I had been looking at ways to make a consistent passive income. As a freelancer I get paid for my time but as me and my husband are both self-employed we don’t earn when we don’t work. This means no sick pay or holiday pay.
This is a frustrating position to be in as in order for us to go away for a break we need to save money for spending money, pay for the holiday as everyone else does, but also save up some money to replace the money we lose by not working.
My mission last year was to find ways to earn money consistently and passively.
I heard about FBA through Nick Loper’s Side Hustle podcast and was fascinated by the concept of buying stock and sending it in to Amazon and then waiting for it to be sold for me. All the customer service is taken care of.
I signed up to various webinars about running FBA accounts and how to sell products. Also, reading blog articles on tips and tricks and amazon help pages. I was ready to try it out for myself.
But I hadn’t really understood how FBA worked.
My FBA Seller mistakes:
- The product has the listing and the sellers compete for the buy box position. (Buy box is when you appear as the seller on the sales page of a product). I thought it was more like ebay and I would have a store showing my products, and the product would appear in the search results for each seller. However, the product has one search result page and the different sellers are in a list on the right.
- The product details are linked to the product barcode. I bought from Aliexpress and the barcode was completely different to the products I was looking at on amazon. What made it worse was that the product description was awful and in broken english…and I couldn’t change it. This meant that the product had a very poor sales rank and wouldn’t be found on Amazon.
- As my first product I was selling on Amazon had a terrible sales rank, it couldn’t be found. I thought “it’s ok, I can use the paid adverts I’d read about”. But this wasn’t as easy as I thought. I couldn’t use sponsored ads unless I had a professional account which costs £28 per month at the time.
- I was caught out when a product arrived from a supplier without a bar code. This is not uncommon, especially if you buy from China. With a quick bit of research I found where I can get some bar codes and how to create the product listing from scratch.
- I have also bought some products online without looking at the dimensions of the product and had a shock when it arrived! Ideally the products you send into Amazon FBA should be smaller and lighter as Amazon charge you for storage and shipping.
- I didn’t factor in any costs for any prep or stationery supplies I need. Things such as boxes to ship the products, packing tape and self-sealing bags and labels.
Reading this you may well question that I did any research at all, believe me I felt like a prize idiot getting so many things wrong. But my main mistake was that I was mixing up information and strategies from the private labelling and arbitrage models. I wanted to run an FBA account selling through retail and online arbitrage but was reading and listening to sellers that use the private labelling model.
It has been a much steeper learning curve than I thought. But I have persevered and sold my initial stock and have been running an FBA account for 18 months now. My costs were much higher than I anticipated, but I still believe the return is worth it. As I had to buy a subscription to the professional account it has changed some of the products I would normally stock.
Since my first attempt at FBA I have found a mixture of strategies are now working well such as retail and online arbitrage and some wholesale purchases.
I have refined my FBA product research and are having much more positive results.
So my takeaway for anyone thinking of starting an FBA seller account is:
- Follow and research others that are already doing it – but make sure they are using the same model you are intending to use.
- If possible, check the barcode before you buy to make sure it is the same product you have researched.
- Check the dimensions of the product as storage and shipping cost more for larger items.
- Don’t assume anything – check first!