#233 – Amazon Success Allowed This Seller to Take a Year-Long Trip Around the World
Entrepreneurial success fantasies take many different forms. New Teslas and Lamborghinis are one direction that high-profile e-commerce celebrations might take. Still others keep their head down and roll everything back into the process of quickly scaling up their Amazon business.
In this episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Chief Evangelist, Bradley Sutton has a conversation with an Amazon seller that took his e-commerce success in another direction altogether. Andrew Erickson is an Amazon consultant and the CEO of Andrew Knows Amazon. He sells in over 20 countries and consistently has sales of 7 figures per year.
When it came time to sit back and reflect on the success of their company, Andrew and his wife decided that the best way for the two of them to celebrate (before having children), was to pack up their laptops and take a last prolonged vacation as a couple. 365 days and 32 countries later, Andrew is with Bradley to talk about how he managed to create enough sales on Amazon to make this possible, as well as tell how he structured his business to run with minimal input from him while he was away.
I’m saving the best part for last. Listen in to hear Andrew tell how he was able to use the tax savings to take this all-expenses, year-long trip, effectively for free!
In episode 233 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Andrew discuss:
- 02:00 – Growing Up in New Mexico
- 06:00 – Swapping Business Attire for Workout Clothing to Ship Packages
- 09:00 – A (Slightly) Profitable Hobby
- 11:00 – Finding the Right Time to Switch to E-Commerce
- 13:00 – 32 Countries in 365 Days for Just 64K
- 14:30 – A Support Staff Made Travel and Remote Work Possible
- 17:00 – Tax Savings and a Free “Vacation”
- 21:30 – Product Design Helps Amazon Sellers Differentiate
- 24:00 – What’s the Intent Behind the Search?
- 26:30 – Andrew’s (Semi-Technical) Launch Strategies
- 28:00 – “Buying” Data from Amazon
- 31:00 – Transitioning to PPC Maintenance Mode
- 34:00 – Andrew’s Right in the Middle of an Amazon “Exit”
- 38:00 – Andrew’s 30 Second Tip
- 43:00 – How to Contact Andrew
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast or wherever you listen to our podcast.
Want to absolutely start crushing it on Amazon? Here are few carefully curated resources to get you started:
- Freedom Ticket: Taught by Amazon thought leader Kevin King, get A-Z Amazon strategies and techniques for establishing and solidifying your business.
- Ultimate Resource Guide: Discover the best tools and services to help you dominate on Amazon.
- Helium 10: 20+ software tools to boost your entire sales pipeline from product research to customer communication and Amazon refund automation. Make running a successful Amazon business easier with better data and insights. See what our customers have to say.
- Helium 10 Chrome Extension: Verify your Amazon product idea and validate how lucrative it can be with over a dozen data metrics and profitability estimation.
- SellerTradmarks.com: Trademarks are vital for protecting your Amazon brand from hijackers, and sellertrademarks.com provides a streamlined process for helping you get one.
Bradley Sutton: Today, we’re talking to a multiple seven figure seller whose Amazon business allowed him to take one whole year to travel around the world with his wife. How cool is that? Pretty cool, I think.
Bradley Sutton: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10. I am your host Bradley Sutton, and this is the show that’s a completely BS-free, unscripted and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies for serious sellers of any level in the Amazon world. We’ve got somebody who I think is pretty fairly serious, as far as being a seller. We got Andrew. Andrew, what’s going on?
Andrew: Hey, Bradley. Thanks so much for having me on here.
Bradley Sutton: Awesome. Didn’t you use to, or currently live in San Diego?
Andrew: Yes. We are kind of neighbors, right? You’re in Carlsbad, right?
Bradley Sutton: San Marcos right next to Carlsbad. All right. So, I could probably throw a stone and get close to your house. This morning I interviewed somebody from another country, but so it’s nice to have somebody locally here and we’re all just freezing ourselves to death because it actually is in the 60s.
Andrew: I’m literally wearing a sweater right now because I could not handle all the cold in my house. It’s like 67.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah, it’s like the 50s, 60s, guys. That’s like somebody living in, in Vancouver or something that, Hey, that’s t-shirt weather for them, but for us, it’s freezing over here. But anyways, we’re not here to talk about weather here, but let’s just get your backstory. First of all. So were you born and raised here in Southern California?
Bradley Sutton: No. No. I actually was born and raised in New Mexico, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Bradley Sutton: I love the spicy food there. I bought a house once in Rio Rancho. I was going to live out there, but I never did, but I just loved the food out there and every Las Cruces that’s where– isn’t that where New Mexico state is.
Andrew: Yeah. Very good. Actually, both my parents were professors there at New Mexico state.
Bradley Sutton: Oh, okay. Okay, cool. The Aggies.
Andrew: Yes. Yeah. Very good.
Bradley Sutton: I always test myself to see if I can figure out what that is, if I remember the mascot, I’m really into college sports. So I usually know a lot of these mascots here.
Andrew: Yeah. The one thing that’s great about football is that they’re number one in being the worst football team in division 1 football.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So now growing up there, of course I think the stereotypical American might think about the first thing I think about New Mexico is like breaking bad or whatever, but growing up there in New Mexico, you’re eight, nine, 10 years old, maybe. What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Andrew: It was fun. I remember one of my early memories, maybe not when I was eight, maybe I was like maybe four or five. I thought I wanted to be a scuba diver that worked on a cruise ship that would dive down below, gather up the food below the cruise ship and then cook it up on the ship. I have no idea why I thought that was such a great career path, especially being in a landlocked New Mexico. But that was kind of what I wanted to do when I was really, really young.
Bradley Sutton: I love it. I love it very– see. That’s the kind of thing I like to hear. Sometimes people come on here. I always make fun of them and I always bring this out. But when I asked that to say, I asked that same question to everybody and sometimes I’ll say, Oh, I want to be an accountant. What kind of childhood did you have where your life ambition at that age was to be an accountant? My goodness. Anyways, that’s the kind of stuff I like to hear. So now upon graduating high school, were you still in New Mexico? Or you’re already here in California?
Andrew: No, actually I moved to Colorado and went to school at Boulder, Colorado, and I got a degree in Electrical Engineering and Applied Mathematics.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So very different from your childhood dream. So at that point, like when you were making that at your major, what was your ideal job at that point?
Andrew: When I was beginning school, I wanted to work for a space company and launched satellites in space. I kind of thought it’d be like a fun thing to do. And then I kind of pivoted into more electronic stuff. And so I ended up graduating– that’s why he went to the electric engineering thing and I got a job with some big tech companies and that’s actually probably out to San Diego was the Qualcomm from the out here.
Bradley Sutton: How does somebody go from working for a technology company like that to the e-commerce world?
Andrew: Yeah. I wanted to get into the tech world. But really I want to get into entrepreneurship and I heard all these stories about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates kind of building their companies from the garage. I thought, wow, that is so cool. I want to build a company myself and I want to just build from my garage, from my bedroom, from my living room, whatever it is. And, so I started doing a bunch of little entrepreneurial things. I had a couple of mobile apps that I wrote and I had some affiliate websites I bought from empire flippers and empire flippers is a great website, but the one I bought wasn’t didn’t do that well because I didn’t know how to run an affiliate website. And then, I kind of stumbled into Amazon like six years ago and I thought, huh, I can just like design products. Mass-produce them in Asia. And then there’s this whole like algorithmic way to kind of launch it on Amazon. Now let’s try this. And then that’s ended up growing up into now I guess a cumulative multi seven figure seller with all my brands.
Bradley Sutton: No, at that time, six years ago, when you started, were you still working full-time at Qualcomm?
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. Oh no. I was working full time Qualcomm and doing this on nights and weekends. I used to, I shipped all my stuff here in San Diego to a local warehouse and I would change out of my business formal or semiformal clothes at lunchtime, and then go drive out to the warehouse with kind of workout clothes, pack up all the stuff, put shipping labels on stuff, send it to Amazon. And then I would put my business attire back on and go back to work. And then that was how I did work lunches and nights and weekends, and just really hustle for a couple of years.
Bradley Sutton: Cool, cool. Now, at that time, the first products you launched, like, are you still selling that same exact first product now?
Andrew: Yeah, actually it’s a fun story. My first product, I’m still selling it today. And that product, I actually handmade the first hundred pieces myself and there’s a little workshop here in San Diego called Maker Place, or Makerspace– Maker place. I think it’s called Maker Place. And it’s kind of like a gym where you pay a membership to be part of a– you have access to all these machines at a gym, right? You pay 80 bucks a month or something for that access, same thing, but it’s with wood and metalworking. And so I ended up making a few products that I sold on Etsy and it was great. Like it was fun learning how to work the machines and learning how to set up listings online and everything. But man, grabbing stuff and literally cutting and screwing and twisting and mending everything together and then putting in a box and doing customer service, all myself was not super fun. It’s a lot of work.
Bradley Sutton: And only on nights and weekends after a long day of work at your day job. Okay. Interesting. So then you made the transition to go ahead and find a factory in China to produce it for you or what was the next step?
Andrew: Exactly. SoI kind of thought, well, let’s try this Alibaba thing. I had been learning about Amazon and Alibaba, and I thought maybe I can get them to do this stuff for me. And I did. And it worked and I bought 2000 units and brought it into us. And the first I’d been fairly successful on Etsy. And I even had people working in my garage, packing stuff up. And I also, my first time I hired someone in the Philippines to do customer service. And then I got that order from China, sent it straight to Amazon. And it is so much easier.
Bradley Sutton: How long into your e-commerce there with Etsy and Amazon did the thought even enter your mind of like, you know what, I could see a path where this is what I would prefer to do full time than my day job.
Andrew: I kind of thought the entrepreneurial thing would work. Eventually.
Bradley Sutton: Also, for even day one. You were like, Hey, this is the goal here.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, not necessarily like Etsy is how I’m going to leave my day job. I just thought like, eventually I’m going to figure it out. I’m going to get a business. I’m going to find something that’s going to support me. Full-time and now will I become a millionaire? I don’t know. But like I figured at some point I can find something to make it work.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Okay. Now that original path you just said that, Hey, people could do it, but obviously Etsy is bigger than ever before. And now there’s like different technologies out there. We’re here in 2021, starting to make your own products in your own house or your own garage to get started before you go and go all in, like with a big purchase order from a Chinese factory. This is still probably, would you say as a viable method that people could use to get started in e-commerce?
Andrew: Sure. Yeah. If you don’t mind doing it as a hobby and you’re not expecting to make serious money at it, and you want to just make a little scratch on the side, maybe a couple of hundred bucks, maybe a couple thousand instead of a year. And also maybe if you just like doing it, you don’t have to make profit on everything. You just do it for fun. Right. Kind of I like to call it a hobby for profits. Right. So, yeah, absolutely.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, cool. Cool. So we’ll definitely make some content guys about that in the future about how to do some of those things is super interesting. Barcus over here at Helium 10 has been doing a little side project where he bought this just $150, a $200 3D printer, and he found that he could make some stuff that people are crushing it on Amazon. So that’s like a whole separate topic. But then going back to Amazon, did you like early on set, like a profit goal for your Amazon and Etsy business that would have allowed you to quit your day job? Or was it just kind of like, let me just see when the feeling is right.
Andrew: I’m a big numbers guy. I love numbers. I have my engineering degree and I do lots and lots of spreadsheets and some people make fun of me for being like the spreadsheet guy. So I have lots of different numbers all over the place when it comes to that kind of stuff. And what ended up being, when I went full time on Amazon, which about three years ago, I didn’t really have, like, this is a number I must hit this number. I just kind of thought, if I can see growth trajectory, if I can see a path forward, then I can possibly make the shift onto a full-time entrepreneurship and actually, I started so, okay. So, these businesses, they can like make a profit, but not actually have any cash, Like, Oh, okay, great. Hey, according to the accountant, we made $50,000 or a hundred thousand dollars. That’s fantastic. However, I also have $50,000 in inventory and so the way the math, the account or not account. So don’t take my advice on any of this stuff, but the way by essentially, or $50,000 in inventory, and I made “$70,000” that year, the government wants $20,000 in cash for taxes, but I don’t have that much or maybe that might be all my cash. So that was the problem I had kind of for the first two or three years. And then finally I kind of built up enough cash reserves and stuff that I could both pay my taxes, give myself a small salary, grow the business and go full-time on it.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Cool. Cool. Now, what was the situation with– were you married at the time?
Andrew: Yeah, actually– it’s actually a really fun story. Okay. So what we– I was getting ready to kind of, I was thinking, okay. I think maybe I can go full time soon-ish and again, I had my engineering salary, so I kind of had to like at least match that before I could just kind of throw my engineering career away and not throw it away, but posit at least. Yeah. And, uh, my wife and I were talking about like, well, if I go full time with this and that, and we had just gotten married and she said, why don’t we do something big, crazy audacious before we have kids? And I said, well, like what? And she said, how about traveling for a while? And so we talked about it for a while and we kind of came up with the plan to travel for an entire year.
Bradley Sutton: So now this one year, I know obviously, some countries are 10 times as expensive as other countries, but what would you say the average was of what it costs you to, between the travel expenses, whether it be local or airplane, your meals, your Airbnbs or hostels or whatever, and transportation, all that stuff like per month that year, what was your budget, or how much did it cost you to live that lifestyle for them?
Andrew: Well, it’s surprising. It can be a lot cheaper than you expect. We ended up again with 32 countries, right? I mean, it isn’t really an expensive place to go to London and is a pretty expensive place. And I can tell you the entire year we spent $64,000 for two people, two adults, we had Airbnbs. We– that’s all of our airfare, food, entertainment, recreation, all that fun stuff.
Bradley Sutton: Now, did you have $64,000 cash saved up or were you also, throughout this time you were still getting your income from Amazon, and that was what was a big part of this.
Andrew: Exactly. We did have some good savings. So, we had kind of just a good emergency fund. Right. And we were just running the business. So we ran the business, a business cash flow and paid for our life. And we just, we pulled 4,000 a month out of the business to kind of do basic living expenses. And then we’d pull out another 5,000 here and there for little things, like when we spent a week on a yacht in Croatia where it’s like only a little bit extra for that week, you know?
Bradley Sutton: Okay. And how, at this point you had, like you said, you had support staff that was running parts of your Amazon business.
Andrew: Yes. Okay. That’s one thing all listeners should do. Just hire someone, start– even if you don’t really need that person to help you right now, first of all, you probably do need that person to help you. But second of all, just start hiring people and start like practicing, hiring and delegating and stuff. And we we have a full-time person in the Philippines. And then we have kind of two other support staff, people who work almost full-time for us. And then my wife and I, of course, we’re working on the business too. So we were, yeah.
Bradley Sutton: So how many hours a week on the– while you guys were on the road for this year, would you have to be dedicating to finding new products or checking in with your team and like that, how much time were you actually putting into your Amazon business while you’re there?
Andrew: We would kind of hold up for a little bit and say, we’d kind of sit in an Airbnb one that had a nice internet connection, and I would work 12 hours a day. During those for maybe three or four days in a row, and then we’d take four or five days off and maybe just check email, like once a day kind of thing. But we could go three, four days without checking emails or Slack or anything else like that. Cumulative though, I would say on average, I was working 25 to 30 hours a week and my wife was working maybe 10 to 15.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now, throughout this whole year, what was there any moment where you’re like, Oh my goodness, this is an emergency. I have to get back to the US. I mean, obviously you didn’t because like you just said, you were gone from July to July, but did you come close to like, Oh man, maybe we should go back.
Andrew: Well, you know, what’s funny. The big reason that– just to truncate the story, I didn’t talk about the tax advantages of living outside the United States. When we were talking about this long-term travel, we originally thought let’s do eight months. We’ll do a summer at San Diego. Right. Actually it was a nice, nice spot. Right. We’ll do summer in San Diego. We’ll travel for eight months. I don’t know where, but something somewhere. And then we’ll come back and have a nice summer in San Diego. So kind of summer, travel, summer. Right. And I started kind of like reading about how to do long-term travel. And I found this blog that said, Oh, Hey, if you are a US citizen and you have earned income or like a W2 income, you don’t have to pay income tax if you travel for 330 days. So 11 months outside the United States, no income tax. And I thought, Oh my God, okay. Okay. I told Alison, my wife, okay. We’re not doing eight months. We were doing 11 months and we are not coming back to the United States for 11 months straight.
Bradley Sutton: Interesting, interesting. And so how much would you say that saved you?
Andrew: Well, I can tell you because again, I’m a numbers guy, right? We spent, like I said, about $65,000, 64, $65,000 on the year abroad, and we saved $70,000 in taxes.
Bradley Sutton: Wow. It’s basically a free, almost a free vacation there.
Andrew: Oh, well, I have to say that we had a 100% savings rate that year because our tax bill paid for our entire trip abroad.
Bradley Sutton: That’s awesome. That’s awesome.
Bradley Sutton: All right, guys, quick break for this episode for the BTS, Bradley’s 30 seconds. Here’s my 30-second tip. It’s a feature that’s actually been out for a few months and I didn’t even realize it was there until a few weeks ago, but you know how on actual product pages, there’s a lot of obviously frequently bought together, but then there’s a lot of sponsored ads as well. Well, if you’d like to start keeping track of some of what the products that show up there and the sponsored ads and frequently bought together, or the frequently bought together, as you guys know, you can do that from black product targeting tab, but to get both the frequently bought together and sponsored ads right there at any given time, just go to that product page, hit the Chrome Extension from Helium 10 and then hit ASIN grabber. And that will grab all of the ASINs that are showing up there that are displaying right on that page. And you can actually download it into a CSV file.
Bradley Sutton: You’ve been talking about how you have a very analytical mind because of your engineering background. And it seems like you’re very particular when it comes to like taxes and how to calculate your profit and things like that. So, in what ways would you think that you might be more advanced or different thinking, like some of the advanced things that you think about and that you think have helped you because of the way you look from an analytical viewpoint, as opposed to the average seller out there who might not have an engineering background, it might, they might have some good strategy with keyword research and product research, but they might be leaving money on the table because they’re not like on your level of financial expertise, let’s say.
Andrew: Well, I do have an accountant. So again, I think you should hire for everything that people need. You need people around you that help you. So, if you’re not great, if you’re great, if you’re not good at books and taxes and stuff, hire an accountant. If you are great at books on taxes, it’s okay, you should still hire an accountant. Right. But in terms of things I do differently, I guess I do love numbers and I love Helium 10. Right. And I do keyword research. I think a lot of people kind of use these techniques, but I can definitely validate that they are, that these techniques work really well. So using Cerebro and doing the reverse ASIN search and kind of pulling when you’re looking at certain categories go into, pulling down all the keyword research and then doing a kind of an analysis of who, what were the top keywords for your competitors or potential competitors. And then, I like to use, like a relevancy rank thing. And so Helium 10 includes a little bit of it, but you can actually pull them to a spreadsheet and do a use like account ifs. I’m probably getting way too peaky right now, but you can use an account statement and figure out like how many of your competitors are ranking at certain levels. So I like to look at what the, how many competitors are ranking the top 10 on the first page, and then ranking at all for certain keywords. And that’s just really kind of that method that really lets you understand what kind of keywords people are using and how to go about how you can rank for those keywords as well.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. All right. We love this. That’s why we’re called serious sellers over here, we got to have some serious strategy here too. And we, if everybody already knows every single thing that the guests talk about, well then there’s no point for this because nobody’s learning anything, but we want to learn new strategies and things that can definitely help. So what are some other things? Can you talk a little bit about your keyword research there and what other things can help an Amazon seller’s bottom line, because it’s not like you’ve been selling on Amazon for six years and you clearly can see the difference of six years ago. Maybe you didn’t have tools, like Helium 10 back then. So some things were more difficult, but at the same time, you could like “luck into success” a lot easier back then just because it was like the wild wild West, but nowadays it’s not impossible to make profit every, I mean more people than ever are having success on Amazon, but you really have to have your ducks in a row. Your margin of error is a lot less. You have to work harder at times. So everybody wants little strategies here or there that that’s going to at the end of the day, make sure that, Hey, somebody is making a profit on Amazon. So what are some things that you can help out with other than that keyword research tip?
Andrew: I love product design. I love coming up with new things and yeah, I do have an engineering degree, but a lot of these basic concepts of design and building new things are pretty basic. You don’t need to have some fancy degree to do it. A big thing that I love is just going into Etsy and finding products that are selling well and doing well on Etsy. And you can generally kind of tell from rank and also reviews on those listings on Etsy to figure out what kind of what’s doing better than other stuff. And I use that stuff on Etsy to inspire me to make new products. And so I never wholesale just rip people off. Right. I look at a bunch of stuff. I like to say it’s kind of like if you read Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and what’s another sci-fi show, Isaac Asimov Sci-fi stories. Right. And you just like, okay, I’m going to read all these different fantasy books and then I’m going to write my own book. Right. You can still have orcs, you can still have magicians. Right. But you just write your own story. Right. So I have to think of the same thing with Etsy and Amazon. And you can look at certain things and get inspired and then come up with your own product. But I think you Bradley, right. That’s kind of how you guys did the coffin shelf, right?
Bradley Sutton: Yup. So Etsy, Pinterest, see what’s out there trending. So what, how do you determine, like whether you’re looking on Etsy or whether you’re looking on Amazon, there’s like a line that has to be drawn. Like if something is already obvious that it is trending and people like it. Well, okay. Now, you know there’s demand, like you said, you didn’t want to just do a hundred percent the same exact thing, but at the same time, where do you draw that line with? Okay, Hey, I’m differentiating this a little bit, but I’m not doing it so much so that now it’s kind of up in the air if people really want this product or not.
Andrew: Yeah. And that’s kind of the art part. I think of this and it’s not really much of a– there’s not really a science of like, well, this is exactly, it’s different enough, but not, but close enough. Right. That’s hard to measure. But, yeah, I think that’s definitely the art part. So what you generally, so I like to think so most people purchase through keyword search, right. I think there’s some stat of her 80% or something like that. People type into the search bar on Amazon and they buy that way. Right. And if they don’t technically do that method, they probably started with that method and then maybe clicked on the ad or something like that later. Right. So you want to kind of think about how are, what are people searching for? And then of course, the Helium 10 tools tell us what people are searching for, but then what’s the intent behind that search. So if they type in small dog carrier, well, is it a carrier for small dogs or is it a carrier itself small? Or is it a– what exactly is it that small right. And that case, of course it would be a carrier targeted dogs that are maybe 12 pounds. Right. And so you want to know what the intent of what people are searching for. So, when you go to Etsy and Amazon and look at these other products, especially when you’re kind of coming from off of Amazon, so Etsy, Pinterest, Wayfair, unique gifts.com, all these like really cool little niche websites, home depot.com. You can see those products that sell well, and you come back on to Amazon and look for search terms that have like that intent behind them.
Bradley Sutton: So how do you, like at the end of the day though, how do you know that? Or how do you have confidence that your research is what is happening?
Andrew: So, when you have these competitors are really close to your product and the keywords are there and you can kind of see like these 10 guys that are on that you pulled through Cerebro, maybe, some of them are ranked on page one, right. So there’s definitely some high relevancy there. And then you have to kind of look and see, okay, these keywords are ranking for these guys. Is it possible for me to rank also if I make this little tweak, if I changed the color, if I changed the size, if I change, whatever it is about it.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Okay. So we’ve talked so far a little bit about product research, know how to find ideas. We’re talking about product differentiation, that probably has to do with the stage of when you’re trying to develop your actual product before you actually make it. What about a launch? So what are some of your strategies that you think that you might be doing a little bit differently than others or that you really double down on and that you definitely feel as a part of or a big part of the reason for your success?
Andrew: Okay. So I would say there’s like the technical part and there’s kind of like the, you can build the business up and make launching easier, right? So I’ll do the kind of semi-technical part first. So I always look for search terms that are between 1000 searches a month and 10,000 searches a month. And are highly relevant and highly relevant to me means that when you search for them only are direct competitors on the first page. So if you did like kitchenware, well, that’s not going to be highly relevant because kitchenware means a lot of things. It means blenders and it means spatulas. It means microwaves, who knows. Right. But if you type in red garlic press, I guarantee you that’s likely going to only be garlic presses and probably 90% of them are going to be red when you do that. Right. So that’s a highly relevant keyword. So I look for those highly relevant keywords and there, and I look for ones that have search volume of 1000 to 10,000 searches a month. If you’re using search frequency rank, which is the brain analytics thing, that is never written down, I think it’s a 15,000 to 200,000 search for agency rank. So if you want to– Helium 10 does that for you, if you want to look up on brand analytics yourself, you can do that. And then we do a combination. We do a combination of PPC launch and also rebate launch and the rebates.
Bradley Sutton: What about that first part there that you said that PPC launch? So like when you, when you have something that’s a launch optimized campaign for PPC, what does that mean? Does that mean like you’re bidding really high and have a high budget because you just want to show up and as many situations as possible for that keyword at the very top, or what is your PPC launch strategy like?
Andrew: We pick 30 to 50 highly relevant keywords or medium high. Because sometimes it’s hard to find like highly, highly relevant keywords, so medium high, 30 to 50. And we bid aggressively, but not insanely aggressive. We’re not doing like $5 clicks. We’re doing maybe a dollar 50, $2 clicks or that’s what our bid is sent to. Right. And we usually have ACoS like over a hundred percent our first week. So, pretty bad ACoS, but that’s because we’re buying data from Amazon, right. We are– after a few days we start cutting some of the keywords that are doing really, really poorly or just bidding down lower on them. And then we’re just trying to get as many sales as possible. And I’m not looking to make a huge profit on PPC. If I’m looking to lose my on PPC, I just want impressions. I want purchases. I don’t really care so much about how much it costs, the first few weeks and we just want to get there. And what we’re focusing on is getting impressions, getting sessions and getting rank for certain keywords.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. And then what’s your rebate strategy? Like, is it always simultaneous that you’re doing some search find buys on those same exact keywords that you’re targeting, so you can kind of just, yeah, have purchases coming from multiple different locations or do you isolate? It’s like, Hey, I have this set of keywords and I’m doing a PPC launch and this other set of keywords I’m doing rebates.
Andrew: Yeah. Well, that’s one thing we cheat a little bit, um, cheat in a good way. We have a pretty decent Instagram following, 6,000 people and they seem to be fairly passionate about what they produce and we reached out to kind of small influencers and have them help with launches. And we have of course our own audience. And we have a couple of thousand people on email and a couple of thousand people on ManyChat. So we have a cumulative audience of like a direct market audience of like 15,000 people. So when we come out with new stuff, we actually ask them beforehand, that’s one thing we do one way to do product research. If we just ask the audience, what do you want? What colors, what new thing do you want? Right. And let us make– let us produce that and make it better and make it the best impossible to deliver to you guys, our audience. And so we already kind of engage these people and ask them what kind of stuff they want. And then when they say, Oh, I want the red one. Oh, I want the big one. Oh, I want the, whatever, the small one, whatever. Right. We tag them and say, then four or five months later, when we come out with that product, we’ll say, Hey, do you remember back when you said you wanted the red one? Guess what? We have the red one now.
Bradley Sutton: What about maintenance mode for PPC? All right. Launch stage is over, you’re on page one. For most of those keywords you wanted, and you got some organic sales coming in. How do you change your PPC campaigns to kind of be in the evergreen mode as it were?
Andrew: Yeah, so we set our PPC to our profit margin. So let’s just say it’s 35% to make the math easy. Right. So, 35% profit margin, and that’s what we set our ACoS to. We have three rules that we want to get to first, let me talk about how we go from launch to maintenance. So generally our ACoS is terrible the first week, and then the second week, it’s still pretty bad. And then we go into, we try to get our launch done and kind of ranking and doing well inside of a month. And then on that like kind of week four week five, we start trying to get into maintenance mode as you call it. Right. And we definitely want to hit our numbers around week eight is kind of like that we should have been properly launched and we should start like actually turning a profit now around that like week, six week, eight time, and that– so to get there, when we get there, then we have three rules that we’ll use for PPC. And those three rules are ACoS at the profit margin. So in this case, we’ll just say 10%, I’m sorry, 35%, 35%. Second rule is TACoS or Total Ad Spend is 10%. And the third rule is we want one third of our sales coming from advertising, and two thirds coming from organic rank.
Bradley Sutton: All right, guys, that sound means it’s time for our CAT, our CAT of the episode, which stands for Clubhouse After party Tip. Once a week, we go live on the clubhouse app and we bring back former Serious Sellers Podcast guests to take live questions from you, and they give you their best tip out there. So every episode we’re going to be giving you guys clips from these episodes that we’ve been doing on Clubhouse, so that you can get some great strategies from our former guests. Now, if you guys have that clubhouse app, make sure to search for the Club Serious Sellers Podcasts, and follow it so that you can be notified when we go live. And you can also follow me on their h10 Bradley this clip. We had actually two guests, Leo and Paul in the clubhouse, and people asked them questions about chatbot marketing and Facebook marketing. And so here’s a clip. If you want to listen to the original episodes, Leo is 2:30 and Paul is 2:17.
New Speaker: We are running group-based campaigns on ManyChat. And we are doing the whole search by myself. Somehow exclude those people that are basically looking for only the freebies. So they have this very low quality customer, or basically on Amazon, because if they leave a review, Amazon might suspect it if you do too many rebates or something like that, so can be exclude somehow those people by some sort of specific targeting, maybe.
Paul: I’m going to pitch convo here. So Leo doesn’t have to, I just started using it, actually connected with Leo because of clubhouse Bradley, because we did an elite training, and I started using compliment. So this is my own opinion. I’m not getting paid anything at all. I love it. It’s a really good tool. He has a blacklist of about 1.3 million people, 1.5, something like that of people that are known giveaway seekers or rebate scammers. So that’s one method. The other way that you can do is you can have negative match audience and build your own blacklists as well. So negative match audience. You could have anything that has to do with giveaways or freebies, you can exclude from targeting on Facebook and really the best way to target people is from lookalike lists or previous customers that have already purchased. And so this is why I personally am not the biggest fan of rebates because it dirties my list. I don’t want to advertise to people that have gotten something for free. I want to make sure that I always exclude those. And so it’s not that they’re not good. You just need to make sure that when you’re selling products, you take that into consideration that if you’re building a lookalike from past purchasers, that purchase matters, whether or not they got a rebate really, really matters. And so that’s the best way that you can avoid this, but I’ll kick it over to Leo. I’m sure you can speak more to this than I already have.
Leo: Thanks, Paul. I appreciate the feedback and kind words, but this is one of my favorite topics, probably the Amazon industry. I spent a lot of time trying to build that black list, as well as identify perfect, the almost perfect strategy to eliminate this much known reviewers, scammers, bad actors, I think that’s probably one of the most important pieces of this puzzle that you should be focusing on.
Bradley Sutton: Almost everything you said there, we can do it using the ads tool in Helium 10. And I just, I’m like a newbie when it comes to PPC, only since ADS came out. And I was like, I never wanted to deal with that stuff, but because of all these, and probably somebody out there might listen. I was like, what in the world of TACoS, we know what’s going on here, but guys, it’s a lot to do, but don’t let it overwhelm you. These are very important aspects of your Amazon business and Helium 10 obviously can help a little bit with that. But even if you don’t have Helium 10, don’t just say, Oh, Nope, I’m not going to worry about this knowing I understand why TACoS is important and why it’s important to keep your ACoS at certain levels like Andrew was talking about. All right, what else do you know, we’ve hit I would say the major aspects of the Amazon journey, but before we get into our 30-second tip, or what’s maybe one more thing of any one of these aspects that you think that you’re doing differently than then the majority of people out there. And again, it is just part of the reason for your success, not just for multiple seven figures, but the kind of success that allows a couple to just take off and travel the world because their Amazon business is so good.
Andrew: I think it’s in terms of traveling and taking off and making sure this business doesn’t turn into a monster of a job, it turns into something fun and enlightening is having a team. I think having people there to help you and having hiring people who are both assistants who need training, but also people who are smarter than you and having them help you with things. So we have our full-time assistant in the Philippines who does most of the work for us, and we have a graphics guy who’s fantastic. He’s also Philippines-based and another Philippines-based guy who is our PPC guy. And we just track everything based on like scorecards and metrics, just so we can kind of manage the team with that. Right. And like I said, I’m a numbers guy. So I like seeing scorecards. Now, all of a sudden, these are humans we’re working with. So there’s lots of nuances there too, but we just like to make sure we hit our certain metrics and hit our certain scores on kind of a weekly basis. And so, to have a scalable business, you need to have people help you.
Bradley Sutton: All right. Now, you’ve been selling a product for almost six years, and I’m sure you have tons more products. You’ve been building out on this brand. Now all the rage these days, the last couple of years is like, Hey, sell your company for a huge payday and either live off the earnings that you get from it, or start all over again. Like, is that something that’s crossed your mind at all to actually have an exit from your brand?
Andrew: We are right in the middle of an exit right now.
Bradley Sutton: So I got good timing, but like, isn’t it true though? That like years ago you never heard, I mean, I’m sure of course people were, it was still happening, but like, you never heard of it at the level that we’re hearing now where it’s so mainstream to think about, Hey, you know what, maybe I could sell my business to an aggregator or something.
Andrew: Well, and I’ll tell you what exactly you’re right. And I was, we kind of, we talked about selling our business before, but like three years ago it was, they were trading at like two and a half X annual profit. And I thought two and a half X, I could just let it ride in the background and work 15 hours a week and just let it go. And then I’ll still have my business in two and a half years. Right. So I kind of thought that was a weird number, but now the multiples creeped up to three and a half, 4X, which again, you can still make the same argument. Oh, 4X, why not just let it sit in the background, but there’s like all these other things too that go into selling, for us, we have a little bit of a, like a cash pile, just kind of running a rainy day fund. And we don’t need that anymore if we sell the business. Also, they give us a check for our inventory, like on day one. And I’m like, Oh, Hey, like we can get these like this nice inventory check. And then, they also that 4X multiple, that’s not on your actual profit, that’s on your taxable profit. That’s on what they call the seller’s discretionary earnings.
Bradley Sutton: Have you looked ahead after this, as long as it, everything goes through and everything’s good. Are you going to take another year long trip out there or are you going to start again on building a new brand or what’s next for your business?
Andrew: Well, we have a little baby. She’s 11 months old right now. So, she makes it a little bit more difficult to travel around the world, so we’re probably anchored in San Diego for quite a while. And then we’ll deal with all the travel, but just a little harder with a baby, right? Yeah, no, actually we started up, we started up another brand last year, kind of the middle of 2020. And that brand, we’ve gotten that up to the point where we are, I guess, mid six figures or whatever. I don’t know, whatever it is per month. And, sorry, mid six figures annual, not monthly on that project. And that one is at the point where it can pay for our very basic minimal lifestyle expenses. And then we’ll just, when we sell a business or our bigger brand, we’ll just bank all that money and just put it in boring things like stock, index funds, real estate and other kinds of boring things like that.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Cool. All right. Well, you’ve been giving us tips and strategies throughout this whole episode, but we have something on the show we call the TST, or the T S T, 30-second tip. So what’s something you haven’t mentioned yet. You can say maybe 30 seconds or less, highly actionable, pretty unique, very valuable for our listeners out there.
Andrew: I have a good one for you. If you have any following at all, any audience, any social media, anything, especially Instagram. We do those on Instagram. We set up a poll on Instagram. It’s like, when the story is you do a poll and you just say, Hey, have you bought one of our products before? Yes or no? That’s it. Set that up, let it run for 24 hours or whatever, however long they run for. And then look at the number of people or look at all the people who have said yes to that poll. And maybe it’s one, maybe it’s 20, maybe it’s 200, whatever it is, right. Go and send them a DM, a direct message and ask them for an honest review. Okay. That is within terms of surface, because these are– you’re not incentivizing. You’re not stealing. You’re not whatever, right. You’re talking to your real audience who bought your real product. And you’re asking them for an honest review, we do this. And that adds another 20, 30 reviews every three months or so when we do this. So it’s a quick, easy, honest way. And they’re falling on Instagram. They’re probably a fan of yours. You’re probably going to get a five star, right. So it’s really easy for anybody who has an audience to do that.
Bradley Sutton: Awesome. Awesome. So thank you so much. Now I love to reach out to you maybe in a year or so to see how this exit went and how your new business is growing. And maybe your kid will be a little bit older, so you can start traveling again. That would be crazy. My kids are all older, ready. Like I couldn’t imagine having to be restricted down here. The last, like the last year we have because of COVID. But anyways, we’ll love to see you again, hopefully soon at one of these upcoming meetups. If somebody wants to reach out to you or about these meetups or just anything in general to get, to pick your brain about something, how can they find you on the interwebs out there?
Andrew: I’m all over social media. So my Instagram is @theandrewerickson. If you want to see lots of pictures of my baby, that’s a good place to find those on Facebook. And then my email is email@example.com. And you can send me an email. I’m happy to chat with anybody who wants to chat with me. Oh. And also I tell you, I also have a podcast.
Bradley Sutton: Oh, yeah. How can they find that?
Andrew: So, it’s funny Bradley. So we,there was this big poll that happened, Dan McMillan, who has a serious, sorry, the Seller Sessions Podcast. He had a poll for an award for the best podcast. And of course, Serious Sellers won number one. And the Amazon Conversations Podcasts, the Zon Con Podcast is mine. We won number two. So we like to say we’re number two, we’re number two. So Bradley, you were number one, we’re number two, I guess, according to–
Bradley Sutton: Well, hopefully they got your spelling right? Two years in a row, we got that on the plaque. It says Serious Seller Podcasts, but it’s Serious Sellers without an S it’s like, come on guys, get it right.
Andrew: There’s more than one of us. Come on.
Bradley Sutton: There we go. Yeah. All right. Well, thanks. Thanks for coming on the show. And like I said, we’ll definitely like to get an update on what’s going on in your life, maybe next year, or thereafter and wish you the best of success.
Andrew: How cool is that?
Bradley Sutton: Pretty cool, I think.
Andrew: Thanks, Bradley.
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