Sellercast: The podcast that teaches you how to sell more products on AmazonDirect podcast MP3 download link

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Steve Chou is on the show today and as an ecommerce seller for the last several years he has a lot of experience to share. Today Steve shares his perspective of selling on Amazon as a store owner that started selling on his own platform for years before recently listing a small sampling of his SKU's on Amazon.

If you're already selling products via your own ecommerce store and considering selling on Amazon as well be sure to listen to this episode.

Want to ask a question?

Get involved and ask a question about selling on Amazon and Chris may answer your question live on a future episode of Sellercast. Also, if you think you'd be a good guest for the Sellercast podcast feel free to tell us more about you and your company here.

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Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

Intro: Hello, everyone. Chris Guthrie here, host of the Sellercast podcast. And in today’s episode, we’ve got a friend of mine whose name is Steve. And this episode will be interesting because we’re recording it from the perspective of someone that has been selling already with their own ecommerce store, and then they’re coming onto Amazon and now selling those products there as well. Steve actually got a very quick start on Amazon. Listed up his products, started selling pretty quickly. And it’s really interesting from his perspective of already owning an ecommerce company and then bringing it onto Amazon. So listen to this one and let us what you think in the comments by going to That’s the number 7. Here we go.

Chris Guthrie: Hello, everyone. Chris Guthrie here, and I also have Steve from Welcome, Steve.

Steve: Hey, how’s it going, Chris?

Chris Guthrie: Doing well. It’s nice to have you on. We met back at the FinCon expo in September or something of 2014.

Steve: Was it last year?

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, I think so.

Steve: I guess it was last year.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, it was nice to meet up with you. And I know that you’ve been into ecommerce for quite some time. And the cool part was that you started your journey with your own ecommerce store years ago. And then more recently, you started coming on and selling on Amazon. So I thought that angle on that story was different than what a lot of the listeners might have. They’ve been selling on Amazon for a while, and maybe they’re looking at going elsewhere, and you’re coming in the opposite just to add to that. Welcome again.

Steve: I remember you were egging me on to selling on Amazon too, I think.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, I said, “Hey, there’s so much traffic. Throw some items up and see what happens.”

Steve: Which is exactly what I did, yeah, totally.

Chris Guthrie: Let’s dive into it. What were you doing before you started selling on Amazon? I know you had your own ecommerce store. But can you tell us a little bit about that business and the details of that?

Steve: I’ll give you like the 30-second version. Mainly, we were selling handkerchiefs and linens, catering to the wedding industry and the event industry. It was just a standalone ecommerce store using an open-source shopping cart. And we basically drive traffic to it via just SEO and then CPC traffic. And we also do a lot of outreach to get the larger volume vendors on board to buy from us.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. I was thinking originally outreach. I thought you were into something like talking to other wedding blogs or doing types of giveaways and stuff like that to drive some traffic in that way.

Steve: We don’t do that much of that, actually. Outreach more in terms of B2B stuff.

Chris Guthrie: The biggest question is what made you decide to sell that in the first place?

Steve: Yeah, it’s kind of random. Back when we were engaged to get married, my wife knew she was going to cry at her wedding. We spent a lot of money on photography, and she didn’t want to be in the pictures using a nasty tissue to dry her tears. So we looked for handkerchiefs, couldn’t find them anywhere except for a few vendors in China, but those were factories, so you had to buy a bunch. We ended up buying hundreds. We used around six of them and got rid of the rest of them on eBay. They sold really well on eBay. 

Chris Guthrie: Wow! So you bought some for your own use. And then you had some extras, and you decided to sell.

Steve: Some extras is an understatement. We had a lot.

Chris Guthrie: Massive amount of extras. I’m curious then because you mentioned that you found the only places they were being sold really was through China. Then how did you even get to that? I mean I’m thinking nowadays, of course, Alibaba etc. But is that where you went? Or did you find somewhere else?

Steve: No. I think actually we found that first vendor just by Googling. And it was actually a really sketchy site. They didn’t really care about their website, clearly. It was just like a one-pager. And then we just kind of reached out and contacted them. And they sent us like a catalog essentially via email of what they had. And then we were like, “All right.” And these were really, really cheap. So we were like worst case scenario, we’re out of like a couple of hundred bucks.

Chris Guthrie: Are you still working with these people today or not anymore?

Steve: We are, actually. I didn’t finish the story. What happened is that when my wife became pregnant, she wanted to quit her job to take care of the kids. So we kind of reached back out to that vendor. And today he still supplies us with some stuff. But we’ve kind of graduated from him for the most part.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, okay, because you’re doing too much volume.

Steve: Pretty much, yeah.

Chris Guthrie: One of the comments I was going to make is that I wonder how many of those businesses that had a poor web presence have just slowly died off. Now it’s 2015, but you started several years ago, right?

Steve: Yeah, we started in 2007. It’s been a while.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, okay. We’ll probably come back to talk a little bit more about the ecommerce side. You mentioned you were using an open-source platform. What are you using now? Is it still the same thing?

Steve: No. It’s like a very heavily modified version of osCommerce, which I don’t recommend anyone start out with. But the code was really easy. I basically just wrote all my own plugins and additional functionality. So it’s not anything close to what it was.

Chris Guthrie: Okay, you probably evaluated other platforms before. If you were to pick one to suggest people that are listening and they’re selling on Amazon and they’re trying to decide what to do next, what would you suggest? 

Steve: If you’re not tech savvy, I’d probably go with Shopify or Bigcommerce.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. And if you are tech savvy?

Steve: If you’re tech savvy, I would still consider going open-source, just because if you want any sort of custom functionality and you don’t want to wait for anyone else to do it, it helps to be on open-source. It really depends on what you’re trying to sell and what you need to do though.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. It’s kind of a rabbit hole we could go down, but I was just curious based on your experience. You mentioned before, but what else made you decide to start selling on Amazon? Was it just me prodding you at that event? Or you heard from other people telling you as well?

Steve: You were prodding me. But there’s this one dude who I had on my podcast. His name is Lars. Lars and this other dude, Kenrick, were sending me their income reports from Amazon, like actual Amazon income reports. And I think it was the holiday season, and they were just insane, six figures per month just from Amazon or whatnot. They were like, “All you’ve got to do, it’s really simple. You just throw your stuff on. Just take some pictures or use your existing pictures and just throw it up. You don’t have to do anything. Just throw it up.” And so I was like, “Okay, well, we can do that. Let’s just throw it up and see what happens.” It’s been almost a year now.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. I’m going to go ahead and take credit for that. It was about a year ago and a year ago is when we met then...

Steve: Yeah. I remember you left a comment on my blog. It was like, “Why don’t you just throw them up?” But you didn’t send me income reports.

Chris Guthrie: That’s true. At that time, it was earlier on for me. But any case, how many individual items are you selling on Amazon? 

Steve: Right now we have like 10 SKUs still. So we’ve got this like inventory problem for this year just because there was this port strike for our port. And we ended up getting a lot of our stuff four or five months late. And plus we have all these event planners that buy in bulk where we feel like we need to keep some stocks. So I’m thinking like maybe later. We already started ramping up a little bit. So the money is starting to roll in now. But right now, it’s just 10-12 SKUs.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. And on your ecommerce store, just to contrast.

Steve: We’ve got 450-ish SKUs.

Chris Guthrie: So that’s a lot. How long did it take you to get up to that level?

Steve: The 450?

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. Is there any specific reason other than just the more you add, the more it seems to generate in terms of revenue?

Steve: We try to go to the Canton Fair every other year. And basically, we’ve been growing in the double and triple digits ever since 2007. And one of the ways we do it is just by adding new product lines that are related. So it’s just been gradual over time. When we launched, it was pretty much just handkerchiefs.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, okay. And I don’t know if I’ve asked you this before, but are you able to share what types of revenues you’re doing now? Can you give a rough range?

Steve: We don’t really share revenue from the ecommerce store. But we started out with six figures. And you can kind of piece things together if you look at the income reports on the blog. I mean we just do percentage increases, but you can get an idea if you were to dig that.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, okay. What about on the Amazon side? Are you able to share that part since it’s a smaller component?

Steve: I can say that it’s like single digits compared to overall revenues.

Chris Guthrie: That’s percentage.

Steve: Yeah, percentage-wise. When we first started out, I think we sold our first 60 units in like a week, with no reviews, nothing. I didn’t even try to do anything. It was really ridiculous. And then we pretty much got up to like 6000 a month almost right away. And it was flat for a while because we didn’t have any inventory. And it’s been increasing since, I would say, May of this year.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. Do you share the listings for your Amazon business? I know you share your ecommerce website. Actually, I should’ve mentioned that at the beginning. Can you share the ecommerce website?

Steve: Yeah. It’s You know how a lot of Amazon sellers are really hush-hush about their products? Ours is just like the same products we sell on our store. And they are like the high-volume bestsellers. It’s not like we did research on Amazon to find those products. We basically took what we had in our store and just listed on Amazon.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. And in a lot of cases, that is a really solid strategy for some people to just not really go after the super competitive stuff and just go for a lot of SKUs that can do collectively a large volume. I know a lot of people that are doing that, that have just focused on that strategy as opposed to trying to hit the home runs.

Steve: Yeah. I don’t think from a third-party view, anyone would be trying to sell our products because I talk to a whole bunch of different Amazon sellers and talked about their niche criteria. And in general, it’s going to be much larger volumes than some of our individual products. But once we get all 450 up there at some point, it’s all going to add up.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. So what are some of the other criteria that from the other sellers you talked to, just to give a context?

Steve: Yeah. For example, one seller I talked to likes to look for products that sell at least 10 per day. Another seller likes to see revenues on the order of $20,000-ish per month for an item. Reviews in like the low 100s across the front page and stuff like that, and even distribution of revenue.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, making sure that all listings are actually selling.

Steve: Yeah, for the most part.

Chris Guthrie: Cool. So with 450 SKUs now, it’s all your brand. You put your own brand to these.

Steve: Correct.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. And the other question is that are you re-selling other products as well or just those? They all have your own brand on, basically.

Steve: All of them have our own brand except for a few of our products where we’re selling just kind of domestic wholesale. And we’re doing that just to kind of even out some of our categories.

Chris Guthrie: Okay, cool. You’ve been selling for so long now. I’m curious just because at the stage that you’re at, you’ve probably been looking down the road for quite some time. What are your ultimate goals for this ecommerce business? What do you think you want to do with it, just keep running it and enjoy building it further and further?

Steve: Yeah, that’s a really good question. In a way, my ecommerce store and my blog and my course and all that stuff are all related. So I kind of treat it like a laboratory. So whenever something comes out, like Pinterest ads or whatnot, I try it on the store and then I write about it. And so I really enjoy the marketing aspect and the business side of things rather than whatever we’re selling. I don’t care for handkerchiefs or linens or whatnot. What I do care about is different ways to market it. So I foresee myself at least continuing on with it just for the fun aspect of that. 

Chris Guthrie: That’s cool. I like that. It’s more about the marketing challenges and just the new ways that you can find channels to drive traffic than necessarily caring about the products. If you were to tell someone that’s starting out, do you think it’s just don’t worry that much about what you’re selling? Or do you think now that you’ve been up and selling, it would be a good idea to care for what you sell?

Steve: Yeah, it totally matters. I actually got a little bored of Amazon because you just list it and you get a few reviews and then you run the Amazon pay per click. I don’t feel like there’s much to it compared to running your own shop. I don’t know where I was going with this, but when you’re running your own shop, there are just a whole bunch of different things that you can do that are just really interesting.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, there’s stuff you can do. A lot of what you talked about like Pinterest ads and all that, you can do on Amazon component. But then you’re driving it through traffic like an intermediary page to build an email list. And then you’re giving them coupon code to leave review or something. But a lot of that stuff doesn’t really apply unless you’re selling more competitive products, which in your case, you mentioned you don’t have to do that. So I can see how it would be kind of really just put your products up, get some nice photos, perhaps. Are you using all the photo slots for your listings?

Steve: We are.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. And have you written out the actual listing or something as well, bullet points and description?

Steve: Yeah, of course. I think the thing with Amazon is you can’t really see the results of your ad spend. I could drive traffic to an Amazon listing. But it’s not like Amazon is going to let me put a conversion pixel on their site.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. And that’s why you have to kind of do it in the sense of sending it somewhere else first to pre-qualify and then sending them on. You could track if you did that…

Steve: Special coupon code, maybe.

Chris Guthrie: Exactly. So you could track in that way. But it’s a bit of a challenge. I think people have tried to do that. There are some grey/blackhat stuff people try to do that. Unfortunately, they don’t let you do that — a tracking pixel. But you couldn’t really see your conversions within Seller Central and the reporting in there.

Steve: It sounds like too much work to track the ads. When you do it for your own site, it’s just all there nicely collated in one platform.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. And we’re coming from different backgrounds, so it’s it’s funny hearing it from your perspective in terms of Amazon is not that much work. It’s just kind of funny.

Steve: Not work, but there’s less to it. You know what I’m saying? I could be wrong. I’ve only scratched the surface.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. It’s probably still a little bit early, but it really will depend a lot on what it is you’re selling and how competitive it is. If you’re selling like top 100 items, then there’s all sorts of crazy stuff that happens there, because I’ve talked to people that are doing those.

Steve: Did I tell you that some Amazon vendor took all of the SKUs on our regular website and put them on Amazon, stealing our pictures and product descriptions without our permission?

Chris Guthrie: You didn’t tell me that. What did you end up doing about it?

Steve: We ended up trying to contact Amazon, got the run around. And then finally, we asked very politely for them to take it down. And fortunately, they did.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. You can do cease-and-desist type things and some of the other ones. Again, that depends on situation. And obviously, for anyone listening, I don’t know if I want to give a legal disclaimer, consult your attorney etc.

Steve: The thing is that Amazon will give you the run around. They give you a standard auto response. I can tell you a lot about horror stories, but it’s probably not the objective of this podcast.

Chris Guthrie: No, there’s plenty in this. Even people listening, I’m sure, have dealt with their own share.

Let’s shift gears a bit. What are you doing for handling inventory for your Amazon products? Are you sending them to FBA? Or are you just using your own fulfillment?

Steve: No, we’re using FBA, for sure. In fact, that’s pretty much the easiest way for us to do it because it’s easier just to send off x number of units to Amazon and then categorize those separately in our tracking. 

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that makes sense. And what are you using for your fulfillment for your own store, if that’s something you’re able to share? I know some people are secretive about their fulfillment as well.

Steve: No, that’s cool. We’ve got a warehouse with a couple of employees that pack and place orders. And we do a lot of personalized stuff, which you pretty much can’t sell on Amazon. And so that’s kind of like our unique value-add. We can turn around these personalized items really quickly.

Chris Guthrie: I talked to someone in one of our earlier episodes. He was looking at doing laser engraving on some of his items. And then the plan for that was to sell those just primarily through his own ecommerce store. But through his presence on Amazon and some of the other marketing he was doing, he would get sales that way. Kind of a unique angle.

You’re using your own warehouse. Is that based in California?

Steve: It is, unfortunately.

Chris Guthrie: Why do you say unfortunately.

Steve: Because it sucks to start a business in California.

Chris Guthrie: That’s true. If you start in another state, you still have to pay the foreign entity tax thing anyways. I forgot how much it was.

Steve: You do unless everything is in that state. It’s a grey area.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that’s fine. I feel like there are a lot of different things we’ve talked about already. There could be various rabbit holes to dive down. But that’s fine. I’m just curious because that’s another level in terms of where you’re at with the business and that you have a warehouse and you have full-time employees that help manage it. I’m kind of curious. Is it just like a least space and then you’ve just kind of grown in times?

Steve: Yeah.

Chris Guthrie: Okay, cool, that’s great. And then on the shipping side, even though handkerchiefs and all that are really light, it sounds like you’re just doing sea shipping because of the level of volume you’re doing.

Steve: Yeah, totally.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. How closely did you transition to sea shipping when you first started? Or did you pretty much just do that from the get-go?

Steve: No, we definitely did not do that from the get-go. We were using air for almost the entire first year because we were scared of sea shipping. It’s actually quite intimidating until you do it once.

Chris Guthrie: So were you using a freight forwarding company to handle that? Or had you in the past? Or is it now pretty much all something you guys handle?

Steve: No, we just use our vendor’s freight forwarder typically. And once it gets here, we have our customs agent kind of arrange to get our goods from the port to our office.

Chris Guthrie: Okay, that’s cool. The reason why I’m curious is I’ve never done sea shipping before. I’ve talked to a lot of people that do it, and they say that the first time it’s new just like anything else. But air is what I primarily have been doing before. And I’d suggest it for the people that are starting out. So they can get their units more quickly, but makes sense once you’ve got more volume.

Steve: It’s so much cheaper. Once you cross 200 lbs. maybe, I would say, it’s substantially cheaper.

Chris Guthrie: Okay, so that will be a good benchmark for people that are right now air shipping. You say once you pass 200…

Steve: Yeah, because air shipping, as things get heavier, it increases like linearly—whereas with sea shipment, you’re pretty much getting a container and whatever you can shove in it, doesn’t matter what the weight is.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, it makes sense. So primarily, would you say most of your time is spent on the actual ecommerce side of your business, and then you probably don’t do much at all for the Amazon side? Or how is your time split for that part of the business? Is that your wife primarily…

Steve: My wife primarily handles that stuff. I mainly handle marketing and all the tech stuff for the online store. My wife is more involved in the day-to-day stuff and managing the employees. She actually manages the Amazon stuff, making sure there is inventory on Amazon, most of the time.

Chris Guthrie: So is she back to working full-time? It’s kind of a personal question, but the only reason why I ask is because you mentioned that she wanted to quit her job. And it’s almost like maybe the success then brought her back to working on it.

Steve: Yeah, I put her to work again. No, she actually mainly works there in the mornings. And then the afternoons, I don’t know if your kids are in school yet.

Chris Guthrie: No, they’re young, not school age.

Steve: Elementary school gets up pretty early. So it just leaves her a flexible schedule where she can go and hang out with the kids in the afternoon and that sort of thing.

Chris Guthrie: That’s perfect.

Steve: She still does work maybe three to four hours a day. But the she mainly spends the afternoons with the kids. We’re pretty autonomous at this point. We’ve taken a bunch of vacations where our employees have just handled the entire load while we were gone.

Chris Guthrie: You started in 2007. At what stage did you start implementing some of these things to be able to free more of your time? 

Steve: That’s a good question.

Chris Guthrie: Maybe it’s going too far back, but I’m just curious because a lot of people that are listening are just starting out. They might have a few products they’re selling, maybe just on Amazon. And they’re looking at going elsewhere. So I think hearing from someone that’s been there and been selling for a while is kind of new. 

Steve: Yeah, it was all on our house back then. And the way we did it was we would just pack everything at night after the kids went to sleep. And that worked out really well. We didn’t actually get our own office space until several years later, I think. We actually had employees though. They would actually just come to our house and pack stuff in this room that we had sectioned off for it. So that’s the way it worked. And it was in our house the longest time, and our garage was like the warehouse. And then of course when we had our second child, my wife was like, “All this stuff has got to go.” 

Chris Guthrie: [Laughs] And do you think that that then set off another stage of growth maybe greater than the previous time? I’m just thinking that just shifting it out and making it more – I don’t know if professional is the right word, but the sense that okay, here I’m expanding out. You can’t see it because we’re not doing a video chat, but I’m air quoting like a “real” business, I guess, where you’re not at home type of thing.

Steve: What’s funny is, for a little bit, I was a little hesitant to grow the revenues because we would outgrow our house. So in that respect, once we move to different space, I had a lot more freedom to try a whole bunch and like really go all out with advertising, especially. So in that respect, we grew a lot, I think, once we moved to an office building. But on the flip side, we started incurring additional cost that we didn’t have before. I think the growth was mediocre when we first started with the office. And then I think last year, we grew our revenues. I don’t remember the exact percentage. It was double digits, but we didn’t actually grow profits that much because we moved into a larger space. We had another employee on board to just handle the holiday rush. So it’s been just kind of gradual. We’re still growing revenue-wise, but occasionally, when we expand, we have to divert some of that revenue into the growth of just the infrastructure.

Chris Guthrie: Okay, that makes sense. And once you’ve incurred those fixed costs, then once you can grow the revenue further than you’d probably add back on that profit. But then it’s kind of that balancing. Then you get into another bigger space.

Steve: Yeah, that’s the thing. 2015, we’re growing like 26 percent or something like that because we don’t have that overhead addition this year. It’s like pedal to the floor again, so to speak.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. When we talked ahead of time about this podcast and I said, “Hey, here are some ideas that we could talk about.” I was like, “Well, there are so many different directions that we could head because you’ve been selling for so long.” Maybe you know better than I do. What would you suggest to new sellers that are maybe selling on Amazon and looking at selling on their own ecommerce store? You’ve already talked about what platform you suggest. But what would you suggest for them to try and start driving traffic to that or driving initial sales? Would it pretty much just be paid traffic? And if so, which paid traffic?

Steve: You mean if they’re starting on Amazon, what I would advise them to do?

Chris Guthrie: Let’s say they’re selling on Amazon now, but they’re looking at expanding into their own ecommerce store. You mentioned before what platform you suggest, either Shopify or Bigcommerce if they’re not technical. But what would you suggest that they can do to get their initial traffic? I think that’s part of why people hesitate moving off Amazon. They’re so used to this tornado of free traffic.

Steve: The drugs, yeah. Let’ say you’re doing like a thousand a month, which isn’t that much on Amazon, and you’ve kind of validated that your stuff is going to sell. I would then transition to your own shop. It really depends on your product. If it lends itself well to query-based advertising, then I would consider just running AdWords or Google Shopping. Google Shopping ads actually convert really well. But is your audience familiar with how those work?

Chris Guthrie: Go ahead and get into more depth. I think that it really will vary. But maybe we could just spend most of the rest of time talking about paid advertising stuff.

Steve: Yeah, sure. Google shopping, if you’ve ever a few searches, you’ll notice pictures of products come up with their prices underneath them. And those are ads that basically take you to an online store, essentially directly to that product. And those convert really well because the customer has seen the product and they know the price. And so if they’re clicking on that ad, chances are they’re interested in purchasing that product. So those convert really well. There’s a bunch of services like that out there that are like that as well and they convert really well, like Nextag, PriceGrabber. Amazon has product ads but they’re phasing those out for another form of text-based advertising, which I’m kind of in the process of looking at right now.

Chris Guthrie: I’m not a huge page traffic guy, but one thing that I know from talking with friends of mine that are is that a lot of times, it’s all about finding the new platforms of whatever is new, basically, and then getting onto those as quickly as possible. So I’m assuming that Google the oldest pretty much. But what other platforms have you been running ads on?

Steve: Bing, I started doing Facebook ads for ecommerce, which is a lot different than doing it for info products. I’ve been running Pinterest ads now for a couple of months. And I’m getting ready to write a post on that at some point. But it really depends on what your niche is. Some products just don’t lend themselves well to query-based advertising like AdWords, simply because the keywords are just too expensive or too competitive. So if your products are like that but they’re unique in some way, Facebook advertising tends to work pretty well. But you also have to run your Facebook ads a little bit differently because when you’re on Facebook, you’re not looking to click on ads or anything. Facebook is more about driving people to content, getting their emails, and writing about your products creative way to get them to go to your site.

Chris Guthrie: Let’s run with that a bit then. You mentioned you’ve been doing some Facebook ads. You drive them to content, and then you get their email address. What are you sending to them to try and get them to buy from you?

Steve: I can go through the whole – There’s more to it than just that.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah, go ahead and let do that. Then we’ll wrap up a little bit after that.

Steve: It starts with having a Facebook ad that you’re driving people to some sort of article or post that’s interesting. I’ll just give you a quick example. For one of our Facebook ads, we’re driving people to a post called 9 Unique Wedding Ideas To Make Your Wedding Extra Special. And in that, we give cool ideas and craft ideas using our products so they can actually hand-make and use for their wedding. On there we have email signup forums. If you give me your address, we’ll send you a free book of crafts. We have a lot of photos in that post that click directly to products and category pages. And if anyone ends up clicking on a category page, we actually have a retargeting pixel. So whenever they go back on Facebook, we actually show them the exact products that they looked at on our site, and that’s called Facebook Dynamic Product Ads because you upload like an Excel spreadsheet of all of your products. And then Facebook knows what they looked at. And they can correlate and then show them the exact picture of what they looked at. Those convert really well. So it’s just a combination of driving them, getting them on your email list, bringing them back through retargeting, as well as getting them to go directly to your site. So it’s a combination of those things that makes it work.

Chris Guthrie: Okay. Are there any other traffic tips that you suggest?

Steve: For which platform? Every platform is completely different.

Chris Guthrie: What about for Pinterest? That’s the one that everyone seems to be talking about most frequently these days.

Steve: What’s cool about Pinterest ads is that they’re super cheap right now. I don’t even know if they’re accepting anyone off the street yet. I don’t know if they’re fully open yet. But the clicks are super cheap. In Facebook, you kind of have to rotate your ads because people get tired of them. With Pinterest, you can leave the same ad up and constantly be building up your list of pins to that particular pin. And after a while, you don’t even need to run the ad anymore on that pin once you’ve accumulated a mass of pins for that pin. 

Chris Guthrie: Oh wow, interesting, because of all the re-pinning that’s going on. That’s cool.

Steve: I don’t know how much, but I’ve got lots to talk about if you want to talk about any of those advertising platforms or even just how to use those platforms in general.

Chris Guthrie: Sure, let’s talk about whatever you think. I’m letting you decide.

Steve: Oh, you’re letting me decide. Since we were just talking about Pinterest, I’ll just leave you guys with a quick tip on Pinterest. What’s nice about Pinterest is you don’t really have to have a strong account to get traffic, unlike Facebook where you’ve got to build up likes or Twitter where you need to build up followers and that sort of thing. You could have a crappy Pinterest account with just a handful of followers. What’s nice about Pinterest is you can actually leverage collaborative boards. So you can join a board that has hundreds of thousands of followers on it. And if they give you permission to pin on their board, that’s like instant traffic—even though your personal board is pretty weak.

Chris Guthrie: That’s cool. I’m not as familiar with Pinterest as a user. I’m in their advertising program, but I haven’t spent much time with it. How would you get someone to add them to you to do that? Is it just like messaging the admin and saying, “Hey, can you…”

Steve: Yeah, basically. But you have to have a good-looking board first. So you’ve got to spend some time making your board look good. I outsource this part a bit. But you make your board look good so that they think that you know what you’re doing. And then it’s just a matter of reaching out. And it really helps to meet these people in person also or establish some sort of rapport somehow. Oftentimes, these Pinterest people have blogs too. So if you get their attention, they’re more likely to accept you.

Chris Guthrie: Have you met some of the Pinterest people in person? Or have one of your outsourcers has or someone else in your team?

Steve: Yeah. The person that’s handling our Pinterest account actually knows a bunch of bloggers that have Pinterest collaborate board. So that’s helped a lot.

Chris Guthrie: Oh, that’s cool. I haven’t heard of that before. Great, I knew that when we first planned this, it was like there were a lot of different directions we could go. Let’s just see where it goes. But hopefully, it’s given people some insight into some of the different challenges that you might face when you’re growing your business, and also just where to go. If you’re at that spot where you feel like you’ve plateaued and you’re not really sure what to do next… There’s a lot that you gave for people kind of come back and decide, okay, let me just pick something and get after it, whether it’s a new advertising platform or getting their Shopify store or Bigcommerce store finally set up and going as well.

Steve: We didn’t even touch on email. You can do a ton of stuff once you have someone’s email address.

Chris Guthrie: Yeah. Maybe we’ll do a second episode then. Cool. Thanks so much, Steve, for coming on and sharing what you’ve learned from selling for so long, ecommerce. Thank you so much.

Steve: Thanks for having me, Chris.


Outro: Hopefully, you enjoyed that interview with Steve. And as always, if you’d like to check out Salesbacker to help you get more reviews for your products that you’re selling on Amazon, you can go to Also, if you want to go back and check out the show notes and some of the resources that were mentioned, you can go to

Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we’ll see you in the next one.