With a ton of ways for people to make money, Amazon is at the center of lots of side hustles these days.
The innovative—if not controversial—Seattle company still has its core retail business, but has expanded in many different directions. For entrepreneurs, side hustlers, and everyone else looking to earn some extra cash, Amazon probably has an option for you.
In fact, I have several Amazon-related income streams myself!
It’s the 4th most popular website in the country, and 13th most popular in the entire world. That means there’s a huge volume of traffic–and buyers–visiting every day.
Let’s dive in and explore some of the many ways to make money on Amazon.
1. Retail Arbitrage
Retail arbitrage is a classic “buy low, sell high” business model.
How it works is you find products at deep discounts locally, and resell them on Amazon for a profit. If you want, Amazon will even handle the shipping for you through their Fulfillment by Amazon program.
To get started, you need three things:
- An Amazon Seller Account — Start with a free Personal account. Once you’re selling more than 40 items a month, upgrade to the Professional account level.
- The Amazon Seller app — Available on iOS and Android for free.
- A few dollars to buy your initial inventory.
The next time you’re out shopping, stop by the clearance section and get scanning.
The app will tell you what the item is going for on Amazon, and what you’d earn after fees for selling it. Then you can look at the price tag in front of you and see if that’s a worthwhile purchase.
The other thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the item’s “sales rank.” This is an indicator of how popular the item is, or how fast it’ll sell. The lower the number the better, but generally speaking, a sales rank under 100,000 will typically sell pretty quickly.
My Results and Next Steps
I tested this side hustle myself and earned a little over $650 in my spare time.
Jessica Larrew and her husband Cliff have been reselling on Amazon for years. And though it started as a part-time side hustle, it turned into a serious business–they’ve sold more than $1 million worth of stuff on Amazon!
I sat down with Jessica to learn:
- her favorite places to shop
- the product categories she likes
- what she looks for
- and how the whole process works
Jessica also has a free 7-day email course to dive deeper into this business model and see if it’s right for you.
Related: The Amazon Seller app is one of my top money making apps of the year. Check the link for dozens more you might not have heard of yet.
2. Online Arbitrage
Online arbitrage works similarly, except instead of sourcing your inventory from local stores, you buy it online.
Now why would one website sell a product for a dramatically lower price than Amazon? It’s hard to say, but it happens.
If you have a keen eye for deals, you can source profitable inventory. Plus, you can usually find more of a profitable item than you could in your local store.
Now you probably have better things to do than scour the ends of the Internet comparing prices on random products. But if you’re thinking, that’s probably a job a robot could do, you’d be right.
There are a couple software tools to help find these deals, and both offer free trials to test them out. Jessica’s current favorite is Source Mogul, while another Amazon seller, Chris Grant, recommended Tactical Arbitrage.
Tactical Arbitrage has more advanced features, but Jessica prefers Source Mogul’s clean and easy-to-use interface.
When we spoke, Chris was making around $70,000 in sales a month, aiming for a 20-30% profit margin. You can check out our full Amazon online arbitrage conversation here, or download episode 459 of The Side Hustle Show on your favorite podcast app.
3. Reselling Books on Amazon
Another popular side hustle on Amazon is reselling used books.
This is an easy one to get started with. You can use an app like Bookscouter to scan the ISBN barcodes on books to see what they’re selling for on Amazon.
(Serious book flippers like Charlie William — who earns up to $4k a month — recommend the faster ScoutIQ app.)
Like retail arbitrage, it can be a bit of a needle-in-the-haystack search. Because if we’re being honest, most used books are practically worthless. Every other house in the country has a stack of Harry Potters lying around too; they’re not exactly hard to come by on the supply-and-demand curve.
But certain books command a premium, even as used copies. Those are usually textbooks, out-of-print guides, or other rare editions.
Check local garage sales, thrift stores, or your library bookstore to see if anything turns up. The cool thing here is that your cost of acquiring inventory will likely be super low; books are often priced at $1 or less at garage sales.
4. Amazon Associates
A slow and steady income stream for me over the years has been Amazon Associates, Amazon’s affiliate marketing program.
If you have a website or blog, you can make money referring readers to Amazon for products you talk about. Your commission will range from 1-10% depending on what you sell, but can add up to a significant amount.
The best part of Amazon’s affiliate program isn’t the commission rate though—it’s actually kind of low compared to other affiliate programs. The best parts are the high conversion rate and how you’ll earn commission on everything someone buys after they click your link.
I’ve earned commission on some pretty random stuff over the years!
Suggested Playlist: Affiliate Marketing
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5. Amazon Influencer Program
One of the newest ways to make money on Amazon is as an Amazon Influencer. This is an offshoot of the Associates program designed for content creators with a following on social media.
Once your Influencer account is approved, you’ll be able to upload short product review videos.
In turn, Amazon displays those on the relevant product pages, and rewards you a commission when someone makes a purchase after watching your video.
I made a little over $100 doing this in my first month, with very little effort!
6. Amazon Merch on Demand
The Amazon Merch on Demand program is a cool way to make extra money without any physical inventory at all. How it works is you upload your designs and Amazon does the rest. They’ll print and ship the items to customers on your behalf.
Even though “print-on-demand” services like this have been around since the late 1990s, none have ever had the reach or built-in customer base of Amazon. You can make t-shirts, long-sleeve t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, PopSockets, and more.
I met with Elaine Heney of Ireland, who sold over $125,000 worth of shirts in her first full year as a part-time Merch seller. Of that, a little over $50k was profit.
Despite working on the business 10-20 hours a week, she did go “all in” and created thousands of designs. What sells well? She said her work falls into 3 main categories:
- Evergreen Topics – Professions, family roles, sports, hobbies, etc.
- Trending Topics – Current events and topics from the news. (Elaine shared that one of biggest sellers was an anti-Trump t-shirt.)
- Seasonal Topics – Holidays like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Halloween, Father’s Day, etc.
My Results and Next Steps
Since chatting with Elaine, my wife and I have made over $4000 very part-time from this program.
We’ve played around with designs in all three of these categories. For evergreen topics, we made shirts targeting entrepreneurs, parents, and yoga lovers. For trending topics, one of our bestsellers was related to the 2017 eclipse. On the seasonal ones, designs for Mother’s Day and Halloween have done well.
And I should clarify, I’m using the term “designs” pretty loosely. Almost all our designs are 100% text-based. We build them in PowerPoint, Canva or Wordswag. Don’t overthink it.
7. Amazon Trade-In Program
Did you know Amazon will pay you for used books, DVDs, Kindle devices, tablets, cell phones, and other products?
Amazon’s official “Trade-In” program pays you in Amazon gift credit for your merchandise. It’s not quite cash, but given how much and how frequently we buy from Amazon, it won’t be hard to use it!
The cool part is they give you a free pre-paid USPS or UPS shipping label too, so all you have to do is package up the item and send it off. It’s easier than eBay, because you don’t have to take pictures, wait around for an auction to end, or deal with flaky buyers.
Don’t expect to get rich from this program though. For example, my copy of The Office Season 1 was eligible for a whopping $0.25 in Amazon credit.
Still, definitely worth looking into for sure if you have some old DVDs, video games, books, or electronics lying around collecting dust. If you’re in the mood to purge, check out what your items are worth to Amazon!
8. Amazon Handmade
After seeing the success of Etsy, Amazon of course had to get a piece of the pie in the “handcrafted” goods market. Their entry is called Amazon Handmade–and is open to sellers by application only.
The Handmade program is open to Artisans who make:
- Baby Products
- Beauty & Personal Care Products
- Shoes & Handbags
- Home Products
- Outdoor & Home Care
- Jewelry & Watches
- Kitchen & Dining Products
- Pet Supplies
- Sporting Goods
- Stationery & Party Supplies
- Toys & Games
You can still set your own prices and control the branding and messaging on your sales pages. You can fulfill orders yourself, or take advantage of Amazon’s FBA program.
Amazon takes a 15% cut from every sale, which is a bit higher than Etsy. But despite the popularity of Etsy, it still doesn’t have near the reach that Amazon does.
If you’re already selling handmade goods offline or on Etsy, it might make sense to apply and see if you can earn any incremental sales.
9. Kindle Books
Amazon’s Kindle platform has empowered thousands of authors to take the plunge and self-publish their work to the world.
In fact, there are now over 6 million Kindle titles available for sale. (A few of those are mine!)
Self-publishing is one of my favorite and longest-running side hustles. I published my first book in 2012 and have been adding to my author portfolio and earning royalty income ever since.
Kindle authors make money on Amazon in a couple ways. The first is your author royalty when someone buys your book. For books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, you earn 70% of the purchase price. For books priced outside that range, you earn just 35%.
Think of it as Amazon’s gentle way of telling you how much a book should cost!
The second way Kindle authors make money is when readers borrow your book through the Kindle Unlimited program. It tends to work best for fiction authors, as readers will often devour several books in a row if they like your work.
My Results and Next Steps
If you’re part of the 80% of the population who say they want to write a book, it’s never been easier to get it done.
Getting people to read it though, that’s the challenge. My writing process generally looks like this:
- Brain dump / mind map / outline
- Work in sections to complete the draft
- Editing and formatting
Once you’re ready, you can upload your work to Amazon through the KDP dashboard.
10. KDP Print Books
If you’re already creating a Kindle book, it probably makes sense to add a paperback version as well. Thankfully, Amazon has this covered with an in-house print-on-demand service called KDP Print.
This is a way to make extra money on Amazon from your self-publishing efforts. Instead of a flat author royalty, print books earn a 60% royalty before deducting printing costs.
For instance, The Progress Journal, my latest book, costs $9.99. That puts my initial royalty on every sale at $5.99. At 171 pages, it costs $2.90 to print each copy (printing costs vary based on length and interior color). Subtracting that printing cost, I make around $3.09 for every copy that sells.
Related: Creating and Launching a KDP Print Journal: The Making of The Progress Journal
Rounding out our ways to make money on Amazon from your own books is creating an audiobook edition of your work. Not every title is well-suited to this format, but it can be nice source of incremental royalties.
Plus, some readers just prefer to consume content by listening to it, so by skipping the audio version, you’re missing out. It also makes your Amazon listing page for your book look more legit when you have all three formats available.
To make it easy for authors to create audiobooks, Amazon created the Audiobook Creation Exchange, or ACX. There, you can find narrators to produce your book for you, or upload your files if you’re doing it yourself.
For professional narrators, you can either pay a flat fee, or you can get the book produced for free in exchange for a share of future royalties. I think that’s a cool option to get your audiobook out there and share the profits when it sells.
ACX royalties are a little complex, but self-published authors generally earn 20%-40% royalties.
Related: An Audible subscription made my list of the top gift ideas for entrepreneurs.
12. ACX Voice Over Acting
As you might have guessed from the audiobook section above, there’s another way to make money from audiobooks on Amazon without writing anything yourself.
That method is as an audiobook narrator and producer. If you love the idea of getting paid to talk, know your way around audio engineering equipment and software, it could be a fun side hustle.
13. Selling Private Label Products on Amazon
Within the Amazon gold rush of the last several years, private labeling has gotten a lot of attention. This practice allows individual entrepreneurs to create our own branded products to sell on Amazon.
In fact, more than half of Amazon’s inventory actually belongs to third-party sellers like you and me.
If you aren’t a natural inventor, the process usually works like this:
- Identify simple-to-manufacture products that are already selling.
- Check the reviews to see what people don’t like about them (optional).
- Find a manufacturer to produce a similar or better product, usually via Alibaba.
- Create your own brand name and packaging.
- Make a bulk order, send in your inventory, and compete with the existing products on Amazon.
The downside is private labeling is a capital-intensive business. You’re taking a lot of risk in purchasing (often) $1000 or more worth of inventory upfront. The landscape is competitive.
That said, when you find a product that hits, it can be tough to keep it in stock. I’ve seen people grow some pretty serious e-commerce operations in a really short time with this business model.
Where most would-be sellers get hung up is the very beginning: coming up with a product idea.
Greg Mercer is a 7-figure Amazon seller and creator of the market-leading product research software Jungle Scout.
He joined me on The Side Hustle Show to share his top 3 private label product research strategies.
Dan Meadors began selling on Amazon using the retail arbitrage strategy mentioned above. He and his partner started with an original investment of only $600, and have since sold over $13 million worth of merchandise on Amazon!
They would work nights and weekends buying products on clearance at local retail stores and selling them on Amazon for profit.
It took only a few months before they saw the potential to turn this hobby into a business and they both left their day jobs to sell on Amazon full-time. Dan saw wholesaling as an opportunity to scale up revenue faster.
He defined wholesaling as “Purchasing directly from a wholesale company or the manufacturer of a given product for the purposes of resale.”
So instead of approaching a factory, ordering samples, and arranging your own packaging as you would with private labeling, wholesaling involves approaching the manufacturer and offering to help them sell their products.
Based on what Dan told me, it sounds like wholesaling on Amazon may carry less risk than private labeling. Your upfront investment is likely lower, and you’ll probably end up spending less on marketing and product giveaways to seed reviews.
You’ll need a resale certificate to get started with, issued by your state. Next, you can begin reaching out to brands you see that have a less-than-optimized presence on Amazon.
15. Amazon Alexa Skills
There are a couple ways side hustlers can make money with Amazon’s popular Echo devices.
The first is like Apple’s app store. You can build special Alexa voice apps, called “skills.”
As a skill developer, you can set your own price and earn 70% of the revenue when users buy it. For example, Nick Schwab created an ambient noise skill, and now has 10,000 paying customers for a premium subscription version.
Second, Amazon also has a rewards program to encourage developers to build skills. Your rewards are based on the popularity and engagement of your skill, but some developers earn thousands of dollars a month.
16. Make Money on Mechanical Turk
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is an interesting crowdsourced labor platform. It specializes primarily in really low skill tasks, but ones that still require a human eye. (In fact, each task is called a HIT, a Human Intelligence Task.)
Because of the low skill required, these tasks often pay next to nothing, usually starting at a few cents. Many of the workers are overseas where the costs of living are lower, but the platform is open to US workers as well.
It honestly wouldn’t be my first choice of side hustles, but it is an option. In fact, Mike Naab reported earning over $50,000 on Mechanical Turk in his spare time. He averaged around $0.25 a task, and said once your account history levels up a bit, better paying HITs become available.
If you like the idea of getting paid to complete short surveys and tasks, these apps are worth a look, too.
- Swagbucks – Earn up to $35 a survey with this mega-popular app, and get a $10 bonus just for signing up!
- Survey Junkie – Earn up to $40 a month and cash out beginning at just $5.
- InboxDollars – Get a $5 bonus just for signing up!
- Pinecone Research – Earn $3 for each 15-20 minute survey. They’ll send you a $3 check after your first one.
- YouGov – Long-running survey panel, with data often cited in the media.
- Branded Surveys – One of the best-rated survey sites with millions paid out.
- American Consumer Opinion – Join millions of free members and earn up to $50 per survey.
17. Amazon Flex Deliveries
Have you noticed that some of your Amazon deliveries are being dropped off by “random” people, instead of by the usual UPS drivers? I first found out about Amazon Flex when I saw a dude in a Jetta in our neighborhood pulling boxes out of his trunk and back seat.
I asked him if he worked for Amazon or the post office, and he said he was a part-time Amazon Flex driver. This new program allows people to earn $18-25 an hour in their spare time, and helps Amazon deliver packages even faster.
18. Amazon Work From Home Jobs
Like most modern companies, Amazon is beginning to embrace work-from-home jobs. When I checked the list of virtual Amazon job openings, I found options for full-time, part-time, and seasonal work.
You can filter by job category, such as:
- IT and Engineering
- Customer Support
- Sales and Advertising
- Operations and Fulfillment
- and more
There are both hourly and salaried positions available.
19. Amazon Services
Professionals like house cleaners, handypersons, electricians, landscapers, plumbers, and many more can apply to sell through Amazon Services.
After you join, you’ll see every new job in your area and be able to choose the ones that fit your schedule. Per Amazon, “It’s a great way to keep your business busy or to fill in the open gaps throughout your week.”
There are no startup or membership fees, but Amazon takes a percentage of each job booked, based on the service type and final service price.
20. Twitch Streaming
Entertaining video gamers earn serious money broadcasting their games on Twitch.tv, which is owned by Amazon.
Twitch streamers make money from:
- a share of the site’s subscription fees
- advertising on their channels
- selling merchandise to their fans
The most popular players are estimated to be bringing in $300,000 or more per year!
According to The Hustle, “Twitch has created a new career track for casual video gamers, helping thousands make a living by playing video games. There are two paths this can take. Twitch streamers are either crazy good— the nerd equivalent of pro-footballers — or they’re entertainers, their broadcasts are a hybrid radio show, comedy hour, and video-game commentary.”
When a friend turned me on to RebateKey, I was pretty skeptical.
The site promises to refund your Amazon purchase–up to 100%–a month after you buy the product.
Apparently it’s a way for new Amazon sellers to get some sales history to their listings, and hopefully some reviews as well.
That means for buyers, you can find deeply discounted–and even free-after-rebate–items. I’ve tested it several times and have always gotten my rebate.
So it’s not necessarily a way to make money on Amazon, but it sure is an interesting way to save money. RebateKey is worth keeping in mind for upcoming purchases to check and see if they have what you’re looking for.
22. Capital One Venture
The final two options are my most passive ways of making money on Amazon. Basically here are a couple more ways I get free stuff 🙂
The first is with the Capital One Venture Card.
The card earns 2x points on every dollar I spend, which I then turn around and cash in for Amazon gift cards. When I do that, I’m earning essentially 1.6% cash back on my spending–vs. 1% if I redeemed the points for statement credit.
Capital One is currently offering a 60,000 mile sign-up bonus (worth $480 when redeemed for Amazon gift cards) after you spend $3000 in the first 3 months. There’s a $95 annual fee.
Click here to learn more about this card and others.
23. Fetch Rewards
Fetch is a cool free app that adds an extra “boost” to the Capital One card above (or whatever credit card you use).
All you have to do is take pictures of your grocery receipts.
Just download the app, and make a habit of snapping a picture of receipt after each shopping trip.
I’ve earned several free Amazon gift cards just from my normal shopping habits.
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Stock photos by eranicle and Efetova Anna via Shutterstock
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