How many times have you heard this story on this blog?
A kid drops out of high school.
Starts working a 9-5 job that ends up crushing him.
The kid turns to some kind of online hustle and makes a fortune.
This is exactly what happened to JT Franco.
At the age of 17, JT dropped out of high school to pursue his dream of being entrepreneur.
After multiple business ventures, JT decided to start his own catering company which brought in $30,000 profit the first year.
Although it wasn’t a bad profit margin, he became a slave to his company and wanted to do something that was less time-consuming and more enjoyable.
That's where he learned about Amazon FBA, and discovered you could make millions by selling products on Jeff Bezos' platform.
JT remembers sitting in his tiny shared bachelor suite, this place had tinfoil on the windows to block out the hot sun because they had no AC.
And He was just thinking “why am I doing this? Why don’t I just get a 9-5?”.
When he found out about Amazon FBA, he decided to give entrepreneurship one last shot.
Fast forward a year and he was free to spend his time traveling the world and living on his own terms.
The Amazon FBA formula made it so simple, that he was easily able to implement the strategies and grow my business to make $15,000 profit/month in just 1 year.
Once he had made it for himself, and started earning 8 figures a year, he decided to help others do the same.
So he created Empire Academy, an Amazon FBA course where he teaches the exact steps that he went through to make it big on Amazon.
Empire Academy literally EXPLODED, and, to date, JT has sold almost 200k courses and helped almost 2k people quit their day jobs.
With the Amazon FBA Empire Academy you get immediate access to 20 hours of step-by-step video content.
You will also get 3 BONUS modules and direct mentorship by JT Franco.
In this course he will give you the go ahead on products worth investing in so that you can save time and money.
Everything seems to be in place for you to just learn, implement and get things rolling.
After having reviewed a lot of other Amazon FBA courses, I thought it would be only fair to my readers to go through this course, dive in it and give a very honest opinion.
As you will see, I don't have an affiliate link to JT's course.
If you end up buying it, I will not be making a dime, but since the reviews out there are either extremely positive or extremely negative, I thought I'd try and be more balanced than others.
So in the following review, I'm going to go into details and be answering the questions that you really want to know the answer to.
But before I start this in-depth review that will cover every module of JT's course, a bit about me..
Right up to 2014, like JT wanted to do had he failed with Amazon FBa, I was working in a corporate 9-5 job.
Not only was it soul-crushing, but it didn't give me any time to pursue my bigger goals.
That was until I discovered a method to rank sites organically, generating free leads for my clients.
That website you see above, for the tree care company, I created that site in 2015, and since then I haven't had to touch or update it:
It has gained me a passive income of $2000 a month.
That's more than $100,000 for one site, in 5 years.
That's the magic of the Lead Generation business, it's by far the best model to generate passive income. If you want to know more, just hop over here!
But enough about me: time for an in-depth review of the Empire Academy 2.0 course.
Empire Academy Review
Empire Academy is a 10 week intensive course, where you will literally learn every thing Amazon FBA related:
From finding your ideal product to sell, to branding it, to shipping and selling it.
You will literally be taught all that you need to know to be successful in Amazon FBA, and the way JT explains things is super easy, and his mentorship makes it easy to digest complicated topics.
Sounds like a something you'd love?
Let's see how it really works.
Empire Academy Perks
Module 1: The Keys To YOUR Empire
The first module, like in most is mainly an introductory one, and sometimes deals with mindset.
And this module is no different from the others.
However there are a few nuggets of wisdom here and there.
One of them is the idea of getting rich quick.
JT explains how this idea has gotten a bad rep, and one should really understand what 'quick' actually means.
How quick is quick?
JT considers himself to be a 3-year overnight success, and that should say something.
It took him three years to ramp things up to a tipping point, after which everything happened very quickly.
So is 3 years get rich quick?
It is if you compare it to the majority of people waiting until they are 65 to retire and start living.
So when answering the question 'is Amazon FBA going to make you rich quick?', JT's reply is definitely yes.
IF you consider investing time in learning all the various aspects of the trade, IF you consider working your butt off for 2 or 3 or even 5 years until you make it.
JT is absolutely against getting on Amazon to get rich quick exploiting a fad and cashing out.
He's here to tell you how to build your brand so that it lasts and will make you money constantly.
JT makes the examples of the fidget-spinners and hover-boards as easy pump and dump Amazon FBA fads.
What he is all about, instead, is building something with solid foundations, and that can take time.
JT is all about creating products that solve problems in people's lives, no matter how small these problems may be.
Amazon is just seen as the best entry point, but what JT wants you to build is a brand that you can one day take off Amazon, or resell for a profit.
Whenever building something via JT's course, he suggests that you build it with tomorrow in mind.
This is a pretty cool way to look at things and I really appreciated JT demystifying the concept of getting rich quick that most gurus sell.
As JT says, even if you will fail a couple of times, but you're always one product away from changing your life for good.
Module 2: Your Foundation Is EVERYTHING
The second module is all about setting up the basics, and with that comes setting up your legal entity.
The first question that pops up is.. should you go for:
- Sole Proprietor
JT suggests going for a Limited Liability Company.
What exactly does that entail, you may ask?
As it says in the name, if anything goes wrong with customers using your products, they can sue you.
With limited liability, though, there is only so much that can happen to you, and you will be more protected from freak accidents.
To make it very simple and clear, this is the main difference.
If you run a sole proprietorship and something goes wrong, they can come after everything that you have under your name.
If you have a LLC, you and your business are two separate legal entities and so only the capital owned by your LLC can be touched through legal disputes.
Of course it will cost money to create and run an LLC, so you should take that into consideration too.
Once you do get an LLC, you should also get an EIN or Employer Identification Number.
JT also provides you with all the links to get these, and suggests you go to Nolo.com for all your needs.
Another thing that lots of other Amazon FBA courses don't talk about is Product Liability insurance.
Product liability insurance isn't merely a product guarantee or warranty.
It protects businesses from the fallout that occurs in the event that a product causes injury or other damage to third parties.
Product liability insurance can help protect you in the event that your business faces a lawsuit.
There are two types of insurances you need to get covered with:
- General Liability Insurance (REQUESTED BY AMAZON).
- Product Liability Insurance.
As a private labeler, you are the manufacturer of the product, even if you buy the physical product from China.
If it's labeled with your brand, then you will want to get it.
A joint policy should allow you to get both, and now you are ready to start the hands on part.
As with the first module, it's amazing that JT goes through all the legal and tech nitty gritty:
Most don't ever talk about this in even longer courses.
Module 3: Amazon FBA 7 Figure Fundamentals
In this model, aimed specifically at newbies, JT breaks down the Amazon model so that everyone can really understand it.
These are the steps in creating a successful module:
- Find a product.
- Find a supplier.
- Send to Amazon and create listing.
- Launch product via PPC.
- Optimize through split testing.
- Get paid.
You then rinse and repeat by creating other products on Amazon and building your empire!
One other interesting question tackled in this module is whether you should start a pro or an individual account.
If you plan on selling less than 40 items a month, individual is ok, but you should really be jumping in as a professional seller.
One thing that JT also strongly recommends is to not niche down the name of your brand too much.
If you start selling headphones, for example, you don't want to name your brand anything with the word headphones in it.
This is because, if you decide to branch out to other electronic products, your name won't sound as out of place.
Overall, the module is full of suggestions and tips, and JT gives you a grand tour of the back end of the Amazon machine, as a seller, and drops knowledge bombs here and there.
Changing your name on Amazon is possible.
But the more times you change it, the harder it will be for you to rank on Amazon.
Don't stay too wide and vague, but don't niche down too much or you'll be screwed.
Frankly, I really appreciate these little tips dropped here and there by JT.
Sometimes it's these small things that really change your experience as a newcomer to Amazon FBA.
Module 4: Product Exploration Part 1
This, according to JT, is the most important module in the course.
You need to study the competition before you actually choose your product.
This is what JT say that other gurus skip everytime.
You basically need to use your metaphorical telescope to find the perfect product.
Normal gurus would tell you where to look, and JT does that too, in a later module.
But you want to polish your telescope too, if you want to be able to spot it.
It reminds me of the Abe Lincoln quote:
One of the first things you want to check out before you go through the practicalities is to check if the product has cashflow.
If all the blocks are checked, will this product actually make you money?
To do that you take the overall price of the product, subtract the cost of it, the shipping, the branding, and the fees.
What you are looking for is a 30% profit margin.
You also want to have around a $30 product AT LEAST to make the profit viable.
If it's too low, you are limiting yourself to advertising:
You don't want to go in the red with advertising for your product.
The FBA Calculator comes in handy to make sure you are getting the right amount of profit.
You need to check out the product price and all the other variables that we discussed above, but the calculator will do most of the work for you.
You probably should aim for a smallish product to save on the shipping, if you want to make a profit.
Remember the 30% profit rule.
You should be creating a long list of possible product and only then narrow down the product funnel and choose the one with most potential.
JT suggests not to get fixated on one product and be very swift to dump products and jump to the next.
Module 5: Product Exploration Part 2
In order to find that perfect product that you will want to produce and sell to the public, JT suggests you follow his 'Autofill Method'.
This basically means that all you have to do when starting is type the beginning of the word of the product you are interested in on Amazon, and see how it is autocompleted.
The autocompletion is not random.
Amazon search, much like Google, completes your search based on the most looked for items in their database, to save you time.
Amazon wants things to sell, so it is going to try and direct you to the products that sell more.
Through the Viral Launch platform, you will be able to see how good these products are really doing, and decide for yourself!
After you have found a product that you would feel comfortable selling, it's time to, as JT puts it, peel the onion.
That means, exploring the product on Amazon, and see if you can find something it's usually bought with to bundle it with.
In that way you can create a whole new customer experience that can put you ahead of the competition.
This also includes the 'products sold together' and 'customers have also viewed' sections, that could give you an idea of how expandable your business could be.
Checking out storefronts on Amazon can also give you an idea of what you could go for for your product idea!
You should always try and strike a balance between two factors:
- How much a product is selling via different sellers.
- How many sellers there are for this product.
If both of these numbers are high, you might want to avoid a saturated market.
If you find a product where the top people making a killing have got no branding, crumby pics, lousy bullet points, that niche could be ripe for the taking.
Product choice is possibly the most important aspect of selling on Amazon, so you really should be putting a lot of effort into choosing one.
Then, of course, it's time to fire an email to the boss himself and see what he thinks of your decision.
That's one of the perks of this course, you have pretty much unrestricted access to JT in these key moments!
Module 6: Bring Your Products Into Reality
One of the most overlooked aspects of bringing your product to reality is ordering a sample before you order a whole batch of 100 or 1000 pieces.
This can really save your wallet from going broke, and it's something that is crazily overlooked by a lot of Amazon FBA courses.
Once you've narrowed down your suppliers based on:
You can ask all of them to send you a sample of their product, and actually inspect it in your hands.
Samples are not cheap and you could be looking to spend $30-60 to get them shipped to you.
Another idea to run parallel to this would be also ordering a copy of your direct competitor's product.
Once you have both products in your hands, it'll be much easier to see where you can improve it, and if you can move ahead with your production process at all.
A good tactic would then be getting a friend or family member to rank the products without knowing which one is the competition and which one is yours.
You really want to make sure that you can turn your product into the best on the market.
Once you go ahead and you want to go ahead, you go ahead with manufacture and get them to send you a branded sample plus custom packaging.
In this way, you can then give it a professional photo shoot, that you will use on the site.
Another step, often skipped by other Amazon sellers, is the inspection phase.
You really want to see if the quality of your product is top notch.
Amazon doesn't require you inspect your products before sale, but it's highly advisable you do, before you get all those negative reviews.
The inspection usually gives you a report that is pages long:
It's conducted meticulously, and the inspectors know exactly what to look for.
The good thing is that, if they find something faulty, it's on the manufacturers to correct the mistake and rectify it.
JT suggests you use a site called QIMA.com, which specializes in inspections in Chinese manufacturing companies.
Module 7: Shipping Logistics
Ok, you've found your product, you've had it replicated in 1000s of copies in China.
What now, where do you get it shipped to?
To the Amazon fulfillment center, of course!
You will need to use a freight-forwarding system.
JT suggests Freightos.com:
Just like Ali Baba, Freightos is a portal, where you can ask different companies for a quote, and see which one will charge you less and take the least amount of time to deliver.
Module 8: Creating a Sales Driven Listing
This module is all about getting everything prepped before you get your product sent over and ready to be sold.
Mainly this will go through the stage of building a good listing.
And this not only means a listing that looks nice and has good-looking pics.
It also means that it is engineered towards scaling Amazon rankings and selling for you.
One of the first things you can do while waiting for the product to hit US shores is creating automated emails to your future clients asking them to leave reviews.
These are free, honest, organic reviews, the kinda ones you really want asap!
By following up with your customers you are also able to catch the problems before they actually become problems.
Not only is this greatly appreciated by customers, but you will bet your butt that you will create repeat customers through being nice and sending them follow-ups.
The most important thing of all, though, is obviously your listing.
Everything really depends on how cool that listing looks, and how eye-catching it is.
JT is super-thorough on how to go about the basics:
You won't need to google anything and you'll have everything set up in minutes.
Now let's talk about the important stuff:
When choosing the category to include your item in, check Viral Launch and find the category with the least amount of competition.
Next you're going to need to take care of the images.
These are fundamental, and really have to pop out of the screen.
There are photographers that specialize in Amazon/Ebay item photography, so you can refer to them for help on the perfect pics to use.
Customers buy your image more than all the copy you can put next to it.
After a great image, you're going to need a great title, and this for two reasons:
- It's going to attract the customers to your product.
- The title will be central in ranking your product on Amazon.
You want to make sure you have as many keywords as you can in the title.
At the same time, you want to err on the side of relevance of said keywords.
Don't go overboard, or you'll get penalized.
You should aim for top keywords couched in sales-driven language.
Again, Viral Launch will help you find relevant keywords once you put in your product description, and this will also help you create relevant bullet-points.
Creating your copy on Amazon has never been easier.
Module 9: The Perfect Product Launch
Once you are ready for your launch and the Amazon storehouse is fully stocked with your product, you're ready to take on the world.
As usual, Viral Launch will be your friend, and help you make things smoother.
The Viral Launch portal will provide you with a pre-launch checklist, so you don't forget anything important before pressing the green button.
For example, since you are going to be giving away the first products through a high discount to get those reviews in and rank asap, you want to be setting the Maximum Quantity a single account can buy.
Failing to do so could have someone buying all of your stock at 90% and reselling them himself.
These are all tips that JT gives that will help you create a perfect launch for the product.
Once you've launched a couple of products successfully, it's time to create your empire through an email list and a funnel.
You never really own a client that buys your product on Amazon, so if you really want to scale big time, you need a mail capturing software plus funnel creator like ClickFunnels.
You want to be selling a low price item so you can get your mail, and then start selling to your customers via email!
Create urgency, scarcity, and you should be good to go.
JT even provides you with his own funnel template that he has spent time designing.
Module 10: PPC and Advertising
Now that you've launched your product, you want to advertise it through PPC.
Amazon PPC is an advertising model in which advertisers pay a fee to Amazon when a shopper clicks on their ad (pay-per-click).
There are 3 Amazon ad types available:
- Sponsored Products,
- Sponsored Brands and
- Sponsored Display Ads.
The latter is a new and extended version of the former Product Display ads.
In these modules, JT does a great job going through all the metrics that you should familiarize yourself with:
Amazon ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sale) is a key metric to measure the performance of an Amazon PPC campaign.
Once you have created the first ads and have gained some info, you can use that to create a more targeted ad with all the data from your first campaign.
By using customer search terms you can create more accurate ads which will give you a lower pay per click rate and a higher click through rate.
Then it is a case of finding keywords with the best ACoS and you can run ads with those.
Again, Viral Launch can help out in finding new keywords.
Which is pretty sweet if you ask me.
By now you have probably learned more than 95% of people in the world on the topic of Amazon FBA and PPC Amazon Ads.
You should be more than ready to launch your product and see it thrive.
The Verdict: The Good & The Bad
Before I go on and look at the pros and cons of Travis' course, I want to reply to those early questions I'd set down, and that anyone reading a review wants to know immediately.
We've already put out a link to our favorite Amazon FBA courses out there.
But I have to say that this one was really enjoyable to go through.
Not sure if it's the best out there, but it's a revamped 2.0 version of a previous course, and totally up to date for 2021 selling.
I'd give it a shot if I was still interested in selling on Amazon.
I think the course does deliver on what it promises.
You have to put a lot of work into it to make it work, nothing is handed to you on a silver platter.
But it is taught in a clear and simple way.
JT Franco is super legit, he's the winner of two 2 Comma Club Awards, and he clearly knows what he's talking about very well.
If that's your doubt that's keeping you from buying the course, he's legit as they come.
And he's been around for quite some years now, killing it product after product.
The cost is $997, and for what you get in the course, I think it's a fair price.
Also, don't forget you have JT's private email and you will be able to contact him 1 on 1.
That's something not a lot of gurus do nowadays.
I'll be super straight with you.
If you want to start a business and market your product on Amazon, JT's course could be the right one for you.
However, these days I don't really recommend going down the path of building an Amazon FBA business..
There are too may variables that can go wrong!
Lead Generation, where you rank your own website, is a far superior model to monetize your skills.
Let me explain, keep reading...
Why I Quit Doing Amazon FBA... Lead Generation Proved to be a Much Better Biz Model, Here's Why...
I run a $50K+ per month lead generation business but all of my leads are generating through free traffic or SEO, not through paying Amazon ridiculous fees.
So it's pretty much passive income, I don’t have to worry about manufacturers messing up or running out of stock.
The website I create ranks on the first page of Google, in the so-called map pack, and the leads just start pouring in.
So, you see, it's passive income, I don’t have to worry about the performance Amazon's SEO or if my product is liked by the masses.
Once my site ranks it generally keeps its rank with very little to no maintenance.
Don’t get me wrong, you can still make a living on Amazon FBA, but it's a hard route very challenging to do so.
The problem with selling on Amazon FBA is that you are always thinking about how your product is converting and how much you are spending in PPC, while, once I generate leads for a client, I will always be earning passive income, while still owning the website.
How many people are clicking on your product, and out of those people, how many actually end up buying the product?
If things go wrong, it's back to tweaking, spending more money, or trying a different approach.
This is why I still recommend people look into doing lead generation with free traffic
JT Franco's Empire Academy 2.0 course is well executed, everything is there to learn how to create your Amazon product and launch it successfully.
Let me tell you, there are niches that work with this kind of method, but the problem is there are many niches that really struggle too.
Unlike selling on Amazon, if you know how to generate leads with free traffic, you can go into any niche and create an incredible level of results for clients.
You are basically helping local businesses find more leads and you really don't have to worry about Amazon algorithms and product appeal.
A lead always has appeal, no matter the niche.
That’s how 90% of my multiple 6 figure income is generated. And I should add that it's passive income: see, free traffic never stops.
In 2020, even during Covid-19, I continue to build more lead gen sites and I write at least 1 blog post a day for this site, because I’ve come to realize that these are the high-income producing activities because it directly increases my free traffic every month.
Click here if you want to know more about my Lead Gen method.