Hollywood Actor, Director Finds Success on Amazon

Judson Morgan is a Los Angeles-based actor and manager. He possesses an agency that makes movies and other visual content. He is also a successful ecommerce — with a purpose.

He explained,”I have zero interest in making money from a random item. It’s simply not interesting. I wanted to create a true brand that individuals could resonate with.”

That brand is Benevolence Los Angeles, an Amazon-focused gift boutique which donates a portion of each transaction to charity. He launched it in 2017. Fast forward to 2021, and earnings from Benevolence, another ecommerce brand, along with his agency has risen to eight figures.

I recently spoke with Morgan about selling on Amazon, handling three businesses, influencer marketing, and much more.

Our whole audio dialog is embedded below. The transcript that follows is edited for clarity and length.

Eric Bandholz: You’ve got two ecommerce brands.

Judson Morgan: Yes. There is Benevolence Los Angeles, as in doing good on earth. And Craft & Kin, which sells handmade goods.

Additionally, I’ve Butter. That is my agency. We started out performing narrative films here in the Los Angeles region. We then proceeded into creating content like video, photos, infographics — some other visual stuff — for companies.

Bandholz: Both ecommerce brands are mostly on Amazon.

Morgan: Right. But both have their own Shopify shop. It’s likely 4 percent of overall revenue. You probably could convince me I should concentrate on those websites more.

Bandholz: When did you launch both brands?

Morgan: I have a Masters of Fine Arts with expertise in Hollywood as a filmmaker, actor, and director. The creative side of building a brand was what interested me. I have zero interest in making money from a random item. It’s simply not interesting. So I wanted to create a true brand that individuals could resonate with.

In ancient 2017 or late 2016, I listened to Ryan Moran [the writer and adviser ] on a podcast talking about Fulfillment by Amazon. I had never heard of it. I set up a test product, an iPhone instance, and it sold like mad on Amazon. The situation was a side project to my service work. But sales took off. I thought,”That is something.”

So I generated Benevolence in 2017. Every product is acceptable for a gift. We donate to charity some of every purchase. We climbed from me being an actor and not understanding the company to attaining eight figures in earnings in the previous 12 months involving all three of my businesses. We have 12 people on the ecommerce side and seven on the Butter team.

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Bandholz: What are these ecommerce people doing?

Morgan: I have one team for the two brands. There are pluses and minuses to that. There is a logistics person for every brand and a logistics manager that handles both. Running out of inventory has been a significant problem for us. Then I’ve a chatbot advertising guy. He is a Minichat (movie ) expert.

There is a customer support person. We’ve got three people on our product health team. I made up that title. After products are launched, the item health team has the responsibility of ensuring sales grow. There is a fulltime photographer, a fulltime retoucher, and a fulltime graphic designer — all of these operate on both companies.

And then I have a full-time accountant. We outsource pay-per-click advertising management. My service does some video work for both ecommerce brands.

Bandholz: The previous guest I had on this particular podcast who concentrated on Amazon said the time for rapid expansion on that platform has passed. Is there still a chance there?

Morgan: It’s tougher, no question. But we found a product four months ago (going into Q4), and it went in a fantastic way. A high-margin product. There wasn’t lots of competition. We got all of the algorithm juice. Amazon loved us, and we were making tens of thousands of sales daily.

However, we’ve had many more product failures than we used to. So it’s not straightforward. But neither is selling on our own site.

Two or three decades back, a vendor on Amazon could fumble around and make some cash — a great deal of money. But that’s gone. You can really lose your hat. You’ve got to spend money to rank on key words. Ninety-percent of earnings happens on page one of their search results. You’ve got to spend money to get on this first page. And if your product is not great and does not get testimonials, you are likely to fail. So it is definitely not as easy as it was.

There is something called A+ content which you can add to your Amazon page. Additionally, with an off-Amazon strategy for driving traffic is crucial. We run Google and Facebook advertisements to our listings. We have many chat streams. We’ve got external giveaways.

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Bandholz: So there is an advantage to send visitors to Amazon, understanding that people trust Amazon and they’ll convert easier.

Morgan: Exactly.

Bandholz: How much investment does it take to start a successful product on Amazon? Say you have a fantastic product idea. You would like to market on Amazon — ramping up with advertisements, creating reviews and inserts, and things like this. How much would that cost to achieve adulthood?

Morgan: It depends on the cost of goods. Something that costs $10 and sells for $40, that is likely to be expensive to start, possibly $10,000 to $15,000. However, the upside is there.

You may launch a product which costs $2 and sells for $3 for $5,000 and get an idea whether it is going to work. We’re getting better at ditching the winners.

Bandholz: Let’s change to Butter. What type of work are you focusing on?

Morgan: We do higher-end content. For Beardbrand, for instance, we would say you’re ripe for a viral movie . So we would think of creative concepts for you and take a full size commercial with the intention it will go viral. We can not guarantee that, but we expect it is shared on Facebook, YouTube, that type of thing. It is a commercial, but it is funny or crazy, bizarre or crazy, or something which gets that shared.

Bandholz: Let’s circle back to Benevolence. You needed a collaboration with Candace Cameron Bure, the celebrity. Walk us through that procedure.

Morgan: An advantage of living in Los Angeles and being in the market for a long time — my wife’s an actress and a star of a TV series — is that I know many actors. Candace aligned with our brand. I had directed her in a picture. I reached out and said,”You need to do this? We’ll split the profit from the product line.”

Among the products she made for us did quite nicely. Both were okay. But we got a massive bulge in our email and social networking subscribers from her clients. Her photographs are still on Pinterest. Two decades later we are still getting a great deal of juice from her becoming involved.

The ideal celebrity is vital for an influencer effort. We have done lots of those that didn’t work. But we obtained around 15,000 email subscriptions in just a few weeks of working with her. Additionally, she got us on The View. We sold out of the products which we had on the perspective that day or another.

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Bandholz: Is your connection indefinite? A long as you market the merchandise, you divide the profit 50-50?

Morgan: It had been for a year. We do not pay after that. She’s not promoting then first year, either. We can keep on using her images and photography. We’ve got a handshake deal.

However, these arrangements can get complex. You get attorneys and agents involved. I was fortunate that she had been a friend, and we could do a handshake deal.

Have you ever done influencer campaigns with Beardbrand?

Bandholz: We are in the midst of one now. It’s comparable to your arrangement with Candace. I am a friend of a renowned musician. He is a fan of Beardbrand. I am like,”Let us do a limited-edition customized fragrance.” He is said,”All right. I’m going to receive my representative involved.” The broker is used to big brands and big contracts. We are like,”We are only a tiny new here in Austin with 15 employees. If it gets too complex, it is almost not worth it for us.” So we expect to do something cool which is reasonable for both parties.

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