Are you interested in how to make money on Amazon FBA? You can make a fantastic income selling on Amazon, IF you know what you are doing. I have an in-depth interview for you with 6-figure Amazon FBA seller/entrepreneur Jessica Larrew from The Selling Family. She will dish all about how she did it, and how she balances her business with being a mom.
I am very excited to share with you my new series on the blog: Money Moms! I will be interviewing successful mompreneurs from many different fields who are juggling mom life with bringing in the dolla dolla bills. These moms have diverse jobs and businesses…some of these jobs you might never even have heard of before.
Many of these jobs are online or work-from-home jobs, and these wonderful ladies will share how they started up and grew these flexible businesses so they could make a great income while having more time at home with their kids. They break it all down so you can learn how to make this happen for you too!
So sit back with a cup of coffee and get inspired by these incredible women!
Can you really make money selling on Amazon?
I am stoked to begin this Money Moms series by interviewing Jessica Larrew from The Selling Family. I have “known” Jessica online for about a year now, and I am inspired by her business and story. Not only is she a successful entrepreneur, but she is such a warm person and a great teacher and you will just love hearing from her. One of my side hustles was making money on Amazon selling books so I was especially interested in learning from her. I will let Jessica tell you in her words all about it!
Q: Tell us a bit about you and your journey to working online – what do you do, when did you start, how much you work per week, etc.
A: I think I’ve always known that I would end up working online. Even when I had a full-time job, I still liked to try different ways of making or saving money. When I was in my early 20s, I was couponing, blogging, and selling things on eBay.
But I got my official start as an online entrepreneur in 2008. That’s when I was laid off from my last 9-to-5 job. I was young, newly married, and knew that I didn’t want to search for another full-time job. So I pursued online business instead.
I spent my last corporate paycheck on inventory from yard sales to sell on eBay. It actually only took me a few months to replace my full-time income with eBay profit.
I was definitely hooked on working for myself! But because I was hooked, I knew that eBay wasn’t going to cut it for me. eBay is really time consuming so there’s a limit to how much you can earn (especially if you don’t want to work long hours).
Becoming an Amazon FBA seller
Taking photos, packing up orders, and driving to the post office was wearing me out. Luckily, I had met some other eBayers who were talking about this new thing from Amazon called FBA (which stands for Fulfilled by Amazon).
With FBA, Amazon handles a lot of the reselling process for you: they store your items in their warehouses, pack them up, ship them to customers, and even handle customer service and returns.
I could tell that this was the solution to my problems and tried it out right away. Suddenly the time that I used to spend dealing with listings and customer orders was all spent buying new inventory.
Because I buy inventory using the Retail Arbitrage method (meaning I buy at stores like Walmart and Big Lots), I got to spend more time out in retail stores. This allowed my business to grow SO much faster.
It grew so fast that I had to start asking my husband Cliff to help me prep my inventory. And by 2011, the Amazon business was making enough money that Cliff was able to quit his corporate job to help me with Amazon. We’ve been working together ever since!
Q: I understand if you don’t want to share exact numbers about your income, but IF this is something you share, we would love to hear what your average online income is per month
A: Our numbers have changed a lot over the 9 years we’ve sold on Amazon.
After our first full-time year as Amazon sellers, we made $100,000 in profit. That was off of about $300,000 in sales.
Now when I say full-time sellers, that’s probably not most people’s definition of full-time! Because we had a young son, we only worked on Amazon at night and on the weekends.
We would typically spend one full day out in retail stores buying new inventory each week. That would be the only day we’d have to spend away from our son. In the busy season (November and December), we would spend more time in stores, but it’s worth it because you can make SO much money in those 2 months. We often make half of our yearly Amazon income from holiday sales alone.
Because of the way FBA works, we could do everything else from home. We’d prep our inventory on the kitchen table, pack it into boxes, and have UPS come and pick up our shipments. I could do computer work throughout the week to work on things like pricing my inventory or doing bookkeeping.
We grew our business by always reinvesting a portion of our profits into new inventory. There’s a really powerful snowball effect that happens when you reinvest your profit instead of keeping it all as a paycheck.
These days, we work on our Amazon business a lot less. I’d say we source for about 5 hours each week and we try to get one shipment off to FBA each week. Our Amazon store still does at least $5,000 in sales each month on this schedule.
We scaled back on Amazon FBA once I started some other online businesses. I started blogging about Amazon FBA years ago and that led to creating courses about Amazon as well.
Q: How do you balance work with family?
A: Honestly, it happens pretty naturally, but that’s all by design. The reason I started FBA in the first place was to make sure I had time to spend with family.
We homeschool our son so we’ve always worked around that schedule. We also include him in our Amazon business.
When he was a toddler, he would help us out by placing inventory into bags or removing price tags off of boxes. Now that he’s older, he helps us shop for inventory. He even used some allowance money recently to buy his own inventory. He was able to turn $20 into $132 in profit!
For us, that’s really the best part. We love to be good role models of what it takes to run your own business while still spending time together as a family.
We love that we’ve strategically created a business where we can still take a week to go to Disneyland (even if we end up shopping for inventory on the drive home!).
Q: What was the hardest thing about figuring out how to make money on Amazon FBA?
A: When I first started selling on Amazon, there were almost no resources available online.
That means anytime I had a question I had to dig through the Amazon help section or just take a guess. I made some expensive mistakes while trying to figure it out on my own.
There were also way fewer products and services geared towards Amazon sellers. So I had a lot less information about the products that I was evaluating. The tools just weren’t that sophisticated.
Now, in 2019, it’s kind of the opposite. There is SO much information online and tons of products just for Amazon sellers. I definitely see new sellers end up losing money because they think they have to purchase dozens of software subscriptions right away to run their Amazon business.
So now I think that information overwhelm is probably the hardest thing about getting started. I recommend following a step-by-step system for selling on Amazon instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
That’s how I ended up creating a course about how to sell on Amazon FBA. I really just wanted to lay out the steps that allowed me and Cliff to grow our business.
I recommend that my students start small and invest more in their business as it becomes more profitable. This makes for much more profitable Amazon sellers who stick with it for longer.
Q: Why do you think you have made money selling on Amazon where other people haven’t?
A: I know that I succeeded in Amazon because I stuck with it. In the beginning, the biggest part of that was because I had to. We had bills to pay and I needed to be making money to cover our expenses.
In my experience, the people who don’t make money on Amazon give up too quickly.
Sometimes it’s literally in the very beginning. Those first few trips looking for inventory can be really tough. You may spend an hour scanning inventory at a giant store like WalMart and go home empty handed.
Some new sellers will use that limited experience as “proof” that Amazon FBA doesn’t work and pack it up for good. What they don’t know (that I wish they knew!) was that they might be just one scan away from a profitable item. The Retail Arbitrage method really is a numbers game: you have to scan a BUNCH of products before you start finding winners.
But some sellers end up failing because they don’t adapt to changes. I’ve been on the Amazon marketplace for nearly 10 years and it’s definitely changed a lot.
I try to be calm and rational about this business, so even when a change from Amazon might seem like a big deal, I know that I can just adapt.
For some people, though, the changes from Amazon are too much to handle. The ones who aren’t willing to adapt are the first to declare that “Amazon is dead!” and jump ship. Well, here we are in 2019 and Amazon’s third-party marketplace is bigger and more profitable than ever 🙂
Q: What is your best advice for how to make money online?
A: My best advice is probably to have realistic expectations. The first few weeks or months of any business might be tough, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up!
Amazon FBA is not a get rich overnight kind of business (I don’t think there are really any of those out there). In fact, I recommend that Amazon sellers plan on reinvesting their profits back into their business for the first three months. That means 3 months without a paycheck.
But it’s all part of treating it like a business and not a hobby. I know that shopping for inventory at Target may feel like a hobby, but you’ll have so much more success if you treat it like a business.
That being said, one of the things I like most about Retail Arbitrage is that you can test the waters. You don’t have to make a huge commitment or have thousands of dollars to invest.
How to become an Amazon FBA seller who makes good money
But your results will be so much better (and you’ll make money faster) if you take it seriously. This may mean investing in a course instead of improvising or it may mean learning how to do basic business tasks like tracking expenses.
Because I talk to a lot of sellers, I’m able to see the difference between sellers who take it seriously versus casual sellers who give up and start looking for the next big thing. I actually just had a student share in our Facebook group that she did $3,500 in sales in her first full month on Amazon. That’s pretty impressive!
If you’re interested in making money online and the idea of shopping for inventory in stores or online sounds kind of fun, I’d definitely give Amazon FBA a shot. I know people who have started off doing FBA just to cover a family vacation or “fun money” that end up earning a full-time income for their family!
A great way to learn more about this business model is through our free course, 7 Steps to Starting a Profitable Retail Arbitrage Business. This course will give you more information about selling on Amazon. It will even help you find what to sell on Amazon FBA that will be profitable.
I definitely think it’s a super fun way to make a full-time or part-time income online!
An Amazon FBA seller family success story
Thank you so much Jessica for telling us all about how you started up, answering the question can you really make money selling on Amazon, and sharing your Amazon seller earnings. No doubt that you have inspired and helped so many people!
I love that the whole family is involved, including your son. And I’m super impressed that he used his allowance money to turn $20 to $132 selling on Amazon. This is the kind of hands-on learning about money that I wish we were all taught growing up, very cool!
If you’re interested in selling on Amazon, you should definitely learn from the best and that is Jessica!
I hope you loved learning about how to make money on Amazon FBA from Jessica as much as I did!