May 2017 Guest Financial Results Post from Selling on Amazon – Dana

Today’s post will be the final month in an ongoing series of guest financial results posts from selling on Amazon from Dana.  If you missed any of the earlier ones, you can find them HERE.  Dana has been sharing her results for the past year, and this post is the final update.

Take it away Dana:

I started sharing my results a little over a year ago, and time has come for me to close out this series.  I’ve enjoyed sharing my experience with selling on Amazon and thought I’d pass along some things I’ve learned along the way.

But before we do that – let’s recap my May results.  It’s taken a little bit to ramp my inventory back up – mainly because I’m trying to move more to wholesale.  So my sales were still down much more than I had hoped for this month.  I simply didn’t have anything much to sell.


My Gross Profit Margin was also down a little as I tried to get some older things moving again.  But I met my goal – which admittedly wasn’t much of a stretch goal to begin with.  But mentally I needed a couple of WINS.  Still you can see we are still way down from last year where we grossed over 6K.

Here’s my sales screenshot for May: 


I’ve really tried to take a step back and evaluate why I’ve been so slow in ramping up as I was last year.  And I think it boils down to fear.  With all the recent suspension talk I just really let fear take hold and was reluctant to go and do anymore retail or online arbitrage.  Sure I blamed it on not having time with everything else I have going on – but really it was just fear.  It’s a powerful thing!  These past 4 weeks I’ve really been trying to work through that and I think I’m starting to see some results.  I’m way less anxious about what ‘might’ happen and concentrating on ‘just doing’ each day.  Sure, things might not work out the way I planned, but there are always solutions as long as you are moving forward.

Of course seeing my net profit still in the red makes it hard to not be anxious, but here is how I look at it.  I’m not making any money with Amazon because of fear of being suspended.  IF I was suspended I’d not be making any money with Amazon.  So why not take the chance, move forward and see what happens.  While we read the gut wrenching stories of people being suspended, the truth is it’s a small percentage of honest sellers who are suspended, and even less of a percentage of honest sellers who are not reinstated.  There is never a reward without taking a risk.

Here’s a look at the profit/loss breakdown:


So as June approached I made a promise to not let fear get in my way and I spent quite a bit of time doing some more retail arbitrage and a little online arbitrage.  We’ve finally got some product rolling back into the warehouse and it’s selling.  I’ve made a couple of wholesale buys and am really anxious to see how those turn out.  I’m feeling a lot more confident as we approach the end of June and would love to share those results, but my time for sharing via these guest post are coming to an end.  This will be my last post for the time being, although I might show back up at some point in the future.

I wanted to end with recapping a few lessons I’ve learned through this Amazon journey.  I’m sure you’ve heard most of these before – but they are all true.

If you want this to be an income producer you have to treat it like a real job.  I know people say this all the time, but I think there are a lot of conflicting messages out there.  Some say they work more now than they did ‘working for the man’.  Some boast about only spending 4 hours a week.  I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle and depends on how you work best.  In my life as a Project Manager, we often refer to the Triangle of Constraint; time, cost, scope.  One cannot change without impacting the others.  And I think the same constraints are true of anything we do, including selling on Amazon.  You want to spend as little of your own time running this business, it’s going to cost you in terms of building and hiring a team.  You want to save money not hiring help, it’s going to cost in you time because you’ll be doing it all yourself.  You probably won’t have time to expand into all opportunities Amazon has to offer.  Everything is a trade-off.   But for certain, success with this – or anything – doesn’t just happen.  It takes effort.  Effort to find and build a team, source and manage everything.  This is not a passive income stream – but it is rewarding!

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Hiring good help is hard!  I probably under estimated this the most.  I tried multiple times to find good, reliable help for both sourcing and prepping.  Perhaps my expectations are too high.  Maybe I didn’t look hard enough.  Maybe there just isn’t anyone who wants to work with me – lol!.  But I never did find a dependable person to source for me.  I had lots of people show interest, and after spending time training them – they never produced.  I also got tired of asking them how it was going and them having excuses to why they hadn’t even tried to find anything. Honestly – I think most people don’t want to put in the amount of effort it requires to find good stuff. Again – this takes effort!  I remain convinced that if you don’t birth your own source and prep resources – it’s nearly impossible to find good help.  Ok – that probably isn’t true – but certainly how I’ve felt at times – lol.

I didn’t have good luck with my prep companies either.  I tried a couple of different ones and the first one I felt just grew too big too fast and I discovered several errors.  Sure, stuff happens but when they label my products wrong or left a price tags on an item I’m the one that has to deal with the angry customers.  Both of these things happened to me pretty early on.  I had one prep center who I sent 1 order to, and then discovered the next week, they were on my listing selling the same product.  Now maybe that was coincidence, but it was not a widely known product.  Regardless, I felt it was a little fishy and I no longer trusted them.  Besides I’m not sure how I feel about a prep company also selling on Amazon.  What better way to find inventory than to have people send you their leads all day long.  So my prep stayed mostly with me and my mom.  My mom has helped out tremendously and fortunately she enjoys doing it and she’s affordable 🙂

Don’t compare your results to anyone but you and your last month.   Comparing myself to those who are growing and building empires isn’t helpful.  That isn’t my goal.  It’s also discouraging to see the progress of others moving at a faster pace than you.  But, this is my journey.  My goals are different and unique to me.  There is a real difference in being motivated by someone else’s success and comparing your progress to them.  Don’t get caught up in the trap.  Run your own race, measuring your progress against yourself. Strive to grow and move forward.  Because honestly that is the only real growth that matters.

Don’t let fear paralyze you.  This is a lesson I’ve just learned and well – I’m still trying to work through.  It’s amazing to me how paralyzing fear can be and how many different ways it can show up and manifest itself.  Recently I’ve been able to recognize that my need to jump around to different projects isn’t because of my inability to focus on one thing.  It’s my fear of pushing through.  Fear has overtaken and distracted me.  I use excuses like I didn’t have time – but in reality I have created the ‘extras’ in my life that are taking up my time because I’m afraid to keep moving forward with what I’m doing.  There are lots of different levels and causes for fear and I could probably write a book on it.  But I think one of the keys to overcoming it is recognizing it does exist and how it is manifesting itself in your life.  I know I have a lot of work to do here and quite honestly, I never dreamed starting a little Amazon business would offer such soul searching, life lessons.  But it has.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and am amazed at my own personal growth through all this.

Finally – my biggest lesson in all this….IT WORKS!  It still amazes me what will sell on Amazon and that I can be sitting on my back deck and selling stuff to people all around the world.  I’ve learned a lot about internet marketing, eCommerce, and running a business.  Probably more than I ever wanted to know about accounting, logistics and how to pack a box properly.  But this little adventure has made me so much more confident about making money online.  It’s been a goal of mine for many years to have an online store and by taking what I’ve learned over these past several months, I feel it is a real possibility.  Oh – and I’ve met some absolutely amazing people along the way!

So thanks for reading, and I hope to see you around.  I’m not going anywhere, I just made a large (for me) wholesale order for Christmas and am still ramping up my inventory for Prime Day coming up.  I’ve already sold more this month of June than I have in the last 4 months combined.  So I’m feeling good about where this is heading again.

I wish each one of you all the best.  Thanks for reading!

Ryan’s last words: thank you do Dana for sharing your journey with us this past year.  Best of luck to you in the future!

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13 thoughts on “May 2017 Guest Financial Results Post from Selling on Amazon – Dana”

  1. Thank you for sharing! I love the honesty of your post. It’s rare that someone posts about the struggles that come with this business, yet all of us confront fear and have to learn how to overcome it to move forward. You are definitely not alone! I wish you the best of luck in the future.

    1. Wow – thanks! It’s a hard business and I just don’t want anyone rushing in thinking it’s gonna be raining money – lol! Like yesterday I was listening to a podcast about Merch and how it’s such a cash cow. They made it sound like anyone can come in, throw up something and start racking in 6figure income like nothing. It is hard. But you know what – it’s worth it!!

  2. Dana, you have held on to your integrity and optimism through all your experience. what you wrote was truly valuable to share as generously as you have done. So appreciate it. You will do fabulous I have no doubt. Many thanks.

    1. Thanks Karl…My dad use to always tell me your name and integrity is all you have in this world. Protect them both. I’ve enjoyed sharing my story. Thanks for reading

  3. Dana,

    Great wrap up! I appreciate your honesty regarding prep centers. I also dealt with some of the same issues and when I brought up with the owners of the prep companies, they either ignored me or they wouldn’t own up to their mistakes.

    Needless to say, it was cheaper for me to just hire part-time help locally.

    I wish you all the best on your selling journey!

    – Yolanda

    1. Thanks! My part-time help is cheaper as well (full disclosure – it’s my mom and she won’t let me pay her…but she gets to keep all the returns – lol) All the best to you as well!

  4. Dana
    Super spot on. Fear is huge and some say as dangerous and destructive as stealing.
    I believe I could learn and grow from continued interaction with you. Please contact me at my email if you believe that sharing our experiences would be helpful to you.

  5. Hello Dana

    You are right to have that fear of being suspended at any notice for even something you were not aware of. Amazon suspensions usually come out when you least expect them and when they hit you, it pretty much is a paralyzing hit because your income stops, your cash flow stops, and inventory is stuck.

    Take it from my experience, i use to sell on Amazon until i got suspended for “inauthenticity” issue, this is a common issue for why many sellers get banned. I use to do $50,000 in sales a month on amazon until i was suspended, its a good thing i was able to get my inventory back from the fulfillment centers and sell it cost to cost on ebay.

    I haven’t sold on amazon since then, its just not worth it to me in my opinion. The market on amazon is saturated, people are competing to the point where they will even sell for a pennies profit, it is just ridiculous how different amazon marketplace has become since 2013. The gurus and masterminds who say you can do six figures on amazon are correct in what they say, but its not as easy as it was back in 2011 to 2013, now amazon is totally a different animal with brand restrictions, suspensions for even the slightest thing.

    i would say doing an FBA business as your main source of income is a huge risky business, because that source of income can be shut down anytime at the blink of an eye and there is very little one can do about it except appeal and hopefully be forgiven.

    I have heard of sellers who got suspended with about $100k in inventory, it really is a bad position to be in that much debt with inventory you cant move anywhere unless you absolutely liqudate it

    Many sellers who do private label also get suspended for the reason “inauthentic”, they say “it is my private label brand, how is it inauthentic?!” the reason it can be inauthentic to a customer is when the item does not work or seems really generic to the customer(ie fake or 2nd quality) so amazon gets the report that the item is inauthentic and thus the seller gets suspended.

    I now sell primarily on ebay, i do an average of $2500 in sales a day. I would argue to the point that i think ebay is a more seller friendly avenue than say amazon, for the following reasons

    1. you do not get banned in the blink of an eye for even the slightest mistake
    2. Ebay does side with you as long as you shipped the item and show that the tracking number shows delivery to the address of the customer
    3. You can get your customers email and open your own website and email market to your ebay customers

    after doing ebay for about an year and a half, i have grown my emailing list to 15000, i then opened up my own website and now 4 months later i am doing in about $300 to $400 a day in sales on MY OWN WEBSITE, pretty amazing huh? You cant do that if you sell on amazon because they dont allow access to amazon customer email addresses, so you will be an amazonian for life, counting on their marketplace for your income. constantly living under their shadow

    Just imagine, my email list is growing by 500 to 600 emails per week, from a year from now, imagine the sales MY OWN website will be doing! this is the key to building your OWN business, your OWN customers, your OWN reptuation.

    My advice to you Dana, start your own ecommerce business, because your OWN business is something that you will have control over, you will have your own customers, nobody to stop you or suspend you, the only thing that will determine your success is your product offering and the customer service you offer.

    Sure it will take time to build it, it may not even work out, but you have to give it a try, you have been selling on amazon for over a year now, you kind of have an idea what ecommerce is and what to do, so go ahead and give it a shot.

    Have good one!

    Regards

    1. Thanks Phil. This is exactly what I’m doing…and honestly starting my own website was my initial intent when I started dreaming of moving from the corporate world some day (many, many years ago). I am now in the process of doing just that. I also sell in a physical location locally – but building my own brand and eCommerce site is my ultimate goal.

      I will say you are not the first person recently to talk about how much better eBay is. For some reason I just can’t crack that egg. I really need to spend some time learning how the platform works better.

      Your story is so encouraging! Thanks for sharing!

    2. I agree with Phil. I sell $3K-$5k a month on Amazon. Last year they suspended me for falling on their performance metrics. Zero sales for a month or two. I had to write a repentant plan on how I would improve to Amazon’s outsourced seller support. They reinstated back. Several times they disabled my products because of the bogus complains of violating copyrights. Again was dealing with seller support outside of the country who follow templates and care less. Receive constant emails threatening to shut down the account. I sell for several years, they change rules at will. Very uncertain and can end any day.

      Amazon is boasting that 40% units sold by sellers. Sellers are cash cows by which Amazon is expending its empire. Sellers are the same expendables as Amazon employees.

      Did not try eBay but it looks it is more seller friendly. eBay has seller conferences, unheard of on Amazon. I should try selling on eBay. I started my own website a year ago which is easy and affordable today, no much sales there yet but need to get off the Amazon dependency and find a way to grow. It does not grow anymore on Amazon. Amazon bump sellers against each other to compete on price. I receive emails with products suggestions to sell. All to drive prices down, cents of profit for sellers but for Amazon to kill Sears, JCPenny, etc.

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