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.
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.
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 of two 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.
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 can get 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
If you want a job where you can be home-based, consider a spot on Amazon’s virtual customer service team
, also known as Amazon’s Work-from-Home Customer Service Associate.
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.
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.”
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.