If you missed the first part where I talk about the life situations that led me to start selling on Amazon, you can read that here. I got several questions asking for clarification on what it is I actually do on Amazon so I thought I’d start with that. I also want to share with you how my homeschool has changed with my different jobs to encourage those of you who are combining working from home and homeschooling. I’m pretty wordy usually, so that will probably take up all my words; if not, I’ll also tell you why my blog is not centered around my business (which goes against everything the experts tell you to do) and why I’m ok with that. If I run out of words, we’ll talk about that next week.
What I actually do:
I mentioned it briefly last week, but I’ll explain it a little better here. My technical job title is online reseller. I buy things and then (re)sell them on Amazon for a profit. Once I discovered that I really did love selling toys (any kid’s stuff actually) and was good at it, I focused on that. Going into a thrift store and looking through all the clothing to find something to sell is not my idea of a good time; but ask me to go into Toys R Us with my trusty phone scanner (more about that later) and I will gladly go and spend hours. Sometimes, it can take a little bit to find your passion (or niche), but once you do, you know it. I don’t get distracted anymore by other sellers talking about selling purses or groceries or makeup (yes, you can sell all those things on Amazon). I really love selling kid’s stuff and now that is my primary focus. I also love what is called retail arbitrage. This means I go into the stores and buy things to resell.
My shopping workdays look like this:
I go to a store (Target, Walmart, etc.). I have an app on my phone that will scan the UPC code of any item and tell me what price it’s selling for on Amazon, how many other sellers there are (my competition), the product rank (which helps me know generally how fast an item will sell), and the payout I will get after all fees are taken off (I subtract how much I’m paying for the item to figure out my profit). I don’t just buy things on sale or clearance. There are many items that I buy and pay full price. It takes awhile to learn how to know what to buy. There’s a definite learning curve, like any job.
My shipping workdays look like this:
I enter all the information for the items I bought into a special inventory accounting program I have. Then I label and pack all the products into big moving boxes and wait for the UPS man to come pick them up and deliver them to Amazon’s warehouses for me.
As I said before, I use Amazon’s FBA program, so I send almost all of my inventory in to the warehouses. Amazon then stores it for me, ships it to the customer when it sells, and handles returns and other customer service issues. My oldest son, who also runs his own Amazon business selling toys, helps me a lot. During most of the year, he actually does almost all of my shopping/shipping for me so I can write and focus on coaching. He’s pretty awesome!! I have to join in and shop a lot during 4th quarter, though.
Just for fun, here are some pictures I took of my SUV and a cargo van that we loaded with inventory during last year’s Black Friday sales. (Yes, I rented a cargo van to handle all the extra shopping for that day)
I will generally sell anything that makes a profit, but I will never sell anything that would tarnish my reputation or make Jesus look bad, even if there is great profit in it. My main focus is all about kids no matter what category it’s in – toys, kid’s clothes, shoes, and home goods, and groceries.
I mentioned above that I write and coach. I’ve been doing that for the last several years and have actually written or helped write quite a few e-books on how to sell different things on Amazon. My most recent project was writing a course detailing exactly how I find toys to sell. My son and I then developed a coaching group around that course. In doing all this, I figured out that I actually love to teach. I get so excited when someone in my coaching group learns something new or finds a new level of success. It is hard work and takes quite a bit of time, but I love it!
So, that’s what I do in as much of a nutshell as I can make it. 🙂
As for homeschooling…
When my 4 boys were all in school together, I was working as a travel agent and our church nursery director. The nursery director job was really flexible, and I didn’t have to talk on the phone much, so the fact that my home was never.ever.quiet was not a big deal. The travel agent job was a different story. This was before the internet took over that profession and I often had to be on long phone calls with clients or airlines/hotels/car rental companies. This was much harder to do with 4 little boys running around!! At that time, I did almost all lesson planning and curriculum assembling on my own. I would spend time during the summer planning out what we were going to study, ordering all the materials, and then writing detailed lesson plans. What can I say? I was young. I had more energy.
My older 2 boys were pretty good about following along with the lesson plans. They could read what they were supposed to do and then do it. The younger 2, not so much. I would have to be more hands-on with them. I tried to get school done in the morning and then work in the afternoon, but when you’re a travel agent, you have to work whenever someone calls you to help. Sometimes, I would have to put aside their schoolwork to get my job done, but then we would go back to it later. That’s one of the things I love best about homeschooling – it is SO flexible!!
As time has gone on and my job has become more vital to us doing things like eating and having a place to live, I’ve had to reevaluate and change the way I homeschool. This last year was probably one of the least involved I’ve been as far as being hands-on with it all. I now use an online curriculum (not public school online) from Alpha Omega. It is basically their Switched on Schoolhouse curriculum except it’s hosted in the cloud. (that became a necessity after 2, yes 2!!, computer meltdowns that lost all schoolwork) I can now go in and set up the yearly calendar, add kids and subjects, and then the program does all lesson planning for me. The 2 kids I have left in school are able to go in and see what work they have to do for the day. There are videos and helps along the way if they get stuck. I am still always on call to help answer questions or explain things, but they can be independent and that helps this mama out a lot!
Well, I have gone past my word allotment (shocking, I know!), so next week we’ll talk about why I’m going against the experts’ advice with my blog direction.
But first, I wanted to leave you with a quote that I posted on my personal Facebook page this week. The big word that kept coming to my heart regarding this was Valued. I want people to feel valued when they are with me. How do you want people to feel when they are with you?
Keep Dreaming ~