Here is How I Began Making Cash on Amazon

  • Deanna Slamans and her husband turned full-time Amazon sellers in 2015.
  • It took them two years to earn a revenue, they usually made one mistake that price $12,000 in a single day.
  • Slamans mentioned to achieve success on Amazon, it’s important to be a risk-taker and use your creativeness.

This as-told-to essay relies on a dialog with Deanna Slamans, a 49-year-old Amazon vendor who additionally coaches different sellers,  from Hershey, PA. The income her enterprise, Wonderful Freedom, made has been verified by Insider. The next has been edited for size and readability.

In 1999, My husband Andy and I turned home mother and father on the Milton Hershey College. In 2012 we began promoting on Amazon after listening to about it from a pal and fellow home dad or mum. We shortly bought hooked and had no concept that by 2022, we would be grossing greater than $10 million in Amazon gross sales. 

I had a really tumultuous and, at occasions, violent childhood. Each my mother and father had psychological well being issues: My mom had bipolar dysfunction and in the end dedicated suicide, and my father, who had schizophrenia, spent most of my life in jail. Residing in Pennsylvania, my aunt, who ultimately cared for me and my sisters, enrolled me and my twin within the Milton Hershey College. 

The Milton Hershey College modified my life. I bought an ideal training and noticed the chances that existed for me. After I met my husband in school and graduated, we lived and labored in Philadelphia for just a few years. We have been silly with cash. We purchased a home and sunk some huge cash into it, purchased new vehicles, and simply saved spending. The choice for us to ultimately return and grow to be home mother and father was a simple one. 

All through our 15 years as home mother and father, we helped elevate round 100 junior high- and  excessive school-aged boys whereas additionally citing our two organic kids. Finally we wished to spend extra time with our personal kids and wanted to get good about our debt. That is when our pal first advised us about Amazon — we left home parenting in 2014 and have become full-time Amazon sellers the subsequent yr.

The important thing to our Amazon success was recognizing developments shortly and following them intently

In the beginning, we bought used books from library gross sales and thrift shops, as a result of that is what our pal was promoting. We moved on to a number of random objects — Nerf weapons, Legos, and a bunch of stuff.  

To resell an merchandise on Amazon, you simply stroll into any retailer and scan an merchandise’s barcode with a characteristic that is within the Amazon vendor app. The app shows doable revenue margins and what the merchandise is value on Amazon. Our method was to solely purchase merchandise that might double our funding, so we may simply cowl Amazon’s vendor charges, app subscriptions, shipping-supply prices, and extra. 

Boxes waiting to be shipped to Amazon fulfillment center in Deanna Slaman's garage.

Shipments piled up in Slamans’ storage.

Courtesy of Deanna Slamans

I used to be satisfied it might be a viable enterprise when the film “Frozen” got here out. We lived close to a bunch of shops, and my husband paired “Frozen” flip-flops with a “Frozen” hooded towel — he made 200 units they usually bought like hotcakes. Developments like “Frozen” promote shortly, and you can also make a bunch of money earlier than it dies out.

If we discovered a marketable development and will get an satisfactory quantity of product, however there wasn’t sufficient time to get it to an Amazon success middle, we would promote it on eBay. Promoting on eBay is quicker as a result of we’re sending the product on to the shopper. 

Whereas Andy labored for the Amazon enterprise full-time, I stayed at Milton Hershey College and wrote curriculum. I did this for 3 years in order that we may sink all the things again into the enterprise. At that time, even our children have been serving to with packing, delivery, and no matter else they might.

It took us two years to generate a gradual revenue in our Amazon enterprise

Through the first yr, our earnings simply broke even. We made sufficient to maintain our Amazon account open and canopy the price of prepping and delivery, however it wasn’t something we may reside on. We actually could not work a number of hours on the enterprise as a result of we have been nonetheless home mother and father, and it was worrying to maintain merchandise in our on-line retailer. 

We determined to alter our technique and search for objects with bigger revenue margins — instruments and outsized objects like furnishings — and we researched extra merchandise that weren’t as saturated. We took a threat and typically our buys did not work out. In these circumstances, we needed to drop our gross sales price simply to eliminate stock earlier than Amazon storage charges took the remainder of our funding. 

Deanna Slamans and her family.

Slamans posing together with her husband and kids.

Courtesy of Deanna Slamans

One night earlier than settling into mattress, we arrange a coupon code with a view to get extra eyes on certainly one of our merchandise. However in our haste, we set it up the incorrect manner inflicting the product value to point out as $0. Our code was truly a free giveaway that price us $12,000. We did not catch our mistake till morning when it was too late. 

We determined to go away the toys behind, besides throughout the Christmas season, and to go deeper in our pocket to actually scale our enterprise. In 2017, Andy began constructing a private-label fabric diaper model to promote on Amazon. That product shortly ramped up and we bought that model to a brand new proprietor in 2020, so we may put all of our vitality right into a garden and backyard model that we have been launching. These gross sales ultimately allowed us to purchase our dream home.

Promoting on Amazon requires planning, investing, and risk-taking

When getting began on Amazon, it’s important to be a risk-taker. Do not be afraid to get in early on a product that you simply really feel has potential. Should you take a wait-and-see method, another person may trademark your product or make an mental property declare — particularly for those who’re concerned with making a private-label model like we did with the material diapers.

In the case of sourcing merchandise on Amazon, it’s important to know your funds, the product’s value, and for those who can efficiently reinvest your earnings. If you get the income, you could have the self-discipline to place it proper again into the enterprise, as a result of that is the way you earn a living. Additionally, you by no means know what sort of bills you may have to cowl with a view to develop the enterprise.

I do not need new or younger sellers to suppose they need to increase their enterprise earlier than paying off debt. Once we first began promoting on Amazon, my husband and I used our income to repay bank cards and get out of debt. Now we have now sufficient to go away cash within the enterprise and let it develop. Final yr, we made greater than $10 million in gross sales, and we have now a group of 47 individuals who we will comfortably pay to run our Amazon enterprise.

To grow to be a profitable Amazon vendor use your creativeness 

Take into consideration how you can promote a product and stand out throughout a time of yr that is actually busy. Contemplate bundling objects, like Andy did earlier than the “Frozen” premiere with the flip-flops and towels. Throughout Christmas, you can browse light-up reindeer antlers for adults, but in addition have a look at antlers for canines and infants as nicely. 

One factor my background taught me is that relating to enterprise, you simply maintain attempting. I do not need to say there isn’t any such factor as failure, however there are at all times different choices. If a method of working is not working, strive one other manner.

Editor’s word: Slamans didn’t share her 2022 revenue with Insider.

Correction: March 24, 2023 — An earlier model of this story misstated when Slamans mentioned she heard about and began promoting on Amazon. She recalled first promoting on Amazon in 2012, not 2014, and doing so full time beginning in 2015, not 2016.

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