How to Make Money on Amazon in 2021 (even if you don’t have a product)

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Amazon is truly a powerhouse in the e-commerce space, and there are tons of ways for you to get a piece of that pie. This guide provides a comprehensive list of ways to make money on Amazon, complete with tips to help you uncover the strategy that’s best for you.

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Sell Products and Services with Amazon

The following tactics are all about selling. While selling isn’t the only way to make money on Amazon, it’s one of the most common, and there are several different ways to do it. Even if you don’t want to sell a physical product, read on. You may find a method of selling on Amazon that surprises you! 

1. Sell Products With Amazon FBA

FBA stands for “fulfillment by Amazon.”  FBA is beneficial to sellers because it puts the force of Amazon’s distribution network behind your products. To sell with FBA, there are a few steps you need to take: 

  1. Find and source your product. A popular way of selling products on Amazon is to use Alibaba or a similar platform to source items that you can then private label with unique branding.
  2. Become an Amazon seller. You can join Amazon Seller Central for $39.99/month.
  3. Send your products to Amazon. Ship your inventory to an Amazon fulfillment center so that they can distribute it for you.
  4. Wait for customers to buy. When someone buys your product directly from the Amazon platform, Amazon will deliver the order for you. You could always ship the products yourself to avoid extra Amazon fees, but FBA is the best way to sell products at scale.

If you can buy products for a lower price and mark them up, you can make money with Amazon FBA. 

Pros of Amazon FBA

  • Amazon handles the entire distribution process for you, eliminating the need to worry about shipping. 
  • Your products are hosted on the Amazon platform where millions of people shop every day.

Cons of Amazon FBA

  • You need to sell a physical product in enough volume to turn a profit. This can be a barrier to entry for some sellers.

To begin, register to start selling on Amazon here. Then you can sign up for Amazon FBA here.

2. Retail Arbitrage

Sourcing inventory from overseas means you’ll have to pay hefty shipping costs. Lots of sellers avoid this by leveraging retail arbitrage.

Retail arbitrage is essentially the process of buying inventory from local retailers and then selling them on Amazon for a profit.

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Go to your local Walmart, Target, etc. and search for discounted products. Then simply list those items on Amazon with a markup.

You could also consider online arbitrage. Buy directly from these websites and benefit from free shipping. But usually, the best discounts are found in-store. Ebay is another good source for finding cheap products to sell.

Pros of retail arbitrage on Amazon

  • It can be fun to source deals if you enjoy bargain hunting.
  • You don’t have to start with a huge inventory of products.

Cons of retail arbitrage on Amazon

  • Retail arbitrage can be time consuming to do at scale.
  • Retail arbitrage is a popular way to sell, and is therefore a competitive space.

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3. Publish Your Own Books

Are you a good writer?

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You can publish digital books through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). It takes less than five minutes to publish, your book will be available on Kindle stores across the globe in 24-48 hours.

Amazon lets you set your own prices for self-published books. You’ll earn up to 70% of royalties on Kindle sales.

You can also make changes to your content at any time.

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In addition to digital format books, you can use CreateSpace to publish physical copies of your book. Consider using ACX to create an audiobook that can be sold on Amazon as well.

Pros of publishing on Amazon

  •  It’s a great way to make extra money if you’ve written book(s) already.
  • It’s free to publish your ebook, allowing you to see your name in print without a traditional publisher.

Cons of publishing on Amazon

  • You have to be a fairly prolific writer to make money selling ebooks on Amazon.
  • You have to do all of your own marketing without a traditional publisher to help sell your book.

4. Sell Wholesale Products

Instead of targeting consumers, you can sell products in bulk via Amazon Business.

This is a B2B marketplace on Amazon. It provides business customers with special prices and the convenience of shopping with Amazon.

As a seller in the Amazon Business marketplace, you’ll have unique business features. For example, you’ll have the ability to accept requests for quotes. Amazon allows you to display different quality and diversity certifications on your page as well.

55 different Fortune 100 companies are Amazon Business customers. More than 50% of the biggest hospitals in the United States and 40%+ of local governments in densely populated cities buy from this B2B marketplace.

If you know a particular B2B vertical really well, you can move some serious product volume this way.

Pros of Amazon Business

  • You may be able to reach more customers than you could without the use of Amazon’s large platform.
  • The program includes access to unique features including the ability to offer quantity and business pricing.

Cons of Amazon Business

  • Amazon Business is best for established businesses, which may be a high barrier to entry.

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5. Sell Products Under Amazon’s Private Brands

The Amazon Accelerator program is an incentive for manufacturers to create their own brands with innovative products. You’ll sell those products exclusively on Amazon as a private brand supplier.

Amazon guides you through the entire onboarding process, providing you with useful tools to create your brand. You’ll also benefit from a suite of marketing support.

If you’re unsure about what types of products will perform well, Amazon can facilitate product testing and customer feedback.

For those of you with direct access to manufacturing, becoming an Amazon Accelerator brand can be a great way to make some cash with substantial margins through this marketplace. 

Pros of Amazon Accelerator

  • It’s great if you have an idea for a product but don’t know how to sell and market it.

Cons of Amazon Accelerator

  • You have to sell your product exclusively on Amazon, so you won’t be able to set up your own shop or sell through other retailers.

6. Sell Handmade Goods

There is a high demand for handcrafted goods. If you’re crafty and have a passion for making things at home, you can join Amazon Handmade.

Sellers from more than 80 different countries are selling handcrafted products via Amazon.

Amazon has an artisan-only application and audit process. This ensures that the products are genuinely handcrafted.

The pricing for handmade sellers is very straightforward. There are no hidden fees or listing fees at all. You’ll just pay a 15% referral fee to Amazon for each sale made. 

Pros of Amazon Handmade

  • You may be able to reach more customers than you could without the use of Amazon’s large platform.

Cons of Amazon Handmade

  • The fees may be higher than other online marketplaces.
  • You have to keep up with demand fluctuations for your product.

7. Create Custom Merchandise With Merch by Amazon

Do you have a clever design idea for a t-shirt or a coffee mug? Don’t have the resources to produce hundreds or thousands of these on your own?

Merch by Amazon can turn your idea into a reality.

All you have to do is upload your design. Then simply select a product type and color.

Amazon will create a product page for you. They’ll also take care of all production, shipping, and customer service. You’ll earn a royalty for every product sold that you designed.

There are no upfront costs to join Merch by Amazon. But you will need to fill out an application to be considered for the program. Not everyone will qualify. 

Pros of Merch by Amazon

  • You can express your design creativity without worrying about production and shipping.

Cons of Merch by Amazon

  • Fees may be higher than other online marketplaces.

How to Make Money on Amazon Without Selling

Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to capitalize on the e-commerce giant’s reach without ever having to deal with sourcing and fulfillment. These business models allow you to make money on Amazon without selling a physical product.

1. Affiliate Marketing via Amazon Associates

Leverage your existing website or blog by joining the Amazon Associates program.

This is a great way to make money on Amazon without selling anything. The program allows you to earn up to 10% in advertising fees from qualified purchases.

Examples of commissions by product category as of May 2021 include:

  • Luxury beauty and Amazon coins — 10%
  • Furniture, home, home improvement — 3%
  • Lawn & garden, pets products, pantry — 3%
  • Physical books, kitchen, and automotive — 4.5%
  • Digital music, groceries, physical music, handmade, digital videos — 5%

You can view the full Associates Program standard fees schedule here.

It’s easy to join and get approved. Amazon also provides you with a wide range of linking tools to embed on your website.

Since Amazon is so ubiquitous these days, you end up getting commissions on all sorts of random products that people buy during the cookie window after clicking your link. If you can build high traffic sites and get lots of clicks to your affiliate links, the earnings add up fast.

Pros of Amazon Associates

  • You don’t have to source inventory.
  • It’s easy to set up and get approved if you already have a website.

Cons of Amazon Associates

  • If you don’t already have a website that earns traffic, there is a high barrier to entry.

2. Sell Professional Services

Most people don’t realize it, but Amazon is more than just a marketplace for tangible products. You can also sell professional services through Amazon Services.

There are no upfront costs or monthly fees to join this program. You’ll only pay a portion of your revenue share for completed jobs based on the service type offered.

Some popular service categories include:

  • Apparel and jewelry
  • Business
  • Consumer electronics
  • Education
  • Events
  • Health and beauty
  • Home maintenance
  • Pets
  • Lawn care and landscaping
  • Vehicles

Both freelancers and registered businesses can join Amazon Services. So if you have a skill that falls into one of these categories, apply online to join the network. 

Pros of Amazon Services

  • You can reach a large network of people without a website or social media following.

Cons of Amazon Services

  • You pay a commission to Amazon, which cuts into your profits.

3. Work From Home as an Amazon Rep

You can get a job working directly for Amazon from the comfort of your own home. The customer service team supports 16 languages from over 130 locations worldwide.

Many of Amazon’s employees work remotely.

You can become a virtual customer service representative and do the same. If you want to help Amazon customers while sitting in your pajamas, this could be the job for you.

Amazon is constantly updating its Customer Service Associate jobs. Check this page to see if there’s a full-time or part-time job you meet the qualifications for. Then simply apply online.

Pros of working as an Amazon representative

  • You may have access to Amazon’s employee benefits like a 401k and healthcare.
  • You can work from home either part or full time.

Cons of working as an Amazon representative

  • You will have to apply for the job, and not everyone will meet the qualifications.’

4. Deliver With Amazon Flex

You’ve probably realized by now that Amazon runs its own delivery service. I’m sure you’ve seen drivers delivering packages around your neighborhood and even to your own door.

If you’re looking for a part-time job, you can become one of those drivers through Amazon Flex.

The majority of drivers earn between $18-$25 per hour. All of your earnings can be tracked through the Amazon Flex mobile app.

As the name implies, the position is flexible. Create your own schedule with available opportunities seven days per week. 

Pros of Amazon Flex

  • You create your own schedule and only take work that you want, making it highly flexible.

Cons of Amazon Flex

  • You need to have your own reliable car with appropriate insurance in order to make deliveries.

5. Trade In Used Goods

Technically, trading in your used products won’t put cash in your pocket. However, you’ll receive an Amazon gift card which is almost as good.

There are thousands of eligible products that qualify for Amazon’s trade-in program.

Top categories include:

  • Amazon products (Kindle, tablets, Echo, etc.)
  • Cell phones
  • Gaming
  • Books

If you have unwanted merchandise lying around the house, see if it’s eligible for a trade-in via Amazon. 

Pros of Amazon Trade-In

  • You can get rid of old stuff you no longer want.
  • You may be able to get discounts towards a future Amazon purchase in addition to an Amazon gift card.

Cons of Amazon Trade-In

  • You don’t get cash for your items, so you’ll have to spend your earnings on Amazon.

6. Join Mechanical Turk

Mechanical Turk (MTurk for short) is Amazon’s crowdsourcing marketplace.

The platform allows businesses and individuals to outsource tasks and processes to a virtual workforce. Things like data validation, content moderation, data entry, research, and surveys fall into this category.

If you have the time, ability, and resources to perform microtasks, then consider joining MTurk. Many tasks will earn between $0.10 and $1. They’re pretty easy to complete, so the goal is to complete as many as you can.

Some of the tasks are pretty boring and tedious. But you can work part-time on your own schedule and get paid for it.  

Pros of Mechanical Turk

  • Tasks are usually easy to complete.
  • You can often perform tasks on your own schedule.

Cons of Mechanical Turk

  • It can be difficult to scale.
  • The pay for most tasks is very low, so you have to do lots of tasks to grow your earnings.

7. Write Reviews For Amazon Vine

This is another example where you won’t actually receive any cash for participation. Amazon Vine rewards you with free products.

If you’ve already written lots of helpful reviews for products on Amazon, you could be eligible for the Amazon Vine program.

The purpose of Amazon Vine is to encourage honest, unbiased, and helpful feedback. Products are sent for free in exchange for reviews.

You’re not required to leave a favorable review just because you got the product for free. That defeats the purpose of the program. The best way to increase your chances of getting invited to Amazon Vine is by leaving reviews for Amazon products you’ve already purchased. 

Pros of Amazon Vine

  • If you already leave lots of Amazon reviews, you could be rewarded with free products.

Cons of Amazon Vine

  • The program is by invitation only, so it is difficult to get in.
  • You won’t earn actual cash from the program.

8. Become an Influencer

Amazon Influencers is another affiliate program. But it’s different than the Amazon Associates program we talked about earlier.

The influencer program is designed to promote products via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It’s a great opportunity to leverage your existing social following.

If you become an approved influencer, Amazon will give you a unique URL to your own Amazon page. The page will showcase products that you want to recommend to your followers. You’ll earn a commission for qualifying purchases.

Pros of Amazon Influencers

  • You can earn product commissions from your followers even when they don’t click an affiliate link (great for platforms like Instagram that don’t always allow you to share links).

Cons of Amazon Influencers

  • You need to have a large following on a popular social media platform in order to be considered for the program.

9. Sign up for Amazon CamperForce

This option definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s a unique way to make money on Amazon while living life on your own terms. Amazon’s CamperForce hires RV’ers for seasonal rushes in their warehouses across the country. If you’re living life on the road but need some extra cash, consider joining CamperForce to work either part or full time as a picker, shipper, or packer with Amazon.

Pros of Amazon CamperForce

  • As a CamperForce employee, you’ll receive a host of Amazon benefits including medical coverage and a 401(k).
  • CampPay: Amazon will pay you $120 weekly towards your campground expenses.
  • You can make extra money while living a highly flexible lifestyle.

Cons of Amazon CamperForce

  • The warehouse jobs can be physically demanding.
  • This program is for a very specific group of people and may not be applicable to you.

Bonus: Create a Course to Help Other Amazon Sellers

Do you already have a profitable business making money on Amazon? If so, you may be able to share your knowledge and experience with paying customers. Creating an online course and consulting with clients are two of our favorite business models because they have low overhead and the ability to earn serious money. If you’re an Amazon expert, why not create a course to help others become one, too?

With so many options to choose from, you can get started with your Amazon side hustle today.

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