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Ebay to Amazon Success Story – And How To Do It (TODAY!) w/ Scott Voelker

December 9, 2019


are you ready to scale and outsource
your business okay let’s go welcome to the outsourcing and scaling show I’m
your host Nathan Hirsch a show where we talk about everything
Amazon shopify ecommerce and digital marketing let’s get started hey everyone
welcome back to outsourcing and scaling today I have an awesome guest Scott
Volker Scott how are you I’m doing great man
excited to be here excited to have you on I’ve been on the amazing seller a
bunch of times I’m excited to flip the script and every for a change for those
of you that don’t know if Scott is the founder and host of the amazing seller
podcast which is a top-ranked business show where he helps regular everyday
people start and grow their their own online business in e-commerce it’s not
as a serial entrepreneur that as bill help others build six and seven-figure
brands online over the past 15 years and is now taught and inspired thousands all
over the world through his take action approach which you will talk about but
before we do that I want to take a huge step back and know what was Scott like
growing up were you available were you a straight-a student oh you want to be an
entrepreneur I was definitely not a straight-a student I struggled in school
barely to get my C’s and I literally would pass my my tests are I’m sorry I
would pass my grade or my class because I did my homework and a lot of people
are saying minute Scott you did your homework I was like that’s the only
thing that allowed me to pass because I was not a good test taker I was a very
very bad test taker I got all nervous and I can I can’t really retain a lot of
information and like like read something and then be tested on it I get all
nervous and stuff now if I’m interested in something different story but if I’m
learning about like science or biology I’m gone I’m like lost so yeah I’m not a
very good student as far as being a rebel yeah I was a little bit of a wise
guy growing up I’ll be honest with you I got
I you know I got in trouble a little bit here and there like most teenagers but
wanted to be a rock star that’s actually was my my my big thing growing up is I
was played sports so I was pretty good at sports I did bask or baseball some
basketball but I did football but then I got I fell in love with playing guitar
and then had a band and had long hair and thought I was gonna be a heavy-metal
rock star so it’s awesome I was the same way I was passionate about something I
was all about it if it was bio or camera Oh or less no no I was terrible I mean
and again like math I love math as far as figuring out money numbers right but
I don’t like talking about like you know and anything like with you know figuring
out like the actual metrics of something or the fractions I’m like I’m kind of
gone like I don’t really I don’t want to know that but you know I could
definitely get into learning money numbers for sure counting so or in the
same boat there did you go to college I did not I did not so what did you do
after high school yeah immediately and what first up let
me back up I worked through high school at a restaurant and I had a pretty good
job there I say pretty good I mean I was a pretty regular at the restaurant they
trusted me I used to close the place so I had a lot of trust they trusted me and
I worked myself through you know through high school and then um I I wasn’t
really not that I wasn’t interested in college my back my father was a farmer
came from a farming family they had nine brothers and sisters and they were
raised to be on the farm some of his brothers and sisters only went to eighth
grade because once they were available to start working on the farm they worked
on the farm full-time so it wasn’t really instilled to me to go to college
so my thing was you know get a job work hard and have a you know honest living
like that’s that’s what I was Ray says so as I was working at the restaurant
one of my managers there her husband worked at a printing press called
quad/graphics which prints big magazines like People
magazine golf magazine all that her Golf Digest and she’s like you know they do
apprenticeships there and you you can work towards making like seventy five
thousand dollars a year now this is back then you’re going back 25 years ago so
I’m like okay cool sign me up and so I ended up doing that for about nine
months hated it I was in a factory hated the inside work and I decided to go back
to flipping burgers at the restaurant and then figure out what else I was
gonna do so that was like the first step out of high school but I worked the
minute that I got done with high school I had a job
like a 40-hour job so how did that transition into e-commerce verge the gap
a little bit there wow there’s a lot of gap there yeah I didn’t know anything
about even just the internet or I mean the internet was just starting to happen
back then never thought I would own a computer to be honest we guy told my
father I would never own a computer I said nah it’s a waste of time not going
to do it and yeah so I just to kind of bridge the gap a little bit on how I
even got into the online space my wife and I I was working construction for my
father’s company after I got out of the printing company I did another job at
the cable company and then my father hired me as a construction worker and I
were I learned a trade and I did that for about seven years I thought I was
going to own his company we built it into about a two million dollar a year
business back then that was a lot of money for a brick and mortar and
partnership wasn’t good that he had with his partner and it just kind of fell
apart and I’m like oh my gosh I invested all this time in here what am I gonna do
so my wife and I started a photography business knowing nothing about
photography and built that from scratch brick and mortar learned a lot about
business learned a lot about brick and mortar and I left my job and did that
full-time but then I stumbled on eBay and when I stumbled on eBay that’s what
really did change my outlook or my my path because my wife and I in the
photography business we would purchase these props for children we would do
like a lot of photography for children like Anne Geddes style and so my wife
was looking at these bridges that they were like a little four foot cedar
bridge that she was looking at them on eBay but then she’s seen them at a local
store that were selling for like 30 bucks and we heard people selling stuff
on eBay so she said I’m gonna buy one of these and see if we can sell it so we
listed it and we got bids on it almost immediately we started selling them for
a hundred and thirty dollars so we made a hundred bucks per Bridge and so I
remember taking the minivan but over to the the store and we loaded it up with
all that they had left we asked if we could order more and we sold them for
probably a good four to five months made probably about 20 grand put our kids
through private school with that money but it really opened my eyes to the
online world and what year was this oh gosh my son is 21 my daughter’s 23 it
was probably we’re going back now fifteen years ago six nine years ago so
early 2000s and and yes so that’s what opened my eyes to it
Amazon wasn’t even really a thing yet it was books but that’s what that was about
all it was but I was also at this point now learning the online game and I
started to see that oh well if I can sell this well maybe I can sell other
things and that’s where I started to sell digital items actually on CD and
actually I was selling digital templates that I was creating for my customers
inside of our photography studio so I would take those I put them up on ebay a
pack of templates that I would create for customers but then I would resell
them to other photographers and I’d sell them for 20 to 30 bucks on a CD or you
know at the time was a CD and I was selling those probably I don’t know
hundred bucks a week 200 bucks a week and then I started to build a little bit
of an audience on YouTube before YouTube was even a thing really and I built a
little subscriber base and I did my first digital my digital course and sold
about twelve thousand dollars in three days following the Jeff Walker
you know the launch kind of strategy and changed my world forever like
understanding like this this whole model of and for me what I learned was
building an audience serving the audience with useful content
building the know like and trust and then give them what they need and what
they want and then it’s pretty much simple Amazon came in after the fact we
can get to that but that’s kind of the gap it’s a big gap there there’s a lot
of ins and outs there but yeah that’s kind of what I learned going up or
getting into the online game when did you first hear about Amazon well
probably I heard about it but I heard people doing retail arbitrage right and
I didn’t know that’s what it was called at the time but there were like oh you
know you’re selling somebody BAE you could sell stuff on up on Amazon and
they’ll actually fulfill it and I’m like oh that’s pretty interesting
so I started listening to you know other people selling and doing like flipping
well they would go out and they buy something at a discount and then flip it
and sell it and I’m like oh I could try that but you got to remember to at this
point I had a six-figure business doing digital items for photography I was like
this and I don’t really need this but I’m an entrepreneur I kind of want to
dabble so I went into like a Walgreens or something I started to look at their
clear and I’m like I don’t know 10 minutes and
I’m like this is too much work like I don’t want to do this so I bailed on it
I’m like adds too much like I’m spoiled with digital products I’m spoiled with
you know being able to kind of like you know have something once and you know
create something wants and then sell it forever pretty much and so then I
started hearing about private labeling that’s when my light bulb went on and
I’m like this is like a digital item because I can find something that’s
selling well and then I can do a better job at marketing it or just you know
understanding the system and then just sell a whole bunch of it and just keep
reordering and that’s what I did right out of the raid out of the gate did a
little test order of that back then was a thousand units for like five grand and
it was a risky thing you know it’s like I don’t know if this thing’s gonna work
and within 90 days we did over 40k and I was like oh my gosh like this is this is
crazy so and let me back up real quick there
was another part of the story here when I was in the photography business I was
also doing this I was doing a film transfers cuz in the in the photography
world people would come to me in my in my studio and they’d go do you transfer
all the eat millimeter films do you do VHS to DVD and stuff and I’m like no I
really don’t but I probably should so I seen this device that that someone had
made that would transfer old 8 millimeter film I’m talking eight
millimeter silent films and I’m like oh maybe I’ll buy one and turn that into a
side business so I did that but when I got the actual unit I’m like man this
thing is just like a modified projector with a couple of lenses and some mirrors
I could build this thing so I built that and I sold about a hundred thousand
dollars worth of those those projectors on eBay so that was another part of it I
was like holy crap a light bulb but um I couldn’t scale that but then when I did
this and I made 40k or didn’t make it I generated revenue 40k in like 90 days I
was like oh my gosh that was a lot easier than putting together projectors
in my basement and selling them so that was the light bulb moment for Amazon so
you’re doing private label on Amazon and and back in the day when I started
having success on Amazon I almost took the mindset where oh my god this is so
cool no one else is doing it I want to do it by myself as long as possible I
don’t want to give other people the information which act wasn’t necessarily
the right decision although it all kind of worked
how’d you get into the mindset of okay I’m doing it this is working for me now
I want to share this with everyone else okay well I come from the I’m not
worried about competition a hundred percent as far as like sharing your
information number one um I’m a teacher at heart I’ve always been someone that’s
willing to share I’m always kind of at the party talking about what I’m doing
and I have a crowd around me that’s like you know what how are you what are you
doing I’ve never heard of that like how is this happening like I don’t get it
like so and I get excited about that so once I got into the photography space
and I built that business and then I built an online business because of my
experience I’m like well wait a minute here I just had some results on Amazon
why don’t I just go ahead and start sharing everything for free and just
build a little bit of an audience and see if I can repeat what I did over here
and it’s more relevant to what I wanted to kind of get out of the photography
game to be honest with you and this was a way to kind of do that and it’s funny
because I’m kind of at a pivot moment in my life right now because I’m kind of
coined as the Amazon guy and I don’t necessarily want to be considered the
Amazon guy I’m the guy that can create businesses online period right so you
know so as I was kind of doing this whole thing I’m like I’m just gonna go
out there I’m not gonna worry about monetizing I’m not gonna worry I don’t
even know what I would sell these people I have no idea I don’t even know if it’s
affiliate offers I don’t even know if I would create a course all I know is if I
can help people and they’re gonna let me know what they want to buy and then from
there I can see if I can offer it to them or maybe affiliate offers but I’m
not gonna worry about it and I did 56 podcast episodes before I made one penny
from from that from that that you know that move in business for me so in being
creating a podcast it’s fascinating and let’s talk business in general because
you’ve started a bunch of different businesses and success it seems like you
hit the ground running pretty quick if someone’s listening out there and they
want to start a business whether it’s a bakery and Amazon business a marketing
agency how have you had that success in that first 90 days in that first year
what would you tell them well I would say number one now looking back at
everything that I’ve kind of done even in the brick and mortar space you find
out your target market and and really focus on who you’re
serving and then just go all in on that see when I started on Amazon I kind of
fell into the same trap as let’s just find a hot product and let’s sell it
right and then now you know like years later it’s not like that if you launch a
product and that’s all you’re gonna do I can almost guarantee you the next time
you reorder your next order you’re gonna have ten other supply or ten other
competitors coming in with the exact same product so the only way to separate
yourself now and to protect yourself and I call it future proofing is really
going out there and understanding the market you’re serving building a brand
that is going to serve that market with products and yes you’re going to use
Amazon as one of the channels to sell your product like that’s it but it
always comes down to figuring out the market what they want niching down
finding out what they want what they need I like to find three to five
products instantly that you could sell that one customer because that way it’s
easier to sell to that same customer that it is to go find new customers we
all know that and then from there just keep you know really focused on serving
that market with information content helpful useful stuff and products and
how do you go about building an audience cuz I think there’s a sense of trust
there people they see you as reliable someone who they’re gonna listen to what
you say they’re gonna use the vendors you recommend and it’s a lot of
responsibility too how do you go about building that audience and maintaining
it and maintaining that level of trust yeah it’s a great question well I think
it comes down to patience right so many people want the quick get-rich-quick you
like what’s the next strategy what’s the next hacked what’s how am I gonna get
more reviews like we’ve never went after like how to get more reviews like you
just we just don’t think of it that way we just think how can we serve that
customer better how can we follow up with them better so to me it’s about
patience and it’s about doing the stuff that other people won’t do I can
guarantee right now if you’re listening to this and you are selling on Amazon
you can look at your competitors go see if they have a website if they do it’s
probably crap you can probably tell also they don’t have much of a social media
presence so all they’re doing is they’re leveraging Amazon if you do the extra
work outside of that you can create multiple revenue streams multiple
traffic sources but it takes time right and to me
it’s adding value to the marketplace and if you add value its goodwill and people
will know like can trust you and so many people only focus on like 5% of the
market that’s buying right now on Amazon right Amazon is buyers we love Amazon
but in the same breath there’s 95% of the market that’s not ready to buy or
that’s not there so why not get in front of those people with helpful useful
content that eventually they’re gonna say you know what that person just
showed me how to catch more bass I’m gonna buy their bass fishing lure like
it just makes it makes common sense right I mean it’s already much basic
stuff but so many people are like how do I get my next customer how do I get my
next customer instead of focusing on their current customers and how do I
deliver more value to the marketplace and that’s how you see e-commerce kind
of shifting now right towards the brand towards the the presents outside Amazon
still supporting the Amazon business and sales but that whole external factor
absolutely and that’s like I said if you want to stand out that’s what you do you
know there’s a there’s a current brand right now that we’re building we’ve been
building it out for 19 months we right now have external traffic in the in the
number I mean the numbers crazy over 250,000 impressions per month okay a
hundred you hundred thousand unique visitors an email list of over 30,000
people okay and growing and now we have an additional revenue streams outside of
that that’s totaling anywheres between and it depends on the month between five
and six thousand dollars basically profit because it’s through ads it’s
through affiliate commissions it’s through a book that we have running
right now a digital guide all that’s external but it’s also bringing in
potential buyers that can also feed our Amazon business which is doing you know
thousands of dollars per month so you know I mean like it is the the whole
package but it takes time and you know it doesn’t it doesn’t mean it’s gonna
take you know seven years to do I actually had an attorney that was
interviewing me for his podcast because he’s getting into this space and he’s
like what do you say to someone that says but Scott it seems like a lot of
work I go how long did it take you to get your your you know your degree took
you six plus years and you didn’t know what you were gonna do once you got and
plus you’re in debt for how much but you were willing to give it six years
because you thought you’re gonna have that paycheck at the end well why
wouldn’t you put two years in and build something that could be
potentially semi passive right right so are you planning three months out six
months out a year out two months out what you’re creating this strategy now
to grow the brand how far out are you plan it well you know that’s a great
question too we’re always trying to stay a little bit ahead but we also have to
listen to the market because the market is always changing right there’s always
may be new new ideas or new products coming out that we can then create
accessories for or anything like that so we’re always listening to the market but
really right now we’ve pretty much got is systematized that where we’re just we
figured out that adding content on a regular basis and then letting our email
list know that we have new content driving traffic and then letting the
search engines and Google help get organic traffic over is just it
constantly feeds itself so as far as planning we don’t really plan all that
far ahead other than we just keep repeating what
we’re doing but we’re always keeping our eyes and ears open for what we should be
creating or what has performed well in the past and then putting another spin
on it right instead of reinventing the wheel but it’s a lot of just repeating
what you’ve already done versus trying to find the next shiny object yeah it
makes a ton of sense so let’s shift gears a little bit you’re on the
outsourcing and scaling show let’s talk about the teams that you’ve built the
people you’ve hired you’re running a podcast you got your Amazon business
growing a brand how have you hired people and structured these teams yeah
well you know it’s funny and I met you and after I met you I started going
through the process of finding you know other people that can assist us not even
just as a full-time but more as like a one-off job maybe and it’s funny because
you know you and I met at I believe it was at cellar labs event resonate and
man I’ll tell you what a lot of people even my listeners they had a lot of
great things to say about freeeup and I’m like that’s awesome because I’m
recommending them and I haven’t used of all that much at that time I have now
sense but a lot of people even on my inner circle which is a high high level
you know there’s seven-figure businesses you know they’re they’re using your
services but a little plug for you but you know good good job building such a
great platform and a good marketplace but the way that we’ve really done it
now we’re I’m all about slow and steady and
you know not trying to grow too big too fast but to me it’s always about dude
what do you need right now okay and then finding that person that’s either going
to find the people or the person that you could just say let’s give them a few
projects to try to slowly build out what we don’t necessarily want to do or what
we’re not good at right and that could be like for us like for me I’m not a
good writer right I’m not good I wasn’t good in school I wasn’t I’m not a good
writer I’m not good at English I do write in all my own emails but I don’t
want to write my my show notes I don’t want to write blog posts I don’t want to
do that so I hired someone to do that right so they do that so now all I have
to do is what I you know what is kind of my superpower and I think we all have
our superpower it’s like I jump on the mic I can go ahead and ramble I can talk
I can rant I can do whatever I want and then someone takes that and they make it
look pretty and they make it so people can understand it and read it that’s
that person so that’s really what I’ve done so I’ve done it I’ve kind of made
it so I can just show up do what I do best and then hand it off and then it
gets it gets done now that wasn’t an overnight thing either it took me a
hundred and fifty episodes before I started doing transcripts which I had to
find someone that was good at transcripts took me a little while right
you’d get him you’re like oh that’s kind of gibberish that doesn’t sound like me
all right they didn’t take out the arms or they didn’t take out the pauses or
whatever right so it takes time but I would I would just tell people always
look at your current situation in your business where where do you put time in
that you’re like you know I could probably hire someone to do this I just
I feel like I want to be in my business all the time if you can get out of your
business your business will actually grow better free for you and it’ll also
free you up so you’re not having to say like oh my gosh tomorrow I gotta read it
I gotta write show notes I don’t want to write show notes right like I got to do
that or oh I got a I’m gonna do a transcript like who wants to sit there
and do a transcript but people that can type 100 words per minute they’re good
at it right that’s their superpower so I would just say slow and steady like and
don’t think it has to be like you’re gonna land one right away it might take
a few and you guys are really good at that because you guys kind of pre-vet
them for us and only give us a player’s which is really good right I love this
start to slow and the approach I think some people think I
just woke up one day and like hired 50 people it did you’re right yeah you
slowly build it up I’ll talk a little bit about your family I know it has
resonate your son was there he looked like he was really involved in the
business is your wife still involved and and how do you separate that that
business and personal personal that I think a lot of people struggle with yeah
well you know the thing is you know Mike I’ve got three kids I’ve got a 23 year
old daughter who will be 24 in July she’s married they’re looking to have
kids that’s crazy that I’m gonna be a grandfather insane yeah I got married
when I was young I’m gonna be celebrate my 25th anniversary here coming up so my
son’s 21 you got to be 21 and my other my other daughters 11 so that’s what I
do everything for Nathan like for me when I started our first business our
brick-and-mortar business in photography I did it because I wanted to free up my
time so I could be home with my kids and watch them you know at that exciting
time of their life like whatever it is and I was able to coach my son all the
way through Little League all the way up till he was 16 you on travel teams and I
coached and I never would have been able to do that if I didn’t make the choice
to work for myself and take the chances take the risks so for me it’s all about
family like yes I could make more money if I work more but I don’t want to right
so and I’m not one of these guys that’s gonna be like yeah I just sold a
business for nine figures and blah blah blah like I don’t care about that like
you know what that’s great you did that you’re like to me it’s like can you can
you wake up and do what you want to do in the morning I can right can can you
say I’m gonna block out this day and this day cuz my daughter has a recital
or this I can do that right but I couldn’t do that if I worked for someone
else right and I I experienced that so to me that’s what it’s all about and I
think my kids I’m really proud of them all because they all have an
entrepreneurial like they have the blood right like they have and they’ve heard
it forever my son who’s big into basketball he’s going to college to be a
physical education teacher but he wants to coach he’s also got a training
business on the side right so in a little funny story here I’ll share with
you and your audience I said to my son I go here’s what you got to do do have
these free camps everybody from the area know about you you’re gonna put on this
free camp it’s out outdoors you’re gonna get a whole bunch of kids to come in and
then the parents are naturally going to come up to you they’re gonna go hey do
you do any private the coaching and and then from there you
can say yeah I do and you can give him a special price you can build a little
email list on the side so what’s he do he does his first camp he gets a client
he does another camp he gets three more right now he’s got like ten eleven
clients paying him $150 for six sessions he’s going to college full-time he’s got
an an email list of about 50 people right but he sends an email out says hey
I’m gonna be doing a camp over here come on over and show up and he builds that
so again it’s just I’m showing him that give value buildin know like and trust
and the money will fly will follow and that’s pretty much simple and that’s
what I’ve been doing you know for years and that’s what I’m teaching my kids as
well so cool and I love the work/life balance I mean even people that don’t
work for other people there are tons of entrepreneurs that struggle with that
and have family issues or whatever it is because boy yeah take themselves out of
work so you got the podcast you’ve got these businesses you’re obviously a big
family guy and this year you’re putting on a conference called accelerator live
Karkos about that and why you’re excited about it
yeah well that’s another thing that I never thought I would do right I never
thought that I’d have a podcast as successful as it is or any of that stuff
and then the event that was just like one of those things I’m like man like
I’m never gonna do an event like it’s a huge responsibility there’s a lot of
logistics it’s not a huge moneymaker as people would think it’s actually I’ve
been told if you can he’d break even on your first one you’re
doing well so but I wanted to be able to serve the audience but I just didn’t
want to put all the work in so I had a buddy of mine actually a friend of mine
now that wasn’t but I met him as sellers summit which is Steve choose event and
he came up to me said Scott I’m a listener have you ever thought about
doing an event and I go nah man it’s a lot of work you know and I don’t want to
really get involved in that he goes well I used to be an event planner if you
want I’ll help you coordinate one I’ll do all the work and I’m like oh whoa I’m
listening and I go why don’t you why don’t you plan out what it would look
like come back to me with a proposal and let me know and we’ll see well long
story short we’re doing an event this September right and it’s called brand
accelerate live it’s me a smaller event it’s going to be under 300 people I’m
gonna cap it and it’s gonna be all about building a brand that’s future proof and
it’s yes it means optimizing what you currently have running on Amazon we’re
not saying don’t sell on Amazon and we’re saying yes on Amazon but protect
your brand from not just being dependent on one
channel diversify build that know like and trust with your audience serve your
customers go out there and show up in your marketplace with content that helps
people build that email list go on YouTube and build that channel if that’s
where you want to be if that’s where your audience is hanging out so it’s
really focused on that and the reason the other reason and I want to share
this is I had someone come up to me at seller labs I’m sorry it’s uh it wasn’t
money buying that conference and they said to me they said hey you know Scott
I I want to go to more events I just I love these events I love the energy I
want to go to another Amazon event and I go all right well let’s timeout for a
minute you’re at an amazon event you’ve been to another other you know one over
here and one over there you got to go to a digital marketing event right you got
to learn digital marketing like that’s where you’re gonna have an edge you
don’t need any more information about Amazon you know that if you want to come
to one or two a year perfect but why do you want to just keep going down that
road when you really should be focusing on building a brand and that comes with
email marketing and you know social media marketing and all of that stuff it
comes down to understanding marketing so and that’s where the other idea come in
I’m like I’m gonna create an event that serves both parties you can help you
build your Amazon business you know on the side there you know and then on the
other side we can go ahead and start building out your brand with the digital
marketing side of things and that’s really what I wanted this focus to be so
I’m super excited about it yeah it’s brand accelerator live it’s gonna be
September 18th 19th and 20th I believe it is if I have my dates correct I love
it guys definitely check that out thanks so much for coming on Scott really
appreciate it how can people find out more value I know they can go to the
conference you’ve got amazing seller podcasts anything else you want people
to check out no just go go to iTunes or stitcher wherever you like to listen to
podcasts and search the amazing seller and subscribe and check it out and you
can always go to the amazing seller calm and you can catch me over there awesome
and I’ll see you at resonate again this year probably see you at sell the seller
summit I’m sure I’ll see you all over the place we all yeah oh yeah awesome
Nathan I appreciate it man take it easy hey everyone thank you so much for
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