30 Day Blog Challenge

Happy New Year Everyone!

I realize I haven’t posted in this blog for quite some time. We’ll, life happens.

As you can see from my previous posts, I probably did not finish the challenges I had set for myself. I was doing the subscription based business as well as the Amazon Challenge.

A lot of things have happened over the last couple of months and I got distracted with my business. For example, I went from losing a major client in my website design business and hence has to scrape for dollars. Things have been, quite rough, I must say over the past couple of months.

At this time, I do not have a stable income source. And the funny thing is majority of the online ventures I am in have some expenses. Apart from this, I am the sole breadwinner in my young family. Yes, you heard it right.

I was blessed with a baby girl on March 28th ūüôā

My girlfriend is currently staying at home to take care of the baby and hence I am the sole provider.

How Have I Been Surviving?

Well, like I said before dollars have been tight. I have a couple of web hosting clients that renewed their hosting accounts the last few months. Apart from that, I have been writing as a freelancer for Zerys, The Hoth and The Content Authority.

At the moment, The Hoth is my primary source of income. I get paid $1 for writing 100 words I a day, I can comfortably write 9 articles, so that’s $36 a day. However, some days there are no articles to be written so I barely reach that target. I would say I am averaging at about $20 per day at the moment.

Well, $20 is not a lot but it’s manageable where I live

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Of Goals and Sticking to the Plan

It’s been a couple of months since my last Amazon Challenge update. The truth is that I got stuck. Life gets in the way.

I recently read a post from one of the people I follow online about focus. And I totally relate to it. I have not been able to focus on majority of the projects I have because of spreading myself too thin.

Of late, I have been thinking whether I should solely focus on a single project till success of juggle them.  The allure of following multiple projects is always there. As an online entrepreneur, there is the temptation to own multiple web properties.

To be honest, online businesses are easier to manage and maintain. The major task with them is usually marketing and creating content. Sometimes, you need to let the marketing take off before you take the next steps.

For instance, if you are building backlinks to your online website, you may need to let the links sink in for a few weeks and see how your site performs before you move on to the next step. What will you be doing during the time that the site settles? Work on another venture.

And that is what I am doing.

However, I am also finding it difficult to keep up with the projects. For half of the day, I do freelance web design or writing for clients. These works are necessary for me at this time as they pay the bills.

For the remainder of the day, and during late nights and weekends, I work on my online ventures. But I usually get too tired or stuck with some processes here and there.¬† When I’m stuck, I don’t make any progress.

And this explains why I have close to 10 online venture, most of which have only have a domain name set up. With 2016 coming up and I reaching age 30, I feel I should be more focused and dedicated to my online ventures. I just don’t know how to go about them.

At this time, I am thinking I should evaluate all the projects I have, write down all the steps or activities needed for each and come up with a timeline for implementing them. For some projects, the bulk of the work is on creating the website while for others, it’s in marketing.

I need a plan to follow. A systematic goal/plan sheet with defined timelines and milestones that will

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August Recap/September Goals

Howdy reader,

If you are here today, you can bet you are among the <10 people reading this blog. Yes, the blog is still in its infancy and I haven’t done any promotions on social media or any other avenues.

In fact, I write on this blog as if it’s my journal. My business journal. So, count yourself lucky that you’ve stumbled upon it ūüėÄ

I haven’t provided any updates on my TAC Project over the past one week. I took a brief hiatus to Uganda and couldn’t access the Internet for one week. Now, if you think you can’t live without the Internet, you’re lying to yourself. You can survive it…trust me.

One thing that I’ve realized after stay internet-less for one week is that my mind is more clear and I’m feeling more energetic. Perhaps I was nearing burnout with the TAC project and needed the one week break.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that there is a lot of clutter on social media that makes the head just full with everything but progress. I came back to over 100 notifications on Facebook and from glancing at them, it’s the usual hullabaloo in the marketing groups.

So, as September sets in, I’m resolving to spend less time on social media, especially Facebook. Yes, there’s a ton of good information on the site but also a lot of distractions.

I’m also cutting down the time I spend reading marketing blogs. I believe everything I’ve read so far is sufficient to help me with my online businesses. No offense to anyone who’s blog I’ve been stalking with comments.

With that said, let’s do a recap for what happened in August and what’s coming up in September.

August Recap

i) Started the Millionable blog. This is my personal business journal documenting my journey to making a million dollars online.

ii) Started The Amazon Challenge. You can read all the posts under the challenge here.

August Stats

Traffic stats (if you care): zero visitors

Income: zero dollars

September Plans

i) Start promoting the Millionable blog. I will basically do some social media sharing and blog comments.

ii) Continue with The Amazon Challenge.  This will be my main focus.

iii) Finish building my web hosting website and start looking for customers.

iv) Create social media profiles for the Blog.

Issues Arising

A number of issues have arisen during the course of The Amazon Challenge. The major issue is that I will need about $300 to $1000 dollars for the initial inventory.¬† I hadn’t planned

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TAC Day 9: Competition Evaluation (Con’t)

Welcome to the TAC Day 9 post.

You may be wondering why we are on Day 9 from Day 4. Where are the posts of the last 5 days?

We’ll there haven’t been any posts for the last 5 days. Truth is, the competition research is taking longer than I expected.

When doing the research, I had to take a new approach to the products I was targeting. For example, I had to research some of the products further because they were too wide.

Apart from this, I had to strike off some products from the keyword list because I realized they did not fit the criteria I was following.

Here’s what I mean:

For example, if one of the products I was targeting was “wine racks”, there are a lot of wine racks on Amazon. For instance, there are wooden wine racks, metal wine racks, bamboo wine racks and so on.

For such products, I had to drill down to find the profitable keywords.

These are the products that have made me take time with the product evaluation. At the moment, I have 12 potential products that I have to evaluate. I have already finished evaluating 9 of the products. So, three more to go.

Hopefully, I will be done with these three products tomorrow and move on to the  next step.

What I have to point out is that this phase of competition research is easy but tiresome. If you have time, do it yourself.

If you want to save time, hire a virtual assistant to help you.

That’s it folks.

In other news, Happy 29th Birthday to me!

TAC Day 4: Evaluating The Products

This is my TAC Day 4 post. But today is day 5 in my TAC Challenge.

I should have posted yesterday but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to because I did not have electricity at home. You know, third world problems.

Anyway, I have just finished evaluating the list of products I came up with on my last post.

To be clear, I want to build a formidable brand that I will be proud of and can even sell sometime to the guys from Shark Tank! No, not really. What I mean is I don’t want to simply make some few affiliate commission or sales on Amazon. I want this to be A BUSINESS. Generating some revenues worth making heads nod.

So, from the 16 products I came up with,  this is how I evaluated them:

i) Must have the potential to be sold for $10 or more on Amazon.

ii) Should be small and lightweight (preferably less than 2 pounds). This will make shipping cheaper.

iii) Is allowed to be sold at Amazon. This was simple. I simply went to Amazon and looked whether the product is available.

iv) Durable and not prone to breakage. I don’t want refunds from customers should the items break.

v) Can be private labelled. To determine this, I simply  searched for the product on Alibaba.com Generally, nearly all products you find at Alibaba can be private labeled.

vi) It should have the potential to be sold with other complimentary products to the customer. Remember, we are building a brand here, not a one off home-run. This is why complementary products are a must in the selection process.

When I was coming up with my product ideas, I was searching based on the above rules. Therefore, as expected, most of the products fitted the criteria. However, I still found some that did not fit and I am glad that I will not be building my business around them.

Here is how my Excel sheet looked like:amazon-product-evaluationI have reduced the products from the Product Column in the Excel file. That will be a post for another day.

Anyway, from the 16 products, I will not be further evaluating the 3 that do not have complementary products that can be sold to the same customers.

My next step is to evaluate the competition of the remaining products and hopefully know the product that will be a home run.

Until next post,

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TAC Day 3: Finding Product Ideas

Hey everyone!

Welcome to TAC Day 3.

Today, I spent most of the day doing research on the various products I may be selling on Amazon. To be honest, doing research is time consuming and boring. I have not been using any tools to make my work easier. I don’t even know if there are tools that can help you do this.

Amazon Niche Product Ideas

Now, like is the case with all businesses, I need a niche to enter. I did not have any idea on the niche I would enter. I simply went online and did some random searches on products off the top of my head and from inspiration from different places.

One of the places I looked for ideas on what to sell on Amazon is Reddit. Here is a handy subreddit that has tons of ideas on what you can sell on Amazon.

I could have also gone through other routes such as:

i) Looking at niche forums

ii) Doing keyword research

iii) Checking questions on social media (Facebook and Twitter)

iv) Checking Amazon and eBay best seller lists

v) Search for products in evergreen niches

However, I simply decided to let my mind wander and see what I can find. I was specifically looking for products that get a high number of searches per month (over 10K) on Amazon, and that I can private label.

The major focus today was on getting product ideas. At the moment, I have found 17 product ideas that I will further test tomorrow. All the products get over 10K searches.

Some of the the further tests I will be doing tomorrow include:

i) Checking the number of reviews of the top products in the niches at Amazon. Ideally, I want a product whose top sellers do not have a lot of reviews. In particular, I will not go forward with any product whose top sellers have more than 1000 reviews.

ii) The products must have a potential to be sold at a premium price. During my research, I have been avoiding products that are sold at less than $10 on Amazon. All the products I have chosen are on average been sold at $10 or more.

You don’t want to go with a product that sells for less than $10 because that will not be your net revenue. There are Amazon fees to be considered, shipping fees, etc., which can eat into your profits drastically.

iii) The product should ideally be able to be sold with

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TAC Day 2: Business Model

Welcome to The Amazon Challenge Day 2.

Today, it’s all about the business model I will be following.

There are two main ways in which you can sell on Amazon. The methods are:

i) Wholesale/Arbitrage model

ii) Your own product/ private label model

With wholesale/arbitrage model, you simply get items for cheap at one source, and then sell them at a markup on Amazon. For example, you can buy items in bulk from a manufacturer and then sell them at retail price on Amazon.

I will not be following this model mainly because it is time consuming and the markups are not worth the time it takes to get everything set up. Rather, I will be going the private label/own product route.

With the private label/own product route, you simply create or private label a product to sell on Amazon. For example, if I want to sell mosquito nets, I can get one with my own label/brand and sell on Amazon. Here, I will need to find a manufacturer that allows private label, get them to put my label and then I can start selling.

The benefits of owning your brand on Amazon is that you don’t get to compete with others on price since you are the only one with the labeled product. Moreover, you can position your item¬† to be premium and hence charge a higher price and enjoy better margins.

This is the model I will be following.

Amazon FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon)

To be clear, I will not be keeping inventory in my house. It’s simply not practical since I am outside the US and shipping from my country can be quite prohibitive. So, I will be doing Amazon FBA.

What Amazon FBA simply is, is a way to get your products available to customers easily and more cost effective. What you need to do is ship the items you want to sell to one of the Amazon warehouses across the US, and Amazon will take care of fulfillment. You won’t have to worry about shipping, packaging, customer care, etc. Amazon will do everything for you.

Anyone can get started with FBA, regardless of the country they live in.

Unanticipated Events

There are a couple of things that have come up that I hadn’t anticipated before:

i) Amazon Seller Central Fees.  To do FBA, Amazon offers sellers 30 days trial and then charge $39.99 per month for the service. I will have to budget for the cost of the monthly service.

ii) Cost

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The Amazon Challenge (TAC)

Welcome to The Amazon Challenge.

This is my personal challenge in which I will try to create a profitable Amazon business in 90 days, starting…today.

By profitable, I hope to get the business earning profits of a minimum of $1000 per month by 7th November, 2015. The challenge starts today!

Now, to be clear, I don’t live in the US. So, if you live outside the US, this will be a good case study to follow. Most of us outside the US usually feel there are many obstacles to making it online compared to what people in the US have.

This is the fun part. The bigger the obstacle, the greater the hustle.

This is no easy ride. It’s a hustle.

The dream is free, the hustle is sold.

To be clear, I have no previous experience in selling on Amazon. I have even never bought anything directly from Amazon because most sellers on the platform do not ship to my country (I’m in Africa!)

It’s gonna be a wild ride.

So, what’s up for Day 1? The easy stuff.

DAY: The Resolutions

There are three things I’ve resolved on Day 1 of The Amazon Challenge (TAC). These are just personal resolutions that will keep me on check and track to completing the challenge.

The first thing is I will dedicate at least 1 hr every day for the challenge. The 1 hour may extend to more depending on how much time I have. However, one hour will be the minimum.

Sometimes, I may put in more hours, for example during the weekends or when I don’t have any work from my freelance writing clients.

3 Principles of Amazon Success

For any online business, there are three principles of success that one should follow. Don’t ask me where I got them, but here are the principles:

i) Treat it like a business. Yes, it’s online based and you may only need a website of Facebook account to run it, but you have to treat it as a business. Even as a side business if you already have another business taking much of your daily time.

ii) Don’t reinvent the wheel. This is simple. Look at what successful businesses are doing and copy them. No need to come up with a triangle wheel!

iii) Take Action. Nothing beats taking action. Small actions done on a daily basis will take you closer to achieving your business goals.

These are the 3 principles I will be following in my Amazon challenge.

It’s 7.21pm

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My Subscription Box Business

From the last post, you already know that I’m starting a subscription box business. ¬†I love the business model because of a number of reasons, including:

i) Relatively easy to do. I mean, you simply need to find the products for your market, pack and ship them. Who can’t do that?

ii) Easy to Scale. If you choose the right market, it can be easy to scale the business from a few boxes a month to thousands of shipments.

iii) Less upfront cash. Since buyers are ordering the items first, you don’t have to spend your money ¬†to buy inventory. Simply wait for buyers to order and use their money to purchase the items.

NB: This may not however apply in all situations.

iv) Variety of Marketing options.  The sub box business is one online venture that does not require SEO to be successful. To market a sub box business, you will simply need to find communities where your target market hang out.

Let’s be honest; SEO can take a long time to get results. But by reaching directly to the communities where your market is hanging out, you can make sales without having to wait for months for your website to rank.

With these in mind, I have jumped into the sub box business. To begin, I have already registered a domain name and at the moment, I am developing the website. I will be using WordPress for my site since I’m most familiar with it and it can handle ecommerce ¬†well.

You however do not need to use WordPress. I have seen sub box sites hosted on Shopify, Magneto, made from ASP.NET and other platforms. Simply go for what you feel will be right for you.

I highly recommend WordPress is you have experience with it. If you don’t know anything about site development but want to get your hands dirty, a solution like Shopify would be great.

Inspiration for the Sub Box Business

I was a freelance writer for an ecommerce payment gateway startup when I was first exposed to the subscription business model. I wrote articles on SaaS (Software as a Service) and along the way, wrote about sub box businesses like Birchbox.

At the back of my mind, I wanted to own one of these babies. I mean, the allure or recurring revenue; who would pass that opportunity?

Now, here I am launching my sub box business. But where did I get the nudge or elbow push to

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Subscription Box

I’ve always wanted to start a recurring subscription business. Imagine having a number of customers paying you X amount of dollars every month for a service?

I’d come across recurring subscription business in many forms in different forums. For instance, in BHW (Black Hat World), I would usually see guys renting links to high PR sites for $X per month.

I have also seen the SEO and inbound marketing agencies offering service packages for X amount of dollars every month or over a certain period. And then, of course, there are the numerous membership sites online.

I’ve subscribed to a couple of subscription based services in the past and for the most part, I found myself not using the services/tools. For instance, there was a time I kept my subscription for private proxies from a company on for more than one year. And then there was a time I rented a VPS for 8 months and perhaps only used it about¬† four or five times during the period.

What kept me subscribed to the services/tools was the low price. I mean, I was paying about $12 and $24 per month for the private proxies and VPS services per month. This isn’t a lot of money. But when you do the math over a year, you realize I just gave someone over $100 of my hard earned money and I wasn’t getting any value from them i.e. I wasn’t using their services.

When it came to subscription renewal, I always thought to myself: “This month, I’m going to use the service maximumly”. But you know, stuff happens. There are clients waiting for their articles from me and using the tools wasn’t going to earn any money for my rent et al.

Anyway, the whole point is I’ve lost quite some money staying subscribed to services that I did not need. Luckily, I pulled the plug on the subscriptions and now have other places where my money is going.

So, why would I want to start a subscription business?

Benefits of Subscription Business

The obvious benefit of having a subscription business is the almost guaranteed income you will have at the end of the month. If you have 10 customers paying $X, then you know every month you will have $10X in revenue.

There are a number of things that you should be on the lookout when dealing with subscription business. The most important are growth and customer retention. First, you want

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