Subscribe Apple | Google | Spotify | Stitcher | iHeart Living the Dream Overseas with Christine Gritmon Have you had a lifelong dream to live overseas and haven't made that happen yet? Maybe things have gotten in the way like family, jobs, life. My...
Ep43 Transcript: Interview with Jim Fuhs
Andrea Vahl: What’s an Amazon influencer? It’s something that my friend Jim Fuhs, a retired Marine learned to do at age 54, and in his own words, he’s making a full-time income for part-time effort. Let’s find out how Jim learned this skill and how it feels to get started later in life.
Intro: Hello dreamers. Welcome to the Late Starters Club, giving you the inspiration mindset and tools you need to start something midlife and beyond. Remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
Andrea Vahl: Hello Dreamers. It’s your host, Andrea Vahl, and I am so excited to be joined with a person I’ve known for a while through marketing conferences, Jim Fuhs, and he is now starting something new and exciting that I am so fascinated to learn more about.
It’s the Amazon influencer program that he started doing at age 54, right? 54. Is that when you started? Yes. Yeah, so welcome Jim.
Jim Fuhs: It’s great to be here, Andrea and thank you so much for having me and yeah, excited to be a part of the Late Starters Club because, you know, it’s never too late.
Andrea Vahl: Exactly. Exactly. And I love your attitude and the excitement you bring to everything and your bootcamp background. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you have pivoted into this new thing.
I’d love. Dive into that a little bit.
Jim Fuhs: Yeah. So to your point, so when I graduated from high school, I went to Marine Corps Bootcamp, went in the Marine Corps Reserve, then I went to college and ended up getting a Navy ROT scholarship and got commissioned in the Marine Corps in I guess I’ll say the year 1989 for some of those people that might be listening that weren’t born yet.
And then I retired in 2009 and retired as a lieutenant colonel and got to see the world and do all kinds of interesting things that really enjoyed. But part of that, not only going to Bootcamp, but OCS really helped me with discipline and, going into my post-military career, it’s like we’re trying to figure out what do I want to do next?
So I started out, at first I was doing government work and consulting work, but it just wasn’t what I really wanted to do. And so about 20 16, I started doing social media marketing. Probably how’d you go from government to marketing? I’ve always been a geek and I’ve always liked tech.
And I started seeing all these people doing stuff with, Facebook and other stuff. And when I really started looking, I was like I could do that. It doesn’t look hard. And actually I learned some stuff from you and Phyllis as well as Jim Gars. That’s got myself started, because we have to teach ourselves a lot of these things. I think, we’ve seen learning is to me something that is continuous. One of my big things is, try to get better. 1% every day doesn’t have to be in the same thing. And so learning marketing led me to starting my business, Fusion Marketing.
I started working with small businesses, doing social media management. But then I switched over and doing more of the live streaming in about 2018. I have a show I’ve been doing with my friend Tim Sohn, called the Tim and Jim Show, and I actually learned about that at social media marketing world, cuz back in 18, like everybody’s gotta go live on Facebook.
And I was like, if I’m going to tell clients to do it, I need to do it too. And then, , when the pandemic happened, one of the things where, you know, my military background of being ready to adapt and overcome helped me is people were looking for help with live streaming. . And I ended up starting to do remote production, which is something that I still do.
I’ve even done events for StreamYard and some other big companies. And I think it’s, it’s not going to go away. Even today we’re live streaming. This interview so that you can do stuff with the video. And I think it’s just so important that people need that skill and people in the Late Starters Club, if you haven’t gone live yet, you need to think about it, right?
Don’t be afraid. It’s a new thing to learn. But yeah, in 2020 and I think you may know Ross. . Put out the YouTube video saying, Amazon’s starting this influencer program. And I went and watched it and one of the platforms you could use at the time was Twitter. And so I applied and five minutes later I was approved.
And so I told my friend Chris Stone, I was like, Hey, we’re going to start a show. I, and we didn’t know what it was going to be yet. And so in a matter of a couple hours, we came up with the idea of Deal Casters, cuz we wanted to teach people. About, live streaming and podcasting and tech. And our tagline is Don’t fear the gear.
And it’s just been an amazing journey since July, 2020. We’re now working with companies like Shure and Hele Sound and we actually last week we actually just had a conversation with Roger Cloud from Cloud Microphones, and we’re going to start working with them as well.
Nothing that I ever expected to happen, but Chris and I had wanted to work together for a while, so Amazon became the way for us to do that. And it’s just been a lot of fun and, keeps us on our toes cuz things are always changing.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, It’s so great. I love the fact that you came from such a different background and now you’re in marketing, and I think that something that stops people is they’re like I’ve never done that before, or I’ve never, I don’t have a degree in that.
I don’t have a degree in marketing. I came from an engineering background. And I think people get worried that they have to have something official that gives them permission. To do that thing, and no, you just have to be curious and learn about it, and dive into it and start experimenting and then you get better and better.
So that’s awesome. I love that. And I want to hear a little bit and more about how the Amazon Influencer program works because you are basically showcasing Amazon products, is that right? And that’s what you’re doing?
Jim Fuhs: Yes. Yeah. It’s literally anything sold on Amazon. And it could be, as an example this mouse I have right here, is sold on Amazon.
So I could do a video about it or we could be on live, demonstrating the people that are watching the show firstname.lastname@example.org. Another thing that we do is we interview book authors. Cause guess what? Books are sold on Amazon. So why not? When a book launches have the author on talking about their book live the day of their launch. We got to interview David Meerman Scott when he came out with the latest edition of the New Rules of marketing and PR and Dr. I and Julia McCoy, when they came out with their book Skipped the Degree, Save the Tuition. So it gives people, if you think of like the look that dogs will give you sometimes, like when you say, would you like to be interviewed on Amazon?
What?? It’s like the differentiator.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. And maybe people haven’t seen that yet, but it is on Instagram, or I mean on Amazon, right? It’s there on the platform and it’s a way for people to get more information about that product. And then when they buy it, if they buy it, , you get a commission.
Jim Fuhs: That’s correct. Anywhere from 1 – 4% depending on the item. And then the other thing you can do besides going live is you get the ability to create both shoppable photos where you can tag multiple items that are in the photo as well as what we call shoppable videos. And so you can do a video of, you can make it as short as you want, but one of the things that we always think about is I want it to help you.
I think sometimes this idea of oh, I’m just going to do a video really quick of this item. It’s is that going to make me make a decision? And I, I like to say I use my my spouse test as I’ll ask her like, would this make you buy the item? And if she says no, then it’s okay, that’s not a good video.
And because there’s only about 3000 people on the platform and I’d say a lot of them, aren’t necessarily doing much with it. Like I know some people that have been approved and they, they haven’t done. They’re videos, yet they’ve never gone live. You think of YouTube and how much work it takes to monetize.
It takes forever. Yeah. Literally with Amazon, if you were to, go live later today, let’s say you got approved today you, you could potentially make money from somebody seeing your live stream and clicking on that product and your carousel that appears on Amazon.
it’ll take 60 days when you first start before the money starts coming in. . But it’s that, that simple and it’s that whole thing of, how many times have you gotten paid for live streaming on Facebook? ?
Andrea Vahl: I know You’re like, you’re totally selling me. I’m like, I’m going to go over, forget this podcast.
No, I .
Jim Fuhs: But it’s interesting you mentioned the podcast though, because. We do it as does our friend Jeff Sieh, see with Social Media News Live is we Multistream, and so we repurpose the part of the show and we make it a podcast of our interviews. And Jeff does as well. And guess what , because we’re using, like I know you use Libsyn and we use Captivate.
Our podcast is on Amazon music, so we actually put it into the carousel during our show as a way for people to, possibly subscribe. So it’s it’s one of those things that if you’re already doing a video, why not, take that ability, you could have products in the carousel while you’re having that conversation.
Could be talking about the microphone you’re using. Or the one I’m using and people can buy it while you’re sitting there talking about it.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. And it’s just a perfect way to just have a different stream of income.
Jim Fuhs: Exactly.
Andrea Vahl: If you’ve got an audience, or even if you don’t have an audience, it’s discoverable on Amazon. Why not just make some quick videos and get some affiliate commissions from that?
Jim Fuhs: Definitely.
Andrea Vahl: That’s great.
Jim Fuhs: Definitely.
Andrea Vahl: That’s great.
Jim Fuhs: Definitely.
Andrea Vahl: And it’s just a interesting world we’re living in. I think people don’t even realize all the different ways you can make money, cuz you’ve got these different silos of business and with your marketing company now you’ve got this, you’ve got, other things that you’re doing.
How are you balancing all that? Actually, how is that.
Jim Fuhs: I’m fortunate because one, because I did retire from the military, I always have that steady stream of, income on the first of the month. , thank you Uncle Sam . And then my wife is a freelance court reporter and she does quite well for herself.
She says, if I didn’t want to I, wouldn’t have to work. But I think, and I know you’ve mentioned it in one of your previous episodes, I think I would get bored if I did nothing. And so this keeps me busy. It keeps me excited cuz technology’s constantly changing. I love learning about that. I love sharing with people about that. And so I think the balance part is just realizing that, you don’t have to become a millionaire, you don’t have to, work, 12 hour days, 5, 6, 7 days a week. So I think it’s more that balance of. I know I need to take care of myself.
As we get older, . Things happen. It’s wait, that didn’t used to happen.
Andrea Vahl: And everything starts to hurt .
Jim Fuhs: Yeah. Everything starts to hurt. . And so I think that’s how I balance it and then with my friend Chris being a part of that, with us, really being a team.
Which helps as well. And so really we don’t spend. I’ll say, I don’t like to say numbers. I’ll say we’re making a full-time income on part-time effort. But it took time. We’ve been doing it for a couple years.
Andrea Vahl: That’s, yeah, that is great. And I would imagine that it’s just, being on the forefront of a technology like that, you’re building your expertise, your knowledge, your visibility, all of that.
Your audience is, you’re doing this and it’s just going to only grow. It’s those people on the leading edge of some of this technology. And that’s awesome that you’re doing it. . I love that you kinda make it feel simple to people, so that’s great.
Jim Fuhs: Cuz one of the things, and I think it just goes from being in leadership positions. I’m sure you were the same way when you worked in industry. You want to help others succeed. Whether it was being a soccer coach, . Little time or whatever. He wanted those kids to get better at playing the game. It’s the same thing with technology. How can I help you look better on camera? How can I help you, become a better speaker? I encourage people to do Toastmasters as an example. . And so I think with all this stuff, one of the things we’ve also discovered is Amazon’s really pushing, as an example for businesses to have videos on their product pages.
And so now that’s created some opportunities where we’ve worked with a couple companies where we’ve said, Hey, here’s where you’ve got some deficiencies in the way your product looks. Here’s how we can help you. So we’re even looking at more of, in a sense, being on the business side. Let me help you and you can do it yourself, because some of the products, I’m not going to do fashion, unfortunately.
Andrea Vahl: come on, jim .
Jim Fuhs: But those are the sort of things you can take a look at the analytics and start to figure out like what are the keyword words that people are using to find these products. And Amazon gives them some of that information.
But they also sometimes charge them a lot of money to go through their process. So if you can help them, it becomes a win-win for everybody. .
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that is really cool cuz I imagine, you’re coming up with new ideas as you go. That’s awesome. Now, did you have any kind of unexpected obstacles along your path here that has crept up in your way?
And how did you deal with that as you’ve been evolving into this new path?
Jim Fuhs: So if you’re talking like, since I retired from the Marines, it definitely had a big obstacle and that was I went through a divorce and that was definitely something, and I was in my forties at the time and it was you just don’t expect those sort of things to happen. Especially growing up as a Catholic, that’s one of those things you’re not supposed to do.
Andrea Vahl: And even as a Lutheran, my mom was like, oh no, we don’t do that. .
Jim Fuhs: Yeah. Dealing with that, dealing with having at the time my, teenage children and not wanting to, cause a lot of problems.
And so just going through that whole thing for a period of I’d probably say, four or five years, of that before I was finally able to get myself into a good relationship and then remarried. And that’s made a big difference I think, as well. And I’m going to say it don’t be afraid to go to therapy.
I think that helped me really come to grips with some things and make myself a better person. And I think that’s just part of that, continuous improvement, continuous learning. I liked what you said on one of the shows, I think it was about how you’re not just eventually going to be done and perfect.
Andrea Vahl: right? Yeah. I wish that were the case, but no, it’s a constant evolution, right? It’s a constant evolution, and I think that’s very true, especially in midlife as we are struggling with, we come up around that. Who am I really? And before you had these labels, dad, husband, you know this, that job related.
And when those labels get stripped away, you really are forced to come to grips with who are you at the core and what do you want the rest of your life to look like? So therapy. I’m a big proponent of therapy too. All the been to lots, so much therapy, so much and honestly, I think that’s why that is one of the reasons that my ex-husband and I are have such a great relationship now is we did lot of therapy.
So it’s a good. . Awesome. So you also I wanted to talk a little bit about the bootstrapping, cuz you, a thing I like about this influencer program is it seems like it’s very inexpensive to get started. Is that
Jim Fuhs: Yes. You can literally, once you’re approved you can actually go live on your phone if you wanted to.
Or you can use a product like StreamYard, which is what we do. You could be using your cell phone camera, you could be using Streamyard or some other streaming tool or just even go on the phone, but you probably got stuff laying around your house that you bought on Amazon.
Andrea Vahl: Oh,
Jim Fuhs: so you could start with that.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Something at the door right now.
Jim Fuhs: Yeah.
So it’s not like you have to go out and make this huge investment. And one of the things that we have learned too, as we’ve gone along is like maybe there’s something that you want and you see it sold on Amazon, so it’s like a win-win.
Like I’ll go buy this, I’m going to talk about it, I’m going to create a video. And in some cases it pays for itself in a matter of, weeks or less sometimes if you’re lucky. And I would call it luck. We do some research that we’ve learned to do. But yeah, so you can literally, I think it’s a great example of a program that you can bootstrap and if you’re comfortable on camera, that makes it even better.
And of course there are a lot of TikTokers that are doing this now but also folks that have good audiences on Instagram. And the other nice thing is what Amazon is encouraging the influencers to do is they want you to share this content on all your platforms because they want you to bring everyone back to Amazon.
Cuz some people don’t realize this, Andrea, but in Asia, live selling is a multi-billion dollar industry and I think we’re just scratching the surface here in the United States.
Andrea Vahl: Wow. Wow. That’s amazing. And I love what you brought up before we went live and you were talking about this is the fact that the younger people are on and they’re like talking about the TikTokers.
But the point you brought up is the buying power that people who are middle-aged and above like us have and the fact that they would probably be more comfortable buying from someone they felt was a peer rather than some young kid. I wonder what the age range is on the influencers that are registered.
That’s interesting to think about.
Jim Fuhs: I would tell you, because we’re in a couple of Facebook groups, it really is all over the place. You’ve got okay, older folks, you’ve got younger folks. You’ve got in some cases people that, it’s almost like they’ve created their own you want to call it production company, where they have a bunch of people they just bring in to do videos.
So it’s almost like they don’t even want to necessarily be the face on camera. Because once you get approved, that’s the other thing is your brand wouldn’t have to be, Andrea Vahl . You could change it into something completely different and so it’s more of, I gotta get that that social profile to get me approved. But once I do that, there’s really no rules that say, oh, and you can only talk about this stuff. You can get very niche helped a lady get started a couple years ago. She does art classes.
Andrea Vahl: Oh, fun.
Jim Fuhs: And so she’s teaching, people how to do this art stuff. And in the carousel she has the products that you need for the project.
Gerald Dean Wilkins is another lady. She does quilting. And she also does a show where she is talking about like live streaming tech. And I think with more of an emphasis of trying to help women that maybe are looking to get started with live streaming.
And then our friend Jeff Sieh, he sometimes does a wood carving show.
Andrea Vahl: Oh, cool.
Jim Fuhs: All these live on Amazon. So
Andrea Vahl: I would watch that. Jeff is a great.
Jim Fuhs: Yeah so there’s really, there’s no, there, there are some rules, right? Within, things have to be within reason, but if there’s products that are related to a hobby that you want to do, and it’s sold on Amazon.
I even tell people think about creating something like that because that’s going to catch people’s attention
Andrea Vahl: I love that because people are always struggling with how to monetize your art and that’s a great way to do it. You can blend those two things. You can teach about art, you can make money on the affiliated income on the products that you recommend. I love that. It’s so great.
Jim Fuhs: Yeah. Could maybe you could do a comedy show or you could teach people that would be funny. ,
Andrea Vahl: I dunno how, I dunno what you need for that. You don’t really need much to do comedy. You do like a bunch of notebooks. That’s what I would say.
Jim Fuhs: That’s, there you go. And some microphones maybe, right?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s awesome. One of the things I like to ask people too is if you could go back and tell your younger self one thing, what would that be?
Jim Fuhs: I would say to take more risk. , when I was younger. Even though it may sound like I took a lot of risk when it came to professionally in the Marine Corps, I think in my personal life I tended to be, afraid to do things.
What’s funny. My wife who we reconnected on Facebook in 2017. We met in third grade in Catholic school. The last time we had seen each other was our freshman year of high school. We went to different high schools, and I was afraid to ask her out because I thought she was there with this guy.
So those are the sort of things, I don’t regret how my life is turned out, but when I look back it’s why were you afraid to say something then. So I think for me it’s taking a little bit more risk. And of course we should have all said, Hey, when this Steve Jobs guy starts this Apple company buy the stock and don’t sell.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah for sure. For sure. I know there’s all that. Another question I’d like to ask is your views on getting older and, as we are in this second half of life or whatever, the third act, whatever people like to call it late starters. Has your views of aging changed? How has that changed over time?
Jim Fuhs: It definitely has because, I’ve got and I’m sorry I know you recently lost your father, , my father is, in his eighties and he’s, he’s starting to have some real struggles and I think one of the things, I look back when I remember him, when he was the age I’m at now.
Him and my mom both were not doing the things that, that I do, and I think you do as well. They weren’t thinking about exercise. They weren’t thinking about diet. My parents when I was growing up, they used to smoke like it was, no, tomorrow, and, at least they stopped that.
But I think only sometimes, right? Like when we wake up. Cuz I actually just ran a marathon in October, so I
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I saw that. That’s so awesome.
Jim Fuhs: I did do that. And I, it won’t be my last one. I’m just not sure when the next one’s going to be. But I think, we have to take care of ourselves.
It’s fascinating too, because I’m sure you’ve had the same thing. I’ve had classmates from high school and college that have passed away, and so part of it’s, we don’t know how much time we have, but I want to make the time that I have the best it can be. And so I’m real big on, I’ve completely revamped how I eat.
In fact, it was interesting listening to Tom Petty talk about everything he went through. And in fact, I need to share that website with my stepson who has that problem with his skin as well. But we did also get a tower garden. So we’re growing our own vegetables and, eating cleaner. I haven’t had sodas in probably five or six years. Because I think it goes back to I did have a period of time where I was on blood pressure medication. My cholesterol was borderline. But by making those changes, I’ve seen an improvement in my health, my energy.
And it’s funny cuz I don’t feel like I’m 56 years old. . . I really don’t. And I hope it stays that way.
Andrea Vahl: You and you do not. You look so young too. My gosh. 56. It’s awesome. And it’s, it is funny how we don’t identify, it’s hard to identify with that age, cuz I do remember the same thing when my parents were 50 and we had all the over the hill and the black balloons and people would kind of joke about that. But I really feel like such a vitality and excited about all the things and we have different time now we have to do things with kids being outta the house or close outta the house or way more independent or whatever it is. So I think it’s exciting. I remember someone once telling me that 50 is fantastic, 50 your fifties are amazing.
And I was like, oh, yeah. Says the 50 year old, that’s .
But it really is. It’s so great. So that’s awesome. And yeah. Congratulations on your marathon. Awesome. So good. Yeah, so one of the things I always like to wrap up with is a favorite quote or something that inspires you.
Jim Fuhs: Yeah. One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Braveheart, and I don’t, like I said, I don’t know if William Wallace actually said it, but to me it’s pretty deep and it’s “Every man dies. But not every man really lives.”, I think it applies to all people. I know he says, men, but also women.
When we look at our lives like, are we really living life or do we get caught into like the rut, right? , the people that work in the nine to five job and they’re just, they’re working and they’re working and they’re working and then they retire and then, sad thing is, you see a lot of times there’s even a statistic too that, like military folks that do 30 years, a lot of them.
Don’t live that long after they retire because it’s that was their whole life.
Andrea Vahl: Wow.
Jim Fuhs: Cuz they got so focused. And I think that’s probably true as well with folks like, I, like I even noticed to me when my parents retired because they didn’t really necessarily have a lot of hobbies. I could definitely see where that took away from that vitality. So I think living every day to the fullest, don’t dwell on your past. You can’t change that. Like even I drove up to to DC to watch Washington lose to the Giants. That’s not what I wanted to see , but I was like, that’s something when I was younger, I maybe wouldn’t have taken that time.
But it’s you know what? Let’s not regret things that we wanted to do. And I think my wife and I plan to do a lot of traveling as we get older and , sometimes the kids or the grandkids may not see us, but that’s okay. They can see us later. .
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. That’s awesome. And just, I love that you are doing that and making those intentional choices.
Cuz I think it is, we get caught up in this, like what we’re supposed to do or what society says we’re supposed to do or just the easiest path and the fact that you’re continually learning and, embracing challenges with, new technology and just diving in is a great example for people who might be scared and it’s wonderful that you’re helping people learn more about this opportunity. Love it.
Love it. Now, do you teach people how to become Amazon influencers as well?
Jim Fuhs: I did I just started a volley what do you call it? They have this thing like volley consulting. Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, where I’ve set up a link where I’ll give people asynchronous time into go over if they can qualify for the program.
If they’re in the program, we have I have another thing where I can help them review what they’re doing. , they’re not seeing the results they want. So definitely doing that. And then I’ve also spoken at some places. We spoke at PodFest in May. We did a full day event with a bunch of other , speakers and I’ll be doing that again at the end of January in Orlando.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I will see you there cuz I’m excited. Is that with Vid Fest or is that, I mean it’s the same kind of , same combined kind of events.
Jim Fuhs: Oh good. I’m glad to hear you be there. That’d be awesome.
Andrea Vahl: Yes. I’m so excited. We’ll definitely see you there. People can find you at Fusion Marketing with an F U H S Fuhsion Marketing.
We’ll have the links in the show notes for everybody. And then definitely for people if who want to learn more, check out your Deal Casters Facebook page. Where else are you on?
Jim Fuhs: Yeah, they can see what we’re doing on Amazon by just going to dealcasters.shop. We actually created a redirect to make it easy.
Andrea Vahl: Oh, good dealcasters.shop. Great.
Jim Fuhs: We’re on all the socials. , if you search for deal casters.
Andrea Vahl: Awesome. I’m so excited. Jim, thank you so much for coming on the show, giving us your inspiration and probably giving a lot of people some new business ideas with the Amazon influencer Program.
Jim Fuhs: Thank you for having me. This is great.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, and I’ll see you in January. Bye, everyone.
Outro: Hope that was helpful, and make sure you grab the free guide Top Tools for Late Starters on the website at latestartersclub.com and let’s turn dreaming into doing.
Join the conversation.
Let us know what you think about this episode.
Never miss an episode.
Subscribe to the podcast
You may also enjoy…
Finding New Motivation with Barry Karch Andrea Vahl: It's never too late to restart something you loved. My guest today, Barry Karch, started training for a marathon after a 20 year hiatus. And we'll also dive into how he climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest...
Andrea Vahl: Oh, happy new year. Yeehaw. 2024. All right. I don't know about you, but I love planning out my year and setting goals and really reflecting on how my past year went and being super intentional about what I want the next year to look like. In today's...
Hello, late starters. It's your host, Andrea Vahl And today is Christmas day. And if you do celebrate that Merry Christmas, if you celebrate some other holiday, I wish you all the best and all the joy for that. I just wanted to make a different episode. So today we're...