Project 5K – A Real Life Case Study On How To Get Started On Amazon with $5,000

How much money do you need to start selling with Amazon FBA? It may be less than you think... Bradley is back with another case study!

Back in June, I wrote a blog about a long term case study I was doing called Project 5K. I wanted to show how you do not need too much money to get started selling on Amazon. You might think that $5,000 dollars is already a lot of money… however in that article, I launched TWELVE different products all for a TOTAL of $5,000.

In this update, I won’t get all fancy and call this “Project 5K Season 2” or anything like that. To me, Project 5K is something I just want to continue with indefinitely. I’m going to give you guys an update on those original 12 products, as well as talk about two new Project 5K products that I launched this year – this time, stand alone products.  

How Are The Original Project 5K Products Doing?

Back in June, I had reported that from October to May, sales were $17,500, with profit being $3,200. Here are the sales numbers since then. 

June: $6,000 Gross Sales, $1,000 Net Profit

July: $3,700 Gross Sales, $550 Net Profit

August: $3,200 Gross Sales, $300 Net Profit

September: $2,000 Gross Sales, $200 Net Profit

Sales went down as the summer months went on, as did profit, however they have picked up again in October, with $1,000 sold in the first 10 days and $200 in profit. I expect a big October for a couple of the products, and then some strong sales in November and December as well. 

Again, no one is getting rich off of these numbers, however these products pretty much take care of themselves. I could be doing better on them if I would put more effort, however as is, I spend maybe only 20 minutes a week optimizing the PPC, and that’s about it.  

Having an average of 500 dollars monthly is not bad for 20 minutes of work per week!

The point of this first Project 5K was to show that even if you only have 500-1000 dollars, there’s a chance to have some success selling on Amazon, even with a private label. I don’t want it to die though. If you recall, this product line was made for someone else who wanted to get started on Amazon for $5,000 and was gracious enough to let me document the journey. 

I will be launching two more products under that brand this week, and so my update for the first part of next year will talk about how Q4 worked out for the products. 

A Brand New Product Launch for $5K

Instead of launching a lot of sub 10 dollar products, I wanted to do another case study where I took about $5K and put it ALL into ONE product. So, I started my research in Black Box, and ended up back on Etsy just like we did in Project X. (hope you aren’t getting confused on the projects!)

I found an interesting product that seemed to have some demand on Amazon. There was only one established competitor on Amazon in the niche, and yet it was fundamentally a different kind of product. I could see using Black Box and Brand Analytics that there was a seller selling something similar to what I had in mind, but hadn’t been in stock in a while.  

In looking at the BSR and Sales estimate history in Helium 10 X-Ray, I could see that when he WAS in stock, it was a decent seller, and I could see that he was selling in the $40’s which to me, was a desirable price range.  

Next step was to get a quote from my sourcing agent in China.  

get quote from sourcing agent in china

I plugged my projected numbers into the Helium 10 Profitability Calculator to make sure everything still looked good. 

amazon profitability calculator

So far, so good. So, I placed the order and sent the deposit.  About a month later, the product was ready to ship, so I sent the remainder of what I owed on it, plus shipping to my warehouse – everything included was $1,500 dollars. Thus my delivered price to my warehouse was only $4,300 dollars. Still room to spare with my $5K budget!

Now, for my launch method – I used my own personal made up phrase of the “Maldives Honeymoon.”  Sorry to be such a tease, but I can’t get too much into detail of this since that’s part of another long term case study I am doing that I will talk about soon… but perhaps the results of this will whet your appetite for that “project!”

Anyway, the main keyword that I knew would generate probably at least 50% of my sales had about 4,000 searches at the time. The CPR number for such a keyword is about 100. But I had so much faith in my strategy and the Maldives Honeymoon that I decided to do a Search Find Buy campaign of only….EIGHT units. Yup. Eight.  

I used AZrank.com to run that SFB campaign because I do not have time to make Facebook Ads or anything like that.  What were the results of that?  

As soon as the product went live, I was ranking already on page 2-3. By day 3 of the SFB campaign, I was already at the top of page 1, position 3. Day 5, I was at Page 1, position 1, even surpassing the one aforementioned established seller. WITH EIGHT UNITS OF SFB!!!

That wasn’t the only keyword I targeted during this launch. The second keyword I targeted, at the time, had about 1,400 monthly searches. Thus, the CPR was about 32. So, how many do you think I “gave away” for this promotion? How about ONE!  

Now, here was a little of my secret sauce on this one. The keyword above (main keyword) is a two word search term. This one is also a two word search term, however the second word is an extension of the second word of that first search term. It would be like if my first keyword was “yellow flower,” then this second keyword is “yellow SUNflower.”

I was hoping that Amazon might relate activity on this keyword to my first campaign a little bit, and possibly vice versa. How did my whopping one SFB do?

Day 1, I was on page 2-3. Day 3 got to page 1, and by Day 7, was page one position 2. How cool is THAT! I did another SFB of a SINGLE unit, to another keyword related to that first keyword, and it followed the same trajectory of getting to page one position 1-2 by day 5. 

The rest of my SFB strategies would be enough to knock your socks off. I will go over it in my Maldives Honeymoon upcoming article, but let’s just say another keyword that had over 15,000 monthly searches, I got to the top of page one with less than 10 giveaways. 

With the help of ADS by Helium 10 I ran some great PPC campaigns using our strategy of having an Auto, Broad, And Exact Manual campaign, supplemented with a product targeting campaign. Despite this being a new launch, my overall ACOS was under 40%. Here is a screenshot from ADS.

helium 10 ads - amazon ppc tool

I did not expect to get sales ramped up so fast, so unfortunately I sold out in only 6 weeks out of those 500 units.  Here are the stats from Helium 10 Profits on the two SKUs. (One is FBA, one is FBM)

helium 10 profits

Over $4K net profit is not that bad for a new launch! Especially when my initial investment was under $5K.  

Sales are booming again. I did a lightning deal on it and sold 50 units in one day. In the last 6 weeks, we have sold another 500+ units, grossing over $23,000 dollars, with net profit of $4,300. I am now using Helium 10 Inventory Management so hopefully will not run out of stock again. If this item stays in stock, it’s a product that should gross about $150,000 – $200,000 a year, and $30,000 – $40,000 of net profit. Not bad for a sub $5K investment eh?

I wanted to do another Project 5K in a completely different category with a completely different kind of product and brand. So, about 6 weeks or so after the above case study, I started another one. 

The product research for this one I actually did strictly in Helium 10 Black Box this time. I did not look outside to Etsy and Pinterest. I did a Black Box keywords search for something that had a low average number of reviews, and came across something that piqued my interest.

It was a keyword that, in my opinion, only had one true seller that hit the needs of that keyword.  Its sales were not that great however. It was doing at the time maybe only 2-4 units a day.  But I liked the price point again of about $40.  

I also liked how during the holidays this seemed to be a good selling product, and sales jumped to about 20 a day during November and December. This competitor seemed to have a big following in social media and even had some products in the Vendor Central program, but I thought that this would make the challenge even more exciting. 

There were a lot of factors that had me less confident in this product then the last one, so I decided to use the Project X method of a PPC test listing. I bought a couple of similar products and threw it up on Amazon.  

I put the product up for $110 dollars to make sure it would run a few days to get some numbers from it. The two units I had in stock sold out FBM in 3 days at that price! Thankfully, I was able to get some promising keyword data from the test, plus, what better way to validate demand when people pay more than 2X your target price for a product from a 0 review, ugly test listing!

I put in my order. The total for the 500 units was about $3,500, and shipping to my warehouse was about $1,000. Yet again, well under my $5K budget for this project.  

I did a similar launch as the above product that I will get into more in my Maldives Honeymoon write up. This launch has proven a little more “normal” than the top one. It took me about 300 units of sales for me to break a profit since PPC was very expensive on it. I had a higher budget because I wanted to get traction on the keyword that the other competitor didn’t have too much success with yet. 

I am not sold out yet of the first 500 units – I have about 100 left, with another order of 700 on the way to arrive hopefully in time for the holiday rush. Profit last week was about 15%, so I hope to increase that a little. I’m already beating that other established competitor in sales by a ratio of 4 to 1. In this Project 5K product, I’m doing the “slow and steady” approach, with hopes for a lucrative Q4.  

My goal is to try to launch one “Project 5K” product a month and document them for you all so that you can see that you do NOT need huge amounts of money to have success on Amazon. Keep in mind too that I only spend a couple of hours a week on these projects since most of my time is dedicated to the Content and Training departments I oversee here at Helium 10.  

So if your excuse is that you have a “day job” so don’t have enough time to dedicate to Amazon, or that you “have less than $10K” in the bank account so don’t have enough to get started on Amazon, STOP IT! 

Amazon is hard work, but to launch a product does not take 40 hours a week of time, nor does it have to take more than $5,000 to start.  You can start with less than $1000 and work your way up. However as these last two products show, if you can spare $5K, your path to profit is a lot shorter.  

The strategies and tools that I used to launch are things we have documented in our Freedom Ticket Training, and are all inside of Helium 10. Why not start a Helium 10 Account today, and get that training, and tools for less than $50 for your first month? Sign up at Helium10.com today and use the code SSP50 to save 50% off your first month, and get started on your OWN Project 5K today!

Bradley Sutton

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