How I Made $41,746.35 Outside of Amazon in 2016

How I made $41,746

This post is going to be outside the niche that I normally write in.  But, I think that it can be beneficial to you.  So, let’s go.

I would like to tell you a story about how I made at least (this figure does not include any affiliate commissions) $41,746.35 outside of the Amazon platform in 2016 without giving up my Amazon business.  As a matter of fact, my Amazon business was larger than in 2015.

I decided early in 2016 that I wanted to diversify my income.  I have always enjoyed writing and I have always had an interest in marketing as I have been in sales my entire life.

I sought out a mentor and found Nate McCallister of FBA Today and Entreresource.com.  Nate made a request in another facebook group asking for some blurring software to use while making screen share videos.  I took it as a dare and figured out how to make it a reality.

That was my first foray into software products,  It was called EasyBlur and is now defunct.

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What Warren Buffett Says About Amazon FBA Fees

amazon fba fees

“You want to be greedy when others are fearful. You want to be fearful when others are greedy. It's that simple…”   ~ Warren Buffett

Amazon FBA fees are changing, again.  I have seen a lot of people in the Amazon seller community get pretty upset about it.  Some to the point that they are picking up their toys and going home, threatening to leave the platform.

This may sound harsh but that is a dumb decision.  If you think leaving the Amazon platform is going to hurt Amazon you may be suffering from confirmation bias at best and narcissistic delusion at worst.

All of this complaining got me thinking about a few things.  First, it brought to mind Warren Buffett’s quote at the beginning of this post.  When circumstances are in flux, which is a constant in the e-commerce field,  people tend to be scared.  Everyone likes things the way they were.

Gordon Gekko

This fear is a signal to me that it is time to be greedy.  I don’t mean Gordon Gekko greedy.  I just mean that it may be wise to think about growing your business rather than getting out of the business.

Let me drop some knowledge on you.

If you didn’t already know this e-commerce is a pimply faced, voice cracking, getting hair in weird places pubescent teenager.  It seems to have grown an inch overnight but it still has a long way to go before adulthood.

In case you missed the analogy, this is good news!

Online retail sales accounted for 8.1% of the total retail sales landscape in the second quarter of 2016.  Amazon owns a HUGE chunk of this market.  In fact, it is reported that Amazon accounted for 81% of the growth of online sales in the third quarter of 2016.

If you think that trend is going to come to a halt soon or Amazon is going to try and move away from online retail, please, share with me some of what you are smoking.

We, as third party sellers, have the opportunity to ride this wave.  Allowing Amazon to do the heavy lifting of storing, picking, packing, and shipping our inventory.  In addition, they also get to figure out how to stay ahead of Walmart, Jet, and other competitors.  In return, we pay them some FBA fees.

Sounds like the deal is skewed in our favor a bit.

Now, I’m not saying that you should put all your eggs in one basket.  In 2017 I plan to grow my business outside of the Amazon sales channel.  I believe it is wise for our backup plans to have backup plans.  But, for now, Amazon is a cash cow for us as sellers.  It would be unwise to slaughter it.

When I sat down to write this it was meant to be a piece discussing the changes coming down the pike in regards to Amazon FBA fees.  It turned into a bit of an opinion piece.

If you would like to see the breakdown of what is coming in regards to Amazon FBA fees you can do so here.  I, honestly, don’t think it is as bad as what some people are worried about.  In fact, I think if done right, you may be able to see yourself break even compared to your 2016 fees.

Please do me a favor.  Leave me a comment letting me know what you think below and join me over in my Facebook group Clear The Shelf (Amazon FBA) so we can continue this conversation.

Clear The Shelf

Tips from an Amazon Wife

Before my husband ventured into the world of Amazon and all it’s glory he was an insurance agent for his family’s company.  I was a wedding and event planner with my own company (still am…Rose Grant Weddings & Events).

We have one son, he is our world, and is now 3. When I was pregnant my husband and I talked about all the things we wanted to do with our son and how we wanted to raise him, taking him to the zoo and teaching him about all the animals, numbers, colors, and so much more.  Unfortunately, that was something we would have to plan to do on the weekends. My husband had a 9 to 5 job, as most people do, he technically worked for himself but he still had to punch a clock.

When our son was about eight months old my husband wanted to add income to our household because, as those of you with kids know, THEY ARE EXPENSIVE!

He started shopping thrift stores and selling things on ebay.  We couldn’t believe the profit that we could make by selling a tie that had been donated, then thumbed through by the masses.  One designer tie bought for $1.00 could sell for $80.00 online…WHAT?!?!

We were hooked!

We started slow then invested more and more into our new business. Then another surprise…books. One textbook bought for $2.00 at goodwill was going for over $200.00.

My husband, being the smart inquisitive man he is, read article after article to learn more to grow our business and signed up for an amazon seller account and thus we embarked on the journey of a new found way of life.

Expectations

 With the success of thrifting on the weekends and the benefit of having a husband that was eager to provide more for his family, we decided that he would quit the insurance agency and focus solely on Amazon.

Take a deep breath and here we go.

My husband had built up a great book of business at the insurance agency and we were comfortable, but seeing the potential of Amazon and seeing what we were bringing in from that left us with dazed dollar signs in our eyes.

There was no limit to the profit we could make. We could easily send our son to college (if he wanted to), we could take family vacations even.

The lingering feeling of leaving a steady income behind, an income that made us comfortable to embrace potential was unsettling. What if sales fell through? What if this doesn’t work out? What if we fail?

Well, I married a man that would never let that happen. He was too eager and too hard headed to fail at anything.

Selling on Amazon meant working for himself and working from home and that was a huge bonus. No more getting up finding something that didn’t have baby puke or sticky fingers from our son, and leaving his family to go to work every day.

We slept in a bit and dress was casual and by by that I mean for a small period of time there was a 3 day a week pajamas only days.

But there was no time to just sit around and binge watch Netflix, we had a business to run!

Reality

 Let’s be real, women have this stigma of shopping till we drop.  For the most part this is very true. I, however, am not your average woman. I like to get in and get out when it comes to shopping. I hate to linger and browse, I know what size I am and I know what I like.

My husband on the other time takes more time and that was why he was perfect for “sourcing”.  A term our family would come to know all too well. That meant that pajama workdays faded and my husband was sourcing ALL THE TIME. He was hitting all the stores, clearance sales,  and chasing all the hottest trends…who knew adult diapers were such a big seller online and could be sold for a profit at that.

So fighting the urge to sleep in and work in pajamas our business grew and I was able to help as well.

In between planning weddings I was roped into helping the home business and put in charge of packing and shipping. Sounds like a big honor, huh?

Well, really I was just given the task of taking the stickers off all the products my husband was buying.  That is no easy task, let me tell you.  I embraced finding creative ways to make my part easier (thank God for scotty peelers and heat guns).

TRADE SECRET: you can get almost any price tag off with a scottie peeler some lighter fluid and a heat gun.

My dinning room, much to my dismay, became a distribution center. With my husband out sourcing all the time I was never in need of something to do. Boxing up inventory was like a big game of adult tetris and our local UPS driver became a good friend, partly due to the beer we gave him after picking up big shipments.

Do’s and Don’ts

Working from home is great.  With our son in preschool now we had the day to work and get things done and shipped into Amazon. However, sometimes days ran into the night and having a little one running around isn’t always easy while running a business out of the home. Having to tell your son that he can’t have the toys on the dining room table because they were for daddy’s work became difficult at times.

My husband found a network of other Amazon sellers and was making great contacts. He set up shop in our basement to make important phone calls and have time away to send emails and work. But as anyone who has a home business and a family knows it’s not always easy to get things done. Being on the phone while your family is upstairs and your toddler is screaming “I want a snack” or “Daddy wipe my butt” can be tough.

On a normal day at the Grant Empire you can hear two dogs barking, a toddler pressing the boundaries of youth and me wrangling the house trying to keep some order to life. This can make my husband’s job more difficult at times. We fell into a system that seemed to work. We brought my husband’s work area upstairs so we weren’t constantly screaming down to the basement.

We moved the packing and shipping department to the garage so I could have my dining room back and we made it a point to work while or son was at school.  We made sure to be willing to be flexible in case an important email or some online arbitrage needs to be completed in the evenings.

Working together can be a big blessing, especially since both of us own our own home based businesses. But just because we are home together more during the day doesn’t mean we spend “quality” time together as husband and wife.

Sure he’s sitting right next to me but we are both working and that doesn’t mean we have the time to cuddle and share our feelings. So, we still need our date nights or sometimes lunch dates.  Amazon has really been a positive endeavor for our family. My husband is happy with what he does and he’s good at it.

There are so many avenues that you can make money with on Amazon that there is never a dull moment. It has given my husband the opportunity to provide for our family in new and creative ways.

He has made trusted friends in the same business and despite working very hard he is able to take the day off to take our son to the zoo and teach him about the animals and to the park just to blow off steam and run around.

We occasionally “netflix and chill” in our pajamas because that’s a benefit of working for yourself but my husband, being the man he is, he is always eager to work and provide while conquering each new hurdle that is thrown at him.

Please let us know in the comments what tips you have for making working with your significant other better or easier.

~Rose Grant

1 Simple Trick to Grow Your Amazon Business

accountability partner

We all want to grow our Amazon business.  I’m sure some of us even dream of having small empires of our own.

This is all great but there is probably one simple thing that most of us are missing.  Something that will push you to take the next step, jump the next hurdle, and reach the next milestone in your business.

An accountability partner.

Why

First, I need to recognize Brett Kyle for reminding me of this.  Having an accountability partner can and should be an integral part of any business.  That includes your FBA business.

In a past life, as an insurance agent, I paid a business coach (read accountability partner) a lot of money to help me keep track of my goals and ensure that I was taking the necessary actions to reach those goals.  It was effective and I saw 30% gains in my sales volume year over year because of it.

Sometimes you need another person to kick you in the ass, make sure you are staying on task to meet your goals, and celebrate wins with you.

How

Ask.  It is that simple.  You should be networking with enough people that you could ask someone to be your accountability partner.

This person must be honest with you and agree to hold your feet to the fire.  They don’t have to be mean but they need to be firm.  It is their job to influence you to make the right decisions and take the proper actions to meet and exceed your goals.

You must:

  1. Find someone that is trustworthy
  2. Discuss your goals, in detail, not I want an empire.
  3. Set and keep regular check in time or meetings.  They don’t always have to be face to face.
  4. Be specific with consequences and/or rewards for meeting or falling short of your goals.
  5. Regularly revisit your goals and tactics to stay on track

These 5 steps should help you build a framework with your accountability partner.  You will want to go both ways with this.  It is their duty to keep you on track but it is also your job to keep the on track.

Where

If you need someone you can meet with locally, look to your friends, family, or people in organizations you participate in.  Just be sure they are willing to take this as seriously as you.

If you prefer someone immersed in the Amazon world there are plenty of facebook groups, forums, and other online hangouts to find someone who is probably like-minded.  Ask around, you will find someone.

Conclusion

I hope you take this idea and run with it.  It isn’t groundbreaking but I believe it could help many of us grow in the years to come.

Now, I have two favors to ask.  First, if you need a community to join to try and find an accountability partner come one over and mingle at Clear The Shelf – Amazon FBA Group.

Second, for those of you who have accountability partners, what else would be helpful for someone who is looking to form an accountability partner relationship?  Please let us know in the comments.