Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Andy and Nathan Slamans from the Slamazon Bros. If those name isn’t familiar for you — spend more time in the Facebook group because they there frequently and almost always has useful tidbits to contribute. Andy will be joining Chris in Denver for the Rocky Mountain Reseller Conference in April. Now, on to the great content.
Amazon is a wild ride. Just two years ago my wife and I were still house-parents for 12 at-risk teenage boys. We loved what we did, but for a number of reasons it was time for a career change. One of the main reasons was that a new passion had taken hold of me – Amazon.
Coming from a background of absolutely no business experience and being a Youth Ministry and Social Work major in college, I never dreamed that I would be able to run a successful Amazon business. However, just like many other Amazon sellers, I have been able to take this (crazy?) passion of mine and do incredible things – to the point where I made over $200k profit on my Amazon sales in 2015. I still can’t believe that.
So how did I get there?
There are a number of factors of course, but I think that these 2 really played the biggest role: I worked hard and I dived into the Amazon community. If you have ever listened to me speak, you likely have heard me preach about the importance of networking and being part of the Amazon community. I hold to that and firmly believe that I would not be where I am today if not for the relationships that I have made over the past few years.
Why was it so important for me to build relationships?
One reason is that I just love to talk about Amazon. Another reason is that I know that I can learn so much from other people (like I said, I did not have a business background). The amount of information, tips, hints, BOLO’s and inspiration that I have received from other Amazon sellers has absolutely helped me to cut the Amazon learning curve – because let’s face it, there are aspects of selling on Amazon that can be a little confusing (setting up the Dymo printer..).
How did I start?
Like many other sellers, I started selling on Amazon by searching around thrift stores, scanning used books, and hitting every Walmart in a 30 mile radius for Nerf guns. This was great for learning the Amazon platform and while the adrenaline lasted, but I couldn’t picture myself taking my selling full-time utilizing these strategies (although some sellers can). But my goal was to take my Amazon selling full-time AND be able to home-school my 2 children (which I now do!), so I was determined to make something work. I knew that I would personally need to make some changes to get to that level, and that I would need some help from others to get there.
A change to my business
If you have been selling on Amazon for any length of time you have probably heard the term ‘private label’, which simply means creating your own brand of product. Well, I was skeptical of private label and importing products from overseas at first, but was very intrigued when I heard about it. It just made sense to me that investing in and building your own brands of product would be a more viable long-term selling strategy. There was one problem – I knew nothing about dealing with manufacturers overseas or importing products to the USA.
How I fixed the problem
Because I knew very little about private labeling and importing products, I knew that I would need some guidance. Could I have figured out how to private label successfully on my own without talking to anyone or taking any advice? Maybe eventually, but I am guessing I would still be sitting here nervous to even visit the website Alibaba.com. I knew that I wanted to do this right and that I wanted to cut the learning curve, so I did something that was difficult for me at first. I paid Amazon-seller Maggie Cuson $1,000 to teach me the basics of private labeling. This ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.
Where I found success
By making connections and getting advice from other Amazon sellers, I now have over 35 different private label items that I sell on the Amazon marketplace. Did I still have to work really hard? Of course. But I will say 100%, that the amount of success that I have had is due to the hours spent private messaging, late-night phone calls and regular meet-ups with Amazon sellers.
What this has allowed me to do
I still home-school my two children and constantly try to help other Amazon sellers improve their businesses. Many of my private label products are somewhat on auto-pilot, which has gives me the flexibility to search for new products or to just spend time with my family. I still do some retail arbitrage and online sourcing, but I largely focus on private label as I do not need to constantly be acquiring new inventory every day. I think that Mike’s article of I Don’t Like To Work captures how I feel when I am doing retail sourcing and having to wait in line at stores! (Which is why you may remember my video rebuttal, “7 Reasons Why I love Private Label”, in response to an article that Mike Garner wrote back in October, 2015 called “7 reasons I prefer Arbitrage to Private Label”.)
How I cut the learning curve
When I first started selling on Amazon there were not as many resources available as there are today. There was no FBA Masters, there weren’t very many YouTube videos and there were limited software tools. I did what I could to cut the learning curve, which was spending hours and hours networking and learning from other Amazon sellers – and I think that this still is extremely important for new sellers today.
What I’ve been working on
Over the last few months I have been putting a ton of time and energy into developing a program that will help others cut the Amazon learning curve – The SlamazonBros JumpStart Program. This program is designed to help those who are just starting out on Amazon and for those who are currently selling on Amazon but are looking to grow into new areas, such as private label. The program covers essential Amazon tools, online and wholesale basics, and the complete private label process that I have used to bring over 35 successful products to the Amazon marketplace.
The program also includes regular live webinars on important Amazon topics, access to expert Amazon sellers and access to our Mastermind Group. I am really excited for the exclusive Mastermind Group that will serve as a support system for seller’s questions and individual needs.
Do you need to take a course/program to be successful in private label? No.
Will it help to cut the learning curve involved with the process?
I would wager that it does. I know that it sure helped me.
This certainly isn’t for everyone – so if it isn’t right for your business model, I completely understand. I would still press you to at least do some reading on private label, watch some videos and see if it is an area of growth that you may be able to capitalize on.