Kathy Terrill is a New York City-based actor who has appeared in a number of off-Broadway and regional theater productions, as well as a number of episodes of All My Children. Because her acting work was largely seasonal, she took on a side gig as a product presenter for QVC. However, when her mother fell ill and she needed to stay in Manhattan to be there for her, she found herself decluttering her life on eBay. Her deep understanding of sales from QVC helped her rapidly grow her business, and she soon found herself on eBay’s radio show, attending conferences, and winning awards like eBay’s Small Business Advocate Award in 2016.

At her site, I Love To Be Selling, Kathy shares her knowledge of what works (and what doesn’t) in sales with other aspiring sellers. She uses the membership model to deliver a thoughtful, focused plan of action for any online seller looking to grow.

Today, Kathy joins the podcast to tell the story of how she developed a perfect storm of qualifications in her industry, why she felt like a product creating machine when she first dove into the online world, and what makes the membership business a perfect fit for her unique offering.

Key Takeaways

  • Why Kathy’s experience working for QVC made her so good at selling on eBay – and what happened when eBay (and other sellers) took notice of her skills.
  • The best piece of feedback Kathy ever received.
  • How Kathy became completely overwhelmed by the process of sharing content online – and how the membership model helped her create much-needed structure and recurring revenue.

Free Give

TRIBE membership guide

FREE Guide – Launch & Grow a Profitable Membership Site

Ready to reclaim your time and attract more monthly paying customers? Our step-by-step guide will show you how to build a membership site that turns your passion into recurring profit. Click here to download!

Memorable Quote

  • I love that my friendships are based on passion and talent.” – Kathy Terrill

Episode Resources


Read The Transcript

Shelli Varela: Kathy Terrill, welcome to the It’s a Tribe Thing Podcast. Buddy, how are you?


Kathy Terrill: I’m good, Shelli. Thank you so much for having me.


Shelli Varela: It’s our absolute pleasure. So, you are an eBay sales and social media consultant and you have a membership site. But before we get into that, I’m wondering if you can share with people how you ended up with the membership site, who were you long before any of that started?


Kathy Terrill: That’s like you got to remember, right? 


Shelli Varela: It’s a loaded question, right? 


Kathy Terrill: Who was I? So, my background is actually as a performer. I’m a professional actress. I have been acting since, gosh, since I was like 12 or 13. My family will probably tell you I’ve been acting my whole life but I was a professional actress. It’s why I came to New York City. I’m in New York City. This is my New York City Apartment and I was acting. I acted off-Broadway. I acted in regional theater. I did television. Some people recognize me. I was on All My Children for years on various parts. 


Shelli Varela: That’s cool.


Kathy Terrill: Yeah, it was fun. I have lots of Susan Lucci stories, who’s absolutely a lovely professional lady, and I was in the hospital sequence so I know Jessie and Angie very well. So anyway, so I was doing that. And as life has it, you get older. And as you get older, your marketability and acting changes. So, I was doing more what’s called industrials, which is like training films. I was working in my day job. So, when you’re acting, everything is great, but you tend to work two or three days a week typically. If you have a show, it’ll run for a couple of months, but it’s very rare that you’re working for 12 months out of the year. So, you always have sort of like a side gig and mine was working in retail. I always did merchandising and displays for various companies. So, I’ve been doing that for years and years and years on various retail establishments. And from that, I was invited by one of the companies that I was doing work for to go in QVC. And if you don’t know, QVC is a shopping channel. It’s in Westchester, Pennsylvania and I presented. I was an on-air product presenter. 


So, I wasn’t the host. There was the host, but I was the person that comes on and goes, “Hey,” you know, sort of the Vanna White. You know, “Hey, here’s this wonderful product,” and the host asked you all about it, and you’re the expert. I did that for six years. Loved it. The commute’s a little tougher. I’m from Manhattan. It’s about eight hours round trip with traffic, but I love the work. I love the people on QVC. You have live call-ins. I mean, it’s a live television show. 


Shelli Varela: Oh, man.


Kathy Terrill: There’s like a three-second delay similar to the news just in case something happens but basically, you’re very on your toes. You just have to deal with whatever happens. And with my theater background, that’s really helpful. So, I did that. And then what happened was my mom got very ill. And my mom was in New York and I do have siblings, but they were all on the west coast, so really most of it fell on me. They were very supportive and encouraging but the day-to-day stuff was really on me. And I did not want to delegate care of my mom completely over to visiting nurses and sort of that situation. I had a good long talk with my husband. I said, I really want to be able to show up for mom and take her to her doctor’s appointments and be there with her in the hospital. She had congestive heart failure and with a lot of complications, and thankfully, we are in a position where we could do that. So, I love QVC and pretty much home-based here in New York City, and was taking care of mom, but I wanted to do something part-time to create some income also to fill my days and also something that was going to be uplifting that I would enjoy because going to doctors’ offices a lot and hospitals a lot can sort of pull you down. 


So, and this is actually still true. Whenever I’m going through a change, I start reorganizing my home. I start decluttering. I paint. New curtains. I just start rearranging. There’s something about changing my physical space helps me acknowledge that I’m going through a change in my life. It’s interesting because I just did it again. So, I started decluttering and if you’re not aware of this, most of us living in New York City don’t have attics and we don’t have basements. And my husband and I had accumulated a decent amount of stuff and I didn’t want to just donate it to local thrift shops. I was glad to do some, but some of the items I knew had great value, and I wanted to sell them. Not really the greatest place to do yard sale on the streets of New York. So, it’s like not a great idea. So, I turned to eBay. I said, “You know what, I’m going to sell this stuff on eBay. Let me see how this goes.” So, I started selling just different things that we had around the house that were lovely but that we were done with. And what I found was, I really liked it. It’s like, oh my gosh, I can take pictures of this. I can list it. It sells. It’s like, yay, packages so I learned how to pack it.


At that point, the shipping thing has changed drastically but at that point, you actually had to walk to the post office with your packages, you would ship it, you would get the delivery confirmations, you come home, and then you would log it in the computer. And for me, it was perfect. It was an escape from the reality of the hospital and the doctors. Because of my retail background, it was something I understood and enjoyed and I was letting go of things from my home and it was going to a good home. I’d love that this belonging that I had, it was going to a new home and I liked that very much. And also, that thing of that you are upcycling and recycling and repurposing. It’s not going into landfill. It is going to a new home that’s going to value it. So, that was great. I did that for several years, very part-time because my focus was caring for my mom. And then my mom passed and once she passed, it was like, okay, so where am I with my acting? You know, where am I with eBay, sort of what do I want to do? 


And I just started scaling eBay because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the acting and I truly found, Shelli, it was like the perfect blending for me because, at that point, social media was really starting to take off. So, selling on eBay, learning social media, because of my years of performing uncomfortable in front of a camera and learning how to take that and translate it to social media and then I was like, plus, because I’ve been doing all this acting all these years and doing the product presentations on QVC for over six years, I understood a lot about presenting product and talking about product and presenting product to customers, to shoppers. And I am by nature a teacher so I was like I enjoy sharing this with other sellers and helping them understand about telling the story of the product through the listing, which is what you’re doing, and through social media and that’s how my eBay consultation business came about was literally just sellers coming to me saying, “You know what, you seem to really sort of have a knack with this. Would you help me?” And I was like, “Sure.” 


I got picked to be on some eBay at the time had a radio show. So, I’m going to really date myself, right? I was a frequent contributor to that. I started to be asked to speak in conferences, and literally, it just grew and grew and grew.


Shelli Varela: Well, I know that eBay selected you from 600,000 sellers as the recipient of the Small Business Advocate Award in 2016. 


Kathy Terrill: Yes. 


Shelli Varela: That’s incredible.


Kathy Terrill: I was blown away. I was invited to an event. It was in Washington DC and I had done lobbying on and off for eBay because it’s something I care a great deal about is small business. It is the backbone of commerce in the United States and really around the world. So, I love advocating for small business. It’s also something that cuts across party lines. So, it’s very unifying that regardless of where you may be in the political spectrum, pretty much everybody supports small business and there had been a sales tax issue that was going on in New York State. And I was part of the advocacy team for that. We went to Albany. We lobbied. It was really interesting. So, then I was invited to Washington for a special event and it was a complete surprise. They said, “Oh, you’ve won this special advocacy award.” I was like, “Oh, my goodness.” Yeah, deeply honored.


Shelli Varela: That’s incredible. I love what you’re doing and I love a few minutes ago when we were chatting and you said, “Yeah,” so I was doing that. And it’s so funny because the way you were nonchalant about how you just threw all this together is indicative of people that have a gift but didn’t realize it was a gift. And what I love about you is you are maximizing and really creating like almost like the matrix in a way for all of your different diverse skills and talents and experience that come together in a way that you can package and help other people. So, I mean, your background is so diverse and you have acting. I know that before we started chatting, you were talking about your improv background in selling and story. Can you talk about like the best bit of feedback you’ve gotten from one of your membership site members and also like how did you start segueing into creating a membership site for yourself?


Kathy Terrill: Sure. So, the greatest feedback I’ve ever gotten and it’s one that I continually, lovingly remind myself is, “Kathy, you’re such a great listener.” And I know I’m extremely verbal so sometimes I’m like, “Well, Kathy, please be quiet.” Just like that. 


Shelli Varela: That’s the ultimate compliment, though, is when you can make somebody else feel heard.


Kathy Terrill: And that’s the thing, Shelli, because I know you work with so many people is for me to serve, for me to help you is I have to listen because I have to know what your needs are. It’s not what our mind needs and I think that can be a common thing that can happen sometimes when people are creating a membership or a business is that we’re very focused on what we think people need, right? So, I think you need blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and perhaps you do, but far more important to listen to what does the person say they need? Is it a time management issue? Is it cash flow? Is it they’re not feeling creative or they don’t acknowledge the creativity? Typically, with eBay sellers, well, I’m not sure how to present this product. I’m not sure if my listing is really optimized and then helping them with that. Because of my retail background, and again, eBay selling for me has been like the perfect storm because of my retail background, because of my QVC background. 


I got to tell you QVC is phenomenal because I spent six years on camera, talking product, features, and benefits, listening to hosts that are like experts in their field and then what people may not realize is when you’re on QVC is you have to be there hours ahead of time. It’s like doing a Broadway show or an off-Broadway show. The curtain goes up at eight but the performers don’t just walk in the door a ten of eight. Right? You know this, is they’re hours beforehand with all the preparations that need to be done. So, it’s that thing of I would be there at QVC, let’s say I’m going on at 3pm, I would often have to be there at 12, 12:30, 11 depending on the host schedule. So, then you’re sitting there while you’re doing your hair and makeup, and you’re listening to hours and hours and hours of people selling and you’re listening to their language and you’re watching how they present. They also have these monitors at QVC so you can see like, oh, the sales just spiked. What did they say? What did they do that all of the sudden, or the sales all sudden tanked? It’s like, “Uh-oh, what happened?” 


So, you just learn so much by listening, by watching. I knew that thing too. And also learning from mistakes. So, when you would see sales tanked is like, “Oh, okay. So, what happened?” What were they talking about or not talking about? Maybe they cut off the caller too soon. They didn’t let the caller really talk, whatever the situation was, but really, really learning from that. The membership, when I decided to do a membership was about, I was creating content. So, I was a consultant and I was creating guides, and I was creating tip sheets. And again, it was meeting needs. So, people would say, you know, they had this need and I would create content for it and I would sell the product. Sometimes it’s free tip sheets, sometimes it would be a product. And I felt like the hamster on the wheel, which was I was just a product creating machine and I was the one creating the product. I had an editor but I’m the one creating the product. And I was like, you know, there’s got to be a better way. And it felt jumbled. 


It’s sort of like because I was talking about rearranging the furniture. It was like having all the furniture in the middle of the room but it’s like, “Well, how do I put this all in place? How do I make sense of all of this? Like, where does the chair go? Where does the lamp go?” And that’s what it was feeling like with the guides is I was giving information and I knew how to put it into place, because I was the one creating it but what I saw listening to sellers, they would have the various guides like a paper here, you know, you’d have the various guides, but you weren’t sure, “Well, should I do this first? Or this? Like, should I do the listing optimization? Or should I work on my photography? Or should I work on my inventory sourcing or posting on my Facebook business page?” So, I was actually taking a class with Rachel Miller, who is a wonderful Facebook teacher and she spoke of Stu McLaren’s tribe, the TRIBE Membership and I’m sort of like, “Membership? Here’s an idea.” 


So, I listened and I looked at a lot of other memberships, different people with different memberships. I went, “I think this is it. I think this is what I’m looking for.” So, it’ll take my content because I had a ton. My problem was not having content. I had the content. It was organizing the content. So, I said, “Let me take this. I think this will do the trick and learn how to put all these pieces together.” And it did that for me. I got a really clear roadmap. I knew where my people were starting, where I wanted to move them to. I literally had a lot of content. So, it was like how do I arrange it? What needs to be pruned? What needs to be updated? What new pieces do I need to put into place? And I started it and I think I’ve had my membership like four years and it is going great. I love it.


Shelli Varela: That’s fantastic. I love your story so much personally because I’m a storyteller as well. And you’re a genius at, you mentioned earlier, features and benefits. And for anybody listening out there, you have this incredible ability to have combined a series of unlike things You know, an acting background and your experience with selling and storytelling and being on camera and all of the things and what I love that you said as well is how when you were at QVC would watch when did the sales spike? When did the sales tank? So, you are like a walking piece of data in terms of real-time feedback and what works and what doesn’t, and how you are able to completely lessen the learning curve for the people that get to work for you. You’re like, you know exactly what happens, exactly what works, exactly what doesn’t, and you’ve been doing this for such a long time. And so, for anybody listening out there, I just wanted to drive this point home, oftentimes when we have a gift that we don’t recognize it as a gift because we just take it for granted, oftentimes when we have things that are seemingly unrelated, we’ve never seen them perhaps combined before but you are a genius to doing exactly that.


Kathy Terrill: I so agree, Shelli, and the other thing is that I think because I deal with this all the time with sellers and also just in different social media groups that I’m in with entrepreneurs from a huge range is oftentimes we belittle our realm of experience because it’s common to us. If somebody will say, “Well, I’m just a stay at home mom or I’m just a business executive, or I’m just a graphic artist,” or sort of fill in the blank. But the thing is you know far more than you know that you know. I mean, I was sharing with you when I started and this is completely true, when I started on the computer, which was like nine or 10 years ago, I could not click a mouse and I am serious. 


Shelli Varela: I love it. 


Kathy Terrill: I would click a mouse, it would shoot, and it was back when the computers weren’t flatscreen. It’s the big monster things. I’m going to date myself. And I remember clicking the mouse and this is when I was learning how to sell on eBay. It shut off the screen. I mean, I remember being in tears just going, “I am never going to learn this. This is impossible.” And I remember praying so I’m a prayer person and just going, “God, if six-year-olds can do this, I can do this. You have got to help me. I’ve got to learn how to do this because I want to do the selling because this is at the time when I didn’t care my mom and me this because it’s so flexible.” And again, it’s just you learn and you learn and you learn, but especially as far as selling and dialoguing and knowing your product and knowing your gift and knowing your talents is you do have sales experience and you do have observation skills, but you may not realize it. We all shop. I mean, you’re either shopping online or you’re shopping in a store, and you think about, well, why am I picking this? Is it the brand? Is it the price? Is it the color? 


Shelli Varela: Does it make me feel good?


Kathy Terrill: Right. Does it make me feel good? Is it the placement on the shelf? Is it because. Shelli, my friend, or Kathy, my friend, said, “Oh, you’ve got to try this,” and I trust them. So, then I went out and I bought it or I clicked and whatever but, again, I think a lot of this stuff is that we just do it necessarily without maybe thinking it through and you’re going, you have marketing experience. You have selling experience. You know about the product. Maybe it’s all in your head so then you need to sit down and start writing. But we all have that about different things, about raising children, training dogs, doing pottery, doing painting, whatever it is, you do know it but because you know it so well or you see people that might have a higher skill level than you, maybe they’re already making six figures or whatever with it. Sometimes we will belittle where we are. And the thing is that we all have something to give. There are people that are crying out for what you have. It’s a matter of you learning to articulate what you have, and then communicating with those people because you will find your people but you’ve got to start talking, you’ve got to start communicating or they can’t find you.


Shelli Varela: Absolutely. And so, I love what you said that a minute ago and I just want to circle back to that for anybody who’s listening. Pay attention in your own speech to where you use the word “just” like where are you using the word “just” because oftentimes, under that word, just, if that was a rock that you would lift up and look under, underneath the word, just, is some sort of gift or treasure or something that you maybe don’t recognize as such but there’s almost always something more there. 


Kathy Terrill: Exactly. 


Shelli Varela: I’m reminded of there’s a comedian. His name is Kyle Cease, and Kyle was, he won I think it was the Best Comic Standing and he was at the apex of his career and it was taking off and he was slated to be one of the biggest and best comics of all time. And something inside him was saying, “There’s more to my life than this, like, this doesn’t feel completely congruent.” So, he was at the same time getting into like deep personal transformation. And he said to himself, “I wonder if I could combine both comedy and transformation?” And his logical brain for that microsecond said, “Well, no, it’s never been done before.” And now just like you, he’s one of the most transformational personal development people, but he uses it through his comedy. So, for everybody listening, there oftentimes are things that seem like they’re unrelated and just look for a way that maybe they could fit together. And what could you do that lifts your soul and to your point, coming out of a hard time, what can we do to make money to have it be sustainable and also to fill our cups at the same time?


Kathy Terrill: Exactly. And to look at what your life needs are. When I started selling on eBay, my desire was not to be an eBay sales and social media consultant. I’m very much from the school of grow where you’re planted. So, my need at that time was I needed to make a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time. I basically had two to four hours a day to dedicate to it because the rest of the time I need it for my mom and I need it for my family. So, that’s what I did. Then when my life changed when my mom passed then I was like, “Okay. Well, now what do I want to do?” Well, I was like, okay, we’re going to scale eBay because the acting business has changed. I am older. Right now, I’m willing to let go of acting just for a while and just sort of do eBay full time and sort of see what’s going on with that. And then I scaled eBay. Then from scaling eBay with my performing arts background and again, just listening to a lot of people around me, I went, “Huh, people want me to teach them and reach out to them. Okay,” and then I started teaching. 


So, it’s that whole thing of one foot and, again, everybody’s story is different. You’ll hear people literally, well, in the theater, they do it a lot, the overnight success but oftentimes that overnight success is that person has been putting one foot in front of the other, foot in front of the other, foot in front of the other foot, and then all of a sudden, something will happen to skyrocket them, but they have that foundation. They have been doing something quietly, and then all of a sudden, they’re put in a position where they’re invited to speak at a huge conference. They’re given a huge opportunity. Dustin Hoffman has a great story on that and my husband’s a theatrical stage and actually worked with Dustin Hoffman but Dustin Hoffman if people don’t know this, for years he was a stage manager. So, while he was studying acting and doing various small parts, he was a stage manager to make money, the way I was working in department stores to make money. This is very common in theater. 


And he had auditioned for Mike Nichols, if I remember correctly was a musical called Apple Tree and he wasn’t right for the part. But Mike Nichols remembered him. So, then a year later, two years later, when he was casting The Graduate, and I believe originally, they wanted Robert Redford for the part, and for whatever reason, Redford neither passed or whatever then Nichols remembered Hoffman. Hoffman came in audition, and the rest is history. And Hoffman was an overnight success. But he’s an overnight success and had been acting and working in the industry for years. He just didn’t have that part that skyrocketed him. So, it’s not like he went from nothing to the skyrocket. It was just slow, steady, one foot in front of the other, and then an opportunity that exploded him and he has stayed on top and been a top star for his entire career. 


Shelli Varela: I so appreciate that. And I love for you, you said earlier in this chat that you’re often told that you’re a good listener. And I will echo that and also add to that because you’re also a good listener of your intuition. What is the next right step?


Kathy Terrill: Thank you. I made plenty of mistakes.


Shelli Varela: Absolutely. Those are the best part oftentimes.


Kathy Terrill: And you know what, the great thing about as you grow as a businessperson, as a human being is you, at least for me, is I have a wider and wider circle of friends and entrepreneurs and I love that my friendships are based on passion and talent. That’s why I pick the people that I love to have around me. And when I see people, you know, and people at all different kinds of levels fall flat on their face and I love it when they honestly say, “You know, this was a bust. This did not work,” and we all learn together. So, I remember as a kid and you would forget your line or when you’re getting the paper back, I don’t think I’ve got an F but I remember some Cs and you just feel like such a failure and it just hurts. And now it’s like it’s not pleasant. It’s not like a goodie but it’s not a business killer. It could. Now, it can be. You need to pivot. It can be, you know that one thing you’re going down, that one path, that is not working. So, it’s like, okay, maybe I need to pivot and go down this other path that’s opening up because we talked about that and sometimes that’s what you’re learning from the failure is this is not working, perhaps I need to go in a different direction.


Shelli Varela: If not this, then what? 


Kathy Terrill: Exactly. 


Shelli Varela: Amazing. Kathy, you are an absolute gift and this has been my absolute pleasure to chat with you. If people are looking for you online and want to join your community, where’s the best place they can find you?


Kathy Terrill: So, you’re going to hop over to my website, ILoveToBeSelling.com and my membership is typically closed. It only opens a couple of times a year but there’s a waitlist so please, please, please join. And I also have a great tip sheet that goes out every week. You’re more than welcome to sign up for that. But please, and feel free to email me, ask me questions. I am here to serve. I love my eBay sellers. I love helping them. They’re my heart. I mean, I just daily, daily I get messages. With people celebrating [Wanda Scott – 27:37]. She’s literally doubled her following on Pinterest. We were celebrating. Oh, and another woman, this is really like one that tugged on my heart, single woman who needs her eBay money because it helps to pay her bills because the pension that she’s on is not enough to cover her expenses. And since working together, she’s more than covering her bills, got a little savings account, and she’s just full of joy. And when she came to me a couple of years ago, she was scared. And I know that fear because I’ve been there where $10 matters. $20 matters. And now she’s got regular steady sales. So, those burdens are gone. So, I love working with my sellers and helping them.


Shelli Varela: Absolutely brilliant. If you’re listening and this is a fit for you, I would definitely take Kathy up on that offer. Just a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of information. And one more time, what is your website? 


Kathy Terrill: Sure. It’s ILoveToBeSelling.com. And if you Google my name, it’ll come up. You will find me. 


Shelli Varela: Thank you so much for your time, buddy. We so appreciate you. 


Kathy Terrill: Shelli, thanks so much.



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Shelli Varela

When you reframe your inner story, you reframe what’s possible. This is the mantra of our host, Shelli Varela who achieved incredible success, blazing a trail to become a fire captain, author, TED speaker, and host of The Yes Effect on Entrepreneur's list of 48 Best Podcasts for Entrepreneurs. Today, she uses the same approach to show people how to magnetize their message to achieve their dreams, and discover how they can make a BIGGER impact.

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