SMBH 117 – With Evan Margolin

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Increase Your Income by Building Relationships with Influencers, VIPs, and Top Performers, Even If You Hate Networking

A Seller Gone Wild On Amazon

Evan Margolin, the host of Sellers gone wild podcast is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in internet marketing, online selling, and salsa dancing. Salsa Dancing? I know it’s crazy. He also thinks of himself as an “evangelist of dance.” But did you know, salsa dancing is something that changed his entire life and not just change his life in terms of him becoming a dancer which is wild and crazy enough already, but because he never danced a step in his life prior to stepping into a salsa club.

Evan’s crazy passion towards Salsa also changed his business life enormously because he was able to turn his passion into a huge business, a huge worldwide business, which leads to him entering into greater variety of different niches that were all based upon random, crazy passions.

The Detour He Had To Take

His father, whom he respected his entire life which is an amazing person, was a lawyer and an entrepreneur. By nature, all lawyers in private practice has to be entrepreneurs. His career should have been straight to salsa but he has to take a detour. Like most of us, he wanted his legal education done.

For three years, he dedicated himself in the study of law, specifically high-tech law with the mixture of business and believe it or not he also took criminal constitutional law. This just shows how crazy life works. After he graduated, he had the opportunity to become a founder of a video game startup and he was just like, “What kind of kid out of law school doesn’t want to go make video games honestly?”

He was at the pinnacle of what many people would call the battle of the consoles and in the late 90s between Nintendo, Sega and Sony. Sega was actually the big think and Nintendo. During that time, Sony was the up comer and of course 3DO which many people may or may not remember is one of the kind of new was the new console of the day that was going to bridge interactive media and really bring an amazing experience. It was many years too early in that respect but it was an amazing console.

When he started creating games for the 3DO platform which was founded by one of the ex-people from Electronic Arts, a huge, huge game making company. He initially started on the 3DO platform and then eventually we grew as the platform wars grew to support all the platforms. Sony, Sega, Nintendo and of course personal computers as well and we made a variety of hot selling games for pretty much all of the platforms. The company made games such as Captain Quasar, Uprising. 3DO made amazing games as well called Army Men and a variety of other really good brands that went on to do great things. But unfortunately the platform itself which is always depending on the age of your child, he may or may not know that the 3DO platform ever existed because it eventually did not win at the battle of the console wars and that is why most of the time now we hear about XBOX and PlayStation and Nintendo and we don’t hear much about the 3DO, that is why it did not make it into the early 2000s alas.

Funny Lessons From Building An Empire Out Of Salsa

Evan, following his passion and craziness about salsa dancing, and deciding to make a dance DVD is one of the best decisions he has ever made.

The dance DVD he recorded shot up the charts initially on Amazon. And it became a real seller not just on Amazon turning his dance DVD into a retail success. He was able to get retail distribution based on that and it just took off and before he knew it became the main source of his business. He never thought of seeing himself building an empire out of Salsa.

The Secret Behind Evan’s Success

What is the secret behind Evan’s huge success? Aside from being passionate about Salsa, he built his empire during the dot.com boom which was still young, and to quote, “He was just a man who was in the right place at the right time”.

Before Facebook, before YouTube when content was actually a paid for resource. He was in the right place at the right time and that passion for teaching Salsa dancing really took off and became an amazing business. He never really thought of Amazon as a business. That was just one of his channels at that time.

He made most of my money was in real retail distribution. Internet marketing helped Evan to distinguishing hundreds of websites around the world in every single major city that catered to the passion of salsa dance. He sold his DVDs and a variety of other things and it became a template of how to sell online. And especially at the time it was an amazingly well working and at that time it was amazing template that it worked amazingly that he could ever imagined. The best part? Evan was able to apply that same successful template that you could imagine.

Evan’s Business Golden Nugget 101

Internet marketing has changed a great deal with online selling, where e-commerce is the norm across the entire web.

Once upon a time this online business thing was relatively easy to be successful at and few people did it. Now, it’s extremely crowded and relatively difficult to be accepted in a market. The products have changed quite a bit as and technology is racing ahead at break neck speed. Evan points out that if you wanted to sell DVDs they’re no longer in local stores and they’re any DVD rental store like blockbuster store. His secret tool? Amazon. Amazon has become more important to him than any other online market. His products can be distributed, regardless of what his content is or what his products are.

Evan says, when you’re presented with an opportunity like Amazon, which is the world’s biggest marketplace, you only have to figure out what to sell. Amazon will provide you the buyers. Selling on Amazon, gives you the answer to the biggest and most difficult question in the business; Where to find your next customers.

Evan’s Secret To Success

Strike while the market is hot. The market was really hot during the time that Evan started his Dance DVD business. This also meant he had lots of competition with the millions of people offering the same thing. How did he get an edge on his competition? Evan was the only one who got the retail distribution. He often wondered, “Why I was the only one out of dozens of DVDs that were on Amazon, eBay and other online marketplace?” “Why was I number one?” His answer, “It all boils down to meeting a specific need”.

Evan Magic Formula For Targeting A Market’s Specific Need.

Targeting the specific needs of your customer is a great strategy in any type of business. It is very important to know of what your customer really need. Evan looked at his competition and saw that everyone was just teaching people how to dance. In that market today, everyone is still teaches people how to dance. The one thing that set him apart and the one thing that made it so possible for him to succeed beyond all of his completion is that he understood how difficult it is to learn how to dance.

Evan knew from his personal experience just how tough it is to learn how to dance and he used that while marketing his salsa DVD’s

He was able to reach out to his customers, making them realize that he understands how awkward it is to learn how to dance. Evan used his ability to break it down for beginners, who by the way, is usually the largest market of any single group if not the most avid. What set his DVDs apart and continue to set his DVDS apart is helping beginners understanding easy salsa dancing can be. Those same beginners, of course, were not being marketed to in that way by anyone else.

Evan was the only one who would break it down, step by step, with empathy for how difficult it can be on how to dance. He would talk about every single step, and discussed it in a way that made people comfortable. He made sure to include humor, making it a fun, exciting and sometimes crazy experience.
He created an imminent experience where people could share their passion for dancing, laugh about it, and have fun along the way.

His Business Advice

There’s always a race to do things at a higher level, but do not lose your perspective. Start from a lower level, planning each and every steps that has to be taken. That’s the root of Evan’s success.

Learn Private Label FBA Business with Evan

Evan has a training schedule that will teach you the A, B’s and Cs, step by step, really step by step through the entire process of what it means to create a private label FBA business on Amazon. All you have to do is go to Fbacrazy.com, sign up is easy, and, it is going to be a blast. You’ll get all the stuff necessary to start your own FBA right away.

Click Here to Read the Full Transcript +

Evan: Hello everybody. My name is Evan Margolon of marketingcrazy.com and I’m the social media business hour with Nile Nickel where today I’m going to share with you a crazy story of turning wild passions into pretty amazing profits and how you can do the same following your hobbies and passions all the way to making a great online income.

Woman: In business _____00:00:26 most include social media. Perhaps you find it a bit confusing. Even frustrating. Well, you have no idea how to make it work for your business. Fear not. We interview some of the best social media experts in business who will share their experiences, ideas, and knowledge. Plus offer tips and tricks to make using social media a breeze. Leverage the power of social media and grow your business now. Welcome to social media business hour with your host Nile Nickel.

Jordan: Hello and thank you again for joining us. This is Nile’s trusty sidekick and co-host Jordan and I’d like to take a moment to share with you how you can benefit from Nile’s incredible experience using social media for real business success. If you’re an entrepreneur or thinking about starting your own business then using social media might be the most cost effective and time effective way to get your business real results. That’s not to mention much of what you can do to get those terrific results on social media is even free. Take Linked In for example. Nile always says it’s the best social media platform for business today. And that’s why I recommend you go to linkedinfocus.com and start your social media education today. Sign up for Nile’s free tips, tricks and strategies. Once again, it’s free and it only takes a few seconds. Go to linkedinfocus.com today. You’ll be glad you did.

Nile: Hey, welcome back. I am so excited for tonight’s show. We recently renamed the segment just prior to this show weird ass news.

Jordan: Yes, yes we did.

Evan: Oh, that’s right. It fits right in with the crazy element.

Nile: It’s crazy and we’re going to have fun tonight. You hear Evan talking in there and I have a feeling I’m not going to be able to keep him quiet much. What do you think Jordan?

Jordan: I think that’s what we look for in a guest.

Nile: Yeah. We don’t look for the mimes.

Jordan: That’s right. That’s exactly right.

Nile: Well, I’m going to read the first sentence pretty -- just like it’s written from Evan’s bio.

Jordan: Alright.

Nile: Now --

Jordan: But can you do a deadpan?

Nile: I’m going to try.

Jordan: Alright.

Nile: Because I’m reading this and Evan, I’ve talked to you about this. You know this is coming so -- Evan Margolon, the host of Sellers gone wild podcast is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years experience in internet marketing, online selling and salsa dancing. Okay.

Jordan: Alright.

Nile: I’m already good. Sellers gone wild, salsa dancing, where do we go here?

Jordan: Yeah.

Evan: I know. I know it’s crazy and I promised to bring the crazy the entire time but salsa dancing is something that changed my entire life and it didn’t just change my life in terms of me becoming a dancer which is wild enough and crazy enough because I never danced a step in my life prior to stepping into a salsa club but it also changed my business life in that being an enormous passion of mine or what became an enormous passion of mine I was able to turn it into a huge business, a huge worldwide business and it was kind of the start of entering a variety of different niches that were all based upon random, crazy passions. I love starting with salsa dancing because salsa dancing is about as out there as you can possibly get.

Nile: Oh, I think we’ve got more out there to go Evan. I really do because I’m ready to read the next single sentence from your bio. Just the next sentence. We’ve only read one sentence so far and we’ve gotten crazy. So the second sentence. Are you ready Jordan?

Jordan: I am all ears.

Nile: Evan completed law school 20 years ago and started a video game company which he then sold and became the company’s director of development for the next 10 years. I’m sorry. Okay. Maybe three sentences. Then he decided to break free from his golden handcuffs in 2001. He put his entrepreneurial hat on once again. Okay. Now I’m going -- we’re salsa dancing, we’ve got golden handcuffs and here comes the hats. Where are we going here Evan?

Evan: There are things that tie it all together. I’m going with seems so in the beginning but I went to law school like many people go to law school. When you’re a political science major minoring in Middle Eastern studies --

Nile: It should be salsa dancing. Come on.

Evan: It should’ve been straight to salsa but I had to take a detour, I had to get that legal education done. My father was a lawyer and an entrepreneur. I think all lawyers by nature, if they’re in private practice have to be entrepreneurs. And I’d always looked up and respected him. We respected him my entire life and really, really he’s an amazing person and I followed him directly into the path of the law and for three years I was dedicated in the study of law and high tech law with the mixture of business and believe it or not criminal constitutional law and it’s just crazy how life works sometimes because when I graduated there was the opportunity to become a founder of a video game startup and I was just -- what kind of kid out of law school doesn’t want to go make video games honestly?

Nile: I actually have a friend from -- that just graduated from law school. In fact, he likes to tell the story. To his knowledge he’s one of the few attorneys in his particular state that’s passed law school and went to sit for the bar and they wouldn’t let him sit for the bar. Why?

Evan: Why?

Nile: Yeah. I mean, he didn’t have any of the legal prohibitions or anything. He wasn’t a convicted felon or whatever. It just -- he wasn’t a proper character. At least I understand that’s what it is. So he’s trying to make sure that he could get his character in order.

Evan: You’ve got to get the character in order. They’re very particular about that.

Nile: I’ll tell you what. And then after you’ve passed the bar it’s like all bets are off. I don’t know if you’ve heard this Evan -- and we’re going to digress. I have a feeling we’re going to digress many times through this interview but we recently had here in the Tampa Bay area of Florida a trial. In fact, it was a radio personality. And two radio personalities. We’ll leave them nameless because they’re nationally known, both. And they were bickering between each other and it ended up in court. Well, just before the case really started -- in fact, the night before the lead attorney for one of the particular firms got caught in a DUI sting situation.

Evan: Oh, my gosh.

Nile: But the story doesn’t end there. I mean, that would just be too simple. It turns out that there was a legal assistant in the opposing firm that he was out drinking with in fact, was encouraging him to drink and apparently had made a call to the sheriff’s department to make sure that they knew that he was leaving and drunk.

Evan: Oh, my god.

Nile: And so now there’s four attorneys facing disbarment for character things you might say.

Evan: These character issues, they keep popping. That’s an amazing story.

Nile: I figured you’d like that one so - but anyway, so anyway Evan you now have highly successful businesses, sell dozens of products on Amazon, you’re the founder and CEO of Salsa crazy Inc. and Dance crazy where you create and sell dance DVDs online. And Salsa crazy Inc. is the parent company to several local brick and mortar businesses in San Francisco including a night club and dance school. Evan teaches each Monday night salsa classes at his school to about -- are you ready for this Jordan? 400 students.

Jordan: Wow.

Nile: He’s the cofounder of online sellers law. Hey, the law degree came back in there.

Evan: It finally did.

Nile: Where he’s flexing his attorney muscles once again to help online entrepreneurs stay legal. So I think we’ve already welcomed you to the show but welcome.

Evan: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Nile: Well, like I said. I think we’re going to have a heck of a good time on this show tonight and the -- I am for once at a loss. I mean, where do I start here Jordan?

Jordan: Well, I’ll tell you right now that your young son Jordan and I have something more in common than just our first names. We --

Nile: You’re salsa dancing?

Jordan: We -- yeah. We’re expert salsa dancers.

Nile: That explains so much to me.

Jordan: No, no. we’ve never salsa danced to my knowledge. We play video games. We love playing video games. Sometimes we’ll log online together and play video games so he would be bereft if I didn’t ask Evan what kind of video games did you make?

Evan: So I was at the pinnacle of what many people would call the battle of the consoles and the battle of the consoles happened in the late 90s when Nintendo, Sega, Sony, what would become these consoles -- Sega was actually the big think and Nintendo. But Sony was the up comer and of course 3DO which many people may or may not remember is one of the kind of new -- was the new console of the day that was going to bridge interactive media and really bring an amazing experience. It was many years too early in that respect but it was an amazing console. DVD based at the time versus cartridges which were mostly in use back then and it was truly a console that was ahead of its time and when we started we created games for the 3DO platform which was founded by one of the ex people from Electronic Arts, a huge, huge game making company. So when we initially started, we started on the 3DO platform and then eventually we grew as the platform wars grew to support all the platforms. Sony, Sega, Nintendo and of course personal computers as well and we made a variety of hot selling games for pretty much all of the platforms. The company made games such as Captain Quasar, Uprising. 3DO made amazing games as well called Army Men and a variety of other really good brands that went on to do great things. And unfortunately the platform itself which -- if -- depending on the age of your child he may or may not know that the 3DO platform ever existed because it eventually did not win at the battle of the console wars and that is why most of the time now we hear about XBOX and Playstation and Nintendo and we don’t hear much about the 3DO as unfortunately it did not make it into the early 2000s alas.

Jordan: Yeah, gotcha. That’s a very interesting story and you know Nile I suspect that there are a couple of golden nuggets in just that story. The first thing that I’ve got to ask is why didn’t you as a startup set out to be a game maker for all of the consoles right off the bat?

Evan: That is a great -- it’s something we debated at the time as a super small company but we were tied in to 3DO at that point. They had a publishing agreement with us and I think actually the whole thing that brought about the purchase; and that’s a whole story in of itself when they actually purchased the entire company was -- the whole thing that brought that about was to control the future direction of the games we would create and keep a really great developer and we were a really great developer creating solely 3DO games. And at that point 3DO itself was solely creating 3DO games so when we were brought on board it was to kind of keep us in the fold and kind of keep us from doing something like that. Now, in hindsight should we have stayed a sole developed and expanded especially with the growth of video games; I’m very happy with the way everything actually worked out. I think it was really, really great because eventually 3DO became a software developed and actually started supporting all of the platforms so we got a chance to actually build games for all of the platforms in the end as well. But it was a brutal discussion at the time as to whether or not -- what direction and what consoles we’d want to support with what games. It was a really exciting time. A 16 hour days, seven day weeks and a very tiny, tiny office park.

Nile: I’ve learned that when a company buys you they get to set the rules.

Jordan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No question.

Nile: Sometimes you don’t get to _____00:25:47

Evan: It’s so true.

Nile: Amazing little things like that. Golden nugget there. I’m just saying.

Evan: That was a golden nugget. We actually, when we were purchased, part of the purchase was that we got to keep our own -- we got to get new office space separate from the corporate giant and kind of operate as a separate business entity which kept us really well shielded from I think a lot of what is typical corporate politics. But boy, did we have a good time for those years building great games.

Nile: Yeah. You don’t want game developers to fall in the corporate culture because it just doesn’t work.

Evan: Right?

Nile: You end up with games that are very milk toast and oatmeal and nobody wants to play them.

Evan: And being a struggling developer creates the best games in my opinion. It’s really -- there’s something about that mystique and something about being in there and something about being married to your game and having it be your sole existence that just creates epic things.

Nile: Well, I can see where the passion might’ve carried over to salsa dancing there in all reality so I can -- hey, I’m getting a little insight here.

Evan: Salsa dancing actually derailed almost everything in that -- my 16 hour days and seven day weeks had to be tempered by some social outlet which social dancing became. Or salsa dancing became and --

Nile: No. it’s social too.

Evan: It is social. It’s social salsa dancing but it’s not something that can easily be explained in the computer video game culture so I often had to hide my salsa dancing in the shrouds of doing other things. I just -- I’m going to go work out for a couple of hours and then I’ll come back and start -- work again but really I was sneaking out and taking salsa lessons all the time.

Nile: There’s so many things to say there. I’m not even sure where to go with that. So I won't. I won't. So we talked about where it came from the game world. By the way Jordan, you’re talking about my son Jordan. His big game love though is Minecraft and that’s been an interesting game discussion anyway.

Jordan: It is. Very.

Nile: I’m happy that Microsoft hadn’t screwed it up yet so --

Jordan: Yep, yet being the operative world.

Evan: Yeah. I was going to say that and then I held -- I bit my tongue.

Nile: Well, we all have great thing to Microsoft.

Evan: And Jordan, you beat me to it. That was great.

Jordan: Yeah. Well, I don’t know that anybody’s ever said yo, that program that -- I’m so glad Microsoft bought it. Said no one ever, right?

Nile: Yeah, exactly. Well, my son got a taste of that this week.

Jordan: Oh, did he?

Nile: Or this weekend. We -- he had a game that the disc went bad and so he was going to go on to the -- he’s got an XBOX. He was going on to Microsoft site to buy the game and download it. And my password wasn’t working. Well, the last time I changed my password I -- I have to change my Microsoft password which ties into everything. It ties into Skype, it ties into email, it ties into all of that. But last time I changed it it screwed up everything and so I knew what the password was. I’m typing it in and it’s not accepting it. It wants me to reset the password. And I told Jordan, I said if we get to that point, it’s not getting reset again. So we did everything. I spent literally an hour with him and we got to the point where it wants me to -- the only option is to reset the password. And I said Jordan you’ve got to _____00:29:26 because I’m not changing my Microsoft password again. And he decided that that was probably a good decision. Didn’t like it but he was just going to buy the DVD for the game and it actually -- we found it on eBay cheaper. So it worked out better but he was walking around cursing Microsoft all day yesterday. I’ll tell you what. From a father’s perspective, there’s nothing that could inspire you more.

Jordan: I was going to say you got him started early. That’s good.

Evan: That’s very good.

Nile: That’s great stuff. Great stuff. So anyway, you went to law school and you come out and you’re with the video game company. Well, I guess you actually practiced law you said for a couple of years.

Evan: Oh, no. I actually never practiced law.

Nile: Oh, I thought you did. I thought you did. Okay.

Evan: I never actually practiced law. I did a lot of legal things within the video game company of course but not -- they would not be as a lawyer. Really as executive producer, things like that. I did contractual work and things like that but honestly, no law. The last 20 years has been only practical law. Never the practice of law.

Nile: Now I’ve got greater respect for you all. I mean, we’re just --

Evan: I’m glad I could help you with that.

Nile: Evan is really climbing the ladder here. I’m telling you what. We’re doing great. so you -- as you said got rid of the golden handcuffs, you break free, you put on your entrepreneurial hat, now you’re doing a couple of things. You’re selling products on Amazon and you’ve got some things there. Sellers gone wild, a podcast I know but I suspect there’s some selling things that go on there and then you really start and you get heavy into the salsa dancing products. Where you’re teaching people how to dance.

Evan: Yeah. And honestly it happened in the most roundabout of ways. I did a second startup that involved venture capital and the entire nine yards and it was only upon my return from _____00:31:48 around Europe trying to clear my head from the last startup that I decided I’d make a dance DVD and I made a dance DVD and it shot up the charts initially actually on Amazon. And it became a real seller not just on Amazon but we were actually -- had retail. We were able to get retail distribution based on that and it just took off and before you knew it I couldn’t deny anymore that that was a valid source of business. I mean, I had really, really always viewed myself in a very kind of empire building way and the idea of doing salsa dances as business was about as difficult for me to accept as anything. I just thought that’s a nice hobby but that’s not a real business. How could it possibly be a real business? But the numbers couldn’t be ignored and when I came back that became my next startup and it was right at the time that kind of my internet marketing knowledge and the idea of internet marketing was really taking off for me as a separate thing and I started applying it to salsa and before you knew it we had quite an empire going and we had employees and we had contractors and we were working in every single city around the world and it became a real, huge, huge business and it was really built on the back of internet marketing and the fact that the internet was young and I am the first to say I was in the right place at the right time. Before Facebook, before YouTube when content was actually a paid for resource. I was in the right place at the right time with all the right things and that passion for me really took off and it became an amazing business. Not just -- and this is really -- I never really thought of Amazon as a business. That was just one of my channels at that time. What I considered and where I made most of my money was in real retail distribution because DVDs were hot and internet marketing where we ran hundreds of websites around the world in every single major city that catered to the passion of salsa dance. And through that we sold our DVDs and a variety of other things and it became a template of how to sell online. And especially at the time it was an amazingly well working template and we were able to take that template and apply it to just about every niche you could possibly imagine.

Nile: Well, it sounds like you’re talking about this in past tense though. Is this still an active things?

Evan: Absolutely. Absolutely in past tense.

Nile: Okay.

Evan: Absolutely. Good catch.

Nile: Well, get us up to date then.

Evan: Up to date internet marketing has changed a great deal as has online selling, as has ecommerce across the entire web. What was once a thing that few people did and was relatively easy to be successful at has become extremely crowded and relatively difficult to be accepted in or at and the actual market of the products have changed quite a bit as technology is completely racing ahead at break head speed. As an example, DVDs are -- you don’t see those at your local stores any more. You can't go to your DVD rental store unfortunately. And the local Blockbusters have closed down so really what we’re talking about today and why Amazon is so amazing and has become so important to me is other ways to market and to be distributed regardless of what your content is or what your products are is really changed and become significantly different and significantly harder to be honest. So when you’re presented with an opportunity like Amazon which is the world’s biggest market place where you simply have to figure out what to sell and they will provide the buyers. Then you’ve pretty much answered the biggest and most difficult question of any person trying to sell online which is where am I going to get my next customer. And the answer is Amazon’s going to give them to you.

Nile: That’s great. I don’t want to stop you short and I’d like to come back to this because I think this is absolutely brilliant but let’s -- I don’t want -- I know neither of you want to make this all about salsa dancing but let’s use it as a really awesome case study here. So for business gold nugget 101, right, you obviously found a hot market who is willing to spend money on a product and their needs weren’t being met.

Evan: Absolutely.

Nile: Right. So let’s go to just kind of away from internet marketing. Let’s just talk business 101 for a second. So what need were you filing that wasn’t being met? What -- when you looked at that market and you said you know what? There aren’t any blank out there or the blanks that are out there aren’t doing this.

Evan: That’s a fantastic question because that market was hot at the time and there was a million people doing DVDs and why was I the only one that got retail distribution. Why was I the only one out of dozens of DVDs that were actually even on Amazon or eBay or whatever online marketplace? Why was I number one? and it does boil down to meeting a specific need and this is true of so many different businesses, this specific need that I’m about to talk about that it just applied to salsa dance because everyone was teaching people how to dance. Everyone still teaches people how to dance. The one thing that set us apart and the one thing that kind of made it so possible for us to excel beyond anyone else is our understanding of how difficult it is to learn how to dance and that was from my personal difficulties of learning how to dance. How awkward it was to learn how to dance and the ability to break it down in a way that beginners which is usually the largest market of any single group if not the most avid; but the beginners are able to understand it and what set our DVDs apart and continue to set our DVDs apart and continue to set whatever we do apart from other people is an understanding of how difficult insert thing here. How difficult salsa dance can be. How difficult social media can be. How difficult selling on Amazon can be. And really breaking it down with empathy to a large group of people that really are having difficulty with said problem and in the salsa dance world that meant breaking it down so every single step was talked about, discussed, people were made to feel comfortable, there was humor involved and lo and behold, we were the only ones to kind of address it in a way that we were laughing with people while teaching people, while being -- while sharing our passion and our love with people and it spoke to the larger group. It spoke to beyond salsa dancers. The people I wanted to reach were -- what I always said I wanted to reach with salsa dance was the CEO out there, the vice president of X, Y, Z company who never thought he’d salsa dance, never wanted to learn how to salsa dance. Salsa dance was not even a part of his life. That’s the person. That’s the avatar, that’s who I wanted to reach when I created these DVDs because I wanted to show them how great salsa dance is and no one else did that. and if you look at almost any market online and you create these avatars and you figure out who it is you’re trying to reach, if you go to the widest common denominator and you really have a passion to reach those people, chances are you’re going to serve a market need that no one else is meeting because there’s always a race to be more complex. There’s always a race to do things at a higher level whereas everything from our perspective, from the kind of marketing crazy perspective has to be done at a lower level, has to be done in a simple step by step, anyone can do it philosophy and then everyone will because it’s so cool. Just like salsa dance is so cool or selling on Amazon is so great. you have to explain it in a way that everybody, absolutely everyone can understand it and break it down and that’s a really long winded explanation of why our salsa products and eventually all our ballroom products because we obviously did DVDs in every single thing and it applied to our yoga products, our pilates products and a variety of -- we’re not talking about any of our other brands but we obviously have a lot of different brands some of which are public, some of which are not. And it applies. That philosophy is the philosophy that has really been the root of our success if you were to ask me about one single reason why. A long winded answer. Sorry about that Jordan.

Jordan: No, no. that -- hey, that’s great. And in fact, wouldn’t you say now that’s a pretty big gold nugget there?

Nile: Well, it is but as Evan started to explain how he started to make money in salsa dancing and then starting to run through his head can I -- is -- really? I could do this and -- one of the things that is a big deal there and I wanted to come back and focus on that so I’m glad you sort of circled back around to that is this had to be a big mindset shift for you because hey, here’s a big passion. You like salsa dancing. There’s absolutely no way in your mind at the time. You’re thinking this is what’s going to make me a fortune but all of a sudden it starts to take off and explode. Talk about that mind set shift and that struggle that went on that you had with that.

Evan: From a personal perspective it was incredibly difficult. I was the type of person who viewed themselves that I would be a CEO by age 30, I was extremely driven, I was on a corporate career path. So even though I started out as an entrepreneur I really knew that I was going to be who I really thought. I was going to be a CEO of a public company, very important. Insert the word public because that was important to me at the time. And anything that fell outside that kind of path was not important to me and for me to even be interested in salsa dance really spoke volumes of how great salsa dance is and how liberating it was especially since I had such a narrow view. But for me to think of salsa as a business, that required an entirely different thing and it -- honestly even though I’ve long since discarded my thoughts of the corporate career path or kind of being a CEO in that nature of the word I still to this day have trouble following passions to businesses. I’d always thought of myself as such a diehard corporate business person. It was so engrained into me that I think it’s difficult for most people to think of their passions and hobbies as really viable businesses and as a brand new father I would have even greater respect for people who have a family. who are embarking on following their passions and hoping, praying or deep down knowing that their passions are going to work and bring them great success and great amounts of money. one again, I was hit in the face by how much money we were making and it took me many years to actually start treating it with the respect that it deserved. And I was costly swept back into venture capital and the more typical startup world that we have here in San Francisco and Silicon Valley and it took a long time to kind of grapple with the mental changes that are required to really follow your passion through, treat it as a business and treat it with the same importance that you held your ideals to when you were younger. You held yourself to what you thought you were going to be when you were younger. So in short I mean, I think it’s going to be difficult for everybody. Not just me. I think everybody has -- especially when they’re growing up; has dreams of how their life is going to work out and what directions they’re going to take and honestly when I look at salsa there is no way anyone could’ve told me up until the point where we incorporated and we decided that instead of one product we’re going to make 10 and we started making a roadmap of 20, 30, 40 and we’re starting instead of one or five or 10 websites, we’re starting to build hundreds. Up until that point I was really, really, really fighting every step of the way. Every single step of the way of -- to treating it like a real business. So I would have to say just like salsa dance when I learned to salsa dance I was dragged kicking and screaming into salsa dance. I was dragged kicking and screaming into building a business around salsa dance but because they were such passions of mine it would seem like the most obvious thing for someone to do to find true happiness. But I think everybody struggles with their vision of themselves and then the vision of doing and happily doing something that they’re really passionate about that may not align with that vision that they had earlier on. So it’s a battle. It’s a battle that everybody faces and honestly it’s a battle that I’m here to tell you can be won and really, I believe that I would’ve been miserable had I followed my chosen career path.

Nile: I think that’s just -- it’s phenomenal. And the reason that I ask that question and I’m glad that you actually gave a little in depth there answer. You really -- you shared a lot of your emotional struggle and battle that went with that and I think that’s so important because so many people -- they look at somebody like you that’s followed your passion, that gets to work in at -- that’s sort of one of the cores of their business and they say I can't do that and they think it’s easy for somebody that has a great passion about something. Certainly that’s a great thing to have and part of it and certainly makes it enjoyable for you but it wasn’t natural.

Evan: Oh, no.

Nile: Well, now that I see that you -- how you got to the salsa world and the businesses and all the dance stuff -- what I see and correct me if I’m wrong and -- we’re not even following any script on questions here but let’s talk about this for a second. So you go through all of this and it looks to me like you started doing a lot of selling but you got really passionate. I bet you, just looking at this I bet you got really passionate about trying to help other people.

Evan: I’ve always been passionate about helping other people. I’ve always been passionate about being a teacher. It’s just one of those things that gets me charged and pumped up and I’ve always loved it. It’s something that brings me personally a lot of joy. I still -- I have a lot of demands on my time but I still would never miss teaching a group how to salsa dance. I still would never miss my coaching clubs. I still would never miss anything like that. I love those things. I love teaching and I’ve always loved it. And I also believe that teaching is the number one way to kind of move yourself forward if you’re having trouble in a given business. If you’re able to teach someone something you will undoubtedly become better at it yourself.

Nile: I couldn’t agree more and I think that’s advice. So I’d like to focus on two things because you’re doing some selling things and all of that but you’re also doing online Sellers law where you’re doing some things to help some folks. Can you tell us a little bit about that.

Evan: Okay. So this requires a little bit of preface in that. As I said, my Amazon business ran on autopilot for a decade and it was a great business but I never touched it, I never looked at it, I didn’t really care about it. It was bringing in plenty of money and I never really thought so much about it. It was declining over the years. Every year it would decline but I would always say to myself well, that’s just X,Y, Z business. That’s just the stretching strap business or that’s just the whatever kind of business was in. I always would discard the reasoning and I would never put thought into it. So it was just this last year that I really started focusing on Amazon FBA. And through that I have always written my own kind of legal documents of course. Never do that by the way. Lawyers should never be their own lawyers. But I always had. And when a group of friends really -- other coaching clients as well kind of came and approached me and they were all asking legal questions, legal this, legal that, how do I protect my products, how do I form a correct business entity, what am I supposed to do here, what am I supposed to do there, what am I supposed to do when someone hijacks my product which is you know sells on someone else’s Amazon listing.

Nile: And I know that never happens.

Evan: And that never happens. Yeah. the little things like that never happen but there’s constant questions and they’re legally based questions and they’re legal/business questions and at the same time there were -- god, three or four of my close friends who were in various stages of their legal practices and I started approaching them asking hey, can you help with X, can you help with Y, can you help with Z and that’s where online Sellers law came from. The idea that there are millions. Not just a few, there are millions of online sellers. All running around without any legal assistance whatsoever. And no one has sat down and just explained what the basics are. Really what the basics are? Especially in this day and age where everyone thinks well, I’ll just go to Legal Zoom or one other such entity where I can just get an online person or do an online form and I’ll be done and it’s just not the case. Every business is different and I think from that basis I just felt like we had something unique to offer. We’re online sellers, we do it, we’re attorneys, we do it. It was time to kind of create a law firm around merging the correct way to do online selling for those people that are interested in doing it correctly. For those people who have the long term vision. Telling them the steps that were required to kind of doing the right way, protect their products, protect themselves, protect their assets, protect their families. And that’s kind of where online Sellers law came from. Once again, it wasn’t a lot of -- I woke up in the middle of the night and I suddenly had this vision of helping people with their online law. No. it happened just like most things seem to happen. In a crazy way where over time you just get asked similar questions, similar questions, similar questions. Over time other lawyers and other attorneys approach you and over time you suddenly get to the realization that what am I fighting this for. There’s a large group of people that need help and I’m in a perfect position to help them. So that was kind of the way online sellers law came about and it is growing at a rapid pace.

Nile: Because nobody has any legal problems.

Evan: Yeah, exactly. Like all the lawyer -- legal problems are all done for most people so -- but it’s something unique. Again, it’s a market place that for whatever reason isn't served at all which was fairly shocking and so we decided to step forward and help people.

Nile: Makes perfect sense how you got there. Now what are you doing with people that are interested in online selling and internet marketing. How are you working that into everything today?

Evan: Okay. So this is the coolest thing. So just like I said that teaching is the best way to kind of learn something so we started marketingcrazy.com which is really a digital marketing firm. It’s separate than the podcast but it -- sellers gone wild is a podcast that’s basically chronicling my new journey with Amazon private label and such. We don’t talk much about the last decade or so I’ve been on Amazon but we are talking about how the new -- my new knowledge and my new focus has quadrupled if not many more times my business and my Amazon private label business is absolutely on fire and I decided that here I am, completely passionate about something, can't stop talking about it, my wife is ready to kill me because that’s all I ever say, my whole house is filled with samples from US suppliers and China suppliers and all sorts of different products and I wanted to embrace it versus have the typical way that I do things which is kind of get dragged into it. I want to teach other people why I’m so passionate about it, what I’m doing, no holds barred, tell them everything and see if they’re passionate about kind of the Amazon FBA private label business too. So the sellers gone wild, the podcast is just me chronicling my experience with online selling specifically right now. I’m private labeling on Amazon but in the future I have no doubt I will open up about my experiences with all my hundreds of websites, now dozens and Shopify and Big Commerce and all the ecommerce platforms as well. But right now I can't stop talking about Amazon because I view it as such an enormous opportunity and it was sitting in front of me the entire time really tapping only a fraction of its potential. So I can't tell you how excited I am to actually have a venue with which to kind of talk about it and hopefully get people as excited as I am because I don’t see any other kind of opportunities that are quite like this. As I said before, the online selling space is not easy. Not easy at all and it’s constantly changing. But Amazon -- Amazon has been tried and true now for a very -- for many, many years and even though there are changes afoot at Amazon it is such a unique opportunity for beginners. It’s the place to start. It’s a place where people you’ve never thought about selling online to actually be able to sell online. They follow whatever crazy passion they have. Kite surfing. I don’t know what it’s going to be. I shouldn’t start throwing out niches but --

Nile: Salsa surfing. That’s what it is. Its salsa surfing.

Evan: Salsa surfing.

Nile: You heard it here first folks.

Evan: it’s going to be hot.

Nile: Literally.

Evan: It’s a great place to start and it’s the place that kind of I see that beginners are able to really level the playing field with people who have been doing it for quite some time and anybody can do it and it’s becoming more and more kind of -- it’s becoming more and more prevalent. More and more people are doing it. the number of sellers is skyrocketing but this kind of tailors into what is private label which for me was the biggest thing I’d ever -- I couldn’t -- when I really learned what private label was it opened my eyes in a way that I couldn’t believe and I really didn’t understand what private label was and it’s all around us. All the brands that we consume every day are typically just private label of other brands.

Nile: Absolutely. Well, we don’t let you get away with just talking about it. We’ve got to define it here because a lot of our listeners won't have any idea what we’re talking about so guess what. You’re on point for definition now.

Evan: Alright. I’ll tell you it’s not easy to define because it was such an eye opening experience for me but when you walk around your local grocery store or your local department store and you see X, Y, Z product and you see two products that are fairly similar, quite honestly that may be the same product with different packaging, right. And when you go into your supermarket and you see -- I don’t know if you have Trader Joe’s over there or Whole foods or any of your local branch supermarkets. The easiest way to discuss private label is when you see supermarkets suddenly selling their own style of peanut butter or their own bread or their own milk. And you’re like well, where did this brand come from. And the answer is well, they went somewhere and they found someone selling milk or peanut butter and they said I’d like to buy that milk and peanut butter but I want to put my own label on it. I want to private label it which is just taking an existing product and putting your own label on it and selling it as your own brand. And that sounds so out of reach of the common person and what -- but it’s everywhere. It’s everywhere around and it’s more in reach than it’s ever been especially as China has opened up as a market, right. So what private label is in a nutshell is taking a product and putting your own label on it, looking at a market, seeing what is the need of that market. Let’s say it is the silicone baking mat market, right. I love my silicone baking mat but if it was just one foot bigger it would fit my bigger cooking tin and I would be able to bake better things on it. So I’m going to take that silicone baking mat, I’m going to put my own name on it. I’m going to call it Evan’s coolest silicone baking mat ever and I’m going to make it one foot longer than all the other. Six inches longer than all the other baking mats and I’m going to sell it as my own Evan’s best silicon baking mat. And that in a nutshell is private label and you can do that for any product in the world. Nail clippers,  it’s a perfect example. I was just talking about this. I’m a professional dancer, right. My nails have to be clipped all the time, right. I want to have a comfortable nail clipped hand so I have like nine nail clips. I have a nail clip in my house, in my bathroom, in my other house, in my cars, everywhere you could possibly have a nail clip, I have a nail clip. Now if I just took that nail clip and I decided well, this is kind of hard. It’s -- this could be designed a little better. I would like to make my own nail clip. Evan’s nail clip. The process of private labeling is simply going somewhere to find that product and to be clear it’s usually very simply. You can just type private label nail clipper into Google and there will probably be a million of them or you could go to alibaba.com, the search engine you’ve all been hearing about. Simply type in nail clipper and there will be a million that you could put your own branding on and create your own brand instantaneously and sell it as your own. And that frankly is such a mind blowing thought because literally when you walk around the world that we live in and you look at all the products that you were sold on a day by day basis and you look at all the different brands and you realize to yourself all of these things are private labeled. All of these things are just people finding them, sourcing them in China or the US, putting their own labels on them and then reselling them. Boy, it’s a mind shift. It’s a mind-blowing mind shift and even I who’s been selling online for decades -- it blew my mind. It really changed the way I interact with the world and now if I walk into a Wal-Mart I’m like every single product I see from the beanie bag to the nail clipper to the makeup mirror to the -- I am constantly thinking about I could probably make a really cool version of that and put my own branding on it. And guess what? Amazon solves the problem of finding customers for my products so suddenly the biggest problem of most people selling online is solved. I have customers. So it really is a mind-blowing thought but every single person listening to this, every single person that ever wanted to create something or ever wanted to own their own brand or ever wanted to own something, they can do it now because of the internet and because of the way online commerce and worldwide commerce has evolved to a point that has never existed before in my lifetime or in anyone’s lifetime. And it’s exciting. It’s exciting to be able to do that and it’s really fun and you could let your passions guide you in the beginning and just create something for your friends. That is something they really, really want.

Nile: You know Jordan I’ve been inspired.

Jordan: Oh, yeah?

Nile: Yeah.

Jordan: Me too. This is great stuff.

Nile: It absolutely is but I have had an interest for many, many years in the pet rock and there’s no trademark on that by this point in time or anything else so I’m thinking I could have Nile’s pet rock.

Jordan: Well, you probably ought to go back and -- for some of our listeners who may not be familiar with the pet rock.

Nile: Well, they’re going to want to go online and buy my pet rock.

Jordan: So you’re generating curiosity.

Nile: Yeah, absolutely.

Evan: Curiosity. That’s very good.

Nile: Yeah, so -

Jordan: Good hook.

Nile: We’ve got it here. Nile’s pet rock. We’re so far out of time it’s not funny but I have to ask one other question. So short answer.

Evan: Okay. I promise.

Nile: You talked about Amazon and FBA. I’m curious of the FBA.

Evan: FBA just means fulfillment by Amazon and it means not only are they going to find your customers for you but they’re going to ship the item to the customer and take care of all customer service for you as well which is again one of the most difficult things for online sellers to do or for -- what I consider myself. A solopreneur. No matter how many corporate entities I own in the end of the day I control all my own time and I work pretty much on my own with a few assistants and employees and such but really very, very I am a solopreneur. I do what I do and I create brands and that’s the way it works. And the reason I can do that is because of Amazon. They will ship the product to the customer, they will take care of all your inventory and inventory it at their warehouses. They’ll take care of all of your customer service and they’re finding the customers for you. So it is super unique in the history of selling.

Nile: I absolutely love it.

Evan: That one company would be able to do all that for you.

Nile: Yeah. It’s a great thing.

Evan: Yeah. It’s amazing. And I’m still bummed that we didn’t get a chance to talk about social media marketing world because I know --

Nile: Oh, hey listen. We’re coming back. We’re coming back.

Evan: Social media business hour and I didn’t even get a chance to talk there about my strong opinions about social media but we can come back.

Nile: We’re going to come back and -- well, I’ll ask you some questions and we’re going to set up the next show for sure. But you’ve got a training coming up that really sounds like an awesome training that you’re doing for free for people. Why don’t you tell everybody about that.

Evan: Yeah. So again, this is going to be absolutely free. There’s nothing to sell. It is really going to teach people the A, Bs and Cs, step by step, really, really step by step through the entire process of what it means to create a private label FBA business. What it means from the very, very start so that everybody that shows up will be able to do it. And all you have to do is go to fbacrazy that is F as in Frank, B as in boy, A as in Amazon. Fbacrazy.com and you can sign up for actually that webinar and we call it our private label boot camp and we’re going to take you step by step through all the steps necessary to actually do the business and let me tell you. There’s not that many of them. so whether you’ve thought about it or haven’t thought about or you just want to get started fbacrazy will get you there and we’re going to have a great time on a live webinar and we’re going to answer all your questions as well so it’s going to be a blast.

Nile: Well, that sounds like an awesome thing. We will definitely let everybody know and we share all the links up on our site at socialmediabusinesshour.com and you’ll absolutely positively want to go there because I know I talk fast sometimes. Evan talks faster than I do so I know that you’re going to have to go back and listen to this. Just for your reference, this is show number 117. Make it easy for you to find it whether it’s on iTunes, whether it’s on Sticher or whether you listen live on lifeimprovementradio.com. Whatever it may be. You could go back to socialmediabusinesshour and find it all right there for you. Evan hey, thanks so much for being with us tonight and to our listeners --

Evan: Nile and Jordan, thank you.

Nile: To our listeners, thanks for joining us as well. Hopefully you’ve learned at least a few new ideas or concepts. Maybe shared a laugh or a chuckle with us. Maybe you were just reminded of a few things you already know but you haven’t been doing to improve or grow your business. I know that a small change can make a big difference and I’m committed to bringing you at least one new idea each week that you could implement. So go back and listen to the show, identify just one small change that you could make to your business or your life this week and see what a big difference it will make for you. So until next week this is Nile Nickel. Now go make it happen.

Woman: Social media business hour is powered by linkedinfocus.com. For show notes, updates and to pick up the latest tips and tricks head over the socialmediabusinesshour.com. Until next time. Thanks for listening.

Weblinks:

www.SellersGoneWild.com
www.MarketingCrazy.com