E233: 3 Things to Consider Before Shifting From Affiliate Marketing to Selling Physical ProductsMarch in Ecom-Crew-Podcast
When we made the move from affiliate marketing to selling our own physical products years ago, we realized in a kind of baptism-by-fire way how starkly different the two business models are.
Mike Higman, owner of HuntingGearDeals.com, is trying to make the same shift. In this episode, he and I talk about the 3 things he needs to carefully consider to make sure he is prepared to take his business to the next level: cash flow, products to sell, and content strategy.
- Why cash flow is the enemy of a physical products business
- How to find the perfect product to sell by leveraging information from your affiliate marketing website
- The best way to rank your website on Google
- How to gather content from true fans of your product
- Why you need to be careful about spending tons of money on web development
Mike and I met when he signed up for 5 Minute Pitch. Check out his story and pitch.
Thanks for listening! Until the next one, happy selling.
Full Audio Transcript
Intro: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 233 of the EcomCrew Podcast. So glad to have you guys along with us today. Today we have a guest that actually also appeared on the 5 Minute Pitch. And if you’ve been listening to the podcast for any length of time, you probably heard me talk about the 5 Minute Pitch. But if you haven’t, 5 Minute Pitch is a show that Steve Chou, Scott Voelker, Greg Mercer and I put together that’s similar to Shark Tank and similar to The Pitch by Gimlet Media, similar to The Profit. It’s a little bit of everything kind of built into one.
But basically what we’re doing is taking 32 contestants, narrowing them down to one grand prize winner that’s going to get $50,000 cold hard cash. We’re not going to own a part of their business or anything like that. But we are going to give them a couple of hours of mentorship each to help them with their business along with it $50,000 and they can do with it whatever they want. And the idea here is to help a business that is a bootstrapped business and take them to the next level. And we’re excited about this project. It’s been pretty amazing. It’s on YouTube; you can find it on YouTube under 5 Minute Pitch or go to 5MinutePitch.com.
And today we have Hunting Gear Deals, this was a contestant on 5 Minute Pitch, someone that reached out to me after the show and asked to do it under the hood segments and that’s what we did. So, that’s what today’s episode is all about. Just before we get into today’s episode, just a reminder, if you haven’t gone to EcomCrew.com/free, I highly encourage you to do so. We have several free mini courses over there. There’s no credit card to give or anything like that. It’s completely free content at EcomCrew.com/free. All right, right on the other side of this intro, we’re going to get into Hunting Gear Deals on EcomCrew.
Jackness: Hey Mike, welcome to the EcomCrew Podcast.
Mike: Hey, thanks. Thanks a lot; I’m really excited about this.
Jackness: For sure. And for those of you who haven’t listened one of these before, this is a Under the Hood segment but kind of a bit of a modified Under the Hood segment because Mike was on the 5 Minute Pitch. What we’re doing is recording this in December of 2018 but this episode will air probably until like March or April, so it’s going to be delayed a bit. But I wanted to get Mike on the podcast while it was still fresh coming off the heels of 5 Minute Pitch.
He had actually reached out to us and asked to be on this segment. And I was like, oh, that’s awesome. I know a lot about [inaudible 00:02:40], one last thing to have to vet because you were a great guest on 5 Minute Pitch. So, we’re going to talk a little bit about that experience and hopefully get you some help. So we’ll get started by giving you just a second to introduce yourself and let us know what you thought of the 5 Minute Pitch.
Mike: Awesome. Well, one thing that is crazy about doing this is you’ve already said a lot of things about my brand that I have no idea what you said. So, I don’t know whether you were like my ally or my enemy when we did this, but not that that’s what it came down to.
Jackness: I actually don’t remember. I do remember and we’ll talk a little bit about this as we go through. But I do remember being concerned just in that it’s a tough nut to crack just trying to do the deals that you do on the hunting site. We’ll get into that, but I think it’s a great space as we’re in a similar space with Tactical, but I can tell you wholeheartedly, it all blended together at a certain point, and I don’t remember what I thought, and I don’t know if any of the other guys could say it at this point either.
Mike: So, I guess I’ll give you a quick introduction. My name is Mike Higman; I have a website that’s Huntinggeardeals.com, which is a website where I highlight the best deals from across the internet on hunting gear. In conjunction with that, I started a podcast called Down South Hunting where we focus on hunting in basically the southeast US, which is basically an underserved area in the hunting market for podcasts. That’s why I started just specifically that. And I also just launched a new brand on Amazon a few months ago. I’ve got a lot of different things going on. And I guess I’ll go quickly into my story, and then I’ll let you ask questions.
Jackness: Sure yeah.
Mike: So, my dad owns a business that he’s owned since 1988. I’ve worked for him for the last 13 years. And part of the plan has been the possibility of me taking over the business someday. I’ve got four siblings, so it was never like, hey, I’m going to hand this to you and you’re going to be the golden son, but it’s always been kind of something we’ve talked about. And it’s something that I’ve wrestled a lot with the last couple of years. And about eight months ago, I finally came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t going to be the right fit for me for a lot of different reasons.
And before that time, I had been looking a lot into e-commerce and got really interested and obviously started hunting gear deals. And so, I’ve decided to pass that opportunity and go with the e-commerce. And that is about to get started. I gave him about six months and it’s been a little longer than that. It’s a transition. I don’t want to sound conceited saying this, but I’m an important part of the company. I’m the top seller for the company, so transitioning out has proved difficult. But we’re getting really close to doing that. And that’s why I’m so excited to talk to you. I know you’ve got a ton experience that you can help me kind of give me focus going forward where I need to go, because it’s getting to the point where I’m going to need to feed my family with this income soon.
Jackness: Yeah, makes a lot of sense. And what is the business, your dad’s business, was that anything similar to hunting or is it just completely different and you just ended up in this because you had a personal interest in hunting?
Mike: Yeah, it’s just a personal interest and I came into it late in life. I think it’s just something that maybe I was born with and I have been excited about. Now obviously, I had the opportunity to try to do it and learn about it but it’s just something that I’m really passionate about. And as far as the hunting gear deals thing, it was just an opportunity I saw in the market where there’s a lot of interest in buying hunting gear. There’s a lot of sales every year, but there was no single site for doing that kind of thing. I use sites like CNET or Techbargains and that kind of stuff on electronic stuff. And I learned about affiliate marketing through Pat Flynn a couple of years ago, and just thought oh man; I could do this with hunting gear.
Jackness: Pat was one of our guest judges on 5 Minute Pitch.
Mike: Oh, man.
Jackness: Yeah, it was awesome.
Mike: Yeah, the all stars.
Jackness: Yeah, yeah for sure. We got lucky. So, tell us a little bit about the business model, the breakdown on where you’re at so far. You said this is something that you need to replace your income now. So I assume mid five figures, low six figures is what your goal is in 2019 to be able to do that. Where are you today and what pieces of the puzzle bring in what parts of the revenue?
Mike: Okay. The website started in July of 2016. So, I’m a little over two and a half years now. We just went through Black Friday, which is like by far the most profitable time for us. And I think this last month we did, it was just under $4,000. Well, recently I got somebody to help me post the deals because when I started the site, basically I would get up at five in the morning and go through all the emails and websites and try to post three to five new deals every day. And more recently, because I needed to bring more income, the website is not to the point where I can flip a switch, and it’s going to start bringing in the income I needed.
So, I need to start looking at other revenue channels, which is why I started getting into Amazon. And so, I found somebody to help me post the deal, so basically I split all the revenue with him and he does the deal posting for me. Now, when the 5 Minute Pitch opportunity came along, I’ve been talking to some other e-commerce guys and have learned the traffic on the website is pretty legitimate and I really should be turning that into more money. Right now I’m really reliant on the deals, to be able to bring any kind of money. And if it’s a really good deal, I’ll get really good affiliate commission. But really, a lot of days, I’m posting 3 to 5 deals, and some of the stuff isn’t selling at all.
So, I want to get more into reviews. And reviews are going to be evergreen type content that are at least good year round, I’m not waiting on a specific deal. And that’s brought to the table with the 5 Minute Pitch was the opportunity to totally redo my website and focus more on reviews, which I see as a huge opportunity. I’ve already got the traffic; I just need to be able to convert that traffic better.
Jackness: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And I’m looking at SEMrush here and I can see just how quickly, especially recently here your traffic has been growing, which is a great testament to the fact that you stuck with this for a long period of time and that you’re putting out content that people want and it’s probably generating links because of that. And now your traffic has like this from over the course of this year has more than doubled.
Mike: Yeah, I’m definitely more than doubled. And I really, I mean, I think there’s a lot more to be had out there. I think word is starting to get out on it but there’s so many marketing channels I haven’t been able to take advantage of. My current job now, I’m in a sales job and I spend every night at home. But I travel on the road, go see my customers and taking care of them. It’s an important time consuming job that it’s important to me to do a good job at it. And then also, I got four kids, so just time wise is just tough and I have not been able to do a lot of the different marketing channels that I think would be helpful.
I’ve done Google AdWords, but as far as content marketing type stuff, blog posts, and that kind of stuff, I know about that stuff, but I just have not been able to put the time and effort that I’d like to. And that’s one thing I’m looking forward to once I’m transitioned out of the company, that I’m going to be open a lot more time and that type of stuff.
Jackness: Yeah I mean, it’s definitely very time consuming, but it’s one of those things where it pays dividends for a very long time. And you’re at point where if you started doing that kind of review stuff, I think it would definitely get traction way quicker than the admin. We’re doing this for Tactical right now; we’re a couple of years behind you. So, we’re at that writing for ourselves or writing to ourselves phases, what I call it, but you would definitely get a lot more eyeballs and a lot quicker.
Mike: And there was a lot of that at first and I still feel like there’s some of that. One thing though, is even though I haven’t been doing the blog post type content, the nature of when we post a deal, it’s I’m not copying and pasting just the product info from another website. We’re putting our personal opinion and that kind of stuff in it. So really, we’re making three to five real short blog posts a day, sometimes we’re just updating an old post, but the website has a ton of content because of that.
Jackness: All right cool, so we’ve kind of gotten some backstory, let’s give you an opportunity to ask some questions, let’s talk about some of the stuff you need some help with today.
Mike: Okay cool. Okay so I think you’ve got a pretty good grasp on the website and revenue potential right now wise, I’m looking at — the thing is right now I’ve got somebody else helping with me and so I’m splitting that. So, really I’m only looking at, I don’t know 750 to $2,500 a month basically. Now, I know that’s going to continue to grow, so that’s not something I’m giving up on, but what I really am looking for is some help on where to focus. So, I’ve got a couple of amazon products that I told you about, and the thing is I’ve just launched those.
So, I’ve got enough savings, you know I’ve planned for this for a while so I’ve got enough savings I could probably go like six months with little to no income. It’s not something I want to do but I’m prepared to do it what it takes to get this going long term. I want to build a long term business. I’m not looking for like a quick figure out a way to make $5,000 this month and have to redo it every month. So, I’m kind of looking for some direction of where to direct my focus most. Should I really try to have enough traffic on hunting gear deals or I just really need to try to focus on that and try to figure out new ways to generate revenue there, or my more short term plan I was thinking is trying to get some of these Amazon products going and these brands going and focus on those just to try to get me over the hump there.
Jackness: Yeah, so I mean it’s a tricky situation because let’s just focus on the Amazon component for one second. When you’re under this pressure of okay, I need to generate $10,000 a month in income or again, whatever the number is, let’s just use that as an example because it’s a round number.
Mike: That’s a good number.
Jackness: From selling on Amazon, the thing that becomes difficult about it is number one, you need cash to be able to get started to be able to do that. So you need to buy product. And that’s going to eat into your savings. So, you said you had six months of savings, let’s say that’s $60,000, just to kind of keep on the same thought process. So, let’s say you take 30,000 of that and invest it in inventory. Now your savings is down to three months, and you’ll need to be able to generate $10,000 a month off of a $30,000 in inventory is pretty difficult.
You need to probably have a little bit more in inventory to be able to do that probably more like 40 to 60,000 in inventory to be able to generate 10,000 a month in that profit and that’s if you kind of hit a home run. The even more difficult part that comes in is that once you start selling a product and it’s doing well, you’ll need to buy more inventory. So now you’re trying to take money out of the business to buy more inventory and also feed yourself and that really will slow down your growth. I mean, I’m not saying that this isn’t possible because we’ve certainly we’ve been through this and we’ve taught lots of students how to go through this.
So just something to be very aware of because what ends up happening, I think the disingenuous thing that happens in a lot of these podcasts about selling on Amazon is no one ever talks about the inventory component and what cash flow means. And they’ll talk about I have a million dollars in sales, or I made all this money but very rarely does anyone talk about the reality of how much actually goes in your pocket especially when you have a growing inventory business, because what’s going to happen as the tendency is okay, I launched this new product and it’s doing well, I want to go launch another product.
And now you’re faced with this crossroads of well, if I want to continue growing the business, I got to keep all the cash in the business. I don’t have any cash to take out of the business because it takes about a year or even more to get the cash flow from one SKU to normalize because there’s typically this quick ramp up period where you launch the product. If you get one that’s a home run, you have to order usually two to three or four times more inventory your second order which uses all the cash up from your initial order. And what’s going to end up happening is you’re going to show this amazing profit on paper, uncle Sam is going to have his hand out saying, where’s my money but there’s no money in the bank to feed your family. Such is something to be aware of and we should probably talk through and make sure that that’s something that you’re comfortable with.
Mike: Yeah, I think as cash on hand goes; I don’t know about cash but as far as financially, I’m at a pretty good position. My wife and I have real estate wise, every house we bought we fixed up, sold, done real well. And the current house we’re in, I have several hundred thousand dollars of equity in it that we’re — I’m very debt averse. So, I want to use the least amount as possible, but I’m also open to it with this whole situation. I know, and I heard you talk about this recently that you are personally very debt averse. When it comes to business, you understand that to make it work, you have to be willing to do that and I kind of have the same attitude.
And I really like what you mentioned, where you’re trying to just basically take your book value and have at least less than 80% of your book value in debt. I really like that attitude. So, there is more and when it comes to Amazon type products, I do have the financial ability to invest more in the products I’ve got currently in, and I’d like to dig into this a little bit deeper. But one of my products I’ve got, I’m in like $30,000 into it. And right now things are starting out pretty slow. So, I definitely need to get that rolling. And that’s something I want to talk about whether that’s something I should continue to try to reorder and sell. We can kind of go through that.
Jackness: Okay. Yeah, let’s just talk just real quick about the debt thing real quick and then we’ll move on to that product. I agree, still agree with that whole philosophy. I don’t remember what podcast episode that was in, but we’ll link that in the show notes, we’ll find that and put that in the show notes. It was an episode we did about cash flow. One thing I can say and just for you to be aware of as you move along, I suddenly found myself in a spot of like just being uncomfortable because the numbers get so big. So, at the beginning, I was like, oh I’m $50,000 in debt, I’m $100,000 in debt, it’s $250,000 in debt. It’s like, but I have $300,000 in inventory against that, and so you’re not buying a consumable.
I think it’s really important when you’re using debt in your business to do things that you’re buying gasoline or internet service or employees or advertising and as soon as you spend that money, it’s gone and there’s nothing really to show for it. That can be like a really dangerous spot you can get yourself in, not only in life, but also in business. So, having an asset correlated to the debt is a pretty sound way to run your business and your life. Businesses do this all the time, actually to a scale where I think it could get us in trouble here with the economy moving forward, because so many businesses have taken cheap money to buy back stock or to do other things like that, which isn’t necessarily an actual asset, which is a little bit scary.
But in this case, it’s an actual asset. But what I can tell you also from personal experience, and so I’ve recorded that episode, when that debt number gets close to a million dollars, it doesn’t really matter how sound that business advice is, it’s still a big number. And so, we’re at a period now where I’ve gotten a little uncomfortable with it, but just something for you to keep in mind because what ends up happening, at least for me, I can’t speak for everybody. What’s happened to me is the shiny lights of the business is growing and we’re making all this money and we’re assuming tax returns at your mid six figures in profit and it’s like this really exciting time.
But then there’s also the stress of maybe this is just a little bit bigger than I’m comfortable with because I am debt averse. Some people have no problem with it. But if you’re like me, and that’s why I wanted to bring it up, it can sneak up on you, so just something to be thinking about.
Mike: Yeah, definitely. I can see that for sure.
Jackness: Cool. So yeah, let’s talk about the product that you put the 30K and we talked a little bit beforehand. I know you don’t want to mention specifically what it is, but maybe just kind of generally, what the product is. I assume it’s related to well, I know it’s related to hunting. But yeah, just talk about a little bit of background on why you developed this product and how you got to where you’re at.
Mike: Okay, so I think the main way I found it was just basically searching through Amazon for product ideas, and then comparing that to sales numbers. And what I came up with, it’s a highly competitive market, it’s really top heavy. So, there are several sellers who tons of reviews. And basically what I saw is with my influence with the podcast and the deal site and that kind of stuff, I thought maybe I could come in like fifth or six and there’s enough volume in this, that it would be a solid product.
What I’m having a difficult time is getting to fifth or six, that’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. I didn’t think I would like suddenly jump in and do like some kind of giveaway and take over all these other guys, but I saw an opportunity where I made improvements to the product where it’s better than I think probably any of the other, probably any of the other products that are on there period, and it cost me about 20% more to do that. But I still haven’t — my difficulty is getting the traction.
And one of my challenges because I planned on doing this full time when that product got here, and unfortunately, the product launched about the same time as the 5 Minute Pitch. So it finally got to Amazon. And unfortunately, I had to spend like a few days getting ready for that, when really I should have been focusing on the product had the timing worked out. But I couldn’t pass up that opportunity, like definitely worthwhile doing. But I’m playing a little bit of catch up now.
And the final thing that was like this is really the kicker, all these tariffs; they just announced that these, the 25% tariff did not go through. Well, it happens to be that my product was one of the ones that was one of the first ones to go through, when they do all these different industrial type materials. I was not aware of it. I thought there’s going to be a 3% tariff on my product. And it was already halfway here from China and the shipping company got with me like your tariff is 25% which is just a killer. That basically was my profit margin. So, where I have that product listed right now is breakeven before I pay Amazon storage fees.
But I’m just trying to get something going there. I’m running all the PPC, then that’s before PPC as well. Basically, I’m willing to lose some money to get this going. And I don’t know once the time I sell out because let’s say my margin; it’s a $20 product and my margin is about $3. And the reason I could justify that is I thought the volume would be real good even if I was like number five or six. But first of all, I’m not number five or six; I’m not getting enough sales. And I just think that maybe that margin is too tight, and I might need to just scrap it and start all over.
Jackness: The margin is definitely too tight. I mean, this is a hard lesson I learned in e-commerce. I think a lot of people go through this. Even if you hear someone talking about it, you still kind of end up making this mistake because you see the numbers and they all end up making sense. But what you’re going to find, at least what I found is that at some point in your business, cash flow will become the number one obstacle. There’s all these like cliché sayings like cash is king and stuff like this.
And so, think about your mature business down the road like five years from now, cash is going to be the more limiting factor than launching products and coming up with ideas. So, if you’re running at this thin margin, that product is handcuffing you to the products that you can sell at a higher margin because again, there’s only so much cash to go around. And when you’re making decisions of which products to buy and resell, the margins ultimately have to be there. And margins also make up for lots of mistakes like the tariff thing you just mentioned are some type of inspection thing happens or the listing gets shut down for a while and you don’t have any sales for a bit and you need to compensate for that or PPC costs go up or Amazon’s costs go up or whatever. I mean, there’s all kinds of just a million things that can happen.
And if you’re running on this ultra-thin margin, the stress is palpable. I mean, it’s really difficult to run e-commerce on that thing of margin. So I mean, our minimum margin, like minimum margin is 100% ROI on our money. So, if we spend $5 on a product after Amazon fees and everything, we need to get 10. And you’re just not there with this, it’s quite a bit lower than that. And so I mean, if we can’t get to that, we just don’t do it. And I like to say without exception, but there’s been some times where we’ve accepted 80% margin in some niche cases where we really felt like it made sense for our business and it wasn’t going to hurt our long term viability and we were right with those couple of products.
But in general, like as we’re going to the Canton Fair and we’re sourcing stuff or whatever it is, if it can’t be doubled, we just we’re done and we can’t get married to the idea because what ends up happening is you put all this effort in, you convince yourself, this is the product, I’m going to sell a bunch of these because of A, B, or C, and it doesn’t materialize. And you’re just like, oh God, I put all this effort into it and I got to say no, and it’s hard to back off of it at that point. But we’ve gotten good at that. We make sure that we’re checking each other internally on that.
So I mean, what’s done is done, these products are already in. I do think you’ll sell through them. It looks like basically what you said is to get product listings really good. You have some decent images and stuff up here, lifestyle images and stuff. And I think that as you continue to grow your influence on the blog, it should help with this product. But at the end of the day, even though it’s better than the others, it’s hard to really convey that on an Amazon listing. It’s still kind of like a commodity like me too product. There’s lots of people that sell these bags or whatever, and it just isn’t necessarily something that you can convey with images that these are higher quality for one reason or another. So, I think that it’s going to be difficult from that perspective.
Mike: Yeah, I agree. I did just, I started getting emails for your mini course and one of the things you mentioned in there was doing infographic type images, which I think probably would help me a ton on this. So, that’s definitely on my to do list.
Jackness: Yeah, I mean, I would on this particular — and again, we don’t want to disclose the exact product, but what I’m looking at here just for the audience, the main image is a picture of the product, which is what it’s supposed to be. The second image is basically the same thing. I mean, really the…
Mike: It’s the backside of this.
Jackness: This is the backside of the product which really says most of the same thing. The rest of them are all lifestyle images, which are really good. They’re really pretty good lifestyle images, but I think there’s too many of those. I think that one or two images like that, which would save you three more images to do those infographic type of things. And then call out specifically what makes your product better here, it’s BPA free maybe or something or it doesn’t have chemicals, or again without talking too much about what specific the product is.
Mike: Yeah, I’m not too worried about it so I mean if you kind of give it away, I’m not going to…
Jackness: No, no, it’s fine. I mean, I’m just trying to say like the things — and I don’t know enough about the product even know what those things are. So I’m just kind of shooting from the hip here. But you know what they are, you know what makes them better and nothing on this listing specifically right now says what makes them better. So, if I’m looking for — if I type in whatever the keyword is that you’re looking for here, I mentioned it’s a bag, so just say I’m typing in bags into Amazon, there’s nothing that jumps out in the title or in any of the images that says that buy this one because it’s better in this way.
You said that it cost you 20% more because you did something different to it. I don’t know what that is but you know what that is, but the customer here doesn’t know what that is. So I think that that’s a really important thing to get into this listing and incorporating here. It looks like you’ve been on a good start, I don’t know if the five reviews you got here, they’re all five stars, if these are friends and family or they’re actual legitimate reviews, but you’re off to a decent start there. And I would work on some of those things I just mentioned along with some of the things we’ll talk about here, kind of linking the blog into it to differentiate this product from all the other stuff on Amazon.
Mike: Right. So the catch is, so one good thing is, this is crazy, I can get around that 25% tariff legally. There’s actually another HS code that we could have used had I known about this whole situation. So, it’s pretty frustrating and of course I’ve heard you talk about this the manufacturer, oh so sorry this happened. How about we change your invoice which I just ethically I didn’t want to get into that kind of stuff. But I do know the next shipment I could save 25% right off the bat by just doing a different HS code. So, that’s what I’m getting but still the numbers are not making sense from what you’re telling me. So how do I know how much effort do I put into like building this brand on a product that I’m likely going to not even reorder? It’s 30,000, I can’t just throw that money away, I need to sell these, but at the same time I don’t want to put all my time and effort into something that’s going to be disappearing.
Jackness: Well, I would look at it from a couple of perspectives here. Number one, I would be thinking about what your price — I always think about what’s my price at scale? I don’t think about what am I making on this thing today? I’m thinking about what is my long term outlook on this? If I just did a trial order on it and shipping was more expensive or the product was more expensive, I’m not looking at what I’m making that hundred percent, all right numbers, not on that order. It’s when I order a container for this thing and it’s selling at full scale that’s where my margin needs to be. So, the money that you’re not making — in our case we wouldn’t be losing money but we would be making less, or let’s just say in your case you’re actually losing money.
I would look at it number one as an investment in your future. I mean, this is one of the things I’ve talked about this on the podcast as well. People will go spend all this money on continuing education or going to conferences, and etc., etc. and society kind of teams that to be money that you’re spending to better yourself. But if you told someone that you bought $30,000 worth of stuff, and then you only got 20,000 back, you “lost” $10,000. It’s embarrassing. You’re like, oh man, I lost money, I’m a bad business person, blah, blah, blah, but I don’t look at it that way. I will look at it as you just spent $10,000 on probably the best education you’re ever going to get.
It’s way better than even taking a course or doing that type of thing because at that point you’ve learned all these lessons, you’ve learned lessons about tariff codes and HS codes, and how to get a listing on Amazon up and running and PPC. And so, your confidence for the next thing that you do will be there and there’s just nothing that can replace that, right? I mean, you can’t go through that in a simulator and get all that real knowledge and understanding.
So, I think that there’s a lot to that. And I also think that you’re talking about one product here. I mean, in order to be successful selling on Amazon and being a physical product business, you’re going to want to have a brand that has complimentary stuff. So you have the bag here, what about selling eventually the other component that goes with it that you would need, the electronic component to this product? Maybe so that’s someday…
Mike: Oh, and there’s actually like, I’ve got three varieties in this current list.
Jackness: Yeah, I see that yeah.
Mike: But there are probably 10.
Jackness: Right exactly.
Mike: So, there’s tons of potential to expand it which is one of the reasons I went into it in the first place. And then with the branding, you looked at — I’ve kind of got the product brand name and then I’ve got the store brand name or my brand name. And the reason those are so different is because of enhanced brand content. I wanted to be able to just get one trademark which hopefully I’ll have that in the next month or so. I’ve been working on this for a while, so I’ll be able to use that to get enhanced brand content even though it’s not — my store name doesn’t really have to do with the product name. As far as this product goes too, so my landed cost right now I think without the tariffs is around like eight or $9. So, it’s not as crazy as — it’s not as bad but the time you add the problem is the Amazon pick and pack piece, this kind of heavy.
Jackness: That’s definitely weight. I mean, typically, and I can just a general term because it’s this is not consistent. But in general fuzzy math back in the napkin, you need to basically be selling it for a minimum of three times what you’re paying for it. So, if you’re buying it for eight, you got to be selling it for 24. And you’re at 20. That’s a part of the problem.
Mike: And yeah, two weeks ago, my price was 24 but I just was not selling is the problem. So I can, obviously, that’s a learning experience for me, like you just talked about. I can feel like, oh, well, I could sell it for this amount, because it’s this much better. But when Amazon tells me it’s not selling at that price, then I need to reevaluate.
Jackness: And the other thing I also think when you first launch a product and this is something for you to be thinking about moving forward, it’s better to start at a lower price and work your way up than start higher and work your way down. If you start lower, you generate some sales, like we’ve done this quite a bit where we start getting tons of traction, we’re ranking high, then we raised the price 50 cents or raised the price $1 or turned on profit peak and let it start working out what the price can be. But once you have traction and rankings, you can get away with a lot more.
Most of the products that we sell, this is not a blanket statement but the vast majority of the products that we sell, we’re the most expensive or not the most expensive but one of the more expensive products on Amazon in my category. We’re not competing on price really on anything that we sell. There’s a couple of exceptions but if you look through ColorIt’s stuff as a for instance, all of our stuff is significantly more expensive than the other guy and it’s because we know that if we can make a high quality product that gets good amount of reviews and a low return rate and just good stats on Amazon, it will rank.
And once you’re ranking and you have the Amazon choice badge or you’re already ranking and there’s lots of really good reviews, people aren’t super price sensitive on Amazon, more people are more convenience shoppers, and they’ll just click add to cart and buy or will do one click ordering, especially on a more commodity product like you’re selling here. People are going to do hours of research, like looking for this product. It’s basically like I got this problem I need to solve right now, I need to put this stuff in this bag and it’s like I’m done. They’re making a decision within seconds versus if you have something else that it’s electronic, or more expensive, it’s a different story.
But I mean, so you can kind of think about it from that perspective of I’m going to get this thing to rank, I’m going to make something that actually is legitimately better. So it will naturally rank above my competitors and people will take the time to leave a review because they’ll notice the difference once it’s in their hands. Then the trick is how do you convey that it is different and make sure people understand it when they’re making that quick buying decision because they literally do it within seconds? And then you can start slowly engineer price up once you’ve got good stats and metrics with Amazon.
Mike: So, one good thing about this product too is I have enough inventory that there is some time for this to play out. So maybe by the end of it if somehow I were able to charge something enough to make it profitable, but I’m not going to tie my success in as an entrepreneur to this one product.
Jackness: Right. I had like over here anxiously wanted to discuss an idea with you. Do you mind if we switch gears a little bit?
Jackness: Cool. So, I think that the way that I would approach this from where you’re at, if I was in your shoes and I was told look, the only thing I could do is work on hunting gear deals and anything around that, and I was kind of handed that as my only way to make money from today. I would first invest three to six months of my time kind of repositioning hunting gear deals, make it a little bit better looking website, start investing more time in content of, you mentioned it already of reviews. And the reviews that I would pick would be things that I’m thinking of developing. So, let’s just say it’s this bag or let’s use something for hunting, let’s say it’s a chair that you put — one of these tree chairs or whatever. Let’s just say that that’s a product that you were thinking of developing just to pull something out of my rear end.
So, I would go write a review about that. That would be my first review. This is the product I’m thinking of doing. I’m going to go write a review of the best tree chairs. And the way that I would go about — this is how we’re doing it for Tactical.com by the way, so you can go over there and look at what we’re doing and just cheat and see. And you can actually see the [overlapping 00:37:46]. What’s that?
Mike: I’ve looked at that.
Jackness: Okay. Cool. Yeah. So I mean you can look at the evolution of some of the older reviews to where we’re at now. They just keep getting better and better because everyone that we do, we just — I talk to our content team and work on making it better. I mean there’s always ways to improve. But the way that we do it is we actually buy the product. So, you look at all the other review sites out there, they’re doing it the cheapest and easiest way out there.
Mike: And you can tell in a second when you get to one of those sites.
Jackness: Exactly yeah. So, I invested the money to buy all the hunting chairs and then send them off to the Philippines, that’s where we do our reviews but you would be doing this yourself to start with. And now you got a fun project to go do. You can go out to the woods for a week or for a few days. You tell your wife, I got to go hunting for business babe and it’s a work project. But obviously you probably would review more than one product at a time to make your trip worthwhile.
So maybe you do this for five different products, but you go out and get like all your footage, all your pictures in the woods, but like actually physically try the products yourself and understand what really makes them better not just read a couple other reviews and like you said, you can notice this stuff really quickly by looking at other company’s sites. And when you put up this review, you’re going to rank number one really quickly. It’s amazing how because of the traction you already have, your blog is going to respond really well to this type of content versus Tactical is still in its infancy.
And we’re making leaps and strides. I mean, I’m really happy with how far we’ve come on some of these really competitive terms. And I do think that sometime next year, we’re going to start hitting the first page for these terms, but you’ll do it right away in my opinion. I think it’ll either be right away or very quickly after that if you put the same effort into like writing these legitimate reviews. Then from there, they’ll all have Amazon affiliate links in them, so you’ll know which products are actually selling from those pages and how much traffic they’re getting and the number of sales that are getting.
And then when you see one of these reviews is naturally like one of them for whatever reason, it’s always unexplainable, but one of them will be the outlier. It’ll be the one that like ranks number one for hunting chair. I don’t know why this review for all the ones that — but you’re ranked number one for like best hunting chair, you’ll see which stuff selling from that article and at what price point, and then you can make a really educated decision of like, I’m now going to go develop a hunting chair.
That’s my next product because I ranked number one for best hunting chairs. I can see that this page is generating $50,000 a month worth of sales. I’m only making $500 a month right now because I’m an Amazon affiliate, but I’m going to go develop a hunting chair. And when you do you now know quite a bit about what’s out there because you’ve already bought all the things out there. And as you’re testing them, you can keep in mind, this is what I would improve or that’s what I would improve. This is what I would make different, here’s how the packaging can be better, etc., etc.
And then your hunting chair suddenly becomes the number one rated product on that page. You just like add your hunting chair to that review page. And that traffic alone should be enough to sustain you with traffic and sales. In addition to that, once you start the design that you want to develop the hunting chair, before even investing the money into that, I would do a giveaway of hunting chairs and start building an email list of people who are interested in hunting chairs by doing Facebook ads or you already have a pop up on your site, you can work on building your email list a little bit better.
So, in addition to the organic traffic you have continuously coming to your site that would be ranking for hunting chairs, you can also pre sell all these people that hopefully you’ll start developing a relationship with over the next six to 12 months through email, on social and work on getting a YouTube channel kind of going and getting all this content spun up. So, when you start launching your next products, it isn’t just because they rank well on Jungle Scout, which is lots of people are doing that but everyone is doing that which makes it difficult. So, you would have like this ace in the whole that no one else has with organic traffic and a business model I think that is sustainable for a very long period of time.
Plus, you’re also in that point not necessarily as reliant on Amazon because eventually you can launch your own store or send that traffic to eBay if you needed to or to Walmart or whatever the next big thing might be one day, and you’re not just relying hundred percent on Amazon. So, that’s kind of like the big grand plan of how I would approach it and sorry for getting winded there.
Mike: No, no, I appreciate, that’s why I’m on the phone with you. I appreciate it. I’ll give you like a quick — this is kind of one thing I was thinking with the reviews and especially kind of thinking the whole thing for the 5 Minute Pitch. And I think I may be able to hybridize what I was thinking about doing into what you’re doing. But I’m ranking for a lot of these keyword terms just for deals and that kind of stuff and I’m getting enough traffic on the site. I think I can get a lot of these manufacturers to provide me with whatever it is for a review for free.
Jackness: Probably, yeah.
Mike: So basically, my plan was to build a network of writers. I have a lot of contacts through hunting through the podcast and that kind of stuff. I think I can get all these reviews done for free; I don’t have to write them. All I need to do is set up getting the product and then getting it in the hands of the right person. So as far as like generating a bunch of content, I think that can work and then I’ll be getting affiliate commissions on that stuff that’s not relying on deals.
But then maybe what I need to do is to take your advice as kind of cherry pick some of those products out and things that I could get developed myself and then kind of take those reviews. So, the reviews I’m talking about are on individual products versus what you’re kind of talking about doing like a roundup of a bunch of different products. But maybe once I see the success of those individual ones, I can still take your idea and do a roundup post like that.
Jackness: Yeah, I mean going about it your way is each actually even better, because you’re writing an individual piece of content about your brand ABC’s chair, and then another individual piece of content about brand XYZ’s share. So you have like this 1,000 word or 1,500 word post but you want to make sure that they’re very in depth, maybe even 3,000 words about an individual product. Do not do the method you have been doing of just a short post. These are things that need to be like really in depth content, lots of pictures or video etc., about like — but like really in depth about this one piece of content or one brand.
And once you write a review for like all 10 of those, then you can write the roundup post that then links to the individual ones. Now you have like 11 pieces of content in total. You’re doing inter linking. So you can live from the individual ones and say, if you want to see our complete roundup of all the chairs, go over here and then on the one that’s the roundup, you can link to the individual ones as well. So you have a bunch of really good inter linking but now, when someone clicks from like really in depth roundup article, they can see even more in depth information. So now you’re coming like an ultra-authority on that, right? So I mean, Google will soak that up I promise you like crazy.
Mike: And there’s tons of potential for YouTube with this as well.
Jackness: Yes, I mean, that’s what we’ve been doing. So, if you look at some of the newest stuff that we’ve done with this on our site, we have a video that’s embedded and that’s one of things we’ve been doing with EcomCrew as well. I mean, the strategy is not new for us, but I mean, like all of our things that we’re trying to really rank for now, we take like a three prong approach. We want a really, really great blog article with a really great video embedded up in the top third, usually up at the very top of it, and we do a podcast about it. So, we have like three pieces of content around this one topic.
And when you throw a video on the page, the dwell time, the time on site goes up exponentially. I mean, I really thought that Google Analytics was broken on Tactical.com because we were getting like 40 minute average time on page for a lot of our articles. And that just is not possible but…
Mike: Is that because people are going down like a YouTube hole and they’re watching everybody else’s videos and that counts as time on your page?
Jackness: Exactly. I mean, they’re playing it within the page, right? So they’re not going off to YouTube directly, they’re on Tactical.com watching it on that website on that page. And so it counts as that, and then we usually have more than one video on the page. So as you scroll down further, you’ll find even more videos. But it depends on the topic, but we have a thing about building shelters that we’ve shot to the top of the rankings for even as a brand new young site without a lot of backlinks because the stats on the page are just astronomical. They’re literally 40 minutes time on page which is just, again, I thought that Google Analytics had to be broken, but I started looking at it and analyzing it and I realized it was probably accurate.
So, people are spending on average 40 minutes so that means that some people spend like two hours on that one page consuming all the content, but it’s because we’ve worked really hard over the last year as we’ve been writing more and more content just kind of refining the way we do it. So this stuff is — she’s spending the time to go out and find the best YouTube videos about this subject. So we know using something like BuzzSumo or looking at YouTube itself, you can see this is a YouTube video that has a ton of views, a ton of uploads to download ratio, lots of comments, people must really love this video, we’re going to embed that video and our article. And it just naturally you know that that’s going to perform well.
Mike: Yes, you don’t even have to always create your own content; you can just embed somebody else’s video sometimes.
Jackness: That’s right. And in fact, most of the stuff on Tactical is that. I mean, we don’t have the ability to create all that content. We do it for reviews, because it’s very strategic. And I just explained exactly what I just explained to you is what our long term idea is for Tactical. But I think that you’re just so much further ahead. I know you’re just looking at SEMrush because you’ve been doing it now for a while; you’re at that point now where Google starts to love you, no matter what you do. They’re going to give you the love if you continue putting out good content. I think you can definitely not to cover off the ball here. And you already mentioned getting free products from manufacturers if you have that hook up. I am curious how you plan on getting the content writers to write this stuff for free though.
Mike: I’ll give them the product. So, if I go with higher dollar products, then to get the free product then I think I can get the guys to review it. So the challenge is going to be, I’m going to need to come up with some way of evaluating. Of course, I could get lots of people to write garbage content for a free product, but I need to get people that are talented enough to write well.
Jackness: Yeah I mean, the challenge there is you only get one free from the manufacturer, you send it off and that guy does a bad job, you’re kind of stuck. So, the way that I would probably handle it, just because this is just the way that my mind thinks, first of all, I love your idea. I would probably pay for the product to start with until I find the people that consistently can write good reviews and try to find three to five of them so you’re not relying on any one guy. You’re probably looking at a 10 or 20 to one ratio of people that you agree to have write for you to the ones that actually produce something that’s worth a crap.
So, you’re going to invest, let’s say it’s $100 product, that might cost you $2,000 up front to find one guy that writes an article that’s worth the crap, but that $2,000 investment probably gets you like $50,000 worth of content over his life especially if you can get the products for free because then you can go to a manufacturer and say, hey look, here’s an example of one of the other things that we’ve written and you have that exact guy write it and then they’re happy and they’re going to want to continue to work with you and give you more products. But if you get the product from them for free, you only got one chance to give it to someone and they do a bad job, they’ll never talk to you again.
Mike: Well, so I have a few guys already, I’ve had a few guys write some things for me and I already know some guys in the space. The question is whether they’re willing to do it for whatever the given product is. But some of these products are 400 or $500 products that I think I might be able to get retail, it’s not costing the manufacturer that, but an additional idea I had and so we’ll see if this works or not but I thought of kind of just putting the word out there, I’ve got the podcast and Facebook groups, all that stuff, and getting people to send me reviews on stuff they already have like as an application. And if you do well, then I start sending you high dollar stuff based on that, and I could have a priority list, these guys maybe I send the cheaper stuff, these guys, they get first dibs on whatever the really good stuff is.
So, it’s to be determined. I haven’t heard anybody else talk about necessarily doing that, it’s to be determined if it’s going to work or not. But I think I’m going to give it a shot.
Jackness: Yeah, I really like that. I mean, you happen to have an audience that that works for. I couldn’t do that for EcomCrew, right? It wouldn’t work.
Mike: Right. Maybe some of the tactical stuff like if you get into the more high end stuff, you can’t get somebody do that for like a $20 flashlight.
Jackness: Exactly. Yeah, exactly right. But I mean, they could do it for…
Mike: But if they’re getting over $100 and somebody feels like they can spend an hour writing something, yeah, there’s like eight hours, whatever it is.
Jackness: Yeah, like a hunting chair. That’s probably 100 bucks.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. So, it sounds kind of like I might need to do some type of hybrid of whatever I’ve been doing. So, I have this other product that we talked about a little bit and I feel like that one, maybe we don’t need to get in depth of what it is. I feel like the sales on that are not huge, but I’m already ranking well, the sales are doing well. I think I can expand in other products in that. But it’s still the same kind of deal. It’s not like a huge market where I feel like I’m going to be able to replace my income and I feel like the hunting gear deals thing long term is what I need to keep working on, because that really could be, has the most potential out of it.
So, my question with that is, so you mentioned my website earlier, and that’s part of the 5 Minute Pitch thing is I know my website is really lacking and there’s a ton I could do to improve it. How much money would you invest now as to like getting a developer and improving the aesthetics and also the functionality of it?
Jackness: Well, it’s a little bit unfair because for me, the answer probably would be zero because I would just do it myself, or most of it myself and probably spending like two to $4,000 maybe at the absolute most on someone from Upwork or something to help kind of pull the things together that I can’t do. But I think you can do quite a bit with a standard WordPress theme. If you wanted something that has a page builder built into it, maybe something like Elegant Themes Divi, D-I-V-I has that. You can build some really good looking sites with just like a drag and drop kind of page editor thing.
And I would go about it that way first, because what ends up happening is like in this situation, you’re going to get diminishing returns very quickly on website design investment. You go spend $30,000 developing your dream website for something like this, and it’s just going to be money wasted. Realistically, it just isn’t going to make the difference. I mean, you’ve already proven that you can do really well with a non-perfect website site. There’s nothing wrong with this site, but it just…
Mike: It does have a lot of custom functionality because of — so it’s a WordPress site but it’s written on a child theme so it has a lot of custom out like to the point I’m comfortable a little bit messing around with WordPress, but right before the 5 Minute Pitch there was a problem with the site and I tried to fix it and the entire site went down. So, it was like two days before the pitch and I didn’t know whether you guys would be getting on or what, so it was like a mad scramble. I ended up getting it fixed.
Jackness: We did get on it during the 5 Minute Pitch, Greg had an iPad Pro that he had in there and he was sharing everything with us. We were looking at it during 5 Minute Pitch, that I remember. Everything is kind of blurred together but I do remember specifically looking at the site.
Mike: Maybe what I could do though is have a sep — see if I separate it, I just might lose all the SEO juice because I just need a blog post type thing, then I think I can do what you’re doing. But with the deals I need to be able to expire post but then have them still active and I need to be able to rank them based on different factors and there’s like search functions which I probably could get rid of some of that, I just don’t know how much of those functionalities have contributed to the success that I have now. So, it’d be easy to do a separate blog section like you’re saying.
Jackness: You already have that here, like you have the blog appear at the top. I think that the articles on the blog section would…
Mike: So I can invest nothing in it and just kind of keep going and going too, it’s working for the time being, or I could just maybe like you said, put $5,000 in and just dress it up a little bit graphic design wise.
Jackness: Graphic design yeah. So definitely invest some money in that, you can make this look significantly better with some graphics. I mean, graphics are really 90% of it. I’ve come to realize at the end of the day, you look at — after we get done talking here, I’ll show you last year’s 12 Days of Christmas promotion to this year’s 12 Days of Christmas promotion for ColorIt and it’s actually kind of comical. I was looking at them side by side because I got to do a webinar with Ezra Firestone on this. And it’s comical looking at last year to this year since last year’s is embarrassing looking at it just like, oh my god, like face palm, probably some of the way that you feel now.
And what we have this year, I’m just like, I showed it to Ezra and he’s like, oh my god dude, this is the best looking page I’ve ever seen. I got to get you on this webinar because it’s so good. And the reality is it’s just graphics. The layoff is very close to the same, the concept is exactly the same. But the thing that makes it look amazing is the imagery. So, if you put some time into that and if you’re — I’m not talented enough to do that, so I would have to pay someone to do that but I think that’s money well spent. And I’ll give you links to that as an example just so you can kind of see what I’m talking about, like the power that has over — this is a an amateur website like, oh my god, this is like a really refined professional company makes a really big difference.
I mean, it’s interesting how the images can make such a big difference with that. But one thing I would keep in mind as well, with your audience, I’m just guessing here, it might not matter quite as much. It’s not to be completely stereotypical here, but hunters are probably less impressed I guess it would probably be the best way of…
Mike: And it’s a deal, like not just the hunters, it is a deal site.
Jackness: Yeah man. So it’s like you put those two things together and you really end up with that demographic of that isn’t what they care about. These are guys that are like literally on the woods for days at a time, not taking a shower and crawling through mud and these are not highfalutin people that are like, oh my God, your graphics aren’t good enough. And really I’m the guy that goes out there and does some — I’m not 100 but I’m definitely a backpacker.
Mike: You’re doing the same thing.
Jackness: Exactly, yeah. So I mean, from that perspective, people just aren’t going to care. So, I would be careful about taking it too far I guess is what I’m saying, but you can definitely, with a few graphics like really in my opinion just like totally change the look and feel of this thing.
Mike: I just need to spend some time on Upwork. It just seemed so real. I had a bad experience with what I’ve got now. The site I have now, it works fine, but it’s not what my original vision was. But like you said, it’s all a learning experience. So, I’m getting my education.
Jackness: It is really difficult. I don’t know why it’s so freaking difficult, but it’s unbelievably difficult to find a good programmer that can execute your vision, whether it’s Upwork or even a full time. We’ve done everything from having full time; I used to have literally 10 full time developers on staff. When we were in Costa Rica, we had all these different affiliate websites and they were — this was before WordPress existed. So, we were basically custom coding our own CMS and stuff. And once WordPress came out, we ended up with less than 10 developers. We didn’t need them anymore because WordPress was so much better.
But whether it’s that or a freelancer, it’s really difficult. I don’t know that to find a developer that just over the course of many years like sticks with you and does a good job because I’ve had ones that are — the most common outcome is they just do a horrible job from day one, they do a horrible job and take your money. It’s unbelievable.
Mike: That was my experience.
Jackness: Yeah, that’s the most common outcome. Then eventually you’ll find one that does a good job and you’ll hold on to them with all dear life and give them bonuses and do anything you can to make them happy or her, and then eventually they just like flake out. I don’t know what it is about that niche or that whatever, and it’s been like that for like literally 15 years. And it’s always been something that’s handcuffed us for the longest time. But the thing that’s helped as of late, is there’s things like Shopify that have come out where you only need to code the last little bit where WordPress now is getting way more sophisticated than it was at version 1.0 when I first got started with it.
So, it’s easier and there’s also dozens of really great theme developers out there that can get you a long way there. But it still requires a developer at the end of the day, and I’m not a developer. So, it’s definitely really frustrating. Graphics is a lot easier; I have had much better luck with a graphic designer. Once you can find one that understands your vision and they are a freelancer and they’re not looking to get a full time job because you’re not looking for a full timer, you can find a good graphic designer.
We’ve definitely got that now on our staff because you can see the difference between when we didn’t have those guys and today. The images and stuff that they’re producing is like just next level. It’s one of the things I’m probably most proud of that we put out. And like I said, that alone goes just so far in making people just have a better first impression.
Mike: That sounds like such a luxury but then I think of like the battle of having employees period too, it’s just different problems.
Jackness: Yeah, I mean we’ve been pretty lucky with that. I mean, we definitely had some issues. It’s actually interesting because I’ve talked a lot about this. But it seems like we’ve had a bigger problem with that in California or in the United States than we have in the Philippines. Our Philippines employees in general have just been pretty low maintenance and they very rarely complain about stuff and they just do a great job and appreciate the way that we take care of them which makes me want to continue to do that stuff more. It’s infectious if someone appreciates versus I don’t know, like in our California office, it’s been pretty polar opposite to that to where they’re never satisfied or they constantly have problems or whatever, and it does get frustrating.
Mike: As an American that’s kind of sad.
Jackness: It is, it is, it’s something I’ve talked to quite a bit about lately. And I think that it’s funny because my parents, so least this is my grandparents like kids these days blah, blah, blah. Now that I’m 40, I’ve started feeling that way about the younger generation because just like kids these days, and like they seem like they need to be coddled or they’re not happy with stuff, or they don’t understand what a hard day’s work is and stuff like that. And it definitely makes me feel old because definitely I feel like I’m saying the exact same stuff that my older generation before me did.
Mike: I’m definitely thinking — this is me being stereotypical, this is my term, but you living in California makes me think you might have one of the worst times of that.
Jackness: Yeah, it’s funny that you say that because I would hear people say that when I first moved here, or before I moved here and I would get almost insulted by people saying stuff like that, because it just like come on man, that’s just so stereotypical, but it’s actually I think it’s true. I think a lot of stereotypes like jokes or humor a lot of times stem from some sort of truth and there’s seems to be a little bit of that here. I’m not going to lie; it definitely seems different than other places I’ve lived in the United States and certainly around the world. And I can say that now after being here as an outsider coming in for five years.
I mean, it’s not everyone, it certainly is not everyone. We have like our COO as a for instance has just been unbelievable. She reminds me a lot of myself when I was 30 which is what she is and just a self-starter, always here on time, doesn’t really complain about much of anything, gets her job done, doesn’t feel entitled for stuff. So I mean, like there’s definitely — and she’s born and raised here from day one. So I mean, there’s definitely people from here that are like that, but then there’s the other crowd that probably would rather be surfing I guess is the stereotype, right?
Jackness: Excellent, so we’ve covered a bunch of stuff. Any other things that go over that we can help with?
Mike: Oh man, I know I’m going to get off the phone and I have like a whole pile of questions, but getting this e-commerce stuff, I’m sure I’ll be running into you again, so I really appreciate your help on this.
Jackness: Of course yeah, and we’ll do a follow up after 5 Minute Pitch comes out and you get to hear all the commentary.
Mike: What everybody said about me.
Jackness: Yeah, I don’t remember there being any — I don’t think you made it through; actually I’m positive you didn’t make it through.
Mike: I’m positive I didn’t make it through yeah.
Jackness: And obviously by the time this comes up people will know. I was trying to be — I knew that you knew that but I was trying to not have that on a podcast.
Mike: Oh yeah, I think this will be after it’s out.
Jackness: It’ll be after it’s out.
Mike: Or is this more editing too.
Jackness: Exactly. Yep. But I think the concerns that we had and you’ll hear about them when it comes out here but it was just there wasn’t like a real clear direction. It wasn’t like established enough. The 5 Minute Pitch prize, we’re looking for a particular person that has like established business that can like more through a fuel on the fire like really needs our help to do that. And we just didn’t necessarily know that you were at that timing yet. But I actually think that you have something really great going here. And there were several…
Mike: Yeah, there’s only so much you can explain in five minutes.
Jackness: Exactly yeah.
Mike: And there’s no hard feelings on my part. It was my job as a contestant to figure out how to convince you guys in five minutes. And I’ve been able to see some of the other brands just through figuring some things out who that channel was, and there’s some legit businesses that were involved in that. And honestly, if it was like a — I feel like I would have been better off if it was like a 20 or $30,000 price. I feel like I could easily throw a 20 or $30,000 into hunting gear deals and really do a ton with it, and then the rest of that 20 would just be a lot of like marketing stuff which is — like I wouldn’t have to do. I could do that without the money, it would just take longer. So, it’s not like I’m sitting on a PO like, oh, if I had $50,000 I’d have $2 million in sales.
Jackness: Yeah, and there were definitely some of that. At 5 Minute Pitch, there were definitely people who were like, I’m doing $500,000 worth of sales this year with this product and the only thing that’s holding me back is if I had $50,000 more in cash, I could do 2 million next year. There were definitely some pretty interesting, established, very focused business models, and I think that that was the type of stuff that we’re looking for. And again, I don’t remember your pitch specifically and what we talked about, but I do remember that being…
Mike: I do remember one thing you asked me was, I talked about having some Amazon products and you asked me if I had some other products in mind for Amazon. And I listened to all the priors, I listened to the Go Pitch Win stuff, and I know a lot of this stuff was focused on like there needed to be a set focus. So, I was really hesitant to plan ahead to all these other avenues to bring in money. I really wanted to drill down on growing hunting gear deals. And then we talked about this a lot, but long term I want to have some of my own products.
And then also another option for me is to be an outlet type place. A lot of these places we’re going to be listing reviews and stuff for, they have outlet places that are not hunting related at all, and as somebody who posts deals and shops for the stuff all the time, it’s really hard to find. And I know I could bring in those refurbished type stuff and sell a lot of it. So, that’s somewhere else I know I can go long term with this, which is where I tried to kind of point with the 5 Minute Pitch.
Jackness: I actually like that like a more intermediate step for you actually, sooner than later instead of it being the long term thing. If you focus on that before even developing your own products, because the great thing about those types of deal thing that you’re talking about, you can probably never take ownership of the inventory, just have it drop shipped.
Mike: Yeah, I might have to do that.
Jackness: And if you did take ownership of it, it would be something where you could sell it immediately. There wouldn’t be like this long — because what you need is cash flow, you need to start generating money. And developing a product from China is the longest timeline for that where you’re having to put a 30% deposit. Well, first of all you have to find the product, develop the product, go back and forth between samples and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and that’s months of work if you’re going to do a really good job making something different.
And then you got to put a 30% deposit down and you got to wait eight to 10 weeks for the thing to get manufactured, then it’s going to be on the water for a month and then you got to get it and next thing you know, it’s like six to nine months and you got to put your 70% final payment down before you — there’s just a long time frame there to make all that work which is a very sound business model. I mean, I’m not saying don’t do it because I mean we built a $10 million company doing exactly what I just outlined.
But if you’re in a situation like you’ve left your job, I need to make money right now, that intermediary step of I’m going to do some deal stuff, or I’m going to go to people who are in desperate situations almost like you are with your product right now. Think about like how many people get in that situation of I developed this product that didn’t do very well, I just need to like liquidate it and you can come to the rescue and help them with that situation. And you have a mailing list, the podcast, and influence that you can continue to build over the next year.
I think you can way more than double if you focus on the content part of it and building the community part of it. You can probably 5x next year like literally, and that is a lot of power where you can go to someone and say hey, I got this database of people and then once you have some established results and say, look, almost do like a Groupon type deal with these people that have this product that they’re just looking to get rid of, or it’s overstocked or it’s refurbished, or whatever it is.
And you have a community that’s like triggered already by this stuff. I mean, it’s hunting gear deals, right? So they’re already looking for deals, and you’ve got the deal. So, you’re mirroring up the exact thing instead of trying to make the super high quality product that is different and everything that you’re going to be selling to a group of people that are more relatable to like I want to discount. Maybe just instead of trying to stick a square peg in a round hole, you just give them what they want, which is the deal.
Mike: Right. And I’m going to one of the largest hunting trade shows in January. So that’s one of my goals in going there is to try to start putting those relationships together which January is real quick here.
Jackness: Yeah, excellent. Cool. We’re running over a little bit. I got to run myself. But great talking to you again, best luck with everything. Yeah, again, I’d love to catch back up with you in a few months after the 5 Minute Pitch comes out and just let…
Mike: Let you know where I’m at.
Jackness: Yeah, see how you’re doing. Where are you located at?
Jackness: Florida okay.
Mike: I’m not anywhere near where you would want if you’re into hunting.
Jackness: No, I was actually going to just say like, because I always love meeting people in person, so I’ll be in Miami in May for Sellers Summit, so if you’re…
Mike: I plan to go to that too. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but definitely…
Jackness: Well, definitely pull the trigger soon because it will sell out. I am positive of that and I’ll be there speaking and doing a mastermind and I’d love to catch up. And Greg and Scott and Steve will be there and maybe we can do an interview with you or something, like post a pre…
Mike: Where are they now? This is going to be in May, hopefully I am not homeless.
Jackness: Right. Yeah, well, we won’t hear that if that’s the case, we only want to show success stories, no I’m just kidding.
Mike: I wouldn’t recommend somebody like quitting their job where they’re where I’m at. But it’s to the point with it, which is something I’ve been kicking around long enough and I have to do it. Like, my job is consuming enough. I can’t do a good job at my regular job and do a good job at the e-commerce thing. So, it’s just something where I had to. It’s risky, but I’m going to make it pay off.
Jackness: I think you’re making the right move.
Mike: Thanks, man.
Jackness: All right, man, best of luck with everything, happy Holidays.
Mike: Thanks a lot, Mike, talk to you later.
All right guys, I hope you enjoyed this episode of the EcomCrew Podcast. If you have any questions, go to EcomCrew.com/233 to get to the show notes for this episode. You can ask us any questions you want, leave a comment or anything like that; we’d love to hear from you. And until the next episode everybody, happy selling and we’ll talk to you soon.
Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.