It’s Time To Prepare For The Holidays – Here’s My 2016 Review

It’s hard to believe, but holiday season is right around the corner. If you haven’t already started, it’s time to get prepping.

I thought I’d make a post going over some of my 2016 in review, complete with “ahas” I learned, stats, and general lessons-learned that may be beneficial to you.

I’m going to be completely transparent about…

  • My monthly sales numbers for Amazon
  • How much of my yearly revenue was earned during the holiday season
  • Which products sold best
  • Things I did – and did not – well

My hope is that this helps give you a nice point of reference. You may have different results, but I find it’s always helpful to have some kind of basis of comparison.

Quick disclaimer: this post is covering my print-on-demand Amazon income only. It isn’t covering Etsy, eBay, private label products… or even my information marketing courses or warehouse earnings, for that matter.

I wanted to stick with what would likely be most beneficial to you.

Time sensitive: If you want to supercharge this year’s holiday sales, click here for a very “limited time only” package.

That said, let’s start the review…

Here are my 2016 Amazon sales details: 

From January through June 2016, I was earning anywhere from $2k-$7k a month, pretty passively.

When June rolled around, I launched Low Hanging System and showed people what I was doing. Everyone’s excitement got me even more motivated; plus I wanted to have more case studies to update the course with, so I added in more products.

From there, income (mostly) went up month after month.

The cool thing this is all mostly passive income that adds up as you make more and more designs:

July 2016 – $10,644.39: 

It's time to prepare for the holiday season and review your 2016 sales!
August 2016 – dipped down to $6,310: 

It's time to prepare for the holiday season and review your 2016 sales!
September 2016 – $9,257: 

It's time to prepare for the holiday season and review your 2016 sales!
October 2016 – $12k: 

It's time to prepare for the holiday season and review your 2016 sales!
November 2016 – $36k: 

It's time to prepare for the holiday season and review your 2016 sales!
December 2016 – $115,795: 

It's time to prepare for the holiday season and review your 2016 sales!

Here’s how much the holidays accounted for compared to total sales…

Below, you’ll find a *mostly* accurate breakdown of what the percentages were for the items I sold during the four months closest to Christmas in terms of my total 2016 sales.

(I say “mostly” accurate because going through Amazon reports is very time-consuming and there may be some slight deviations. I spent a good deal of time on this until the process turned into a major headache. But you get the gist.)

September – 4.51% of total sales

October – 6.5% of total sales

November – 17.56% of total sales

December – 56.24% of total sales

Crazy, right? 73.8% of total sales were made in November and December.

The 80-20 Rule In Effect

Based on the percentages above, you can see that the 80-20 rule is (mostly) in effect, with November and December equaling 73.8% of my total sales for the year.

Here’s another example of the 80-20 rule: 19.197% of my products were responsible for 79.6% of my sales.

Product Breakdown:

Of that 79.6 sales percentage, here’s what my product breakdown looked like:

  • White mugs accounted for 74.31% of those sales;
  • Black mugs accounted for 21.10%;
  • Shot glasses accounted for 2.75%;
  • Color-changing mugs accounted for 1.834%.

The percentages for black mugs, shot glasses, and color-changing mugs may seem low, but I have FAR more white mugs — accounting for around 90% of my inventory — so the other products may actually sell at higher rates if I were to look at the sales ratios.

If we look at how much each product accounted for top sales, we see a different story:

Of the top 10.64% of sales (sold by .75% of total product inventory), they were  50% black mugs, 25% white mugs, and 25% shot glasses.

Of the top 19.45% of sales (sold by 1.5% of total product inventory), they were 62.5% white mugs, 25% black mugs, 12.5% shot glasses.

For the top 20% of sales in 2016, I found this VERY surprising, but 12.5% of the top 20% were text-only. Another 37.5% included text with a very simple image.

Don’t take that to heart, though – Of my top 10 products sold in 2017 so far, 70% are text-based.

What I did well…

The main thing that I did well was actively adding new SKUs and designs to Amazon. In February 2016, I had 48 mugs listed. And by December of last year, I had 946 products.

Adding new SKUs and designs is really important for Amazon because the more you add, the more Amazon rewards you. The more you list, the more sales you make.

What I wish I did better…

Last year, I didn’t do anything during the Christmas season! All of this was passive income. Working 36-hour shifts, I was absolutely losing my mind at the warehouse while we 12xed the business. I basically lived at the warehouse from November 8 (because of the election) until Christmas.

We were totally over-worked and under-staffed and it got to the point where I was basically placing Craigslist ads and hiring people on the spot. I actually had to fire one person because he came in to work drunk! But I was in no position to be choosy.

That said, I did nothing for my Amazon business because of all the craziness. But here’s what I wish I’d done differently to increase my sales:

  • Added in more designs
  • Tried my hand at promotions
  • Included additional types of products besides mugs – e.g. In 2017, travel mugs and pillow cases are selling like hotcakes. Last year, shot glasses did really well, but I barely had any for sale!
  • Sent more to FBA – FBA handles shipping for you and it makes things a lot easier (NOTE: There is a deadline for this so if you want to send some in, I suggest doing it NOW!)

Also — I haven’t told anyone this before — but I actually lost my account for a few days right before Christmas last year. The warehouse was totally nuts and I was prioritizing customer orders over my own, so I lost my account and had to appeal.

Thankfully, though, I was able to get my account back pretty quickly. But had I not gone through that and had I been able to fulfill all of my orders, I never would have lost my account and my December sales would have been higher.

This year, I’m definitely more prepared. We have a huge staff on-hand and we’re more experienced. Plus, we have better systems in place. So we’re in a far better position to do really well and I’m excited to see how things go now that we’ve had a chance to process our mistakes and learn from them. :-)

Here are some additional suggestions for how you can improve your ecommerce sales during the holiday season:

  1. Make your call-to-action obvious
  2. Offer a guarantee
  3. Bundle products together (covered in LHS)
  4. Offer discount codes
  5. Most importantly – get as many designs up as possible

Hopefully this helps give you a nice idea of what you might expect, although obviously everyone’s experience may vary.

Over the next few weeks I’ll add in some more holiday content so you can be as set up for success as possible.

If you liked this post, please leave a comment – I’d love to hear what you thought of this post, if you got any “a’ha”s, or if your results matched up with mine percentage-wise.

And one more thing…

Do you want my help for this holiday season?

I’ve made a Holiday Jumpstart package for a limited number of people. It’s a high end package where you get everything you need to make this holiday season incredible. It includes done-for-you designs, free mugs shipped to Amazon for you, GearBubble credits, planning resources, laser coaching, access to a software I recently created that helps you find hidden gem niches that have many searches but few results on Amazon, accountability, and some behind-the-scenes looks at advanced strategies I’m testing out.

If this is something you’d be interested, click here to learn more. It’s available for a very limited time only, so make the time to go through that ASAP if you’re at all interested.

Advance your skills with these 9 free – HIGH QUALITY – marketing courses

Discover how you can advance your skills with these 9 free digital marketing courses.

I’m a big believer in continuous learning. No matter how skilled or knowledgeable you are on a subject, there’s always something new to learn.

Because of that, I thought I’d share a list of 9 free – HIGH QUALITY – digital marketing courses with you.

(When I say “high quality”, I don’t mean cheap PDF’s that are distributed all over the internet. One of these courses is even from an ivy league school!)

You can use these to advance your business, stand out in your job, or quickly cover gaps in knowledge.

You can check out the full list below, or jump to a downloadable infographic at the bottom.

Here’s the full list, in no particular order:

Social Media Quickstarter Digital Marketing Course

By Constant Contact
Level – Beginner

What You Can Expect To Learn: 

This course goes over the fundamentals for every social media site:

Social Media 101 - Get free courses here

Because most of us don’t know how to use EVERY network, these 101 courses are very helpful in getting a quick overview.

If you want to know the ideal demographics for your business, you may also find a blog post called “Social Media Demographics: What You Need To Know About Each Site’s Core Audience” helpful.

Time Commitment: 

This is a course you can point and click with. Each social media resource has 4-18 resources you can go through.

Advanced Social Media Marketing for Picking Up Clients

By Brian Yang
Level – Advanced

What You Can Expect To Learn: 

In this free Udemy course, you’ll learn how to use get more clients from Reddit, YouTube, and Facebook.

Some of the things the course covers are:

  • How to use Reddit to pick up clients
  • How to use simple YouTube videos to get clients, plus the 4 components of an STICKY YouTube video and how to sequence them in the most effective order
  • How to use private Facebook groups to get clients

Time Commitment:  

The total length of all training is 50 minutes and 44 seconds, and there are 5 point-and-click lectures.

SEO Training Course

By Moz
Level – Beginner

What You Can Expect To Learn: 

This is another Udemy course that goes through the basics of SEO including keyword research, site audits, link-building, and off-page SEO.

The course has a 4.2 rating with 7,473 ratings, and has great content with lots of action items.

Side note – if you find this useful, you’ll likely love my favorite SEO tool. Here’s a video on how I use it.

Time Commitment: 

There are 18 lectures for a total of 3.5 hours content that you can go through at your leisure.

Google Analytics for Beginners

By Google Analytics Academy
Level – Beginner

What You Can Expect To Learn: 

This course covers the basics of Google Analytics. You learn things like how to create an account, add tracking code, set up data filters, dashboards, and shortcuts.

You’ll also see how to analyze reports, create goals, and track campaigns.

Once you go through this course, you can “graduate” to the more advanced material.

Time Commitment: 

This course consists of four units, with 3-5 lessons/unit.

Viral Marketing and How to Create Contagious Content

By University of Pennsylvania
Level – Beginner – Intermediate

What You Can Expect To Learn: 

This ivy-league course teaches you how to create contagious content, and exactly what you need to build “sticky” messages that resonate with people.

It includes tangibles like “six success factors that make messages stick”, so students walk away with a checklist of sorts.

If you ever wanted to learn how to create viral content, this is a solid course.

When you click on the course page, it’s going to look  like you need to pay. You don’t if you don’t want a certificate. Here’s what the course page says:

Time Commitment:  

4 weeks, 5-8 weeks/week. This course starts at certain times and you need to sign up in advance.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) University

By WordStream
Level – Beginner – Advanced

What You Can Expect To Learn: 

This course covers just about everything you need to know about PPC marketing, from keywords to GEO targeting and local PPC. Every article I checked had been updated recently, which is fantastic.

The articles discuss topics spanning several PPC platforms; just scroll down to see beyond AdWords.

Time Commitment:  

3 modules (PPC 101, PPC 102, Advanced PPC) that you can go through at your own pace, plus social ads 101, webinars, and white papers.

Internet Marketing for Smart People

By Copyblogger
Level – Beginner – Advanced

What You Can Expect To Learn: 

In this course, students discover how to “implement effective online marketing” strategies. They learn the “Copyblogger method” and receive a reference guide containing the “best of the best” Copyblogger material, focusing on the “four pillars of online marketing success:”

  1. Relationships
  2. Direct response copywriting
  3. Content marketing
  4. Have something worth selling.

Time Commitment:  

This is a consume-at-your-leisure 20-part course and an ongoing e-newsletter (that you can unsubscribe from at any time, of course).

AdWords Marketing Course

By Google
Level – Beginner – Advanced

What You Can Expect To Learn:

If you’d like to learn how to use Google AdWords, this is your course. It covers things like AdWords fundamentals, search advertising, display and mobile advertising, video advertising, shopping ads, analytics, and more.

If you want to become “an AdWords certified professional”, you can opt to take 2 exams ($50 each) to gain a certificate. This is optional.

Time Commitment:  

Self-study consisting of 12 course sections.

Get Higher Conversions from Your Landing Pages

By Unbounce
Level – Beginner – Advanced

What You Can Expect To Learn: 

If you have a main website, this course is fantastic for making sure you get as many conversions as possible.

It covers a ton of concrete information by people who split test everything.

You’ll learn things like:

  • 5 core things you want on any landing page (learned after endless tests)
  • The best-converting site designs
  • How to design the most effective opt-in forms (one use case: Expedia saved $12 million by removing ONE field on their form)
  • How to split test your pages
  • …and a lot more. I got a LOT from this one!

Time Commitment:  

This course consists of 11 parts, including both reading material and video lessons (which usually run around 20-30 minutes). 

Here are some places where you can find lots more free marketing courses:

We also made an infographic that you can view, download, or pin below:

Discover how you can advance your skills with these 9 free digital marketing courses.

Download this here or pin it here.

What do you think of this list of digital marketing courses? Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts – and if you end up taking any of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you learn! 

Discover how you can advance your skills with these 9 free digital marketing courses.

Boost Engagement On Your Facebook Pages With These Theme Ideas

Check out these theme ideas to help book engagement on your Facebook pages.

Doug from Viral Buyers System shared a great tip in the past about how using consistent weekly “themes” helps you keep consistent and mega-engaged communities of people who want to buy everything you put out.

Ever since I shared that video – almost a year ago! – I’ve been meaning to share more theme ideas with you.

Even if you don’t have a Facebook page, you can use weekly themes for reasons to email your list, to JV with other FB owners in promoting your products, on other social media accounts…

And they’re a GREAT way to figure out new product ideas.

Let’s say you do a “Monday Meme” where people post funny memes in your niche, or a “What’s The Caption Wednesday”. Helllllllo, funny mug ideas. 

You could also do a “Trending Tuesday” where you share a piece of trending news. Check out the most “liked” comments about it to see what people find the funniest/most truthful. MJ in LHS made $10k in just over 2 days off of a trending topic, and you’ll basically have a goldmine-of-a-post telling you exactly what people respond to.

With this in mind, Michaela and I came up with a list of new theme ideas – five for each day of the week – to help you boost audience engagement and get more product ideas.

Check out the infographic below. You can download it here or pin it here.

Check out these theme ideas to help book engagement on your Facebook pages.

Download here or pin here.

I hope this helps you come up with some all-star content that ultimately brings you more sales. :)

Please leave a comment and let me know!

Check out these theme ideas to help book engagement on your Facebook pages.

P.S. Before anyone asks – Viral Buyers System is still relevant. Doug’s been updating it and giving all buyers lifetime upgrades. :)