Are you ready to learn how James Swanwick sold $1 MILLION on Amazon in 13 months with a simple product idea?
James is the Founder of Swannies, an online business that sells blue light blocking glasses designed to help people sleep better. The orange lens on his glasses blocks out the blue, artificial light that we absorb from our cell phones, computers, or TV screens.
I’m a big fan of James' product. I wear his glasses almost every night before I fall asleep.
I recently attended an Amazon seller event in Orlando, Florida called SellerCon. While I was there, I had the opportunity to interview James about the huge success that he has had selling on Amazon.
If you have been wondering whether or not Amazon can really make you money, this is an interview you don't want to miss. Let's dive into how he sold $1 MILLION on Amazon in 13 months with a simple product idea!
Watch the video below:
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Are you ready to discover how to build a profitable business selling on Amazon? CLICK HERE for instant access to my free video training!
Do you want to sleep better at night? CLICK HERE to order a pair of James' Swannies glasses!
James Swanwick built his Amazon business with zero experience. He had a dream, he followed the steps, and he did the work to make it happen.
This is how he sold $1 MILLION on Amazon in 13 months with a simple product idea.
I've had the pleasure of watching James' success unfold over time. Here is a sneak peek of my interview with him, where we talk about how he became a successful Amazon seller.
Can you share a little bit about how you got started selling on Amazon?
I was with a friend of mine in Palm Springs and he was wearing a really ugly pair of blue light blocking glasses. They were kind of like safety goggles and they looked really unsightly. I'm just vain enough that there was no way that I was going to be wearing those things.
I started to think how I could I create a stylish pair of blue light blocking glasses that I would feel comfortable enough wearing in public. That was the main lesson that I got out of creating and selling physical products – don't try to invent a product. Rather, take an existing one and make it better and target your market towards it.
I didn’t try to invent blue light blocking glasses. I just took an ugly pair and made them a little bit more stylish. My brother, Tristan was in Brisbane at the time and I was living in LA. I phoned him up and I said, “I've got this idea for a business. You contact the manufacturers and try to find one and I'll do the marketing.” He was on board.
We launched on Black Friday in 2015. We sold 18 pairs on our first day on Amazon USA at a price point of $89. I thought, “This is going to be awesome!” The next day we only sold 6 pairs.
That's when I knew that starting an Amazon business wasn't always going to be smooth sailing.
We hovered underneath about 10 sales per day for awhile until we had a big breakthrough. I went on podcasts as a guest host, I wrote reviews, and I did coupon giveaways on Amazon – anything that I could in order to get our glasses out there. We ended up doing just under $1 million in just over 12 months.
Can you share a little bit more about when is the best time to wear your glasses?
When you stare at a screen while watching Game of Thrones on a Sunday night, you are tricking your body and brain into thinking that its daytime when it's actually nighttime. Wearing these glasses with the orange lens blocks out the artificial blue light.
Therefore, your body is able to naturally produce melatonin which means that when you finally take the glasses off, you are able to fall asleep quicker, sleep deeper, and ultimately wake up feeling refreshed.
Why did you decide on this product?
I was passionate about finding a product to create and sell. I am very health-conscious. When my friend was wearing these ugly glasses and he was explaining the health benefits of blocking blue light to me, I was particularly interested in it.
My sleep was okay. It wasn't horrible, but not was it terrific. I would sleep 7 hours every night, but I would toss and turn. When I tried wearing a pair of ski goggles with the orange lenses before falling to sleep, I found that my sleep was better. I got really excited.
Another one of my passions was in the area of business and entrepreneurship.
I saw other people making a lot of money in the health industry and I thought to myself, “How can I make money as a side income that incorporates my passion, and also gets my creative juices flowing?”
Trying to make ugly glasses stylish excited me, and knowing that I could make money selling a product that could help people was a win-win. I wanted to create a side income, where I could travel the world. I didn't want to be reliant on a job or have to answer to a boss. This is what an Amazon business does for you.
What made you decide to sell your products on Amazon?
I would go to the Crunch Gym in Los Angeles, and I while I was working out I would listen to podcasts of people who were making money on Amazon. One of those people is a mutual friend of ours, called Ryan Moran. He did a really cool podcast episode about how to make one million dollars on Amazon.
If people with zero experience can follow a blueprint, get a product up and make one million dollars in 12 months or even 24 months, I knew that I could do it. That gave me the confidence to actually go into it.
Neither I nor my brother had any experience with Amazon. We followed mental models, we digested YouTube video and got inspired by other people, like yourself, who were achieving massive success.
Even though I didn't know how to do it, I followed the steps and the advice of people who had already done what I wanted to do. Someone very famous once said, “Your network is your net worth.” The people that you surround yourself with, who can challenge and inspire you, will have a direct correlation to how much money you make in business, or how happy you will be.
Tristan and I have flown to Orlando, Florida not knowing anyone here.
However, we are meeting so many people and exchanging information about what we do. I just gave some advice to someone about how they can increase their sales, and in turn, he gave me some advice on how I can increase my sales. Being around the right people is really important when it comes to improving your business.
What were some of the biggest challenges that you and your brother faced when you first started an Amazon business?
We made a big mistake in our Amazon business. We didn't check a box in our Amazon account, which meant that some very dodgy people hacked our Amazon page and essentially put a coupon code on top of a coupon code. They figured out how to get 100% off of our Swannies glasses.
I remember waking up one day and my virtual assistant told me that we had had a big day… $80,000 in sales, in one day. I didn't think that made sense. I poked around and found that people had stolen 1,000 of our Swannies glasses.
Effectively, it was our mistake. We didn't know what box to check, so we left ourselves exposed. Literally, in one night, they took 1,000 of our units out the door. We were selling our glasses at the time for $89, US.
We lost $90,000 in sales. That really hurt us.
Then, they started selling our glasses on eBay, so now my brother and I were competing against our own product. We were selling our glasses on Amazon, and they were selling our glasses on eBay for $10 less. We were in direct competition with the very product that we created.
What is the mindset that you adopt when you are faced with adversity in your online business?
I live by three words – keep moving forward. The obstacles will come. We also accidentally ordered 5,000 pairs of glasses from our manufacturer that we didn't need to order. We had this massive bill and we didn't have the cash flow to pay it.
I just kept saying to myself, “Keep moving forward.” Don't give up when things get hard. Find a way to see the good in a bad situation. That situation forced me to think and get creative.
There are a lot of programs out there that say, “Do this and you will make all this money.” It's possible, but it doesn't go perfectly as planned.
Running an Amazon business is a rollercoaster ride.
There are highs and then all of a sudden there are lows, and you're terrified. There are days where I've felt that the Amazon business is too tough for me, but then you change and you shift, and all of a sudden you get a breakthrough.
If you just stay on the rollercoaster, you end up achieving success.
You started selling on Amazon, but you also sell on your own website. Can you talk a little bit about why you took that route and what it has done for you?
We started on Amazon because we felt that it is the easiest, quickest, and the most pain-free way to get up and running. It has an existing marketplace of people that are going there to buy. Amazon handles all of the fulfillment for you. It's a really simple way to get started.
We then created our own website on Shopify, called Swanwick Sleep. We started that 5-6 months in. The reason why we did that is that we didn't want to be reliant on having an Amazon business. Rather, we wanted to have a business that just happened to sell on Amazon. That's a really important distinction.
The danger of only having an Amazon business is that, at any given moment, Amazon could shut it down. You also don't get to keep the customer emails, so it's hard for you to have an ongoing conversation with your customers. You can, but it's more challenging.
If you have a Shopify website or your own storefront, you collect customers’ details, their email addresses, have more dialogues with them, get them into a community and sell them more products. Moreover, the value of your business goes up considerably if you are selling on multiple avenues.
Today, we are selling on Shopify, we are doing wholesale deals, and going into retail. We are building a brand.
We aren't selling products on Amazon. Rather, our brand is Swanwick Sleep. Swannies is our main product, but we aren't reliant on Amazon. Having a Shopify store also gave us the flexibility to run Facebook ads and Instagram ads and do email marketing, so that we can engage with our customers in an ongoing way.
Anyone who has been on Amazon will know that Amazon can shut you down at a moment’s notice. I think the best practice is to start on Amazon to get up and running, and then as quickly as possible, create a Shopify page or e-commerce page.
At what point did you expand into the Australian market?
At the end of 2017, Amazon launched in Australia. Up until that point, we had been selling in the US, the UK, Europe and Canada for two years. We didn't make one sale in Australia until the end of 2017. Now we are up and running in that market.
Online shopping in Australia is growing at a huge rate. It's doubling every year. Sales are monstrous. However, Amazon in Australia hasn't come out of the gate a million miles per hour. People will take another 6-12 months in Australia to really embrace Amazon as a whole.
What's been really important for us is getting in right now, getting reviews, and getting our product known in that market, so that when the floodgates are open, we are going to be in the best position to be off to the races.
If you think long-term and get into the other Amazon markets, like Europe and Australia, now your Amazon business will be successful, long-term.
You are really good at influencer marketing. You've had a lot of celebrities wear your glasses. Can you share with people the strategy that you use when it comes to approaching influencers?
There are a couple of different ways that you can approach influencers. One way is organically, where you just bump into someone, have a conversation and tell them about your product.
The other way is through paid influencers. You can reach out to people who have 200,000-500,000 followers and pay them money to wear your product. They will create a post that they will then share with their audience, and you get the benefit of that exposure.
Sometimes you only need to pay $20, and sometimes it's $1,000. It just depends on what your product is and what market you want to reach. We’ve just started paying considerable money to have influencers post for us. These are people who have 1 million followers. We are finding a direct correlation between doing that and an increase in our sales.
He sold $1 MILLION on Amazon with a simple product idea.
I hope James' story has inspired you. Have faith, invest in yourself, and commit to building a successful Amazon business that can one day provide you with the financial freedom that you desire. If James did it, so can you.
Do you want to learn how to build a profitable business selling on Amazon? CLICK HERE for instant access to my free video training!
Do you want to sleep better at night? CLICK HERE to order a pair of James' Swannies glasses!