. I will post on Facebook sometimes, but I don’t… Some people will retype Disney news stories as their own just to get clicks.

Kurt Elster: Oh yeah. They take like the press release from Disney’s blog.

Julie Elster: It’s bizarre. Yeah. And they just retype it.

Kurt Elster: Barely rewrite it and then post it up to get the clicks.

Julie Elster: And then post it on their own. Yeah. I won’t do that. Like if I’m gonna share a news story, I’m gonna share a news story. I’m not-

Kurt Elster: But hold on here. Some of these people, like some of your colleagues, this was their sole full-time income.

Julie Elster: Yes.

Kurt Elster: So, if they need this to pay the mortgage-

Julie Elster: Yeah. I try not to judge, because if they can’t pay the bills without doing it, if I was in that situation, I’d probably do the same thing. Whatever I could do to make a few bucks. Like I saw people who do very similar things to what I do, but I saw people pushing like, “Hey, here’s a thing on Amazon that I really use,” and like trying to get affiliate money that way, because they know they have a ton of followers on whatever social platform, and so they’re like, “All right, I’m not making any money otherwise, so maybe I can just push some affiliate stuff.”

I saw a lot of that. I haven’t done any of that. It’s just I felt a very big moral dilemma with it, so I-

Kurt Elster: Why?

Julie Elster: Because thousands of people are dying every day, and so travel to a theme park is not necessary. It is a luxury. And it’s not something I’m comfortable pushing to my audience.

Kurt Elster: So, because you don’t have to survive, you won’t promote your travel business.

Julie Elster: No.

Kurt Elster: Because that is chiefly how you make money, and you view it as irresponsible.

Julie Elster: Yes. That is 100% correct. So, I’m just kind of sitting on stuff. And now after… So, this is typically… January, right after Christmas is typically my busiest time of year as far as people searching for Disney. They’re planning trips for this year. You know, the holidays are over, maybe they’ve got some extra holiday cash that they were gifted. Whatever the reason is, this is always the busiest time of year for me, so I’ve definitely seen an uptick in traffic to the website without me having to do anything.

So, that is positive, but at the same time, I’m not… That’s just people finding me via Google or people who already knew who I was from prior research. I am not marketing. I’m not pushing anything. I have a podcast. I only now… I used to publish weekly. I publish now about once a month, and even so, I’m really not… I don’t do trip reports anymore, which is a thing I used to do, where I would talk to people about their trips. It’s a lot of just like, “Here’s what’s happening.” Like, “Here’s the news and here’s what I expect to happen in the future.”

Kurt Elster: How did watching this business that was about to take off go to dozens of visitors feel?

Julie Elster: It was brutal. It was depressing. It was very, very depressing. I went from… You know, like I’m sure you talk about it on the show. We have three kids. And so, we have two school age and then a toddler.

Kurt Elster: I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned it.

Julie Elster: Oh, geez. Yikes. Okay, so this is gonna be news, I guess. We have three children. Two school age boys.

Kurt Elster: We do?

Julie Elster: We do!

Sound Board: Oh, geez, Rick!

Julie Elster: And a toddler. And so, I always worked from… You worked in an office. You have your office. But I always worked from home, but I… The toddler, I put her in preschool, and I hired a part-time nanny because that’s how much work I had previously. So, to go from having somebody help me with the kids, and I needed so much more free time because I couldn’t get everything done, to now I have nothing to do.

Kurt Elster: Hold on. Unpack that. The pandemic was harder on women, whether they were employed or self-employed.

Julie Elster: Oh, yeah. Well, because especially in the beginning, and I think this is part… In the beginning, you were like, “Maybe you should talk to somebody.” Remember? You were constantly like, “Maybe you should talk to somebody.” And I’m like-

Kurt Elster: I was trying to be supportive.

Julie Elster: Like I know what the problem is.

Kurt Elster: That’s what you used to say.

Julie Elster: Yes, it’s I-

Kurt Elster: But I was concerned.

Julie Elster: It’s not like… It is depressing, but it’s not that I am depressed. I know exactly what the problem is. The problem is I went from having this business that was minutes away from really taking off and being profitable to now I’m at home scraping and scrounging, trying to… Like when we were trying to do those food videos. It was like I’m trying to edit videos, because I could no longer afford to pay somebody to edit anything, so I’m trying to edit videos. And then you-

Kurt Elster: And it’s not something we would have done otherwise. Suddenly it was like, “We’re desperate, so dance, monkey.”

Julie Elster: Yeah. Well, and then you were like, “You should try this or that. You should pivot.”

Kurt Elster: I was trying to help!

Julie Elster: You should pivot!

Kurt Elster: Yes, pivot became a keyword in our household.

Julie Elster: And I’m like, “Oh, if I heard the pivot one more time.” It’s that Friends episode.

Kurt Elster: If you heard the word pivot one more time?

Sound Board: Psycho theme music.

Julie Elster: Anyone who watches Friends, “Pivot! Pivot!” If I heard pivot one more time. And then I’m like, “How am I supposed to pivot when I have a three year old who is literally attached to me at all times?” And I don’t know that you got that until like a week ago and it’s January, so-

Kurt Elster: Oh, boy.

Julie Elster: Yeah. Yeah. It’s been really, it’s been rough. Trying to do anything with three, and then having to home school, which is much, much better now. It’s better now, but the older kids are doing school from home. They’re doing entirely remote learning. And at first, that was very challenging. I wouldn’t even allow them to do it in their rooms because they would just goof off, so they had to sit at the dining room, and I had to check on them constantly. What are you doing? Do you need help? What’s the lesson plan for today? Where are you supposed to be? What are you doing?

Kurt Elster: Within a week, we were like, “Teachers don’t get paid enough.”

Julie Elster: Yes. 100%. They don’t. It’s better now. I think even the school, in all fairness, the school didn’t know. They weren’t prepared for this. But this year’s been so much better, where they have a set schedule, and it feels more like traditional school. It’s just that they’re in their bedrooms at their desk instead of in the classroom. So, it’s better with the older kids, but my daughter still can’t go back to preschool and we aren’t ready to have a nanny back in our house, so me trying to do anything work-related is next to impossible.

Even my once-a-month podcast that I record ends up being quite the ordeal trying to find the time to do it. It’s impossible.

Kurt Elster: Well, even where like someone’s not gonna kick in the door and interrupt you.

Julie Elster: Yeah. I have to do it when everybody’s asleep, which I’m ready to… The moment she goes to bed, I’m like a bump on a log on the couch. Like I don’t want to move, or talk to anybody, or do anything, because I’m so exhausted.

Kurt Elster: Many people’s identity when they own a small business, their identity and their business gets tangled together. And I’m sure this is true of both of us, but were you… It sounds like you’ve been very factual about your description of what happened. Did you make your peace with it? How did you feel?

Julie Elster: No.

Kurt Elster: I’ve heard you say you’ve had to work on forgiving yourself.

Julie Elster: No, I haven’t. I still cry about it sometimes, like it’s hard. It’s really tough. Because now I feel like my… You know, before my identity, yes, of course I’m always going to be mom. I’m mom. But my identity was not just mom. You know? Like I felt like a more three-dimensional person before, where I had other things that I would do. I had friends that I would see. I had a career that I was working on. I traveled by myself, which was a lot of fun. And I would go to a theme park by myself and just talk to people, just strangers, and it was a lot of fun.

Kurt Elster: I loved watching it. I did.

Julie Elster: And I would talk to people… I had a list of people who wanted to be on my podcast to talk about their vacations, so I would talk to people every week about their trips, and they were lining up to talk to me about it. And so, it was a lot of fun, and it was exciting, and I’d always be talking to people, and I’d always be doing something, and now my identity is mom, which is great. I love being mom. But it’s hard when that’s the only thing that I feel like I am right now.

And I know that you try your best as my husband to make me feel like I’m more than that, but it’s next to impossible, because you are in here eight hours during the day in what used to be my office, and that’s also very difficult, so you are now working out of what was my workspace. And now it is your workspace, and the children refer to it as dada’s office, and I’m out there wiping butts, and chopping vegetables, and helping with homework, and then I have a beer and go to sleep. And then I wake up the next day and do it all over again, so it’s very, very depressing, and difficult, and I know it’s not forever, but it’s hard. It’s very, very hard, because what I did was part of who I was and it was fun, and it… I don’t know.

It was something that made me more than just mom, you know?

Kurt Elster: It was so cool. But it’s not over.

Julie Elster: It was so cool. Yeah, and I know I could. I could go. The parks are open. I could go back. But I have made the decision and that’s where I need to make my peace with it, like I could go back. If I really wanted to, I bet you’d even let me, even though you’re terrified of COVID. Because you’ve seen-

Kurt Elster: I don’t know.

Julie Elster: … me freak out and cry and whatnot. I’m sure I could guilt you into it. But I have made the decision not to do it, and so I need to just live with that and wait until I am vaccinated or enough people around me are vaccinated where it’s safe to go. And then I’ll go back and hopefully be able to pick things up where they were. But it’s been tough. It’s been a really hard year.

Kurt Elster: What does 2021 look like?

Julie Elster: I feel hopeful for 2021. I mean, I did… I just renewed my annual pass, so I think that right there, I mean that’s not an inexpensive business expense.

Kurt Elster: What’s an annual pass to Disney World cost?

Julie Elster: It depends on the pass that you get, but being out of state, I only have a couple of options. So, my renewal for my pass was about a thousand dollars. So, I mean that’s not a small sum of money, but I felt confident enough to renew my pass, so I did that. I feel good about it. I have trips booked for the end of the year and I’m hoping to be able to add onto that, like move, add more dates closer just as things progress, as hopefully the vaccine roll out speeds up, which I’ve heard is supposed to happen when Biden takes office.

Kurt Elster: Fingers crossed. We hope.

Julie Elster: So, we’ll see. I don’t know. I don’t know what his plan is.

Kurt Elster: When thinking about 2021, what are you most excited about right now?

Julie Elster: Just being able to work again. To have the time to work again.

Kurt Elster: It would be exciting to leave the house.

Julie Elster: Yeah. You know, I got an email the other day about preschool for my daughter, because she was in preschool, and then obviously that just very suddenly came to an end. But they sent an email for the ’21-’22 school year, so this coming fall, and I was like, “Holy crap. I can sign her up.” Like I feel confident enough to sign her up, so I’m really looking forward to that, because if I can sign her up, that means I can work again.

Kurt Elster: My greatest hope is that we are about to enter a new era of prosperity. It’s just the roaring ‘20s all over again.

Julie Elster: Well, if that’s true, that means people will be traveling, and that hopefully business will pick up for me.

Kurt Elster: As a seasoned traveler and content marketer, what’s your favorite gadget? You have so many toys.

Julie Elster: Oh. You’re the one who loads me up with these toys.

Kurt Elster: I do.

Julie Elster: I don’t know. See, you like to have a suitcase full of stuff.

Kurt Elster: I love it.

Julie Elster: I, when it’s just me, will just pick like a thing that I’m gonna use that day, so I like just the point and shoot camera. I like to have a good camera on me. You like the stabilizers and all that stuff. I’m more like, “Just give me a good camera that I can get some great photos.”

Kurt Elster: I got a good one for you. I got a new one. An EOS M52.

Julie Elster: What’s that?

Kurt Elster: It’s like a mirrorless Canon camera. So, it’s like-

Julie Elster: Oh, this is the new camera.

Kurt Elster: 99% as good as a huge DSLR in a way smaller package.

Julie Elster: Yeah, so the DSLR, that’s typically what I would use. Yeah. You just bought this, and you showed it to me and I’m excited to get back to use it, because the big camera, on my last trip I had it on a strap, and I had bruises on my side from walking around with it all day.

Kurt Elster: You did.

Julie Elster: And going on rides and stuff with it. So, I’m looking forward to the lighter camera.

Kurt Elster: If you were to look… Well, you know what, we got pretty real and we got a little dark. But tell me… Well, all right. Let’s get dark one more time.

Julie Elster: I don’t appreciate my situation being described as dark, because I still have quite a while. I have till what, summer? It’s January.

Kurt Elster: Okay. I meant for this show, in which the host refers to himself as Tech Nasty, all right?

Julie Elster: Things are getting dark.

Kurt Elster: And you host a podcast about Disney World. This is as dark as either of us get. Okay. You know what? No. I don’t want to get dark with you.

Julie Elster: Okay.

Kurt Elster: I don’t. No, I’m not gonna get dark with you.

Julie Elster: No, no, no. No, just do it. Just do it. Just do it.

Kurt Elster: All right, fine. But then we’re going light again.

Julie Elster: Okay.

Kurt Elster: In 2019, none of us knew that this was gonna happen, that the pandemic was going to occur and just stomp on a non-trivial percentage of small businesses. Just full on stomp on it.

Julie Elster: If I had known, I’d have sold candles, or soap, or face masks, or something, had I known in 2019. I would have jumped on that bandwagon.

Kurt Elster: Well, I was gonna ask what’s your greatest regret? Like what is 2019, like in March 2020, what’s your greatest regret?

Julie Elster: I don’t know. I don’t know that I have a regret. It’s weird though to look back at things I used to do in 2019 and now in 2021. I was so obsessed with social media in 2019 and now-

Kurt Elster: Me too.

Julie Elster: In 2021, and not even… I really don’t do social media on a personal level, and that’s kind of what’s funny about it. It was just business wise. But now in 2021, I very rarely post on social media. I haven’t posted on Facebook for my business in like over a month. Instagram, I do stories, but because I’m not at the parks, it’s like personal. It’s like, “Hey, here we are cutting our hair with a vacuum cleaner. Here we are using our Flowbee.”

Kurt Elster: I love my Flowbee.

Julie Elster: Yeah. I literally was like, “Y’all asking about the Flowbee? Here’s the tutorial.” Like I did an Instagram Stories tutorial on how the Flowbee works. But yeah, so it hasn’t affected my business at all not being super active on social media.

Kurt Elster: Interesting.

Julie Elster: Now, I think it’s important just so people know you’re not some psycho scam that you have a social media presence and you’re legit on social media. I think that is definitely important. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: You need a presence, but it doesn’t have to be the-

Julie Elster: It’s not everything. I thought it was everything.

Kurt Elster: The 24/7 thing that millennials think it has to be.

Julie Elster: Yes. That’s what I learned. It’s a weird shift now to just be doing it periodically and learn it’s not life and death if I don’t post every day. It really isn’t a big deal at all.

Kurt Elster: That’s quite the mindset shift.

Julie Elster: Yeah.

Sound Board: Mindset shift.

Julie Elster: So, I think that’s the biggest difference from 2019 to now. See? Look, it didn’t even get dark.

Kurt Elster: No. It didn’t at all.

Julie Elster: It calmed down. Calm down.

Kurt Elster: All right. Tell me when your parents were most disappointed in you. All right, I’m kidding. No.

Julie Elster: Last week? I don’t know.

Kurt Elster: I want some… I’m sure they’re proud of you. I want some Disney content. Tell me about your best day at Disney. So, when you go back there, it’s gonna get wild.

Julie Elster: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: You’re just gonna go crazy on like Mickey Bars and whatever the heck else you Disney psychos eat.

Julie Elster: Right.

Kurt Elster: What’s your best day ever look like?

Julie Elster: Future best day? Or past best day?

Kurt Elster: You answer the question.

Julie Elster: I think… So, you know what I’m excited about? I think things are gonna be very different, so I think it’s going to be like a whole new ballgame for everybody. I think the way parks are, and I’m sure this is true of so many businesses, things just look so different, and so I think the parks are gonna be run differently, and so that’s gonna change up how I have to approach things and how I have to share information with people traveling, so I think it’s gonna be a fun adventure to learn all of that stuff.

You know, as far as like past trips, my last trip to the parks was one of my favorites. My sister joined me for part of the trip, and so it ended up being a girls trip, and we ran a 10K through the Disney parks like before they opened, first thing in the morning, and the sun was setting, and we were running through Epcot, and it was just so cool, and special, and it’s very cheesy, but I’m really glad that that was the last experience that I had, was with my sister doing something so amazing. So, that was really, really cool, but I’m excited to see what has changed and I think it’s gonna keep me busy, which I’m excited about, just because if thing are gonna be so different, there’s gonna be a lot to learn and a lot to do, and a lot of adjustments.

Kurt Elster: I just-

Julie Elster: I don’t know if I answered your question at all, but yeah.

Kurt Elster: Good enough. I just want to go back to Galaxy’s Edge. Do you have any Disney World or business Disney World bucket list items?

Julie Elster: I would love to see the suite that’s inside Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World.

Kurt Elster: Oh, God. Me too.

Julie Elster: That is quite-

Kurt Elster: What is that-

Julie Elster: … a bucket list thing. So, you can’t just reserve that, and that’s what makes it so cool. It’s something that they give-

Kurt Elster: I can’t even just throw money at it?

Julie Elster: No, you can’t even throw money at it. You could have infinity money and that doesn’t mean that you’d get to see that suite.

Kurt Elster: So, you’re saying not even Tech Nasty gets in?

Ezra Firestone Sound Board: Tech Nasty.

Julie Elster: Sorry, Tech Nasty. No. It’s one of those things they will give it to people like contest winners they’ll let stay in the suite, and certain celebrities. Like I’ve heard Tom Cruise got to stay in the suite with his daughter. So, it’s like super A-list celebrities sometimes get to stay in the suite and contest winners sometimes get to stay in the suite.

Kurt Elster: Okay, so clearly you are in like-

Julie Elster: It is a super bucket list thing.

Kurt Elster: … the 1% deep cut Disney Parks superfan.

Julie Elster: To stay there, that’s like unheard of. I’ve heard of being able to see it, though.

Kurt Elster: If you have a… You, as a Disney World-centric small business, which is a bigger community than our listeners may realize-

Julie Elster: It’s huge. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: When you think about success, as like a Disney Parks blogger, whatever you want to call yourself, what does success for a Disney Parks blogger look like? Like who comes to mind for you?

Julie Elster: It depends on your definition of success. I think there are a lot of bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, who get recognized, almost like celebrity level in the parks.

Kurt Elster: It happened. I saw it with you.

Julie Elster: Oh, did you?

Kurt Elster: We were there.

Julie Elster: Who did we see?

Kurt Elster: And you’re like, “Oh my God, that’s so and so.”

Julie Elster: Oh. Oh. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes. Yeah, so-

Kurt Elster: And then you’re like, “She’s a B.” Like, “What?”

Julie Elster: So, we won’t be saying who we saw. Okay.

Kurt Elster: No, we will not.

Julie Elster: No. Yeah, so not everybody in the Disney community is super nice, which it sounds surprising, but it’s true.

Kurt Elster: You know, thankfully someone else in the Disney community confirmed this for me, so I’m like, “All right, it’s not just you.”

Julie Elster: There’s a lot of weird drama, but I guess if you’re an adult who’s super into Disney, maybe that isn’t surprising. I don’t know.

Kurt Elster: All right. Go back, though. What does success look like for a Disney Parks blogger? Who comes to mind? What’s it look like?

Julie Elster: I guess if you get recognized in the parks, I guess. So, like there’s a very popular vlogger, TheTimTracker.

Kurt Elster: TheTimTracker.

Julie Elster: Now, I don’t watch vlogs, so I’ve never even… I know who TheTimTracker is.

Kurt Elster: You watch TPMvids.

Julie Elster: I do, but I don’t know what that guy looks like, so I couldn’t spot him in the parks. But if I saw TheTimTracker, I’d recognize him. I’ve never seen any of his videos. But like it’s he’s that level of “fame” in the Disney community. Okay, it’s like when you go to Shopify events with your camo blazer.

Kurt Elster: I’m not gonna wear that damn polyester prison anymore. I’m gonna dress low key and wear a mask.

Julie Elster: People are like, “Oh my God, it’s Kurt Elster.”

Kurt Elster: No one’s gonna know who I am.

Julie Elster: There’s the same, it’s the same thing.

Kurt Elster: I’m going full Beyonce for 2021.

Julie Elster: It’s the same thing. I used to think that that was cool. I really don’t know that I have much interest in that anymore, being recognized in the parks. I don’t know that I care anymore. And it’s interesting, because it’s-

Kurt Elster: But at one point, you wanted that, huh?

Julie Elster: Well, you know why though, it goes back to what I said earlier where in 2019 I was like, “Social media’s where it’s at.” And being recognized in the parks meant I was doing social media right.

Kurt Elster: That’s right.

Julie Elster: Now I’m like, “I don’t give a crap.”

Kurt Elster: Hold on, though. Because the truth of it is-

Julie Elster: That’s the difference.

Kurt Elster: Social media is a means to an end, but social media is a ton of work. It is emotionally draining. And you don’t make money directly from it.

Julie Elster: No.

Kurt Elster: That’s what’s so dark about it.

Julie Elster: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t really have a ton of interest in that.

Kurt Elster: You invest so much in social media to be a part of it. You will live your life 50% online and off. You will never be present to achieve those huge levels of success.

Julie Elster: I wish you guys could see him pointing at me as he’s giving this lecture, like full on pointing at me.

Kurt Elster: You know what? I’m over social media.

Julie Elster: Yeah. No, it’s not that I’m over it. I think it’s a wonderful tool. But I’m not using it in the same way that I used to. Whereas before, I thought if I was doing it right, I would reach a certain number of followers, I would reach a certain level of Disney community fame, and I use fame very loosely, but like recognition in that community. And now I realize that that really isn’t important as far as my business is concerned.

Kurt Elster: It turns out to have like the highest ROI in terms of time invested and energy invested, if you think about social media usage in effective hourly rate, being a micro influencer I think is where it’s at.

Julie Elster: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: I think like 10,000 to 20,000, really like 5,000 to 20,000, in that range is where things really are cooking, and you maximize your success. And then when you hit 100,000, I think things go wildly off the rails. I really do.

Julie Elster: I also think about a level of privacy if I’m at the parks if I were to at some point reach that level.

Kurt Elster: It starts to get weird.

Julie Elster: And I don’t know that I want that if I’m going to be going with my family, so I think I’m okay not being that person, and that’s not something that I’m striving for anymore. If that makes sense.

Kurt Elster: What’s the best piece of advice, as far as your business goes, you’ve ever gotten?

Julie Elster: It certainly wasn’t pivot, because that didn’t work out for me.

Kurt Elster: Okay, it was not Tech Nasty’s pivot advice.

Julie Elster: I think, and I don’t think pivoting’s a bad idea. I think for me, though, the best thing that I did-

Kurt Elster: Yeah, if I didn’t pivot, we wouldn’t be talking right now.

Julie Elster: Yeah. I think the best thing that I did was stick with what was true for me, and pivot, I tried pivoting. I think trying new things is great and you have to try new things, but ultimately I found what works for me and I’m staying true to that, and while things took a dip for maybe nine months, they’re moving back in the right direction now. And so, I’m really focusing on that and I think I’m in this for the long game, and so I’m focusing on building the best content and whatnot for my business based on what I enjoy doing and what I’m good at doing. And so, just I’m sticking with my gut and what works with me.

Kurt Elster: I like that advice. If you were to give advice to someone in let’s say our Facebook group, or just another Shopify merchant who didn’t experience the eCommerce boom in 2020 the way some other people did, what would your advice to them be?

Julie Elster: Well, I guess stick with it if you can, and I get that not everybody’s in the same position that I am in, where I was-

Kurt Elster: Acknowledge your privilege.

Julie Elster: Yeah. My job didn’t… I didn’t have to pay the mortgage with my job, so when I lost my income, it wasn’t the end of the world. It was fine. You were able to pay all the bills and it was fine. So, I recognize that, but if you’re able to stick with it, I think stick with it. There’s no quick solution. There’s no quick get rich quick scheme.

Kurt Elster: But there never was.

Julie Elster: It’s a long game.

Kurt Elster: Even before the pandemic.

Julie Elster: Yeah. It’s a long game.

Kurt Elster: There really is no such thing as an overnight success in business. There just isn’t. I’ve yet to see one.

Julie Elster: It’s a long game. So, you’ve gotta stick with it and when you see what’s working, double down on that. And if something’s not working, that’s okay. I think a lot of people give up very quickly when something doesn’t work. Well, that was a failure, you know, so I’m gonna quit now. Okay, well just because something didn’t work doesn’t mean it’s a failure. You just try something else. So, I think that’s the takeaway. I’ve tried all sorts of things, especially this past year, and not everything has been a winner. So, that’s okay though. I tried and now I know. I know what works and what doesn’t.

Kurt Elster: And for the folks who are planning their next Disney World trip, what’s your advice for someone planning their first Disney World trip?

Julie Elster: Well, I wouldn’t go until at least probably summer or later this year if you’re gonna be going this year. But I would definitely stay tuned and I would read up. Do your research if you’re planning on going for a first trip, especially right now because so many things are changing at the parks, so things that were true a year ago are no longer true as far as parks, and Disney’s a very weird vacation in that you have to plan it unlike any other vacation that I’ve ever been on. Like there’s just this whole other level of planning that’s very unique to Disney, so plan ahead, do your research. Especially, especially now, just because things are so different.

Sound Board: In the tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki room-

Julie Elster: And go to The Tiki Room for a classic Disney experience.

Kurt Elster: What is your favorite ride at Disney World?

Julie Elster: You know, I get asked this a lot and it changes day to day. I really… I don’t know. I like Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios.

Kurt Elster: You do talk about that a lot. That probably is your favorite.

Julie Elster: I like that one. It terrifies me. Every time. I scream bloody murder. But I love it. It’s such a thrill.

Kurt Elster: What about the Haunted Mansion?

Julie Elster: I-

Sound Board: Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion.

Julie Elster: I like Haunted Mansion. That is also one of my favorites. It’s such a classic. And that one makes me think of my childhood and that’s another reason that I really like it. At the end, when you see the ghosts in your dune buggy, I remember that as a child, like very, very vividly.

Kurt Elster: How old was our youngest when we took her on Haunted Mansion?

Julie Elster: Oh, she was a year.

Kurt Elster: And I remember being so worried. I am like, “She’s gonna flip out.” And no, it was just like she was one, so she was like, “It’s cool stuff.” And was just pointing. Lots of pointing.

Julie Elster: Yes. There was a lot of pointing.

Kurt Elster: Which you knew in baby language, that meant good.

Julie Elster: Yeah. And then we went back like a year later and she was terrified of everything.

Kurt Elster: Okay.

Julie Elster: So, if you’re going with a toddler, be flexible, because you never know.

Kurt Elster: Be flexible.

Julie Elster: You never know.

Kurt Elster: Now, can I play the outro from your show so we can hear your podcast voice?

Julie Elster: No.

Kurt Elster: No?

Julie Elster: No. No, you may not.

Kurt Elster: All right, fine.

Julie Elster: No, you may not.

Kurt Elster: All right. I will respect-

Julie Elster: Not allowed. You can just… If your listeners are curious, they can listen to my podcast. How about that?

Kurt Elster: All right.

Julie Elster: It’s over.

Kurt Elster: Where can we find more about you?

Julie Elster: I am at and even though I’m not super active, I’m all over the social media. On Facebook and Instagram. You could follow me on Instagram if you want to learn about the Flowbee. You know, home haircuts.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I enjoy your stories, but you know, we’re married.

Julie Elster: Doing posts about that. My stories are not Disney related right now. You know what? I gotta say, engagement’s been super high. People who liked me before love me right now, and I don’t know why.

Kurt Elster: You found your tribe.

Julie Elster: It’s so weird. I got more engagement on the Flowbee than I have on like anything else in 2020. So many questions.

Kurt Elster: I don’t know. The Flowbee, we can all relate to needing a haircut in 2020.

Julie Elster: Oh yeah. People were all about it.

Kurt Elster: What do you think of my Flowbee cut?

Julie Elster: You know, it’s pretty fly.

Kurt Elster: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Julie Elster: Yeah. It’s pretty good for a vacuum cutting your hair.

Kurt Elster: A vacuum cut my hair and it came out okay.

Julie Elster: You know, just looking at you, if I didn’t know you, I wouldn’t be like, “That guy cuts his hair with a vacuum.” Does that help?

Kurt Elster: That’s the best compliment I’ve gotten in a month.

Julie Elster: You’re welcome.

Kurt Elster: Thank you, wife. I love you.

Julie Elster: I love you too.