Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com Find Business Ideas, Niche Websites, and much more! Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:44:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1Things and Things and Things! Niche Pursuits no Niche Pursuits sample@email.com sample@email.com (Niche Pursuits) Sample Podcast about Sample Things Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com/wp-content/images/niche-pursuits-podcast-cover.jpghttp://www.nichepursuits.com Richland, WA Podcast 64: How Steve Chou Built a 6-Figure eCommerce Store without Quitting His Day Jobhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/6-figure-ecommerce-store/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/6-figure-ecommerce-store/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:35:22 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5373 I think you are going to really like the podcast today.  Perrin and I had a chance to sit down with Steve Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com and talk about his eCommerce business. Steve and his wife own the ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com. … Continued

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I think you are going to really like the podcast today.  Perrin and I had a chance to sit down with Steve Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com and talk about his eCommerce business.

Steve and his wife own the ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com. Steve also has a training class on starting ecommerce stores at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.

Steve gives us the story of how he and his wife started their store which sells a large product line of personalized wedding handkerchiefs and linens. Since its inception in 2007, the store has grown significantly and now has earnings in the high six figures each year.

The act of setting up an eCommerce store probably isn’t much of a stumbling block for people.  The real hard part is figuring out how to actually get traffic to your site once it’s set up.

During the podcast we dive into 3 ways that Steve has gone about getting traffic and growing his eCommerce store:

1. Pay Per Click advertising

I was pleasantly surprised with the awesome nuggets of wisdom that Steve had to share on this subject.  They are using lots of different sources for PPC ads: Google, shopping ads, Amazon ads, Facebook, and several others.

It really is feasible if you are starting an ecommerce store to just start out with PPC ads from day 1 and get a positive ROI.  Steve is currently seeing about a 4x ROI on his advertising spend.  That’s incredible!

About 1/3 of their traffic comes from paid sources.

2. Content and SEO

Steve’s wife creates product tutorials and then they promote these as much as possible.  They also provide original content on all their category and sub-category pages that help with SEO.

About 30% of their traffic comes from SEO.

3. B2B Sales

They reach out to wedding and event planning businesses who would buy from them in bulk.  This helps to stabilize the business with repeat customers and bigger orders.

In addition, they reach out to wedding magazines or related publications to get mentions and traffic.  Finally, they were able to make it on the Today Show to get a nice bump in sales!

Overall, Steve shares several tips to increase orders, good SEO practices for ecommerce stores, and email targeting.

On previous podcasts we’ve talked about selling a product on Amazon and Steve explains how bumblebee linens uses Amazon. He talks about the advantages and disadvantages to using Amazon to sell products.

You can check out Steve’s blog and reach out to him at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. Or you can find his training course here: ProfitableOnlineStore.com

If you enjoyed today’s episode please leave a rating on iTunes right here. And as always, feel free to leave a comment below…thanks!

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/6-figure-ecommerce-store/feed/ 12 I think you are going to really like the podcast today.  Perrin and I had a chance to sit down with Steve Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com and talk about his eCommerce business. - Steve and his wife own the ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com. I think you are going to really like the podcast today.  Perrin and I had a chance to sit down with Steve Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com and talk about his eCommerce business.Steve and his wife own the ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com. Steve also has a training class on starting ecommerce stores at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.Steve gives us the story of how he and his wife started their store which sells a large product line of personalized wedding handkerchiefs and linens. Since its inception in 2007, the store has grown significantly and now has earnings in the high six figures each year.The act of setting up an eCommerce store probably isn't much of a stumbling block for people.  The real hard part is figuring out how to actually get traffic to your site once it's set up.During the podcast we dive into 3 ways that Steve has gone about getting traffic and growing his eCommerce store:1. Pay Per Click advertisingI was pleasantly surprised with the awesome nuggets of wisdom that Steve had to share on this subject.  They are using lots of different sources for PPC ads: Google, shopping ads, Amazon ads, Facebook, and several others.It really is feasible if you are starting an ecommerce store to just start out with PPC ads from day 1 and get a positive ROI.  Steve is currently seeing about a 4x ROI on his advertising spend.  That's incredible!About 1/3 of their traffic comes from paid sources.2. Content and SEOSteve's wife creates product tutorials and then they promote these as much as possible.  They also provide original content on all their category and sub-category pages that help with SEO.About 30% of their traffic comes from SEO.3. B2B SalesThey reach out to wedding and event planning businesses who would buy from them in bulk.  This helps to stabilize the business with repeat customers and bigger orders.In addition, they reach out to wedding magazines or related publications to get mentions and traffic.  Finally, they were able to make it on the Today Show to get a nice bump in sales!Overall, Steve shares several tips to increase orders, good SEO practices for ecommerce stores, and email targeting.On previous podcasts we’ve talked about selling a product on Amazon and Steve explains how bumblebee linens uses Amazon. He talks about the advantages and disadvantages to using Amazon to sell products.You can check out Steve’s blog and reach out to him at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. Or you can find his training course here: ProfitableOnlineStore.comIf you enjoyed today’s episode please leave a rating on iTunes right here. And as always, feel free to leave a comment below...thanks! Niche Pursuits no 49:13
Podcast 63: Bootstrap Software Series Part I: How to Make Your Product Useful and Betterhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-63-bootstrap-software-series-part-i-how-to-make-your-product-useful-and-better/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-63-bootstrap-software-series-part-i-how-to-make-your-product-useful-and-better/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:18:13 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5368 Perrin and I are happy to bring you episode 63 of the Niche Pursuits podcast. We took a bit of a break while Perrin took the plunge and joined the married club!  That’s right, Perrin got hitched recently…wedding gifts still … Continued

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Perrin and I are happy to bring you episode 63 of the Niche Pursuits podcast. We took a bit of a break while Perrin took the plunge and joined the married club!  That’s right, Perrin got hitched recently…wedding gifts still welcome!

We’re back and and excited about today’s episode which will be part 1 of a 5 part series on how to bootstrap a software business.

Along the way, we will look at my software company, Long Tail Pro and how it became my most successful venture and we’ll also tell you, the listener, how to go out and start your own successful software business.

Perrin and I discuss the advantages of a software business. The advantages include huge profit margins, being able to create once and sell an infinite amount of times without major ongoing costs, and finally you do not have to be a software developer yourself to create a software company.

The downside is it can require more in-depth market research and more upfront investment.

When you think you have an idea, research is so very important. Research what already exists and if your idea isn’t different in some way then it’s likely no better than what’s already out there.

Three key ways to validate your software development ideas:

  1. Solve your own problems. Long Tail Pro was developed because I was frustrated with limitations I encountered on other keyword research software.
  2. Be different from your competition. While there will be similarities, some aspect of what you develop needs to be different from the competition. It’s important to note that buying decisions made by the consumer are based on those differences.
  3. Find out if your competition is making money. We discuss some tips on how you can learn if they are financially successful.

Software development can be an amazing business. In the next part of our series we’ll talk about how to hire somebody great to be your software developer.

We’d love to hear your software ideas or learn about any cool software businesses that we may not know about. You can always send us an email or leave a comment below. If you enjoyed today’s episode please leave a rating on iTunes right here. Thanks!

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-63-bootstrap-software-series-part-i-how-to-make-your-product-useful-and-better/feed/ 11 Perrin and I are happy to bring you episode 63 of the Niche Pursuits podcast. We took a bit of a break while Perrin took the plunge and joined the married club!  That's right, Perrin got hitched recently...wedding gifts still welcome! - Perrin and I are happy to bring you episode 63 of the Niche Pursuits podcast. We took a bit of a break while Perrin took the plunge and joined the married club!  That's right, Perrin got hitched recently...wedding gifts still welcome!We’re back and and excited about today’s episode which will be part 1 of a 5 part series on how to bootstrap a software business.Along the way, we will look at my software company, Long Tail Pro and how it became my most successful venture and we’ll also tell you, the listener, how to go out and start your own successful software business.Perrin and I discuss the advantages of a software business. The advantages include huge profit margins, being able to create once and sell an infinite amount of times without major ongoing costs, and finally you do not have to be a software developer yourself to create a software company.The downside is it can require more in-depth market research and more upfront investment.When you think you have an idea, research is so very important. Research what already exists and if your idea isn’t different in some way then it’s likely no better than what’s already out there.Three key ways to validate your software development ideas:Solve your own problems. Long Tail Pro was developed because I was frustrated with limitations I encountered on other keyword research software. Be different from your competition. While there will be similarities, some aspect of what you develop needs to be different from the competition. It’s important to note that buying decisions made by the consumer are based on those differences. Find out if your competition is making money. We discuss some tips on how you can learn if they are financially successful.Software development can be an amazing business. In the next part of our series we’ll talk about how to hire somebody great to be your software developer.We’d love to hear your software ideas or learn about any cool software businesses that we may not know about. You can always send us an email or leave a comment below. If you enjoyed today’s episode please leave a rating on iTunes right here. Thanks! Niche Pursuits no 41:17
How to Start a Successful Software Business: Bootstrap Software Series Part Ihttp://www.nichepursuits.com/how-to-start-a-successful-software-business/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/how-to-start-a-successful-software-business/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 17:10:15 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5258 I have been running a successful software business for over 4 years now.  However, up until this point, I have not taught others how they can get their own software business off the ground. The time has come for me … Continued

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I have been running a successful software business for over 4 years now.  However, up until this point, I have not taught others how they can get their own software business off the ground.

The time has come for me to share how to bootstrap a software business and the MANY lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

In addition, it’s time to tell the story of Long Tail Pro.

As many of you know, I am the founder of Long Tail Pro; a keyword research software started in 2011.  What you may not know is how successful this business has been for me.

I have had success in several different business ventures including:

However, Long Tail Pro has been by FAR the biggest success story of all my businesses.  As a result, I think it’s time I finally give a little more insight into the business, why it’s been successful, and some lessons learned.

Welcome to the Software Building Series!

Long Tail Pro has been around for over 4 years.  I purchased the domain LongTailPro.com on June 2, 2010 (the software actually launched in early 2011).  Because the business has been around so long, I can’t possibly cover everything in just 1 blog post.

As a result, I will be writing a series of at least 5 blog posts to cover the story of Long Tail Pro, but more importantly the steps I followed to bootstrap a successful software business.

Hopefully you can follow these same steps to launch your own software business.

In general, here are the topics of the blog posts in this 5 part blog series:

1. Think: Make Something Useful and Better
2. Develop:  Hire Great not Cheap
3. Launch: Bootstrap using email list and active communities
4. Connect: Grow with content
5. Expand: Grow exponentially with promotions and funnels

Along the way, I will be sharing what all of you have been waiting for: income numbers!  I won’t promise that I will share ALL the income for how the business is doing currently, but I will be sharing some historical income numbers to give you an idea of how the business is doing now.

I will be very clear: the business is larger now than it has ever been, and I expect the growth to continue.

Why Software?

So, you are thinking about bootstrapping a software business?  First of all, “Congrats!”  I think a software business offers a lot of advantages over other businesses that I think are important to point out.

First of all, software can have very high profit margins.  Especially if you are selling the software online or through instant download, the product cost of “shipping” one more piece of software is basically zero.

This is obviously NOT the case for businesses involving physical products.

On the same note, software is essentially something that is created once, and then can be sold an infinite numbers of times after that.  You won’t ever run out of inventory.

(The reality is that software isn’t created once, but requires constant updates…however, it’s still better than holding inventory!)

Finally, software businesses don’t have to be created by software developers!

I am not a programmer!

I don’t know how to code anything.  However, I own a successful software business.

Don’t limit yourself into thinking that you cannot create a piece of software simply because you don’t know how to code.

Hire someone.

If I said to you, “Hey, I’m going to buy some land and build a house”…it’s most likely that I mean that I’m simply going to hire a contractor to build the house for me.  It’s not a big deal and people do it all the time.

In the same manner, you can just hire a developer to build a piece of software for you and you will own it (just like your house).  The “contract” developer just want to gets paid for his work, not to “own” another house software business.

I’ll be diving into exactly how to hire a great developer in a future post.

For now, just realize that a software business can be excellent for MANY reasons, and it’s well within your reach…even if you have no clue how to code.

Stop and Think: Make Something Useful and Better

Before you dive into hiring and building software, you need to stop and think for a minute.  The most important aspect of getting started is to find a way that you can bring the world something useful or better than the existing competition.

I know this sounds obvious, but I’m surprised how many software projects that are started that really aren’t any better that what is already out there.  If you take the time to research what is out there, I’m sure you can come up with a better idea.

In the post today, I want to cover 3 simple ideas to ensure that you come up with a useful idea that has potential in the marketplace.

3 Ways to Validate Your Software Idea:

  1. Solve Your Own Problem
  2. Be Different From Your Competition
  3. Competitors Making Money?

Solve Your Own Problem

There are so many ways that you can brainstorm for new software ideas.  However, I can only share what has worked well for me.

The idea for Long Tail Pro came to me because I was trying to solve my own problem.  You see back in 2008 and 2009 I was actively building small niche sites.  As a result, I was doing A LOT of keyword research.

The keyword research tools I was using (Market Samurai and Google Keyword Tool) had some limitations when it came to doing LOTS of keyword research quickly.  I was spending hours and hours performing repetitive tasks with this software and I was continually frustrated!

These tools were slow and truly felt like they were built by people unfamiliar with keyword research (like a software guy decided to just create a keyword tool without REALLY understanding how people do keyword research).

I had a problem.  I was “wasting” hours doing keyword research with tools that didn’t work well in my work flow.

After doing lots of research, I was still unhappy with the other solutions that were on the market.  I felt like it was time for someone that actually did TONS of keyword research to create a better keyword tool.

I wanted to solve my own problem.

You’ve probably seen other businesses that have been started by people solving their own problems as well.  A couple of my favorites from Shark Tank are the Drop Stop and Chord Buddy.

Drop Stop was created by solving a problem that one of the founders Marc Newburger had experienced many times.

image03

Here’s the Drop Stop story in his own words,

Since the era of the modern automobile, we as drivers have put up with the unbelievable hassle of dropping items down the crack of the car seat. I personally can count hundreds of times and many near accidents. But in the waning months of 2006, I almost met my maker. While driving along the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CA, I was awaiting a very important phone call. I had placed my phone on the center console to easily reach the call when it came. It rang. The phone vibrated…and fell right down the gap.

While frantically trying in vain to jam my hand down and reach for the phone, I took my eyes off the road, pulled the wheel to the right as I leaned to retrieve the phone, jumped the curb, slammed the brakes, nearly struck a pedestrian, and came within 2 inches of smashing into a metal pole. I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Why doesn’t someone come up with a way to block that stupid crack??!!” After collecting myself and being thankful no one was hurt, I paused and thought, ‘Yes, why doesn’t someone make something? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything to block that problem in my entire life.’

The Drop Stop was invented shortly after that and has now sold millions and is one of the nine most successful businesses to come out of Shark Tank.

The Chord Buddy is another successful Shark Tank business that was born out of solving a problem for the founder.

image01

Travis Perry, the founder of Chord Buddy, was trying to teach his daughter to play guitar.  However, his daughter was frustrated because the strings were difficult to push with her small fingers.

As a result, Travis developed the Chord Buddy product and his daughter was able to finally enjoy learning how to play guitar. He then went on to sell his product to lots of other people and get a deal on Shark Tank with Robert Herjavec.

Now, there are LOTS of other ways to come up with software product ideas; however, I recommend trying to solve your own problems.  This has worked very well for me as I created Long Tail Pro by doing just that.  And there are countless other businesses out there that came about by the founders solving their own problems.

Be Different From Your Competition

So, the first step in creating a software business is finding that great idea.  However, simply because your idea solves your own problem, doesn’t mean it’s automatically better than what is currently on the market.

Now is the time to go out and research what other products are already trying to solve the problem that you are having.

For example, with Long Tail Pro, I was particularly frustrated with the length of time it took to search for lots of keywords on existing tools.  As a result, one of my primary ideas was to simply allow users to input multiple seed keywords at once.

This is a very simple feature that was different than my competitors.

For example Market Samurai, a well known keyword tool back in 2010, only allowed users to input 1 seed keyword at a time (and it still only allows 1 seed keyword at a time).

Here’s a screenshot of Market Samurai:

image02

Sadly, I can only input “dog collar”.  I have to fully start a new project if I want to search for something other than “dog collar”.  It’s extremely time consuming.

So, when I compared directly to my competitors, I KNEW I had something different.  Long Tail Pro would give users the ability to search for lots of keywords at once and I also streamlined lots of the filtering and research options.

Here’s a screenshot of the newest version of Long Tail Pro:

2015-06-04_1016

I’ve simply input 6 seed keywords as an example.  Now, the software will handle all this research for me at once, rather than going back and forth to input new seed keywords like competing tools were forcing users to do.

This and other simple features definitely results in a big time saving for users.  I did a video demonstration showing that Long Tail Pro makes your keyword research 8 times faster than competing products.

So, does your software idea stand out from your competitors in any way?

It needs to be either faster, easier to user, cheaper, work better, or address a pain point of users that isn’t fully being addressed.

I have discussed the importance of being “the one” in a recent blog post and podcast here.  You can’t expect to build a successful business if your software product is exactly like your competitors.  You need to stand out in one way or another.

Competitors Making Money?

Okay, so you’ve solved your own problem and you’ve even figured out how to make a software product different from your competitors.

However, now you need to determine if anyone is actually interested in buying a product like yours!

The easiest way to find out if there is a market for your product is to find out if your competitors are making any money.  If people are interested in your direct competitors product, then they will likely also be interested in yours (if you can convince them to buy yours first).

In some instances, finding out if your competitors are making money can be relatively easy.

For example, when I was considering whether or not I should create Long Tail Pro, I knew that one of the top keyword tools was Market Samurai.  I got on their email list.

It just so happens that the founder of Market Samurai TOLD me how much the business was making!  I didn’t ask him, he just publicly revealed it to everyone on his email list. In fact, he did it on 2 different occasions.

(Remember, these emails are from way back in 2009 or 2010…I had to do some digging to find them).

Here’s one:

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In this first email, he simply explained that the demand was “mind-blowing” and that over 18,000 people had used the software in the first week.  Whoa…that’s alot of people!

But another email REALLY told me how well the business was doing:

image05

So, by simply joining his email list, I was able to find out that my direct competitor had made $6.7 million dollars from the software product.

The answer was pretty clear to me: my competition was DEFINITELY making money!  As a result of these emails and other research, the decision was crystal clear to me…I should definitely create Long Tail Pro.

You may have to do some more digging to find out if your competitors are making money.  However, if you can find anything that references sales, user base, website traffic numbers, or other stats, you can often extrapolate how well the business is doing.

Long Tail Pro met the 3 criteria that I think all software products should meet:

  1. It solved a need in the market place (my own problem)
  2. I was able to make my product different
  3. My competitors were definitely making good money; there was a healthy market out there.

Get Started…

So, as you start brainstorming for your own software ideas, you should be looking at the same criteria.

I also want to emphasize that seeing your competitors making lots of money is a GOOD thing!  Having a healthy market of buyers (even though they are currently buying your competitors products) is better than not truly knowing if there is a good market.

This post is just the beginning.  I have lots more to share about how to actually create the software, launch the software, and grow your business over the long term.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing tactics that have worked well in my Long Tail Pro business, and can be applied to your own software business as you get it up and running.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback, so please leave any thoughts or questions that you might have in the comments section below.  Thanks!

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Podcast 62: April Income Report and Thinking Big with Amazon Physical Productshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-62-april-income-report-and-thinking-big-with-amazon-physical-products/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-62-april-income-report-and-thinking-big-with-amazon-physical-products/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 19:09:34 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5341 Welcome to another episode of the Niche Pursuits podcast! Today Perrin and I are excited to bring you the income reports for the authority site and my amazon product. We also discuss a pivot I am making in my business … Continued

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Welcome to another episode of the Niche Pursuits podcast! Today Perrin and I are excited to bring you the income reports for the authority site and my amazon product.

We also discuss a pivot I am making in my business based on these numbers.

The details of these income reports can be found in this blog post from last week.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we discuss on the podcast today:

Last month our authority site brought in $912.70, mostly from Kindle books, and some Adsense revenue. We did grow from 625 to 1300 email subscribers which is excellent.

However, at this point we’re facing a bit of a reality check: we’re now 10 months in to this project, and the traffic is not growing like we had hoped.

Currently we’re spending $3,000-4,000 per month on content creation and marketing. Over the past several months we’ve spent $15,000-20,000 and only realized $7,000 revenue.

On the other hand, my Amazon product launched March 28 and saw revenues of $4,400 in the first 30 days. This started as a very casual side project, but we sold out of the first batch of 105 units in 40 days for an initial revenue of $6,000.

Looking forward we’re planning to increase profit margins through lower freight costs and lower price per unit due to economies of scale with our manufacturer.

The difference in momentum between these two projects is allowing for a pretty clear decision in our business focus. As of today we will be putting the authority site on hold and try to make it more passive. We will finish a book we have in the works, and continue to operate the site, but we won’t be putting many more resources into building it out.

At this point, we will be focusing almost entirely on growing the Amazon physical products business. This will allow us to scale this into what could be a very big business. I can see a portfolio of Amazon products doing millions of dollar per year (potentially).

To do this we will be creating a portfolio of products and creating a website for these products that we plan to grow. The same lessons we learned in building niche sites will continue to apply to these Amazon products and related sites: keyword research, content creation, and paid acquisition.

One important take away that Perrin and I have been thinking about is the importance of having your own products to scale a business. This is something I learned with LongTailPro, and continue to reinforce in my business now through Amazon FBA.

If you’re enjoying the show and would like to show your appreciation for the Niche Pursuits podcast in general, please leave a rating on iTunes right here.

As always, I would love to hear any feedback in the comment below.  Thanks!

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-62-april-income-report-and-thinking-big-with-amazon-physical-products/feed/ 60 Welcome to another episode of the Niche Pursuits podcast! Today Perrin and I are excited to bring you the income reports for the authority site and my amazon product. - We also discuss a pivot I am making in my business based on these numbers. - Welcome to another episode of the Niche Pursuits podcast! Today Perrin and I are excited to bring you the income reports for the authority site and my amazon product.We also discuss a pivot I am making in my business based on these numbers.The details of these income reports can be found in this blog post from last week.Here's a quick rundown of what we discuss on the podcast today:Last month our authority site brought in $912.70, mostly from Kindle books, and some Adsense revenue. We did grow from 625 to 1300 email subscribers which is excellent.However, at this point we’re facing a bit of a reality check: we’re now 10 months in to this project, and the traffic is not growing like we had hoped.Currently we’re spending $3,000-4,000 per month on content creation and marketing. Over the past several months we’ve spent $15,000-20,000 and only realized $7,000 revenue.On the other hand, my Amazon product launched March 28 and saw revenues of $4,400 in the first 30 days. This started as a very casual side project, but we sold out of the first batch of 105 units in 40 days for an initial revenue of $6,000.Looking forward we’re planning to increase profit margins through lower freight costs and lower price per unit due to economies of scale with our manufacturer.The difference in momentum between these two projects is allowing for a pretty clear decision in our business focus. As of today we will be putting the authority site on hold and try to make it more passive. We will finish a book we have in the works, and continue to operate the site, but we won’t be putting many more resources into building it out.At this point, we will be focusing almost entirely on growing the Amazon physical products business. This will allow us to scale this into what could be a very big business. I can see a portfolio of Amazon products doing millions of dollar per year (potentially).To do this we will be creating a portfolio of products and creating a website for these products that we plan to grow. The same lessons we learned in building niche sites will continue to apply to these Amazon products and related sites: keyword research, content creation, and paid acquisition.One important take away that Perrin and I have been thinking about is the importance of having your own products to scale a business. This is something I learned with LongTailPro, and continue to reinforce in my business now through Amazon FBA.If you’re enjoying the show and would like to show your appreciation for the Niche Pursuits podcast in general, please leave a rating on iTunes right here.As always, I would love to hear any feedback in the comment below.  Thanks! Niche Pursuits no 43:52
April 2015 Income Report: Physical Product Sales Versus Authority Sitehttp://www.nichepursuits.com/april-2015-income-report-physical-product-sales-versus-authority-site/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/april-2015-income-report-physical-product-sales-versus-authority-site/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 17:58:07 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5312 For the past several months, I have been sharing the income for my authority site project, and this month is no different! You will have a chance to see the income from the website that Perrin and I have been … Continued

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For the past several months, I have been sharing the income for my authority site project, and this month is no different!

You will have a chance to see the income from the website that Perrin and I have been working on for while now.  However, I will also share the income of the Amazon physical business that I recently started.

I have several points that I want to compare and contrast between the two businesses.  In particular, I want to point out how quickly one of them has taken off.

This has led to a few decisions that I will discuss further below.  However, for now, let’s jump right into this month’s income report.

Authority Site Income for April

As always, I’ve prepared a nice little spreadsheet for your stat viewing pleasure.  Below is a breakdown of all the traffic and income from our authority site over the past several months:

income-april

Total Earnings for April: $912.75

The total earnings for April was still relatively stable at about $900.  As you can see, the majority of that income has come from the Kindle sales.

The Adsense revenue has continued to be small for the simple reason that we are not trying to monetize onsite very much.  The primary purpose of the site is to build an email list.

So, the site could be earning quite a bit more via Adsense if we didn’t have so many opt-ins on our site.  However, because we have been focusing on opt-ins, we’ve seen a nice increase over the past month.

Opt-ins

We’ve gone from about 625 email subscribers at the end of March to about 1,300 by the end of April.  The primary reason for the increased subscribers is simply from the fact that we added more opt in forms via Thrive Leads.

Just about every type of opt in form, we now have it on the site: pop up, headline bar, sidebar, content upgrades, etc.  All of these are powered by Thrive leads.

Here’s a screenshot from the Kindle sales:

kdp-april

As you can see, we had a couple of nice spikes.  We had a couple of promotions (including one on Amazon Brazil) that really shot up the downloads for a few days.

Here’s a quick look at the actual traffic to the site:

authority-april

The traffic for the month of April stayed relatively stable.

Why Stagnant Sales?

Overall, the sales have remained stable, rather than taking that hockey stick turn upward that Perrin and I keep hoping for.  The conclusion that we’ve come to is simply that getting more traffic to our site and selling more books on the Kindle platform is just really really hard.

With Kindle, we often see the spikes in sales at least once or twice a month with special promotions that we are able to do.  We’ve tried BuckBooks.com a couple of times now, and it works amazingly well to generate a sudden spike in sales.

However, these spikes are short lived.  The sales will do great (from just about any promotion) for a few days or a couple weeks.  But eventually they always seem to trail off.

As a result, rather than seeing the income climb month after month, we are simply seeing peaks and valleys.  We’d like to figure out a way to sustain the sales long term, but have yet to crack that code.

The traffic to the website is a bit more frustrating.  We’ve tried targeting low competition keywords, we’ve tried Google News, we’ve tried really long articles, we’ve tried daily content, and we’ve tried lots of outreach.

The only conclusion we can come to is that something about our market is simply not conducive to the tactics we are using.  We may have just bitten off more than we can chew with this market.

After working on this site for nearly 10 months, we are left with a difficult decision: Do we buckle down and keep trying?  Or do we move on to greener pastures?

As I make a direct comparison to the early results I’ve seen with my physical product business, this answer seems to be staring me in the face.

Income from Amazon FBA

I recently decided to venture into selling a physical product on Amazon.  You can see the full timeline of my involvement in this business right here.

After doing some brainstorming, researching, and getting a product manufactured…I listed my product for the very first time on Amazon on March 28th.

After just 30 days, I had already sold nearly $4,400 worth of product!

30daysgraph

If you want to learn more how I got these sales, you can read this blog post and listen to this podcast and this one.

However, the sales didn’t stop there.  In fact, despite the fact that I increased the price to try and slow down sales (so that I wouldn’t run out of inventory so quickly), I actually did run out of inventory just a few days later.

After just 40 days of listing my product, I had sold out of my first batch of 105 units and had revenue of just over $6,000.

Check out this sales screenshot:

amazon40

I’ve discussed this already in previous posts and podcasts, but I have been blown away by the almost immediate success of this business.  The only reason the sales trended downward at the end of April is because I tried to slow them down by raising prices.  If I hadn’t run out of inventory, I have no doubt I would still be selling 5 to 10 units a day.

My manufacturer is taking a little bit longer than I had hoped to get my next batch of units ready…but honestly I’m not overly concerned about it.  My first batch of 105 units truly was a test to see if this business had an potential.

My results over just 40 days are good enough for me to move forward in a big way with this business.  So, my sales for May might not be great (because of lack of inventory)…but I’m developing a more solid plan moving forward to grow the business.

Physical Product vs. Authority Site

I’d like to compare the two businesses that I’ve been involved with lately.  Like everyone, I have limited time and resources.  I can’t pursue every single opportunity that comes my way…so I have to make decisions what to work on and what not to work on.

Here’s how I’m currently comparing my two businesses:

  • Time spent on Authority Site: about 10 months
  • Time spent on physical product business: about 40 days
  • Revenue of Authority site in past 10 months: $6,942
  • Revenue of physical product business in past 40 days: $6,040
  • Revenue of Authority site in past 60 days: $1,868.35
  • Revenue of physical product business in past 60 days: $6,040

Whoa.

After spending nearly 10 months building our authority site and writing 5 kindle books, we’ve only made about $7,000.  In addition, we’ve put in TONS of man hours and hired an author to write articles on our site on a consistent basis.

On the other hand, I’ve put in very few hours into the Amazon FBA business…and it’s made in the past 40 days almost as much as our authority site has in the past 10 months.

If you were to hold both of these business opportunities in your hand and you had to choose one that you think is going to generate the most revenue over the next year, which one do you think you would choose?

Yep, me too.

As tough as it is to look back at the past 10 months and all the work we’ve put into our authority site…it’s pretty clear to me that the more immediate success is likely to come from focusing on the Amazon FBA business.

Not only does it likely present a more immediate return, there is also a very strong possibility that it presents a MUCH larger opportunity long term.

For example, let’s say I explode this business and started making $100k per month.  The reality is that making $100k per month is still not even close to one of the bigger successes on Amazon.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s just a few small examples of people making over $100k/mth selling products on Amazon:

In general, there are SO many ways to make money, so it’s important for everyone to weighs the pros and cons of each opportunity for themselves.

For me, I’ve at least come to the conclusion that this authority site is going to take much more time and effort than I had hoped to make $10k a month or more.  I don’t want to keep throwing time and effort into a project that isn’t seeing good returns.

On the other hand, I think it’s pretty obvious that my product business is showing some very strong signs of success early on.  I think I would be making a poor decision if I didn’t pursue the opportunity that is clearly showing greater returns, has required less time, and has way more upside potential.

Plans Moving Forward

As a result of this comparison, I am definitely going to be putting more time into the physical product business opportunities and less time into the authority site and Kindle book opportunities.

Say what you will, but I think it’s a smart decision for me going forward.

As a result, Perrin and I will be winding down our efforts on the authority site.  We are in the middle of one more Kindle book…but that very well could be our last book.

As for the site itself, we do have a few more articles that will be published that we had previously committed to; after that, we likely won’t be adding much new content.  We will continue to collect email address from the natural traffic that comes from the site and can continue to promote the books that we’ve already written.  Or we may just optimize the site for Adsense clicks…we’ll see what happens.

However, in general, we will be spending significantly less time on that site.

I still don’t know how many more income reports I will do on the Authority site since we are not focusing on it as much anymore, but it may only be one or two more.

My 10 Year Old Notebook

As for the Amazon physical product business, I couldn’t be more excited.  I used to be someone that would write down my unique products ideas all the time…well over 10 years ago! (Long before I built my first website).

I was dreaming over a decade ago about little product improvements that I could make.  However, none of those ideas seemed feasible until I realized very recently what was possible with Alibaba.com, Amazon FBA, and the ability to truly treat it like an online business.

I’ve always been an idea guy.  Now that I potentially have an outlet for all these ideas AND I’ve developed the online marketing skills that can help over the past several years; well, I’m enthusiastic about the prospects.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m also in a strong financial position where I can invest real capital into my ideas now; whereas, I simply couldn’t do that before.

Perhaps I should dust off my 10 year old notebook with all my old product ideas and see if I can breath some life into them.

To be clear, I’m not giving up on websites and online marketing at all!  I’m simply looking forward to combining physical products and the online world in a way that I’ve never ventured into before.

I hope you’ll tag along for the journey.

The post April 2015 Income Report: Physical Product Sales Versus Authority Site appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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Podcast 61: Selling Amazon Physical Products: Questions and Answershttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-61-selling-amazon-physical-products-questions-and-answers/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-61-selling-amazon-physical-products-questions-and-answers/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 21:26:41 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5316 Today’s episode of the Niche Pursuits Podcast is a Q&A session with Perrin and I talking all about selling physical products on Amazon. We’ve covered some of these topics in previous blog posts and podcast episodes, but we wanted to … Continued

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Today’s episode of the Niche Pursuits Podcast is a Q&A session with Perrin and I talking all about selling physical products on Amazon.

We’ve covered some of these topics in previous blog posts and podcast episodes, but we wanted to dig into a more of the details with you today.

Here are some of the main Questions covered in the podcast:

  • The most popular question we get is “What are your thoughts about going outside of Amazon?”. The spirit of the question here is what is the risk of having your entire business being based on a single platform. We’ve seen some of the Google SEO penalties really hurt niche websites in the past, and so we’re very conscious of this not affecting our Amazon business going forward. The important thing to remember here is that your product is the business, not Amazon. Things like building content on your own website will not only increase traffic and sales via Amazon, but will build a defensible business as well.
  • Two episodes ago on the show we talked a lot about the concept of being “The One”. Some people are taking this to mean that they have to create an entirely new class of products to be successful. That can be the case, but not necessarily. Think about small improvements you can make to existing products or marketing an existing product to a new audience. That an be the differentiator that will make your business successful.
  • Another common question we get is Why Not Go Direct? By this people are asking why not sell directly via an ecommerce website instead of selling on Amazon. There are advantages of selling direct, just like Andrew Yourderian is doing at eCommerce Fuel, but margins may be less and you’re not getting the built in traffic, marketing channels, and captive audience that Amazon offers.
  • A few people have been asking about selling through Amazon’s FBA program in other countries. This is a possibility for most people.  We discuss how this would work.
  • Can you estimate costs associated with a product? Yes, the easiest way to estimate product cost is via Alibaba.com directly. Email a few suppliers and they’ll give you per unit costs at different quantity levels. The same can be done for freight and other logistics considerations.
  • Where and How do you get samples? Again, Alibaba.com is the place to go for foreign sourced products. You’ll be able to send payment via Paypal for a single item and they’ll send it via DHL or another freight carrier.
  • Can you source from the US? Yes, absolutely. Particularly if you’re in the supplements or beauty products field you may need to source from the US due to government regulations. But many things can be sourced from the US. One of the Benefits being that the language barrier likely will be lower, time to market will be shorter because there’s quicker shipping times, and customizations may be easier. Downside is that the cost will be higher, primarily because of labor costs vs. China.
  • What due diligence can you do around suppliers on Alibaba? There are 4 criteria you can choose from at the top of a search bar: On Site Check, Gold Star Rated, Assessed Supplier, and Trade Assurances. Each of these come with background due diligence that Alibaba or third party groups have done on these manufacturers to help assure that they’re top tier suppliers.
  • Are there any courses you would recommend on Amazon FBA? Since we haven’t taken any personally I can’t recommend one. I like to learn by doing, which is how I’ve grown all of my businesses. With the community here and other resources available you should be able to get started with a good knowledge of how a good FBA business should work.

If you’re enjoying the show and would like to show your appreciation for the Niche Pursuits podcast in general, please leave a rating on iTunes right here.   We’d sure appreciate it.

The post Podcast 61: Selling Amazon Physical Products: Questions and Answers appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-61-selling-amazon-physical-products-questions-and-answers/feed/ 32 Today’s episode of the Niche Pursuits Podcast is a Q&A session with Perrin and I talking all about selling physical products on Amazon. - We’ve covered some of these topics in previous blog posts and podcast episodes, Today’s episode of the Niche Pursuits Podcast is a Q&A session with Perrin and I talking all about selling physical products on Amazon.We’ve covered some of these topics in previous blog posts and podcast episodes, but we wanted to dig into a more of the details with you today.Here are some of the main Questions covered in the podcast:The most popular question we get is “What are your thoughts about going outside of Amazon?”. The spirit of the question here is what is the risk of having your entire business being based on a single platform. We’ve seen some of the Google SEO penalties really hurt niche websites in the past, and so we’re very conscious of this not affecting our Amazon business going forward. The important thing to remember here is that your product is the business, not Amazon. Things like building content on your own website will not only increase traffic and sales via Amazon, but will build a defensible business as well. Two episodes ago on the show we talked a lot about the concept of being “The One”. Some people are taking this to mean that they have to create an entirely new class of products to be successful. That can be the case, but not necessarily. Think about small improvements you can make to existing products or marketing an existing product to a new audience. That an be the differentiator that will make your business successful. Another common question we get is Why Not Go Direct? By this people are asking why not sell directly via an ecommerce website instead of selling on Amazon. There are advantages of selling direct, just like Andrew Yourderian is doing at eCommerce Fuel, but margins may be less and you’re not getting the built in traffic, marketing channels, and captive audience that Amazon offers. A few people have been asking about selling through Amazon’s FBA program in other countries. This is a possibility for most people.  We discuss how this would work. Can you estimate costs associated with a product? Yes, the easiest way to estimate product cost is via Alibaba.com directly. Email a few suppliers and they’ll give you per unit costs at different quantity levels. The same can be done for freight and other logistics considerations. Where and How do you get samples? Again, Alibaba.com is the place to go for foreign sourced products. You’ll be able to send payment via Paypal for a single item and they’ll send it via DHL or another freight carrier. Can you source from the US? Yes, absolutely. Particularly if you’re in the supplements or beauty products field you may need to source from the US due to government regulations. But many things can be sourced from the US. One of the Benefits being that the language barrier likely will be lower, time to market will be shorter because there’s quicker shipping times, and customizations may be easier. Downside is that the cost will be higher, primarily because of labor costs vs. China. What due diligence can you do around suppliers on Alibaba? There are 4 criteria you can choose from at the top of a search bar: On Site Check, Gold Star Rated, Assessed Supplier, and Trade Assurances. Each of these come with background due diligence that Alibaba or third party groups have done on these manufacturers to help assure that they’re top tier suppliers. Are there any courses you would recommend on Amazon FBA? Since we haven’t taken any personally I can’t recommend one. I like to learn by doing, which is how I’ve grown all of my businesses. With the community here and other resources available you should be able to get started with a good knowledge of how a good FBA business should work.If you’re enjoying the show and would like to show your appreciation for the Niche Pursuits podcast in general, please leave a rating on iTunes right here.   We’d sure appreciate it. Niche Pursuits no 41:28
Podcast 60: How I Made $4,399 Selling a Physical Product on Amazon in Just 30 Dayshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-60-how-i-made-4399-selling-a-physical-product-on-amazon-in-just-30-days/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-60-how-i-made-4399-selling-a-physical-product-on-amazon-in-just-30-days/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 16:59:31 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5308 Today, Perrin and I get behind the microphone and discuss how to start and grow your own business through Amazon’s FBA program.  Much of this podcast is a recap of what I covered in my last blog post right here … Continued

The post Podcast 60: How I Made $4,399 Selling a Physical Product on Amazon in Just 30 Days appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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Today, Perrin and I get behind the microphone and discuss how to start and grow your own business through Amazon’s FBA program.  Much of this podcast is a recap of what I covered in my last blog post right here (if you prefer to read).

By following several key steps, I was able to sell $4,399 in product in just 30 days. Perrin and I share the process and answer some questions taken from a few blog comments.

This is a very real business, which I hope to scale and see monthly earnings quadruple. The potential rewards are, in my opinion, much greater than a niche website.

In this podcast, we discuss some of the particulars that go into starting an FBA business:

  • The importance of finding a unique product to sell
  • How to find a manufacturer for your product (using Alibaba.com)
  • Getting your item manufactured and shipped
  • Basic promotional ideas to generate sales and interest in what you’re selling
  • Why it’s a good idea to build a niche site around an Amazon product

We also delve into three reasons behind what makes a product sell.

I will be expanding my FBA product line in the coming months. Perrin and I hope you find some useful information that you can apply in your own business.

Also, if you found this podcast at all informative, or you would simply like to give me a “thumbs up” for the Niche Pursuits podcast in general, please leave a rating on iTunes right here.

If you have any additional questions or thoughts, please leave a comment below.  Thanks!

The post Podcast 60: How I Made $4,399 Selling a Physical Product on Amazon in Just 30 Days appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-60-how-i-made-4399-selling-a-physical-product-on-amazon-in-just-30-days/feed/ 49 Today, Perrin and I get behind the microphone and discuss how to start and grow your own business through Amazon’s FBA program.  Much of this podcast is a recap of what I covered in my last blog post right here (if you prefer to read). - Today, Perrin and I get behind the microphone and discuss how to start and grow your own business through Amazon’s FBA program.  Much of this podcast is a recap of what I covered in my last blog post right here (if you prefer to read).By following several key steps, I was able to sell $4,399 in product in just 30 days. Perrin and I share the process and answer some questions taken from a few blog comments.This is a very real business, which I hope to scale and see monthly earnings quadruple. The potential rewards are, in my opinion, much greater than a niche website.In this podcast, we discuss some of the particulars that go into starting an FBA business:The importance of finding a unique product to sell How to find a manufacturer for your product (using Alibaba.com) Getting your item manufactured and shipped Basic promotional ideas to generate sales and interest in what you’re selling Why it’s a good idea to build a niche site around an Amazon productWe also delve into three reasons behind what makes a product sell.I will be expanding my FBA product line in the coming months. Perrin and I hope you find some useful information that you can apply in your own business.Also, if you found this podcast at all informative, or you would simply like to give me a “thumbs up” for the Niche Pursuits podcast in general, please leave a rating on iTunes right here.If you have any additional questions or thoughts, please leave a comment below.  Thanks! Niche Pursuits no 53:42
How I Went From 0 to $4,399 in Sales with an Amazon FBA Business in Just 30 Dayshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/amazon-fba-in-30-days/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/amazon-fba-in-30-days/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 21:20:42 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5288 I don’t read a lot of blogs usually.  As a result, in some respects I’m somewhat “naive” to various online business ventures that others are pursuing. However, I do have a handful of blogs that I subscribe to and will … Continued

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I don’t read a lot of blogs usually.  As a result, in some respects I’m somewhat “naive” to various online business ventures that others are pursuing.

However, I do have a handful of blogs that I subscribe to and will peruse from time to time.  One that I read is my buddy Chris Guthrie’s blog.  We’ve known each other for about 4 years now, so I like to keep tabs with his business.

I believe it was about 6 months ago when I read a post from Chris where he shared that making over $12k in his first 68 days on Amazon FBA.

Honestly, for some reason, that post was the first time it ever dawned on me how hands off the FBA business is.  I always thought manufacturing and selling a product on Amazon meant producing designs to get manufactured, shipping product to your house, shipping it to customers when they ordered, and answering customer service emails.

In a nutshell, I was clueless about Amazon FBA.  Because it turns out that none of those things are true.

So, for the first time ever I did a little bit of Googling about people selling their own products on Amazon, private labeling, and FBA.  I was a total newb just 6 months ago.

I immediately reached out to Chris and asked him to come on the Niche Pursuits podcast, and we recorded this episode on Dec. 2nd, 2014. I also got some tips shared privately from Chris as I had questions.

Fast forward 6 months, and I now have a product on Amazon that has been listed for 30 days!  Not only is it up and listed, but I’ve sold over $4,300 worth of my product in just 30 days.

I’m about to share my journey from totally clueless to unlocking a potentially huge new revenue stream for my business with Amazon FBA.

First, Here’s the Money Shot

I know you guys want to see the screenshots of income, so here you go!

This is a screenshot from the past 30 days.  This is also my very first 30 days of having a product listed:

30daysgraph

I was NOT expecting to make $4,400 in my first month of listing the product!  This just went from a little side project that I tried not to spend very much time on to a business with the potential to grow significantly.

I see so much potential, it’s got me re-thinking where I should be spending some of my time.

Any Profits?

I want to be clear that the above numbers are REVENUE numbers, not PROFIT.  I don’t expect to make much money on the first 100 units sold, but I expect my profit margins to be 50% or more for all units sold in the future.

Here’s a quick breakdown of costs for my first batch of 105 units ordered:

  • Manufacturing costs: About $1,000
  • Logo/branding/photo editing: $150
  • Shipping/Freight costs: $2500
  • Amazon fees: About $15/unit
  • Giveaways/Discounts: 20 units (about $1,000 in soft costs)

So, as you can see from the screenshot above, I’ve sold 83 units. The screenshot shows the full revenue, even on units I actually sold for $1.  So, after coupons (12) and giveaways to family/friends (8), the actual revenue is about $1,000 less.

My total Amazon FBA fees on that is approximately $1245.

With some quick math, you can see my total costs are about $4,880.  So, I’m still slightly in the hole, but I should end up breaking even after the final 22 units sell from this batch.

However, my net profit will be MUCH greater for each new batch.  I was very happy to just break even with this first batch as it truly was just a test order of 105 units.

Shipping Costs

Also, my shipping costs were extremely high, and that was a conscious decision that I made.  I chose to ship them via air to get them to Amazon faster.

Not only is air faster than ocean freight, there were also some port strikes going on that would have delayed things another couple of weeks most likely.  So, I bought myself about a month by paying extra.

Maybe not the smartest decision from a dollar and cents perspective, but it DID allow me to test things quicker and I’m now about a month ahead of where I would have been in placing my next order.

I will be shipping via ocean freight from now on most likely.

Ocean freight for my first 105 units would have cost about $350.  So, the extra shipping cost is really what eliminated my chance at a decent profit.

If I had gone ocean freight, my net profit would have been about $2,000…which is very close to a 40% profit margin.

So, even though I didn’t really make any money on my first batch of units.  I fully expect to make about 40 to 50% profit margin and all future orders from China.  I will be able to get my product cheaper (because I’ll be placing larger orders), I won’t have logo and branding costs, and my shipping/freight costs will be significantly lower per unit.

So, I haven’t “really” made any money today…but all signs are VERY good that this business can be quite profitable for me.

A Quick Timeline of My Product – Discovery to Today

As explained, I honestly first heard about this business about 6 months ago.  After doing some quick research and my podcast interview with Chris Guthrie, I figured this business didn’t seem too complicated after all.

I thought it might be interesting to recreate the timeline from when I discovered this business to where I am today.  The idea behind this is to show you what kind of timeline you can expect if you decide to get into this business.

  • October 2014 – I learn about the Amazon FBA business
  • December 2, 2014 – I interview Chris Guthrie on my podcast about his Amazon business
  • December 27, 2014 – I eat 12 donuts during the day.  Don’t ask.
  • Jan 1, 2015 (at midnight) – Light off massive fireworks…possibly from China. A sign of things to come?
  • January 8th, 2015 – I have my “aha” moment and decide on a unique angle for a product I can sell on Amazon (I know the date because I found scribbled notes in my notebook)
  • January 10th – I go to Alibaba.com and contact about 4 manufacturers in regards to my product.  Just a quick email to each with some basic questions.  We exchange emails the next several days.
  • January 20th – I order a sample product from the manufacturer that was able to best produce my product.  (I only found one that was able to easily add the features I requested).
  • February 3rd – I receive the sample product.  It’s exactly what I wanted!
  • February 4th – I take pictures of the product
  • February 5th – I hire someone on Elance to create logo and product packaging/branding.
  • February 6th – Contact logistics company to work out shipping details. We exchange several emails over the next month.
  • February 12th – I have my logo/branding ready and place my first order of 105 units from my manufacturer!
  • February 13th – Manufacturer informs me that the Spring Festival Holiday is starting in China and that the factory is shutting down until March 5th (almost 3 week shutdown!).  They expect my order to be completed 2 weeks AFTER March 5th.  I’m sad about that :(
  • March (sometime) – I create my Amazon seller listing and write product description, upload images, and get everything ready for sale on Amazon.
  • March 12th – Manufacturer completes the batch of 105 units (a week ahead of schedule!)
  • March 16th – The product is loaded on a plane and flown to the US.
  • March 24th – The product has gone through customs and the logistics warehouse.  The product is shipped to the Amazon FBA warehouse.
  • March 28th – Amazon has processed the product in their warehouse and my listing goes live!
  • March 29th – A stranger buys my product.  I’m super excited to make my first sale using Amazon FBA!
  • March 30th – I go on a week long vacation with my family (Spring break) and totally ignore the FBA business other than checking stats.
  • April 29th – In 30 days, I have sold $4,400 worth of the product!

I hope this breakdown of the timeline gives you an idea of what it takes to get a product up on Amazon.  This is not an overnight business.

So, from product idea (my aha moment) to having a listing up on Amazon was about 2 and a half months.

Why Is the Product Selling So Well?

Now comes the more meaty question.  “Why is your product selling so well on Amazon?”

First, I DO think a big part of the reason is because it’s a slightly unique product.  I discussed the importance of being the one in my last blog post and last podcast here. I don’t want to give away my product, so it’s difficult to explain what that unique feature is…but it’s nothing revolutionary.

I just took an existing product, and made it very slightly different (think about something in a different color, or something that has more padding like my dog carrier example in previous post).

Now, because I’m pretty much the only listing that offers this exact product and I KNOW people want this feature, it’s selling.

The second reason it’s selling well is that my product is ranking well on Amazon for several long tail keyword phrases.  Yes, this was intentional.  I treated my product description like a niche site and used my targeted keywords in the product title and the product description.

Because of these 2 factors: unique product and showing up for long tail phrases, I was making about 2 to 3 sales a day after about 2 weeks of being listed.  I did have a few “sales” from friends and family over the first 3 weeks…but that was 8 units total.

I was making 1 to 2 sales per day before I had a single review on Amazon.  I honestly didn’t do any marketing outside of getting a few friends and family members to buy the product (which I reimbursed them for doing).

I WOULD have done more marketing if I hadn’t been so busy (vacation with family, New Media Expo, and running a full-time business outside of Amazon).  However, the natural sales raised my eyebrows and I thought, “Okay, let’s see what happens if I do some basic marketing!”

This brings me to the 3rd reason I think the product is selling so well: Promotion.  As you can see from the image below, I had a huge spike in sales on April 23rd.  I sold 14 units that day…but 11 of those sales were from $1 coupons.

I issued $1 coupons to a group of Amazon product reviewers (not sure I’m ready to reveal the source), and they got redeemed.  I didn’t make any money from those coupons, but this sudden spike in sales also boosted my Amazon best seller rank.

As a result, my product was listed higher on Amazon in various categories AND for the keywords I was targeting.  As you can see after April 23rd, the sales continued to be much higher than before…but these were natural sales now!

30daysgraph_001

I started selling so much product, that I’m now worried I will run out of inventory.  As a result, I’ve been raising the price over the past couple of days…people are still buying after a 50%+ price increase!

Here’s a screenshot from my highest revenue day so far.  And yes, all of these sales are from people I don’t know…all sold at full price (no coupons):

1day

I have started to get a few reviews over the past week or so that I’m sure has helped with the sales as well.  At the time of this writing, I still have less than 6 reviews though…so these sales really are coming in with minimal reviews and marketing.

Inventory Issues

About 10 days ago, I decided that this business was the real deal and that I needed to order some more inventory.  At the rate I was selling at 10 days ago, I figured I still had a couple of months before inventory would run out.

However, after doing my coupon promotion, getting a few more reviews, and selling lots more product per day…I’ll run out of inventory in less than a week!  I only have about 22 units left and I sold 11 units on my best day…so you do the math.

As a result, I’ve been raising my price to slow down the sales each day to prevent my inventory running dry too quickly.  Unfortunately with the sudden spike in sales, I’ve come to accept the fact that I probably won’t have any product to sell for probably close to 3 weeks during May.

My manufacturer will take about 2 weeks to produce the product (which they started on a couple days ago), and shipping via ocean freight will take at least 2 more weeks.  So, I won’t have any product ready for sale on Amazon for at least a month.

I wish I could wave a magic wand to make it all work out, but honestly, I’m not too worried about it.  The point of my first batch of product from China was to test the market to see if people were willing to buy.  The market has spoken loud and clear to me that people like my product!

So, even though May won’t bring in too many sales…I’ll be gearing up for bigger things down the road.

I think it’s very feasible that I can sell 10 units a day at close to $70 each.  This would be a monthly revenue of $21,000.  (The net profit on this would be about $11,000).  I’m obviously not quite there yet, but after my first 30 days of selling this product the market is definitely there.

Next Steps for My Amazon FBA Business

Because I’ve now tested the waters and can clearly see the revenue coming in, I’m going to scale this business.

  • I’ve already contacted my current and other manufacturers to get samples of similar products to what I’m already selling.  I believe that I can easily get 5 or 6 products up in my chosen niche.  I have no idea how each product will sell, but it’s clear that there is a very healthy market here.
  • I will also be doing a bit more marketing (once I have inventory) to get more reviews, increase the Amazon best sellers rank, and make more sales naturally as a result.
  • Finally, I plan on going outside of Amazon as well in the future.  I want to build a niche site related to my product.  I’ll write informational articles to get natural traffic from Google and then people can buy the product directly from my site as well.

That’s right, I’ll be building an eCommerce site.

I see this as a nice marriage between my experience with SEO, keyword research, site building, and now Amazon FBA.

Yes, this is a new business venture still and this blog post is clearly dripping with optimism, but I plan to capitalize as much as possible on this opportunity.  Will everything work out as planned?  Probably not exactly.  But I see no reason why I shouldn’t pursue this and try to grow this into a healthy business.

Overall, I haven’t been this excited about a business in a very long time.  We’ll see where the ride takes me.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Are you currently selling a product on Amazon?  Do you have any comments or questions that you would like to add to the discussion?  Let’s hear it below.

The post How I Went From 0 to $4,399 in Sales with an Amazon FBA Business in Just 30 Days appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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Podcast 59: How to Be the ONE (with Several Real Life Business Examples)http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-59-how-to-be-the-one-with-several-real-life-business-examples/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-59-how-to-be-the-one-with-several-real-life-business-examples/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 17:06:20 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5283 Well, I’ve gone and done it. I finally recorded another podcast episode! Today, I share a discussion between Perrin and I on the importance of being unique with your business. In particular, we have a more in-depth discussion about being … Continued

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Well, I’ve gone and done it. I finally recorded another podcast episode!

Today, I share a discussion between Perrin and I on the importance of being unique with your business. In particular, we have a more in-depth discussion about being the ONE, as I wrote about in my last blog post here.

This is an interesting topic that may seem pretty obvious to some people, while others may be completely oblivious to the subject.

In my opinion, to build a defensible business that can stand the test of time, that business needs to be doing something unique.

In particular, here’s a few of the things we discussed and referenced throughout the podcast:

  • What does it mean to be the one?
  • Restaurant examples that are unique
  • Why niche sites are extremely difficult to build a completely unique business from
  • How Long Tail Pro was able to stand out from Market Samurai and other competitors in order to capture market share
  • Discussion of uniqueness and marketing of NerdFitness.com
  • How Brian Lam made WireCutter.com thrive with a basic information site
  • Short update on my Amazon FBA business, and why its been so successful in the first 30 days (hint: it has some unique features)
  • Why it’s difficult to be the one with Kindle books
  • 5 Strategies to help you build a defensible business

Overall, it was great to get back behind the microphone and share some of my thoughts on the podcast!

I hope that you will give this episode a listen and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also, if you found this podcast at all useful, or you would simply like to give me a “thumbs up” for the Niche Pursuits podcast in general, please leave a rating on iTunes right here.

Finally, stay tuned for my next blog post…I’ll be covering my new Amazon FBA business in depth. I’ve only been selling for about 30 days, but the success is honestly starting to blow my mind. I’ll give you the inside scoop in a few days.

The post Podcast 59: How to Be the ONE (with Several Real Life Business Examples) appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-59-how-to-be-the-one-with-several-real-life-business-examples/feed/ 29 Well, I’ve gone and done it. I finally recorded another podcast episode! - Today, I share a discussion between Perrin and I on the importance of being unique with your business. In particular, we have a more in-depth discussion about being the ONE, Well, I’ve gone and done it. I finally recorded another podcast episode!Today, I share a discussion between Perrin and I on the importance of being unique with your business. In particular, we have a more in-depth discussion about being the ONE, as I wrote about in my last blog post here.This is an interesting topic that may seem pretty obvious to some people, while others may be completely oblivious to the subject.In my opinion, to build a defensible business that can stand the test of time, that business needs to be doing something unique.In particular, here’s a few of the things we discussed and referenced throughout the podcast:What does it mean to be the one? Restaurant examples that are unique Why niche sites are extremely difficult to build a completely unique business from How Long Tail Pro was able to stand out from Market Samurai and other competitors in order to capture market share Discussion of uniqueness and marketing of NerdFitness.com How Brian Lam made WireCutter.com thrive with a basic information site Short update on my Amazon FBA business, and why its been so successful in the first 30 days (hint: it has some unique features) Why it’s difficult to be the one with Kindle books 5 Strategies to help you build a defensible businessOverall, it was great to get back behind the microphone and share some of my thoughts on the podcast!I hope that you will give this episode a listen and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.Also, if you found this podcast at all useful, or you would simply like to give me a “thumbs up” for the Niche Pursuits podcast in general, please leave a rating on iTunes right here.Finally, stay tuned for my next blog post…I’ll be covering my new Amazon FBA business in depth. I’ve only been selling for about 30 days, but the success is honestly starting to blow my mind. I’ll give you the inside scoop in a few days. Niche Pursuits no 45:57
Be the ONE In Your Niche: Unique Strategies for a Successful Online Businesshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/be-the-one-in-your-niche-unique-strategies-for-a-successful-online-business/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/be-the-one-in-your-niche-unique-strategies-for-a-successful-online-business/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 21:20:29 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5254 I’ve been thinking a lot about being the ONE lately.  And by extension, I have been thinking a lot about whether other people are thinking about being the ONE as well. In other words, are you thinking about whether your … Continued

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I’ve been thinking a lot about being the ONE lately.  And by extension, I have been thinking a lot about whether other people are thinking about being the ONE as well.

In other words, are you thinking about whether your business is different enough to stand out from the crowd.  Do you have a unique selling proposition?  Do you have a unique product offering that is going to help your business thrive?

I feel like I need to write about this subject for 2 reasons: First, I can easily look back at my own business and see where the majority of my income is coming from, and it’s directly tied to the uniqueness of my business; and second, I know that many people reading this blog are just getting started in their online business and they NEED to hear how important it is to not copy other people’s business.

If you want to make real money, you have to be the one.

What does it mean to be the ONE?

Well, let’s look at a quick example.

Let’s say you are looking to open a Burger restaurant in Mesa, Arizona (where I grew up).  How many restaurants are in Mesa?  Oh, probably several thousand.  So, you are not the ONE restaurant.

How many of those sell burgers?  Easily still hundreds.  So, you are not even the ONE burger restaurant.  Unless, you can make your burger restaurant unique you are going to struggle to make money most likely. (This is a HUGE reason that most restaurants are failures…they are just a copy of what already exists).

However, what if the interior of your burger restaurant is surrounded by huge aquariums with all kinds of aquatic life and the tables move throughout the restaurant on a moving belt?  Suddenly you become the ONE restaurant that has moving tables with amazing aquariums that happens to serve burgers.

Now you might have a business.

Throughout the post today, I’d like to dig a little bit deeper into making your online business unique and why that’s so important.

Oh and if someone wants to steal that burger aquarium idea, be my guest.

Not the ONE…

My passion for this subject runs deep.  I’ve seen so many people try and fail with their online business and it’s heartbreaking.  However, when I look at many of the online businesses I see out there, I have to simply think, “Well, how was your business any different?”

In fact, if I were able to go in the past and talk to myself 4 or 5 years ago, I would have warned myself of the risks associated with niche sites.  Since, I can’t go back in time, I want to warn you if you are putting all your eggs in the niche site basket.

Niche sites are not unique.  Yes, you can make money from niche sites; however, they are more like a loophole, rather than a real business.

I mean, I’m still making money from niche sites…but I KNOW it’s a loophole and won’t last forever.

Be honest with yourself and think about it.  Let’s say you have a niche site that is about the best BBQ grills.  Even if your articles are “unique”, you are really no different than thousands of other websites that provide information on BBQ grills.

When I do a search for “best bbq grills” on Google, I get 1.9 million results.  You are 1 of nearly 2 million, definitely not just the one of one.

bestbbq

Sure, you might be able to rank #1 in Google if you play your cards right and make good money.  But it’s a loophole, it’s a marketing play (more on this later), not a real unique business.

In general, any site that makes money strictly from affiliate income is not unique (yes, there are exceptions).  You should not bet your future on something that many others are already doing (providing great information on bbq grills).

You should do everything in your power to be the one.

In this example, instead of writing about BBQ grills, maybe you can actually manufacture a unique BBQ grill or a tool for a BBQ.  And I do NOT mean just private label a BBQ tool…that’s not really being unique either.

It’s time to step up your game.

Yes, I still have niche sites and I still try to take advantage of these “loopholes”, but my real effort and income comes from unique businesses that I have.

In other words, you should start with a business where you can truly be unique (be the one), then if you want…chase other less unique opportunities like niche sites or affiliate income.  But for most people, the real money is always going to come with the unique business.

3 Examples From My Life…

I want to share 3 examples from my business to hopefully drive this point home.

1. Long Tail Pro

About 4 years ago I created a software product called Long Tail Pro. This business wasn’t an overnight success, but I’ve stuck with it and it’s grown consistently.  In fact, after a couple of years the business had grown tremendously, and is currently an EXTREMELY successful business that is able to employ several people.

Long Tail Pro has the advantage of being the ONE.  Let me explain.

First of all, how many keyword research tools are out there?  There are lots, but let’s say there are 50 keyword research tools.  Already my odds are 50 to 1 versus competing against 1.9 million webpages.

However, Long Tail Pro has some unique features to help it stand out from the competition.  The software is easier to use, it’s faster (see comparison to Market Samurai), and it allows you to search multiple seed keywords at once.

In fact, this one feature of searching for multiple seed keywords at once was perhaps the main unique selling proposition for Long Tail Pro when it was first created.  How many other keyword research tools at the time allowed a user to search for multiple seed keywords?  None that I was aware of.

Long Tail Pro became the ONE tool that had this feature.

So, instead of playing a marketing game against 50 other established keyword research tools, I was able to simply showcase my one feature that they did not have.  When you have no competitors, business becomes much easier.  (Obviously there are always competitors in a broad sense…but when you narrow it down to features you truly can stand out).

I wish I was willing to share the monthly income of Long Tail Pro to really drive this point home to you.  I will just say that the net income from the launch I shared a couple of years ago are no longer the biggest net income month that the business has ever had.

The business continues to do well each and every month, even though I haven’t done a “launch” in over 2 years.

2. Kindle Books

Another business I’m currently involved in is Kindle books.  This is a tough business.  I will simply say that on the uniqueness scale, writing books is only slightly above creating niche sites.  It’s extremely competitive and very difficult to be unique.

Yes, our books are unique titles and may cover some slightly different angles on a topic that other books don’t, but overall, our book will just be another book in a pile of thousands of other books on the same subject.

amazondiet

Writing books comes down mostly to marketing.  If you want to be a successful author, you will probably have to get good at marketing.  No matter how unique you try to make your book, there are probably going to be MANY existing books on the same subject.

This is why Perrin and I are doing so much to build our email list and build an audience.  Once you have an audience, this because your unique angle to selling books.  You know more people than the next guy.

Sadly, the best written or most interesting books don’t usually win.

The author with the best marketing strategy does win.

I’m not trying to steer you away from writing books, but I am saying that it’s extremely difficult to stand out and be the one when you are an author.  The success of your business will probably rely more on your marketing efforts than your writing efforts.

3. Amazon Physical Products

Another business that I’ve recently become involved with is selling a physical product on Amazon.  If you want to hear more about the Amazon FBA business, you should listen to the podcast interview I did with Chris Guthrie a couple of months ago.

This is an interesting business.  You can either take the copy-cat approach (similar to niche sites and kindle books) and just create a “private label” of a product that already exists on Amazon.  Or you can create a unique feature or even a completely new product, get it manufactured, and sell it on Amazon (and other places too).

For example, during the podcast interview that Chris and I did, we walked through an example of a pet carrier.  The unique feature that we discussed adding was a better shoulder strap, one with better padding if I recall correctly.

How many small dog carriers are there out there?  Likely dozens.  How many dog carriers are there with a comfortable and well padded shoulder strap?  Maybe only one.

You can truly stand out from the crowd and be unique with a physical product.

If you are at all interested in the Amazon FBA business, I would STRONGLY advise you to create a new product or a unique feature…rather than just private labeling the exact same product that is already on Amazon (this could be a simple as adding more padding to a product, creating it in a new color, or some other minor tweak that customers are looking for).

Either way, you will have to do some marketing.  However, when you have a unique feature you will most likely have to do less marketing!

Now let me give you some insight into my own Amazon business.  I’ll give a more in-depth report down the road, but for now I just want to make a point.

Before I had a product manufactured in China, I searched and searched on Amazon for how I could make my product unique.  I actually came up with the product need out of my own life experience.  I will just say that I had something similar to what I eventually manufactured, but could never find something similar on Amazon.

I also read lots of Amazon reviews and so I KNEW other people wanted the same feature I was looking for…but it simply was not on Amazon (at least that I and other reviewers could find).

I didn’t create a new invention or a new product, but I did create a unique feature (think about the padded shoulder strap for a dog carrier…something like that).

Well, I had my product manufactured and shipped to Amazon.  I listed it, but I immediately went on vacation and have essentially had no chance to do any marketing (promotions, getting reviews, etc.) since I listed the product 3 weeks ago.

However, I was surprised to find that my product is selling pretty well!  In fact, take a look at these numbers:

amazonsales

How is my product able to sell well despite the fact that I haven’t done ANY marketing?  Because my product is the ONE.  I have the one product on Amazon that people in my very narrow niche are looking for.

When you have no competitors, business becomes much easier.  Yes, this is a very small niche…but I believe with a little bit of marketing I can get my sales up to at least $10,000 a month with this one product.

The product really didn’t start selling until about April 1st, so the “30 days” number should end up closer to $2k to $2.5k.  I know this is nothing to get overly excited about…however it DOES show what can be done with very little marketing effort if you create a unique enough product.

Also, I purposely removed the number of units sold to make it just a little more difficult to find for people that still want to copy-cat others…even after reading this post!

To say the least, I will be trying to scale the sales of this product, but I’ll also be thinking of other unique products that I can sell.

I really like being the only fish in the pond.

Strategies for being different

I’d like to cover a few traditional ways that business try to be different.  You can call this a unique selling proposition, you can call it strategy, you can call it standing out from the crowd, or competitive advantage.

1. Lowest Price.  Wal-mart is known for this strategy.  It works for one company, but that’s about it.  I would strongly advise you not to be the low cost leader.  You will simply eat away at your profit margins, and as soon as someone prices their product lower then yours, your complete strategy is toast.

2. Highest Quality.  A higher quality product is also usually the highest priced product.  This is a great strategy if you can truly create a better product that is higher quality.  This is an excellent strategy (think of high priced products for examples: Apple, Chanel 5, designer clothes, etc.).

3. Original Idea.  This is really a first mover strategy, because copies will come quickly.  If you really can think of an original idea and get it out into the market quickly, this is also a great strategy.  This is often why tech startups seek venture capital…so they can scale their business quickly even if it’s not profitable at the beginning.  By moving/growing fast enough, they become much more difficult to knock off (think Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, etc)

4. Focus or Go Niche.  This is actually directly from Michael Porter’s generic business strategies.  Basically it means if you can focus on a specific market segment rather than the general population, this can be a great business strategy.

5. Add Unique Features to Existing Products.  This is a combination of having an original idea and going “niche”.  However, this is a strategy that has worked very well for me (Long Tail Pro and Amazon product).  If you can find an existing product and simply make it better or appeal to a new audience with a new feature, then you suddenly have a unique business with less direct competition.

Marketing Can Be Difficult…or Easy

If you don’t have one of the above 5 strategies in your business, the only thing you have left is marketing.  The good news is that marketing can be very powerful.

So even if you have the exact same business as thousands of other people you can still be successful, you just have to be better at marketing than your competitors.

The downside is also that you MUST be better at marketing than your competitors.

On the other hand, if you create a unique business, you should still try to be better at marketing than your competitors, but you don’t necessarily have to be better to have a great business, because your business will be meeting a market demand that others simply aren’t meeting.

Marketing is much easier when you have a unique business.  When you are the ONE people want to talk about you all on their own.  Press comes easy because you are unique.

Instead of searching out guest post opportunities or podcast interviews, they come to you.

Long Tail Pro has been mentioned hundreds of times on blogs and very well known online publications…all without my involvement or knowledge.  My product is unique enough and the small amount of marketing that I have done has allowed it to continue to grow organically.

This doesn’t usually happen with niche sites or Kindle books.  It’s extremely difficult and almost impossible to be unique enough with a niche site or Kindle book; so marketing is still required.

Niche sites are a marketing play.  You have to build more links or create a content piece that will get shared on social media.  All of this is marketing.

The exact same is true of Kindle books.  You can share your books on free sites, pay for promotions, and get people on your email list through marketing efforts.  The book is rarely unique enough to sell itself.

Overall, marketing is still essential for any type of business that you have.  However, it truly does become easier when you have a unique product offering.

How is your business different?

I hope I’ve made my point.  If your business isn’t unique enough, you are going to have to rely heavily on marketing.  In addition, a business that isn’t unique probably won’t stand the test of time and any success you are experiencing today, will probably be gone tomorrow.

So, take a good hard look at your business.  Are you the ONE?  Or are there hundreds (or millions) of competitors doing essentially the exact same thing as you?

If you are just realizing that your business really isn’t that unique, perhaps it’s time to get those creative juices flowing!  What unique idea can you come up with?  How can you improve on an existing product?

If you have a niche site or a Kindle book and your marketing efforts aren’t really taking off; perhaps it’s time to pivot and try become a bit more unique.  This could mean creating a software product, a new training product, a physical product, or perhaps simply tweaking the idea of an existing product.

Overall, if you are looking for a long term business that has the best chance of helping you reach your financial goals…you should really be trying to create something unique.

You don’t want hoards of competitors.

You want to be the ONE.

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