This is an archive of the Starter Story newsletter, which is read by 86.9K people every week.
In each issue, we share the biggest business ideas that are working today, along with case studies of founders who are making millions every month. Sign up today ➜
The cooking kits that sold $860K on Amazon in one year
Two friends named Kim transitioned from a service-based business (branding agency) to a product-based business in hopes of finding more recurring revenue and higher margins.
Since they both loved to cook and constantly exchanged recipes, they had an idea: create cooking kits and sell them on Amazon.
They created their first recipes, sourced products from marketplaces such as Alibaba or Etsy, designed the packaging and the first kits were ready. Amazon was the best solution to start, it meant they could forget about marketing and fulfilling operations.
It's not hard to imagine why they came to that conclusion. We have previously featured 250+ businesses that have also successfully leveraged the power of the ecommerce platform. Amazon is such a huge ecosystem, that it provides countless opportunities to start a profitable business just by focusing on it.
💡 Takeaway: Organize a product giveaway in exchange for honest reviews. This will create sales conversions and social proof to make the Amazon algorithm to rank your listing higher. Definitely one of the main proven strategies to successfully launch a business. Read this case study if you want to know more about giveaways.
How to win on Amazon
According to Kim, the great thing about Amazon is that customers are searching to buy. The challenge comes with retaining those customers. You can’t communicate with them or build an email list to share new products or promos. It’s all about mastering the algorithm. This is how they do it:
- They were early. This means having a head start in establishing a baseline of hundreds of reviews, which is hard to catch up to.
- Invested in intellectual property. The packaging design and thoughtfully written instructions play a big role in why they stand out.
- High-quality lifestyle photos. Customers don’t care about your product, they care about what it can do for them. They show potential customers what it's really like to cook with one of their kits.
- A brand that builds credibility. Building a brand can show you’re an expert, do that by highlighting it with A+ content on your Amazon listings and store.
With all this work, they reached $860K in sales just in one year.
In case you need more proof on the importance of presenting a product with high-quality images, this week we also chatted with Jonathan, who runs an $8,4K/mo product photography business for Amazon sellers.
Kitchen products can be gold mines
David created a $150K/mo time-lock container that got featured on Shark Tank. The device is designed to help people avoid junk food and other temptations. Simply place an item in it, close the lid, and set the timer. Once the timer is set, and the button is pressed, you’re locked out! Genius.
Being a firefighter is not surprising that Peter came up with the idea of a product that syncs to the sound of the smoke detector and will automatically cut power. This is so brilliant that the company made $3.6M in 2019.
Designing a notebook just for chefs seems a little too specific, but in a global market niches can be huge opportunities. Stefan’s notebook was so spot on that it reached Kickstarter target in 24 hours and eventually became one of the most backed food projects in Kickstarter history. Now they average around $40K/mo with over 45,000 products sold.
Is AppSumo worth it? This couple generated $100K+
Diony and Dean developed Paperform, a $130K/mo online form builder. What started as a side project, quickly turned into a full time business. How? As they put it “get your products out to consumers as fast as you can!”, and so they did. First signed up to Beta List and then AppSumo.
Why do people use AppSumo even though they take up to 70% of the sales? These were Diony’s reasons:
- No marketing team yet. They needed someone to nail the launch marketing without paying them.
- They would get a large number of paying customers all at once who didn’t shy away from feedback (these people live to try new software).
- Taking a 30% cut is still a decent chunk of capital to be able to quit our jobs and work on this full-time.
Result? They sold 2740 deals in a matter of weeks and generated a total of $106,860. Plus they got people talking about their software, were hunted on Product Hunt and ended #2. It was a great help to successfully launch and start the wheels turning.
Quote of the week
“Having an efficient marketing plan is the key to business success. A good product will not sell without proper marketing, but an average product that sells can be improved on the go later on, as no product is perfect before customers’ feedback.” Nicolas Tranchant, Founder Vivalatina Jewelry ($14K/mo)
A passive income of $6K/mo of passive income with an online HTML editor
Ferenc has 40+ websites with a total of roughly 8-10 million monthly visitors. This week he shared with us the story of one of his sites that brings $6K per month as passive income.
His strategy is to develop websites, mostly online tools that don’t require too much maintenance and generate passive income with insignificant investment. He does everything himself, from registering the domain name, programming, SEO, and maintenance.
Besides the online HTML editor, he has developed a puzzle-related site with 30K daily visitors, an online prank site with 60K daily visitors, a text/character converter that has 10K daily visitors in less that a year.
There’s no doubt that he has mastered SEO, check out the image below:
Starting a passive income business is a dream for many people. And even though is barely impossible to have a business that requires zero attention, we have interviewed some starters that have gotten pretty close to that goal:
- Amanda runs Little Shop of Miniatures a $12K/mo online store that specializes in dollhouse miniatures and dollhouse kits. Once you’ve set up your store and figured out logistics and marketing, an ecommerce can be run with very little effort. Check out some of our best ideas to start a niche e-commerce to get a head start.
- Speaking of ecommerce, Paul started selling his wooden ties when he was 16, now he pulls $1K/mo in profit spending just 1h per week managing the business.
- Even Sarah who is a pet portrait artist that makes $4,5K/mo has thought of some ways to generate passive income streams.
Other stories worth reading
$400K/Month selling RV products online
Started selling parts on eBay, after 10 years of business, the company direction has changed from parts for motorhomes, to the harder to find parts for campervans. Those choices have moved them to a space with less competition and made it easier to grow.
Tip: After reading 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall, they focused ad campaigns to customers who know what they want, and this allowed them to spend less time trying to convert customers who weren’t sure what they wanted.
The $1.8M/year cannabis consulting agency
The American Cannabis Company is a full-service consulting firm that specializes in putting together the pre-application tools needed to raise capital as well as write winning applications in competitive markets. They have designed and built over 1.7 million sq ft of growing space to date with another 60,000 sqft under construction currently.
Mind-blowing fact: Their organic website traffic is what draws 90% of the leads.
$11K/mo teaching people how to start and grow a dog treat business
Kirstin designed a program entirely based on her experience as a successful dog treat bakery business owner. Since launching the program in November 2020, it has consistently brought in five figures a month.
She previously had successfully launched another online program that generated $650K teaching people to become a Pinterest Virtual Assistant. So she thought it’d be a good idea to replicate that with another of her areas of expertise.
How good were her dog treats? Well, she was invited to participate in the Emmy Awards gift bags!
Scribe Media is a $15M/year professional publishing company. They’re currently hiring Publishing Manager, Author Marketing, Junior Accountant Operations, Design Manager and more (all starting at $50K/year at least!).
Labor Sync, a $185K/mo mobile application that provides business owners the ability to track the time and GPS location of their mobile workforce has open positions for developers and customer support roles.
Htmlg.com is a one-person $6K/mo online text editor that converts documents to HTML and is looking for an SEO copywriter.
The $90K/mo digital marketing agency Intellitonic has is hiring account managers.
Billy is the founder of ICONIC, a nutrition brand that crafts tasty mini-meal shakes that is rapidly growing and is looking for an Inventory & Order Fulfillment Manager and a VP of Sales.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get this information every week in your inbox!
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.
Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:
- Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
- Step by step guides on how to start and grow
- Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
- And much more!
Join our free weekly newsletter and get them right now.
I'm Pat Walls and I created Starter Story - a website dedicated to helping people start businesses. We interview entrepreneurs from around the world about how they started and grew their businesses.