It’s hard to believe Amazon started off as a small website selling used books. The world’s largest retailer, with now worth over $602 billion, continues to grow exponentially, and some financial experts predict the company will soon be worth $1 trillion.
Amazon isn’t just your go-to place for online shopping, the company also produces TV shows and movies through Amazon Studios, and for $13 billion, claimed their stake in the grocery business with their purchase of Whole Foods in 2017. Amazon also owns Zappos, IMBD, Audible, Goodreads, and Twitch.tv, to name a few.
As the company grows, so has its marketplace for sellers, and because the company offers so many different services and products, they’re able to carve out unique jobs and side hustles for people who want to earn extra money, work from home, and of course, become a seller.
Real Ways to Earn Money on Amazon
If you’re ready for to explore ways to make money with Amazon, these are some of your best options.
1. Sell a product using Amazon’s FBA
FBA means fulfilled by Amazon, and as a seller, all you would need to do is ship your inventory of products to Amazon’s warehouse and they take care of shipping it for you.
Some merchants choose to ship out products themselves, in order to avoid hefty fees Amazon charges. There are pros and cons of doing this, but if your product sells in high volume, it makes the most sense to ship via FBA.
Out of all the options listed in this article about ways to make money with Amazon, becoming a seller has the greatest opportunity for you to cash in on extra income, but it also involves the most amount of research and uncertainty.
Selling a product on Amazon can be a great way to earn some extra income, but don’t start selling without first understanding what it entails. You run the risk of losing money if you don’t do your due diligence first. I’m speaking from first-hand experience on that one.
My Amazon Mistake
I’ve sold products on Amazon for the last year, and I’ve learned that research is a critical factor, before you start.
This was my biggest mistake. In a nutshell, I didn’t do enough research around the product before making a huge purchase of 1,000 units. After shipping costs from China were factored into the retail price, the product ended up being too expensive to sell (based on competitors’ prices), and I was forced to take a loss.
If you want to really learn about how to sell on Amazon, it takes a lot of due diligence, YouTubing, reading and talking to others who have been in the business.
The awesome thing about Amazon is the sheer number of potential customers that may click and hopefully buy your item. The downside is, you face fierce competition by other sellers who are doing the exact same thing as you.
However, the opportunity is still there, and I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to sell on Amazon and make money.
What to understand, before you sell
The competition to sell a product on Amazon is high. Who knows if the product you choose to sell will even sell? It’s a bit of a gamble, but once you figure out Amazon’s rules and oddities, it can be very lucrative, particularly around the holidays.
Let’s say, after doing your product research on Amazon, you want to sell an olive oil dispenser that you can easily source from Alibaba. Most likely, you won’t be the first person selling this item — not to say that you have to be the first or only person to sell something to be successful.
However, if you do start selling a high volume of them, chances are, another seller will see that and follow suit.
Something else to note is that many categories of items require approval from Amazon before you start selling. It’s called getting “ungated.”
Examples of products that need approval from Amazon first include groceries, jewelry and beauty, to name a few.
The process around getting ungated for a product category is hazy, at best. You have to send Amazon invoices for the items you purchased and intend to sell. For the first time seller, it can be a Catch-22 because you’re expected to have proof of enough inventory, but you may not get approved to sell.
At one point, I tried to sell grocery products and kept getting rejected from Amazon, without any reason why.
Because Amazon is such a huge corporation, talking to a real human often involves getting the runaround from overseas customer service agents who simply read from a script and aren’t very helpful. It’s just one of the many frustrations that come with huge companies, like Amazon.
Once you get approved and start selling, you won’t have to dedicate quite so many hours to maintaining the business. In my case, after we were approved to sell our item, we packaged and shipped the items to Amazon’s warehouse with individual barcode stickers on them.
5 Things I’ve Learned As a Seller
Now that I’ve had the business for about a year, these are my biggest takeaways:
- Sell an item that’s in the $30-50 range, and aim for margins to be $20, if possible.
- Make sure you have plenty of inventory at least 3-6 months before the holidays. Stock up, because your sales will (hopefully) ride the holiday wave.
- If you’re sourcing from China, be aware that China has a lot of holidays, especially Chinese New Year. Basically, this means China is shut down for about a month some time between February and March.
- Make sure you’re calculating Amazon’s fees carefully. Amazon’s cut is significant, from shipping fees to your seller’s subscription. There are lots of calculators that Amazon sellers have created, to help bring some transparency around how much fees cost a seller, so you can accurately calculate revenue.
- Similar to number four, calculate your shipping fees carefully too. If you’re sourcing from China, understand how the shipping costs will eat into your bottom line.
A friend of mine was able to find a source for a product he was selling, literally in the next city over from where he lived. This meant his bottom line was higher because he was able to avoid international shipping costs.
2. Private Label Your Product
In order to avoid some of the competition on Amazon, many sellers have opted to private label their item, which means they are registering it on Amazon as their own.
The process for private labeling is more complicated than simply buying an item from Alibaba and selling it.
The upside to selling your own branded product on Amazon is that you always have full control for your listing and you can make changes to your product, if you need to. Let’s say your customers complained about a particular feature of your product, you could then make modifications to it.
For example, let’s say you sold pencils, but noticed a lot of the negative reviews mentioned that they wished the eraser worked better, and that the pencil itself was wider, for better grip. You can then take those recommendations from reviewers and craft your own pencil and get it trademarked.
Check out this guide on how to sell on amazon from a 7 figure seller!
3. Retail Arbitrage
This is the opposite of private labeling. Retail arbitrage simply means buying low and selling high. Some sellers make their entire living on just retail arbitrage and have carved out a lucrative niche for themselves.
A lot of sellers who do retail arbitrage try to avoid the cost of shipping (i.e. shipping from China is very expensive and eats into your profits), so they simply drive directly to the location and load up on cheap items they think will sell.
Therefore, many sellers spend a lot of time cruising through their local Walmarts to find the best and cheapest deals on just about anything. They buy up as many items that are on clearance and then sell it on Amazon.
I heard a podcast on Side Hustle Nation where a couple made their full-time living on retail arbitrage on Amazon and made over a million dollars in sales every year.
Their strategy was pretty simple. Check out their local Walmarts and use an app to scan items to see how much it’s selling for on Amazon. (Here is a useful comparison oftwo of the best scanning apps Amazon sellers use.) Then, they use their knowledge of what’s been successful in the past to decide whether they think it’ll be a product worth selling.
This couple went to the Walmarts near their home so often that they knew all the sales managers and would often be given a discount for buying up all of the video games, which sometimes involved purchasing hundreds of them at a time.
Retail arbitrage isn’t for everyone, because it involves a lot of research and time to find places that are having crazy liquidation and clearance sales (there are even sites you can subscribe to that will give you the inside scoop on where to go for the cheapest liquidation sales), plus it will most likely involve driving to the retail location to pick up the items.
4. Work As a Delivery Fulfilment Warehouse Associate
If you’re in the proper location, you can apply to be adelivery warehouse associate for their fulfillment centers, sortation centers, delivery stations, Prime Now locations, Campus Pickup Points and customer service centers.
You can filter your search by full or part-time positions and by location.
5. Amazon Flex
Sometimes when I order from Amazon, I notice plain-clothed delivery associates delivering my packages.
Amazon’s same-day delivery option for customers has sparked a need for more delivery help in various metropolitan areas. If you have a reliable car and a smartphone, consider delivering goods through Amazon Prime.
The company currently pays anywhere from $18-25 per hour and you need to download the app and answer a few simple questions before you canget started. They emphasize flexibility and availability of shifts, but the downside is there aren’t always opportunities in your area.
I have a friend who does this to earn extra income, and he says he often finishes his shift a few hours early, but still gets paid for the entire five hours, or pre-set hours.
Of course, this may not be true for everyone who delivers for Amazon, but it’s a nice to know you can finish early but still get compensated for the agreed upon time.
6. Work from Home for Amazon
Virtual opportunities aren’t available everywhere but If you live in a certain area, you may be able to apply for Amazon’s “work-from-home” positions, given that you’re qualified and a right fit for the position.
The base pay is $10 an hour and full and part-time positions are only available in certain areas, however, you can filter your search by the work-from-home category and by location.
This is more of a seasonal position but has the potential to become a permanent.
There were all kinds of positions listed, such as customer service rep positions for those who speak a second language, other than English.
There are also non-customers service positions that those with a qualified tech background could potentially apply for, such as cloud tech account managers and technical trainer.
7. Become an Amazon Affiliate, Amazon Associates
Affiliate marketing is a brilliant way to make some passive income if you have a blog or website that generates a decent volume of traffic.
Become an Amazon affiliate and earn a commission by putting special affiliate links to various Amazon products on your site.
The idea is to promote products that align with your blog or website’s mission. So, if you have a website about how to travel efficiently, you may promote items such as packing cubes, sturdy suitcases or wrinkle-free clothing.
Each time someone who comes through your website clicks on the affiliate link, you’ll earn some money. You can earn anywhere from 4% to 8.5% of a sale.
Keep in mind that commissions are generally really low, which is why you need a significant amount of traffic to your site.
The more page views you have, the more chances are that the links will get clicks. No traffic means no chance that anyone will see those links to be clicked on.
Amazon offers a progressive earnings structure on the majority of merchandise and the more clicks and purchases you get from your site, the more you can make.
8. Publish an eBook on Amazon
You can self-publish an ebook on Amazon, and each time you sell, Amazon takes a cut, ranging from 35-70 percent of the listing.
I know what you’re thinking: me? Write a book? That’s crazy, I don’t have time for that or even know where to begin!
Writing and publishing an ebook sounds unachievable, and I haven’t done this personally, but I know a lot about it because I’m an avid reader of ebooks from Amazon.
I subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. Membership is $9.99 a month. It’s given me an opportunity to not only read the eBooks and learn from them, but I’m also able to see what kind of content resonates with others on the site, through reading reviews.
Over the years, I’ve learned that you don’t need to create a potential Pulitzer Prize book in order to get published on Amazon. Because it’s a self-publishing platform, anyone can do it, and many self-made authors have used Amazon to help strengthen their expertise in their particular subject matter.
You can write about and publish something you feel very passionately about. Many of the ebooks I’ve read aren’t very long either – a lot are under 100 pages and very consumable.
The quality of the ebooks I’ve purchased over the years is all over the place too, which tells me that anyone can do it.
If you enjoy creative writing or have expert knowledge on certain subjects, consider writing an ebook on Amazon.
As with anything you publish online, you’ll need to be proactive about promoting it and getting the word out and market it. Just because you publish it on Amazon won’t mean customers will constantly be purchasing your book.
You can use Kindle Direct Publishing (owned by Amazon) to get started.
9. Join Mechanical Turk
Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk, is a way to earn small amounts of money, completing easy, mindless tasks.
MTurk is a crowdsourcing marketplace that was created to bridge the gap between what a computer can’t do and what a human can. Amazon calls it “Human Intelligence Task.”
A Gizmodo review on MTurk said, “If you have a functional cerebral cortex, an internet connection and a few minutes to spare, you can pick up a handful of odd jobs and make a few bucks, pennies and nickels at a time.”
It includes data entry, transcription, categorizing, image recognition, to name a few.
You most likely won’t make a lot of money, but it’s easy to do and pretty much anyone who can do this.
10. Apply to Amazon Handmade
In addition to dominating the selling marketplace, if you make and sell handmade items, like bags or jewelry, you can try selling your wares on Amazon Handmade.
The marketplace directly competes with Etsy and eBay.
There are pros and cons to using Handmade. For one, the general reach is large, and their commission fee reflects that.
Handmade’s fees are much higher than Etsy, as they charge 15% commissions and a $1 minimum referral fee, while Etsy charges a 3.5% commission and 20-cent item listing fee.
Obviously, you’re paying a higher price for Amazon’s massive, worldwide audience, but your profit margins will be lower.
If you make and sell handmade items, you can apply to join Handmade, as long as your products fall under certain categories and must be made “entirely by hand, hand-altered or hand assembled (not from a kit) and handmade by you or by one of your employees.”
Their rules are strict, so make sure you check out requirements to be approved.
11. Sell Your Designs With Amazon Merch
I heard about this last year when my sister was exploring the Amazon dashboard and somehow stumbled upon it.
Basically, you can submit a t-shirt design for other merchants to purchase. It’s a great way to connect designers and people who need them to be made into shirts.
As with many selling caveats, it can be really competitive.
It probably won’t make you rich, and it’s possible you may not even sell any of your designs, but it also doesn’t cost anything for you to try, so if you’re creative and know how to make cool designs, it might be worth a shot.
Opportunities to sell a design may be closely tied to things that are timely or seasonal — remember those political shirts around the elections? If you have an eye for riding the trends and understanding what might resonate with people, on a shirt, give it a shot.
As with many Amazon selling opportunities, you have to get approved from Amazon before you can upload your designs.
Remember when the minimalist trend first started happening? People sold their homes and possessions and moved into a bus, tiny house, RV or van so they could hit the road and live anywhere they pleased.
That must’ve caught Amazon’s attention because they now offer a way for those people to make money, while on the road.
It’s called CamperForce and basically, you can earn money by helping Amazon pick, stow and receive merchandise orders.
It’s unclear just how much you can earn, but based on wages for other ways to make money with Amazon, it’ll most likely be decent. You can earn overtime pay and bonuses based on your time worked. For example, if you stayed on for the entire holiday season, you’ll receive a bonus.
If you go to Amazon’s designated campground to pick up work during the holiday season (from Fall to Dec. 23), Amazon will cover your campsite fees and may even pay for some of your utilities.
13. Amazon Trade-In
This option won’t earn you any cash, but Amazon is willing to pay you with an Amazon gift card if you turn in your used books, games and gadgets.
Selling your used items individually takes some work, since you’ll need to take photos, measurements (if it’s clothing, accessories, etc.) and write a description.
This might be an easier option if you have a lot of old gadgets laying around but don’t want to deal with the hassle of taking photos and creating an ad to sell them online or have a garage sale.
Basically, all you have to do is gather your items, and Amazon will give you an estimate of how much you will earn for it. It’s a convenient perk if you’re a regular Amazon customer.
Even though you won’t earn any cash, you can use the Amazon gift card to purchase everyday items, like toilet paper and groceries.
14. Amazon Vine
If you regularly use Amazon and read reviews, you’ve probably read one or two that says the person received a free product in exchange for a review.
Just like Amazon Trade-In, you won’t get cash if you’re a part of Amazon Vine, but you’ll get merchandise for free in exchange for a review.
Basically, it’s a program that’s only offered to people who leave consistent reviews for products, so not anyone can join.
If you enjoy writing about your experience with various products, and tend to get a lot of helpful votes from the Amazon community, you might be a good fit for Vine Voices.
15. Amazon Services
Are you a whiz at fixing a leaky faucet, landscaping, cleaning and organizing? Amazon has created another way to expand the business, through Amazon Services.
Similar to TaskRabbit or Angie’s List, Amazon Services connects you with local professionals in your area to help you with various household needs.
The list of services include plumbing, handyman, house cleaning and more.
If you are successfully matched with a customer who uses your services, Amazon will take a 15 – 20% cut of the transaction.
Whether it’s selling a product, offering a service or writing reviews, people are using Amazon for more than just buying products. It’s a great resource to earn extra money, or turn your side hustle into your main hustle.
Whatever you choose to do for more income, be sure to research and find out as much as you can.
Do you make money on Amazon using a method not listed in this article? Comment below and share it with the community!