BI 204: How I Generated 154 Product Reviews in 6 Weeks

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If you are going to be successful selling physical products on Amazon, one of the primary keys to success will be your ability to quickly generate positive reviews for your products, and in today’s episode, I’m going to share with you exactly how I’ve been able to generate 154 reviews in just 6 weeks for my #1 product.


Listen to the Audio

In This Episode, I Share:

  • My total revenue to date
  • A major mistake that I made and how it negatively impacted my sales
  • How I’m using Inventory Lab to track my financials
  • How I’m using SalesBacker to help increase the number of reviews I get from buyers
  • How to create a promotion in Seller Central
  • How I’m using ReviewKick to use my promotions to quickly generate positive reviews

If you liked this episode, you might also enjoy:

BI 203: A Deep Dive Into the Numbers After Reaching $5K in Sales on Amazon

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BI 203: A Deep Dive Into the Numbers After Reaching $5K in Sales on Amazon

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In last week’s episode of my podcast, I shared with you how much revenue I’d generated in my first two weeks of selling my private label products on Amazon.

This week, I decided that it was important to take a deep dive into the numbers to determine if my experiment was a success or a failure. You’d think that this would be easy to do via the Amazon Seller Central interface, but sadly, their reporting is pretty simplistic, so I had to spend a couple of hours creating a spreadsheet that would give me a clearer picture on how each of the five products I have listed so far are doing.

Listen to the Audio

Watch the Video

A Deep Dive Into the Cash Flow

Cash flow is the heart of every business, and so I wanted to spend enough time to figure out where I’m at, now that I’ve reached just over $5,000 in sales.

Getting Started

To start, let’s have a look at my initial cash outlay, and what I got for it.


As you can see in cell G4 of the chart above, the total cost for my initial inventory was $1,293. For that sum, I received 900 units, split across 5 products.

In row six, you can see the quantity of remaining inventory. In row 7, is the estimated retail value of that inventory (using my average selling price for the units sold so far). And finally, in row 8 is the estimated profit potential of this remaining inventory, assuming I didn’t have to run any more promotions to sell it all. (I WILL have to run more promotions, because in the Jewelry category, I don’t have access to Amazon’s PPC program)

The main point of this first chart is to show you that to get started, I invested $1,293 in inventory.


Now that you’ve seen what I spent on inventory, let’s have a look at sales so far (21 days of selling from April 11th through to May 1st).

Revenue Figures

As you can see above, as of May 1st, gross revenue totaled $5,094.02. Not a home run by any stretch, but not horrible either.

In row 11 of columns B through F are the average selling price for each of the five products, and in row 12 is the gross units sold for each product. In row 13 is the total gross revenue for each product.

The product in column B is has been for sale a week longer than all the other products, plus, it is the product for which I ran the largest promotion.

Cost of Goods Sold

In traditional accounting, the next thing that we normally look at after revenue, is the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). This line item is critical in understanding our gross profit margin.

As you can see below, the gross profit margins on my products are just over 90% (cell G19). What that means is that for every $1 of revenue, $.90 is my gross profit; out of which I will have various expenses that will be deducted before determining the net “owner profits” of my business.


Selecting products with as high a gross profit margin as possible is absolutely critical to your success, and there are a number of reasons for this.

Financing the Cost of Inventory

The most important of these reasons is that as your business grows (and sales increase), your need for more inventory is also going to increase and unless you have a pile of cash lying around, you are going to be using the profits from your sales to finance the cost of additional inventory (there are other methods for financing inventory, but I’m not going to get into that in this post).

Put simply, if you pick a product with a gross margin of just 30%, that means for every unit you sell, you are only going to be able to buy 1.3 units more inventory. Whereas, if you have a gross margin of 90%, you are going to be able to buy 1.9 units more inventory for every unit you sell.

Think about that for a few minutes.

If you want to grow fast, you must be able to finance your need for increasing inventory….OR… must figure out a way to turn your inventory faster.

For example, if you have just two inventory turns per year, instead of say, 4, you are going to need TWICE as much capital to finance the cost of that inventory.

This is one of the reasons why I’m so concerned about the speed of the delivery of my inventory. If I can get it faster, I can make more frequent (smaller) orders with my suppliers, and as a result, I won’t have to tie up as much cash in inventory that is sitting in the warehouse.

Be sure to factor this in when you are deciding whether to ship by sea (cheaper and slow) or by Air Express (more expensive and fast).

Financing the Cost of Promotions and Advertising

The other factor that is critical to your success is having a high enough gross margin to allow you sufficient capital to allocate to the cost of promotions and advertising.

In my case, as you will see below, I ran a large number of promotions (because PPC is not available to new sellers like me in Amazon’s jewelry category) to increase my BSR (best seller rank) so that my product listings would show up higher in the Amazon search results (SERPs).

As you can see below, shortly after I started running my promotions, my sales spiked way up for a few days, before settling back down.


I stopped running promotions on April 21st, and since then, organic sales have been relatively steady, as shown below. And, thanks to a very high gross margin, these organic sales are very profitable.


The big take away here is this: make sure you choose a product with a gross profit margin of at least 75%…especially if your product’s selling price is $20 to $50!

Now that we’ve covered the Cost of Goods Sold and the importance of gross margin, it’s time to have a detailed look at my expenses and net profit.


In my Amazon business, the only expenses that I currently incur on a regular basis (aside from the value of my time) are:

  1. Amazon selling fees
  2. FBA fees
  3. Cost of promotions and advertising

As you can see in row 22 below, I sold 216 of my 900 units of inventory on promotions. On average, I discounted the price of each product by 85% in exchange for an honest product review. To facilitate this, I used software called ReviewKick as it made this really easy to do. Plus, it’s FREE.


In row 24, you can see that in total, the cost of my promotions reduced my gross revenue by $2,508, PLUS, I also had to pay Amazon selling fees and Amazon FBA fees on every single order that I received for a product that was offered on the promotion.

So, how did the cost of the promotions and Amazon fees affect my bottom line? Prior to today, I hadn’t taken the time to actually calculate it; hence the reason for this post. 🙂

Net Profit (Loss)

As you can see in cell G30 below, so far my net profit is a whopping $154.10! I’m rich!!


Ok…so maybe I’m not getting rich from Amazon FBA yet; however, before jumping to conclusions on whether or not this experiment was a success, there are some very important factors to consider.

Factor #1: It’s Only Been 3 Weeks

When I began this experiment, I had zero expectation of profits. In fact, I fully expected that the investment in marketing (promotions) needed to achieve organic ranking was going to produce a loss on my first batch of inventory.

Improvements in ranking don’t happen over night.

Factor #2: This Product Shows Strong Potential

How did I justify the loss I expected to take? Simple.

When I looked at the figures below, I could see that the average product for this search result was generating $8,143 in revenue per month (479 sales x $17.07 avg price). I then noticed a few other key things:

  1. The 3rd listing had just 80 reviews and was generating $7,794 a month in revenue
  2. The 5th listing had just 114 reviews and was doing $33,183 a month in revenue
  3. The 11th listing had just 60 reviews and was doing $9,096 a month in revenue
  4. The bulk of the sales were NOT being generated by ONLY the top 1 or 2 listings
  5. There were no major brands
  6. The gross margin on this product was very high


So….IF I could generate just the average of $8,143 per month after spending a few thousand dollars on promotions, would it have been worth it? Hell yes it would have.

The reality is that I am still expecting to “spend” more on promotions and will continue to do so until one of two things happen:

  1. I achieve a solid ranking and steady (profitable) sales
  2. I reach a point where I no longer believe I can “buy my way” to profitability

Factor #3: I Needed to Gain Hands On Experience

You can listen to all the podcasts, and read all the posts you want, but there is just no better way to learn how to do something than by actually doing it, and that is exactly how I looked at this adventure.

No matter what the financial outcome in the short term, I was going to learn something, and that is exactly what has happened.

Perhaps this first product will fail? Ok, I have 4 more in this category, and one of them, much to my surprise, has emerged as the best seller because it’s ranking #1 for its keyword. I had no idea that was going to happen so fast.

Perhaps all these products will fail? Ok, I will try more products in another category where I do have access to Amazon’s PPC. (I am doing exactly that, regardless of how these products fare.)

Factor #4: I Needed to Understand How Amazon Works

There is no owner’s manual for the algorithm that determines where a given product will end up in Amazon’s SERPs. The only way to attempt to figure it out is to try a bunch of things, and then take notes on what happens….and that is exactly what I’ve been doing day after day.

There is absolutely no question in my mind that I can build a $1M + business on Amazon over the next year or so. Will my investment of $1,293 for this first batch of 5 products play a role in the long term? I have no idea.

Honestly, I don’t expect that they’ll end up playing a big role; largely because of the big error that I made in choosing a product category where I don’t have access to PPC.

But so what! I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of too many other businesses that:

  1. Can scale as well as this
  2. Give me as much free time as this
  3. Require such a paltry investment to start as this

What’s Next For My Business?

As you might guess, I have ambitious plans for the future of my Amazon business. Here’s an overview of what is happening next:

  1. I’ve ordered more jewelry inventory (because I’m running out) so that I can continue this experiment
  2. I’m investing $700 in professional photographs of my current products (I did the first ones in-house)
  3. I’m about to launch another promotion for one of my products using super URLs (I have not used super URLs at all so far)
  4. I’m launching another new product in the pet supplies category (and I’ll have access to PPC in that category)

Want to see how all this turns out? Become a subscriber so you don’t miss future episodes.

If you liked this episode, you might also enjoy:

How to Find a Private Label Product Supplier + My Revenue After Just Two Weeks On Amazon

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How to Find a Private Label Product Supplier + My Revenue After Just Two Weeks On Amazon

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If you want to sell physical products, you have to have something to sell, and therefore, you’re going to need to find a supplier.

In today’s episode, I wanted to accomplish two things:

  1. Share my results from the first two weeks of selling
  2. Give you the step by step process that I used to find a quality supplier

Results From My First Two Weeks on Amazon

I’ve now had my products online for 2 weeks, and have sold about $4K worth.

Amazon Sales Dashboard

For the first week, I had only one product in the jewelry category. In the second week, I launched another 4 products; one of which is a bundle that actually contains two related products.

My total investment in inventory so far has been only about $2K because the cost per unit is generally about $1 and I ordered small quantities to mitigate risk.

Product #1, thanks to a promotion I ran on ReviewKick (sold about 85 units at a discount), now has 87 reviews. In total, I have sold 165 units, including the 85 that we sold at a discount. From reviews and sales, I now rank #4 for my target keyword.

Product #2, thanks to a similar promotion, now has 25 reviews. I have sold 70 units in total, and it ranks #1 for its primary keyword.

Product #3 (the bundle of two products) now has just 5 reviews so far, though as I sold 11 on the promo, I would imagine the number of reviews will climb to 11. Interestingly, this product, despite have a low search volume for its keyword, is selling much better than expected and ranks above the fold on page one for a number of its keywords.

On April 21, I turned off all promotions, and thanks to my organic ranking, since then I’ve been selling about 12 units a day. Prior to then, organic sales were only about 3 units a day.

Daily profit right now is about $75-80. Not bad considering the fact that I’ve only been doing this for two weeks! Put another way, I now have a (very) part time job (only a few hours a week), that is paying me $27K a year! (Obviously things can change, but as my products aren’t trendy or seasonal, I expect the sales to remain at least this much, or more, going forward.)

Here’s the key take aways:

1. Put your fear aside and get your first product listed. There is NOTHING more motivating than seeing sales happen every day.

2. As soon as you can afford it, get a second (related) product listed. I would never have guessed that having a second product could have such a strong impact on the sales of the first product.

3. Devote time to product research and always have your next product in the pipeline. Never just “cruise”.

Listen to the Audio

In This Episode, I Share:

  • How my business is doing after just two weeks on Amazon (including revenue)
  • How I ran promotions to get reviews
  • The effect of the promotions on my organic sales
  • The mindset that you need to get started
  • Where I searched for suppliers for my private label products
  • The email template I used to contact potential suppliers
  • How to keep your supplier communication organized
  • How to order samples and keep them all organized
  • The #1 thing to do before you place your first order
  • How to pay for your order to ensure you don’t get scammed
  • How and where to ship your product and why

Links Mentioned in This Episode

If you liked this episode, you might also enjoy:

The Art & Science of Choosing Your First Product to Sell on Amazon

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BI 201: The Art & Science of Choosing Your First Product to Sell on Amazon

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Episode 201 - Product Selection

If you are planning to sell private label products on Amazon, the first (and most important) step is to select a product to sell.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, not exactly. In fact, selecting a product is the #1 obstacle that prevents new sellers from getting their business off the ground.

If you make a good selection for your first product by choosing something with the correct balance of demand vs competition, your sales will take off and all sorts of amazing things will start to happen!

Make the wrong selection though…and you are in for a rough ride.

If you choose a product with too little demand or too much competition, sales will be low or non-existent. If you select the wrong size of product, your FBA fees will be much higher. If you choose a product in the wrong category, you could be faced with some nasty attacks from your competition.

Product selection is the key to succeeding on Amazon, so make sure you listen to this episode and learn the method that I and many other successful sellers use to avoid choosing the wrong product.

Listen to the Audio

Questions I Answer In This Episode

  • Why I chose to start an eCommerce business
  • Why I am focusing on Amazon before attempting to build my own store
  • What are the top categories that new sellers should focus on and why?
  • What are my rules of thumb for product attributes?
  • How to brainstorm for ideas
  • What tools do I use to help me speed up the product selection process?

Links Mentioned in This Episode

If you liked this episode, you might also enjoy:
Adventures in eCommerce: The Future of the Bright Ideas Blog & Podcast

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Bright Ideas for eCommerce Entrepreneurs

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For the last few years, and in countless episodes of my podcast, I have focused on teaching people how to grow a marketing consulting business; primarily because that was the kind of business that I was focused on building for myself.

My agency has been a steady cash flow generator for a few years now and that is all well and good….but to be honest, it’s not a business that I want to grow that much bigger. Primarily because its a service business and the larger it gets, the more staff I will have to hire, train, and manage.

As a result, staring today, the Bright Ideas blog is making a major pivot. Going forward all the content on this blog & podcast is going to be focused on the ins and outs of building an eCommerce business.

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Why eCommerce?

There are a number of reasons why I have decided to make this pivot.

Reason #1: It’s the business I’m getting into

For my entire career as an entrepreneur, I have been involved with B2B service businesses; and while service businesses have served me well so far, one of the major challenges is that they don’t scale very well.

Plus, clients can be a challenge to work with! (one of the major reasons we have been uber choosy about the clients we accept)

With a product business, on the other hand, I don’t ever have to talk to my customer to make the sale. They either come to my site, or go to Amazon, and “add to cart”. Soooo pleasantly simple.

Approximately two months ago, I reconnected with a friend that I hadn’t spoken with in a while and he told me about some mutual acquaintances and how well they were doing with eCommerce.

As a result, I decided to started conducting some tests to see if I could replicate what they were doing. My initial test results were positive so I decided to take a few more baby steps and “leaked” some of what I was up to on my Facebook page.

If you missed out, don’t worry, I will be publishing detailed accounts of these tests and their results in the coming weeks. If you don’t want to miss anything, be sure and subscribe.

Reason #2: Anyone can start an eCommerce business

There are a LOT of information marketers out there who are all trying to convince aspiring entrepreneurs that they can all get rich selling information products. Sadly, the reality is that the vast majority of these guru’s only make money online by teaching other people how to make money online. It’s kind of a pyramid…and that’s not something that I have ever wanted to be a part of.

Whereas with eCommerce, you don’t need to be a guru and you don’t have to create your own products. ANYONE can log onto Alibaba, find products, import them, and sell them on Amazon and/or their own website…and thousands of people are already doing it.

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, replacing your job by starting an eCommerce business in your spare time is totally doable (though it will likely take you a year or so). In the months ahead, via my podcast, I will share with you the stories of many people (including myself) who have done just that.

Reason #3: eCommerce is growing

According to Engadget, Amazon just announced its financial results for Q4 of 2015, and one of the big trends the company highlighted was the continuing strength of Amazon Prime, a service that has its roots in free two-day shipping but is now becoming a catch-all for a host of free media the company provides for subscribers. Amidst the many highlights are some notes on pretty major Prime growth: Amazon says that worldwide Prime memberships increased 51 percent in 2015 compared to the year before. Growth in the US came in at 47 percent, which means things picked up even faster internationally.

But you probably didn’t need me to link you to a news story for you to agree that in the coming years, more products are going to be purchased online than they are today, right?

It’s kind of a no-brainer.

So now that you know my top 3 reasons for pivoting my own business (and this blog)…you are probably wondering….

What Can You Expect From Me In the Future?

My goal is to have this blog become your #1 trusted source for eCommerce strategies that actually work.

In the weeks and months ahead, you can expect me to:

  • Share details about how I’m growing my own eCommerce business (good and bad)
  • Publish interviews with other eCommerce entrepreneurs
  • Provide answers to your questions about eCommerce

How Can You Help?

There are two things that you can do to help me achieve my goal is making this blog a #1 trusted source for eCommerce strategies that work:

  1. Ask questions
  2. Share my posts on your social media

That’s all that I ask. Thanks in advance for helping~


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I’ve Just Launched an eCommerce Business


On Feb 3rd, 2016 at 3:15pm MT, my new eCommerce venture went live. Less than an hour later, we’d made our first sale. A whopping $5.75.

By the time I woke up this morning, we’d made another sale of $15.75.

Going from launch to revenue in such a short period of time was really fun, and quite exciting.

If you think having your own eCommerce business would be terrific, read on and I’ll share some more of the back story on what led me to this.

How I Got Started Online

Way back in 2004, my first attempt at building an online business saw me importing fashion jewelry from China and selling it on eBay.

Back then, I could buy a product for $1 and sell it for $10. The business was launched in August (while I was still CEO of Dyrand) and every month we doubled our sales. In December, we sold about $3-4K worth of product. Suffice to say, I thought I’d found the perfect business!

Then in January, sales dropped off a cliff so I shuttered the business to focus all my energy on growing Dyrand, which, at the time, was only 3 years old and not yet profitable. In 2008, I sold Dyrand for $1.2M, so focusing on it was, in hindsight, a good idea. (Though, had I shuttered Dyrand and focused on my eCommerce business, I might have done even better!)

What Are You Going To Sell?

When creating your online business, you need to decide what kind of business you are going to be in.

Are you going to offer a service of some kind (I own Groove Digital Marketing), sell information products, sell physical products, or build a software company?

In my case, I have thus far had success with services (Groove) and information products (Bright Ideas) because neither one of them requires a lot of start up capital. They do, however, require a high level of expertise, which makes these kind of businesses hard to start for people that don’t (yet) have a specialty of some kind.

In the table below is a very brief summary of what I feel are some of the main pros and cons that you should consider when selecting your business model. (I’ve purposely left software out because it’s so out of reach for most new entrepreneurs.)

Pros and Cons by Business Model
Service BusinesseCommerce StoreInformation Products
Profit MarginsLowVariesHigh
Requires specialized skills / experienceYesNoYes
Inventory NoYesNo
Requires product or service creationYesNoYes

My eCommerce Venture

One of the keys with any business is being able to acquire customers profitably. If you choose to sell on Amazon, you don’t have to spend money directly on customer acquisition. Instead, it comes out of the proceeds of the sale. Plus, Amazon will do the fulfillment for you.

A friend of mine, Spencer Haws is selling on Amazon and his business is growing very quickly. In his latest blog post, Spencer wrote how he sold over $60,000 worth of his products on Amazon in December 2015.

My venture doesn’t (yet) sell on Amazon. Instead, I’m using a very specific Facebook marketing strategy that I learned from Mike Cooch.

Mike is a very bright guy and he actually offers a course and a mastermind group that I am a part of, and it’s worth every penny. You can learn more about his course here (not an affiliate link). Unlike most gurus, Mike is walking his talk. His eCommerce venture is doing millions a year.

The Appeal of eCommerce in 2016

Since my days of selling fashion jewelry back in 2004, there have been some pretty significant changes in the landscape.

  1. Facebook has become the #1 B2C direct marketing platform in the world
  2. Thanks to the web, sourcing products from China has never been easier (in ’04 I had to fly there to find products)
  3. Amazon has become a huge marketplace for anyone to sell almost anything, without ever having to touch the product (Amazon warehouses, packs, and ships for you)
  4. Building an online store has never been easier (Shopify, and the like…)
  5. People are now very comfortable shopping online

In aggregate, these changes have made it insanely easy for anyone to launch their own online business.

In my case, I did some research on Amazon to find a product that met my checklist. I then purchased Click Funnels (affiliate link) to make it insanely easy to create a marketing funnel for the product(s) I’m testing.

As soon as the funnel was ready (Mike’s course will teach you EXACTLY how to do this), I used Ad Espresso (not affiliate link) to create my Facebook ad campaign. (Mike’s course will also teach you how to advertise on Facebook).

Less than an hour later, I’d made my first sale. From here on, it’s all about testing product offers, then optimizing my funnels and Facebook advertising campaigns.

And, as you’d guess, I have plenty of things to learn!

By the way, in my opinion, for most new entrepreneurs, selling physical products makes a LOT more sense than trying to selling information products, largely because anyone can source a physical product, whereas very few new entrepreneurs have the skills to create an information product. Plus, physical products are exponentially easier to sell because people can see exactly what they are buying.

What’s Next?

You probably aren’t going to see me writing a ton of blog posts here on BI about my eCommerce business in the near future, nor do I offer a training course of any kind. In fact, I may never offer one (hence my pointing you to Mike’s course).

Like Mike, I plan to grow this into a multi-million dollar business and suspect that I will have a blast doing it.

Along the way, you can expect me to share short updates on my Facebook page, so if keeping tabs on what I’m doing is of interest to you, you might want to go and like the Bright Ideas page if you haven’t done so already. If you have questions, please post them to the comments on my Facebook post.

I will likely share some additional insights with my subscriber list, so if you want that, just opt in using the link below.

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