Learn to Blog For Money!

Learn To Blog For MoneyLearn to Blog For Money!

Do you have a blog?  Why did you start that blog?  I am fairly active in  several blogging groups and there is such a diversity of people of various ages, backgrounds and motivations who call themselves bloggers.  Precious few make any money blogging.  Most of those would say that they don’t do it for the money.  Yet, with a few tweaks here and there they could actually learn to blog for money.

Is there anything wrong with just writing for the pleasure?  No, of course not!  In fact if you start a blog and it gives you no pleasure, then you will likely soon abandon it.  I have abandoned a few myself! I believe that one of the secrets in learning to blog for money is choosing your niche well.

I know a person who created a website with over 350 blog posts and never made a cent. Nobody writes 350 articles unless they are truly motivated and honestly love what they are writing about.  Still, we all have to make an income and as long as you are not compromising your ideals in any way then there is nothing wrong with learning to blog for money!

On the other extreme are the people whose blog is one commercial after another.  They receive free goods and write about them.  That’s one way to get paid but then you have to keep on doing it over and over again.

Maybe I’m a little old fashioned but I prefer the cold hard cash!  And I’m not talking about someone paying me to write an article, again that is trading my time for dollars.  I’m talking about learning to blog for money in a way that pays you over and over again for years.

Almost three years ago an ad came across my newsfeed on Facebook.  That ad showed a woman who lived in a make money blogging at homemobile home and she had just upgraded to a cute little bungalow.  I was intrigued by it because I was being bombarded with ads that showed people who earned money online and were apparently buying mansions and driving big black fancy cars. I had even fallen for some of those ads and paid for expensive courses and I still didn’t make a cent!

Robin’s Pajama Affiliates course was the polar opposite of these.  There were no promises of easy money and lavish incomes.  She shared what she was earning and said she would show how she did it.  It was so opposite of what I had already been exposed to that I thought it had to be real!  I am so glad that I took that chance!  Not only was Robin Cockrell very real, I was soon earning actual dollars.  And there were no monthly fees and upsells and now you need this $1000 item or that $500 tool.  Robin keeps all her courses at an affordable level and I have even heard that she lets people who are struggling buy on layaway!  She holds crazy sales and sometimes her courses are cheaper than a Starbucks drink and pastry order!

I have been in Robins small Facebook group for almost 3 years now.  In that time I have made tens of thousands of dollars as a direct result of things she has taught me.  Just yesterday I went and paid cash for a new $700 clothes dryer using my ‘Amazon money’.  Three years ago that would have not been possible!

If you are not sure about taking this plunge even though the course prices are so low, then why not come into the Facebook group and just check us out for awhile?  The group is free and even just being there you will probably learn something you didn’t know. It would be nice if you let them know I sent you but if not, that’s ok too!

I can’t finish this without mentioning Robin’s new partner, Lesley Stevens.  She is the icing to Robin’s cake.  I have always called Lesley the Amazon Queen! She makes more Amazon commissions in November and December than most people make in a regular job all year. Lesley has done the content for the Amazon Masterclass and some of the Blogging modules and I learn something new every time I look at it!

This link will take you to Robin’s site where you can get an idea of the courses that are available.  Looking is free, the Facebook group is free.  And the courses are really affordable. And there is no pressure.

Who knows, maybe you will look back in three years and be writing a thank you article just like this one!

Thanks Robin and Lesley, I’ll always be grateful!

make money blogging for beginners


My Favorite Amazon FBA Software and Apps

amazon fba softwareMy Favorite Amazon FBA Software and Apps

There are a few Amazon FBA software tools, widgets and apps that I seem to use over and over again and I’m never sure if everyone already knows about them or not.  So I thought I’d get them in a list for people to know about them! Some of them are free and some are not.  You’ll have to decide what your time is worth when considering the non freebies.

Amazon FBA Calculator Widget

This one is free and you need to be using it!  I am in a lot of Amazon groups on Facebook.  I mostly lurk but I read everything to stay current.  And sadly there are many, many posts where people are completely taken by surprise at what they pay for Amazon fees.  So many newbies would avoid costly mistakes if only they would use this little bit of Amazon FBA software!  People seem to buy and send in stuff without having a clue about what the fees are and how much they will get when it sells.

Now I admit that when I was new, I went by the rule of thirds because I didn’t know about this. (The rule of thirds is I pay $10 for an item, I sell it for $30 and when it sells I get $10 profit, I get $10 to cover my cost and Amazon keeps $10 for fees).  That got me by but I really like this little tool.  You enter the ASIN or UPC of the item, it tells you exactly what the fees will be and what your payout will be.  I deduct my item cost and a buck for shipping and I know exactly what I’m going to get as profit.  Simple!

I give details about how I use this tool here.

This Amazon FBA calculator works for the US, Canada and Mexico and is available for Firefox and Chrome.

Download Chrome version here and Firefox version here.


AZL Labels

Up until recently, I have promoted ListLabelShip which then became ClickLabel or something like that.  However, one day it stopped working and my support emails were ignored.

So now I am using and loving AZLabels and it works beautifully with my awesome DYMO Thermal Printer!  You can print both item labels as well as shipping box labels.  It was super easy to install and use.

One thing that I really like is the pricing plan.  For a brand new seller, there is a free plan that allows up to 100 labels a month.  This should be enough to get you started and if you love it (which I think you will) you can upgrade to the standard plan (same price as ListLabelShip was and many sellers will fall into this category as far as volume) or the Premium unlimited Plan.

But if you are going to use the Dymo printer, then AZLabels is a must and you save both time and money.  When ordering the labels be sure to get Removable labels (required by Amazon), you can tell because most of the time they will have an R in the name.  I use these 30334-R Labels by House Labels.

Read more about printing Amazon FBA labels here.

Jungle Scout

Right now Jungle Scout is my most favorite bit of Amazon FBA software. I’ve only been using it for a few weeks but I figure it has saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars in potential buying mistakes.  In addition it has pointed me to products that I might not have noticed. How does it do that?

Well, it is a simple little icon that sits on your tool bar.  When you are looking at an item on Amazon you click the little Junglescout icon and it brings up a chart.  The chart shows the item price and rank and how many will sell in one month.  Further more, it brings up similar items and this is where the hidden gold is!  Is shows you who is selling those items (Amazon/FBA/Merch).  I have successfully been able to find items that are profitable with the BuyBox occupied by an MF seller.  These are products that I will source! You can see what I mean in the screen shot below of a Doc McStuffins bag that I was looking into.  I am now much more interested in the item below it that sells for $27.48, is Merchant Fulfilled and sells 943 a month!  And check out that rank! Do you see why I am excited about this!?

amazon fba software


Jungle Scout is not free, I paid $87 US for a one time fee.  Worth. Every. Penny.  I have made that cost back over and over again.  If you are interested, check out the Jungle Scout demo here.  Please note that JungleScout does not yet work for Amazon.ca.

(full Disclosure, I make $20 if you buy this.  But you should know by now that I only share things I absolutely love!)

The Ebates Cash Back Toolbar

The Ebates Cash Back Toolbar will alert you when you are shopping on a site that offers cash back.  For those that do online arbitrage, this is a goldmine!  The Ebates button will even alert you to available coupons.

ebates cash back toolbar

You can read more about how Ebates works in this article.  





Merchant Words

Merchant Words is a keyword research tool created by Amazon for Amazon.  It is a must if you do bundles, private label or make your own product listings.  It is free, sort of.  Most people can get away with using the free version because it allows up to 10 free searches a day.  With the PRO version ($30 a month) you get unlimited searches and also some extra information.  For my use, I’m happy with the free version. I make bundles and gift baskets.  When I was playing around I found out that 29,000 people a month search for a certain type of gift basket.  Guess what I will be making!?

Check out Merchant Words here.

Profit Bandit

Profit Bandit is a scanning app on your phone.  You can scan items when you are out and about and get an idea of profitability.

I like that I can switch back and forth between US and Canada quite easily and Profit Bandit is reasonably accurate.

I’m a little on again, off again, on again with Profit Bandit.  It’s $10 US a month and even though I don’t do a lot of RA, when I am in a store and I see something, I want to scan it.  That said, a friend in this business recently showed me the Amazon Sellers app which is free.  I’m experimenting with it and I might just have to switch again, we’ll see!

Amazon FBA Software – I’m sure there’s more good stuff out there!

I promise that I will add more Amazon FBA Software, Apps and widgets as I find that I can’t live without them.  If you have any that you think I should look at and add, then please let me know!

Please feel free to come and find me and ask questions in Amazon Sales Ninja Facebook group!


My First Year Selling Amazon FBA – Happy Amaversary!

selling Amazon FBAWoohoo, my first year selling Amazon FBA! The summer of 2015 marks my 1 year Ama-versary. And yes, the summer is almost over so I’m a bit late to my own party but that is because selling Amazon FBA keeps me pretty darn busy!

Did I do anything to celebrate this milestone? Why yes, I did! I celebrated by taking advantage of the Amazon North American Unified account (3 countries, 1 monthly fee) and sent my first box of goods over the border to a warehouse in the US. It took only 1 month to match the volume that took 6 months to sell here in Canada.

I spent the first year of my Amazon life selling only in Canada. I have to say that I learned an awful lot and I am happy that I went this route. It allowed me to slowly ease into this venture. Selling on Amazon FBA Canada can be frustratingly slow, but it meant that any mistakes I made were minor. I am in several ‘Selling on Amazon’ facebook groups and I have seen people come in, build very quickly, make a few mistakes and then have to fight to get their account back.

There is a learning curve to this, yet many come in from expensive courses that feed the idea of a GRQ (Get Rick Quick) and things go off the rails. This is an actual legitimate business that requires a lot of hard work, hours of research and getting your hands dirty while you learn.

My very first exposure to selling Amazon FBA was a $29 course that was basically a series of videos that gave an overview and a few basic how to’s. It was quite sufficient to get my feet wet. Whatever course you take or book you read, your very next step should be to immerse yourself in Amazon’s Seller University, which is free.

The best advice I can give anyone is to not fall for the idea that you need to spend thousands of dollars to learn the art of selling Amazon FBA. It is simply not the case. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer in continuing education and Amazon is no exception. I have bought several books, I join pertinent groups and I learn from the experience of others.  I have paid for some private groups and coaching to get further education and I buy ebooks that cover the specific information I need.

But as a newbie, you must first learn exactly what Arbitrage is, the psychology behind it and then try it out for a bit. Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats actual hands on experience. THEN you can decide what sort of coaching and further info you need. But as a newbie you don’t know what you don’t know and it’s easy to be snowed over by slick marketing.

Ok, so off my soapbox! This has been one of the most exciting years of my life and completely satisfies my life long dream to have my own gift shop, only it’s better. I pay no rent, I decide what to stock in my store and how much, I can go on vacation and the store stays open 24/7! Amazon deals with customers and returns. It really couldn’t be better!

If you do want to see what it’s all about and you don’t have a few extra thousand dollars laying around, take the Amazon Sales Ninja course for $29.  Not much to lose there, but I do know the price will be going up in 2016. Spend your thousands on inventory instead!

And if like me, you also have no money for inventory read how I started this business with no money!

Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions.  What have you got to lose?


Amazon Prime Day (Why We Should Care!)

amazon prime dayAmazon Prime Day (and Why We Should Care!)

Next week is Amazon’s 20th Birthday!  To celebrate, Amazon is having a global Amazon Prime Day on July 15, 2015.  So yes, this includes those of us selling on Amazon Canada!

Amazon is spreading the news far and wide and saying that there will be more deals than Black Friday.  The sales will start at midnight and there will be new deals and Lightning Deals every 10 minutes throughout the day.  There will also be unlimited Prime shipping.

Amazon Prime Day is a Win/Win/Win situation for all.

  • Amazon wins because they will undoubtedly sign up more Amazon Prime memberships
  • Buyers win because there will be so many deals
  • Amazon FBA sellers win because there will more people shopping and our inventory qualifies for Amazon Prime Membership benefits
  • Even non FBA sellers will win because there will be so many more eyeballs on Amazon that day, sales are bound to happen.

Since it is only one week away, if you have anything to ship to the Fulfillment Centres, ship it now!  You don’t need to be slashing your prices unless you want to.  Buyers will be looking for deals but they will also buy other things while they are at it.

Do you have any inventory sitting around that might be subject to the August 15th Long Term Storage Fees?  This may be a perfect opportunity to mark it down and get it sold!

If you are a buyer reading this, you may want to consider Amazon Prime membership.  What are the Amazon Prime DayAmazon Prime Membership Benefits?

  1. Free 2 day shipping
  2. Watch unlimited movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video
  3. Unlimited music streaming
  4. Unlimited photo storage
  5. Early access to Lightning Deals
  6. Free Amazon Prime books  (over 500,000 titles)

The Amazon Prime Member Fee is $99 a year in the US and $79 a year in Canada.  There is even a 30 day Free Trial if you are not sure.

If you are an Amazon seller then you are likely also a buyer and why shouldn’t we get some of those amazing deals as well!?  Just remember not to use your Prime account to buy items for resale as that is against Amazon TOS.

Ok, so are we ready for this!?  Happy selling! And buying  🙂


My Failed Amazon FBA Bundles for Mother’s Day

failed amazon fba bundlesMy Failed Amazon FBA Bundles for Mother’s Day

My Mother’s Day Amazon FBA bundles didn’t turn out as expected. I’m not 100% sure why, so this article is really just me trying to explore the situation and hopefully learn from it for next year.

Those that know me and my store, know that I absolutely love making themed gift baskets, which in Amazon speak we refer to as Bundles.

On Amazon, a bundle is a group of two or more complimentary products. This is different from a multi-pack which is two or more of the same identical product.

Example of Bundles vs Multipacks. Three identical boxes of Oreo cookies would be a multipack, while a variety pack of three different flavours of Oreo cookies would be a bundle.

Please be sure to read up on Amazon’s policies regarding bundles and multipacks. Bundles and multipacks usually require various sizes of poly bags which I buy from Amazon of course!

My Successful Amazon FBA Bundles in 2015

In January 2015 I decided I was going to give themed gift baskets a try to take advantage of seasonal sales.

Update March 2017 – I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I wrote this article!  I sell more bundles than anything else on Amazon and I have learned a ton.  Please check out my new article about the Book of Bundles ebook that I have written!

The first seasonal sale period is Valentine’s Day.

I made 4 different varieties of bundle all consisting of a cute Valentine plush, some Chocolate and a few amazon fba bundlesvarious trinkets. They were in the Amazon FBA warehouse by mid January and began to sell within a few days of arrival even though they were new products that I created and would have had no ranking.   In fact, I sold the last one on something like February 3rd, so I could have probably doubled my inventory and still sold out.

Valentine’s Day Bundles:

  • Target buyer: Men buying for their wife or girlfriend
  • Presentation: Traditional Valentine pinks and reds, traditional product choice of cute plush and chocolate. Packaged ready to give, just add card.
  • Price Points: $25 to $35

The next seasonal sale I decided to hit was Easter

Amazon FBA bundlesAgain, I made 4 different varieties of Easter bundles. These all consisted of some kind of plush and of course chocolates and candies. I also threw in other novelties and trinkets. All sold out in plenty of time before Easter leaving me to think that next year I will increase my efforts there.

Easter Bundles

  • Target buyer: Parents buying for their kids
  • Presentation: Traditional Easter plush with pastel colors and lots of candies and chocolates. Packaged ready to give.
  • Price Points: $25 to $55

Spurred on by the success of Valentine and Easter gift baskets, it seemed like a no brainer to do Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a huge shopping day both online and offline. I made 3 different bundles.

Mother’s Day Bundles

Bundle #1: I found some ceramic measuring spoons and measuring cups at Michaels. They were sort of a Tuscan theme. I was lucky enough to also find some attractive gift boxes at the dollar store that were a perfect fit. This bundle sold out within a couple days of arrival.

Bundle #2: These were based on some high quality Kitchen Towels that I found at Winners with a great logo: “The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home”. I bundled them together with a bag of candy and a tea strainer in a cookie tin. Sold out.

Bundle #3: I thought this was going to be a big winner! The theme was “Strawberry Tea Social”. In failed amazon fba bundlesthe package was a bag of Strawberry Rooibus Tea, some strawberry candy, a silicone tea infuser shaped like a strawberry and a bag of strawberry vanilla course sugar. All packaged in a cookie tin. Only 3 out of 20 sold.

Mother’s Day Bundle specifics:

  • Target audience: Anybody with a mother, aunt, sister
  • Presentation: All of the items fit perfectly in that cookie tin, so it was ready for gift giving but I don’t think that was clear in the photos or the description. And in hindsight as I look at the listing there is a sickening amount of pink!  Also, I ordered Strawberry Rooibus Tea, which is what I got, but I have no idea why the package says ‘Good Luck!’
  • Price point: The bundles that sold out were $29.97 but the Strawberry Tea bundle was $39.95. I eventually dropped the price to $29.97 but that didn’t make a difference.

In hindsight, I am reminded of how important being targeted can be. Trying to appeal to a wide audience does not always translate well online. The measuring spoons/cups and the kitchen towels are very clearly something that you think of with Mother’s Day. Very traditional gift for Mom as opposed to the whole tea and cool infuser idea which is not so traditional.

What will I do with these 17 failed Amazon bundles?

Luckily it only costs 50 cents each to recall them back to my home. I plan to dismantle and sell as a tea bundle. I’ll save the tins for next year, and bundle up the tea and sugar with cellophane and ribbons and send back in. I’ll update this article with a progress report on that.

I still love doing bundles and plan to continue. In fact my Father’s Day bundles are already in the warehouse and have been there for 2 weeks without a sale.  Am I worried?  YES!  But now all I can do is wait and see.

Would love to hear any of your Amazon FBA bundles stories, both good and bad! Please leave me a comment!can you make money selling gift baskets

Read about my new ebook The Book of Bundles here

Other supplies you will need for prepping/shipping Amazon FBA

Printing Amazon FBA labels






Things to Know About Selling on Amazon Canada

selling on Amazon CanadaThings to Know About Selling on Amazon Canada


While this guide is primarily written for Canadians who are looking at selling on Amazon Canada, US sellers who want to list and sell on Amazon Canada would benefit as well.  I just want to hit a few important points for you to consider.

How is Selling on Amazon Canada Different from Selling in the US?

The market is a lot smaller.  While my fellow US sellers enjoy dozens of sales every day, I think a good day is more than 10 sales! Our market is about 10% of the US market.  And it’s not just population numbers, Canadians just have not yet embraced buying everything online the way that American’s have.  This will hopefully change as the product catalogue expands.

The margins are bigger.  While I may have fewer sales in number, I do make more money on each sale.  Here in Canada we just do not have the same selection and availability of product.  So we charge more, sometimes a lot more.

The competition is less.  This of course will change over time but generally speaking, when I go to list a product there will be no other FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) sellers, and at most maybe one or two.  What’s more, the existing seller on the listing will more than likely be a US MF (Merchant Fulfilled) seller who is charging a crazy amount that I have no trouble competing with.

The shipping is a killer!  In the US, Amazon has a deal with UPS and so US sellers get a sweet shipping deal.  I am currently using Flagship (please mention this blog if you sign up with Flagship) but also check out Shiptime.ca especially if you are a Costco member.  For more info, I wrote this article on shipping. My first shipment cost me $7 per item to ship!  But now I am able to keep that below $2 per item.

Huge Update for Shipping to Amazon Canada FBA! 

Exciting news (March 2016).  Canada now has the same deep discounted shipping via UPS that they have in the US!  The price is amazing and now about 75% less.  I am saving probably $100 a week or even more.  After you approve your shipment in Seller Central, choose the Amazon partnered shipping.  You will get a UPS prepaid label as well as the usual Amazon FBA label (on the same sheet) for each box.

Once you have completed the shipment, log in to UPS.ca and create an account and schedule your pickup!  You can also drop off to your nearest UPS location if you prefer.

Your dollar and my dollar are not the same!  I am adding this paragraph in the summer of 2015.  If you are a US seller you need to know that our Canadian dollar is at historic lows.  If your payout from Amazon is $100 Canadian, you will only get $70ish.  Be sure to factor this in to your price. (Update Winter 2016.  Sorry now you only get $60 bucks for that $100 payout)

The ranks are kind of meaningless.  This has been an interesting learning experience.  When I was a newbie to selling on Amazon Canada, I was watching a lot of US based you tube videos and reading US based articles.  So I would make decisions based on their recommendations and the product would sit and sit.  At some point I realized that our product base is so much smaller than in the US.  So a toy with a rank of 40000 might be a good seller in the US, but here in Canada I need to be looking at toys under 4000 rank.

An item with no rank is not necessarily a bad thing.  In the Canadian Amazon marketplace we have so many products without a rank.  When I was new I avoided those like the plague.  But now I know that rank is only 1 piece of the purchasing decision.  Many of these items without a rank have only one or two sellers, usually from the US.  For example a Collector Hot Wheels car was listed for over $2000.  The item had no rank of course because who would ever buy it at that price!  I paid $3 for that car and listed it for $29 and it sold.  Then I sold 2 more at that price and now it has a rank.  This is an extreme example but I run into this issue several times a day and I no longer hesitate to list an item with no rank, as long as it is a product with a solid brand.

You will need to be comfortable creating a listing from scratch.  Again, this is because our Canadian catalogue is so small and we have fewer sellers.  I have to create brand new listings almost every day.  I actually really like doing it because I have more control.  A bad listing might never get seen.  New listings absolutely must have good keyword use in the Title, bullet points, Description and the Keyword tab.  I rely on my keyword tool jaaxy for this, but even some basic common sense is better than what I see on some listings.  For example there was a Valentine Gift Basket that did not have the word valentine anywhere on the listing and did not come up in the search results when I was researching valentine.  I came across it when I searched for chocolate.  Dumb!

What if I am a Canadian and I want to Sell on Amazon.com?

Shortly after I wrote this article about selling on Amazon Canada, I ventured over to Amazon.com and started sellingsell on amazon from canada product there.  I was absolutely blown away by the increased sales velocity!  It’s worth the smaller margins because you sure make up for it volume.  And I have now discovered that if you can source out products are hard to find in the US, the margins are huge along with the sales velocity.

But the biggest hurdle that we as Canadians face is that darn border!  Every single day I get questions from fellow Canadians wanting to know how to get their products into the US.

Luckily, fellow Canadian seller Duncan MacPherson has written a guide for us that has all the information that I wish I had 2 years ago!  He tells you what all the options are and about the forms, really everything you need to know!  All excuses are eliminated!

You can order his book right here!

Other things you can read

I have written other articles that are geared to newbies.  These apply to would be Amazon sellers from any country:

Book Recommendations

I would say that the biggest jump I had in my business is a result of further education.  I am one of those people who is willing to pay for more information/education because I know that I will earn that money back in the form of a bigger better business.  Any time I am stuck I either buy a book, get extra coaching, join a focused group, pay for a course on that subject.

I am most impressed by this series of books written by Chris Green, Arbitrage, Retail Arbitrage and Online Arbitrage.  If you can only get one and money is an issue, then get Arbitrage, it is only about $10.  The insight provided? Priceless.  Then as soon as you are able, buy the other two books.

I can also recommend Silent Sales Machine by Jim Cockrum, having recently read that one.

Best of luck in your new business!

How to Make Money Writing Blogs

how to make money writing blogsHow to Make Money Writing Blogs

Is it really true that if you write it they will come?  Well, the answer to that is only if you are lucky. Really lucky. How to Make Money Writing Blogs is another installment in my ‘Ways to Earn Online‘ series.  I have to admit, this one seemed so obvious that I have never actually written about it!  Yet, when I am out there in the online communities of bloggers, I am aware that many bloggers earn nothing for their efforts.

If by some stroke of genius you manage to pick the right keywords for the right market and then do the right things to promote that piece of writing, then yes, you could earn some dollars.  And I am not talking about sponsored posts.  That is a different angle all together and to me it seems like really hard work and I don’t do sponsored posts.  I have nothing against it, just don’t have the time or energy to craft an article around a product in order to get a small one time payment or some free product.  Not for me.  I am talking about writing an article that brings in money day after day.

This type of article on my blogs (yes I have multiple blogs and sites) brings me a steady source of passive income, long after I have forgotten I even wrote it!  Here are the important points to hit:

  • There is a demand for the information you are giving
  • There is not a lot of competition for this information
  • The SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is done on each and every article
  • The article contains compelling images which have also been optimized for the search engines
  • You have released the article to the right social media channels. (Don’t just blast it everywhere!)

How do you accomplish all this!?  And is this really possible?

So let me tell you that back in 2010 I worked in partnership with a family member on a website for almost 3 years without a single sale.  They gave up on ‘the website thing’ and I carried on myself.  I signed up for a couple different guru programs, spent money and still made nothing.  And then one day I clicked on a link for Pajama Affiliates.  And my life changed.  This may sound dramatic, and well it is.  Because it’s true.

All the sales pitches I had seen (and fallen for!) up to that point were slick, professional, and made make money blogging at homecrazy promises of mansions and riches.  And they made it sound so plausible.  Robin (owner of Pajama Affiliates) was the polar opposite.  She did a homemade video from her living room and in her southern drawl she simply shared what she had done and offered a simple “I will show what I do and I’ll answer your questions and help you along the way”.  She didn’t show any pictures of mansions and fancy cars.  She was more like “This is how I pay my bills”.  I was so against spending another dime on another product and yet I was so struck by how real and down to earth she was.

Within a month I had paid for the cost of the course.  And now, 2 years later I have a steady stream of cheques and online money transfers that come in.  It doesn’t yet pay all of my bills, but a nice bunch of them.  This steady stream is why I made the tag line of this site is “Many streams make a mighty river”. Thanks to Robin’s course and my beloved Keyword tool Jaaxy, I am building that river one stream at a time.

I would encourage anyone to take Robin’s new Home Blogging Course.  It comes at a lower cost than her full program because it just focuses on how to create a blog that earns income.  And this is where the bulk of my passive income currently comes from so I would say that this is an excellent deal!

If you do take the plunge I will see you in the private, for members only, Facebook Group.  And Robin and myself and many others who are paying their bills with blogging will be there to pay it forward and help you along!






Printing Amazon FBA Labels

amazon fba labelsPrinting Amazon FBA Labels

One thing that I notice a lot when I am interacting in the online Amazon seller’s community, is questions and confusion about labeling for Amazon FBA.

Do I put my own label on, do I cover the existing UPC, can I put the label on the bubble wrap, what printer, do I co-mingle or not co-mingle, so many questions!  I am going to try to clear this all up right here and now!

Amazon FBA Labels – Definitions

People get confused and mix up Bar codes, UPCs, ASINS and all the other names for product identifiers that are used on Amazon.  Amazon uses several different numbers and codes to track your inventory.  Each has a different purpose:

GTIN: Global Trade Identification Number is an umbrella term that includes all the numbers below. I only mention it because Amazon refers to it in Seller Central and when you see it mentioned it is referring to any of the below.

UPC.  Stands for Universal Product Code.  Every product sold on Amazon needs to have a unique identification and that identification is normally a UPC.  Think about when you go grocery shopping and they scan the code and the product description and price come up on the display.  They are normally scanning the UPC. You can walk into any grocery store in the country, pick up a tube of Crest toothpaste and the cash register will recognize what it is from the UPC because it is Universal.

While every product sold on Amazon has to have a UPC in order to create the listing, that does not mean that it needs to be printed on the item.  In a grocery store yes, but on Amazon no.  

ASIN.  The Amazon Standard Identification Number(ASIN) is a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier assigned by Amazon for product identification within the Amazon organization.

When you open a case with Amazon, they always ask for the ASIN.

Seller SKU. This is a number that is auto generated for the merchant (you) to use as your own Merchant SKU.  (SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit). You can also make it custom.  Some people come up with a SKU naming system that allows them to tell when they created the SKU and the cost.

FNSKU.  This is the code that Amazon generates and prints on your label as a scannable bar code.

When you print your label on your printer at home, you are not printing UPCs or even the Seller SKU.  You are printing the FNSKU, with a barcode that Amazon will scan when they receive your shipment.  This barcode is generated by Amazon and when the Receivers scan it they will know what it is and who it belongs to.

However, if you are creating a product page for an item that does not already exist on Amazon requires a UPC when you create the listing.  This mostly affects PL items and Bundles.  Most sellers use a third party company such as Speedy Bar Codes to obtain their UPC’s in bulk. These UPCs are bought in packs of 5, 10, 100, 1000 or more and are relatively cheap to buy.  However, this practice should be phased out of your business now as Amazon is rejecting more and more of these listings.  It is far better to apply for a UPC Exemption from Amazon.  I do this for all my new bundles now.

Some people think that Amazon now requires you to buy your UPC’s from GS1. Well, that is not true. At least not at this time.

However, the GS1 database does come into play now when you create a new listing on Amazon.  Amazon is now cross checking the UPC you entered against the GS1 database to make sure that the UPC you are using actually does belong to the registered owner of the Brand you are saying you have permission to sell.  This only affects people who are trying to list an item that already has a UPC and that Brand owner is registered with GS1.

Read more about the GS1 here on wiki.  And here is the link to the GS1 website.

What is Stickerless Co-mingling?

You will find this screen in the top right hand corner of Seller Central under Settings>Fulfillment by Amazon>Inventory Settings

amazon fba label requirements I highly, highly, highly recommend to DISABLE stickerless co-mingling of inventory like I have here.  When you choose stickerless co-mingling, Amazon is basically mixing your items with items from other sellers, and when someone buys from your buy box, they might get your item that you sent in, but probably not.

It is only an advantage if you sell counterfeit items (not recommended) or if you suck at prepping  your items and hope that the customer ends up with my item instead of yours. (Read how I prep here).

I aim to send FBA items in perfect condition that are well prepped.  So if someone buys from my Buy Box, I do not want them getting the item from another seller who doesn’t put in the extra bit of effort.  Last month I had only 2 returns for $10,000 in sales and they were both for reasons of ‘found it cheaper elsewhere’.  I can accept that.  I also do not want my buyer to get a potentially counterfeit item from another seller.  Many people had their accounts suspended last year for selling counterfeit Disney items (think Frozen Elsa dolls!) even though they sent in legitimate purchases.  The big downfall of co-mingling your inventory!

So if I have hopefully convinced you to not use stickerless co-mingling then yes, you must label your items (or get Amazon to print them for 20 cents each).  You will need the following items to accomplish this:

  • A way to print your labels
  • Labels
  • All the other usual packing/prepping materials

 Labeling with laser printer or inkjet printer (I did this for 6 months!)

Since I don’t know if you are using Inventory Lab, Scanpower, or whatever else is out there, I will just assume you are new and trying this out and using Seller Central to list, label and ship.  It is perfectly acceptable for newbies like us!

You will need these removable Avery 30 up labels.  Amazon requires removable labels.  They also say you must use a laser printer, but when I started all I had was an inkjet and no money.  I spoke to a rep at seller central and was told the reason for laser was so the label wouldn’t smudge or run.  So I put clear tape over my labels to prevent that issue.

So let’s say you have gone through your Manage Inventory view and selected items for print fba labelsSend/Replenish. The next step is to Create a new Shipping Plan (or add to existing).  After you fill in the chart as to how many you are sending, you will have the opportunity to Print Labels.  I make them into a pdf and then print to my Avery Labels.


Labeling with Dymo printer (recommended)

printing amazon labelsI am so happy, happy with my Dymo 450 Turbo printer!  I don’t know why I waited so long, it has made the whole process so much simpler for me.  The bonus is that it comes with software so it also prints custom labels.  Now I can print “This is a Set, Do Not Separate” and Grocery expiry date labels on the fly as I am working.  Beautiful!

You will need labels, the printer comes with a small roll of labels that are not the right size. I use these Dymo compatible 2-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ labels because they are way cheaper.

I use a program called AZlabels because I find it more convenient to use than Amazon’s Scan and Ship feature.  It only costs a few dollars a month and there is a free version that is perfect for brand new sellers.  I have the Premium unlimited plan and it is a small price to pay to ease up my workflow issues.

How to use the Amazon FBA Labels

So now you have your labels and this part is the same whether you use the Avery labels or the Dymo labels.

You want to make sure that all items have the UPC covered so that the Amazon warehouse receivers do not print amazon fba labelsscan those labels.  They need to scan your labels.  Here are a few general tips:

  • Boxed item with UPC code.  Cover the existing UPC code with your label
  • Boxed item with super large UPC code.  Cover the code with a blank label or 2 labels if required, then put your label on top of the white space created.
  • Stretch wrapped item with code still showing through.  Cover that UPC code with either a suffocation label or your label.
  • Stretch wrapped item with no UPC code showing through.  Put your label right on there.
  • Grocery item multipack. This should be in a poly bag.  Be sure no UPC’s are showing, or cover them all with a blank label before bagging. You will also need 3 other labels which I print on my Dymo at the same time I print my regular label. You will need the suffocation label (unless your poly bags are like these), a ‘This is a Set’ label, and the ‘Expiry Date’ label.
  • Bundles.  Either strategically pack your bundle so no labels show or cover all UPC’s with a blank label before bundling.  You will need your label, and possibly the Suffocation label and This is a Set label, depending on the bundle contents.

I hope that this helps to clear up your thoughts on labeling your items!

One last thing, the shipping label on the box.  You know how it says “Do Not Cover this Label”?  It means do not obscure it.  Go ahead and cover it with clear packing tape to protect it.  Your welcome!  🙂

Looking for some cool Amazon FBA Software tools and apps?

Lessons Learned in Shipping to Amazon FBA

amazon fba shipping canadaOne of the biggest hurdles I see for Amazon FBA newbies is prepping and shipping.  Common questions are how to prepare your items, should you bag, should you bubble wrap, who to use for shipping (if you are in Canada) and so on.

I started with the Amazon FBA program on Amazon.ca in May 2014 and learned many lessons. This article covers lessons learned in shipping. Nowadays  I also sell on Amazon.com and if you are looking for information on how to sell on Amazon.com from Canada, then  I would have to recommend that you start with this ebook to cover all the paperwork and other border issues.  It will answer all those problems for you.

Amazon FBA Supplies

First of all you need a few basic supplies to get the job done.  I just love this tool caddy, I keep all my basic supplies in IMG_1087it, it’s perfect!  This tool caddy holds my tape gun, scissors, label peelers, goop off, Suffocation stickers, pens,  measuring tape, postal scale, etc … In another bin, I keep my bubble wrap and dunnage.

Basic must have shipping supplies include:

  • Tape Gun and tape
  • Scotty Peelers (for removing price stickers)
  • Sticker adhesive removal such as goop off (for those stickers that leave glue on your item!)
  • Shipping boxes.  I started out using free boxes from work, but now I almost exclusively use Medium size Home Depot boxes.  In Canada, they are cheaper than buying bulk from uline, they cost $1.57 each.
  • Bubble wrap.  I have various sizes and thicknesses
  • Poly bags.  I like this Poly Bag Combo Pack because it contains 4 different sizes (100 each) and they are already labeled with suffocation warning and are self sealing.  Saves money on labels and tape!
  • Box cutter. Used for opening your online orders.  Be sure to save those boxes and packing materials for yourself!
  • Stretch wrap.  I recommend this Hand held Stretch Wrap .  I bought one of the giant rolls and unless you have a holder for it, you need two people to wrap anything. This is a cheaper alternative to poly bagging if you are just starting out.
  • Avery 30 up labels.  I used these for 6 months before I invested in my Dymo printer. I use these Avery Easy Peel Address Labels.  They are good to have as backup in case your Dymo goes down or you run out of labels.
  • Read my article on proper FBA labeling procedures here

Other items that are nice to have

  • Postal Scale.  If you already sell on eBay, chances are you own this already.  I find mine useful for those times that I sell an Amazon item Merchant Fulfilled (MF) and for when I create bundles.  Amazon needs the weight of the bundle so they know how much to charge you.
  • DYMO 450 LabelWriter  Oh my goodness, why did I wait so long for this one!?  For 6 months I used my amazon fba canadaprinter and 30 up labels.  This little guy is life changing and so easy to use.
  • Impulse sealer.  I don’t have one yet, but it’s on my wish list.

Prepping your items for Amazon FBA Shipping

Ok, so you have gone sourcing for products in thrift stores, garage sales, Walmart, Big Lots, Target, or online shopping (my personal favorite!).  You have many items in front of you and now need to get them ready.

Be very careful how you grade your products obtained from thrifting or garage sales.  In order to list it as ‘New’, the box must be in pristine condition with all seals and wrap in place.  Ask yourself if you would be proud to present this a gift to somebody.  Also, think of the customer on the other end.  They just bought a NEW product from Amazon.  How will they feel if it arrives with a caved in box, broken seals and a thrift store sticker still on it?  They will most likely return it, wouldn’t you?

So the first thing to do is check over all the items carefully and use your scotty peelers and goop off to remove the stickers and any residue.  It needs to look like what you would buy off the shelf.  Anything less and I would sell it as Open Box, or Used or Collectible or Very Good, all depends on what it is.

Final Prep and Boxing

First, if you have never watched this movie clip of Jim Carrey as a UPS delivery man, you have to watch it.  It will make everything else I say make sense!

I work for a company that has a warehouse.  I can tell you with 100% certainty that warehouses are dirty and dusty places and that there are only two people who really care about your package.  One is the customer who buys it and the other needs to be you. So with this in mind, as well as Jim Carrey as your delivery man, take the time to package well.

There are people who only prep if the Amazon Seller Central shipping process tells them they have to prep.  My thoughts on this are, Why take the chance.  If the item is dusty or dirty because you didn’t bag it, or if a mug or dish breaks because you didn’t bubble wrap it, well guess what?  The customer is going to return it and likely never order from you again.

  • Unless my item has a fully enclosed box, I poly bag it to protect the contents from dust and dirt.
  • If it is an item that is highly collectible, I poly bag it to also protect the box.  An expensive Star Wars Lego set is an example of something that technically needs no protection but I know that collectors prize the box as well as the contents.
  • Anything that contains a breakable item is bubble wrapped because Amazon says that it must pass a 3 foot drop test on all sides.
  • I poly bag all grocery items with a 2 ml bag.  Grocery also needs an expiry date label.
  • Anything that contains a liquid must have a double seal, as well as being poly bagged.

shipping to amazon fba canadaHere is an example of something I prepped yesterday.  The item is a Coca Cola collectors mug, in a box already and it was not flagged as needing any more prep.  In my opinion, it would have never made it to the customer in one piece.  I just don’t take a chance.

What About Selling on Amazon.com From Canada?

Our biggest hurdle as Canadians who want to sell on Amazon from Canada is the border.  Itsell on amazon from canada took me a long time to take the amazon.com plunge just because of the border and paperwork and basically just not really knowing what to do.

I recently purchased a new ebook written by fellow Canadian seller Duncan MacPherson.  If you are a Canadian and want to get started selling on Amazon.com, then you need this book too!

It explains all the options available to you and goes through all the forms you need.

You can buy his book right here.  This will save you months of agony and get you started in the US.

Shipping to Amazon FBA for Canadians

So finally the shipping.  Amazon sellers in the US get to take advantage of low shipping rates to the Fulfillment centres.  They don’t even have to pay up front! (New changes March 2016!-read below)

In Canada, up until March 2016, we not only had to find our own shipping deal, we had to pay for it up front, out of pocket.  My very first shipment, I was so naive.  I thought we got the same UPS deal as in the US.  I boxed up 6 items, drove over to the UPS store and proudly told them I was an Amazon FBA seller and wanted the special deal.  They looked at me like I had 2 heads.  I didn’t know what else to do so I just shipped the box.  It cost $48.  That was the one and only shipment that I lost money on, partly because of the shipment cost and partly because I had no idea what products I should be buying!  So now as of March 2016, we now have the same super cheap shipping deal with UPS that they have over the border.


This article is already too long, so last thing I want to tell you is to watch the many videos on Amazon’s site.  They show you how to properly ship and pack everything right there.

Read other lessons I have learned in Amazon FBA here.

Some of my Favorite Amazon FBA tools and software

The Amazon FBA program is a fantastic business opportunity and a great part time or full time business for the right person. It is not ‘Easy Money’ or a Get Rich Quick opportunity. It is a legitimate online retail business, subject to the real laws, rules and regulations of wherever you happen to live and the rather complicated and lengthy Amazon Terms of Agreement.
Do not start your Amazon business without first reading the Amazon TOS and without some basic knowledge of what it means to have a business and understand that with any business you must pay attention to basic business practises. And yes, this means things like taxes and insurance.










Amazon FBA Lessons Learned

amazon fba sellingAmazon FBA Lessons Learned (post Q4)

I am writing this article on December 30th, a nice little lull in the Amazon FBA storm that was Q4. Sales are back to normal, which on Amazon FBA in Canada are not all that exciting. We have something like only 10% of the volume that is done in the US.

But before I figure out how I am going to increase sales for 2015, I want to take a breath and take stock of 2014 and lessons learned.

So just as a recap, this all started when I watched a series of videos about Amazon FBA. I have a few websites where I review, promote and sell Amazon products and I get paid a commission when those items sell through any of my links (called affiliate marketing). I thought that these videos were going to teach me how to ramp that up. I had no clue what it really was.

As it turns out, this course was a beginner’s guide to a completely different kind of Amazon business, where you become almost like a buyer for Amazon by practicing what is called ‘Retail Arbitrage’. Arbitrage is simply the practice of taking advantage of the price difference between two or more markets.

I was intrigued so I opened a Pro account on Amazon.ca for FBA (fulfilled by Amazon). The price on Amazon.ca is $29.99 per month. By going PRO and FBA right away, I was able to sell in categories not open to others such as health and personal care. Also there were no restrictions on selling toys for FBA merchants, important to know for Q4, the main Christmas selling quarter. There are so many reasons why it is important to go all in with the FBA Pro account, too many to list here. Buy this book called Arbitrage by Chris Green to learn the real nitty gritty. If you are serious about getting involved as a seller on Amazon, you will do better if you educate yourself.  This is not a GRQ (Get Rich Quick), this is a real business and if you are not willing to pay for knowledge, then I worry for you.  The Amazon forums are filled with people asking for help getting their accounts reinstated after being suspended for doing things wrong.  I don’t want to scare you but this is too important to leave to chance.

But back to lessons I learned this year starting  in May 2014 when I sent in my first shipment.

  1. In Canada, Amazon does not have a special deal on shipping like in the US. You find your own deal. Read more about lessons learned in shipping here.
  2. Do not send in a box with only 7 items (my first box, each item cost over 5$ to ship). It is cheaper to do a weekly shipment of several boxes instead of a daily shipment of a few items.
  3. The recommended Amazon ranks that are floating around the internet do not apply to Canada. You WILL lose money if you think those ranks are the gospel. If you are in the US, do pay attention to those ranks.
  4. Do not buy items without a rank even if the potential profit looks amazing. I can’t stress this enough! In Canada we seem to have a lot of US sellers who have a listing on every product at some ridiculous price. You scan the item (for example a Hot Wheels car was listed at over $2000) and think you have hit pay dirt. Trust me, you have not. Once you have 6 months of sales under your belt, you might be qualified to sell an unranked item because you know something about that item other than just price.
  5. Save a portion of each payout for Black Friday. I plan to do this in 2015. My method of practice was every time I got paid, which was every 2 weeks, I would shop with that money and then ship it in. Even though my payouts increased steadily, I did not have as much as I wanted to spend on Black Friday, which would have all sold by Christmas. Pretty much every single thing I bought and shipped in October and November was sold by Christmas. Quite an amazing experience!

I am going to expand on some of these points in upcoming articles. I hope you found this helpful!  If you have learned a valuable lesson this year, I would love to read it!  Please leave a comment below.


The Amazon FBA program is a fantastic business opportunity and a great part time or full time business for the right person. It is not ‘Easy Money’ or a Get Rich Quick opportunity. It is a legitimate online retail business, subject to the real laws, rules and regulations of wherever you happen to live and the rather complicated and lengthy Amazon Terms of Agreement.
Do not start your Amazon business without first reading the Amazon TOS and without some basic knowledge of what it means to have a business and understand that with any business you must pay attention to basic business practises. And yes, this means things like taxes and insurance.






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