Side Hustling with My Lady

My Girl - Laney - drinking coffee at 2 years old.
My Girl – Laney – drinking coffee at 2 years old.

Over the years, my “make money online” side hustle efforts have taken me in a bunch of different directions. From selling stuff on eBay, to writing articles, to blogging, to niche sites and affiliate marketing and even creating my own web-based service. I’ve had plenty of failures and even some pretty good successes as of late. But one thing missing from all of the above is the interest and participation of my wife. My Lady (as I call her in real life) had absolutely zero involvement or interest in anything I’ve been doing online over the last several years. Other than spending the money that I bring in, my wife (Susie) has had nothing at all to do with any of my internet side hustle ventures.

Until now that is. We finally found something that we can work on together. Something that incorporates the thing that I specialize in and enjoy – making money online.  And something that also incorporates an activity that Susie enjoys and is good at – shopping! Who knew? In this post, I’m going to share the following:

  • how we were introduced to this idea
  • why it took us so long to get started
  • several resources and sources of motivation that you can use to do this too [Update]: FREE Guide available now
  • our experience and results after the first couple of weeks
  • our plans to take this business to the next level – 5 figures per month!

How We First Learned About Our New Side Hustle

Much of my internet marketing education over the last several years has come in the form of listening to podcasts. This model for learning fits perfectly for me, as I spend my weekdays behind the wheel of a semi-truck at my day job. So it’s no surprise that I was introduced to this idea by listening to a podcast. The Smart Passive Income podcast, actually, by Pat Flynn. On February 27th, 2014, Pat published this episode – http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/fulfillment-by-amazon-fba/ – and I was very intrigued.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Jessica Larrew was interviewed in the SPI podcast episode and she explained in detail how she and her husband Cliff have turned their “selling stuff on Amazon via FBA” business into a 6-figures per year ordeal. Wow! In a nutshell – they go to actual stores (mostly) and buy stuff for cheap that sells for more on Amazon. They ship the stuff to Amazon and Amazon takes care of fulfilling the orders for customers after the stuff sells. Within the interview, Jessica explains how and why this business model works, and how easy it actually is to find items to send to Amazon.

My Lady, Susie, is not a podcast listener. But I was able to convince her to listen to this particular SPI episode not long after I listened to it. She was also intrigued. Susie has always been a fantastic bargain hunter and deal finder. Not to mention that she also enjoys shopping. I figured the technical stuff can’t be very hard to figure out – so I thought she might actually consider jumping on the “make money online – side hustle” bandwagon with me.

So What Took Us So Long to Get Started?

Around the time that we learned about selling on Amazon via FBA, Susie was very busy dealing with a complicated medical issue that her dad was having. As the primary contact person between her dad and all the doctors, hospitals and insurance companies etc., she really had a LOT on her plate at the time. There was no way she could squeeze any extra time out to focus on and learn this business model.

And as for me, well – I was still spending any free time that I could find trying to build an “online passive income” empire. Working on my niches sites and my blog, starting a keyword research service and managing writers and virtual assistants was already more than I could handle in the spare time that I created by sleeping less. I had found myself inundated with tax calculators and other tools and it had been overwhelming to say the least. I saw the potential with the FBA business model, but decided to stay more focused on my other internet ventures.

One person I told about this took action!

At the same time I forwarded the SPI podcast episode to my wife, I also forwarded it to my cousin Jason (who lives on the opposite side of the country from me). I had been telling him about some of my recent successes with making money online and explained to him how I just stumbled across something that anybody can do to make money online. He is not an internet business geek like me and has no website building technical skills. He ended up taking action and even found a mentor to help coach him along. For the last several months I’ve been hearing from him and all the success he has been having with finding deals and selling them for more on Amazon.

I knew it would be several months before the medical ordeal with Susie’s dad was over and before life would get back to normal in our household. But I’m glad that my cousin Jason took action and that I was able to watch from afar and see that somebody I know was actually making this thing work. This helped keep the idea on the forefront of my mind. Had it not been for that, I may have forgotten about the idea altogether and never gave it a chance. But that wasn’t likely to happen anyway, since the subject kept coming up more and more on some of the podcasts that I listen to.

Selling on Amazon – Podcasts for Information and Motivation

During the timeframe from when I first learned about FBA from Pat Flynn’s podcast to when My Lady and I actually got started, these are some of the podcasts that I came across on the subject and listened to. I got tons of great and valuable information from these for free – not to mention all of the inspiration and motivation I got by hearing about others who are doing this.

  • I regularly listen to the Side Hustle Nation podcast by Nick Loper. He publishes a new episode every Thursday and his topics and interviews feature a wide variety of side hustle strategies that people are using. In this episode, he features a seemingly “regular Joe,” Ryan Grant, who has turned his selling on Amazon side hustle into a full time gig- http://www.sidehustlenation.com/sell-online-full-time/
  • Chris Guthrie has been known in the internet marketing space for several years as “the guy” when it comes to selling Amazon products as an affiliate. Being that guy is what led him to this interview with Brian Leyde – a guy who is making 6-figures per month selling stuff on Amazon!  http://entrepreneurboost.com/podcast17/

Listening to Chris Guthrie’s interview with Brian Leyde had me really intrigued, but it sounded like another whole ball game and something that I would have to completely devote myself to in order to make it work. I was too busy and didn’t have the time – so I shoved that idea to the back of my mind. It almost sounded too good to be true…

Hmmm. This is the exact same thing that Chris Guthrie and Brian Leyde talked about. There must be something to this. After listening to the private labeling interview on the SPI podcast, I decided to do a search on my Stitcher app to find more podcasts and information on private labeling and selling products on Amazon.

More Websites for Information and Motivation

Chris Guthrie ended up buying into the really expensive training course called Amazing Selling Machine (over $3,000!) and he and Brian Leyde formed an entire mastermind community around private labeling and selling products on Amazon. In this post, Chris shares via video the success he has had after only his first 68 days. – http://entrepreneurboost.com/first-68-amazon/

Jessica Larrew provides some of the best and most in depth information and tutorials on how to get started selling on FBA. She provides a ton of free information and also has a paid course and a few ebooks for sale. I have not paid for anything myself to learn how to do this – but I’ve heard only good things about what Jessica offers. Here is her and her husband Cliff’s site – http://thesellingfamily.com/

Stephen is another guy I came across who is making a full-time living selling stuff on Amazon. He also offers tons of insights and valuable information in the form of a blog and he also has an inexpensive ebook for sale. Check out Stephen’s site here: http://www.fulltimefba.com/

Our Experience and Results After Just a Few Weeks

It was during the month of September that I started to get excited about this whole selling on Amazon thing. Also during September, life was a little crazy around our household as we settled back into our weekly routines and adjusted to the kids school schedules and after school activities. But I knew we would have to take action on this thing sooner rather than later. I re-kindled the fire I had lit in Susie’s mind several months earlier and convinced her to help me give this thing a shot. Here is what she came home with after her very first “sourcing trip” (minus the sewing stuff – she just set all of the items on her sewing table). [Update]: I created a FREE Guide to show you exactly how we pick items to sell. CLICK HERE to grab it now.Items to Sell on Amazon FBA So – Susie did her part. She bought the items. Now it was my turn to figure out how to properly get them to Amazon and get them up for sale. This first batch of items sat just how you see them on the sewing table for nearly 2 weeks while I procrastinated. Then finally, I did a little bit of research online. I checked out some of Jessica Larrew’s advice and resources. I searched for and watched a few YouTube videos, bought a few of the necessary supplies (labels, boxes, packing tape…) and spent a few hours on a Saturday getting this stuff off to Amazon. I actually enjoyed the process and it was quite simple after doing it the first time.

Click Here to get my FREE Guide – How to Find Items to Sell on Amazon

Amazon screenshot - day 1
Click on Image to Enlarge

The following Monday we dropped off the ready-to-go boxes, with prepaid UPS shipping labels attached, at one of our local shipping stores where UPS picks up daily. By Wednesday and Thursday, the boxes were arriving and being checked in at the various Amazon fulfillment centers that we shipped them to. We even started making sales on our very first day! Check out the screenshots that I took from the Amazon Seller App on my phone. We sold $86.91 on Wednesday, the very first day that our stuff arrived and got checked in at a fulfillment center! Before this point, Susie was still just a little bit apprehensive and pessimistic about the entire business idea. She needed to see results before we went much further. As soon as I saw these first sales via the Amazon Seller App on my phone, I texted Susie and told her to open up the app on her phone. She immediately got excited and exclaimed that she needed to go shopping for more!

Amazon screenshot - day 5
Click on Image to Enlarge

By the end of that week, Susie had another batch of items purchased and ready to prepare and send to Amazon. This time I walked her through the fairly easy process of scanning each new item into Amazon (we actually do this via the app on our phones), setting prices and quantities, printing and applying product labels, setting up shipments to each specified fulfillment center and packaging the products in boxes to send out. We did this process together twice and now Susie can do it completely on her own!

It’s easy and fun to monitor how sales are going via the Amazon Seller App on our phones. It seems to update in real time. I’ve seen our sales stats change several times throughout the day on more than one occasion. This second screenshot from my phone shows our sales after the first 5 days. These sales figures do NOT reflect the amount that we receive though. Amazon does charge fees for using their FBA service and we also have to subtract our cost for the items to determine profits. But believe me – we already know how profitable each item will be before we even purchase it. The Amazon Seller App gives us all of this information (including estimated fees) when we are scanning items in the store to decide whether or not to buy them. The next screenshot is taken from our sales dashboard via the PC and shows all of our sales for October. First sales occured on October 15th, and these are out current stats exactly 2 weeks later. Not a bad start for a first time business venture! Amazon Sales Dashboard October 2014

Our Plans for the Future

Selling items we find for cheap at local stores is fun and profitable. But this is just the tip of the iceberg for us. If you check out many of those podcasts I listed above, you’ll see that most of them are talking about creating and private-labeling their own products to sell on Amazon. This is where the real money is at and is absolutely the direction we want to go. Imagine simply ordering more products to send to Amazon rather than hunting for random products at stores. Not to mention, the profit margins can be much higher if done correctly.

For now though, we are comfortable and happy doing the “retail arbitrage” thing. Starting out this way is enabling us to familiarize ourselves and get comfortable with the Amazon platform and everything that happens on the back end over there. We can learn all of the quirks and the ins and outs without risking too much of our own money. Plus, we can save the profits from doing what we’re doing in order to invest in creating our own products later.

Learning how to source our own products will be quite the learning experience – and I can hardly wait to jump into that. But mastering retail arbitrage throughout this holiday buying season is going to be our first short term goal. Long term – we’re going to make an absolute killing during the holiday buying season of 2015 when we are selling our own products!

Most importantly though – I’m really excited to have my lovely wife on board for this new side hustling adventure. Working as a team with the woman I am sharing my life with is going to be the real difference maker in our chances to really succeed with making money online. The sky is the limit now. Watch out internet – here we come!

Click Here to get my FREE Guide – How to Find Items to Sell on Amazon

Readers: Have you heard of or tried selling via Amazon’s FBA program? What do you think about this business model?

49 thoughts on “Side Hustling with My Lady”

    • I’m still trying to figure that out Mike. Being brand new at this, it’s going to take a few weeks or months to decipher profit margins. I’m not wasting my time to track each item separately. But I can tell you this. It should be close to 50%. One of the criteria we use when purchasing items is that we want to at least double our money after fees.

      • Very cool. This sounds like a great idea.

        As someone whose (four-figure) niche site just got slapped down by Google, I’m definitely looking to expand 🙂

        Keep us posted with more updates!

  1. Also, and this is a *really* stupid question — but when do you actually ship the items to Amazon? Before you make a sale, or after? It sounds like 1) you bought some items, 2) sent them to Amazon, and then 3) waited for them to sell — in that order? Is that right?

    • That’s right Mike. The items we ship to Amazon aren’t available to buyers until Amazon receives them and checks them in. They handle it all from there and then send us our money minus their fees. A somewhat passive business model. .. And I will definitely keep the blog audience here updated.

      • Got it, thanks!

        Okay last question — do you have to create the product listing page on Amazon for each item?

        Like did you make a sales page on Amazon for all of those items in your picture?

  2. Hey Matt
    i’ve been looking into doing this and from what have read every warehouse that amazon keeps your products
    in you have to pay sales tax to that state. It’s called the nexus tax. so you would have to register your business in every state that has a warehouse which i think its like 20! Some states not only have a state tax but a jurisdictions tax as well.Which means that you would have to pay a sales tax to the state and the city which it was sold. if any of this is incorrect please let me/us know.

    • I honestly have no idea on that tax issue Bill. I’m not letting any kind of taxes stand in the way of building up our business. Not worried about it at all and not even planning on looking into it. If it comes up when I file my taxes in February – I’ll deal with it then. I’m sure Amazon will send out the appropriate forms in January.

      Other than that – I do file quarterly estimates on my internet income and set aside about 1/4th of my profits for taxes.

  3. i apologize if i offended you didn’t mean too. I’m going to send my first first shipment in this week regardless of the tax law Cause like you i’m sure sure it work out come tax time.I just didn’t know if you had any info on this. best of luck to you and your wife with amazon. i’ll be looking forward to any updates.

    • No need to apologize Bill. I don’t even know why you thought you offended me?… Just because of the nature of your question I felt I needed to explain that I don’t make business decisions based on fear of possible tax consequences. Good luck with your first shipment!

  4. Hey Matt Great post. Glad to see you having success with this. I myself have become really interested in the whole FBA thing. LIke you I came across it when Jessica Larrew got interviewed by Pat. and now my interest got rekindled by Chris when he was promoting ASM. I couldn’t get past the extremely expensive price tag for the training. But with that said I plan on doing some private labeling. I have two samples coming in the mail next week.

    • Wow Nathan – samples on the way already! You’re seriously taking some action with this thing. If you haven’t done so already – I highly recommend you listen to those Freedom Fastlane podcasts I listed in the post. You’ll get a lot out of those.

      Would love to stay up to date on how it works out for you.

      • Yea, I’ve been slacking with getting stuff done online. I really hope they turn out to be decent quality. If they are I’ll be having to put up about $2500ish to get decent margins. I haven’t listened to Freedom Fastlane, I’ll be taking a listen. Thanks!

    • I don’t. Amazon drives traffic to the pages. That’s what is cool about this business model. The buyers are already there. We just provide more of the products that they are already buying. The trick is to only buy and send things that will actually sell.

  5. Glad this is working out for you Matt. I’m just now starting to see sales on products I purchased wholesale. I’d love to get my girlfriend involved in the arbitrage stuff but I’m also so focused on sticking with my niche I don’t know if I want to be buying random products off clearance racks or not. Looking forward to more updates!

    • Yeah John – I know what you mean. If you’re focused on a certain niche, it could look strange when potential buyers see other products you are selling and all kinds of random stuff shows up.

      The returns happen so much quicker though when you are providing products that people are already buying.

  6. Matt, this sounds great! Congrats with getting your lady on the side hustle train. I was nodding along as I read this, finding lots of similarities with me and my wife. I listen to podcasts non-stop, my wife doesn’t. I have seen the value of Amazon sales, my wife sees it too but is completely consumed with other activities like PTA and Girl Scouts. My wife even has a sign up by the computer about Amazon sales, a motivational reminder of sorts that she posted after my last heated endorsement of the side hustle/own business through Amazon (like a passionate speech from a football coach).

    Thanks for all of the resources posted in the article here. I’m going to dive in and pull my wife along with me. I think the prospect of quick success will be motivational. Good luck with increasing your sales.

    • That’s really cool to hear Brian. Even if you can’t get your wife to listen to any of the podcasts – at least get her to read this article. Seeing money start to come in so quickly is definitely a powerful motivator.

      While I don’t plan on being the guy who teaches every last detail of this business model (others like Jessica Larrew already have that covered), I do plan on keeping the blog audience here updated and even sharing some tips and tricks that I learn along the way.

  7. Wow cool stuff Matt, and funnily enough, I forwarded Pat’s interview with Jessica Larrew on to my girlfriend about a week ago and she was pretty interested. Our only issue is that we live outside of any Amazon countries, so getting products to their FBA warehouses would be problematic.

    Cool to see we both have ladies who are interested in this kind of thing though! I wonder if Pat will ever get his wife involved too!

    Dom

    • Yeah Dom – it would be more challenging to do this retail arbitrage thing from outside of the US. Possible – but more difficult. Creating your own private label products is definitely a viable option though. Perhaps that will interest you more when I transition to that and start blogging about it.

      I’m not sure that Pat’s wife needs to be involved. I think he’s doing okay on his own! 😉 I see what you mean though. I’m sure Pat would be just as excited as me to get his wife involved in some sort of business project.

      • Yeah when I read your post I thought that the private label stuff might be a more viable option. I’m not sure how it would work logistically though, would they (the private label companies) ship the inventory to amazon on your behalf? Something like that would work no matter where you were based I think.

        Definitely going to follow your progress.

  8. Nice!! Im actually going this route also, im part of a few Private FBA facebook groups, they share some really great info. Its funny im just now reading this, as early this morning i was shopping ebay for a laser label printer!! Ha

    I also bought a handle held usb scanner a few months ago, so i have been making plans to do FBA. Just procrastinating, but reading this post and seeing your sales just motivates me even more to get started. The one thing im looking to do different is buying whole items online and having them shipped to my house. Ive been looking at sites like dollartree.com and other sites like that to find products.

    Then like you, once i start making money i will use that to start private labeling. Also another tidbit, once i finally get started, i want to test my seo abilities and see if i can get my listings ranked on the first page of google to get more traffic to the listing!!

    • Thanks alot Cornell – I just wasted nearly half an hour on dollartree.com looking for profitable items that would sell and came up with nothing! Haha.

      We’ve actually been using our regular inkjet printer for everything and it’s working fine. Don’t need the USB scanner either because we scan everything in via the Amazon Seller app on our phones.

      You think my results from this post are motivating? Wait ’til my next update. Sales and income are far exceeding my expectations!

      And I’ve had the same idea as you for when I start to private label stuff. Use SEO to drive traffic to my newer listings and garner some good reviews to boost those listings.

  9. Hey Matt! Thanks for the mention 🙂 I am so glad that our interview spurred you in the direction of selling on Amazon. That’s awesome. It is such an awesome thing when a couple can do a side hustle together. Congrats to you and susie.

    • Thanks Jessica. And THANK YOU for the inspiration! Your interview with Pat and the resources you offer on your blog have been most helpful. I made a point to purchase a few of the supplies I needed via your resources page so that you would get the Amazon commission.

      I’ve got to tell you – our FBA selling has been going amazingly well since I published this post. I can hardly wait to publish my next update on the topic. We’ve managed to fit this business into our life and it feels more like a lifestyle than a business. We’re spending maybe 10 hours per week on it and we are bringing in thousands now! So cool. Thanks again for everything Jessica.

  10. Hi Matt.

    It’s something that I have been doing for years and years. In fact, I built a solid business on not just this, but a few other strategies. I did it on eBay, not Amazon though.

    More than this though, I created 3 info products on the subject. An eBook, a video course and a Udemy course. They go further and deeper past the retail thing though, and teach how to start a profitable mobile phone/cell business on eBay. All sell really well and I’ve had some awesome feedback from them because they are products that do exactly what they say they do on the tin – they help people make money on eBay.

    I haven’t used FBA before, but I have heard it’s a great service.

    Great to see you including your family in your money making endeavors!

    • Yeah Richard – as mentioned in the article, I tried eBay years ago – long before I ever got started with internet marketing. I had fun with it and made some money on a smaller scale – but it’s hard to scale a business like that when you have to deal with shipping products straight to customers and managing customer service and returns and whatnot. I like the FBA model much better – just ship to Amazon and let them deal with the rest.

  11. Matthew, I just found this blog post and I’m really excited for you! How have things been going since you wrote this? I’m really happy that my blog was helpful to you!

    • Things have been going amazingly well since I wrote this Stephen. We are refining our processes and criteria for buying and we’re settling into a groove as far as how much we shop and how much time we spend. We’re at 10 hours per week or less and each of our last 3 bi-weekly payments from Amazon have exceeded $1,600! Over $2k on this last one!

  12. Hey Matthew – This
    post is awesome and I want to say thanks for the effort and useful tips on
    where to go to get started with this.

    I have heard FBA cropping up more often recently and it
    really caught my attention after listenting to a podcast with Chris Guthrie
    talking about his private label business venture.

    The funny thing about this and what made me smile is that my
    wife has just recently bought a bulk load of nappies (diapers to my American
    friends) at a discounted rate for our baby due in March, but then went on to
    sell them all for a profit when she realised how much people were paying… We
    then started looking at a way to scale this up as all her sales were local and involved
    me driving to various drop off locations in preorganised “diaper-deals” and
    that is when I suddenly thought of FBA J

    I am now going to start making my way through each of the
    resources your provided and try to make sense of how I can make this work!

    Thanks again!

    Carl – part-time diaper dealer

    • Hey Carl! Awesome story on your end. Guessing you are from the UK? I actually sold a bunch of diapers through FBA. Just happened to find a bunch on clearance at a store. I snatched up all of them (got some funny looks and questions in the check-out) and they all sold really quickly on Amazon.

      Glad you enjoyed this post. I’ve been meaning to write the follow-up for quite awhile now. Just haven’t had the chance yet. But FBA has been going amazingly well and I want to share the details with my audience here on the blog. Hopefully soon.

      • I am indeed from the UK, but live in Barcelona, Spain with my wife who is from here.

        We want to get something set up that serves Spain primarily. I think there is a huge opportunity because in most cases the country is slightly behind the latest US and UK trends – this allows me to see exactly what is working well and then hopefully implement it before the strategy becomes saturated!

        Looking forward to see your update post!!!

        • We’re in New Zealand but my wife and I are looking for something that would allow us to live in Spain. I’d be very interested in knowing more about your business.

  13. Hi Matthew – i was really interested to stumble upon your site from over here in the UK and see how the things i have decided to focus on and the people i have been influenced by are so similar (minus the trucking lol). I have immersed myself in podcasts from the likes of Pat Flynn (an absolute legend who is in my opinion helping to change the lives of so many people) and Chris Guthrie over recent months and through Pat heard of Jessica’s wonderful success. My inbox is like a who’s who from the world of niche sites, internet marketing and FBA these days! I have been desperate to try out Jessica’s methods but yet to find anyone who is making it work here in the UK – i was wondering if you had come across anyone? Best of luck with your FBA project – it looks like it will go from strength to strength 🙂

    • Yes Lorraine – I have come across at least one person from the UK who is having success with FBA. I just scrolled through the comments on this post to see if it was one of them, but didn’t see him. It must have been somebody I was emailing back and forth a few weeks ago.

      I see no reason it shouldn’t work just as well over there as it does over here in The States. From what I hear, the UK also has a massive pool of Amazon buyers and they have warehouses over there. Should work pretty much exactly the same as it does over here.

  14. Hey Matt! I sure hope this post gets bumped up the Google ladder man! This is the EXACT type of thing me and my husband were looking for and the exact reason we started our own blog. We couldn’t find any regular humans out there starting this as a “side hustle” (that was awesome BTW, we both thought that was hilarious!) thanks so much for posting this and we will DEFINITELY be following as you look into the private labeling!

    • Thanks for commenting and letting me know Him and Her L! Yeah, although I wrote this post quite awhile ago – it is still one of the more popular posts on my site. Many people are looking for viable side hustles to make a bit of extra money. This one worked very well for us at the time.

      • I haven’t had a chance to read through all your posts yet but we plan to. Curious if you took any of the “learn to sell on Amazon” courses out there or completely self-taught through searches, podcasts and trial and error? Husband and I are literally beginner beginner stages. Watched a few of TAS videos and watched a webinar last week. It’s so hard to not buy in to the hype. If we had a cool extra thow Layin around I would have bought in to the amazing seller course

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