It’s a brand New Year and hubby and I had about 3 straight hours to ourselves (in the car) to get our overall strategy in place.
I get a bit “all over the place” if I don’t calm down and get myself to clean up my “business” act at least once a year. I usually have a Spring Clean sometime in mid-summer, but the New Year is when I want to “start fresh” with a clean strategy.
I’ve got lot’s of new ideas for my entire business… but I’ll focus on Amazon FBA today.
Research Just One Amazon Category
We had thought (hubby and I) that we would try to research one Amazon category per month… but we could see that this would overwhelm us right away. I don’t want to work ourselves into “we hate this J.O.B” – we want to have as much fun as possible!
I’ve chosen an category that we can both “wrap our heads around” that we will concentrate on for an entire year – together. It’s actually a “sub-category on Amazon:
Home & Kitchen › Patio, Lawn & Garden
You can see that this sub-category covers 1,566,196 products – which gives us plenty of stuff to research. It covers everything from Patio Decor to Grills and Gardening… plus a lot of other areas in-between.
We are going to spend the month of January just poking through the entire category and getting really familiar with everything offered. During this month we plan to list out about 7 or 8 “sub-sub-categories” to focus on (one each month for the rest of the year). We both already know that the last few months of the year are toooo crazy to do research.
We plan to hit every store in our area (and some in cities about 3 hours away that aren’t in our area) to see what they carry in this category. Big Box stores and small local stores – even grocery stores will have something related to this category. We will take notes on what they carry – and when they start to get in new “stuff”. Looking for sale/clearance items as we go.
I plan to create 2 binders (one for each of us) to keep notes on each store. My current binder has tabs for every store I shop at right now… so it’s going to grow in size. I have a tab for “look for these products everywhere” as well. I’ll eventually take pictures of my binder and show you what I’m keeping in it to use in the stores. It’s purple and the sales clerks are starting to remember the “old gal with the purple binder”. LOL
We will pick up several “gardening magazines” over at Barnes and Noble this week and subscribe to the ones we think give us the most “bang for our buck”. I’m looking for product reviews, product advertisements and new product announcements in particular.
I will be following this HGTV Garden forum for tips/ideas: http://boards.hgtv.com/eve/forums/a/cfrm/f/9774011632
And… reading this part of the HGTV blog: http://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/index.html
and this one: http://www.hgtv.com/topics/patio/index.html
I’ll dig into this catalog: http://www.leevalley.com/US/garden/index.aspx
One more forum to keep up with here: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/
That’s it… I don’t want to overwhelm myself with daily reading… and I know hubby will want me to do most of the reading and direct him to just the “highlights”.
Diversify Seems To Be The Name Of The Winning Game
I’ve read and heard this over and over… Diversify your product lines to keep your business going year round. This means that we “won’t” be JUST looking for Patio, Lawn and Garden products when sourcing. Eyes and ears always need to be kept wide open!
I’ve found some products in several sub-categories over the last 6 months that I have done well with. These are products I can keep “in stock” and know “what to look for” when I’m sourcing. It’s a mix of Toys, Groceries, Baby and Home products that I’ve tended to “stick with” and know where to find them and what to pay for them.
I plan to hit the Thrift Stores often… but with a much “pickier” eye. I’ve sold some products with amazing ROI and want to make sure I source only the “good stuff”. The plan is to go at least twice a week… and sometimes 3. When it comes to games/puzzles – I made the commitment to come home from “each thrift scouting trip” and actually go through each game that day. The games have to be complete – or “completable”. If not – they go back on the next cycle of thrift scouting.
Games/Puzzles must also be in “better” than Good condition for me. I only want “like new” or “very good” – I am trying to avoid “good” or “acceptable” condition games/puzzles.
I’m avoiding books… they suck up my time and I haven’t had the “best ROI time/money” with books yet.
I am stock piling a few things every week that are eBay only products. I dislike eBay from past experience… but I’m willing to give it a try again because I don’t want to have all my physical product business tied to one “venue” – Amazon could shut me down and then where would I be???? Yikes.
Spending Our Profits Wisely
After 6 months of taking NO profits from my Amazon income… just reinvesting… it’s time to Pay Myself.
Our plan is to take 25% for “us” – 25% for saving (this is money to use for supplies and also when I have more “fees/refunds” than sales – which could happen) and then take 50% and reinvest in new stock. As we get “paid” from Amazon twice per month… this is easy to “divvy” up. We are going to “strive” to only use profits to pay for everything from now on. No more credit card debt.
Of course – I’m working on only buying the cream from now on. I know I’ll make mistakes now and then… we all do… but I learn from each mistake and it’s like “free” training because I can usually make back my full cost on mistakes.
One of the “pluses” for having a limited budget and growing slowly… is this: I’ll have more time for my other businesses. Since I have a plan and a strategy and a budget… I can only do so much and then I’m done until the next Amazon payday. I like it!
Bundles and Creative Products
Bundles have worked out fairly well for my Amazon FBA business.
Bundles are just so easy to create and you don’t have any (or much after a while) competition. You do have to purchase a UPC code (cheap) and create a product page with images. This is something that doesn’t take much more effort than creating an eBay page. Bundles can be much more profitable than single items…. especially if those products are low end prices. I’d rather sell a $25+ product that is a bundle of 5 products… than 5 – $5 products separately.
I’ve learned a bit about bundles and that I need to research what is “already available” (something similar) on Amazon. This research was something I didn’t do when I started creating bundles… and got myself stuck with some things that will not sell. Other bundles sold like hotcakes. We all “gotta” learn our own path from our own mistakes and winners.
I still haven’t worked out on paper (or in my head) just what kinds of bundles I want to create. My idea is to have “bundle ideas” that I can duplicate.
- They have to be products that I can “get my hands on” without much effort.
- The bundles should be “duplicatable” (my own word) in this regard: If I create a bundle of “5 of x” then I want to be able to create bundles of “5 of y” and “5 of z” so they are all easy to put together. Same box/bag – same type of photo for product page – same type of information for product page etc.
Creative Products are a new idea for me… and I’ve mentioned them here: Public Domain Product Ideas.
I’ve got most of my first “creative product bundle” together – but have finalized the whole idea with hubby and now I’m on the hunt for a few more things. I’ve got to get really serious about it “right now” as it’s Valentine’s Day related.
We’ve already planned out 12 creative product ideas for this year – one for each month. I’m striving to go from start to finish on one product in the first week of each month. This should keep me on task and “stop wasting time/energy on non-profitable/productive tasks. Each product is “holiday” related which made them easy to generate the basic ideas for each one.
It’s Training Time
I’ve got two “training” projects to hit hard this month! One is training my hubby on using FBA Scout by himself. He still feels like a fish out of water when scouting on his own. This month is going to be dedicated to making sure he is “comfy” with his scouting ability. This means scouting together (which is not as profitable) for a while still… sigh.
The other “training project” is online business related. I’ve been “training” online for so long – I can’t just stop (nor would I want to). I’ve had a few “training” products 3/4 finished for several months – it’s time to get them finished up and up for sale. Plus – I still need to plan the “rest of the years” training products. New ideas haven’t “hit me” yet for training… and I don’t want to force anything.
Striving For Balance in Business and Life
This year was a real eye opener for me. I never thought I would “Burn Out” on my entire online business… ever. I did! It started just after the first part of last year and really took a tumble sometime during the summer months. I looked back over the last year… to see where I took a wrong turn… and nothing (Not ONE thing) was the “last straw”. It was a combination of things that all seemed to sneak up on me.
I’m throwing out the bath water… Not My Babies. Back to Basics!
I started my “online business” journey with Affiliate Marketing and my “That Painter Lady” business years ago.
I got rid of THAT Painter Lady long ago… my best friend is now THAT Painter Lady and loves it!
I’ve built many (I mean MANY) affiliate niche websites over the years. Some have gone “bye-bye” but I still have way tooooo many. I’m planning on making the BIG CUT this month. I have one affiliate website that I started years ago – and have been neglecting for over a year. It still makes money… but it’s not doing as well as it used to.
My plan is to spend time on that affiliate site at least 5 times a week. I need to build up new content, a following (newsletter) and product reviews.
I’m back on track to make this ONE affiliate site a winner again. Just about every other affiliate website will disappear off the face of the internet. I’m not going to sell/give them away as I used to. Nope. They are just going to be gone.
One of my true (never get tired of it) loves. Working with Public Domain content is one of my passions… but I’m changing tactics this year… and going to have fun with some “new ideas’.
I crave sharing plans and ideas – and working with and training others to use public domain content is my “Brand” – (my Baby).
This Debra Conrad Website:
I love this website and sharing my new Amazon FBA business and ideas with you. This site has evolved over the years… and probably will continue to do so over the years. It’s my “fun” to share blog… and that will never change.
I have training products that are pretty old (in internet time) and just plain outdated. I plan to cut them and create new products over the year. I’d like to have a plan for a new product every month… but that’s just going to overwhelm me again.
One of my “old” mentors had me creating products in double-time. Some ‘freebies” and some “paid” products were created every month. I had to create a new website/sales letter for each one as well. It’s not a bad plan… just more than I needed to have on my own plate.
There were linking strategies and SEO strategies and Branding strategies and – and – and….
I just want to be “me”… and work along teaching/training in “My Way”. I believe that a business path should be fairly simple… and not much of the “Guru” tactics have ever been a path to riches for me. I usually start to feel “scummy” when I’m “pushing” out products just for the sake of having something new to sell or give away. Geeeesh…
Oh My! I’ve just read through this list after writing… it seems like I’ve got a lot on my plate already doesn’t it? Does it seem like I’m heading for Overwhelm again???
Nope… this is actually a very simplified business model – For Me. Yours may (and should) look entirely different. The idea is that I have a plan – and it’s a plan that I’m pretty sure I can “get ‘er” done” in just a few hours every day. That’s my goal… to have a life!
I’ve been tied to a computer for so long… I find it hard to just “sit” and watch a movie or to do “things” that don’t have a “profit potential” in mind. It’s not that I want to “Relax” more… I just want to figure out “how” to stop thinking/doing business related “tasks” all the time.
I’m pretty sure my family would like to have”me” back. LOL
“The money is made in the sourcing, not the shipping”… Always Be Sourcing!