Michael is a lifelong entrepreneur who has been emersed in eCommerce for the past 7 years, who documents his entire journey along the way via the EcomCrew blog and podcast.
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3 Value Bombs
1) The bad thing about affiliate sites via e-commerce is that you don’t own anything except for the content on your site.
2) Differentiate a little bit. If you do what everyone else is doing, there’s going to be 15 other people doing the exact same thing. If you can make small improvements, it could go a long way because now you have something that’s different.
3) Dig deep and realize that entrepreneurship is a long road.
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: Reinventing Yourself After the Government Crushes Your 8-Figure Business.
[1:03] – Michael shares something he believes about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
- You have to be a little bit lucky. Some people say that you have to work hard and be persistent. There’s some luck that you have to have somewhere, too.
[1:41] – What was Michael doing before this?
- He was in affiliate marketing – specifically in an online poker space.
- There were several beatdowns along the way. He has worked hard his whole life. Being in the right place at the right time, being in poker in 2003, wasn’t really a bad place to be.
[2:48] – Why is e-commerce better than affiliate sites – and why is it worse?
- Whoever you’re marketing for as an affiliate needs you way more than you need them. As they get bigger, the relationships flips on its head a little bit.
- The bad thing about affiliate sites via e-commerce is that you don’t own anything except for the content on your site.
[5:06] – Michael shares some of the biggest lessons he learned about building a 7-figure e-commerce brand in a single year.
- They made small improvements to create a brand that people are fanatics for – they create stuff customers really care about.
- Learn from your customers what it is that they like, what they don’t like, and what they struggling with.
- It isn’t just about selling a product; it’s also about creating a community.
[12:59] – The blueprint that Michael created and has followed to create multiple 7-figure e-commerce brands
- Differentiate a little bit. If you do what everyone else is doing, there’s going to be 15 other people doing the exact same thing. If you can make small improvements, it could go a long way because now you have something that’s different.
- If someone’s going to copy you, it takes 6-18 months to copy you and catch up.
[14:53] – How can we use content and community to start an e-commerce business?
- Change the knob to point to where you want.
- 57% of e-commerce these days can become quite lucrative.
- You can be competitive in areas that you couldn’t ever be before without content
[16:35] – Michael talks about the things that are and aren’t working in e-commerce in 2021.
- You’ve got to have products that are different from everyone else’s
- Put the work in and work on making a difference. Do something that’s somewhat difficult to make a copy of.
- The need for good content is going to be there in the future.
- You have to have passion. Make sure that you’re surrounded by people who are passionate about the product you’re offering.
[20:13] – Michael’s key takeaway and call to action for Fire Nation!
- Dig deep and realize that entrepreneurship is such a long road.
- Free Video Courses – Master everything from building the perfect Amazon Listing to Importing from China!
Boom shake the room Fire Nation, JLD here, and welcome to Entrepreneurs On Fire brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network with great shows like the shakeup today, we'll be focusing on reinventing yourself after the government crushes your hate figure business to drop these value bombs. I brought Michael Jackness into EOFire studios. Michael is a lifelong entrepreneur who has been immersed in e-commerce for the past seven years. And he documents his entire journey along the way via the EcomCrew blog and podcast, Fire Nation. Today, we'll be talking about what exactly is the business that Michael Jackness was in and is in. We'll talk about why e-commerce is better than affiliate sites, and also why it's worse.
The single biggest lesson he learned from building a seven figure business brand in one year and so much more. When we get back from thanking our sponsors. Sorry, what was that? I can't hear you. I know I'm not alone in hearing this request from aging family members and friends. If you're experiencing hearing loss or know someone who is, visit MDHearingAid.com and use promo code FIRE to get their buy one, get one, $299 each offer that's MDHearingAid.com, promo code FIRE. Are you ready to launch your biz Fire Nation? Well, today's sponsor LaunchMyBiz.com wants to help you get there. LaunchMyBiz provides end to end e-commerce training and support.
0 (1m 26s):
And if you're accepted into their partner program, your success is guaranteed apply today at LaunchMyBiz.com that's LaunchMyBiz.com. Michael, say what's up to Fire Nation and share something that you believe about becoming successful that most people disagree with. You have to be
1 (1m 48s):
A little bit lucky, right? Everybody always says you have to work hard and be persistent, which I also agree with, but I think there's, there's some luck somewhere in there that you have to have as well.
0 (1m 57s):
I like to say that luck is where effort meets opportunity. So Fire Nation keep putting in the efforts, the opportunities will come up and people will be like, man, that dude or dudette is just so lucky. Michael, I'm excited to break this down for us today because we have some really cool conversations. But first off, I mean, what exactly was the business that you were in before? What your currently got going
1 (2m 24s):
On? Well, it was in affiliate marketing, but specifically on the online poker space, which kind of had a black cloud over it for a long time and still kind of does in a lot of ways. And it was quite interesting because along the way, there were several beat downs, you know, the government shut things down and some of these poker rooms were, were doing some pretty nefarious things. And, but I mean, just talking about creating your own luck. I mean, I've been working hard in my whole life, always was kind of an entrepreneur, but you know, being at the right place at the right time, being really in the poker and having some online skills and being there in 2003, wasn't bad place to be. I mean,
0 (3m 1s):
It's all about being cutting edge about being a first mover advantage. Like the people that can get there first and know what they're doing and hang on to it. I mean, there's a lot of different opportunities, but what's interesting is that you now believe that e-commerce is actually better than affiliate marketing and affiliate sites in some ways. And in some ways it's actually worse. So kind of let's talk about both of those sides. Like why is e-commerce better than affiliate sites and why also is at worse? Yeah.
1 (3m 28s):
I mean, I think when you you've done both, you can obviously compare and only having the pleasure of doing affiliate marketing to begin with. I think that there's this relationship when whoever you were you're marketing for need you way more than you need them. And as they get bigger, the relationship kind of flips its head a little bit. And so there was a lot of times where we had worked really hard to build up the affiliate pages and reviews and et cetera, et cetera. We legitimately put a lot of work in a way and felt like we were partners with these people, but at some point I'm being counters like, yeah, we really probably shouldn't be paying these guys that much or, or at all. And they reduce or eliminate their affiliate program. And you realize how little control you have over your destiny at that point.
1 (4m 10s):
And it's a pretty brutal feeling
0 (4m 12s):
That is a brutal feeling. And you know, one thing I kind of want to dive into is some more details about e-commerce first, but what's specifically worse about affiliate sites via e-commerce.
1 (4m 24s):
You don't own really anything except for the content in your site. And you can build a brand and you can own the content. But if you're the type of affiliate site that is built around, let's say online poker and you were sending traffic to the number one or number two poker room, and it's all based on reviews of that room or things that you've done about that, then that goes away. It's, you know, kind of a kick in the, in the rear. I mean, Amazon's kind of famous for this as well. It's ironic. Cause we'll be talking about them today as well. But you know, people that had built affiliate sites around Amazon when they were paying 12% affiliate fees and then they knock it down and knock it down again, I think they're down to like the one to 3% range now for some products.
1 (5m 5s):
And so you build your whole livelihood, put all the work into building these sites. And again, you're, you're just, you realize how little control you really have over it. When the 800 pound gorilla comes into the room.
0 (5m 15s):
And that's one thing that I had a lot of conversations with my friends that are in the affiliate marketing game is like, they say they would wake up every morning, just like stressed out of like, what happened today? What changed today? What sys got blocked today? What rules, what laws got passed? What got changed? And there was like this always undercurrent of stress, of course, more times than not nothing happens, but it was always that like undercurrent of like what F like when is the shoe gonna drop? It's not a matter of like F but when, so you were able to, on the other side, you know, build a seven figure e-commerce brands in a single year. So share some of the biggest lessons that you learned over the course of doing that in 365 days.
1 (5m 56s):
It wasn't just all again, luck, right? I mean, you have years of experience. And on my marketing, we had done other e-commerce stuff in the past and dropped shipping. And then we had been selling some other people's products and eventually feel comfortable enough in e-commerce to, to create our own brand, our own brand and products, which is really what our businesses focused on today. And so that, that brand was around coloring for adults. And so it was similar, I guess, in a way to online poker where you had this exploding industry, not really a fad, but certainly something where it was popular before, but it became way more popular and probably won't be as popular tomorrow as it, as it wasn't as heyday, but will be bigger than it was before the, the growth started.
1 (6m 38s):
And so we were again at the right place at the right time, identified this niche just by doing a bunch of research. And the key is that we didn't just copy what everyone else was doing. We made small improvements to, to create a brand where people who were fanatics in this space, the people that will be our future customers really cared about this stuff. And so the way we really went about that was just to read the negative reviews of all the existing products on Amazon. And so people would just be like, oh man, like when I'm a left-handed colorist. And so like when I try to call her, the book tries to close on itself and that's really aggravating or the book doesn't lie flat when I try to call her. And it just it's really difficult when I try to rip the pages out of the book.
1 (7m 20s):
It like maybe rips the paper that the papers, like the cheap paper that you might have a novel printed on. Maybe it's it's printed on those sides. And so when I color on one side, it bleeds through. And so we, we fix these problems. I'm not an inventor. I'm certainly not Thomas Edison. I'm not, I barely made out of high school. I'm not really all that intelligent, but I can put together all these pieces and we made a new class, a coloring book. We're able to charge a premium for it. And people that were into coloring soaked it up.
0 (7m 50s):
This is one thing foundation. I think a lot of people don't really go into really deep research on is what are the major things. Sometimes even the minor things that people are actually complaining about right now, right there in plain sight. I mean, you know, as Michael was talking about it, he could just go through some reviews. He could like kind of get some complaints that were coming up over and over again. And then he could run some numbers to, he could be like, okay, is it actually worth me going into this product or this service to actually go all in on it? Cause like, what would these profit margins look like? Like what would the actual reality be of creating a solution to the problem that all these people are having with the current iterations of this product, of this actual, you know, item that people are obviously buying, but at least a certain segment, a certain percentage of them aren't finding exactly what they need.
0 (8m 45s):
So what would be like another great example, Michael, in that kind of vein right there that you were really like, wow, this is an opportunity because of things that I'm seeing,
1 (8m 55s):
The, the next product we made, where the, the things to actually color with, right? So maybe we made the books and you start to learn from your customers what it is that they like, what they don't like, what they're struggling with. And so we would, you know, and I think that the cool thing about what we were doing, we also build the community, right? It wasn't just about selling the products, but we would really get a lot of user generated content. We did like weekly Facebook lives. And I think that what you ended up finding is that the next thing that you end up doing can be things that your customers just tell you, you know, it's like, it's awesome. They get free information. And so when we went to make the actual coloring mediums like gel pens or colored pencils, et cetera, we knew what they were struggling with.
1 (9m 38s):
And specifically what gel pens, the average gel pen that these guys were coloring with were just the same gel pens you would find at staples or office Depot or on Amazon. They were kind of cheap gel pens with, you know, a big variety in a pack. And we did some small things. The first thing we did was we printed a color name on each gel pen. So when they went back to like pick from one of the seven reds that they were in the box, that they could actually pick the right red to go back and color with, again, we put them in a nice little travel case. We included some refills cause people would complain about like combining these expensive pens. And I had to like, just throw them all away if I need to just buy refills again. And so we just solve those problems. Again, these are very easy things, but we were the first ones to do it much like you were talking about earlier with being the first mover when in online
0 (10m 25s):
Ascension Fire Nation, like think about that. And that's an area that I've actually failed in over my physical product journey is saying, okay, once somebody buys this, what is the next logical thing they're going to want with it? Or after they complete that or going up and forward. I mean, that's just this Ascension model. You can kind of take your clients through learning along the way. And I love that Mike was also building community as well and continuing to engage with them, asking them, Hey, what do you like about our product? What don't you like about our products? What do you wish existed? If I could hand you a magic button, you could press a right now and the perfect item would exist. What would that look like? Like what's missing, like all these different things are so key when you're looking to solve people's problems, like create real solutions to real pain points.
0 (11m 14s):
And we're going to talk a little more about the blueprints. Then Michael followed. When we get back from thanking, our sponsors e-commerce is on fire and it isn't slowing down anytime soon. And I'm willing to bet you've at least considered e-commerce at one point on your entrepreneurial journey, but there's a lot that goes into it. The market research drop ship product and supplier sourcing, website design and development, marketing automation, advertising, campaign development. The list goes on, enter LaunchMyBiz.com with a LaunchMyBiz partner program. You benefit from their years of experience and success. They'll take away the guesswork and your success is guaranteed. If you're accepted into their partner program, LaunchMyBiz guarantees at least 10 K a month in revenue with their partnership and training program, your success equals their so they work tirelessly to meet and exceed your expectations.
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0 (13m 27s):
Or you can even call them at +1 833-938-3073 that's +1 833-938-3073 Michael we're back. And you built a seven figure e-commerce brands. And then another one. And then another one, what is this amazing blueprint that you created and then followed?
1 (13m 46s):
Yeah, and I think we kind of started alluding to it already, right? It's the differentiate in some way. I mean, the average person that hears about sewing on Ecom, you know, doing e-commerce selling on Amazon, a lot of these gurus out there like, oh, this is easy. All you gotta do is like, find something on all the Bobby you order some throw in an Amazon, you're just going to sell it and make a million dollars. And that's just ridiculous, right? I mean, it might've been true maybe in 2013 when Amazon was really first getting started with third-party products, but now the competition is really stiff. And so you have to differentiate, but as I was kind of illustrating, you just have to differentiate a little bit, you know, it's, if you do what everyone else is doing exactly, you know, just go into the Canton fair or going on, Ali-Baba buying the products off the shelf, trying to sell them on Amazon.
1 (14m 34s):
Well, there's going to be 15 other people doing that exact same thing, but if you can make small improvements, bundle some stuff together, include a bag, some higher quality packaging, put some better instructions in there, change the colors up a little bit at a higher quality zipper, you know, small, small stuff. This, it doesn't have to be huge. It can go a long way because now you have something that's differentiated. It's your own product. If someone wants to copy it, they still can, but you're going to be the first one up there. It will take them six, 12, 18 months to copy you and catch up. And hopefully by that point, you have several other products in the pipeline to, to counteract the competition.
1 (15m 15s):
0 (15m 15s):
Thing that you've done really effectively, that we have already mentioned one or two things about like your weekly Facebook groups and lives, et cetera, is, you know, you were able to really build community. You were really able to build content around your e-commerce business. So how can Fire Nation use contents? How can Fire Nation use community to start an e-commerce business?
1 (15m 37s):
It's kind of funny, cause it's really all come full circle now. Right? I look back at my life since 2000, the end of 2003, when I first do and all this it's what 17 years now, it's kind of crazy. It seems like a completely different lifetime ago, but, but back then it was all the same thing. It was content marketing. And so instead of affiliate marketing, you know, it's, it's really just for my own stuff. And so we own several different content properties. And one of the ones we talk a lot about is we own tactical.com and a great way to do this is to build community there. You get people who are into survivalism and things like that, which is really what the site's about. People join your Facebook group, your email list. You start to get attention from Google, we'll get a bunch of organic traffic start reviewing products.
1 (16m 20s):
You can send that traffic off to Amazon through affiliate links and start there and see what products are selling. And once you have that information, now you can develop your own product and start selling that on Amazon and directing the traffic to that. You just change the knob to point to where you want. And now, instead of just during the affiliate commission, you're all certainly in the margin on selling that product. Plus if you extrapolate out all the additional sales from the fact that Amazon is like 57% of e-commerce, these days can become, can become quite lucrative. And so we're, we're really competitive in spots where we never would be if it wasn't without, without that content play. And I love
0 (16m 59s):
That visualization Fire Nation is that you can kind of turn the knob kind of turn, you know, the hose to spray in a certain direction. You know, when that next opportunity arises. Cause you've been building this content, you've been building this community and as you and I are talking Michael it's 2021. So let's get specific about a few things that are really working in e-commerce and a few things that aren't working in e-commerce in 2021.
1 (17m 25s):
The biggest one is we talked a little bit about before you've got to differentiate, right? You have to have products that are, that are different than everyone else's, but you don't have to have a patent. You know, so it's not to that level, but something where you put the work in and, and work on making the difference, the different products do something that's going to be at least somewhat difficult for people to copy. The only thing that's hard for people to copy because most people just up is creating a content site and controlling your destiny that way. I mean the average person that starts out podcasting or blogging or YouTube or whatever it might be gives up after one to six months because they aren't making a million dollars yet.
1 (18m 6s):
And, you know, from running a podcast. And I know from running a podcast that, you know, you, the only person you're talking to to begin with is your mother and maybe one of your friends, right? And so you have to stick through it. And once you get on the other side of that, now you have something that's an asset that you can use, however you see fit. And that's something that we've really seen working very well in 2021. And I, and I believe that this is something that will continue to work well over a long period of time. You know, the, the need for good content is going to be there in the future. Places like Amazon or large retailers will never offer the type of detailed content about a subject that someone who's really passionate about can deal.
1 (18m 50s):
And it's like, all the people in the world can go put together. E-commerce blogs, but I mean, we've lived it for, for six years. And so I feel like the content that we have there is really good. And the same thing about survivalism or about coloring, you know, you have to, you have to have some passionate about it. And personally, I might not have passionate about survivalism or prepping type stuff or coloring, but we made sure that we were surrounded by people who did and put together the right content and community around that stuff. To where you, you start building fans that start talking about the stuff for you. I mean, word of mouth advertising. And so I really see that continuing to work very well. And in 2021 and beyond,
0 (19m 27s):
I started watching the show alone, Michael, and you'll start getting passionate about survivalism. I'll tell you that shows addicting. I will check it out. Believe me, my fiancee. She's the last person I would have expected getting into that show. Like literally like catching a check monk, like skinny it, I mean, and she loves it. And it's, it's, it's fascinating. I guess
1 (19m 47s):
The title of that show, what it was about. I would have just guessed. I had been sitting home alone based on the pandemic last
0 (19m 52s):
Year. Definitely what a lot of people unfortunately had to go through for sure. And so many great takeaways here. I want to go through a few that I was taking notes on. Number one, differentiate Fire Nation. How are you solving issues that others aren't solving look to reviews, look to complaints, create a high barrier, like the higher, the barrier, the lower the competition. Think about that. Cause if it's easy to copy, people will copy it. So how can you create a high barrier? So you have low to no competition. How can you build a moat around what you're creating and then create a content site to control your own destiny. You want to be in control, great content will always be needed. And don't get frustrated. When you hear the numbers of like millions of podcasts, billions of blogs, they're all dead.
0 (20m 35s):
Literally 97% of them are not getting new content added to them. They're all dead sites. It's very few people, five to 7% total that are still creating consistent, great content on a very meaningful basis. So Michael, give us the one big takeaway that you really want to make sure Fire Nation gets from everything that we talked about here today. Give us the best way that we can connect with you, that we can learn more from you. And then we'll say goodbye.
1 (21m 3s):
I think the one big takeaway, I just interviewed a Gino Wickman on my podcast. He wrote a new book called entrepreneurial leap. And so I would encourage you to read that first. And if you're not really an entrepreneur and don't really want to put all the work into doing this, then, then don't even get started. I see so many people start and just kind of give up. And so I encourage people to dig deep and realize that they're, if they're really made to go do that. So that's entrepreneurship and doing these types of things, there's a long road in terms of where to follow me. I mean, I've been blogging and podcasting about my entire e-commerce journey over at a site called e-comm crew. You com crw.com where e-comm crew on iTunes, almost 400 podcast episodes. You go to EcomCrew.com/free, get a bunch of free resources like EcomCrew and all the Twitters and Facebooks and all that good stuff too.
1 (21m 48s):
0 (21m 49s):
Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you've been hanging out with MJ and JLD today. So please keep up that heat. If you head over to eofire.com and type in Michael in the search bar of the show on spiritual popup, with everything we've been talking about today, best show notes in the biz, timestamps links galore, and of course, head directly over to EcomCrew.com. All those free goodies. He mentioned the podcast over 400 episodes. Michael, thank you for sharing your truth, your knowledge, your value with Fire Nation today for that brother, we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side.
0 (22m 29s):
Hey, Fire Nation today's value bomb content was brought to you by Michael and Fire Nation. One thing I've identified over the years is that successful entrepreneurs are productive disciplines and they are focused, which is why I created the Mastery Journal, which is a gorgeous, full other journal that will ensure that you master productivity, you master discipline in UMass or focus in 100 days, visit the MasteryJournal.com. Use promo code podcast, free $15 discounts. And thank you for listening to my podcast. And I will catch you there, or I'll catch you on the flip side. Sorry, what was that? I can't hear you. I know I'm not alone in hearing this request from aging family members and friends. If you're experiencing hearing loss or know someone who is visit MDHearingAid.com and use promo code FIRE to get their buy one, get one, $299 each offer that's MDHearingAid.com, promo code fire.
0 (23m 22s):
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