Why did you decide to start your ecommerce business using the Low Hanging System?
The LHS business model is one of the few online business models that does not require much capital or a lot of time to implement. It is a great complement to other online business models. I wanted to use the LHS model to fund our private label product business.
Where are you from?
I was born in Hawaii but I did not grow up there since my dad was in the military. Six months after I was born we moved to Germany. We lived in Germany, California and Washington State before moving to Virginia in 1975. I have lived in Virginia ever since. My mom and dad were both born in Hawaii but my grandparents came over from the Philippines.
What were you doing to earn money just prior to getting started with LHS?
I was a consultant at the time I heard about LHS. I did software development and other IT related work. We had also just started a private label product business. The product was manufactured in China under our brand and it had just been received by Amazon.
What made you sign up for LHS in the first place?
Well, I had several people promoting it to me back in June of 2016. And I initially said no, because I was working in Amazon Selling Machine Model, which I needed capital to work that model.
But on the last day, someone, who I had purchased products from before, offered some bonuses, and then I said all right, I’ll give it a try. And then, it’s turned out to be my most profitable business model that I’ve done.
What other business models have you tried and how did they go for you?
I’ve done flipping domain names. I’ve sold a couple there. I’ve done Facebook ads for webinar recording that sold a $297 training program. I sold a couple of those. I’m doing private label products where I have a… I may get a product manufacturer. This one wasn’t in China. I’ve done affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, and niche websites.
And I’ve made a little bit of money on each of them, but LHS has been by far the most profitable.
After signing up for the Low Hanging System, did you get started right away, or did you have any hesitations, concerns, or confusion?
No, once I went to the program, I decided to jump right in. My first listing was actually created on June 26, 2016.
So that was my first listing. Now, one thing that was a little different for me was since I was doing private label products, I already had a Professional Seller central account, and I’d already created a listing for my PLL products, so…
I was already familiar with those pieces and I already had them done, so it was pretty easy for me to jump right into LHS, since I already had that experience.
Do you remember how many designs you had before you made your very first sale with LHS?
[I’m] not quite sure, but my first sale was made on July 12. So that’s about 16 days after my first listing. And I was probably adding a handful each day, so my guess is just slightly fewer than 100 listings.
Approximately how many designs do you have up for sale now?
I have 2,578 active listings, but those also include variations, like 11 ounce, 15 ounce. And then black mugs and white mugs.
Typically, what we do is we sell just the 11 ounce white mugs, and then once we get a couple sales, then we’ll typically add the 15 ounce, and a black mug version of that. So, that’s typically how we do it.
What product do you sell the most of?
Eleven ounce white mugs are definitely our best sellers. Now, our top seller is black text with one simple image. But the next three or four best sellers are all just no images. Just 11 ounce white mug, black text only.
Very simple designs—those are always going to be your top sellers. We do sell some with images. We do make some fancy ones, with the full image and everything. And we sell some of those, but, our best sellers by far are just simple text ones.
Are you happy with the results you’ve gotten so far?
Extremely happy. It’s always fun, especially around Christmas time. New meaning, holiday season.
Around how much time would you say you spend doing some LHS-related activity each day, or each week?
For the last few weeks, [I’ve been] scheduling around 35 to 40 minutes each day for LHS. Because our current plan is to basically add four to five new listings daily. Basically. We’ve always found, whenever sales slow down, just adding new listings typically helps the sales. So, right now, we’ve just said let’s go ahead.
There’s someone else, I think her name is Jennifer, but she recommended doing 5 listings a day and I also agree, and I know Rachel suggested it. We’re just adding new listings every day. It takes me 30 to 45 minutes if I’m just taking my time.
You’ve got to love the integration. When we first started, integration was not available. So the newer people don’t know how lucky they had it because we went through our first holiday season where we sold hundreds of mugs and we had to do each one manually.
So this integration is awesome. It’s really complete. The only real thing I need to do is just add new listings.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently when you first started with LHS?
The one thing I would do differently is when I first started, I was adding listings daily. And then once I started making a decent amount of sales, I kind of slowed down a bit.
So the thing I would do differently is I would keep adding listings daily. Even if it’s only one or two. Because the other thing that it does is, not only does Amazon like that, you get more sales, but it just gets you in the mindset of creating new designs. And then what happens is you can look around and everything you see says, oh, that’s a design, that’s a design.
Sometimes I walked into Wal-Mart, and I would look at their designs and I would see all the novelty mugs they have and I would base designs off of that. So, that’s what I would do differently.
What has been the best resource for you to get help whenever you needed assistance in the past?
By far the Facebook group. It’s by far the best resource. Because what typically happens with other groups is after a while it turns into a customer support group and a lot of people complain. Then, it kind of dies out.
But this group is much more positive. A lot more people are willing to help. So that is the best resource.
Though, there is one tool that I would add. It’s called Bindwise. And what that does is monitor your listings. It looks for hijackers, if there are changes to the listings. Because once you get a few hundred listings to thousands of listings, you can’t monitor all of them.
So, about three months ago, it really saved me. Because what happened was I started getting these messages saying that a listing was suspended. I was like, “What?” Now, that happens occasionally, but usually Amazon sends you a notice, but it’s usually after they already suspended the listing.
Then I started getting more and more. And there started to be dozens of listings suspended. And it got up… so I had to contact Amazon, they said, what’s going on? And they said copyright violation. So I said, “Well, what is it?” And they… apparently… they said it’s something about Michael Kors.
Like, Michael Kors? That’s nowhere on my listing. They don’t even sell coffee mugs, I don’t think. Because I actually got on their website and looked. And so, Amazon went back and said that they had to go to another group to find out what was going on. That took a couple days. And during that day, over close to 300 of my listings were suspended, including some of my best sellers.
So, if I hadn’t had Bindwise telling me, Amazon would have told me after all my listings were suspended that, hey, we got to do that. But, Amazon cleared it up, said Michael Kors was nowhere in my listings, so they went ahead and they unblocked all of my listings. So you need some type of… so, it’s like $19 a month. There are other services, but this happens to be the one that we use.
To anyone who’s having trouble getting started, especially some real newbies, what advice can you share?
Again, it’s the typical one, really. You have to go to the Facebook group and talk to people. There are very few problems that people are having that we’ve actually never seen before.
So, basically, ask for help, but kind of try to be friendly. Because, sometimes, I’ve seen some people that are complaining and that doesn’t make people want to help you.
But Carl [Facebook group moderator] is awesome. And there’s a bunch of other successful sellers on there who gave great advice. I used to get on there early on and help a lot of people, but Carl was on there so quick, he just beat me to the punch all the time. I said, ah, he’ll do it.
But I still got on there… I still get in there occasionally. But another thing I’ll say though, that if it’s a problem with Amazon, which, I mean, there’s not much we can do to help with that, but you just have to be patient and persistent with them. Because Amazon can be a pain to deal with, but I’ve got so many stories where people just kept after them, kept saying we need to do this or that, and they would eventually get their problem solved.
Just be a little patient. Some people that have done this online marketing probably have never owned a business before, whereas, I’ve owned a business since 1996. So to me and my brother, who is my partner, when we run into these issues, it’s just kind of like par for the course. We say all right, what do we need to do? We need to do this step. If this doesn’t work, do we go to this step?
So that’s kind of our attitude, but that’s something you get as you run a business. So I just encourage some of these people if they’re never done an online business, or any business before, just keep moving forward. Keep asking for help. There are other people who’ve already done what you want to do. And they can help get you there. So just keep moving forward. I mean, this is one of the easier business models. Like you said, I’ve done a lot of different business models. And those are all a lot more complicated than this one.
So, I just encourage them, just keep moving forward.
What would you say to somebody who’s thinking of giving up?
One thing I would encourage them to do is just keep adding listings every day. Get in the mindset. Also, to at least keep doing it until you hit a holiday season. Because when you get through the holiday season, more than… probably about 50% or more of your sales will come through late October into early January. I mean, people are in the buying mood, so if you can just get in the mindset to just keep adding a listing every day or so, preferably every day, but every day or so, and then just get to October.
And after you go through a holiday season, then go ahead make the decision whether you’re not… because it doesn’t cost you any money. See, that’s the nice thing about this particular business model. It truly is one of the passive ones. Because you just need to add listings every day. So what we use it for, this is our passive model. So, we’re using the revenue from this model into another business model for our private label product. So it goes into our active business stream.
So that’s what I would encourage you. Even if you do decide to use a different business model, for example Facebook Ads to GearBubble, which I’ve done and will probably do later. Get more into it later on. You could use LHS because it doesn’t require any capital. It just requires time. So if you can set aside half an hour a day, boom, and then hit Christmas time, boom. You’d be surprised how… It’s just amazing the difference in buying that happens during Christmas time.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I guess one thing maybe is the scaling part. Once you do find a winner, send it in to FBA. You don’t really want to do it beforehand because you don’t know if it’s going to sell. I wouldn’t trust my judgment on whether or not something’s going to sell. I’m going to let Amazon tell me what’s going to sell.
So once you sell maybe a dozen or more, send it in to FBA because the conversion rate is much higher. So it’s kind of like giving a little kickstart. So, that’s kind of our business plan, just put up all these listings. The ones that sell, once you get 10, 12 or more, then send it in FBA and then just keep it in FBA. And they just keep selling. So, the whole idea was to put all of these other listings until you get a bunch of sellers and then just send those sellers to FBA. And then just rinse and repeat. Just keep doing it. And that’s how you can build a more sustainable model. Because FBA is really nice.
Results are not typical. Ecommerce sellers’ results will vary based on effort and skill, etc.