Resources for how to sell online

how to sell onlineYou don’t need to win the lottery to become a millionaire. Below are a few Web sites, people, courses and blogs I follow or that have been shared with me by people like my mentor Patricia Jones in our millionaires-in-the-making quest.

SEVEN-FIGURE AMAZON EARNERS

Dan Hollings offers Webinars on how to find products

Stefan James offers a free seven-part class on selling online

Adrian Morrison offers lots of tips and advice. Patricia said she finds his Facebook group useful

Anthony Morrison, Adrian’s brother, likewise offers good advice. He also runs a Facebook group

Jason O’Neil does drop shipping via Amazon. He hosts several YouTube videos explaining how it’s done.

HOW TO ARTICLES/WEBINARS/PODCASTS

8 steps to launching an ecommerce business  – Obviously there’s more to it, but this article is a great place to start and has some good links.

Pat Flynn hosts a podcast series on passive income definitely worth listening to. This one links to an episode about selling on Amazon

The Selling Family is the featured guests on Pat’s podcast. Here’s a link to the resource page on their Web site, which is worth browsing

Webretailer.com hosts several free Webinars about all aspects of online selling, especially Amazon

Tips for beginners – from several Amazon successful sellers

Are there any resources you recommend? Please leave them in the comment section below.

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6 steps to selling online

Ecommerce is growing 23% year-over-year (2)Amazon does have some strict selling requirements and some products categories, such as beauty, are “gated” meaning you have to pay some hefty fees to sell in them. Still, follow these five steps and you’ll be well on your way to opening an Amazon store (or even just selling online).

  1. Find and follow people who are already successful selling on Amazon and willing to share their secrets, people like Adrian and Anthony Morrison or Chris Record or Jason O’Neil.
  2. Join Facebook groups of Amazon sellers, leave comments and make friends. These people will help cheer you on and avoid pitfalls by sharing their mistakes.
  3. Watch YouTube videos on Amazon selling or drop shipping on Amazon. Vow to watch one a day until you feel comfortable opening a store.
  4. Go to Amazon seller’s university and learn from the pros.
  5. See what’s trending on Google or what items people are talking about buying on their Facebook page and keep notes. Search Alibaba or Aliexpress to see if you can source those products at a discount and make a profit selling them on Amazon.
  6. If Amazon sounds too complicated, start with eBay. Try eBay’s laundry basket approach. After signing up for an account, walk around your house with a laundry basket and fill it with items you no longer use. Do a search for them on eBay and see what they’re selling for. Then take a photo of it, write a description and list it.

 

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How to make $20,000 selling on Amazon (or just online)

51% of Americans prefer to shop online

Patricia Jones launched her Amazon store just after retiring. Here’s her thoughts about what worked  and what she recommends for people just starting out – particularly those of us undergoing cancer treatment who might not be feeling quite up to par:

Q: What made you decide to get into selling online?

A: The reason I wanted and begin selling online is because I wanted a continuous residual income that would coincide with my salary and sustain me when I retired from my corporate job as a Human Resources professional. I enjoy helping others and wanted to sell products that people needed, wanted and appreciated, and selling online was the perfect gateway for me to earn a residual income.

As far as retirement, I had put a plan in place several years before making a decision to retire in 2015 at the age of 58. Three years prior, I had met with my financial advisor and had a financial/personal discussion whereas I was going to retire no matter what! The stress of working in a fast past corporate environment and supporting more than 800 people in different locations with very little support was draining and stretching me mentally and physically. Enough was enough! After flying back from Las Vegas after a much needed vacation on a Sunday afternoon I went into work Monday morning and made the announcement to my manager. It felt like the world was just lifted off of my shoulders. I was moving forward and had just answered my “WHY.” Freedom from my job of more than 25 years. Moreover, more time to enjoy my family, travel and work my online business serving others.

Lastly but not least, living life on my own terms.

Q: What platforms are you using? Why?

A: Currently, I’m using Amazon as my platform to sell products that I purchase from various suppliers; little capital is required. I started with $500. I opened my Amazon store on January 4, 2017 and on January 9th, I had 13 sales come in. I was stoked and excited at the same time. I got started because of my mentor who recommended Amazon, an online business that requires little capital to get started. He’s a 7-figure earner like Andrian Morrison and Anthony Morrison. They both provide live webinars every week to teach their students from all over the world how to make money online for free.  I have also found help from other guru’s on YouTube who teach about getting started selling on Amazon. When it comes to learning about Amazon, I like to diversity my learning skills to see what others are teaching and do a comparison.

Q: What success have you had so far?

A: Below is a customize report that I ran today just letting you see the potential of what you can do if you have a willing mindset. This report is from March 1, 2017 – April 30, 2017.

 

Amazon FBA

 

 

Q: Is this something you think someone who might not have the energy to work full time can do? (specifically, I’m thinking about people undergoing chemo, which usually leaves one tired and sometimes with flu-like symptoms for a day or two. They also might have trouble lifting.) How much time and effort does it take?

A: Yes, I believe a person with some limitations can do this business. My recommendations would be to start off with a written plan in place on what you want to accomplish each day and how many hours you know you can commit to. For me, since I’m retired and thanks be to God have no limitations, I am able to spend the time I need to learn the business and take massive action as I learn. In the beginning, I spent about 8–10 hours learning and taking action on what I learned. Roughly from January and February and then things began to come together, where I understood the process of a Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) Seller on Amazon. In retrospective, that’s why I attended the 3-day workshop Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA). I did not know the process and wanted more about having my products shipped to Amazon to handle all the things I am doing now as a Merchant seller.

Q: What pitfalls are there that people should be aware of?

A: The pitfalls that I have seen since selling on Amazon is not doing enough research on products to know which ones sell and which products does not sell. This is very important because if sells aren’t coming in due to products with higher Sellers Best Ranking (SBRs), or products that are not trending you are wasting your time. In addition, you must continue learning because Amazon is always changing the game of this business.

Q: What first steps do you recommend?

  • Don’t jump into this business without researching what it is about.
  • Don’t focus on the money you will make; just because someone else made a certain amount that’s not necessarily what you will make.
  • Don’t do the business as a hobby; this is a real business that you need to understand. As with any business, it takes capital to run; therefore, don’t complain about tools you will need to help your business become profitable and sustainable. Note: Some of these tools are not cheap; they can cost low end of $50.00 per month to high end of $hundreds of dollars per month. Something to think about later.
  • Start off sourcing for lower cost quality products that people want. Remember, you don’t have to like the product, it’s for the customer who you are serving.
  • Invest your profits back into the business so that you can buy more products; FYI, high end products will bring in higher profit margins. Just something to keep in mind.
  • Never stop learning and do not give up!

Postcard from the Danube

danube-river-cruise I thought that once my disease was under control, once I found a drug that was working I’d relax and get back to enjoying life.

So why am I so anxious all the time? I think, in part, it’s because now that I realize I’ll be living longer, I need to find a way to finance my existence.

Anyone who’s been through cancer treatment can tell you, it takes a lot out of you. Between the drugs and the doctors appointments and continual tests and scans, not only is it expensive, but it’s time consuming.  So I’m looking for a way to make money that doesn’t take so much time or startup money.

A Facebook ad about a course teaching how to sell on Amazon caught my eye. My husband and I both went to the free workshop, then the paid training. Today, I mailed off my first four sales.

I can’t say we’re raking in the money yet. But I’ve talked to enough people who have that I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I admit, I’ve still got a lot to learn. As one of my mentors – Patrica Jones, whose story I’ll tell tomorrow – shared, it’s not unreasonable to start out losing money before you make it.

“Don’t worry about the money,” she told me. “Worry about who you’re going to serve and how it will benefit them.”

And know your “why?” she said. Hers is freedom and serving. Mine is being able to relax knowing I can pay off whatever debt this illness throws my way. It’s also about sharing my story with others in hopes that there’s some universal lesson that can save them the suffering and agony that I’ve been through. (What is it the Buddhists say? Pain is mandatory, suffering optional). Well I’ve had enough of both for a lifetime.

What will I do with my newfound wealth? My husband wants to take a blues cruise down the Mississippi River. I want to cruise the Danube River. I’ve got pictures from the cruise brochure pinned up in a shadowbox across from my bed, along with million dollar bills (fake, of course) to remind me each morning when I wake up where I’m heading, what this journey is all about.

I’m looking forward to the blog post I’ll be writing in the future, a postcard from Budapest perhaps with a note to all of you saying “Having a great time floating along the Blue Danube (which surprisingly isn’t blue). Wish you were here.”

 

 

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Resources for getting out of medical debt

Here are a few resources I recommend or have been recommended to me by others who have had success.

NEGOTIATING TIPS:

http://time.com/money/3938748/7-smart-ways-to-negotiate-your-medical-bills/ – A great piece on what to question and how to do it.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/managing-high-medical-bills-32221-2.html – Gives a short synopsis of different financial assistance programs and who to call.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-healthcare-watch-20150406-story.html – Good explainer on patient advocates and mediators, how they work, what they cost or how they’re paid.

CONTACTING LEGISLATORS: 

In addition to elected folks, consider calling your county’s Consumer Protection agent or your state Attorney General to find out if they can help, particularly if you think some of the charges are excessive. Both can help you familiarize yourself with state laws that protect you.  Your best bet is to Google them. These resources can help you find your elected representatives.

www.commoncause.org – This site will let you plug in your info, then find your state legislator’s contact info.

www.openstates.org – Another site like Common Cause. Seems a bit simpler to use.

http://taskandpurpose.com/local-representatives-congress-can-help-navigate-va/ – An explainer of what help you can expect from your elected officials and questions to ask.

PATIENT ADVOCATES:

www.theinsurancewarrior.com – A good friend of mine used this woman, Laura Todd, successfully. She has an ebook on how to win an appeal, plus will help filing if you need her. Her Web site says she’s won 177 appeals so far.
www.cancersupportcommunity.org – I love this group. This is the Web site of the national organization. From there, you can search for a local chapter. They hold all sorts of seminars and workshops on everything cancer, including how to pay for it. Worth checking out.

cancersupportcnj.org – If you live in Central New Jersey, here’s the link to the local chapter of the Cancer Support Community.
www.lbbc.org/get-support/additional-resources – This is a page on Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s site (another group I love) that offers some great resources, including organizations that will help pay.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:

panfoundation.org – This is the site for the Patient Network Assistance Foundation. I admit, I don’t know it and only came across it while doing research this week. The American Society of Clinical Oncology mentioned it in its financial toxicity study. It seems to have a lot of great resources.

www.cancer.org – This is the Web site for the American Cancer Society. It can be a bit tricky to navigate and sometimes frustrating, but when you find what you’re looking for, it can be gold. The link I’ve provided here will take you directly to the financial resources page which lists programs available in your zip code. ACS also provides reimbursement for travel to and from treatment, something I intend to look into.

www.rxassist.org – In addition to programs for paying medical bills, many pharmaceutical companies are offering co-pay assistance programs to offset the high price of drugs. I can tell you, this is saving my life right now. My drug costs are close to $10,000 a month. Luckily, I’ve been able to take advantage of a Novaritis assistance program which covers the entire co-insurance cost of one of the drugs I’m on. The Web site above is a clearinghouse of programs.

https://medlineplus.gov/financialassistance.html – A clearinghouse information site that offers info on financial assistance programs and clinical trials, which costs are often paid by the researchers.

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/finding-and-paying-for-treatment/understanding-health-insurance/if-you-have-trouble-paying-a-bill/if-you-have-problems-paying-a-medical-bill.html – Information on a federal assistance program that’s available based on income.

Are there resources you recommend? If so, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks!

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10 steps for paying off $1 million in medical debt

I’m sure I’m not the only one to find that beating (or stabilizing) a deadly disease is only half the battle. Paying for it is the other half.
After shattering her ankle in a fall down the attic steps. Tina Jordan faced $1 million in medical debt beyond what her insurance company had paid out. Below are the steps she took (and recommends) to climb out of that debt and get on with life.

1 First, keep a binder with all the bills, insurance claims, receipts, etc. When you call someone, make a note of their name and day of call right on the bill “I would write I talked to X on this day and they said do this,” said Tina. Take copious notes!
2 Explore every option, not just talking to the billing office.
3 Speak to the social worker at the hospital. They’re usually full of good information, such as where to apply for assistance or other places to look for help.
4. Contact your benefits person through your employer or insurance agent. Or ask if the insurance company has a medical advocate who will help navigate the billing process.
5. Write a letter to the doctor or hospital asking for debt forgiveness or a discount. “Asking people to discount the bill did work,” said Tina.
6. Hire a mediator to go over bills, look for errors and negotiate directly with the medical provider.
7. File appeals with your insurance company. Once they’re exhausted, see if your state’s insurance department offers an appeals process.
8. When all else fails, contact an elected representative. “My state rep was most helpful,” said Tina. After working together, her state rep actually got legislation passed outlawing “balance billing” which allows medical providers to bill patients if they charge more than the contracted rate allowed by the insurance company.
9. Ask everyone you know if they know anyone who works in medical billing who can make sense of the bills and offer ideas for getting fees waived or discounted.
10. Push through the fear and make the necessary calls. “I would vow to make one call a day. It seems daunting, but chip away at it,” said Tina.

How to pay off $1 million in medical debt

paying off medical debt   After two months in the hospital and a month in rehab for a shattered ankle, the result of a tumble down the attic stairs, Tina Jordan was home recuperating on the couch when the bills started pouring in.

“I started to put them in a binder. Before too long, I was looking at $1 million,” said Tina. That was in addition to what was paid by two “gold-plated” health insurance plans she and her husband had through their jobs.
Panic set in, she said. But with little else to occupy her, the magazine editor decided to attack it with her journalistic skills, researching options and reaching out to decision-makers.
“I had nothing else to do. I was lying on the couch with my foot up. I called the insurance company to find out how the appeal process worked,” she said.
Her first appeal was denied, as was her second and third. Panic turned to frenzied fear.
“They said the third appeal was the last, but that wasn’t true,” she said. New York, like many states, has a state insurance department that offered an external appeal process.
“I had to appeal every bill,” she said.
She reached out to her elected officials and found a sympathetic ear in her state rep. She hired a mediator to scour the bills for errors.
“He found a ton, all in my favor,” she said.
She wrote letters to her doctors, asking them to forgive the debt.
“That worked with some of the doctors, actually.”
And she applied for financial assistance offered through the hospital, which she surprisingly qualified for, even though she and her husband make a decent combined salary.
“After not sleeping because it’s so stressful, most of the external appeals were settled in my favor,” she said.
Still, she wound up paying $40,000 out-of-pocket. “But not $1 million,” she said.
“What if I were old, really sick or English wasn’t my first language? Hospitals gouge people with insurance, sending them bills and hoping they’ll pay without arguing,” she said.
She advises anyone facing large medical debt to have a good system for keeping track of bills, find a patient advocate or benefits provider who can help, talk to the hospital social worker and “explore every option, not just talking to the billing office.    Write a letter to the doctor. When all else fails, contact an elected official. My state rep was most helpful. She has a reputation for being diligent and caring and has a great staff.
Take copious notes and make those calls. It seems daunting but chip away at it. I vowed to make one call a day,” she said.

The high cost of the Whack-A-Mole Disease

medical debt   If I haven’t said this before (truth is, I probably have) let me say now. Cancer is a Whack-A-Mole Disease.
Just when one part of it comes under control, another aspect arises. In my case, the drugs I’m on are working to keep those rogue cells in check (good) but I’ve now got huge medical bills as a result (bad).
Part of the issue is the way Memorial Sloan Kettering chooses to bill my treatment as an outpatient procedure (which rakes in more money for them) rather than a doctor’s visit (which would only cost me $50).
That’s the problem with healthcare, you can’t really “shop” around for the best price. There’s no menu with options and costs. Instead, you go to your appointment, believing you’re going to be billed a $50 co-pay only to get a bill that has several zeros at the end (not including decimal points).
When I called billing to complain, I got a standard reply. “That’s how we bill it.  You’ll have to check with your insurance company.”
I’ve called my insurance company, my insurance agent and a third party vendor that assesses insurance costs. All say it’s how the hospital is choosing to code it.
If everything stays as it is, I’ve just about blown through whatever money I had to spend getting into a clinical trial and I’m feeling panicked. With these drugs working, clinical trials are off the table. At some point they’ll stop working and, again, I’ll be looking to get into one, but I won’t be able to afford it.
Add that to the national debate going on at the moment about changing the Affordable Care Act which will also tie availability of treatment to my ability to pay. It’s a wonder I can sleep at night with the worry that’s consuming me.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. According to results released during this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology conference, the top concern reported by melanoma survivors was  money, with 69% reporting that they were concerned about insurance and financial matters.  The study found that:

  • 57% depleted their savings
  • 20% borrowed against or used retirement money
  • 17% postponed filling prescriptions
  • 13% skipped medicine dosages at least sometimes
Those who experienced the most distress made less than $60,000. Forty-two percent said they could use financial assistance,  but only 28% reported that their health care team spoke to them about it.

So how do I choose to tackle it?  As my mentor, Tina Jordan – who climbed out of $1 million in medical debt. I’ll tell her story tomorrow – reminded me, “I’m a journalist. Let me approach this like a journalist.”
Last week, I went straight to the top. I wrote a letter to MSK’s CEO Dr. Craig Thompson. I explained the issue, included copies of the bills and a synopsis of my insurance plan. I’ve learned from experience that CEO’s will direct it to the attention to someone at the top of the food chain, the vice president of billing most likely. Someone who has a different answer than “that’s just how we bill it.”
Tina gave me some ammunition as well. There are consumer protection laws in New York that prevent hospitals from “balance billing” which means coming after patients for more money than what they’ve agreed to pay based on their insurance contract. I’m keeping that info in my back pocket.
My goal at this point is to negotiate a discount so I’m paying what I thought I’d be paying. If billing won’t work with me, then I’ll apply for financial assistance. Tina did. She said even with gold standard health insurance and the lucrative jobs she and her husband had, she did qualify. That’s encouraging.

I don’t know how long it will take to resolve this. Already I’ve enlisted the help of a patient advocate offered up my my insurance agent. She’s survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, so she knows the deal.

I also look at it this way. As long as I owe Memorial Sloan Kettering money, they have skin in the game to keep me alive and well. In this, I’m hoping for a happy ending.

The sign of the phoenix

On this morning’s walk a bird dropped from the sky, dead at my feet. I nudged it, just to be sure. Nope, not a breath of life in it. And I smiled.
I smiled because I realized that it meant I have changed, permanently, irreversibly. The old Liz would have viewed it as an omen of things to come. But the new me sees death as shutting the door on things that have passed. The ending of a chapter, and the beginning of a new one.
I smiled because even though a new chapter brings its challenges – I mean, what would a good story, or good life for that matter, be without challenges? – it also brings opportunities and hope.
I smiled because it means I’ve let go of a lot, so I travel lighter.
I smiled because I’m ready for what this new life holds.
And it holds a lot of promise at the moment. For one, a new med regime I’m on is working. My numbers are rocketing downward, almost back to normal range. That means the cancer is being held at bay. Good news, yes. The challenge is that the biopsy sample was not enough to get a good genomic read on the cancer cells. And with this medicine working, my oncologist isn’t motivated to do any more until the cancer presents as a problem again.
The drug combo – Exemastane, which sucks the estrogen from my body, and Everolimius, which goes into the cancer cell and turns of “switches” to keep it from growing – has led to an all-over body rash. Gratefully, one of the advantages of Memorial Sloan Kettering is that there’s a doctor for everything. I saw an oncology dermatologist, and two creams and a pill later, it’s virtually gone.
I smiled because I’m getting a lift from new friends I’m making since getting involved with a group called METUP which advocates for more research funding for metastatic breast cancer and removing barriers from clinical trials, so those of us who could benefit from cutting-edge research can be a part of it. It’s based on the AIDS activist group ACTUP, which held die-ins to bring attention to the number of people dying from the disease that in the early 1990s had no cure. Today, people with AIDS live long, healthy lives with medication. That’s where we want to be.
This week alone, I sent out press releases on the group’s behalf, made follow-up press calls, fired off a letter-to-the-editor when a newspaper reporter refused to cover a die-in planned in Philly this weekend and emailed my congressman to oppose changes to the Affordable Care Act that could end up killing me. I’m not just talking the talk, I’m walking the walk.
I smiled because I’m heading to a Women Reading Aloud writing retreat this weekend thanks to a scholarship for writers with cancer. It’s named for a sister warrior I knew who has passed on, but whose spirit I’m glad to embody.
I smiled because I’ve just tripped across a literary agent who’s written a children’s book that I’ll be writing about. We’ve only spoken briefly, but agreed we need to get to know each other better (and I haven’t even told her yet I have a novel in progress).
I smiled because I’ve been asking the God I pray to to take away my anger and replace it with resilience, to replace my inertia with motivation, to replace my ruminations with creative energy. I smiled because the bird, a phoenix,  tells me it’s so.