Interested in 10x’ing your niche site profits?
Garrett Yamasaki joins the podcast today to share how he started a dog site in 2018 and grew it into a massive success thanks to his strategic use of Amazon FBA.
In the first three months, he wrote close to 100 articles targeting low-competition keywords before and after work.
He saw exponential traffic growth around months four through six and knew it could be a viable business long-term. So he started hiring others to scale the business and started putting money into it. By 2019, he had 10 writers, one editor, and one virtual assistant.
(He also lays out the simple yet effective workflow he uses to this day that any site operator should take note of.)
In 2020, the Amazon affiliate side was growing rapidly, and by 2021, they were earning around $10,000 per month. That’s when Garrett realized they could create their own product and make more money.
He chose to go the private label route for a faster time to market.
He identified manufacturers and branded the products for their market. And chose middle-priced products on Amazon to avoid competition from affiliates and generate external traffic to sell their products.
To make it all work, he went with Amazon FBA for logistics, fulfillment, and storage and hired a VA to handle customer service.
Garrett explains how Amazon FBA offers you 30-40% profit margins, compared to the 2-4% commissions as an affiliate. Plus, with Amazon’s Brand Referral Bonus, you get 10% back for external traffic to their site, making it more profitable than going with a Shopify store.
He also shares what the most effective type of Amazon ads are for generating sales and bestseller status.
Plus, he discusses how adding FBA to his business has helped build a brand and traffic source outside of SEO. A much more profitable alternative to say, focusing on social media for brand building.
It hasn’t always been easy though, and expanding this business requires some experience.
He discusses how going from one to now eight products have benefited from hiring a mentor and outsourcing to agencies to help with PPC and listings.
Inventory management has also been difficult due to unpredictable sales curves. But he mentions that ordering a lot can help prevent stockouts.
As such, Garrett keeps inventory in his garage in case of emergencies, as selling out affects his bestseller rating on Amazon.
Overall what started out as a dog site has become a full-blown business. And although he’s already making great money, he’s still in growth mode. He reinvests much of the 20% profit margin he could be taking home back into the eCommerce side of things.
And on top of all of this, his website generates at least $500,000 a year in passive income from ad revenue.
This is a really great success story. Garrett shares tons of valuable tips, strategies, and things to consider adding to your own business to make way more money!
Table of Contents
Topics Garrett Yamasaki Covers
- How he got into SEO
- The long road to success online
- Why he started his dog site in 2018
- Turning a problem into a business
- Topical clusters and keyword research
- The products he sells
- Business earnings
- Scaling with a team
- The workflow with ten writers
- Moving from affiliate focus to FBA
- How Amazon FBA works
- Brand referral bonus
- Amazon ads
- Building a brand via FBA
- His site today
- And a whole lot more!
Links & Resources
Watch The Interview
Jared: All right. Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman, and today I’m joined by Garrett Yamasaki. Garrett, welcome on board
Garrett: Nice to meet you Jared. Really happy and excited to be on this podcast.
Jared: It is. It’s great to have you. Thanks for joining us. I know that you have a kind of a fun story.
You met Spencer a couple weeks ago at a conference, and here we are talking about your business on the podcast.
Garrett: Yeah, so I, funny story real quick. I’ve been following Spencer for maybe 10 years or so, and we have similar hobbies. We both run, like, we’ve run the Boston Marathon and we’re both long distance runners.
So it was great meeting him and his son at the seller Summit a couple weeks ago. And excited to jump on this podcast.
Jared: I I’m leaning over here. I see we also share a similar book of yours is in the background. Mine’s on my desk. We had Steve Chew on a couple months ago on the podcast. So we’re in good company here.
I got his new book. I see you have it as well.
Garrett: Yeah. Steve’s a great guy. I was on his podcast a few months back.
Jared: That’s awesome. Well, we’re talking all about your business and the progression you’ve had. It’s a very interesting story. It’s gonna be exciting. It, it delves into a number of different topics that we talk about here in the podcast ranging from content sites, niche sites, all the way into e-commerce.
Creating your own brand, your own product line. So gonna be something here really for everyone. Why don’t you maybe give us some background or backstory on yourself to catch us up to where you started this brand we’re talking about today?
Garrett: Yeah, sure. I’ll just give you a quick backstory. I went to college, I did electrical engineering.
So it was nothing related to seo, nothing related to content sites. And then, but quickly working a corporate job, I knew that it wasn’t for me. When you’re an engineer, you spend a long time working on certain products and you know, sometimes they don’t get launched and it’s hard to get an explanation why.
So I knew that the corporate world wasn’t for me. I wanted to see the big picture. I wanted to see how everything worked together, which is why. I also picked up seo. And so I’ve been working on SEO probably since like 2012, but I really didn’t find success in it until around 2018 when I did start a dog website.
And, you know, I was working a full-time job at the same time as running and starting the site, which generated no money at the time. And then here we are today, roughly five years later, and it’s been a pretty big success. And I do work full-time on it now, and so, It’s very exciting.
Jared: What was it about how you were doing SEO for five years, for the first five, six years?
I mean, I think you said 2012 to 18, so probably six years of, again, to borrow your words, failing at seo, to then succeeding to being able to leave your job, to being able to go full time on it. Like that is quite a shift, obviously. What changed in the way you did it or the approach you took, or what caused you to be able to start being successful at it?
Garrett: Yeah, I think in 2012 it was more just dabbling. Like I, I didn’t understand really how it worked. It wasn’t until I, I was working in tech at the time, so I worked at Texas Instruments, Broadcom, and then I worked on Google Assistant and on YouTube. So it wasn’t really until the later years in technology when I really started taking search engine optimization.
Seriously. And that’s when kind of the shift happened when I was like studying it pretty religiously before work and after work. And then you know, actually dedicating myself to creating a site. And it’s pretty scary at the beginning, right? Because you’re basically gonna be sitting there, spending a long time blogging.
Nobody is going to read it for months, right? So it’s. It’s hard to dedicate yourself and really spend the time to develop a business and see,
Jared: well, you know, if you were working at Google, you should have just walked down the hall, popped in at the search department. Maybe they were all out to lunch and just, you know, checked in the algorithm.
I don’t know, maybe that maybe they frown on that. I don’t know.
Garrett: Yeah, that’s also, that was also helpful. Like you, when you were corporate job, take advantage of your opportunities and that is working with extremely smart people. Yeah. And so you can understand how things work better because I, I’m just really an average guy who works.
Pretty hard. But in terms of my intelligence, I wouldn’t consider myself like a top guy, but I can learn quickly from the people that, you know, spend time, spend a lot of time developing the algorithm and and whatnot. So that’s how I got into it.
Jared: It’s interesting cuz on the pod, I mean I’ve been hosting the podcast for a couple years now and we tend to have.
Guests that come from somewhat like similar backgrounds or buckets. I’ll say like we, we, I see a lot of lawyers who succeed in seo. I see a lot of journalists who succeed in seo engineers, another one that, that we see a good amount on the podcast that has had success in seo. What about your engineering background kind of landed you well to seo, you think?
Garrett: Yeah, I think it’s more, engineering has nothing to do with seo. Like people will be like, oh, you know, it’s data driven. But I would say if you’re going to start a website or start a business in general, you have to have the traits and you gotta know that you want to do it to succeed and be passionate about it.
I think that’s the most important part. So it’s, it’s nothing like, oh, I’m studying a circuit design and then it’s gonna translate to seo. No, it’s just more like dedicating yourself in hard work. I think hard work and a lot of luck is what. What makes a business succeed? There you go.
Jared: You heard it from Garrett.
If you’re an art major, don’t worry. You can be just as successful in SEO as the, as the engineers. So, yeah. So 2018, you started this website we’re talking about today. It’s in the I think you said the dog niche and yeah. Maybe take us through the first steps there. You were still working full-time, is that
I was still working full-time. Yeah. I had a full-time corporate job and I would wake up really early in the morning and then I would also work really late at night. So basically I had a nine to five job and I would probably wake up around seven am and we would start wor, I would start just writing an article and so, you know, maybe you can pump out, you know, an outline in 500 words in a couple hours, and then I would try to come home and write, you know, throughout the day, I’d just be brainstorming what to write.
And then you can quickly write the rest of the words, like 800 words, so 1500 words or so, and then hit publish by the time you go to bed. So that was kind of my thought process and strategy. I was not a great writer at the time. I just knew that I wanted to try something out in this specific niche because my wife was also looking for a golden doodle, which is a specific type of dog breed at the time, and.
I, I, when I was Google searching, there was not a lot of information on it because it is a cross-bred dog. Mm-hmm. So a lot of the larger organizations like the American Kennel Club will not blog about this type of dog because it’s considered a mutt. So I kind of, I started really early on and knew that there wasn’t a lot of information on this dog breed, but it was becoming a lot of pop.
It was becoming very popular.
Jared: Yeah, it’s interesting to hear so much success can come from having a problem and then realizing that there is not a good solution for it and deciding to to solve it. Let’s talk about maybe the first bit of time you talked about how you would write articles, like maybe walk us through like how you chose topics, how you picked keywords of sort, especially you were going down a, a route that you were interested in and for a problem you’re trying to solve.
But I. Forgive me if I’m wrong here, but I don’t think at the time you started, you were an expert in golden doodles or dogs or, you know, these kind of things. So I’m just curious to hear how you would write these articles and how you create this content about, about these topics, how you would even pick topics.
Garrett: Yeah, so at the time there was a seven day free trial, the ah, refs and I would sign up and then just get a huge list of topics. I think there was maybe like a hundred or 200 topics at the time. I, I don’t think AHF does that free thing anymore. So you can use SR now. And probably do 14 days. And you can just essentially type in your keyword and then look at the difficulty score for all these topics and all these questions.
And I would really focus on, you know, things that have a very low difficulty score. So I was targeting things with like five difficulty on emr and then maybe there was like 50 searches per month. So there was really no competition at all. And that’s what I really started with to like back then. If I were to start today, I would take a little bit more technical approach to it and try to create like a topical silo.
Mm-hmm. Of a specific topic cuz I’m a huge believer in semantic SEO and topical authority. So I would try to create something like a topical cluster around a specific keyword that I can eventually rank for and then create everything in the same topic. Back at the time, I was kind of focusing on a lot of different dog breeds.
Golden doodles, labradoodles be a doodles. So all these different type of crossbred dogs with a poodle. But I would’ve been a little bit more technical about it in terms of creating a cluster map first. But that’s how I started back then. You know, you just write low competition keywords and you can rank pretty
Good distinction. Yeah. Yeah, you, you’re right. I mean, topical authority. I mean, I’m sure the purists would, would argue that it was a thing back in. 2018, 2019. But I think we can agree it wasn’t as much of a thing as it is now, and the importance of it now is, is far greater. I realize I, I jumped right into hearing about your website, but I do like to start giving everyone a vision into where you’re at now because it kind of helps people understand a little bit better about the story, where the path we’re on.
So at the risk of like just jumping in with this, Concept because I didn’t do it at the beginning. Tell us just in one to two minutes about where this brand is at now. Everything is going on, and then we’ll continue to kind of unwind in how you built it. Okay.
Garrett: Yeah, sure. So this brand is pretty successful.
It’s on AdThrive. So, you know, I think minimum users per month is a hundred thousand and we’re AdThrive Platinum Elite or something like that. So, You can kind of estimate that we probably get around a million page views per month or something, somewhere close. And then we also created an Amazon FBA store which means, you know, we, we actually have physical products nowadays.
We only have eight parent products today. So this would be like dog brushes, dog shampoos, dog detanglers specific for a poodle or poodle mix breed. And then this year, we just launched last year and we did just north of a million dollars and this year we’ll probably do over $4 million. So on the FBA side, we’ve seen a lot of success and a lot of that’s virtually all the success comes from having a blog and then being able to direct that traffic to buying something e-commerce.
Okay, perfect. Which is our product and our brand. Yeah.
Jared: So you’ve got success in the SEO side, the websites. Very sustainable on its own sustainable on its own regard, but yet then you take all that traffic and instead of sending it over to Amazon, you’re sending it to your own products that you’ve developed.
This is a good story for us to get into, so, yeah. Okay. Rewinding back. Sorry, I, I do that at the beginning and I don’t know why I do this every week. That’s slipped my mind, so I apologize. You rolled with it nicely. That’s where we’re headed. Let’s get back into the details. It’s 20 18, 20 19. You’re cranking out articles based on a seven day trial on hres, which I did before, by the way, a bunch myself, and you’re right, I think it is gone, which is too bad.
But there are a lot more keyword research tools out there than there were back in our day. So, you know, tomato, tomato like how long did that go on for? How long were you able to crank out articles at the morning and at the evening? When did you start seeing traction from this? Were there any other things you were doing in that first bit of time to, to help the website
Yeah, so I went really hard the first three months, I’d say the first three or four months I probably pumped out close to a hundred articles. So if you can imagine, I was writing pretty much one per day and I was by myself. I knew this wasn’t very sustainable and I was going to burn out. So I probably paused for like a couple weeks and then I looked at the traffic score and it was kind of like exponential.
So I was seeing a lot of traffic starting. Around month four through six, and right then and there, I knew that this could be a viable business long term. If anything, it could just be some sort of passive income or I could hire someone to manage it. But right then and there, I knew that I wanted to invest in it.
So I started hiring people, right? Because you have to learn how to scale. If you can’t scale a business, you’ll never be successful. So that that was the hardest part for me. But in the beginning it was just all me sitting there writing in front of a computer.
Jared: That is brutal. I’m glad you got some uptick within four to six months because that is, that’s a, that’s a lot of hours you put in at the outset.
I mean this is kind of a softball type question if you will, but like, were you ever hitting periods of burnout before you started hiring? Were there ever times where you’re like, this is not going to work out, or maybe it will work out, but it’s not worth it? I don’t have this many hours in my weeks for much longer.
Garrett: That’s a good question. I think you can’t think about that though when you’re, when you’re first starting, because you’re blogging to nobody, you’re gonna have no traffic and your motivation is just not there. But you have to wake up and want to do it yourself. Like find, find joy in writing and turn something negative into a positive.
And that’s what I kind of did for three or four months until I realized that all the money that I’m making, I think I was like barely on Google AdSense at the time. But all the money I was making, I wanted to put back into scaling. Cuz I didn’t need the money at the time. So,
Jared: yeah, I mean, I asked that question cuz there’s definitely people listening right now that are in say, month two or maybe month four, or maybe even month eight, and they haven’t gotten that kind of traction and they just, you know, it’s so hard to stick with it, but you know, you, in order to get through the other side, that’s, that’s what’s required.
So maybe one more question on that. When you hit that point where you started to see that traffic, I’m just curious like, You talked about how you were writing about a variety of doodle breeds, you know, golden doodles and labradoodles, and I didn’t catch all the other doodles there are. But like, were you seeing any trends in certain types of traffic or certain types of articles that were taking off initially?
Or was it just like you said, like kind of a lot of randomness was happening at, in terms of traffic to correlate with a lot of random types of articles you were writing?
Garrett: Yeah, that’s a good question. So, In the beginning, if you’re targeting the right keyword and the right keyword, difficulty score, and you’re Googling your query and Google to understand kind of what is the top ranking sites, you should be seeing some traffic.
Like I’m a strong believer like four to six months. If you’re not seeing anything, then you know you’re targeting the wrong keywords. And that’s probably, you need to shift your approach. But to answer your question in the beginning, yeah, I was seeing a lot of traffic. Like right away in a specific niche of dogs.
So let’s say I was riding about like six dog breeds and I was seeing more traction on one dog breed. So then we just doubled down on that specific dog breed and started writing content. And like it, it kind of goes to the topical authority and semantic SEO idea that, you know, if you can become an authority on one dog breed, then Google will rank you regardless of kind of what you put out.
So we did focus on that one dog breed a lot, and that’s what kind of spurred the exponential growth in traffic.
Jared: Well, very good. Okay, so there it is. So you’re off to the races and I don’t know the next steps of your story because in our, in our timeline here, I have kind of the next couple years truncated into like a line or two.
So walk us through these next, this next bit of time. You, you got traffic, you’ve gotten through a hundred posts and you’ve committed to now. Hiring people, which by the way is no easy task in and of itself. But I’m just curious, like, what does the scale look like? What does the next year look like? And, and we can kinda go from there.
Garrett: Yeah. So by 2019, I knew that we were going to basically be putting a lot of money into this. And so I put some of my own money into it. And I think it was like either Spencer or Matt Diggity who said like the best writers that they found. We’re moms from the Midwest. So I don’t know, from whatever concept this was, I posted on Upwork, I posted on a lot of job postings to try to get the right rider, and at the time it was just one.
So 2019 we probably had one rider and you know, they were working full, full-time. So you know, we can almost double our content production and then probably by the end of 2019, We probably had around 10 writers or so between full-time and part-time. Yeah. One editor and one virtual assistant that would upload the articles onto our website, but we scaled fairly quickly.
So that, that’s the idea.
Jared: What was. In terms of your scaling efforts, I’m trying to create a little bit of a, of a little bit of a chart or graph in my mind. Were you spending ahead of the curve by and large, where you were bringing on writers and paying for new content in excess of what the site was making?
Or were you going about it like going, okay, the site made a thousand dollars this month, we’ll put a thousand bucks back into it. Okay. Site made $2,000 this month, we’ll put $2,000 back into it. In terms of writing?
Garrett: Yeah. Everything the site made. Right. I put back in, plus some of my own money in the beginning just to, you know, you kind of feel good about employing people and giving them a job and and whatnot.
So I did put some of my own money back in, in addition to what the site was earning at the time, because in the beginning you’re not making that much, especially if you’re on Ezoic or you’re on Google Ads. So you need to find a way to cuz I believed in the project personally myself, so then I put some of my own money into, but it was, it really wasn’t that much before.
So we really started to take off and it started to pay for itself. But every time, you know, I did see excess income. I did try to hire more people.
Jared: Yeah, so 10 writers in by 2019, somewhere in that year. Maybe talk a bit about the process you set up or what the actual workflow looked like for your team.
And I’m especially talking to somebody who’s working full-time right now and. You know, moving maybe from writing for a, a website that’s growing and into managing a team that that, that, that, that is still growing a website, but team management looks very different than sitting down and writing before work and after work.
Garrett: Right? Right. So in the beginning, I think writing your own articles actually helped me a lot because it made me understand like what was a good writer versus what was a bad writer. And then it also helped me identify, like writing and sop, I think. Writing an SOP and having a writer follow your outline and your template makes it very easy for them and it’s hard to mess up.
So that’s kind of what helped me in the beginning. And then, you know, that track, the way that the team works now, and it’s still works more or less to, to this extent today, is I’m still doing the keyword research. So I, I strongly believe that. The most, the best skill that I have is doing keyword research.
I have yet to find, I probably hired like three people and I couldn’t find someone who was as good as me on keyword research. So I firmly believe that that is a very important skill to have. So I still do the keyword research and list out the topics and create the topical clusters. And then the next step is that I assign it to a writer.
So usually I. By this point we’ll have like a very brief template. What is the primary keyword? What is the secondary keyword, what are some FAQs that they can include in the topic? And then of course you have your kind of SOP on what you want to be written. So once the writer writes it, then they, they eventually hand it to the virtual assistant.
The virtual assistant will upload it to our WordPress websites and do very basic formatting images, external internal linking. And then after that we have an editor kind of come through that is like, it has extremely fluent English and they’re also very good at seo. So then they kind of put the final touches on and then we publish it.
So that’s kind of what the flow looks like from even our team today, even at scale. That
Jared: is a very simple workflow.
Garrett: Yeah, I like it. It’s not complicated. Yeah. I
Jared: like it. I like it. Very easy to emulate, I would say for people listening. In terms of by the way, I agree keyword research is very hard to let go of.
And once you get good at it, it’s a lot easier than you, you can get through keyword research much quicker than you can say writing an article or even editing an article, you know, so that’s that’s a good tip there. Alright, so how’s, how’s traffic doing, how’s earnings doing as we’re going through 2019 and maybe even as we get into, to 2020 here?
I mean, obviously. We interviewed a lot of people like landmark event in terms of traffic and and, and certainly probably for e-commerce. Is that 2020 shift into Covid, but where was traffic and earnings as you moved through 2019 and into 2020?
Garrett: Yeah, so 2019 was the year where I knew it was gonna make it big and I think 20 20, 20 21, we just spent scaling.
So I think we were eventually on ad Thrive by like, 2021, or maybe even slightly earlier than that, but we were eventually, you know, I didn’t see any kind of setback until this year in 2020 23. So really our traffic has just been increasing almo, not at an exponential rate, like in the beginning. I think in the beginning you should see a lot more traffic right away, all the way up till 2020.
But by the time 2021 and 2022, we are still growing just, you know, at a slower pace. Because once you get to. I don’t know, 500,000 page views per month. It’s, it’s hard to scale exponentially past that unless you’re targeting really high volume keywords. But at the time we were still targeting very low competition, low volume keywords.
Jared: going about it when you were scaling the content? Like were you trying to do this topical silo type of thing? Like, let’s do everything on a golden doodle I can find and then we’ll move on. Or, because you were scaling so fast, was it. I got, I got this person, they can do the golden doodle stuff. I got this person, they can do the Labradoodle stuff.
Ah, heck doodles. Forget it. Let’s just do every, everything, you know, like how were you kind of tackling the, the topics?
Garrett: Yeah. It probably wasn’t until the end of 2021 when I was, when we first started doing like really in depth clusters. In the beginning we were just targeting anything that had a very low difficulty keyword score.
And then, you know, if we saw one breed. Go. We would write more articles on that one breed, but we didn’t, I didn’t, I really didn’t know anything about that in depth at the time like we do now. So yeah, really it was just, we were just pumping out a lot of content at, at one point in time we were averaging probably 500,000 words per month for the website.
So as you can imagine, that is a lot of content going onto one website. And the more content you have targeting these very low competition keywords, then The more traffic you’re essentially going to get.
Jared: So two milestones occurred in this time range we’re talking about at some point you quit your job.
Yeah. And you went full-time on this. And then at some point you also made a transition to start. Looking at and growing an FBA brand, how did they play? How did they, how, you know, what was the timeline of both of those? And then like, if you could try to remember what were revenues, like what was profit like?
What was page views or traffic like? Like where was the site at when you made these two milestone decisions?
Garrett: Yeah, so everybody has probably, you know, if you have a content site, you’re probably on Amazon Associates. And so I think it was around 2020. Like I, I keep track of earnings. We do it every month, but I saw that the Amazon affiliate side was growing pretty rapidly.
Like maybe it was like a thousand per month. And then by 2021, we were probably definitely close to earning around 10,000 per month. And then at that point in time, you know, if you sum everything together and Amazon is only paying you two or 3%, you realize that you’re selling between 200,000 and 300,000 worth of Amazon products yourself.
And. That kind of, you know, like what if we could create a product, you know, insert it into our articles and then sell at a higher, you know, two, two to 3% is nothing. You could be making 30 or 40% profit margin pretty easily. Mm-hmm. So that, that was kind of my thought process that occurred back in probably end of 2020, beginning of 2021.
And so, What had happened was I went on, what most people would do is I went on Ali Express and I went on Alibaba, and you know, you type in, you know, when you download your Amazon affiliate report, it will tell you exactly what you’re selling. So just look at the number one, number two and number three product.
Go on Alibaba. Try to find a private label. And so that’s what I did in the beginning and that’s kind of how the FBA business and the brand got started. So for everybody selling on Amazon today, download your affiliate report and look at your top three or four products of what you’re, what you’re selling, and, you know, see if there’s an opportunity for you to transition to fba, diversify your traffic and kind of build a brand.
But that’s how we started. And that’s kind of what had happened. So it was probably 2021 when we started looking into these affiliate products and then by 2022, we had launched our first brush product, so this was maybe like March of 2022, so really not that long ago. And so it took about a year to develop.
So definitely get started today If you’re looking into getting into FBA between the shipping times from China. And then, you know, you’re probably getting three or four samples, and then by the time they go to production and then ship it over to Amazon fba, it’s going to take you six months to a year. So get started today, but this was back in 2022 when we first launched.
And then, you know, the, the sales were pretty exponential on Amazon as well. And then we did almost a million in sales, or probably just a little bit over a million in sales for our brush alone. And that’s when I knew. That I should probably quit my full-time job and do this full-time. So at the end of 2022, I quit my job.
And then kind of now, now we’re here. Yeah.
Jared: So I’ve a whole host of questions Yeah. As it relates to the Amazon affiliate side of things, and then transitioning into selling your own product. So help us out who are new at this. Let’s, like you said, let’s say we download our affiliate sales from Amazon, right?
Or heck, even from maybe a private affiliate and you’re getting 8%, you know, but you’re downloading the products that you’re selling frequently. You go on Alibaba and you find some other ones now. Talk about the difference in white labeling a product that already exists versus like working with a vendor develop to develop your own product.
And like, are there differences? What are the ups, what are the downs? Are they the same thing? And I’m just saying the same thing over and over again, you know, but maybe help people out who are trying to think through that.
Garrett: Yeah. So white labeling is essentially you’re putting your brand on a specific product and selling it today.
So from my perspective, it was a faster time to market, or sorry, they call it private labeling, labeling or white labeling, but it was a faster time to market and I knew I just needed to get something to the market today. And so that’s, that’s the approach that I took. I, I, all my products today are private labeled or white labeled is what you want to call it.
They just have my brand on it today, but we essentially identified some manufacturers and then we branded it for our market. So I’m not. We’re not developing new products today. We’re not doing anything special. The only special part is that we are putting, you know, our products on our blog, and then they sell through the blog.
And, you know, if you can generate external traffic to Amazon, Amazon also ranks you very highly in their platform. And so you can get a product to the first page of Amazon pretty easily if you’re driving external traffic. And external.
Jared: So you chose, yeah. You chose private label. Okay, that makes sense. I think, you know, private label’s a word that’s tossed around or a term that’s tossed around a lot.
Why not develop your own product? Just outta curiosity, devil’s advocate, why would someone choose to go private label when they’re thinking about their website and why would someone choose not to go private label? Right, right.
Garrett: I would say that I just needed something today. I, I knew that. If I had a product today that I could put into this article that was, you know, ranking number one and the search volume was very high, I think it was like 2,500 at the time, that if I put myself number one on the product, it doesn’t matter.
Like pretty much what you put there, it’s going to sell. And so I knew that I needed something today and I knew that I needed something fast. So private label was the, was the route that I chose. Just, I’ve heard someone say too, paint it a different color and Like we, we did slightly different molding, but it wasn’t anything that affected the outcome of the product, but then we sold it that way.
Jared: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve heard someone else say, you know, you could always start with private label to just get proof of concept, see if people are actually even interested in what you’re going to sell before you go through all the work of building your own product and you know, all that kind of stuff. But yeah.
Okay. So it’s a private label set up and mm-hmm. I, I, I suppose the next question would be how did you pick which products to go after the private label? Was it literally just like, well, I sell dog brushes a lot of them, so we’ll look at that. Or were there any other qualifiers that you evaluated?
Like did you try to figure out the margins you could make on all this stuff? Or was it literally just, Hey, I’m just gonna start simple and, and move down a punch list?
Garrett: Yeah, so. The Amazon affiliates report, like the very first dog brush I put out. I did no research. I, I just went on Alibaba Ali Express. I ordered some samples.
It took forever to get here. And then, you know, one thing led to another and we finally released the product. I would say nowadays we are a little bit more data driven and data centric on what we’re going to release, but essentially it boils down to can I rank articles in Google for organic traffic?
Because that has been our success. So can I continue to rank articles in Google and sell our product on Amazon, is what it comes down to. And then of course you have to look at your margins and whatnot. Everything else, I, I don’t really look about, look into that much. Those are kind of the two main factors because what it comes down to is if you can get traffic, you’re going to sell the product.
That that’s what it comes down to. And so kind of the next products that we are going to release are kind of more. Middle price range, so like between 20 and $30 price range. And this is the price range where I found that affiliates don’t want to write articles about because like if you’re gonna get 2% on $20, right?
That’s not very much money. And so I can write the article myself, get it ranked, and then basically have no competition and sell my own product at 30 or 40% profit margin. Which is. What, what kind of our strategy has been. And so we’ve been targeting kind of this middle priced products on Amazon and being able to have, we have multiple websites now, so having multiple websites be able to rank and then sell sell externally has kind of been the, the key success here for us.
Jared: Okay. That, that, yeah, that does, that is an opportunity cuz you’re right, if I’m an affiliate marketer, I’m getting 3% from Amazon. I mean, At some point, is it worth it for me to write about a $20 product cuz I get 60 cents. Right? Right, right.
Jared: especially if I’m gonna spend a hundred bucks in that article for a writer, all of a sudden it’s like, boy, the ROI in this is not going to pencil out.
But when you’re owning the margin on that $20 product, that $30 product and you get 15 bucks every time you sell it or whatever it is. Okay. So when it comes to picking how to sell your own products on Amazon, now there’s a bunch of different ways to do it. Right now you opted for fba. And that’s fulfilled by Amazon.
There’s other ways to, to sell your own product. I mean, you could don’t even have to go through Amazon technically. You could just set up like a, a WooCommerce or a Shopify storefront, right? And just kind of pack it all up in your garage. What are the different ways that you looked into for how to fulfill this product and, and sell it, and ship it and all that, and why did you choose Amazon
Yeah, so that’s a good question and. Even today we still use Amazon fba and it’s mainly just because they have the warehouse facility, the shipping times, and then like, I don’t, I don’t need to worry about fulfillment. That’s the last thing that I wanted to worry about. I just wanted to essentially launch a product and then see if it would work with roughly 30 to 40% profit margin.
And so that’s, Amazon did all the logistics, fulfillment and storage, and so that’s why I still continue to use them. Today we do have a WooCommerce site or we originally started with WooCommerce. I would not use WooCommerce again. We switched to Shopify. And then even people who order from our store on Shopify, I just create what we call a Amazon still fulfills the order even if they order on Shopify.
So that is the power of Amazon. I don’t want to have a bunch of inventory in my garage. I don’t wanna have to worry about logistics. They do the two day shipping for me. So, And my customers are happy.
Jared: How about customer service? Who handles, you know, questions, returns, whatever, you know, all that kind of stuff?
Garrett: Yeah, so right now we have a VA who handles the customer service. So Amazon will get the returns and then Amazon will either, there’s three options. You can either like liquidate, you can have it returned to your address or you can have them like resell it off. I basically have them just Get rid of the product for me for returns because I don’t wanna have to deal with it coming to my house and whatnot.
But yeah, customer service, we have a VA who will answer questions. We don’t get that many. It’s surprising. We only get like two, two per day and then that’s nice. Yeah. Returns is pretty low too. It’s like only 1% return, one or 2% return rate, so. Wow. Basically we have Amazon hold it and then.
You know, they’ll dispose. We used to get our, we used to have them return it to our address, but we no longer do that since it’s pretty good. They’re pretty good about it. So, yeah. What kind of handles all the returns. It makes it easy. That
Jared: does make it easy. What kind of like, so you’ve tossed around the 30 to 40% margin.
Maybe we could dive a bit more into margins so people could think through. And again, like that number is so tantalizing because you’re right, we get two to 4% on Amazon as an affiliate. So when you’re talking 30 to 40%, like that is a 15 to 30 x jump in some cases in terms of our profit. So How much of a ding do you take on your margins by having Amazon fulfill it versus if maybe somebody was like, ah, let me just go all in and, and fulfill it from my garage, and all
Garrett: that kind of stuff.
Yeah. So the, so I think there’s a couple big questions here. The first one is that the only reason. I would not have Amazon fulfill it, is if I wanted the customer data. So Amazon does not provide you with the customer name or they provide you with the name and like the city and the state. That’s it. So they don’t provide you with any email address, any like any other additional way to contact them?
So if I needed people’s information to upsell future products, then I would consider using probably a third party logistics company or fulfilling it from my garage in order to get that data. But the power of having a website and, you know, you’re likely already creating, you know, people having a large email list already once you start getting a lot of traffic, is that I, I don’t necessarily need that data to be successful.
I already have a email list of like 30 to 40,000 people that I can tap into and get these kind of reoccurring. Buyers myself, but that’s the only reason why I would choose to fulfill myself for three pls if I wanted the customer information. And that is valuable. But that’s
Jared: a good distinction. I hadn’t even kind of thought of that as we were in the middle of the conversation, but you can’t go back to Amazon clients and upsell them or say, Hey, we’re running a special we’re doing this, we’re doing that.
They’re kind of locked in Amazon world. Okay. You mentioned you have a Shopify store. Right. And you mentioned you have a kind of a, an FBA or a brand on Amazon. What, so if I’m on your website and I’m, I’m, I’m organic traffic and I visit something about a dog brush and I click on a dog brush, am I going to your Shopify store or am I going to your Amazon store?
And then how do the two play out? Which ones more profitable? I just wanna understand like, the connections of, of all these.
Garrett: Yeah, so right now I’m referring to Amazon directly. I don’t refer to my Shopify store, and there’s one big reason for that. So on Amazon right now, it’s called Brand Referral Bonus, where they give you 10% of, if you can get an external traffic to their site and make a sale, they’ll give you 10%.
So that is extremely lucrative, right? And that’s why your profit margins. Are fairly high especially in, in my case, is because you’re getting 10% back, back from a brand referral bonus. And then a little secret is if you put your affiliate tag in the brand referral co bonus link too, you’re getting double commissions.
So you’re making like 13% back on a product that you, you know, if you were to send to Amazon in the beginning, it would just be 2% affiliate commission. Is that new?
Jared: Is that different? Is that, is that like only offered to people like you or is that, I mean,
Garrett: man, no. Brand referral bonus has been around for at least the beginning of this year.
We, we implemented it over six months ago where you can refer your own brand and your own store and your own products and then they’ll give you the 10% cuz you are generating the sale essentially for them. And they’re only doing a film.
Jared: So what’s the point of the Shopify store then?
Garrett: Just to get the customer data.
So that’s, that’s why we have one in, but we’re not pointing a lot of our traffic to it. We do make sales on our Shopify store, but I think that’s mostly people probably coming from Amazon or they don’t have Prime or something like that, and they want free shipping.
Jared: Got it. Okay. So you’re not, your Shopify store just kind of lives on its own and picks up its own traffic on all by itself.
Garrett: Yeah, I’d say Shopify stores is maybe one or 2% of our sales. Walmart is like 5% of maybe like two to 3% of our sales, and then Amazon is the rest. So mainly Amazon. And then
Jared: on your Amazon store, how much of your sales, if you don’t mind sharing or if you know how much of your sales come from like, Hey, I’m on Amazon searching for a dog brush, versus, Hey, I’m on Garrett’s website, I get referred to buy a dog brush and I end up on Amazon.
Garrett: So in the beginning, that’s a, that’s a really good question. I. And in the beginning I had no idea like what Amazon FBA really was and how the algorithm really worked. And so when I first launched the product, I didn’t run any of this pay-per click stuff. I didn’t do anything special. I just inserted it into my article.
I did the Amazon Vine program to get, you know, 20 initial reviews or whatever it is, and then that’s how I started getting traffic and everything. All the purchases were basically coming from my site in the beginning. And then now I would say it’s, it’s a little bit hard to differentiate without the brand referral code, but I would say now it’s almost 80% probably pay per click or Amazon algorithm.
And then wow, less than 20% my site, like way less than 20%. So you, but the conversion rate is really, so, There, there’s a couple things that the Amazon algorithm does is when I’m sending external traffic, and these are like bottom of the funnel articles. So these are like best dog brush, right? Yep. And this is like you are ready to buy the dog brush and so you’re gonna go to the number one product, you’re gonna go to Amazon and you’re just gonna buy it.
You’re not really researching competitors. So the conversion rate on my website to Amazon was roughly 20%. So like one in five people were converting, which is very high on Amazon. So, I think that that had an, that had an impact on the algorithm as well as sending a lot of external trafficking, getting external sales.
And then it wasn’t long before like I saw my brush show up on the, like first page of Amazon, essentially. And, you know, I’m, I never wanted to be the lowest priced dog brush, but I never wanted to be the highest. So we’re like kind of in this middle tier where, We are comfortable with the profit margins today, but now the breakdown is about 80%, probably even more than that, 90% organic Amazon, and then 10% referral from our website.
Jared: So you have built up a true brand on Amazon? Yes. This website is a behemoth as well, but the brand that you have on Amazon is really of the FBA brand is like you said, 80, 90% self-sufficient outside of the
Garrett: website, correct? Correct. Yeah. My. Obviously we’re trying to scale, but the only thing you really have to do at this point is maintain inventory and make sure you don’t sell out.
Jared: So let me ask you a couple more questions. I want, I wanna ask about inventory. I wanna finish off though, you, you mentioned driving ads or pay per click on Amazon. What’s that like? Some of us are familiar with Google Ad words Google Ads. Some are familiar with obviously advertising on social media platforms.
But what does Amazon ads look like?
Garrett: Yeah, so there’s like four different types of categories. So I did Amazon ads myself for about one month, and then I quickly realized that this is arguably the most boring thing in the world, and then we outsource it to an agency. But there are a lot of different kind of there’s four major types of ads in Amazon, and I would say the sponsored display ads are the ones that when you type in dog brush, they’ll show up at the top.
So those are the ones that like, Generate the most sales. So you want to bid top of search for that and try to get to the top of there. And we, we were spending like, I think for our keyword we’re not targeting like dog brush. I think now we probably target dog brush, but we are targeting very low competition keyword.
It is just the SEO mindset, a very low competition. Keywords, very low cost per click that were focused around doodles and that the conversion rate would be really, really high. And so we found a lot of success in that early, I think. Once we got like 20 reviews and there are basically all five star that, you know, you can run pay per click, and then generate sales because the way that the algorithm the Amazon algorithm works is they give you a best seller rating and like I would say the bulk of it is on how many sales do you make in a given, in a specific given period of time.
So if you’re not running pay per click and generating sales, you’re not getting external traffic and generating sales, it’s unlikely that you’re gonna rank high in Amazon organically. So we are forced to basically run pay-per-click. And, but that, that also helped spur the, the growth of our brand.
Jared: Pay-per-click does help get you bestseller status
Garrett: cur so they call it bestseller rating. It’s kind of like your backend rating for a specific product, but it’ll help you get the badges. So like, it was very helpful because I have the Amazon Choice badge and you know, there’s different badges that show up.
Basically on top of search and Amazon pushes those products. But generating sales is what essentially helps you with that getting. A higher bestseller rating and then getting the badges from Amazon that help you get organic
Jared: sales. Got it. Okay. Now I’m looking at my notes here. You’ve expanded into, I think you said eight products or eight ASINs.
That’s like an Amazon term for mm-hmm. Products basically, like, I know I’m over summarizing it, but for today’s conversation you have about eight products. Went from one to eight inventory, developing these, figuring, like, I just, I mean, we’re coming up on time, but how did you expand from one to eight, managing inventory, managing this process?
I’m just curious about the expansion and the scalability
Garrett: of it. Yeah, so the approach that I took is I don’t, I don’t know that much about fba. I still don’t know today, and so it’s important that you find somebody who does. So, you know, it helps that I had a private affiliate on my website at the time.
Who was also doing fba, and I think he was doing like, I don’t know, a hundred million dollars a year or something like that. And I asked him to be my mentor essentially. So I was like, okay I’ll do a private affiliate on my website, give you like, or give me 10 to 15% really low number, but then you have to mentor me in this FBA space.
And I think that’s what what helped is, you know, I created this relationship for, he can advertise on my website. But then in return he kind of gives me advice on fba. And then I’ve just been able to scale the FBA side as well. So we have people like in the customer service you know, and then mainly we went through agency.
So we have an agency for ppc, we have an agency for listing and, and whatnot. But that’s kind of, I. The thought process there behind it.
Jared: Got it. Got it. How’s inventory? I mean, that’s always seems to be a bugaboo or a frustration or something. Yeah. When I talk to people who manage e-comm, how’s how, how have you managed to handle all that?
Garrett: There’s no perfect solution to inventory and like, You know, as we launched on Amazon and you know, they kind of give you like a linear projection on, oh, you’re gonna sell that much. But then like when we first launched and our brush started getting traction, like it, the curve is exponential. So I think there was times where we were sold out two or three times, especially because takes like 60 days in a manufacturer, minimum 30 days to get to the us.
So you’re planning at least 90 days out. And it’s impossible to predict the curve. So nowadays what I do is I order. A lot if I know that it’s going to sell out. And I don’t necessarily send it all to Amazon fba. I do keep some in my garage. Mm. Just in case like we do get to that point, because you, it’s, it’s important that you don’t sell out cuz it does affect your bestseller rating.
Okay. Especially on Amazon side. I’ve
Jared: heard that. Yeah. Yeah. You don’t wanna go dark for a while there. Mm-hmm. We’ve, we’ve worked with many at my agency. We’ve worked with many e-comm brands over the years who do fba and that’s a big deal. It’s a big deal. Hey, so I wanna ask a little bit about revenue and if you’re comfortable kinda giving us a little bit of an idea.
Cuz I think this is the challenge in the back of my head, right? Like when you start talking to e-commerce brands, revenue numbers can get really high in comparison to profit numbers. Mm-hmm. And I don’t wanna put you on the spot or anything, but a lot of us are used to thinking more on the content website side of things where our costs are very minimum now our revenues are very high.
In comparison, but it’s because our, our revenue we generate has. Arguably lower costs. So help, I’m trying to talk to someone right now who’s maybe sitting on a website that could be potential for going over and doing all this FBA stuff. It’s a lot of work though. You’re doing like, you know, you’re projecting 4 million it looks like from FBA or e-commerce earnings in 2023.
Like, if you can try to help us understand what, what the profit kind of looks like on something like that after you kind of factor in all these costs, like inventory and agencies and these sorts of things.
Garrett: Yeah, I would say that my profit margin, if you kind of do the calculations and you’re, you’re probably targeting like 30% profit margin or something, somewhere along those lines.
Realistically, like after PPC and everything, it’s probably like 20%. So maybe like 20% profit margin is what you’re, you’re probably getting. But for me, like I’m, I’m still in growth mode. I, I don’t necessarily need the money, so a lot of this money and time is spending into putting. Into new products, into inventory as well.
Because Amazon is very heavy with upfront money and upfront costs. Like as you accumulate inventory that costs a lot of money. That doesn’t necessarily sell until a later date. But yeah, we are going from eight products this year, and we’ll have at least 20 by the end of the year. Mm-hmm. So as you can invest or envision, my, my profit margin for my existing products is probably 20 something percent, but I’m spending all that money.
And basically all the money from ads and private affiliates from the website as well to expand into Amazon fba, just because I see the opportunity. And so, so
Jared: basically in a nutshell, people can think about it like, Hey, right now I make two to 4% on an affiliate deal through Amazon. I could get to 20%
Garrett: if I, yeah, I think you, yeah, you could easily get the 20%, I think.
But it’s also important to know that you are diversifying away from Google, right? You’re basically. Your website is like one penalty away from losing 50% of its traffic. So you’re diversifying away from Google, which is important. And then also is you’re creating a brand. So I never knew that, like in this e-commerce space, like we’re selling so many of these brushes, so many shampoos, but you’re creating a brand and somebody something.
No, some, like, a lot of people know about my brand now, which is, which is crazy. And I think that that has a lot of inherent value. So if you do go to resell your business That, that, that is like a big part of the resale value as
Jared: well. Oh yeah. Yeah. You’re, you’ve got a full brand on Google right now in terms of like generating traffic from Google.
That is, and then you’ve got a full brand on, on kind of fba and I wanted to, that was how I kind of wanted to wrap things up here. We kind of know where you’re at. We spent the second half of the conversation talking about your FBA brand and you’re building it and. You know, you’re going from one product to eight products to 20 products, and 1 million to 4 million to who knows what in revenue.
We got your margins and the process inventory. Maybe let’s finish by circling back to the website and if we can, like, let’s look at the website. What is the website doing now days in terms of maybe traffic or number of articles that we have live on that page views, earnings? Like, I just would kind of love to go back and finish off that conversation on the website.
Garrett: Yeah, sure. So my website’s been pretty passive, so like, as you can imagine that I, I, I still do the keyword research, as I mentioned in the beginning. I create the kind of topical clusters, but aside from that is pretty much on autopilot today, and I’m focusing 95% of my time on the FBA side and trying to expand and launch new products because the revenue for that is like exponential e-commerce side, if you can.
Add on, it’s really exponential revenue when compared to seo, right? SEO is like pretty linear, you know, maybe you get bumped by Google and you go down a little bit, but you’re never gonna grow exponentially on seo, especially for an informational site or an affiliate website. So it’s been pretty consistent.
The website is basically passive income. I think we’re on ad Thrive Platinum Elite, so I think it’s like minimum, pretty close to $500,000 a year. On the ad side. And then on the e-commerce side, yeah, we’re doing should at least do $4 million this year. I’d be surprised if we didn’t hit that number.
Jared: How many articles do you have live now? Are you still producing new content on the website? Are you still, like, are you investing in it or is it just you’re letting it sit?
Garrett: We are, we are investing in it, but it’s not at a certain, at a certain point there’s just like so many keywords that you can. Write about, and I think we have like 5,000 articles on the website now.
Wow. Yeah. If not, maybe slightly more. So as you can imagine, that’s a lot of articles on like mixed dog breeds. There’s only so much you can produce and I think last year we probably averaged 400,000 words per month. And then, okay. This year we are definitely tapered down. We’re more focusing on going back and editing the content.
Mm-hmm. That was written, you know, provide up-to-date facts and whatnot. But we still are producing at least a hundred thousand words per month. I would, I would guess,
Jared: So still a lot of traffic, obviously still a lot of, I mean, if you’re over 500,000 a year from Ad Thrive, that’s, that’s a healthy monthly earnings, but you’re investing in an update articles, you’ve got a lot of articles live, so that’s probably a pretty healthy process.
5,000 articles live to go back and update. Yeah, yeah,
Garrett: yeah, yeah. The 500,000 is throughout my portfolio though, so I do own probably like four or five major websites and then, That number is a, is a yearly revenue number, but yeah, it kind of gives you a good idea of what content and display ads can do for
Yeah. Yeah. And, and you were saying that that website really only supplies about 10 to 20% of the revenue for the B brand and so Right. You know, the FBA brand has clearly kind of grown into its own, its own brand of its own, although connected to the website. Right,
Garrett: right, right. Yeah. Yeah. But as you know, like for people starting as well, that 95% of your content is gonna be informational, and then 5% is probably gonna be affiliate or bottom of the funnel.
So we can only really capitalize on that bottom 5% of the articles that we are putting out. So it’s not gonna be like a one-to-one translation, but Yeah, it has, has helped and grown exponentially.
Jared: Well, I mean, flew by. I feel like we could have gone deeper on the website. Obviously. I think a lot of people will still be having some questions there.
And the FBA side of things that was so enlightening and so many more things we could have gotten into, but. You brought a ton of value. I know my head is is, is spinning with, with ideas and potential. I’m sure Pils are where can well thank you. That was kinda the point of that. Thank you for coming on and sharing so much.
Where can people follow along with what you have going on anywhere you can direct ’em to?
Garrett: Yeah, I have nothing to promote. I’m just a big fan of Spencer’s and been following ’em a long time. But if you guys do have questions or you want to reach out feel free to connect on LinkedIn. It’s just Garrett Yamasaki and you’ll probably see me.
See me up there. I’ll, I’ll send a link to you guys as well.
Jared: Yeah, we’ll get in the show notes. Hopefully we’ll be down there for you. And man, Garrett, thank you for coming by. This was fun. I really enjoyed learning all about how you’re scaling this business and it’s it gives everybody a lot of motivation.
Garrett: again. Yeah, thanks Jared. Happy to be here.