In a post-COVID world, an estimated 34 million jobs have been lost. Eager to start 2021 with optimism, drive, and conviction, many people are looking for ways to create a new income stream outside of their job. The prospect of selling physical products on Amazon presents a valuable opportunity for those seeking financial security – especially when met with an uncertain job economy. All you need is a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection to reach millions of customers and build a budding online business.
The opportunity has not gone unnoticed. Thousands of people have started selling the same products and have struggled to get their listings seen by buyers. But there’s a different kind of Amazon business you may not have seen before, because less than 1% of people are taking advantage.
That hidden business model? Selling books. Unknown to many, there is a massive, untapped market for selling e-books, print books, and audiobooks on Amazon and Audible. Here to uncover the mystery and explain why it’s so profitable are the Mikkelsen Twins.
Who are the Mikkelsen Twins?
Rasmus and Christian Mikkelsen are twin brothers who quickly became pioneers in the Amazon book and Audiobook publishing space, having collectively released over 150 books. The growing industry motivated the twins to co-found PublishingLife.com, an online education business that helps ordinary people escape their 9-to-5. With the use of the twins’ Amazon book publishing business model, hundreds of people have been able to achieve life-changing results. To date, their students have made a combined $20 million dollars in verified earnings.
Within a year of starting their business in 2016, they were able to quit their jobs as Chinese food delivery drivers and travel around the world. Their business has provided them with newfound freedom, and they’ve since used it to live in Thailand, Hawaii, Bali, Spain, and more. To Rasmus, this opportunity offers a lifetime of liberty and a chance to explore the world, earning as you go. “Next to investing in real estate or the stock market, this really is as passive of a business as you will ever find.”
Using Automation to Save Time
For entrepreneurs looking to streamline their next endeavor, the twins claim that the business model is simple. “Just as you would list products on Amazon with a typical online business, you can list books,” Christian explains. “As Amazon’s Kindle store is the world’s largest online bookstore, this means that there are already millions of people searching every day for books on any topic imaginable. And whenever someone buys your book, you get paid. There was a six-month stretch in which I didn’t even log in to my Amazon account, and I still managed to earn over $50,000. Shoppers were searching for different topics, finding my books, and Amazon was taking care of the rest.”
Fortunately, the process is fully automated. Amazon uses a Print On Demand (POD) system, which means that when someone buys a print copy of a book, the factories print it and ship it off as and when needed. Effectively, you never run the risk of depleting your inventory. “The system is designed to be hands-off. As eBooks and audiobooks are digital products, there’s no cost to create and ship them. And if your customers need to make a support, shipping, or refund inquiry, Amazon does it all for you. Fulfillment by Amazon is something different,” Rasmus explains.
This level of automation gave the twins back something that they never once had an abundance of: time. When Christian and Rasmus moved to Hawaii in 2018, they decided to use their time to document their experience and focus on building their YouTube channel, a place where they teach what they know for free to their audience of entrepreneurs.
Creating Your Book
According to the twins, most people are overwhelmed by the prospect of Amazon book publishing. “The first thought that most people have is, ‘I don’t know how to write a book, so I can’t do this,’” says Christian. “But as Peter Drucker once said, “Do what you do best, and outsource the rest.”
Even if you consider yourself a writer, writing your own books is not always the most efficient way to run an Amazon publishing business. You need time to dedicate towards the backend of your business so that it stays profitable in the long-term. Otherwise, a profitable business plan will quickly turn into an exhausting time sink. The twins believe that a great way to reclaim your time is to hire professional ghost-writers to write your books for you. “Freelance sites such as Upwork offer thousands of talented writers who don’t charge a hefty price tag. Most are eager for the opportunity to get paid doing what they love – writing,” says Christian.
The other primary component you need when publishing a book is a front cover. Certain online services often overcharge for this service, quoting you upwards of $1000 for a single book cover design. But as the twins have discovered in the past, you should always avoid these. “What we’ve found is that these people pay other freelance designers a small percentage of the profit and keep the rest for themselves,” Rasmus explains. “Just go directly to freelancers on websites like Fiverr and you can get high-quality book cover designs for much more affordable prices.”
Publishing Books That Sell
This year, Amazon has continued to grow exponentially. Reportedly, the company brought in an approximate $75.5 billion in sales revenue in just the first quarter of 2020. It comes as no surprise that the sheer volume of people searching for books on Amazon every day is trending upward. And as a result, the twins believe that it’s nearly impossible to publish a book that never sells. “The goal is to achieve consistent sales, which can be boiled down to one key factor: market research. Good research is necessary no matter what business you’re in. Otherwise, you’re just guessing,” says Rasmus. “Amazon makes it very simple. You can see exactly how much every book sells and how many other books you’re competing against in any given topic.”
Throughout their career, the Mikkelsen Twins have published books in dozens of niches, such as fitness, mindfulness, social media marketing, and meditation. Almost all have returned a profit, but the twins believe that it goes beyond the money. Just as rewarding is helping people improve their lives. “This isn’t a loophole business model. In the end, it’s about creating books that actually help people. It’s a great feeling when you get reviews from customers about how your book helped them in important areas of their life,” says Christian.
Why Listening Is the New Reading
Audible, Amazon’s audiobook platform, claims that “listening is the new reading”. Since 2017, audiobook sales have been growing by 24% every year. And in 2019 alone, sales totaled $2.67 billion USD and have been projected to reach $15 billion USD by 2027. The facts don’t lie: the audiobook industry is booming.
Audiobooks have been the most profitable income stream for the Mikkelsen Twins and their students. Christian believes that you should “Focus on the audiobook side of your publishing business. This marks the start of a worldwide trend before it has become mainstream. In other words, there is very little competition for people selling audiobooks.”
It’s an accurate assessment. There are approximately 300 million products for sale on Amazon, and 48 million of those products are books. Comparatively, just over 200 thousand audiobooks are for sale on Audible. That makes up just 0.07% as much competition selling audiobooks as there is selling physical products. As a result, the market becomes considerably easier to penetrate.
“If you haven’t had your book professionally narrated and published as an audiobook, you are leaving so much money on the table. I think many believe it’s expensive to hire a professional narrator so they don’t even try, but Audible has a database of over 100,000 narrators you can hire with just the click of a few buttons. You can get professional talent to narrate your audiobooks for less than $180,” Rasmus says.
Building for Long-Term Growth
For people serious about building a side income outside of their 9-5 job, the twins offer a word of warning. Rasmus believes, “There are two common traps to be aware of. Instant gratification and ‘shiny object syndrome’. You can’t blame anyone for wanting to make as much money as fast as possible, but often those who are motivated enough to start their own online business will give up within the first couple of months if they haven’t found immediate success.”
The twins are the first to admit that you won’t be getting rich quick with Amazon book publishing. But in comparison to the traditional route of education, it’s no less of an attractive business prospect. “Education costs over $100,000 and takes four years to generate an income. When compared, you could say that publishing is in some ways a ‘get rich quick’ scheme,” says Christian. The Mikkelsen Twins are living proof: they were able to replace their full-time income, quit their jobs, and begin traveling in the span of just 12 months.
A student of the Mikkelsen Twins shares their input, having had first-hand experience. “I published two books back in 2015. Five years later, they still generate income every month. Don’t strive to get rich quick with this business model. Think long term and you’ll be thanking yourself five, ten, fifteen years from now.”
For anybody willing to put the time in, an Amazon-powered business presents a faster path to wealth than almost any traditional job route. It’s a business model that continues to pay you long after you finish working, and for those longing to break out of the 9-5 life, the business model represents the key that unlocks your shackles for good.