A quick backstory: About nine months ago I made the decision to start approaching my book hobby as a real, legitimate business. I had dabbled in selling books on and off for nearly a decade, but a friend of mine finally encouraged me to take the FBA plunge (I’ll explain more of those reasons in a future post). My initial goal was to make enough money selling used books to pay my monthly mortgage. This seemed like a rather daunting task, so to make it more manageable I broke it down into a simple goal: to source, list, and ship 100 books each week to Amazon’s warehouses. I had a full-time marketing job where I traveled roughly 30% of the time, so I had to carve out time in the evenings and on the weekends to accomplish this goal. My initial experience with books indicated that it would take some time to build a sizable business, since books are more long-tail in nature. For example, if I listed 100 books in the first week, I may only sell 2 or 3 of them by the next week. As I built up a larger inventory of books over time, the sales would steadily increase to the point where I could be making some decent income. It’s an incremental, cumulative business model that rewards you for persevering. Before starting out, I created a simple spreadsheet to help me estimate what my sales might look like a few months down the road. Here were those initial assumptions:
- 100 books listed each week
- 2.5% inventory turnover per week (conservative estimate)
- $1.00 average cost per book
- $20.00 average selling price per book
- $0.50 per pound in shipping expenses to ship to FBA warehouses
- 60% of my sales dollars would be profit after factoring in all of Amazon’s fees
Based on those assumptions, this is what my initial sales estimates looked like:
(note: every third month above contains 5 weeks, which is why there are sales spikes in months 3, 6, 9, and 12)
The first month projected a loss of $300, which was due to slow initial sales coupled with inventory and shipping costs. Month two projected a modest profit, and then the sales really started to accelerate! By month six, I estimated that I would net nearly $2,000 in profits – in a single month! By the end of the first year, the total profits could potentially exceed $20,000. This was definitely some life-changing revenue, especially for a part-time venture. With these goals in mind, I set out on my FBA journey.
The 100 book weekly challenge: Based on the above figures, I challenge you to source and list 100 books a week for the next year. If you can set aside a few hours a week and a few hundred dollars of initial capital, you will be well on your way to some significant supplemental income. (Disclaimer: The above figures are NOT intended to be a guarantee of your financial success. Individual results will vary. My results so far have been even better than estimated above, and I hope yours are as well!)
Bonus: If you’d like to commit to the 100 book challenge in 2018 (or beyond), check out our detailed website that follows the stories of two gentlemen who attempt to source and list 100 books each week for 13 weeks in a row (3 months). We’ll post their actual numbers – including buy costs, total sales, sell-through rates, and profits – as they each attempt to sell $10,000 within 90 days. Join in on the adventure here!
Tortoise or the hare? You won’t get rich quickly selling books on Amazon, but you CAN build a sizable income stream with just a few months of calculated work. You won’t be able to quit your day job next week, but if you stick to a solid plan you could bring in a solid part-time (or even full-time) income within half a year. This blog is designed to help kickstart your path to financial freedom with a step-by-step guide to help you scale your Amazon FBA book business. Whether you are just starting out or already have a sizable FBA book business, it is my hope that this blog will make your business even more profitable. I am by no means an expert book seller, but I look forward to sharing my experiences with this community. I know that I will learn even more through interacting with each of you!
Bonus #2: If you’d like to map out your own weekly challenge, download this free spreadsheet to play with the variables and see what’s possible in building your own book reselling empire. Can you only commit to 50 books a week? Perhaps 250 per week? See what’s possible for yourself!
Future blog topics: Here is an outline of what I plan to discuss over the coming weeks and months. If the topic appears in blue, click the link to jump to that specific blog post.
- Why sell books? Why use FBA?
- What tools do I need to get started?
- Sales Rank Part 1: How to interpret sales rank
- Sales Rank Part 2: How to build your sourcing strategy related to sales rank
- Understanding Amazon’s fees and thinking at a margin
- Selecting a business model that’s right for you
- Which categories of books have value?
- Creative ways to find books
- Pricing strategies
- Repricing strategies
- Analyzing whether a book’s condition matters much
- Dealing with customer feedback
- Hiring others
- Online sourcing
- Sourcing while traveling – by airplane or while on a road trip (or yet another road trip!)
- An interview with a former librarian
- An interview with a start-up success story
- An in-depth view of the Amazon book market throughout the year 2017
If you have any topics you’d like to add to the above list, comment below and let me know!
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