12 Ways You Haven’t Thought of to Make Money on Amazon

A woman holds an Amazon box on a sidewalk
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Let’s be real. We all know how to do some serious online shopping at Amazon — and even how to save money while we spend.

But have you considered making money with the online retailer?

After all, it’s one of the world’s largest retailers, according to the National Retail Federation. And we’re seeing it seep into nearly every aspect of our lives.

Sure, it might feel like one of those robots-rule-us-all situations, but with Amazon’s massive strides of expansion come money-making opportunities — for you.

12 Ways to Make Money on Amazon

Ready to start making money instead of spending it? Here are a few ways you can make money online through Amazon.

1. Sell Almost Anything on Amazon

A person flips through a book.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Got some products that need pushin’? Let Amazon customers take a look.

Listing items on the platform as a third-party seller can help you reach more potential customers — we’re talking more than 206 million unique visitors each month, according to Comscore December 2018 rankings.

Here are a few examples of items you can start selling:

  • Those stacks of books collecting dust in your home.
  • Private-label products, which are generic products you resell with your own unique packaging and logo.
  • Clearance items, eBay deals and Craigslist freebies you’ve hunted down. (This is a practice known as retail arbitrage — purchasing a product and reselling it for a higher price.)
  • Collectable toys you’ve found at second-hand stores and antique shops.
  • New clothes you’ve purchased off clearance racks at Target and other retailers.

Amazon offers a complete list of selling categories. Some categories require approval, so you’ll have to submit your request to list, then hang tight for about three business days until Amazon gets back to you.

There are fees to sell on Amazon. Amazon sellers can choose between two selling plans:

  • With the individual plan, you’re charged a 99-cent fee per product sold.
  • The professional selling plan costs $39.99 a month, and it offers a few more perks, including the ability to sell in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. You’ll also have access to more selling categories, including automotive, business, collectible coins, fashion jewelry, luggage or video categories — to name a few. If you’re operating under the individual plan, you can’t sell these products.

Using the professional selling plan also cuts out that per-product fee, so if you’re selling more than 40 items a month, it’ll be worth it to subscribe.

For each plan, there are other fees involved, too, including referral fees, closing fees and shipping fees.

Kyle Metzger, a project manager at The Penny Hoarder, made his way through college with help, in part, from selling books on Amazon. He’d buy books then resell them through the platform. Once a listed book sold, Amazon sent Metzger a shipping label. He’d package it and head to UPS.

To start selling on Amazon, create a Seller Central account. It’ll walk you through the listing process.

How much money you make selling on Amazon depends on how much you invest in products upfront, how much you list these products for and how many products sell. You’ll need to take the fees into consideration, too.

2. Join Fulfillment by Amazon

The first selling option we covered is considered “merchant-fulfilled.” That means you’re on your own figuring out inventory storage, shipping and returns.

If you’re looking for a more hands-off way to sell, the Fulfillment by Amazon program (commonly referred to as FBA) could be a better fit.

It’s similar to the traditional selling program mentioned above, and you’ll still need to create an account through the Seller Central portal.

The main difference, however, is that you’ll ship your inventory to Amazon, and it’ll store your items in its warehouses until a customer decides to purchase. This is great if you have a lot of inventory but little space.

Once a customer purchases an item, Amazon handles the entire process, from packing and shipping to handling returns and customer service inquiries.

So why wouldn’t you just opt for the FBA program versus the more traditional sellers program? The fees.

Although FBA saves you from logistical pains, it’ll charge you additional fees, including inventory storage fees. Say you have a used book that’s waiting to be sold. If no one bites within 180 days, Amazon will charge you long-term storage fees. Fees vary by size of inventory and time of year. They are typically updated annually, so you’ll want to stay in the loop.

If you’re not sure what your best strategy is, Amazon offers an FBA profitability calculator.

To find out how to make money on Amazon FBA, we chatted with Tyler Philbrook, who’s made some serious money through Amazon. He did $74,000 in sales through FBA in 2018, which equated to about $15,000 in profit. This, he said, was a result of doing it very part-time — a true side hustle.

“Don’t expect to make money for a while — several months, at least,” he says. “It takes time for things to sell, and you keep putting profits into the business.”

Philbrook also suggests finding a niche. His big seller is Funko Pops, a collectible. He’d never heard of these, but someone had suggested them. Now, they’ve made him thousands of dollars.

3. Work as a Fulfillment/Warehouse Associate

You can opt to work behind the scenes in the fulfillment and operations sector of the business.

It seems each day a new Amazon fulfillment center pops up, which means the retailer is consistently looking for part-time and full-time fulfillment/warehouse associates.

Often, these jobs require hands-on physical labor. Think: in a warehouse lifting boxes, operating dollies and/or retrieving boxes that might be on a high shelf.

According to recent listings, pay typically starts at $15 an hour but will vary by location.

You must be at least 18 years old to apply and need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. No need to submit a resume — just search fulfillment/warehouse associate positions, and fill out an application.

4. Deliver Packages for Amazon Flex

Two Amazon boxes sit on the front porch of a person's home
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

You know when you order a package through Amazon and receive it the same day? It’s not magic — it’s your friendly Amazon Flex delivery partner.

As an Amazon Flex delivery partner, you’ll deliver goods to consumers via Amazon.com, Prime Now, AmazonFresh and Amazon Restaurants.

Amazon Flex says you can make $18 to $25 an hour as a Flex associate, though that’ll depend on how much you’re able to deliver. It processes payments on Tuesday and Friday through direct deposit, so you should see your money on Wednesday, Saturday or both.

One of the biggest perks is that you get to set your own schedule, using the Flex app to claim delivery blocks (or shifts) you want to work. You’re an independent contractor, though, so you’ll be responsible for your gas, parking, tolls, etc.

To qualify, you’ll need a phone with the Flex app and a car. If you’re delivering Prime Now orders, any car will suffice; however, if you’re delivering for Amazon.com, you’ll need a four-door midsize sedan or larger. In some areas, bikes are acceptable.

The program recruits in various areas across the country based on need. If you don’t find your city on the list when you go to sign up, you can always join the waitlist.

5. Work From Home for Amazon

Amazon consistently recruits new employees across its platforms, but the work-from-home customer service jobs prove most popular with our readers.

Why? These positions are fairly entry level, and you can work from your couch. If you’re looking for something temporary, you can snag a seasonal gig around the holidays (think: Cyber Monday).

According to previous listings, customer service associates communicate with customers via phone and live chat to help answer their questions, solve their issues and ease their concerns.

Typically, requirements include a high school diploma or GED, a year of customer service experience and proficiency in English. You should have basic phone and computer skills as well as a fast and reliable wired internet connection. Otherwise, Amazon sends you the required technology, including a headset.

In the past, we’ve seen pay listed at $10 an hour, plus opportunities for bonuses. Training is paid — and online.

You can keep an eye on these types of positions at Amazon’s virtual job listings page.

6. Use Amazon’s Affiliate Program

Tapping into Amazon Associates, its affiliate marketing program, is a great way to monetize your website or blog.

Basically, you make money with Amazon affiliates by adding Amazon’s special affiliate links to Amazon products you’ve written about or reviewed, and when a reader clicks your link and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a commission. This is called affiliate marketing.

Here’s an example: You use a fancy new kitchen gadget and want to write a product review. Use an affiliate link in your review. When someone clicks to buy that awesome gadget, you’ll pocket up to 10% of the purchase price.

Realistically, you might not earn a ton of money through the affiliate program, but it’s free to join, so there’s no loss in adding these into posts you’re already writing and sharing.

7. Write a Book

Did you know you can use Amazon to become an author? Self-publishing a book can be a great way to earn passive income.

Amazon offers several options, including publishing to Kindle, print or audio.

Publishing a Kindle book is totally free. It also takes less than five minutes (not including writing time, of course), and your book will be available to millions of readers within 24 to 48 hours. You’ll earn up to 70% royalty through Kindle Direct Publishing. You’ll also keep the rights to your book, set your own list prices and can make changes within the book after publishing.

Publishing to print through Amazon’s print-on-demand service is also free. Here, you’ll be able to create, publish and distribute your book within a few days. You’ll still own your copyright, and you set your list price. You’ll also earn up to 60% royalties.

Finally, through Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange, you can publish audiobooks, which you can distribute through Audible, Amazon and iTunes. You’ve got several royalty rate options here.

If you want an example of how someone’s made money through self-publishing, take notes from author Steve Gillman. He took a few days to write about ultralight backpacking, a subject he was very familiar with. After publishing, he started making as much as $350 a month without any promotion. He said the sales eventually slowed, but they can continue for as long as the book exists.

Gillman had made about $2,000, when he shared his story in 2014.

8. Join Mechanical Turk

This might sound like some kind of weird video game, but Mechanical Turk is an Amazon service platform where people can post work requests for specific prices. Think of it like Fiverr, TaskRabbit or Craigslist.

Each task is called a HIT, or Human Intelligence Task. You can complete these tasks from home and in your own time. Some tasks include opinion surveys, transcriptions and data entry gigs.

How much you make will depend on which tasks you accept and how much time they take. You’ll see a pay estimate before you begin, so you can gauge if a task is worth it.

If you know what you’re doing and the best HITs to take, you can make some solid side cash — like online entrepreneur Michael Nadd, who averaged about $500 a month through Mechanical Turk.

He accepted a lot of survey gigs and averaged about $10 an hour. He most appreciated the flexibility of the platform — and the fact that he gets paid in cash, not gift cards or credits like most other survey sites.

Ultimately, Mechanical Turk is a great way to make money through Amazon without having to sell physical products.

9. Apply to Amazon Handmade

A person knits with red yarn.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Consider Amazon Handmade the Etsy of Amazon. It’s a platform for artists to sell their own products.

Unlike Etsy, though, you can’t just open up shop. You have to apply so Amazon can confirm all your goods are, in fact, made by hand by you or one of your 20 or fewer employees.

Here’s what you need to know before signing up:

  • If you sell under Amazon’s individual selling plan, you’ll need to upgrade to the $39.99-per-month professional plan to sell under Handmade. You might be eligible for a free professional selling plan if you sell primarily handmade products and no more than 40 non-handmade products a month.
  • Amazon charges a 15% referral fee (at minimum $1) per item sold. For context, Etsy charges a 20-cent item listing fee, a 5% transaction fee and a 3% plus 25-cent payment-processing fee.
  • Handmade products don’t show up in Amazon’s main search results. Customers have to click over to the handmade category on the site.

Approval to Amazon Handmade can take up to a week, according to Amazon customer support responses to online inquiries.

10. Sell Your T-Shirt Designs

If you’ve got a creative streak — or know a catchy pun or two — consider putting your designs on T-shirts and selling them through Merch by Amazon.

You’ll upload your T-shirt designs to Merch, choose a product type and color (e.g., a lavender T-shirt), set your price, then add a product description. Amazon creates a product page. When customers buy your designed shirt, you don’t have to worry about production, shipping or customer service.

You’ll also be able to set your own prices, and you’ll earn a royalty each time a product is sold. For example, if you set your standard T-shirt price to $15.99, you’ll earn a $2.21 royalty, according to the rates set as of Jan. 30, 2019.

Penny Hoarder staff writer Jen Smith earned more than $11,400 in 2018 through Merch. One of the keys, she says, is to spend time researching what kind of T-shirts people want. Smith had a lot of luck selling Halloween T-shirts, which she detailed at her blog.

Similar to Handmade, you’ll have to be considered as an applicant based on your background and experience. Smith applied for Merch by Amazon in February of 2017 and was accepted in May. However, she says the market has since become oversaturated, so it might take some patience. In the meantime, she suggests listing your designs on Etsy.

11. Link up With Amazon’s Influencer Program

Always wanted to be a social influencer? Well, Amazon has a program for that. (Of course!)

Here’s how the Amazon Influencer program works: You create a page on Amazon and recommend products to your followers. When followers purchase a product, you can earn money.

Really, it’s similar to the affiliate program, but you’ll use a “vanity” URL, one that’s easy to remember. For example, entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban has an influencer page at www.amazon.com/shop/markcuban. It’s memorable — and you get to see what Cuban’s promoting these days.

The idea is to share this URL across your social media platforms and accounts. The vanity URL makes it easier to share on Instagram, for example, where you can’t post an active link in captions.

To qualify for the influencer program, at minimum, you’ll need a YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account. Amazon will look at the number of followers you have, your engagement metrics and the type of content you post to determine whether you’re a fit.

12. Trade In Your Used Tech

An old apple computer, an old kindle and an old iPhone sit on a wooden table.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Did you know Amazon has a trade-in program? If you’ve got old items sitting around, including gaming consoles, Kindles, books, phones, tablets and smartwatches, Amazon will take ’em and send you a gift card in return.

Depending on your location, it can take up to 10 days to get paid in Amazon gift cards. (Sorry — no cash with this one, but gift cards are nice, too!)

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s still on the wrong side of Amazon… as in she spends too much money on the platform.