Selling on Amazon: Changes I’ve Made

Tap, tap. Is this thing on?

It’s been so long since I’ve updated this blog about how to sell on Amazon. In fact, if you were one of my readers, you might have even assumed I’d abandoned selling on Amazon altogether.

I’m happy to tell you that’s not the case! Since I last posted in October 2014, I’ve had some of my best sales months ever. I’ve gone into different markets, got my first start with importing and selling a private label product, set up successful Pay Per Click campaigns, and more.

However, my business has changed A LOT. I’m still picking up the money every week, but I spent a lot of time late last year thinking about what I want from my business, what my dream business looks like, and whether what I was currently doing was going to get me there. Here’s the rundown:

1. I want a profitable business that requires a minimum of hands-on work to make customers happy.

I loved going to book sales, paging through books, and selling books. I ADORED the margins on book sales. What I didn’t love about a business primarily focused on books was the time investment to get items to market and the lack of repeatable sales. A book sale would cost me at least 4 hours of time at the event, several hours of prep time afterward, and would often require months to sell. Then it sold and it was done. It was fun for me at first, but there was a huge amount of hands-on time.

Today, I am focusing on creating my own listings, my own products, and getting my own reviews and relationships with suppliers. It takes longer at the front end, compared to simply listing a book, but it is repeatable – and I make money over and over again.

2. I want a business selling on Amazon that does not require me to hire additional help to scale.

I belong to many reselling and Amazon FBA Facebook groups, and many of the larger sellers there aspire to have teams of VAs working for them sourcing products with a warehouse space with a shipping crew. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I applaud anyone who wants to grow their business like that.

Here’s the thing, though: That is so not me. I’m an introvert and I strongly dislike managing people. I enjoy making decisions, moving quickly, and don’t want to spend my time instructing, correcting, and managing employees. I don’t want the paperwork that comes with a large business (I’ve done that and it sucks). I want a small business that allows me to scale without additional employees. In the future, I may change my mind – but hiring employees for my Amazon FBA business is not what I want for the next year anyway.

At the same time, growing my book business without a team of employees to source would mean I’d be working longer and harder. Since I’d exploited all the tools I could to make the process faster, and I didn’t want employees, I’d have to find more and more books. It just didn’t seem like the best way anymore.

With my current strategy, I spend a lot of time on research – all from my home, at my own pace – and a minor amount of time on prepping for shipment. At this point, I feel like there’s a lot of room to scale my profits that won’t require additional help beyond my teenager, who’s always ready to pack a box or two.

3. I want a business that leans heavily on my research and copywriting experience.

Listing a published book or hot toy on Amazon requires little in the way of creativity. But creating my own listings for Amazon fulfillment leverages my SEO and copywriting experience, requires my knowledge of pay-per-click advertising, and forces me to learn new skills, like product photography. It teaches me to not just look at the sales rank to determine if an item will sell, but to evaluate the entire market to figure out if there’s a long-term demand for the product. Since a significant cash investment is on the line, it fuels that risk-taking part of my brain that loves a rush. Toward the end of the year, I realized I was doing too much grunt work, and not the cerebral stuff that I love, the research that I love to do. I started this business to make money – and I did that. But I love selling physical products to customers, and I want to do this long term, which means that I need to engage ALL of the skills I have and stretch myself to learn new ones.

I have so much fun with this part of being an Amazon seller that I’ve even been thinking about offering my services as an Amazon listing copywriter. And I know there are a lot of sellers out there who don’t want to do that piece themselves.

4. I want a diverse business to support my family and my goals long-term.

With a business inventory only of single books, there aren’t a lot of avenues – you gotta be selling on Amazon. But eventually I want to develop a line of products in the same niche and build an
e-commerce site. Amazon is a great selling marketplace, but there are other ways to drive traffic – and I want to explore those, too. I want to have more diversity in income, too, in the event that something happens with my account. I take great care of customers and strive to keep my account metrics stellar, but stuff happens. So long-term, the more diversity I have in selling platforms, the better. The more diversity I have with my inventory, the better.

So there you have it. I’m still here, I’m still selling and picking up the money, but I have definitely changed things up. One of my goals for the coming months is to restart the content on this blog, so stay tuned!