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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…
- Another Smart Passive Income interview, several months after the Jessica Larrew interview. In this one Pat talks to two guys, Ryan and Daniel, who are killing it by private labeling products and sending them to Amazon to sell though FBA – http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/private-labeling-ecommerce-business/
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.
- This was one of the first podcasts I found by searching Stitcher. Steve Chou hosts this podcast and in this episode he interviewed a guy named Ryan Moran – another entrepreneur who is making an absolute killing on Amazon – http://mywifequitherjob.com/episode36/
- As it turns out, Ryan Moran has his own website and podcast that talk about all this stuff too. I started listening and couldn’t get enough! Here are three of his episodes that got me really excited:
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. 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.
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!
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!
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!
Readers: Have you heard of or tried selling via Amazon’s FBA program? What do you think about this business model?