*Special Note: This post is for all of you out there who are interested in earning an income at home. Right now I have been running an eBay business and an Amazon FBA store for over a month each. As I go on my journey into the world of selling products online I will share my experiences and advice to those of you thinking of taking a similar journey.
In early May 2015, my husband got into selling groceries on eBay. He and I are both graduate students who earn a graduate student’s salary. We both decided we needed to pursue something to earn some extra cash. I started writing and selling articles to content mill type websites. My husband wrote a bit for the same websites as me but he wanted to find something that would pay more. He had talked for years about trying to sell things on eBay, and after a while finally took the steps to list his first items.
The only setback to his plan is that my husband is horrible with technology. He had trouble figuring out how eBay worked. He enlisted my help to set up listings and get the eBay store started. I became his partner and we worked together to find products to sell and I taught him how to do listings. I managed the site, the money, and paypal and he went out and shopped for products, packaged them when sold, and took them to the post office. Most of our food items ended up being foods you can only buy in the state of Alabama where we live. At first, business was slow but after a month we started getting sales more frequently which helped us build our good feedback rating. We made close to $200 that first month selling food items that can only be found in the state of Alabama.
Even though we had success on eBay, I sometimes felt frustrated because sales were spaced out and inconsistent. We didn’t mind packing and shipping our own items but selling groceries is a time sensitive thing. Groceries expire after a while and eBay doesn’t always produce enough traffic for the food items we sell.
I had heard about Amazon FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) but hadn’t looked into it until we got into selling on eBay. I was intrigued by the idea of selling items on Amazon but I was also afraid and intimidated by selling there. To sell certain items like groceries, beauty, and health items you have to have a professional account costing $39.99 a month and you have to get Amazon approval to sell in restricted categories.
I am not a natural business person. I’m going to school to get a graduate degree in Sociology. I never took a business class or a class teaching you to manage money or profits. When I started learning about selling online, I started from scratch. Getting involved in something that charged a $39.99 fee each month scared me. Along with shipping fees and Amazon fulfillment fees, I was very unsure I could sell enough products to cover my selling costs and still profit. Using eBay I was able to get my feet wet in running a small type of business. Because I discovered I could be successful there, I decided that I’d take a chance and pursue Amazon’s FBA program.
The first month of Amazon’s professional account is free and then you pay $39.99 every month after that. I did an insane amount of research before jumping into the Amazon FBA ocean. Amazon has rules, restrictions, fees, and more you have to know before selling on their site. I read other sellers blogs, watched videos seller’s had made to help other sellers, listened to podcasts and more. I researched wholesalers and tried to figure out where I could buy products to sell at a cheaper rate. I spent over a month reading up about Amazon FBA to figure out how to sell there and what to sell.
All this research led me to research another new world…the world of extreme couponing. Finding wholesale items to sell without any connections to the business world is hard, if not impossible…at least for me. I found plenty of sites selling low quality wholesale items and I found plenty of those items already on Amazon with far too many sellers. I knew the world of wholesaling wasn’t going to work with me when I had very little money to invest.
The world of couponing became very attractive to me. I’d seen the show, Extreme Couponers, where people are so great with coupons they get huge stockpiles of items for very, very little. Buying lots of grocery items for cheap and reselling them for a profit seemed like something I could do so I began to research.
Again, the world of couponing was brand new to me. I had no idea how to use manufacturer or store coupons, rebates, store sales, etc. all together. It was almost overwhelming at first. I had hundreds of coupons everywhere. I had store sale papers everywhere. I had no idea how to get organized.
I got my husband involved to help me out and together we researched our first couponing trips. We didn’t do as great as the Extreme Couponers on television but we did get a few free items and some greatly cheap products we could resell. I do have to say it was pretty awesome having 20 bottles of shampoo in my bathroom from couponing. I became addicted very quickly. After practicing our couponing for a while we decided to finally pursue selling on Amazon.
Amazon became primarily my business. It takes a lot of computer work to sell on Amazon and to my husband the whole thing was extremely confusing. I signed up for my seller account and then applied for my professional account’s first free month. As soon as I did this I knew the clock was ticking until we had to pay that first $39.99 fee.
With the clock ticking it was time to set things in motion to get my Amazon FBA business in order. The steps to get the business in order weren’t hard but they were time consuming. For those of you reading this, I know I haven’t shared a lot of details on exact things I had to go through in this introductory post. I plan on sharing more posts focusing on everything I learned and went through to help out other people interested in selling on Amazon or eBay.
In the continuation of this post I will discuss the process of getting accepted to sell in Amazon’s restricted categories.