How To Become An Amazon Affiliate [And Make Millions]

Stuart Trier Interview, Sales Techniques Leave a Comment

Stuart Trier: Hey, guys. Welcome to Marketing Cheat Guides. Today I have on the show serial entrepreneur Bryan Burt, who has launched many businesses, and I’m really excited to introduce to you here and pick his brain and really hear how he’s been able to scale up so many different businesses.

Bryan, thanks for joining us today on the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into marketing?

Bryan Burt: Yeah, I mean, thank you so much for having me, Stuart. It’s been a really fun ride and I love talking about marketing and entrepreneurialism, so, very cool. Thank you for having me on, man. A little bit about how I’ve gotten into this, I mean, you’re asking me how to build a watch here so rather than do that I’ll just give you the time. I’ve had a long and storied history as an SEO professional. I started back in about 2001, 2002, I still remember the days where I had the first three pages of Google were all me. It was 100% all of my listings. I mean, all we had to do back in 2001, 2002, was keyword optimize the title of a Craigslist listing, and you were on the first page. It was amazing. It was the most amazing time. So I had dominated the first three pages, and I was working at the time for an auto glass company. They were replacing windshields and whatnot, in Phoenix, Arizona. And when I moved to digital and I stopped door knocking … I was literally door knocking in the middle of 122 degree weather for two weeks. I said, “Let me see what this Internet is all about.” (laughs)

So, I was able to figure it out pretty quickly. And by the time … you know, three months … fast forward six months into it, I was able to quadruple my revenue, you know, cut down my staff by … from eight times the size it was, into just 1/8th of that size. And I was able to really quadruple my revenue all from just working online and optimizing my websites, and my Craigslist listings, and I was using a back page, if you remember that. And all of these really interesting … HubSpot and Squidoo pages, and all of these other guys to get … I don’t know how long you’ve been an SEO, but …

Stuart Trier: Seth Godin and Squidoo, I haven’t heard that in a while.

Bryan Burt: (laughs) Absolutely, absolutely. And Scribed pages if you remember that.

Stuart Trier: Yeah.

Bryan Burt: So they would just occupy every position on Google. And it got to a point where my competition … at that point I branched off and started my own auto glass company, but my competition … they all kind of unionized against me in Phoenix. And they tried … they threatened to sue me for monopolization of Google.

Stuart Trier: (laughs)

Bryan Burt: Which, obviously, is ridiculous. So looking back, I laugh about it, but at the time I was a little nervous.

Stuart Trier: Sure.

Bryan Burt: You know, and then obviously that didn’t work … so if you can’t beat them join them, and they came to me and they asked me to do their marketing for them. And I said “Absolutely not. Why the h*ll would I work for my competition?” And they said, “Well, here’s a big fat check. What do you think about just joining us as a partner and being our lead aggregator?” And I said “Absolutely. Let’s do that.” So, it got to the point where I became the third leg on their table. I took over a very large portion of the partnership. That company subsequently through my help went national, one of the largest auto glass companies now in the nation.

Stuart Trier: Nice.

Bryan Burt: Doing very, very well. And recently just sold my interest in that business. So I am completely free at this point of SEO, which I’m very happy to say. That’s how I got into it. It’s become a really difficult game, from what I can gather. And then, you know, at that point, I said “What am I going to do? Am I going to keep doing this digital marketing agency? Am I going to … what am I going to do?” And at the time, I had a student … I was doing some private coaching on how to do what I was doing, essentially. I had a student, his name was Spencer. And Spencer said to me, he’s like, “Hey man, why don’t you try Amazon?” I was like, “Why would I do that?” He said, “Well, look at my account.” He was doing $155,000 a month, 21 years old, and he’d only been in for three months. And this is at the end of 2013.

So I said “Why not?” I jumped into it, and it’s been just a blast ever since I’ve become just as obsessed with Amazon as I was with Google. And the real fun part about this is the algorithm … the A9 algorithm is what they call it within Amazon. It’s very much like the Google algorithm, except it learns faster. But because I’ve got so much history learning algorithms, it’s been just a blast to work within Amazon and to really figure that out quickly and get around and be successful. So that’s a long winded way of giving you a very long story.

Stuart Trier: So, today that’s where you spend most of your time, playing on Amazon … so tell us a little bit about that journey. I mean, 2013 wasn’t that long ago, five years ago. So when you first started selling on Amazon, how did you come up with your products? What were some of the experiences or learning that you got when you first joined?

Bryan Burt: Sure. Well I skipped over a pretty painful transition in between the SEO world and Amazon. But since now you’re digging into me, you’re getting to the real now.

Stuart Trier: (laughs)

Bryan Burt: So what happened was … I’ll make this quick, but after … I would say the best way to run or to build a digital marketing agency is to offer lead aggregation services. Because whenever anyone says “Hey, why don’t you pay me for my leads?” Which is otherwise known as “pay per lead,” very typically the person that you’re trying to offer the leads to will ask you, “Hey, why don’t you just do RSEO?”

Stuart Trier: Yeah.

Bryan Burt: And that’s how I built a digital marketing agency here in downtown Chicago. And that lasted from about 2011 to 2013. And I don’t know if you remember this, or anyone listening or watching remembers this, but October 5, 2013, Penguin 2.1 was released. And if anyone knows any SEO … any of my fellow SEOs out there, that should put a cold shiver right down the back of your spine, because that was the infamous day that almost everybody got slapped harder than they’d ever been slapped before for unnatural optimization, etc. etc. And I woke up the next morning to literally two dozen e-mails, phone calls, texts, and I was like, “What’s going on?”

95% of my clientele that were giving me anywhere from $1500 to $3000, $5000 a month, had lost their rankings on Google. And we were so good at it that they became reliant on our services. So, I had a staff of five or six people at the time. I had to let them all go. I had just asked my girlfriend to marry me.

Stuart Trier: (laughs)

Bryan Burt: You know, and it was just going nuts. And it was a really, really bad day for me. And to compile the bad on top of the bad, if you will, I had two of my former clients sue me. One of them sued me for a reasonable amount, the other one sued me for ten million dollars.

Stuart Trier: (laughs)

Bryan Burt: Ten million dollars, let that settle in for a second. And, you know, not only had I lost my entire business, I just asked my girlfriend to marry me and all of my income … but I was also being sued for ten million dollars. So I was in a really bad place when I asked Spencer to help me out. So, yeah, at the time, what we were doing in my digital marketing agency, it was a brand new strategy. Nobody was really using it. There was such thing as “guest blogging” at the time, and that was a great link building strategy.

Stuart Trier: Sure.

Bryan Burt: Nobody was really talking about going out to YouTubers and Instagrammers, and Facebook group leaders, and Pinterest people that had large audiences, and asking them to endorse either their service or their product. So I said hey … I turned to my wife, and I was like, “Hey babe, why don’t we go out and use that strategy that we were just catching onto at the end of the digital marketing agency era?”

Stuart Trier: Yeah.

Bryan Burt: “Why don’t we implement that into our Amazon product?” And at the time, we were selling selfie sticks. So, I was really excited to sell my selfie sticks. But, you know, long story short, in our first 30 days, we only sold 18 selfie sticks. So, whereas I was telling everyone “I’m going to be the next Amazon millionaire, we’re going to be rich, babe.” You know, nothing happened. So, once we implemented that strategy, which of course now called influencer marketing, once we used influencers with our selfie sticks, everything exploded. We sold out in one day … actually in 17 hours from one influencer review on YouTube. It was a big tech blogger, tech reviewer, and he did what’s called an “Unboxing Review” of our selfie stick. Comprehensive review … used it for two weeks, and said it did some nice B roll with it and everything. And as soon as he dropped it, it sold out. We sold 982 units in 17 hours. So we were like, “Bing! The fireworks are going off. The light bulb went on.” And so we said, “Okay, this is the way. We need to …”

I get goosebumps every time I tell this story for some reason. But I was like, “Okay. We need to keep going with this strategy. We’ve got to keep using influencers.” So we went out to Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook … good old fashioned bloggers, of course. And we really leveraged them as much as we could. And ever since then, it’s made all the difference in every one of my Amazon businesses. Each one of them … three separate accounts doing over seven figures a year. So, it’s been a blast. I’ve just gotten obsessed, I really have. It’s just such a fun, fun place to be. And it’s growing so rapidly. Amazon is doing so many major things … they’re rumored to buy Target, they just bought Whole Foods, Bezos just became the most wealthy person on the planet … you know. He just took Bill Gates down from his throne. It’s only going one direction, and I’m okay with being a feeder fish on the back of a giant shark. I don’t need much, I’m a simple man. Just a couple hundred million and I’ll be fine.

Stuart Trier: There you go. So as you’ve watched though I mean … when you started you said you used influencer marketing, and that really probably tweaked the algorithm, because all of a sudden people were hitting your page. You’re getting all those reviews, and I’m presuming … having never sold on Amazon, I’m presuming that at least from a buyer perspective, if I see that a lot of people have bought it and given it positive reviews, I’m likely to click your product and buy from you. Is that still … does that still work today? What kind of changes has Amazon kind of done? Has there been that infamous Penguin coming into Amazon and smacking down people that are trying to game the system?

Bryan Burt: That’s a great question. That’s a really great question, because the answer is yes. And it was what was called the “incentivized review update.” I don’t know if you’ve heard of that, but that’s another scary one for Amazon sellers. So, prior to about a year ago, what you could do is you could deeply discount your products in exchange for a review.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: And it unnaturally skewed the ratings on each product. And just like Google, they said no. And so they took it away so that things would normalize. And they have, subsequently, but sellers that were reliant on that strategy had no clue what to do. How do I launch new products? How do I get reviews now? How do I … this, that, and the next. But the nice thing being that when you’re leveraging influencers, there are strategies to get, you know, triple, quadruple the number of five star reviews that you would if you were just using incentivized reviews.

We’ve always been on the influencer path …

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: We used to do incentivized reviews as well. But now since they’ve taken that away since it was the big, scary equivalent of the Penguin 2.1, we’ve doubled down, tripled down on influencers. And it’s really made all the difference.

Stuart Trier: Awesome. So somebody that’s just getting into Amazon if they want to … it’s funny because like I was telling you off camera earlier, my first business was importing tools, first from L.A. then from China. So that was back in 2000, so almost … not pre-Amazon, but pretty close to you. I think they started in like ’96, ’97. And we were selling about eight million dollars a year worth of tools. But we were actually lugging them from town to town. So getting into Amazon today, what are some of the challenges that new people have in terms of either a) finding products or b) breaking into that algorithm? Is that something that newbies today are able to accomplish?

Bryan Burt: Sure, sure. So it has gotten a lot more competitive now than it used to be. It just simply has, and that’s okay. You know, it’s the way anything that is good is going to be competitive. And that’s a sign of a very healthy and vibrant market. And that’s what I tell anybody looking to get into … yes, it’s more competitive now, but you don’t know what it’s like to be less competitive. So get in now. Right? Ignorance is bliss. Get in now and fight the good fight. Also, if you do what everybody else is doing, there’s a lot of “gurus” out there … I do a lot of teaching myself, but I try to take the road less traveled. And a lot of gurus out there … they’re all talking about the same thing. Use a launch service, deeply discount your product … and a lot of the training is very repetitive, as it is almost in any industry.

Stuart Trier: Sure.

Bryan Burt: What I try to show people that are just getting started now is if you start like I started with influencers from the get-go, not only are you going to be more successful than your competition … because there’s less than 1% … maybe less than .01% of active Amazon sellers are using influencers for their product. And it’s funny because there’s so many businesses … e-commerce based businesses on Shopify, or Big Commerce, or Funnels, or what have you, that are incredibly successful that have gone … I don’t know if you’ve heard of Hi Smile, so Hi Smile … it’s a little round unit. It’s a teeth whitening unit.

Stuart Trier: Oh, yes.

Bryan Burt: You see pictures on Instagram. And they’ve got it in their mouth like this, and their mouth glows blue. And Hi Smile is run by two 22 year old kids out of Australia. They are 100% built on the back of Instagram influencers. They’ve never spent a penny anywhere else in any other type of advertising. Right? But they went in 18 months from zero to … I think they’re worth almost 55 million dollars today, in 18 months. And that’s all off the back of Instagram influencers. And, you know, there’s so many stories like this. Another one is Triangle Swimwear. You know, they didn’t target Kendall Jenner, right, but they targeted her social circle. They sent free stuff to every one of her friends, so eventually what she did is she started wearing it too, and then started posting about it for free. How brilliant is that?

Stuart Trier: (laughs)

Bryan Burt: They’re almost a hundred million dollar business just based off of influencers. And so many brands are using this, and it’s not new. And that’s really the thing, is that it’s not new. Just think about Michael Jordan and Nike. Think about George Foreman and the grills. Larry Bird and Wheaties. It’s been around forever. So it’s not a new strategy, it just seems new to Amazon sellers. Because most Amazon sellers are lazy, let’s be honest. They put a product up, they’re like “Okay, we’ll let Amazon do the rest.” And a lot of the times that works, but if you want to be in a really competitive space, or if you’re a brand new seller … if you’re out there and your target is … you want to make an extra $5000 to spend in cash a month, to pay your mortgage, or your car, or whatever, you can do that. You can probably take it pretty easy, and you can lay back and let Amazon do most of the work. But if you’re aggressive like me, and your goal is a million a month, right, then you’ve got to learn how to really market, how to brand, and how to build a brand.

And not only that, multiples on Amazon businesses right now are huge. Successful Amazon businesses are selling for 18 to 23 times multiples.

Stuart Trier: Wow.

Bryan Burt: So it’s enormous … the Chinese are buying them up like crazy. So great thing is … if you’ve built a real brand, not just on Amazon, but you’ve got influencers …

your own social platforms, and you’re doing it the right way, you’re treating it like a real business … it becomes something magnificent. It becomes huge. And there’s a lot of exit potential for you there as well. So there’s so many reasons just beyond the selling more on Amazon strategy to use influencers.

Stuart Trier: Awesome. So I mean, I have so many questions. So if someone was going to start today, what are some things you’d recommend that they start to consume? Are there … obviously there’s a lot of people teaching about Amazon, so somebody that’s starting today with a limited budget … is this something that they can get into? What kind of budget do you think they need to start this process? And what are one or two or three things you think they should start to look at to start to get familiar with the process?

Bryan Burt: Right, right. It breaks down into three categories.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: Your product research category, you’ve got to start learning product research. How to do that, there’s great tools out there. You know, Viral Launch, Jungle Scout, those are great product research tools for you. Go through the product research, learn that. You know, I’ve done a lot of training on that myself on my YouTube channel. If you guys want to find me, just search my name. It’s Bryan Burt. It’s all free, I’ve done literally 200 webinars or more on the topic.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: Check that out, please. So start with your product research. Then you want to go to your pre-launch checklist. And that’s another big part of it. So what do you do pre-launch? What do you need to do in order to make sure that when you launch your product and actually release it into the wild on Amazon that Amazon recognizes it as an authority. We’ve got a mantra here in the office, Stuart, and it’s “When you make Amazon money, you make money.” You make Amazon money, you make money. They’re very money-centric. They’re very nepotistic. And that’s great, right? Because once you understand their core value, you can work with that. So, the best way to make Amazon money is by selling more of your product. And the best way to do that is by driving external traffic to your listing with influencers. So that’s part of our pre-launch checklist. That’s stage two.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: And then the third stage is post-launch. What do you do post-launch? How do you continually optimize? How do you continually make sure that you’re ranked at the top for your most valuable keywords and that your ads … Amazon has their own internal ad campaigns and ad structure. It’s called sponsor products at AMS. So those two … they’re like the equivalent of Ad Words or Facebook ads within that platform.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: I actually did two launches … we’ve got two courses out there right now called sponsoredproductsacademy.com that train on this one subject alone, on how to optimize your ads. But that’s really what you want to focus on in the third tier. So the first tier is product research. Once you pick your product, then you need to go into your pre-launch checklist. And then after that, you want to go into your post-launch procedures. So those really are the three things you do. And to answer your question “How much do you need to start with?” You know, I started with $2500. I know people that have started with $600. But nowadays to be competitive, I really, really recommend you’re going to start with $4000 – $5000 at minimum so that you can get enough to give away in the beginning. One of the biggest things you want to do is when you launch your product, you want to get the word as wide and as far as you can. Whether that’s going through a launch service or if that’s giving lots of products to influencers. Every time we build a new product or we do a new launch, we set aside at least 50 different units to send to 50 different influencers.

Stuart Trier: Are you … maybe this is a naïve question. Are you branding your product? So is brand a big thing on Amazon to protect so that you’re actually building something? Having never sold on there, I see a lot of people saying go to Alibaba or AliExpress, find some trinket, and then try to flog it on Amazon. Now, it may work, I have no idea. But it just seems like somebody else could be doing the same thing. It’s kind of a race to the bottom and Amazon is probably good at letting you get to the bottom if that’s what you want to do. So do you brand? Is that how you protect or build?

Bryan Burt: Right, that’s a great question. So, it can be a race to the bottom because the competition is there. So what I do … I’m 100% called private label. So yes, we find products overseas or here in the States, and then we label them as our own.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: And sell them on Amazon. There are other business models. Wholesaling, where you actually sell mass quantity to Amazon so you can be the in between a corporation and Amazon. And you can buy just huge stock from let’s say a corporation or manufacturer, and then sell that to Amazon. There’s also retail arbitrage and online arbitrage. You know, I’ve got a friend Sam Cohen, and he does 30 million a year buying up extra stock from Nike and Reebok and Adidas. And he goes there … literally has people go there with giant trucks, 40 foot trucks, and they fill them up top to bottom with Nike sneakers. And then they put them on Amazon. So, there are quite a few different business models. If you’re just getting started and you don’t have a lot of capital, I recommend you go after some of the online arbitrage strategies or the retail arbitrage strategies where you can literally … with $200, go into Walmart, walk in yourself, grab a cart, and do a little bit of research prior. And fill it up with some of the products that you know are going to sell for more on Amazon. And that’s a quick way to build up your nest.

But ultimately, the most profitable place to be when it comes to an exit on your business as well as building a real business is private labeling, or manufacturing yourself. So that’s where I think everyone tries to ascend to. Whether they’re starting in RA, which is retail arbitrage, or online arbitrage, or wholesaling. A lot of people are always trying to get to that private labeling space. That’s kind of the top tier of Amazon.

Stuart Trier: Awesome, cool. So in terms of groups, books … or is it … it’s moving so quickly that books don’t exist … is it groups? Where do people go to start to … I mean, you mentioned your YouTube channel which I appreciate, definitely as a resource to go to. It’s just a matter of what else should people be doing to get these checklists … right, like you said, your pre-launch checklist and post-launch checklist … is each individual person have to build their own or are there places where people consolidate this information?

Bryan Burt: Great question. So we actually … it’s funny you mention that. I haven’t come out with it yet … this’ll be the first time I mention it, but we’re actually going to build … we’ve got the infographics made already, the pre-launch … the product research, pre-launch, and post-launch.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: What we’re going to do is we’re going to have them printed up, rolled up into a tube with a USB, and it’s a free training we’re going to give away. So it’s a physical product that you can put on your wall … because this is what we’ve done. We’ve printed it out onto just crappy little pieces of paper and put it on our wall, and every time we launch a new product, every time, it’s literally our standard operating procedure. And it’s right here behind the computer, I’m looking at it right now. So what I want to do … put it on some nice card stock, allow people to actually purch- or not purchase it, I’m going to give it away for free. Just tell us where to ship it, and we will ship it out to their homes. So that should be in the next month or so, we’ll be complete with that. And you guys can get that directly from me.

Stuart Trier: Awesome, cool, we’ll appreciate that. I’ll definitely drop a link. Where should people go to either find that or to find when you’re going to post that?

Bryan Burt: Sure. So I run a software for Amazon sellers as well. It actually automates the influencer marketing, the e-mail automation, rank tracking on your key words, review monitoring … all kinds of stuff. Every single tool that most sellers pay for piecemeal we’ve conglomerated into one and then iced the cake with influencer marketing. And that’s called Overgrowth. So Overgrowth is my tool … you can go to Overgrowth.com. You’ll find everything there that you need as well as … we have a Facebook group, almost 10,000 members. We do a lot of training in there. I do weekly webinars, they’re 100% free. I bring out experts, I do my own Q&As. It’s been a blast. I’ve had that for about two years now and we’ve seen people … it’s one of my favorite things in the world. You know, making money is great, but watching people change their lives … watching real students of mine go through the transformation from zero on Amazon to $25,000 a month, to $50,000, to $100,000, to a million dollars a year or ten million dollars a year. It literally is goosebump inducing, I’m not kidding.

And I love it. It really is the best part of what I consider to be my job. Right? And so … if you guys want to check that out, I’m more than happy to accept you into that group. It’s Overgrowth … just search “Overgrowth” on Facebook too.

Stuart Trier: Awesome. So you have what seems like multiples of things going on. How do you currently divide your time between all of these things that you’re running?

Bryan Burt: And therein lies the rub, right? I’m lucky enough to have a few good coaches on the subject matter. Mandy Keene, shout out … what’s up Mandy? She was actually Tony Robbins’ coach for a long time.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: And she is phenomenal at just cutting through the fat and going “What are you spending your time on?” We’ve recently … the new plan for 2018 is to identify the time pigs. What’s sucking your time away that is not pushing you into momentum and pulling you towards your goal? And so that’s really part of it. Also, it’s just a matter of tracking everything. I’ve got the big 42-inch monitor over here. And if you track …

Stuart Trier: Oh, nice.

Bryan Burt: If you track every single moment of your day and what you’re doing during that day, it’s a revelation. You go, “Wow! Holy crap. I spend 25 minutes on Facebook doing I don’t know what.” Right? Or then “I was watching zit popping videos on YouTube for 15 minutes. Why was I doing that?” And I think a lot of the times that overwhelm from running eight businesses … I know you know my plight. It sounds like you really do. That overwhelm can be really quickly alleviated by just literally tracking, quantifying yourself. The quantified self, you know? It’s been fun.

Stuart Trier: Cool. Well that’s a good tip. So one of the last questions I have for you is definitely just something I got from Tim Ferriss. What’s something you’ve spent $100 or $200 in the past month or two that you’re enjoying playing with? Doesn’t have to be marketing related.

Bryan Burt: Okay. I have an answer for that actually, I knew you were going to ask me. It’s right here. This was $15, and it’s a giant canteen of water.

Stuart Trier: Okay. Is that one of your products?

Bryan Burt: No, no. It should be. I don’t know who makes this.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Bryan Burt: But I bought it at Costco. I got it at Costco. And I fill this bad boy up four to five times a day. And you know, I’m just a huge believer in staying overly hydrated. So, a lot of that brain fog that we get especially from staring at a computer all day like most of us do, a lot of that … a lot of the cobwebs are due to being under-hydrated, dehydrated. I don’t know if you’re into nootropics. I went through a phase where I was really into cognition and trying to increase cognition and whatnot. So I went into every nootropic I could. And they were effective … it was like [inaudible 00:27:40] and artichoke extract and some of the daffodils and some of whatnot … and they were effective, but at the end of the day, staying hydrated was the best thing I could do for just feeling good, energy levels, looking better, feeling better, and then mental clarity as well, and endurance.

So I think this $20 or $15 I spent on this thing was the best investment I’ve made in a long time, and I just keep it filled and I just chug it all day long.

Stuart Trier: Awesome.

Bryan Burt: Yeah.

Stuart Trier: Really appreciate you taking the time to join us here on the show. Guys, if you’re still watching, definitely smash the thumbs up button. If you haven’t subscribed, hit the subscribe. We’re going to continue to interview entrepreneurs like Bryan in the future. Bryan, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us today.

Bryan Burt: Yeah. Well thank you for having me. This has been really fun, and hopefully we can have you on my show sometime.

Stuart Trier: Perfect, appreciate it.

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