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How Do People Make Money on Amazon?

How to Get in on the Amazon Action in 2021.

David Zaleski

August 23, 2021

Without a doubt, Amazon is one of the most successful businesses in the 21st century. The growth that they have experienced over the past decade alone is astounding. Their sales have skyrocketed since 1997, reaching almost $400 billion dollars in sales by 2020.

Graph showing the upward growth of Amazon's net sales and income from 1997 through 2020. Sales peak at $386.06 billion and net income peaks at $21.33 billion.
Source: Statista

Because of the nature of Amazon, there are countless opportunities for individuals and third parties to profit off of Amazon’s success. We’re here to show you how. We’ve divided these opportunities into three main categories. You can choose any one of the possibilities from these categories as a way to generate income by latching onto Amazon’s platform.


SALES

As an e-commerce company ourselves, this is by far our favorite way to make money on Amazon. What you didn’t know, I’m sure, is just how many ways you can sell on Amazon. There’s a ton of opportunities!


Create Your Own Private Label Business

Private Label is the model that most successful Amazon sellers use. It is user-friendly, doable from anywhere in the world, and requires no inventory. In this model, you essentially brand items purchased from a third-party supplier, keep them at an FBA warehouse, and then focus on creating optimized listings that will sell. 

This is an ideal model because you do not actually have to patent or create a new product, but simply do the research to find an existing product that sells well, and then find a white-label supplier. You can then make the product your own with quality branding, learn what it takes to get your listing on the top search page and gain success from there.

Man pointing to checkout portion of website. Caption "According to Jungle Scout's annual report, 67% of Amazon sellers take advantage of this model - and about 65% of all sellers are profitable in the first year. Using this model seems to be a pretty solid way to gain profits fast".
Source: Jungle Scout

Of course - we’re a bit biased here. This is the model that we use and that we train our students to use. If you’re looking to get started in this arena, check out our Amazon FBA Academy.


Sell Handmade Items - Amazon Handmade

While most crafters are drawn to sites like Etsy, some of these platforms are over-saturated and simply don’t have the same impressive audience as Amazon handmade does.

Amazon handmade is a great option for those looking to sell handmade items - they stick out on a website largely filled with made china products. 

That being said - it is more complicated to sell handmade products on Amazon than on other platforms, and they have higher fees (15% commission per sale plus the $40 a month seller central fee). This option probably won’t pay all the bills but could provide you with some nifty extra income if you have beautiful products to offer. 

In order to sell your own handmade products on Amazon, you need to go through the usual Seller Central registration, and then apply to become an “artisan.” Amazon’s standards are high, so your product must be your creation if you want to sell this way.

All in all, this is a good option to increase your audience and generate profits with your creative talent.

Amazon's instructions for becoming an Artisan and using Amazon Homemade as a seller.

Use Merch by Amazon to Sell Your Designs

Amazon merch is perfect for you if you’re a gifted graphic designer but don’t feel like mass producing your own items. Here, you can sell your own apparel and customized products (like hats, pop sockets, and more) without producing or storing any of them.

Granted, you are not going to make as much money on Merch by Amazon as you would if you created your own storefront - however, it doesn’t require a penny of startup capital or hardly any work on your part. 

All you need is the ability to design something catchy and follow Amazon’s guidelines for design uploads. 

You get paid royalties for each item sold, rather than gaining all profits from a given sale. Amazon has a set price for each customizable item, and you set the sale price to give yourself the maximum royalty (ie. if a t-shirt costs $15 and you set the price for $16 - you make $1 per shirt sale. If you set the price for $20, you make $5 per shirt sale, but may make less sales). 


Amazon's breakdown of how royalties work for Merch by Amazon products.
Here Amazon provides examples for how royalties work with a standard t-shirt (this may not be applicable for all designs)

Buy and Sell - Retail Stores

Buy and sell is a fun way to generate side income. You can do this one of two ways - by buying retail items and selling them on Amazon, or by purchasing items from other websites (like eBay) and then relisting them on Amazon retail store.

In order to make a profit this way, you need to track the prices of trending items and buy at just the right time, when they are on sale, rebated, or in low demand. You then turn around and sell them on Amazon when they are out of stock, in high demand, or the prices have gone up. 

This is not a new practice - people have been doing this on various platforms for years. The technical term for buying and selling like this is retail arbitrage (or online arbitrage). We found a helpful guide here for those interested in pursuing this option. It’s easy, but more time-consuming than some other options depending on how you go about it. It can be fun, however!

Remember when people were hoarding hand sanitizer and selling it for insane prices online during the height of the COVID pandemic? This was an extreme (and morally reprehensible, all things considered) example of retail arbitrage. While we don’t recommend taking advantage of a public health emergency for your own business profit (please - don’t do that), the model can be profitable when used for items that are not a public necessity (you know, like toys and dog dresses). 

Tweet from the middle of the pandemic complaining about hand sanitizer hoarders.
Source: Twitter

We found a helpful guide here for those interested in pursuing the Amazon seller option. It’s easy, but more time-consuming than some other options depending on how you go about it. It can be fun, however!


Go Wholesale 

Wholesaling on Amazon puts you in the same position as retail stores. You buy brand-name items in bulk, and then sell them at a marked-up price online. While this can be effective, there is a lot of competition. Frequently you will find yourself in a price war with other wholesale sellers, forced to take a profit cut to get the sale.

Wholesaling on Amazon is different from private label selling, but the process is almost the same. The major difference is that you are not creating your own brand on white label items, but rather selling an established brand. Your profit lies in striking a good deal for your own bulk purchase and naming a good price for your customer. You get the difference.


Write a Book - Kindle Direct Publishing

This option is definitely not for everyone - but if you are a talented writer, you can make some good money by self-publishing on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing.

The premise is simple. Find a trending topic that you are interested in and educated on, and get to work. Nonfiction books sell very well these days, as long as you keep your content short and relatable. Fiction works are significantly harder to get a good following with because it requires more than just expertise (ie. you actually need to be able to create a suspenseful plot, relatable characters, and have some kind of artistic flare). 

Whichever way you choose, Kindle Direct Publishing is a great way to harness your creative power and make money passively (post-production) online.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial if this sounds like something you’d be interested in trying.


EMPLOYMENT

Did you know that Amazon employs over 1 million people across the globe? If business ownership isn’t your thing, there are plenty of opportunities to partner with Amazon by working for them or using their platform to gain freelance gigs.

Graph showing the change in Amazon employment from 2008 to the 4th quarter of 2020, rising all the way to 1,250,000.
Source: Geekwire

Deliver for Amazon

Becoming an Amazon delivery person is becoming a more attractive option for the independent-minded gig economy worker of today. Their new program, Amazon Flex, allows drivers to maintain a level of control over their work that other delivery drivers may not enjoy.

You get to plan your schedule weekly (or daily) by picking the block you want to deliver to (or multiple blocks), and you can use your own car to do so. This flexible work schedule is great if you’re looking for some side income that pays well. Rates typically fall between $18-25 an hour!

Amazon's breakdown of how Amazon Flex works.
Source: Amazon


There is one downside to Amazon Flex. Some users report that Amazon assigns blame to drivers for practically any return or inability to deliver a package - even if you have done your part by the book. So be aware that you may have to endure this a bit in the beginning as you get yourself established.


Work at a Fulfillment Center

Map of the world with pin points across the globe. Caption: "Did you know that there are 110 Amazon Fulfillment Centers in the U.S. and 185 across the globe?"

Each one of these fulfillment centers requires hundreds to thousands of workers - and you could be one of them! Working for Amazon has become more enjoyable over the years, as they have increased their pay, benefits, and work-life balance for their employees. If you’re looking to profit with Amazon but want to keep a regular 9 to 5, this is the option for you.

The salary for an Amazon Fulfillment Center employee is typically around $14 an hour. Downside: holiday hours are always hectic.


Become an Amazon Representative

Another option for working with Amazon is to become a work-from-home representative. This gives you the freedom to work from home (not from anywhere, you’ll need a good internet connection, a quiet environment, and potentially a headset depending on which role you’re in). 

You could find a job in data entry, customer service, or administrative work! Most jobs pay around $15 an hour, so you can make a reasonable annual salary working from home for Amazon.

Find your fit here.


Love Camping? Become a CamperForce Seasonal Worker

Living your best life on the road?

GIF of man waving enthusiastically from the window of a moving RV.
Source: Giphy

Believe it or not, there’s a place for you at Amazon. Amazon’s CamperForce program is dedicated to retired RV campers who want to make the most of their time on the road by handling deliveries as they go. There are full-time and part-time options, and the benefits are surprising.

Amazon Camperforce details from Amazon's website.
Source: Amazon

If camping is your thing, this is a wonderful way to make some bank while you travel. 


List Your Services on Amazon Services

Amazon Home Services is perfect for you if you are handy. You can list your services on the app, and claim jobs as they appear. Have you ever seen the option to purchase installation or assembly when you bought a large product? If you become an Amazon Services contractor, you become that person.

Unfortunately, due to COVID, Amazon is not accepting applications for their Home Services department right now. Check back in the future though for flexible side gigs!


Freelance on Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk is Amazon’s version of a freelance website. Honestly, if you’re going to go the freelance route, MTurk is not your best option. That being said, the competition for jobs is not quite as intense on MTurk as on some other platforms like Upwork or Freelancer.com. There just aren’t as many contractors on board. 

At the same time, the tasks are usually relatively simple. The pay rate isn’t great, but if you’re just looking for some side cash flow, it doesn’t hurt to put yourself on MTurk and see what happens. 


MARKETING

Maybe e-commerce doesn’t appeal to you, but neither does officially working for Amazon. Creatives and marketers, look no further! You can find your niche with this company by leaning on your natural giftings.


Affiliate Marketing

Amazon Affiliate marketing is when you share your Amazon affiliate link with followers on your blog or social media channels. For those of you who enjoy writing and social media, this is an ideal option.

The traditional way of handling amazon affiliate marketing was to create a killer blog, saturate the page with advertisements, and get as many clicks on affiliate links as possible. Companies give you royalties for purchases that are derived from the unique link embedded in your site - and you also get money for the advertisements on your page as well.

As social media takes over and more and more digital interaction happens on phones, the blogosphere is slowly dying. If you’re looking to get into affiliate marketing, it’s better to establish yourself on a platform like Instagram, Facebook, or Tik Tok - and share your affiliate links there. 

Yes, we are totally encouraging you to become an “influencer.” But hey, if it pays the bills, it pays the bills! 

GIF of a teenager putting on sunglasses and feeling cool.
Source: Giphy

Start a Marketing Agency  

There are plenty of e-commerce start-ups who have all the expertise and energy needed to create and run their own businesses...but aren’t particularly gifted in the area of marketing. If this is your thing, there’s plenty of people who need your help.

You can make money by running social media campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok for other sellers who are doing the *boring* work of managing and scaling an Amazon business. When you’re just getting started, you can find gigs on sites like Upwork or Freelancer.com, and even reach out to brands on Amazon (with a portfolio, of course) pitching your services.

This is, of course, not recommended if you don’t already have some experience in the field.  


Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a full-time gig or a side hustle, there’s something for you at Amazon! Amazon is one of the most successful companies around for a good reason. They don’t just take advantage of existing opportunities - they create new ones. There are things like Amazon's trade-in program, Amazon associates program, Amazon affiliate program, and many more. Hop on board and find a way to get a piece of the Amazon pie!

Our favorite way to make money with Amazon will always be private label, Amazon FBA businesses. That’s our niche. That’s where we have found success. If you’re ready to join us and get started with your own store, book a call and we’ll get you started. If that’s not your thing - that’s fine too! The possibilities are endless.


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David Zaleski

David Zaleski is an entrepreneur, Amazon seller, and the founder of EcomHub. He's been operating in the eCommerce space since the age of 14 years old. At the age of 18, he started his own Amazon business with just $4,800 in start-up capital.

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