Your Guide to Rummage Season

Since I live in Wisconsin, I only get about 4 good months of rummage/garage sale season. And within the past 2 weekends, I’ve noticed a lot of them on Craigslist, and on my way to my day job. While last weekend I only went to a few of them, and only got a few items, these items were really good. I picked up 2 Pur filters one with good rank and the other a really high rank on Amazon for $3 each, that are selling for over $17. And I picked up a new in box cisco wireless router for $10 that goes for over $100 on amazon. And then I picked up 2 books for a quarter each that will go over $10 each both under 500k sales rank.

As I’m about to plan my route for rummage and garage sales this weekend, I thought I’d share some tips.

Tip #1

If you haven’t been using Craigslist to look for rummage sales around you, then nows the time to start. For smart phones, you can download the Craigslist pro app for both Samsung and Apple devices. And then theres the basic website. It can be found here.  Always look under the garage sale section!

Tip #2

Another resource I use is Garage sale treasure map. Its an app for smart phones. It can be used for both Apple and Samsung devices.

Tip #3

While I am planning my route, I use find the best route. I just punch in all the addresses and it will find the best route to take. Its great. I saved so much time that can be used to go to different yard sales, instead of driving around.

Here’s a list of apps I use:

  • Amazon Seller App

This is literally a must have app if you plan on selling on Amazon. You can scan, sell, check your inventory, email customers, and so many other great things!

  • Amazon

This is great for checking your competition. It lets you know how many they have in stock, product reviews, and others.

  • Profit Bandit

Although this app is not free to use, its great. I use it all the time. It calculates the ROI (return on investment) It also links you to check prices and sales rank history.

  • Groupon

Most people think groupon is for saving money on gas, good and traveling. But theres an entire section called Groupon Goods where you can find deals on stuff to sell.

  • Track My Mileage

Remember every single mile you drive that is related to your FBA business is tax deductible. Use this app to track all those miles and to upload them to your computer!

  • The eBay App

If you are sourcing and can’t find the item you have in hand on Amazon, look it up on eBay. You could either create a product page on Amazon or just sell it on eBay.

  • Shop Kick

Get “kicks” for actually walking into stores. You can cash those kicks in for free, that’s right, free gift cards!

Other than that, I think I am about done! Until next time!

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How to Find Time to Build Your Ecommerce Empire While Working a 9 to 5

I know first hand how difficult it is to work a day job and still manage to be a “sidepreneur”. There is a significant lack of time to run an ecommerce business while working a 9 to 5, and you still need to commit yourself first to your employer.

I’m here to tell you that the good news is that it’s very much possible to grow and create a successful ecommerce business on the side. Many others before you have done it and I’m going to show you how you can, too.

The Struggle

If you’re working a 9 to 5 and want to start an ecommerce business on the side, the first struggle most people encounter is what product to sell. Generally, people working a full-time job and looking to start an ecommerce business want something “easy”. Low commitment, easy to source or manufacture, and something that can be sold with little maintenance and work.

While this is the ideal, don’t let your ideals prevent you from selling something you truly believe in, are passionate about or think would be a huge success. Check out our guide on how to find a product to sell online and go from there.

But the real struggle every sidepreneur encounters is simply finding the time and making the time for their side business. It’s not going to be easy. If you want to see your ecommerce business become successful, you can say goodbye to most of your evenings and weekends.

So, while this all sounds brutal and difficult, the long-term payoff of creating a successful ecommerce business on the side is tremendous. These struggles are just barriers and challenges you must, and will, overcome.

The best part is that this can be done.

Why It’s Possible

The first thing you need to realize is that it will take time. Starting your ecommerce business on the side means that it will grow slower than if you went into it full-time, which means that all the growing will be done in chunks when you make time for it.

You have your weekends and evenings, use them. Your weekends and evenings allow for you to work in these small chunks and grow your business in chunks.

Your income from your 9 to 5 also allows you to invest in your ecommerce business. This gives you a significant advantage over those that are dropping everything to run their ecommerce business and those that are unemployed and trying to start a business.

The advantage you have as a sidepreneur over full-time entrepreneurs is that what you’re doing is a lot less risky. If your business fails, you still have your job to fall back to, and even use your previous failure as a learning experience to quickly get back on your feet with another venture. This is especially important if you have obligations to your family, have a mortgage or any other critical responsibility.

People That Have Done It

Jeff Sheldon started Ugmonk as a side business which he worked on during late nights and weekends. Ugmonk is now a successful lifestyle product business that Jeff works full-time on after two years of working on Ugmonk on the side.

Peter Keller started FringeSport on the side in 2010 while working a 9 to 5. Peter eventually took his side business from $100,000 to $3,000,000 in three years.

Valerie and Geoffrey Franklin are a wife and husband team that both worked 9 to 5’s as a project manager and architect, respectively. After founding Walnut Studiolo and selling handcrafted leather products in 2009, they were both full-time into the business by 2011 after seeing their ecommerce business takeoff.

Stefan Loble started Bluff Works, selling wrinkle-free pants, and grew it for 3 years on the side while working a 9 to 5, even after a successful Kickstarter fundraising. Recently, Stefan left his 9 to 5 software job to work on his ecommerce business full-time.

How to Build a Successful Side Business

Focus

The first component of building an ecommerce business on the side is that you need to focus. Since your time, resources and energy are limited, it’s a really good idea to focus, especially when it comes to the niche you wish to serve or the product you want to sell.

Too many people, when they start out, have a bunch of ideas for products they would like to sell. Instead of launching that clothing line right away, why not just launch one product from the line initially? Instead of serving the entire parent demographic, why not just stay-at-home mothers? Where in your ecommerce business can you focus or niche down?

The other aspect of focusing is finding what works early and sticking to that. There are so many different strategies, tools and social media platforms out there. There isn’t enough time for you to experiment and learn them all. You need to become exceptional at finding what works for you and your business and really honing in on that and mastering that craft.

Are you crushing it on Twitter? Put more of your resources into Twitter.

Is your business finding a lot of success using Google Adwords? Focus on that.

Work Small, Think Big

It’s going to be all about taking baby steps at first for your ecommerce business. You need to have patience and understand that in most cases, success doesn’t and won’t happen overnight.

As mentioned earlier, you’ll be working on the business in chunks, and you usually won’t have the opportunity to work on it all day like a full-time entrepreneur. But that’s okay. A slow and steady growth that is consistent is all you need to be successful.

This is why you need to look at those really overwhelming tasks to get your business rolling and start breaking them down into smaller, workable chunks. You will likely only have a few hours everyday to attack a task. So instead of trying build your ecommerce website in one evening, break down the design and construction of your website into a few days so that you’re not pressured or rushed with your limited time.

Schedule Everything

Because your time is limited, you need to start scheduling your side business activities so that you not only know what you’re doing every evening and weekend, but also to keep yourself accountable. There are a lot of free tools that can help you do this, such as simply using Google Calendar. If you have a schedule or calendar for your 9 to 5 job, I would personally recommend keeping your 9 to 5 schedule and side business schedule on separate calendars.

Start using your calendar to find the gaps and time in your life where you can schedule time for your business. Whether that has you bringing a laptop to work so that you can work during your lunch or blocking out an entire weekend to finish your website, do it. It’s okay to get a little selfish with your time initially, especially when you’re trying to get the ball rolling for your ecommerce business. Those that support you (friends, family, spouse) will be understanding.

For me, my time priority chain looks something like this:

Me/health > Family/friends > 9 to 5 > Side business

Sometimes, my side business will take priority over everything when necessary. However, it’s important to not neglect things like your health or your family. This is why scheduling your time and making time for your ecommerce business is so important.

Be sure to get creative as well. Get up a few hours earlier every morning to work on your business or simply sleep less (yes, I’m serious). If you’re going to bed at 9pm to get up for 6am, you can sacrifice a few hours of sleep and get up at 4am every once in a while. That’s still a healthy 7 hours of sleep.

Do The Things Now That Create More Time For Tomorrow

Let’s say you spend 30 minutes doing something every week such as checking and responding to customer emails.

What if you could cut down from 30 minutes a week to just 15 minutes a week by investing 4 hours today?

For example, if you spent 4 hours today creating a “frequently asked questions” page on your website to reduce the number of incoming inquiries and it saved you 15 minutes every week, you would do it, right?

After 16 weeks, this upfront time investment would begin to net a time gain.

This is just one example of how doing things to save you time later and investing your time now can make it a lot easier for you to run your ecommerce business.

Another example of this is creating a series of “canned” responses (which you can learn how to set them up in Gmail here) to questions you frequently get in your inbox, to make it easier and quicker to respond to common questions you might get about shipping, your product, pricing, etc.

It might take you a few hours to create all the canned responses and figuring out what your common questions are. However, the idea is that you’re putting that time in upfront to save time for yourself later.There are other tools such as text expanders that you can take the time to set up now, to save you time later.

If there’s something you can do today to save even just a little bit of time later, do it.

Stop Doing The Things That Don’t Matter

You have no excuse when you say “I just don’t have time” when you’re binge watching Netflix shows on the weekends. It’s okay to indulge and enjoy yourself but if you’re truly serious about your ecommerce business succeeding, you’ll stop doing the things that don’t matter.

As Gary Vaynerchuk says in this video “Everybody has time, stop watching Lost” (NSFW language).

This is also important when it comes to dealing with procrastination when running and creating an ecommerce business. Yes, it’s fun to come up with a name for your business and design a logo. Ultimately, these things are not as important as the amount of time most people pour into these aspects of their business. It’s really disproportionate. I have seen people spend days coming up with a name for their business and only a few hours on the content and copy on their website.

Focus on the things that matter. Your time is limited, don’t spend it on the things that have little to no pay off.

Outsource

How much is your time worth to you? If it’s worth more than the cost to outsource a process, then you should strongly consider doing so. As mentioned earlier, using the money you earn at your 9 to 5 to invest into your business is one of the advantages you have as a sidepreneur.

For example, instead of processing, fulfilling and shipping each order yourself, look into hiring a company to do this for you. Look at your options for packaging and shipping instead of taking the time to fulfill and ship your orders yourself.

Another ecommerce business challenge most sidepreneurs struggle with is bookkeeping and accounting. A lot of people try to take the initiative and do this themselves. Outsourcing and automating your accounting is one of the best things for your business. Not only will it save you a lot of time, but also a lot of headaches. Let a pro handle it. There are also a lot of cool apps and integrations for Shopify that make this easy.

Look at the things you are doing or have to do to get your business up and running. Can you hire someone to get it done faster or even better?

Automate As Many Processes As Possible

Thanks to technology and the amount of tools available on the internet, automating aspects of your life or business has never been easier. There’s potential for you to automate some aspects of your ecommerce business to allow you to put your time in the things that need your attention.

The first thing most people automate is their social media. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite allow you to schedule your Tweets and Facebook page posts ahead of time. While it’s still very important to have that human touch to your social media, it’s also a good idea to sit down on a Sunday night and schedule out a few Tweets and Facebook posts for the week.

The next thing you can automate is your email marketing. Set up an autoresponder sequence of emails that go out automatically after a visitor opts into your email list. For example, instead of manually emailing your list weekly, set up a 12 week newsletter full of great content, ahead of time.

It might also be worth it for you to explore other things you can automate in your life and business. Sites like IFTTT provide a lot of opportunities for you to save time on things you might be doing everyday by automating them.

Conclusion

As a sidepreneur myself, I know the struggle. It’s a battle for your time everyday. However, persevering despite the struggle is one of the most satisfying things in the world. I was always told being an entrepreneur was the most difficult job in the world. If a sidepreneur has less freedom and time than an entrepreneur, then naturally it beats out the entrepreneur for this title.

Work hard, hustle, stay motivated, realize your passion and remind yourself on a daily basis why you are doing what you are doing. If it’s that important to you, you will find the time to work on your side business and hopefully make it become your full-time business if that’s what you eventually want.

I encourage you to leave a comment below and put a stake in the ground. Tell me and tell yourself that “yes, I can and will do this!”. If you’re not quite ready yet to commit yourself as a sidepreneur tell me why. Let me know what is holding you back and I will address it. If you have any questions, be sure to let me know below, as well.

How To Fit Sourcing Into Your Busy Day to Day Schedule

It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to make a blog post. A lot has changed for me too!

I currently have two jobs now. One, is full-time at a rehab center. I’m in Dietary, making all the old people food. And the second is at my dads shop, but I haven’t showed up for a while because of my other job. The hours are nuts, one shift will be 3-8 and the next day they want me at 6 in the morning, and it’s a half hour drive. But regardless, I met a lot of new people. And one lady is moving and she knows I sell on Amazon and eBay on the side. She offered me a lot of coffee mugs today, and I asked if she had any books, and offered to pay for them. She said if she has any she’d be willing to give them to me! I offered a lot of newspaper I usually use for packing paper for eBay sales, but those have been slow.

There is a really nice Goodwill right down the road from there. Which is nice because before or after a shift, I’ll stop and source. Every time. I’m still sourcing for books and mugs. When I get some good paychecks rolling in from my new job, I plan on doing retail arbitrage. And just the other day I sent in an FBA shipment of about 50 items, mainly books. It felt SO good because I haven’t sent a shipment in for a long time.

But regardless if I’m dragging my butt after a long shift, I still get my self out there to source. It is vital if you want to make anything on FBA. Source daily. If you find your self without any time to travel 20 minutes one way to a Goodwill, then start by scanning items in your clearance section when you go grocery shopping. The other day, I had to run up to Home Depot for my mom, (were redoing our bathroom,) and noticed that there was a clearance section. At first thought, I didn’t want to go over there. But I made myself and started scanning. I ended up buying 4 bottles of bedbug remover (ew,) for $1.93 and its going for about $8. Of course I bought them up and sent them in!

It’s simple things like that often get overlooked. And I know I didn’t buy much, I bought something. And somethings better than nothing.  But other wise, I’ll be keeping this post short and sweet! And I’m going to get more into a schedule of posting! Promise!

The Single Best Way to Get Traction for Your Ecommerce Startup

Let’s set the record straight.

If you are brand new to running an ecommerce business and think that “doing light SEO, social, or ads” is going to be a path to overnight success… stop what you are doing and read this closely.

If you want early traction, the problem you need to solve immediately is getting in front of as many real people who’re actually interested in what you sell as fast as possible. Posting to an empty Facebook page isn’t going to help.

Relying on Google to send search traffic, at least right away, is a risky bet too – they don’t tend to trust new websites right away.

I get it, some part of us really wants to believe that all it takes to be an online success is a couple of posts to Facebook, all of our friends will be interested, they’ll tell all their friends and BOOM our store is “the next big thing.”

But it doesn’t work this way. There’s been a huge disservice done to an entire generation of entrepreneurs who have been bred to believe that if their product is good, it’s their customer’s job to market the company for them.

Nope.

If you want traction for your ecommerce startup, you have to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and start reaching out to people you don’t know.

We’ve become so afraid to ask that it’s like we’re waiting for someone to give us permission to live our dream.

“I don’t want to come off as spammy.” “But what if they turn me down?” “People don’t like being sold to.”

The thing is, most everyone has it backwards.

Once you’ve reached out to bloggers, you can build up your backlinks that’ll contribute to your SEO. Once you have customers, you can direct them to your social accounts. Once you have sales, you can build an ad budget and experiment.

But if you put these things first, all you’re doing is scrambling to get a return on the time and money you’ve invested and you’ll likely find yourself at a deficit.

Remember there was a time before the internet when hustling was the only way to do business. People went door to door, they hit the phones, they sent out letters and heard “no” often.

Realistically hard-nosed hustling is still is the only way to start, and the tools the internet provides – Social media, SEO, etc. – only enhances the efforts that are built on that foundation of hustle.

Watch this video from Gary Vaynerchuk, and realize that, to some degree, this is what you need to be doing every. single. day.

Even if you’re not doing exactly what Gary is doing, that’s the hustle you need to bring your “thing” into the world.

That might include:

  • Requesting guest posts
  • Asking for product reviews
  • Reaching out to potential cross-marketing partners
  • Getting featured in videos
  • Getting on the shelves of local stores
  • Pulling a stunt that gets press

Instead of posting to an empty Facebook page, partner with someone who runs an active page or group. Instead of “Pinning” to empty boards, get featured on an active Pinterester’s board. Talk to people with reach.

Do things that actively put you in front of people so that you know without a shadow of doubt they’re seeing your message. Do this until it’s near impossible to manage on your own. That is what you need for traction.

SEO, Social media marketing, paid ads… these are great if (and it’s a big IF) you have the knowledge, skills, and budget necessary to do them justice. But from my experience, new entrepreneurs default to these when they haven’t put thought into a marketing plan and don’t want to face the harsh reality of rejection.

It’s easy to blame Google for not sending you traffic. It’s easy to blame Facebook’s algorithm for “killing reach”, it’s easy to blame not using the right hashtags on Instagram, or calling Twitter too noisy, or not using “compelling” enough headlines, or pinning to the right boards, or using the wrong call to action…

It’s easy to gravitate towards these tactics because it’s easy to blame things you have little control over when they don’t work out.

Watching that cursor blink as you try to think of the perfect subject line, knowing there’s a distinct possibility that the person you’re about to email might say “no” or worse, tell you your idea isn’t valuable enough, or unique enough, or just plain not good enough… That’s much harder.

It’s hard to stay focused after dealing with rejection. Waking up everyday feeling like you’re on the brink of something great even though you’re the only person who knows it; that’s difficult.

You have to trust that what you’re trying to do is worth fighting for, and if it isn’t, that you can learn from it without letting negativity destroy you.

If you want early traction, you need to send emails until your fingers blister. You need to make phone calls and talk to people you feel you have no business talking to. You need courage to do it confidently and thick skin to handle rejection.

If you want early traction, you need to reach out and take it.