#149 – Why the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Might Offer Sellers a Stealthy Launch of Their Amazon Products.
Updated on: October 6, 2020
It’s easy to romanticize the idea of living in Dubai, surrounded by Lamborghinis and record-setting skyscrapers. Unfortunately, when it comes time to pay the rent, the romance ends. It’s simply a very difficult place to try to live with a proportionately high cost of living.
That’s where having a second source of income is important. Today on the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director or Training and Customer Success, Bradley Sutton welcomes Christina Smith, an English “expat” lawyer who moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for work.
Christina is going to give us the inner scoop on what it’s like to launch an e-commerce product on Amazon USA as a foreign national. She’ll also help us understand what life is like in Dubai and tell us a little bit about her plan to document her Amazon selling journey on YouTube.
In episode 149 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Christina discuss:
- 01:45 – Project X in Dubai
- 04:30 – After Rainy London, Dubai Sounded Pretty Good
- 07:00 – How Did Christina Find Amazon?
- 09:30 – A Challenging First Amazon Product Launch
- 11:45 – She Had a Head Start with Souq.com
- 13:30 – In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Noon.com Leads Amazon
- 15:20 – Amazon’s Unified Marketplace
- 16:45 – How a Foreign National Sets Up an Amazon USA Account
- 19:15 – Using Project X and Developing Relationships with Factories
- 21:30 – Putting Her Social Media Skills to Use
- 23:50 – Focusing on YouTube
- 26:00 – Drilling Down on the Information that You Connect With
- 27:40 – Documenting Her Amazon Journey on YouTube
- 28:50 – Soccer Balls, Size Five?
- 32:00 – Waiting on Data
- 33:44 – Christina’s 30 Second Tip
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.
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- 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.
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Bradley Sutton: Did you know that there’s an Amazon in the United Arab Emirates? Today’s guest from Dubai will let us know about that marketplace as well as talk about her journey bouncing back from a failed product launch. How cool is that? Pretty cool, I think.
Bradley Sutton: Hello everybody. 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. I’ve got a serious seller on the line with me today. Christina, how’s it going?
Christina Smith: What’s up, Bradley? It’s going well. How are you?
Bradley Sutton: I’m doing just delightful. Now, we’re going to do something that you probably didn’t know I was going to do since this has not been a regular part of the show yet, but I want to start starting off these shows with not the 30-second tip. You know we do the 30-second tip at the end, but I want you to just give us right off the bat here before we get into your backstory, like, your best overall strategy, something that you think sets you apart on what you do, and it doesn’t have to be 30 seconds. It can take a minute and take two minutes. This could be a PPC strategy; this could be a product research strategy. This could be just a life hack strategy. You know like, I don’t know. Do you know how to travel around the world on points? I mean it could be anything you want. Since the show is unscripted, by definition, you had no idea I was going to ask you this, so go ahead whenever you’re ready. What is your number one strategy that you can help our listeners with?
Christina Smith: I tell you what, Bradley, you really caught me off guard here, but I have to say something that’s really changed everything for me in 2020 when it comes to Amazon FBA is actually watching the Project X series. And the reason why I say that, and we’re probably going to get into it in this episode, is the way that we used to search for products in comparison to the way that we search for products in 2020 has completely changed.
Bradley Sutton: I definitely want to take a future episode to just dive deeper into that, because I think you bring up a good point, and I see that a lot in the Facebook groups of people finding success who are looking off of Amazon for the product ideas. And I’m just doing other case studies myself trying to test out that model. But before we get back into Amazon with you, let’s go back to your childhood. Now, from your accent, I take it you were born in Alabama perhaps.
Christina Smith: No, I was born in England. I’m in Essex. If anyone knows where that is, that’s a very popular TV show. Essex is probably around about an hour away from London. That’s where you can hear my twang from.
Bradley Sutton: Ah, okay. Growing up there in Essex, what did you envision your yourself doing when you quote-unquote grew up?
Christina Smith: The story that I’m going to tell you, and where I’ve ended up now, is going to be quite shocking for you, because originally, I want it to be a professional football player and I think in the States you guys call that soccer. But unfortunately, I got tied up with injuries and things like that. I had to kind of change my course. I actually decided to study law at university.
Bradley Sutton: Interesting. Interesting. As a youth, were you fairly decent at football¾soccer?
Christina Smith: I was pretty good. If I’m blowing my own trumpet, I was pretty talented when it came to sports, but football was my bread and butter.
Bradley Sutton: Nice. Nice. At what point do you, did you pivot then to, did you say, law? You became interested in law?
Christina Smith: Yeah, so I ended up doing law at university. I made this decision around about 2009 when I was finishing college, which is, I guess, high school for you guys in the States. And then I did a four-year law course that took me to Belgium, that took me to China, but most of the time I was in the North of England, in Leeds.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, okay. That might’ve been a shock to some that as far as going from something very exciting that they thought they were going to do to something that some people might think it’s not so exciting. Let’s just say, getting into law. Now, upon graduation, did you start working in that field?
Christina Smith: Yeah. After I graduated in 2013, I went straight to London, and I got a job in one of the big international law firms, which is equivalent to the big four accountancy firms. And I worked in London for two years. And then, my boss came to me and he said, “Christina, I’ve got this awesome opportunity for somebody to go to Dubai for six months. Is that what you’ll be interested in?” And at the time it was raining in London; I was spending an hour on the tube each way. Life was pretty depressing, and I was thinking: “Dubai, sunshine, beaches. Heck, I’m young, I might as well do it.”
Bradley Sutton: Okay, so you moved to Dubai then to work in law basically?
Christina Smith: Yeah. Yeah, and I did that in 2015, and I’ve been here ever since. That’s five years now.
Bradley Sutton: You’re still there in Dubai?
Christina Smith: I’m still here in Dubai. I think last time we spoke I was in the UK, but I’m back here in Dubai on lockdown.
Bradley Sutton: Oh, okay. I’ve been to over 20 countries in the world. But that’s on my bucket list that I’ve never been able to get to. Excellent. Excellent. Is it true that everybody has Lamborghinis there? I mean, do you drive a Lamborghini around?
Christina Smith: I don’t drive a Lamborghini. I’m not the quote-unquote guru, but I want to ask you, Bradley. When you think of Dubai, do you just associate it with Lamborghinis?
Bradley Sutton: I just think of Lamborghinis. I don’t know why, but I think it might’ve been the fast and furious movie: Lamborghinis and tall buildings. I read an article there that people have abandoned Lamborghinis and Ferraris on the road that people just left and things like that. But anyways, I want to visit there just because it’s just a completely cool place I’ve never been to. And I love to see different architecture and how modern things are over there. Now, while you were there, you kind of decided that you are going to become an entrepreneur somehow. How does someone, I would assume that somebody who’s working in a country like Dubai and under law is having a fairly successful goal of it. What gave you that entrepreneurial bug to kind of pivot?
Christina Smith: I mean, I’m still working in law full time at the moment. And you’re right, Dubai is an incredible place. It’s full of supercars you associated with luxury, glam; there’s no limits whatsoever. But the thing is, Bradley, to live in Dubai can be pretty expensive. If I put things into perspective. A one-bedroom apartment here for a year, which you have to pay upfront, is around about 30,000 US dollars. Paying that just based off your salary, it’s pretty difficult. I had to think to myself, if I want to live a nice life here, and I want to be comfortable, I can’t just rely on the income that I’m getting from my job. I need to find another way to bring in some extra cash, because if anything happens, I need something else to rely on. That’s how I started to get into the Internet space and how to make money online.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Okay. Now, how did you come across Amazon? You’re still working full time, and I’m assuming, you’re just sitting there and Googling “other ways to make income,” but how did you land upon Amazon as the path you wanted to investigate?
Christina Smith: It was quite a long journey. And to be honest, it came about quite recently, because before all of Amazon, I was trying out other little entrepreneurial ventures. I started off with the social media marketing. I then went on to affiliate marketing and multilevel marketing. Then, I got caught up in the whole crypto trading phase. And to be honest, Amazon wasn’t on my radar. It wasn’t until around about the beginning of 2018 when I started to see all of these Facebook ads popping up about Amazon FBA. And at the time, I was thinking to myself, “I don’t want to have a job at Amazon.” You know, I need something that’s passive. But I didn’t realize that the people selling on Amazon, well, people like you and I, they were doing it through this method of FBA. I kind of put that aside for a little while, because I was taking the bar exam between January and July 2018, and it wasn’t until the end of 2018 around about August time where I thought to myself, “Right, I’m going to start to take Amazon seriously. This is where I’m going to start to dive into online courses and figure out if this is for me or not.”
Bradley Sutton: Okay, so you said that what 2018?
Christina Smith: Yeah, around about August 2018.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, so then, when you decided to go into Amazon UK, you know your home country, or did you start selling at Amazon US?
Christina Smith: Originally, I wanted to sell on Amazon US, but I started to source products, and when I was speaking to the manufacturer, they were saying to me, “Christina, look, Amazon’s quite saturated in the US and the products that you want to sell is already like established. Why don’t you consider starting to sell on Amazon UK?” And I thought to myself, “Do you know what? That’s actually quite a nice bit of insight that my supplier has given me.” But the issue was at the time that all of my research that I had conducted was based on the US market, and I was making this decision quite late in the game to pivot and go for the UK market without doing any research. It was a little bit of a challenge to be honest.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. How did your first product go?
Christina Smith: I wanted to launch my first product around about November 2018, but because I was a new seller and I missed the cutoff to get my inventory into Q4, I had to wait until the new year. I didn’t actually launch my first bought art until February of 2019, and everything was going great for the first couple of months. I got to page one quite quickly. I had consistent sales, but after three months, everything started to die off. And there’s a number of things that went wrong. And to be honest, my first product turned into my biggest failure, but I learnt so many lessons from it.
Bradley Sutton: Well, what happened? Why was it a failure?
Christina Smith: Oh, so like I was saying, I pivoted from the US to the UK on a last-minute decision. All of my research was off. All of my PPC data was off. It was a time where the giveaways, the 90% giveaways had been condemned by Amazon, and everyone was scrambling to find new launch methods. The product that I picked, and I’m going to be honest, the first product that I picked was bees wax wraps. The price was around about 24 pounds, but then it tanked to around about nine to seven pounds, so my profits were diminished, so I barely broke even on that first product.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, and this is selling in the UK?
Christina Smith: This was selling in the UK? Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: When you launched that product in the UK, did you also simultaneously launch it in the other European marketplaces?
Christina Smith: I was selling in Germany and France, but I didn’t launch it in the other marketplaces.
Bradley Sutton: And where was the majority of the sales coming from?
Christina Smith: United Kingdom.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. How did you do the translation for your other marketplaces?
Christina Smith: I just hired a virtual assistant to help me with the translations. It was like for like, but looking back on it, I think I should have optimized my listing a little bit more to cater towards that market and not just assume that because one country likes one thing that everybody would like it in the same way.
Bradley Sutton: Good point. Now throughout this first stab at Amazon, did you ever expand? Living and having the contacts in Dubai, and having that as another home there, did you ever launch in the UAE since Amazon launched? Was that 2018 as well or was that 2019 where Amazon launched in the UAE?
Christina Smith: I think it was around about 2019, but before Amazon, there was this other platform called Souk, and Souk basically transitions into Amazon AE. I kind of had a little bit of experience in e-commerce before I even got to Amazon. And that was from selling electric scooters.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Then, did you just ever start selling on that platform in UAE or not?
Christina Smith: Since it’s transitioned to AE, I’ve signed up; I’ve tried a few products. But to be honest, Bradley, it’s a little bit of a tricky market. And the reason why I say that is there’s not a lot of research tools available at the moment. We kind of rely on what everyone used to do around about 2017, 2018: go into the best seller categories, finding the best-selling products. But the thing about the AE market is that there’s a lot of expats that live here. take for example a clothes horse or a clothes rack, that’s something that will probably be very saturated in the European markets or in the US, but the thing with Dubai is everybody likes convenience. It’s much better to purchase something online at a cheaper price than go into the expensive Dubai mall.
Christina Smith: There’s a good opportunity for people to start selling in this market, but it’s a huge risk for you to enter this market, if that makes sense.
Bradley Sutton: Why is it a risk?
Christina Smith: I would say it’s a rest, because I think a lot of people are heavily reliant on things like Helium 10, and we’ve always been taught that there’s a certain way to do things. But with the AE market, you kind of have to think a little bit outside of the box and think, “Okay, if there is this congregation of experts and if the people in this region think very similar to the US market, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for people to jump in and start launching products.” Because, to be honest, there’s not a lot of competition on this marketplace at the moment, but equally, there’s not a lot of buyers because there’s another marketplace that’s dwarfing Amazon at the moment.
Christina Smith: It’s called noon.com, very similar to Amazon. It’s more established, so you can still sell on it. You can still sign up as a third-party seller, but a lot more people tend to use that in this region. There is scope for Amazon UAE to expand here. How long that would take? I don’t know.
Bradley Sutton: Now, Amazon UAE, that’s a hundred percent actually in English. Right?
Christina Smith: I believe it is, but some listings do have Arabic on there. And the interesting thing was I said originally it used to be souk.com and now it’s transitioned to Amazon AE. When that transition took place, they literally wiped out a lot of the Chinese sellers because the entry, through the verification process, was heightened so much that a lot of these original sellers didn’t have the correct verification to sell. It was great for people like us who wants to do FBA in this marketplace, but it’s still, not a lot of people doing it. There’s not a lot of Facebook groups out there. There’s not a lot of information on the Internet about it.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. That brings me to the next question for you. Obviously, having an address in Dubai, I would assume that it might be easier for you to get set up there as opposed to somebody who has, like myself, never even set foot in the country. What are the restrictions for foreigners, you know, somebody from Europe, somebody from America, to be able to sell on that platform?
Christina Smith: To be honest, it’s actually easier for you to sell in the AE rather than people who are resident here to sell in other marketplaces. Because as far as I’m aware, UAE residents can’t sell on the US marketplace. They have to set up a company or find another way to do it. What your listeners could do if they’re interested in selling on the AE marketplace is go through that, what’s it called, unified marketplace, the global listings. They can basically put all of their accounts in one place on Seller Central, sign up to the AE marketplace, and they can do all of their listings that way.
Bradley Sutton: Ah, okay. It’s not like a completely separate login, like, for example, Amazon, Japan, I believe it’s separate from North America and Europe and the other ones. Somebody could add with their existing Amazon account?
Christina Smith: Exactly. And I believe, at the moment, that there’s no monthly professional selling fee, free of charge.
Bradley Sutton: All right. Yeah. Well, anybody out there listening to it. I’d love to hear anybody who is selling on AE or are interested in it. That’s pretty interesting. I don’t think a lot of people even know that Amazon opened up over there. Being a British national living in Dubai. Are you now trying to sell in the Amazon US?
Christina Smith: I’ve decided that I’m not going to sell on the UK market for the time being. I’m going to go for the big Apple. I’m going to start selling on Amazon US. I’ve got two products at the moment that I’m basically starting my test orders on, and then from there, I’m going to reassess where I’m going to expand that to other markets. Perhaps UK, perhaps Europe, perhaps AE. It really depends on how it goes.
Bradley Sutton: Walk us through a British national who’s living in another country even, how does one like yourself set up an Amazon USA account?
Christina Smith: Yeah, so I used my UK company. It’s a limited company in the United Kingdom to set up my Amazon us marketplace. And the way that it’s different to most people who are setting up is, yes, you can use your limited company, but the drawback is you’re going to have the issue of the bank account. Many people would use a US bank account, but it’s quite difficult for non-residents to get that US bank account. What I’ve done is used a third-party US bank account, so I don’t get slapped with all of those high exchange fees. I’m hoping that’s going to work when I actually start selling. But I guess if we’re going to be speaking in a year, I can give you the feedback on that and perhaps there might be another company out that helps with sellers in my position to set up their US companies from abroad.
Bradley Sutton: Now, what about the verification process? You did not have to set up a US company. These are questions that I kind of know the answer to, but everybody asks, you did not have to show utility or US bank account, things like that?
Christina Smith: I didn’t have to show a US bank account. At the time, I showed my company credit card, company debit cards. In terms of the utility bill, that is something that I had to set up. But I did have a satellite office based in the UK as a place where I send my products to a storage. That kind of helped me out there. But I know that there’s a lot of people in this position that kind of get stuck on that stage.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. That’s interesting. A lot of people are worried about that. People do see that obviously, US is the biggest opportunity for Amazon, but when they’re not a US citizen, they’re worried about that whole verification process.
Christina Smith: But I remember when I started to do it in 2018, it took me around about three months to set up, so I think what I would say to all your listeners is you just have to be patient with this process. I know it can be really frustrating, and you want to get on the phone with someone, but you just have to trust the process. If you’re supplying the documents in the format that they’re asking for and you’re checking off all of your information matches up, then you just have to play the waiting game.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now what are you doing differently in this go around other than just, “Hey, now you’re going to try and sell an Amazon USA as opposed to Amazon UK,” but strategy-wise, what kind of things are different? I’m assuming you’re not doing the 90% discounted promotion to launch. What’s your launch strategy going to be?
Christina Smith: I haven’t really thought ahead to that stage yet, because what I’m doing at the moment is that I’m literally watching Project X and taking each episode, pausing it, and then implementing what you’re telling me. I’ve actually started to develop really good relationships with manufacturers in China. And I know a lot of people come into the issue of the minimum order quantities that they usually don’t accept anything below 500 or a hundred. I’ve actually managed to strong arm them and get them to produce 10 units, which is going to be sent to a third-party logistics company to do all of the labeling. And then, I’m going to send that into Amazon US and start my PPC campaigns and just see what the data says.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. That’s another question that we get a lot. A lot of people who watch Project X are not based in the US. We’re like, “Hey we think this is a cool idea. This thing of sending it to test. By the way, did you see my post recently in Facebook where I had talked about, I was doing a side case study, and I did a test, and the PPC, it told me that I only needed 75 cents or something. It ended up being $4. That’s the very reason. Now, it’s not meant to be an exact guide, but I think people who watch Project X, that’s one of their biggest takeaways. And that for me that was; that was a hundred percent from Tim Jordan. I had never even heard of make it a testing thing. Just to kind of verify the demand and verify how much you the competition on PPC. But a lot of people are wondering, “Well how do I do this? I live in Japan, I live in London, I live in Antarctica.” Actually, nobody has said that, but I’m sure there might be somebody down there in the of the stations. But yeah, it’s hard. You wouldn’t want to have the product go all the way to you, in this other country, and then you send it into Amazon. By that time, I mean you’ve invested hundreds and hundreds of dollars in freight alone. Having a factory send it directly to a 3PL or having a friend, like maybe you had some soccer friends or something from back in the day that you kept in contact with and say, “Hey, can I ship this stuff to you from Etsy? And maybe you send it to Amazon.” There are different ways to do it from outside of the country. Now, I want to go back. You had mentioned you had dabbled in social media. I’m assuming that’s how you were so kind of proficient with Instagram. I don’t remember how many, but I remember it was something like you had like 15,000 subscribers, and you only follow 10 people or something. It was one of those crazy ratios that you rarely see now. How did you build up your personal Instagram account to that level?
Christina Smith: Oh, boy. We have a lot of hard work. It actually started off with Instagram and Snapchat is quite a big thing in this region. And I didn’t have Instagram or Snapchat before I came to Dubai. And everywhere you go it’s like, “Oh, I need to take a photo, or I need to snap it.” And I used to take the Mickey out of my friends, like, “Why are you posting your life on social media?”
Bradley Sutton: Oh, okay, hold on, hold on. We’re Americans here. We don’t always understand these terms. Like I had Cara on the episode, she was saying all these phrases I didn’t understand. What did you just say?
Christina Smith: Taking the Mickey.
Bradley Sutton: What does that mean?
Christina Smith: Oh, hard to say it in a polite way. You’re having a joke. Why are you taking this seriously? It’s a silly thing to do.
Bradley Sutton: Alright, there we go. We learned some vocabulary here. Go ahead. Yeah.
Christina Smith: Basically, I got into a competition with one of my friends to say, look, “I’m going to get more social media followers than you are.” And that’s when I started to do the whole Instagram courses and motivational quotes and things like that to kind of grow up my page. But I didn’t really have a direction of where I wanted to take it, and that’s kind of where I got into the whole affiliate marketing kind of scene where you could sell offers through your Instagram page and build your email list and things like that. I kind of ran with it for a few years, but it was very difficult to maintain because the Instagram algorithm was changing all the time. On Instagram you only have a small window to capture someone’s attention, but I think all of the skills that I used with social media marketing, especially on Instagram, are very transferable to being successful on Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Interesting. Now do you plan, since you know more than the average person about Instagram, like do you foresee that being part of your strategy for when you’re launching a brand, like perhaps trying to build up an off-Amazon audience and build up brand awareness through social media?
Christina Smith: I think it definitely is an option, but at the moment, I’m trying to keep everything simple to see how the launch goes with this particular product. At the moment, my attention is more on YouTube, because as soon as you put something on YouTube, it connects to Google. Google’s a fantastic search engine, and it’s going to be there forever. The thing with Instagram is you can’t really search for it. It’s more of a word-of-mouth kind of thing.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Interesting. All right. Now before he used to have tons of Amazon-related things on your Instagram, but I just like happened to look you up right now and like it’s all gone. What happened there?
Christina Smith: I’m starting from scratch. 2020 is the year of Project X; I’m documenting my journey through my little one called Project Zon. When I’ve got a little bit more time, I’m going to be taking the content that I’ve been producing on YouTube and maybe putting that across the Instagram in little snippets.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Interesting. Interesting. All right, we’re definitely going to keep track of it and I think that’s really cool that you’re documenting your journey because I always like having, like I’ve always said on this show it, “You don’t have to be an $8 million seller to come on the show.” No, we like people of all different backgrounds and people who are just starting off or like you who are just restarting their business, because I think there’s a lot of people out there who can relate to you. Maybe they had quote-unquote failed on their first Amazon, but instead of giving up, you didn’t give up. You’re like, “Hey, I’m just going to start over from scratch.” Now, going back, let’s just talk about what brought you to this point really quick as far as the education goes. There are people who want to teach themselves Amazon through trial and error. There are people who take courses. There are those who just want us focus on the free content that’s out there. What about you? What were the things that helped you outside of Project X that you said you’ve been studying, but before that, what are the things that really taught you about Amazon? And are any of those things that maybe looking back now seem like noise, like maybe you shouldn’t have done it or what were the things that you did like to do?
Christina Smith: Yeah, I mean, it’s quite difficult when you’re getting started on something that you don’t know a lot of information about. And I think a lot of people tend to go to YouTube, and they can get distracted by a lot of people that have the biggest amount of dollar to spend to get the customer. And the thing that I would say about that is if you are planning to invest in a course, you really have to do your own due diligence. Because a lot of the people who are very big on these YouTube pages, they did Amazon a couple of years ago. They might not be up to speed with the things that are happening as of 2020. I think I mentioned earlier in this podcast, my Amazon journey before to starting it now, there’s been so many changes and sometimes you can’t get all of that information within a course. The advice that I would give to people now, or if I could give it back to myself if I were starting again, find one Amazon tool, find a course that’s free and just follow that method. If that method resonates with you, if that strategy resonates with you, then just watch one video, implement, get the feedback, and then move on to the next video, implement it, get the feedback, don’t mix and match with multiple courses.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, I like that. Now, I’d like to talk really briefly about, we alluded to a little bit, but what are you doing on YouTube now? How can people, you know, they can’t know your entire journey here just in this 30-minute podcast episode, but you’re actually going into detail on your new Amazon journey. How can people find out about that?
Christina Smith: Yeah, so just in a nutshell, basically, I’ve been watching the fantastic work that Tim and Bradley are doing, and they didn’t pay me to say that; these are my own words. They started off Project X on YouTube, and I decided to start my own journey to keep me accountable, but to also share that ordinary people can take what successful people are doing and implement it themselves. I might do my little twist on it, but as week on week goes past, I’m also realizing some of the things that I had spoken about before may not be relevant or it could be tweaked in a way to help people in different marketplaces. If you’re interested in following along, and I hope you can show some support and share your journeys with me, come and find me on YouTube.
Bradley Sutton: And how do we find you on YouTube?
Christina Smith: Well, I’ve got one of those surnames where everyone’s very difficult to find. But if you put Christina Smith, Amazon FBA, I should pop up.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, cool. I’m sure there is a lot of Christina Smith doing Amazon FBA, but you come up to the top. Now, before we get into your 30-second tip, I’m going to play the search-volume game with you.
Christina Smith: Let’s do it.
Bradley Sutton: You probably would use football-related keywords, but I’m going to use soccer-related keywords since this is going to be for the Amazon US market. I’m going to give you three keywords and three search volumes, and you’ve got to match which one. All right, so here we go. The three keywords from the shortest keyword to the longest keyword: one is soccer cones, one is soccer ball size five, and one is soccer goals for backyard. Now, the three search volumes from lowest two highest are: one is searched for about 10,000 times a month, one about 20,000, and one 60,000 all right, so everybody at home tube don’t cheat. Just go ahead and try and write down or say out loud what you think. But again, the three keywords are soccer cones, soccer ball size five, which I don’t even know what that means. I didn’t even know there are different sizes for soccer balls and then soccer goals for backyard. Which one do you think from least to most is searched?
Christina Smith: I would say the size five soccer balls is least; the middle one is the cones; and the biggest one is the goal posts in the backyard.
Bradley Sutton: All right. Now, me personally, I would have picked soccer cones being the number one because I’m like that’s a people coaches around the whole country are using for their practices and things like that. And I would’ve been like soccer ball size five might have been the least. I think that’s what you said too, because it’s like that’s so specific. Here we go. The least keyword here is soccer cones; 10,000. The middle one is soccer goals for backyard, and 60,000 searches a month is soccer ball size five for whatever reason that is. Again, that’s part of what we talked about in Project X and what we talk about in this show is we could be an expert in something ourselves but never rely on your own knowledge, because whatever the way that you search things or the way that seems most relevant to you might not be what’s relevant to the marketplace overall that you’re trying to sell in. It’s always important to do the research.
Christina Smith: Exactly. I guess there’s a lot of buyer intent as well as someone searching for something so specific.
Bradley Sutton: Yup, absolutely. That’s another way guys, by the way, that you can verify just to me because it seemed kind of weird to me. You can verify if Helium 10 is or any company that gives search volume estimates to see if they’re kind of within the realm of possibility by looking up Brand Analytics. If you guys have brand registry. I just looked up soccer and Brand Analytics and sure enough they’re actually soccer ball size five is actually the 4,000 most searched term in all of Amazon, and that’s out of millions of keywords that for whatever reason it is one of the top searches. I guess it makes sense that it has about 60,000 searches. You’re in the process of getting your sample orders right now. What’s your timeline? We’re in May, June here, and when do you plan on launching and what’s your goal for the end of this year? Where do you envision yourself being?
Christina Smith: Yeah, so samples are supposed to be coming in the next seven to 10 days into Amazon. It’s been a little bit tricky with the whole coronavirus situation or trying to get stuff out of China. Shipping fees have been wildly expensive, but my plan over the next 30 to 45 days is to do the PPC testing and get the information on that and then make a decision if I’m going to proceed with these two products that I found. And if that’s the case, I kind of want to get them in within the next 60 days, and that kind of takes me to my sixth month kind of, “Hey Christina, you need to check in to see where this is going at the moment.” Everything’s pie in the sky until I get that data.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now, you’re making a good salary obviously to even be able to survive having to pay $30,000 a year for rent. You don’t have to tell me what your salary is, but I can imagine what it is. Now, that’s your short-term goal, but what’s your long-term goal? I mean, are you trying to be able to do this full time or are you just trying to be able to live a little bit more comfortably without having to live paycheck to paycheck perhaps? Or what’s your long-term goal with this whole Amazon thing?
Christina Smith: For the time being, I kind of want to get to the stage where Amazon is making the same as my current salary, so I feel comfortable that if anything happened in Dubai that I would still be able to live here. And although it might seem like there’s a lot of money being thrown around, it’s very expensive to live here as well. And if for whatever reason, you lose your job, there are severe consequences here. Like say for example your check bounces, you could end up in jail, so having a second source of income could be very helpful in those situations just to not live in fear at night. You know?
Bradley Sutton: Oh, that’s kind of scary. That’s enough motivation.
Christina Smith: Exactly.
Bradley Sutton: Alright, now let’s get into our TST, our TST 30-second tip. You know you’ve been giving us tips about your journey and things that you know people should avoid, things that people should do. Something, at the outset you talked about Project X, so something not Project X related for this one. Now what is your 30-second tip or strategy that you think is somewhat unique? It could be about Instagram audience; it could be about how to look for products that sell in the UAE. It could be a how to do product research, whatever you want. What is your 30-second tip for our listeners today?
Christina Smith: Let’s do two tips, 15 seconds each. The first one I would say is if you’re starting out on your journey, try and find people who are at the same level that you’re at or just a little bit ahead of you. It’s much better to do that because you can bounce ideas off of each other as opposed to asking someone who’s done this three or four years ago and hasn’t dabbled in it. Second tip. If you’re going to start searching for products in the UAE, the best thing to do is think like an expert. What would you need if you’re moving into a new home, check if that’s on Amazon.AE and if it’s not, just give it a go.
Bradley Sutton: Love it. Alright, well, Christina, thank you so much for joining us, and we wish you the most of success. And I’ll go ahead and start following you at Project Zon, so we can see what you do. And don’t forget that even if you have some failures, make sure to put it on there so we can all learn from those mistakes too.
Christina Smith: Hundred percent. Completely transparent. Thanks so much for having me, Bradley.