#175 – How a Former Paratrooper Went From 0-100K a Month Selling on Amazon
The Amazon selling space is so large that it seems there’s room for almost everyone. E-commerce business professionals transitioning from brick and mortar, people using it as a high-powered side hustle, entrepreneurial moms, and young Lamborghini-flashing influencers.
But, there’s one type of seller that always seems to stand out. For me at least, that’s an everyday, hard-working person who’s surprised themselves with their rapid success. These are the sellers that haven’t spent time in our finer universities or grown up in families that encouraged entrepreneurship at a young age.
They just work hard, pay attention, and crush it.
Today on the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Chief Brand Evangelist, Bradley Sutton welcomes Ronald Bell, who’s just that kind of seller. Listen in and you’ll hear an entire episode full of tips and strategies that sound like they come from a guy who should be giving e-commerce classes, not taking them.
- 02:00 – Starting with a Construction Company
- 03:30 – Scaling Up Quickly on Amazon
- 05:40 – How Did He find His First Product?
- 07:45 – What Were His Most Important Metrics?
- 09:30 – Slowly Building His Base with PPC
- 11:00 – Putting Customer Reviews to Work
- 14:00 – What’s Ronald’s PPC Budget?
- 16:00 – Making the PPC Work for You
- 18:45 – A $5000 Line of Credit Started Everything
- 20:35 – Beginning a Selling Season with “History”
- 22:45 – 100K Per Month Selling Part-Time on Amazon
- 26:45 – In His Projected Future, Three Million a Year and Volunteering
- 29:00 – “Special Ninja Tactics?” No, I Use Helium 10
- 32:00 – 3D Rendered Photos Make a Difference
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 Play 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: Do you think you need to be some e-commerce superstar to have success selling on Amazon? Nope. Today we’re going to talk to somebody that I’m sure a lot of you out there can relate to who had zero background in e-commerce. However, after less than a year selling on Amazon, he’s already grossing a hundred thousand dollars a month all while doing Amazon part time while he still has a day job. 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 e-commerce world. We’ve got a serious seller here on the line. I’ve never had on the show before, Ron. Ron, how’s it going?
Ronald Bell: Good. Excellent. Nice to be here.
Bradley Sutton: All right. Well, Ron, you were just telling me you’re actually in Virginia, right?
Ronald Bell: Yup. I was born in Minneapolis, raised there, joined the military and then started traveling and just never stopped.
Bradley Sutton: I like it. I like it. So growing up in Minnesota, what was your eight, nine, 10, 11 years old– What was your career goal at that time? You wanted to be a hockey player or?
Ronald Bell: No, my dad was owned a construction company. So my goal was to go into the construction company with him, kind of the family business thing, which I did for a long time. But then, moved on to bigger and better things.
Bradley Sutton: So then at what point did you join the military then? Was that out of high school or after the construction company or before that?
Ronald Bell: So I did the construction company for about three years, decided I wanted to go to college. My dad was like, the construction company is not good enough for you, then you need to do it on your own. And so I went into the military for the GI bill, did that for about six years, got out and went to college for three years.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. And so what was your major there?
Ronald Bell: Electrical engineering.
Bradley Sutton: Electrical engineering.
Ronald Bell: Yep. I field were I’ve never actually held a job.
Bradley Sutton: That’s pretty much the story I hear from a lot of people. Now graduating from there or finishing your curriculum, I guess. At that point, what field of work did you get into obviously not electrical engineering, as you said.
Ronald Bell: Yeah. I actually opened up my own construction company down in Texas, which is where I was stationed for a long time, got married down there, opened up a construction company cause we started having kids needed to make good money right away. And that was a field that I knew really well. So went into that.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Okay. I’m sure you did various things over the years now. You started in e-commerce with Amazon. If I’m not mistaken, that was just last year, right?
Ronald Bell: Correct. Listed my first– I started looking into it about May of last year, listed my first product in October of last year.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. How does somebody go from studying electrical engineering to having a construction business to, Hey, I think I want to sell on Amazon. Take me through that segue there. How did that transition happen?
Ronald Bell: So the construction company went really well at one point, when I was in the military, I was airborne paratrooper. When I was doing the construction company, I was making really good money. I kind of picked up skydiving as a hobby, ended up turning that into career. That’s what I’ve done for the last 20 years in skydiving. You kind of have a shelf life. Your body can only handle that kind of abuse for so long. So I was looking in 10 years when I turned 60, when am I going to be doing? And so I started looking for something that would allow me to travel work remotely. And I came across Amazon FBA and I was like, Hey, this looks like something I could do. And it took me about five, six months to get something listed on Amazon and been doing really well with it since then.
Bradley Sutton: So how did– what was your learning experience like how did you learn Amazon?
Ronald Bell: I’d started a school, an Amazon school, Nine University, if you’ve heard of it. Learned through them.
Bradley Sutton: Alright. And so then you took that course and then when exactly did you order your first product?
Ronald Bell: So I ordered it, I don’t know, two months before October, so right around this time, last year. And then I finally got it listed beginning of October of last year.
Bradley Sutton: How did you find that product? What was your product research strategy?
Ronald Bell: So it was school teachers and different stuff. really kind of used Helium 10 the most, the Black Box. The criteria that I was looking for was a product that was selling at least a million dollars a month. I wanted something–
Bradley Sutton: You were looking for a product that’s sold a million dollars a month?
Ronald Bell: Well, the category does.
Bradley Sutton: Oh, okay. I was about to say, good grief. When you were in the air force, was that a branch of service because isn’t there a model aim high or something?
Ronald Bell: It is, but I was in the army. Now I was looking for a category that did at least a million dollars a month. And then I was looking for something that had typically low reviews. You’ve got one or two sellers in the category that it’s got a thousand reviews, that’s okay. You just don’t want everyone on the first page to have a thousand reviews, that’s too much competition to go up against.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So you found the product– just really quick, fast forward. Are you still selling that very first product that you launched last year?
Ronald Bell: I am.
Bradley Sutton: That’s great. A lot of people will fail on their first product and they have to give it up. That sounds like you did well on the first one. So, you order the product, I’m assuming from China?
Ronald Bell: Yup.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Ordered the product from China. How did you find that product? Did you use Alibaba? Did you get a sourcing agent?
Ronald Bell: Alibaba. I didn’t want a middleman. There were a bunch of people that I could have used with middleman, but that’s slicing into your profit. I decided to try and find my own supplier. Maybe I fall on my face and decide to use somebody that knows what they’re doing. But like I said, I got lucky on a couple of steps and finding a great supplier. That’s worked with me. They sent me a Christmas gift. It’s crazy. We’ve got a really good relationship.
Bradley Sutton: Let’s walk through that process because you know, a lot of new sellers out there, that might be kind of a they might have some trepidation, oops, fancy vocabulary I’m using here. They might be a little bit nervous. Let’s just say about getting started like, Hey, I don’t– I’m not in China. How do I know Alibaba’s a reputable website, but like, how do I know that these people aren’t take my money? So what was your process, Did you find multiple factories and then you got a lot of different quotes. Walk us through it.
Ronald Bell: I did. I started with contacting about 20. And that’s going to get cut in half really quick people who don’t get back to you, people who don’t understand the questions, and there’s some kind of language barrier. And you just can’t communicate with them to get the answers that you’re looking for. So that narrows it down to 10. And then that narrows down to five fairly quickly, for some other reasons, when you communicate back and forth, like the cost of the product, you just can’t get it down to get the ROI that you’re looking for or something like that.
Bradley Sutton: What ROI were you looking for?
Ronald Bell: I was looking for anything over 200% getting it to happen.
Bradley Sutton: Oh, wow. There you go with that aim high again. My goodness.
Ronald Bell: I actually ended up with 238. So even after PPC, I was still getting a 200 ROI.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So you found this category, you’re like, Hey, there’s some, what made you choose it? Obviously, you said, there’s a million dollars in the category, maybe a couple of people who did, only a couple of people had some decent reviews, but what other factors were you looking at? Was there just not that many competitors where the existing competitors may be you could tell they weren’t very professional or–?
Ronald Bell: So that was something that I looked at was the listings on the page, looking at the quality of the competition. There were several big sellers in the category. Most of them had fairly good pages and you could look at the reviews, you could do a little background search on Helium 10 and realize that there were a lot of people in the market that weren’t very good and weren’t doing a very good job at it, meaning they weren’t getting very many sales, their listings weren’t very good. These were people that I knew that I could go into the market and I could compete. And that would get me onto the first page easy. Now getting into the top 10 was going to be a little bit more of a struggle, a little bit higher advertising campaign, that kind of stuff, to get the revenue or to get the clicks, get the sales, get you posted on the top 10. But you look at a bunch of little stuff just to see how that market is and who you’re going in to compete against for sure.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now you talk about getting to page one. So what was your strategy when you first launched your product last year? What was your launch strategy? Where you only doing PPC? Did you run any off Amazon traffic or what do you do?
Ronald Bell: No, and I still haven’t run out off-Amazon traffic. I kind of like to do one thing at a time and master one thing at a time right now, I’m to the point where I’ve got the one product, I’ve got three variations I’m doing really well. My supply chain is functioning like a machine. It’s time to start adding new products. I’m looking for more products in the same category to kind of build my base.
Bradley Sutton: Did you launch with all three variations or you launched just with one and then added these other two?
Ronald Bell: I launched with one. I wanted to see if it was a viable product first, then I added a second variation that slowly picked up in sales. I added a third variation in April of this year.
Bradley Sutton: Going back to our initial product, it wasn’t off Amazon traffic. I’m sorry if I missed it, but what was it just PPC that got you to page one or–?
Ronald Bell: Just PPC.
Bradley Sutton: What was your PPC strategy?
Ronald Bell: Just hit it hard.
Bradley Sutton: Like high bids or something?
Ronald Bell: In the beginning, everybody wants to try and get, at least most people I talked to say you want to shoot for 30% ACOS. And I was actually shooting a 60% ACOS. And the reason for that was that’s my break even. If I have a 60 ACOS, I’m not making any money, but I’m not losing any money either. All I’m trying to do is get as many impressions as I could get as many sales as I could and build. And once I got into the top 10, then I backed it off and I run right around between 25 and 30 on the ACOS, which is only about a quarter of my sales, 75% of my sales now, because I’m in the top 10– is organic.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now, did you do anything in that first month or so to get those initial reviews such as you use the early reviewer programmer or just send them follow-up emails?
Ronald Bell: I use the early review program to get my first five. And then after that, I used the email that I just switched over recently to Helium 10, but I was using another program for the feedback and yeah, trying to get reviews that way.
Bradley Sutton: Did you notice that sales picked up or maybe even ACOS went down? Once you hit any certain number with your reviews, did it get better? Did it help your sale?
Ronald Bell: Once I got to about a hundred reviews, it started to make a big difference. I’ve got almost 600 reviews now and it’s just every day I log on, I got more reviews. It’s just crazy how quickly it builds.
Bradley Sutton: You’ve got this one product with three variations. What have been the most you’ve grossed a in a month for these products?
Ronald Bell: A hundred thousand dollars.
Bradley Sutton: A hundred thousand dollars on three. Is there one, is it your initial product that’s like dominating most of the sales?
Ronald Bell: Absolutely. It’s probably about 60% of my sales. 20% comes from– or 40% comes from my other two variations. And it’s kind of split, 20, 20.
Bradley Sutton: How long did it take to get to that hundred thousand dollar monthly mark? Do you remember what your first month sales were?
Ronald Bell: My first month– October was almost nothing and it was only a couple of weeks. November. I did $2,500 in sales and I was like, okay, it’s doing something, this is interesting. Maybe I can go somewhere in November. In December, I did 12,500 in sales and I was like, okay, it’s Christmas, that kind of thing. Let’s see what January does. I did 12,500 in January and sold out a product. From then on until April, it was a fight to keep product in because it would sell out so fast. I was ordering half my shipment by air, half my shipment by sea, just so I could keep product in because as soon as it would hit it with sale, April was the first month that I had product all the way through the month. And I had a a hundred thousand dollars in sales.
Bradley Sutton: Wow. So, when you would go out of stock and then you came back in stock, did you do have to do anything to like, get those sales going again? Or you had kept your keyword ranking even though you were out of stock?
Ronald Bell: So I slipped a little bit of keyword ranking, but I was impressed at how quickly it came right back. As soon as I started making sales, it came right back. So typically I would hit it hard with the 60 ACOS or shoot for the 60 ACOS on my PPC campaign. But within a week, I’d have to dial it back because I was right back to where I was.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now, obviously, last year we didn’t have the ads available to everybody, so I’m sure you’re not using, you might not need to be using it now. So what was your PPC strategy as far as how many campaigns per product, did you just do the keyword targeting? Did you do exact campaigns? Did you broad campaigns that you do a product targeting. What kind of campaigns did you do?
Ronald Bell: I started with an automatic campaign. And then I adjust the numbers on that and move everything into, once I find out what’s performing into a manual campaign and do– where you lock the bid at a certain price. And I usually lock it in like 10 to 15 cents above what they suggest.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. And what’s your budget like? What kind of a daily budgets do you have overall in your campaigns?
Ronald Bell: Right now I’m doing $600 a day.
Bradley Sutton: $600 a day. Okay.
Ronald Bell: Yeah. And that’s the weekends. That’s the weekends like Saturday and Sunday when I get the most impressions, most clicks. During the week I’m averaging about 150 to 200.
Bradley Sutton: Let me ask you this. And I almost hope the answer is no, because now I’m going to be able to teach. I mean, you’re teaching me some stuff here and everybody else with your story, but, how are you paying for your PPC campaigns? Are you just having them take it out of what you get from Amazon?
Ronald Bell: Yep. Yep.
Bradley Sutton: Ah, good. I can teach you something. All right. What you need to do is you need to get a credit card that either gives you cash back, or that gives you tons of miles, like the chase Sapphire card or the Hilton honors special card, or one of these cashback things that give you 1.5 or 2% cash back because you can switch it to there. I mean, six hundred dollars a day. Let me just pull out my calculator here.
Ronald Bell: That’s 60, $120 thousand dollars.
Bradley Sutton: 18 thousand? A month. Am I completely off? I’m just trying to do it on my head. That’s like $18,000 a month. Right? Imagine, you wouldn’t even, you would never have to pay for a flight again, if you’re getting 18,000,
Ronald Bell: This is awesome. I love this idea. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.
Bradley Sutton: I hope everybody learned that, guys, if you get up to that level where you’re paying any amount, if you’re just having it deducted from your disbursements, it’s not doing anybody any good. Yeah, you’re paying it, but pay with a credit card gets some points because it’s not like you need– you’re going to pay interest because you just have to pay credit cards off. Every month right away, but make that PPC work for you, especially when you get to that amount. Alright, cool.
Ronald Bell: Yeah, I do that. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this, but I do that with all the product that I order from China. I put it on a credit card and then boom.
Bradley Sutton: Hold on, hold on, hold on. How are you paying with a credit card, your product from China?
Ronald Bell: Through Alibaba.
Bradley Sutton: Ah, see, I haven’t, I don’t use Alibaba. I didn’t know you could. So is that using the trade assurance?
Ronald Bell: Yeah. Using their trade assurance. And actually I’m probably going to move off of that because they charge a certain percentage for every. Everybody will told me that’s the only way to do it when you’re working with a supplier that you don’t know. And it makes sense. If you have a problem with the trade assurance, you can go back, you can get your money back, that kind of stuff. Now I’ve got such a good reputation with them. We communicate through, we chat all the time. Now I don’t communicate with Alibaba as much anymore.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah, you’re probably losing a lot of money there, but if your profit margins are high and you really like points, you could do that. But yeah, I would suggest not only moving to cash or wires, but even all the Helium 10 Alta, I’m sure you’ve heard of that. If you pay you, you can offer them to pay in the Chinese currency and possibly even save more. So by paying with your credit card, you’re probably paying at least 2, 3% above it. And then by paying in dollars with your credit card, they’re probably charging another two or 3%. So you could potentially save five, 6% or more by switching to Alta. So if you haven’t started your Alta account, just go to growwithalta.com and I’m talking to you, Ron, and everybody else listening, but guys growwithalta.com. It’ll allow you to get your disbursements to your Alta account. And then you can actually, without getting charged ridiculous exchange rates that most people are doing, you can pay in the Chinese currency. And they like that a lot more because even though they don’t tell you, suppliers are giving you a little surcharge when you pay them in dollars.
Ronald Bell: Alright, I’m going to look into that. That sounds awesome.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Now let’s talk a little bit more about what catapulted you from that 12,500 and all of a sudden, within just a couple months you were at a hundred K, did something happen to your competitors? Was it only the fact that you hit a hundred reviews or what changed or was it COVID? I mean, what changed that allowed you to scale so fast?
Ronald Bell: Nothing specifically that I did. I just could not keep product in fast enough. I think it was– it would have been supported earlier if had, I’ve been able to keep the product in stock. It wasn’t until April because I started this whole business with a $5,000 line of credit. So this is what I’m going to spend on this business. It’s either going to start making money and I’m going to reinvest because everything I’ve made up until now, I’ve reinvested back into the business right now. And I was just looking at these numbers before we got on. Right now, I have enough inventory last week through the end of the year. It’s all paid for. It’s either in Amazon on the way to Amazon or in manufacturing now. But it’s all paid for– if I did nothing between now and the end of the year, I would grow 200,000 for the year.
Bradley Sutton: Hmm. Okay. So I take it by what you just said, that you pretty much send everything to Amazon, as opposed to like using your local warehouse or something. Everything goes directly from the supplier to Amazon?
Ronald Bell: Correct. There was one time because of COVID that I had product that was being, that was ready to ship out with no place to go because Amazon wasn’t taking it so that I had to ship to my house, start my garage for three weeks. And then as soon as Amazon opened back up, I had product in there within three days, which was the month of April.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. What’s your gross profit margins now that everything’s kind of– you’re not in launch and it’s kind of like a clock here.
Ronald Bell: About 50% is depends on how hard I’m hitting PPC and stuff.
Bradley Sutton: So then what’s your retail price for your product?
Ronald Bell: 25, 24.99.
Bradley Sutton: Did you target that? Were you looking for a product around that price range?
Ronald Bell: Yeah, I was looking for anything between 20, 15 and $35.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. And then you said you started with $5,000 total?
Ronald Bell: Yep.
Bradley Sutton: All right. So that $5,000 was enough for your initial order, getting it to Amazon and getting those initial PPC and things growing.
Ronald Bell: Yep, exactly.
Bradley Sutton: And then now you’re doing almost a hundred K per month. You planning to do anything differently. This is going to be kind of like your second Q4, but obviously things this year are completely different than last year. What are your plans or what are you doing differently? If anything, other than just stocking up on the inventory, like it sounds like you’re doing.
Ronald Bell: Not really doing anything differently. I’m going to see how this season goes. This would be my first season where I have history. Last year it was, I didn’t know what I was doing. I feel like this year, I know what I’m doing a little bit more.
Bradley Sutton: Now in your niche, are you the number one seller now, or top five? Or what would you say?
Ronald Bell: In the niche I track, what is it? 50 keywords and at least 40 of them, I’m in the top four.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. What about sales? Are you using Market Tracker by Helium 10? You got to use that. So, open up Market Tracker. You’re going to put in what you think are the five top money-making keywords for your niche. If you were selling collagen peptides, it’d probably be collagen powder, collagen peptides, hydrolyzed collagen peptides, like whatever the top. I mean, you probably know what your top five money making keywords are, and then you add your product and then all your top competitors, especially the ones that you’re tracking, right. Not in keyword tracker, this is Market Tracker.
Ronald Bell: Because in Keyword Tracker, you can add five of your competitors. I use that a lot.
Bradley Sutton: Yes. Because that’s important. That’s something that a lot of other sellers don’t do is of course they’re worried about their own ranking and that’s fine, but sometimes it’s even more important is your relative rank compared to your competitor. So, Keyword Tracker, you’re on the right track. But if you’re not using Market Tracker yet, you absolutely need to start because you want to know how you’re stacking up as far as sales go. Regardless of the keyword, just overall, what are your sales compared to who you view as your top competitors. And you’re going to get a heads up if there’s like new movers and shakers that are launching and making big waves, you can kind of do some defensive posturing as it were a little bit ahead of time when you notice somebody coming on, like, has that happened? Obviously you haven’t been using Market Tracker, but have you noticed like new players come into your market and maybe try and take some market shares?
Ronald Bell: So there are, I’m one of the top sellers on my reviews are up to 600. And growing rapidly, in April I was just over a hundred. There are a couple of people that have branded recently, and I see making moves in the market, but I didn’t know. I don’t know anything about Market Tracker. So I’m going to have to dig into that.
Bradley Sutton: Yup, absolutely. Absolutely. Now you say you’ve been just reinvesting now, even with 50% profit margins. I mean, that’s a lot of money. I mean, if you’re making 50 or if you’re grossing 50 grand, a hundred grand a month, it’s still a hundred percent has just gone back into the business. You’re not taking any money out for yourself?
Ronald Bell: It’s crazy. I haven’t really taken much money out for myself. Just recently. I bought a new car and put money down on a house, but that’s about 40,000.
Bradley Sutton: What kind of car?
Ronald Bell: I just I’ve actually bought my girlfriend a new car. And it’s the Volkswagen Jetta.
Bradley Sutton: Did you making payments or did you pay cash?
Ronald Bell: Oh, I pay cash for it.
Bradley Sutton: See, could you have done that a year ago?
Ronald Bell: I couldn’t have done that.
Bradley Sutton: I love it. I mean, you only had $5,000, you said, I think, right. Just to be able to–
Ronald Bell: Yeah. Allocated for this business. It was actually, it started as a part time thing. I was expecting this to take 10 years to grow into something that I could use as retirement kind of income. I did not expect to be doing a hundred thousand dollars a month by April.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. Now during this time, if you’re not, I mean, it sounds like you’re just using it for car and then the down payment on the house, but not for like daily use. What’s your regular income then? Or if do you still have any income?
Ronald Bell: I work for a nonprofit.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Okay. So you still have. I’m just trying to paint the picture here for people who might relate to you is like, all right, if you have another steady income, you can keep that going. And then keep reinvesting. Now, is there a point where you have kind of mapped out where you’re like, Hey, if I start hitting this figure, I’m just going to quit the day job and just focus on Amazon.
Ronald Bell: I actually quit the day job right now and live off of what I’m making now. And I still plan on adding products and building this business, but it’s really kind of a part time thing. I don’t spend more than probably four or five hours a week. Just research, right. And now the product that I have now takes an hour a week. I got to go over my PPC campaign. I’ve got to do some market research and see what the competitors are doing, that kind of stuff, order new product, look at my sales, do sales projections. So I know how I like to keep three months in stock at all times. Because I’ve had so many problems with shipping and Amazon and all kinds of stuff. So if I keep three months out, when I get down to about two months, I order the next month. Because it takes two months to get there anyway.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So you’re basically spending just a couple hours a week on your current business and it kind of takes care of itself for the most part.
Ronald Bell: Yep.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Cool. Now, are you actively now using Black Box again, trying to find your next product?
Ronald Bell: I am and I’m trying to stay in the category I’m in.
Bradley Sutton: That was literally my question I was going to ask you.
Ronald Bell: I have to leave the niche that I’m in, but I want to stay in the category that I’m in.
Bradley Sutton: You’re going to launch it as the same brand or a new brand?
Ronald Bell: I’m going to launch it as the same brand if I stay in the same category.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Do you have brand registry or your brand yet?
Ronald Bell: I’m actually working through brand registry right now
Bradley Sutton: What are your short and long term goals? I mean, like you said, you’re kind of surprised with how fast you’re able to scale up, but now that you see what’s possible, obviously I’m sure your outlook has changed. So what are your 2021 and beyond goals now?
Ronald Bell: My goal for this year was 250,000 in sales. And I thought I was aiming high, but that’s what I do. I aim high. And you know, if I come up a little short, I’m fine. Well, I’ve blown that out of the park already. So now I’m shooting for a half a million, which I’m easily on track for. I want to do 4 million next year and that’s only adding one more product with three variations. If I can keep up the volume that I’m doing with this product, which may or may not be possible. And then 3 million for 2022.
Bradley Sutton: I love how you have that mapped out.
Ronald Bell: And I think that that probably around the beginning of next year, I will quit my nine to five, my working at the nonprofit and start volunteering there instead.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. That sounds good. That sounds good. Now, is there any– looking back, there might be some Amazon sellers out there like, Oh my goodness. This guy is spending an hour and he’s making 40 plus percent profit and grossing 50 to a hundred thousand dollars. I’m working my butt off over here.
Ronald Bell: Once you get the product, once you get everything in line, like I said, I’ve got enough product already gone to Amazon to last to the end of the year. There isn’t a whole lot to do once you get it running. But in the beginning this time, last year I was spending 10, 12 hours a week easy, trying to find products, trying to set up my listing, trying to get all that stuff done, trying to get great photos. I just recently converted all my photos over to because of the product over to a 3D rendering and upgraded my listing a lot. So we’ll see what that does with my sales.
Bradley Sutton: When did that go live?
Ronald Bell: I want to say two weeks ago.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So not enough data yet to see if it’s made any difference?
Ronald Bell: I can tell that it’s already making a difference. My sales were up 30% in the last two weeks. And I haven’t changed anything with my PPC campaign or anything. So it’s really weird. And one of the things I’ve learned is if you’re going to change something, you got to stop and give it time. You can’t change something every day and then say, Oh, look what I did. This made a difference. Well, you don’t know if it was what you did yesterday or what you did last week. You got to do it. You got to let it sit for two weeks. Four weeks is better and see what happens. So you’ve got to change something and give it time to react. Let the market talk to you. Don’t try and guess at what, because you’re changing so many things. So yeah, I made those changes about two weeks ago. I’m going to give it a month and see what happens.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now I’m just trying to kind of like reverse engineer why you were so successful and sometimes you can’t always just find some exact thing. Sometimes it is just a luck of the draw. What was your keyword research strategy? Did you basically just use what we teach at Helium 10 about looking at your competitors and running Cerebro and things like that, or did you have any special Ninja tactics that you were using?
Ronald Bell: No. I just followed the rules you guys set forth. I do a lot more on my automatic campaigns or target weird stuff. That’s kind of related just to see if it hits. And if I get a keyword or keyword phrase that starts to get a lot of impressions and starts to get sales, I move that into a manual campaign and monitor that for a while. I’ve got two manual campaigns, one that I don’t mess with. I’ve kind of figured out where I need to be on that keyword. So I switch it in that manual campaign. And then I got one manual campaign that I’m playing with. Bit up a little bit, bit down a little bit, see what, how the market reacts. So see how the sales, the ACOS changes, that kind of stuff.
Bradley Sutton: I know you just said you, you did 3D renderings. We’ll talk about that in a second, but how did you do your initial photography? Did you hire a photography agency to do it, or was it all like photo-shopped or what do you do?
Ronald Bell: I got lucky. I’ve got a roommate that was a professional photographer for a long time. So I gave– sent him three listings and I was like, look, these are the guys that are doing good. This is their listing. I want you to come up with photos for me. So I paid him to do the photos and he gave me a really cheap deal. And that’s how I started.
Bradley Sutton: Did you do lifestyle images and infographics and all that too?
Ronald Bell: Yup.
Bradley Sutton: Excellent. Now what prompted you to say you want it to level up and do 3D renderings? Were it competitor’s doing it, or?
Ronald Bell: A lot of competitors are doing it. In fact, when you look at my niche, almost everybody in there has 3D renderings. And really, I thought that people like my product because it’s a real picture and it’s the real product, but if everyone’s doing it, I decided to have some of my photos 3D — or my product 3D rendered and try it for a while and see if maybe that does better. Maybe that’s why everyone’s doing it. I don’t know. So I wanted to give it a month and see what happens. But like I said, my sales are up almost 30% in just the last two weeks. And I really haven’t changed anything that, both the rendering photos that I added.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now, how did you find somebody? Did you have another roommate who does that as well? Or how did you find somebody to do your 3D?
Ronald Bell: No, actually, I looked around on Fiverr and actually went off of Fiverr and found a website that does 3D, does the whole, all 10 photos for you. They break the product down, split it apart, point to certain parts. What’s good about this part, that kind of stuff, which I was really impressed with. I’ve looked some of the other stuff that they did. So they basically– I actually pay for them to kind of update my whole listing. The only thing I ended up using was the photos, but I wanted to see, for $1,200, I wanted to see what they produced their keyword search wasn’t very good. Their bullets weren’t very good. But the 3D rendering was fantastic. So in the future, I’ll probably use them again, but only for that part of the listing.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Well, you know, guys, I knew almost zero of this story. I’m learning it along with you guys, but just from the introduction I was given, I was like, you know what, Ron just seems like he could be any one of us, like you didn’t go to some fancy college to study e-commerce. You went from being a paratrooper to a potential electrical engineer, but then a construction worker. And you didn’t have any special e-commerce training and you didn’t use any black hat strategies to hack your way to page one or to some ridiculous scheme in order to get reviews or, or anything like that. You just kind of did what we teach. And it sounds like even have room for growth. There are some tools you haven’t used like market tracker and probably some other things that maybe could even increase it and you’re already crushing it on Amazon. So, we’ve talked about a lot of your strategies, probably more than most people that we talked to on this show, but we have this thing on the show that we called the TST or the T S T, 30-second tip. So, you’ve been telling us a lot of strategies in this episode, but is there anything that you haven’t told us that’s maybe you could say in 30 seconds or less, that’s very actionable, very valuable, something that’s helped you get to where you are right now, either about mindset or just some specific, actual strategy that you can share with our listeners today,
Ronald Bell: What I would say, and this is what gets a lot of people down is there’s always going to be problems. And when there’s a problem, you need to stop. You need to figure it out that problem, and you need to learn how to master that problem. And you need to walk away from that problem feeling like you’ve conquered it, because if you put it off, it’s going to get more complicated later on, and it’s going to drag you down even more, but look at a problem as a way to learn, not a way to get defeated.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Excellent. Excellent. Well, Ron, we’d love to have you back in a year or so to see if you’re able to hit your 2020 and 2021 goals and see where you’re at that time. And especially that we’d like to know how many frequent flyer miles you were able to do.
Ronald Bell: Yeah. I’ll keep track on that.
Bradley Sutton: Thanks for today’s tip. And then also how you’re able to monitor everybody using the market tracker. So Ron, thank you so much for coming on and wish you a most of success.
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