My location independent income explained…
So it seems very strange to be writing this blog post, I feel a bit like one of those ‘I made a million dollars working from home’ posts that I see all the time. I am working from home though and I am earning a good living, but I’m not making a million, yet!…but after posting on our Facebook page about setting up our business and mentioning that the income is ‘location independent’ lots of people messaged us asking about it so I thought it would be easier to just write about it and I could point people to this post. I think the easiest way to approach it is by answering some of the most common questions I get asked. So here goes:
BTW, if you feel a bit TLDR : Then I do this and my actual figures are below (just scroll down), otherwise read on for the full story….
What exactly do you do?
Short answer – I sell products on Amazon. No, it’s not like selling off your kids’ old toys on eBay, (although to be fair I’ve done that too). I research and find generic products that are already selling well on Amazon but have room in the market for more sellers/sales, I have them ‘private labelled’ with my own brand and import them (usually from China). I create listing pages on Amazon, people buy them, and I get paid, – happy days.
How can that be location independent; don’t you have to be going backwards and forwards to the post office?
Errr,..no. One of my main reasons for choosing to sell on Amazon was that they handle all the deliveries for me. I use what’s known as Amazon FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon) which means that I have the products sent in bulk to the Amazon warehouses (known as the fulfilment centres) once every few months. Then when a customer order comes in, Amazon takes the payment and ships out the product. Using FBA means that my products can be sold on Amazon Prime which is very popular. Amazon also handles any returns. Amazon charges 15% of the selling price as commission and takes a couple of quid (varies depending on the size of the item) for a picking and packing fee but that is a small price to pay to have my products on what is effectively the busiest high street in the country.
So what do you do day to day?
My job is to make sure I have enough stock, make sure the Amazon listing pages are okay and ‘ranking’ highly, manage the ad campaigns and answer customer queries about the products (Amazon answers the general queries about orders etc). All of these can be done from anywhere in the world provided I have an internet connection.
Don’t you need industry experience for that?
Absolutely not. I’d never heard of Amazon FBA and certainly never dealt with importing goods or managing sponsored ad campaigns before. I learnt everything I needed to from online courses.
Does it bring in enough money to live off?
Obviously everyone’s results are different* so I can only tell you my story: I started slowly, I set up the business just before I needed to go into hospital for (very unexpected) major surgery so couldn’t really manage very much for some time, but it was something that I could dabble in while I recovered. At that point we’d only been back from our year-long trip for a few months. My cousin (thanks Dan) had told me about Amazon FBA and at the time I thought that if I could just bring in a few extra quid a week it would enable me to stay home with the kids. (After our year travelling, we decided to continue homeschooling). At the beginning I had one product, which didn’t sell loads but was turning over about £150-£200 a week and about 20% of that was profit – probably only around £40 a week at first, this was in Dec 2017/Jan 2018. The turnover slowly grew as I got more experienced, learned the ropes and was able to get another product selling. Then I took an 8-week online course which was a complete gamechanger for me, I learned how to properly research, select and launch products, run ads, stay on ‘page one’ of Amazon (because nobody looks at page 2 right?), negotiate with suppliers etc…. and my turnover just took off. I still only make about 20% profit but now an average monthly turnover is around £30k. See below for my sales figures from start-up to now (Oct 19):
*TYPICALITY DISCLAIMER: These member’s results may not be typical. ASM members joining between 2013-2016 who completed the program and launched a new brand had median annual revenue of $60,750.00.
As you can see sometimes it’s more (the peaks – you can see a couple of ‘prime days’ in there and Christmas of course), sometimes it’s less (the drops and wide gaps) where I completely sell out of stock (I’m still getting the hang of restock times, I’m a relative beginner after all). I reinvest most of the profits into growing the business and getting a wider range of products, but I could just let it stay small and take the money. However, in answer to the question ‘can you make a living at this?’, that would be a resounding yes!
I still remember when we were traveling in the tin can (our van ‘Mabel’) and our family budget was £30 a day and I think how great it would have been to have had this up and running then ….next year perhaps!
How much of your time does it take up?
As I mentioned, I’m actively growing the business and trying to build the brand so I do spend a fair bit of time researching new products, having packaging designed, writing listings, posting on social media etc but I still have time to help the kids with schoolwork, have long walks with Millie the dog, cook lunch and tea, do the shopping and washing – all the usual.
I probably personally email 3or 4 customers a day on average, (the main customer emails are all automated). If I wasn’t working on growing the business, I reckon a couple of hours a day would be enough.
Is it really Location Independent?
Yes! All the research, design, ordering stock, arranging shipping, customer service can be done from anywhere with Wifi or 4G. I love my Instagram post below – I was answering customer emails from the rice terraces in Bali.
Are there any parts of the business that require you to be at home?
Well I have chosen to have any ‘faulty returns’ sent to my PO Box (and then on to me) about once a month and so need to manage those but if I were to be away for longer, I have those held or redirected. Up until recently I was occasionally sending out spare parts for products – but now I get Amazon to do those as well – it costs a little more but means I can just do it with a few clicks. When we were in the US for 6 weeks earlier this year we paid our grown-up daughter to do that for us and answer emails in UK time (thanks H). So really it can all be managed remotely, I know many sellers on Amazon have virtual assistants on the other side of the world who manage all sorts of things but I’m a bit more hands on, that’s just how I am!.
Do you need a lot of money to start it?
You should seriously question anyone who tries to sell you a ‘no money down’ deal, or says you can become a millionaire with only £100. You need some money to buy stock, have it shipped here and pay import duties and taxes. I didn’t have spare cash so I used a 0% credit card for a money transfer. I decided on a start-up budget of £2k and this got me going but I did need to extend it to £3k for cash flow because sales started slowly. I don’t recommend that if you have a lot of debt that you take on more debt to do this as it’s not a get rich quick scheme and, as you can see, it took some time before I got that money back – but I got it back with interest 😊
I also invested the online course I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of -information out there but I wanted something that would take me through the process step-by-step and provide lots of hand-holding, coaching and support, someone who would personally answer my questions. I think my initial growth would have been much quicker if I’d had that course up front, but then again, I had the surgery to recover from so it was perhaps just as well that I did it when I did
I have no idea where to start, how did you find out about what to do?
See above really – online. You can Google ‘Amazon FBA’ and you’ll come up with plenty of blogs and videos, just be sure to check when it was written/recorded as Amazon changes its rules and algorithms fairly often so you do need to make sure you are up to date. The online course that I took (ASM – the ‘Amazing Selling Machine’) only runs about once a year or so but they also make great free videos which are top notch and up to date. If you are interested in finding out more click here (in the interests of transparency I’m now one of their affiliates – they invite some of their past students to do that and I was more than happy to say ‘yes’ because I was recommending them to friends anyway). The great thing is they also offer a ton of free stuff like this which is super useful.
Don’t you want to just relax on your trips and not work?
Well yes, in an ideal world I’d be having full body massages and being brought platters of local delicacies. However, until that happy day arrives I’d much rather be doing a couple of hours of online work every day but be able to travel whenever I want, and live life on my own terms than switch off completely but only have 4 weeks a year of annual leave. I guess it’s a personal preference.
If you’ve read all this and still want to know more, please feel free to message me – the facebook page is best (facebook.com/tincanfamily) but as my friends and family will tell you, once I start talking about it it’s hard to stop me! And do check out the these guys if you are interested, not just because I’m an affiliate but because it might just change your life …it did for me 😊