In this post, I will teach you 12 different ways how to make money on Amazon. You’ll learn about the upfront costs and the revenue potential for each business model to determine if it’s worth your time.
Most people think of Amazon strictly as a place to shop online. But in addition to buying products online, you can also make money selling on Amazon as well.
In 2020, Amazon made almost 81 billion dollars in revenue(55%) from sales from 3rd party sellers.
Because the Amazon marketplace is so large, there’s a huge opportunity for anyone looking to start a small side hustle or launch a full blown Amazon business.
The following 12 business models will be evaluated based on the following criteria. All ratings will be based on a scale of 1-10.
- Difficulty To Start – How easy is it to get started?
- Revenue Potential – How much money can you make?
- Startup Costs – How much does it cost to get started?
Because there is a wide range of opportunity from affiliate marketing to selling private label products, the 12 ways how to make money on Amazon described in this post will be listed in order of lowest to highest in terms of money making potential.
Are you interested in creating a strong, defensible brand for your products? If so, I put together a comprehensive package of resources that will help you launch your own online store from complete scratch. Be sure to grab it before you leave!
Amazon Mechanical Turk
Amazon Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing marketplace for virtual tasks and you can get paid for small jobs that take you 1-2 minutes to perform online.
You can think of Mechanical Turk like a Postmates or a TaskRabbit for small online jobs.
What’s nice is that most virtual tasks from Amazon Turk can be performed from the comforts of your living room while watching television or in line at the grocery store. In other words, you can make money on Amazon in your spare time!
For example, a typical job might be to fill out a survey or to visit a website. More involved tasks might include transcribing a short audio clip.
Here are examples of Mechanical Turk postings that you’ll find on the platform.
- Give your opinion on a website.
- Perform a Google search and provide the result.
- Take a survey.
- Enter data from receipts into a spreadsheet.
- Comment on a blog post.
- Write a title or description for an image.
- Write a short review.
- Provide your opinion.
Most tasks on Amazon Turk will take a few minutes of your time and do not require your full attention.
The downside is that Amazon Turk jobs don’t pay much. If you are diligent about taking on as many jobs as you can, you can make roughly $8-9/hour.
This might not seem like much money but remember, most jobs can be done while relaxing and watching television on the couch.
Amazon Mechanical Turk Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 10/10) – After a short signup process, you can start taking on jobs right away.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 1/10) – You’ll never make more than some spending cash at $8-9 per hour.
- Startup Costs (Rating 10/10) – It costs nothing to start.
Amazon Associates Affiliate Program
The Amazon Associates program allows you to make money as an affiliate by referring people to buy on Amazon for a commission.
Amazon runs one of the largest affiliate programs in the world called Amazon Associates. By joining the Amazon Associates program, you can earn money for every sale that you refer to Amazon.
Here’s how it works.
Once you sign up for the Amazon affiliate program, Amazon provides you with special links for every product that you want to promote. If anyone clicks on your link and makes a purchase on Amazon, you will earn a small percentage of the entire sale!
You do not have to carry inventory. You do not have to manage customer support. The only thing you have to do is send people to Amazon.
Here’s a table of the payout you can earn as a percentage of sales. Please note that your commission percentage depends on the category of the product you refer.
Amazon Associates Commission Rate Table
|Product Category||Fixed Standard Program Fee Rates|
|Luxury Beauty, Amazon Coins||10.00%|
|Digital Music, Physical Music, Handmade, Digital Videos||5.00%|
|Physical Books, Kitchen, Automotive||4.50%|
|Amazon Fire Tablet Devices, Amazon Kindle Devices, Amazon Fashion Women’s, Men’s & Kids Private Label, Apparel, Amazon Cloud Cam Devices, Fire TV Edition Smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV Devices, Amazon Echo Devices, Ring Devices, Watches, Jewelry, Luggage, Shoes, and Handbags & Accessories||4.00%|
|Toys, Furniture, Home, Home Improvement, Lawn & Garden, Pets Products, Pantry, Headphones, Beauty, Musical Instruments, Business & Industrial Supplies, Outdoors, Tools, Sports, Baby Products||3.00%|
|PC, PC Components, DVD & Blu-Ray||2.50%|
|Televisions, Digital Video Games||2.00%|
|Amazon Fresh, Physical Video Games & Video Game Consoles, Grocery, Health & Personal Care||1.00%|
|Gift Cards; Wireless Service Plans; Alcoholic Beverages; Digital Kindle Products purchased as a subscription; Food prepared and delivered from a restaurant; Amazon Appstore, Prime Now, Amazon Pay Places, or Prime Wardrobe Purchases||0.00%|
|All Other Categories||4.00%|
While the payouts for the Amazon Associates program are low, you make money for every single product that a customer buys within 24 hours of clicking on your affiliate link.
But overall, you need a lot of traffic to make life changing money with this money making method.
Amazon Associates Affiliate Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 10/10) – After a short signup process, you can start promoting products right away.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 2/10) – Because your commission rate is ~4%, it will be difficult to make a lot of money unless you can drive mass amounts of traffic.
- Startup Costs (Rating 10/10) – It costs nothing to start.
Amazon Influencer Program
The Amazon Influencer Program is an affiliate program that allows you to earn money by promoting Amazon products to your audience on social media.
Similar to the Amazon Associates program, Amazon provides you with special links for every product that you want to promote. When someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you receive a commission on the entire sale.
Here are the benefits of joining the Amazon Influencer Program compared to the Amazon Associates Program.
- You can design your own Amazon store page. On your Amazon store page, you can list all of your favorite products and direct your followers to your own branded resource on the web.
- You can film and upload review videos. Amazon frequently displays review videos next to popular products. By uploading your own product reviews to Amazon, you can earn a commission whenever one of your videos are viewed before a purchase.
- You must qualify. Access to the Amazon Influencer program is by invite only. You must have a minimum social media following in order to quality.
Amazon Influencer Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 7/10) – You must qualify for the Amazon Influencer program by amassing at least 1000 followers on Instagram, YouTube or TikTok.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 3/10) – Because your commission rate is ~4%, it will be difficult to make a lot of money unless you can drive a lot of sales. But all it takes is to have a few reviews displayed on Amazon to generate a nice passive income stream.
- Startup Costs (Rating 10/10) – It costs nothing to start.
Merch By Amazon
Merch By Amazon is a place where you can sell branded products designed by you which are produced, sold and shipped by Amazon.
If you are a designer or a creative person, you can generate a solid income selling t-shirts, hoodies and other merchandise through this program.
Merch By Amazon is essentially a print on demand company or POD which is a form of dropshipping.
Basically, you design it and Amazon ships it. You don’t have to carry any inventory or worry about shipping and you get to keep the difference between your selling price and Amazon’s wholesale price for your product.
For example, my kids started an entrepreneurship t-shirt business using a POD company similar to Amazon Merch.
If my 11 year old kid can start a print on demand business, then so can you:)
Here’s a podcast interview I recorded with Derek Pankew who sells tshirts for a living.
The best part about Amazon Merch is that your designs will be listed in the Amazon marketplace which attracts billions of eyeballs every year.
Amazon Merch Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 8/10) – After you are approved for the program, you can start uploading your designs right away. You will likely need to understand how to manipulate images so there’s a small learning curve.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 3/10) – Print on demand margins are typically pretty low depending on how much you can charge. For example, my kids make roughly an $8 profit per t-shirt sold.
- Startup Costs (Rating 10/10) – An Amazon Merch business costs nothing to start.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Or KDP
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing(KDP) is a program that allows you to publish and sell your own digital books on Amazon.
Most people have the misconception that books you sell on Amazon must be of a certain length or professionally edited.
But you can literally publish short, targeted books for specific topics and make a living doing so without an agent or a publisher!
On my podcast, I’ve interviewed many authors who make 6 and even 7 figures online selling their books WITHOUT a traditional publisher.
Here are a few examples.
Basically, there are only a few requirements to sell using Amazon KDP. You need to format your book properly using tools provided by Amazon, you need a book cover and you need to write the book itself. That’s it!
Once you hit publish, your book will be listed in the Amazon marketplace.
Amazon KDP Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 7/10) – After you’ve written your book, there’s a short learning curve to format and list your book on Amazon, but it’s pretty straightforward.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 4/10) – Depending on pricing, you get to keep up to 70 percent of the royalties you make from your book. Most successful authors on KDP publish many books over time which can add up to significant money. But writing great books does take time.
- Startup Costs (Rating 9/10) – An Amazon KDP business costs nothing to start if you do everything yourself. But you may need to hire an editor or a graphic designer for your book cover.
Dropshipping On Amazon
Amazon dropshipping is an ecommerce business model where you sell physical products on Amazon and your supplier ships your orders to the end customer.
You do not have to deal with inventory, shipping and handling or customer service.
Here’s how it works.
- You create a merchant fulfilled product listing on Amazon and make a sale.
- You notify your supplier and they ship your products directly to the Amazon customer on your behalf.
- You pocket the difference between the selling price and the wholesale price.
Be careful with this business model because Amazon imposes several rules that you must follow or you risk getting banned.
First off, Aliexpress dropshipping and Ebay dropshipping on Amazon is expressly prohibited. Amazon only allows dropshipping from real wholesale distributors.
Purchasing products from another online retailer (Aliexpress or Ebay) and having the retailer ship directly to customers is illegal.
With that in mind, dropshipping on Amazon can be a low cost method of selling on Amazon because you don’t have to worry about inventory.
However, dropshipping traditionally carries low margins (~10-30%) so you have to make a lot of sales to make significant money with this business model.
Amazon Dropshipping Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 7/10) – Finding reliable dropship wholesalers is the hard part. But once you find a great supplier, the rest is straightforward.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 4/10) – Because dropship margins are so low (10-30%), it can be extremely difficult to make a decent profit once Amazon takes their 15% cut of the sale.
- Startup Costs (Rating 9/10) – An Amazon dropshipping business costs very little money to start because there’s no cost of inventory.
Amazon Retail Arbitrage & Online Arbitrage
Retail arbitrage is the act of buying inexpensive or clearance products from retail stores and then selling them for a higher price on Amazon.
Online arbitrage is the act of buying inexpensive or clearance products from online stores and then flipping them on Amazon.
Here’s how retail arbitrage and online arbitrage works.
- You purchase products from a retail store or online store from the clearance section or at low prices.
- You list the item on Amazon FBA at a significant markup.
- When your product sells, you keep the profit.
When I was in college, I used retail arbitrage to make some quick spending cash by buying clearance computer equipment from Craigslist (remember Craigslist?) and selling them on Ebay and Amazon.
What’s great about retail arbitrage is that it requires very little upfront cost to begin and it’s a low risk way to sell physical products online. Your main upfront cost is the price of your goods.
I’ve interviewed several successful entrepreneurs who make money on Amazon with retail arbitrage but the revenue potential tops out at 6 figures because of the labor involved in shopping for goods.
The only way you can scale this business model is to hire a team of shoppers to buy your merchandise.
Here are some podcast episodes to check out.
Another way to make money with retail arbitrage is with Amazon’s trade in program. Amazon’s trade in program allows you to trade in used or new electronics for Amazon gift cards.
Most of you shop on Amazon already so an Amazon gift card is as good as cash.
Amazon Retail Arbritage Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 7/10) – Finding great deals to sell on Amazon is the hard part. But if you have the right products, getting setup on Amazon is pretty straightforward.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 4/10) – Because you must physically go shopping to find products to sell, your revenue velocity is limited by your shopping time.
- Startup Costs (Rating 8/10) – Retail arbitrage costs as much as you are willing to spend on inventory.
Amazon Handmade is a special platform created by Amazon to allow artists and crafters to sell their own handmade products online.
With Amazon Handmade, you can sell clothing, jewelry, soap, home goods, basically anything you create yourself.
Similar to an Etsy store, Amazon will provide you with a storefront with your own custom URL to sell your goods.
Furthermore, handmade sellers don’t have to pay the $39.99/month monthly fee that Amazon normally charges for professional sellers.
Overall, if you are already selling on Etsy, then Amazon provides another outlet to market your handmade goods.
Here’s an interview with a student in my Create A Profitable Online Store course that makes 6 figures per year selling his own handmade pottery online.
Amazon Handmade Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 7/10) – You are likely considering this option if you already have handmade items to sell. Creating great products is the hard part. Setting up and creating an Amazon listing is straightforward.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 4/10) – Because you must physically hand make your products for sale, your revenue potential will be capped by how quickly you can make your goods.
- Startup Costs (Rating 8/10) – Your startup costs are entirely based on your cost of goods. Selling on Amazon is free.
Selling Amazon Return Pallets
Amazon return pallets are containers of returned Amazon products that can be purchased sight unseen at low prices and resold at retail.
By refurbishing the merchandise within each pallet, you can sell used products on Amazon like new at a significant profit.
Amazon also offers a special program called Amazon Renewed which allows you to become an official Amazon qualified supplier of refurbished products.
Buying and selling Amazon return pallets can be fun and mysterious and you can make up to a 30-50% profit per item!
Amazon Return Pallets Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 7/10) – Simply go to Amazon Auctions, Bulq or Liquidations.com to find Amazon return pallets for sale. Refurbish each product and relist them on Amazon.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 7/10) – Refurbishing and tracking down missing parts can be time consuming but you can make a significant amount of money fast by selling used items on Amazon.
- Startup Costs (Rating 5/10) – Amazon return pallets can cost anywhere from $100-$20000. The more you are willing to spend, the faster you can make money.
Selling Wholesale On Amazon
Selling wholesale on Amazon involves purchasing bulk quantities of products made by other companies for sale using Amazon FBA.
For example, if I want to sell Legos on Amazon, I would reach out to Lego’s distributors and ask to purchase Legos in bulk at wholesale prices. Then, I would list these products on Amazon FBA to sell at a profit.
Overall, selling wholesale products on Amazon is EXTREMELY difficult because it’s so competitive. Because you are selling other people’s products, your only differentiation is price which can quickly spiral to the bottom.
Successful wholesale Amazon sellers typically negotiate exclusive rights with their wholesale suppliers to sell on Amazon.
Listen to my interview with Trent Dyrsmid for a more in depth explanation of how Amazon wholesale works.
According to Jungle Scout, 61% of wholesale sellers on Amazon make at least $5000/month which is pretty good if you can pull it off.
Amazon Wholesale Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 5/10) – Finding great wholesale suppliers to work with is the hardest part of this business model.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 6/10) – The more you are willing to spend on inventory, the lower your prices and the higher your revenue velocity. However, due to the competitive nature of selling other people’s products on Amazon, your margins will eventually erode as more sellers sell the exact same products as you do.
- Startup Costs (Rating 5/10) – You must purchase inventory in bulk in order to make the numbers work out in terms of profitability.
Selling Private Label Products On Amazon
Selling private label products on Amazon is by far the best way to make money on Amazon but it also carries the highest upfront cost.
Private label is a product sourcing model where you place your own brand (or label) on a product that you sell online.
Typically, you’ll work with a factory to fabricate your product including the packaging and labeling with your brand collateral.
When you sell products under your own brand, you have full control over every aspect of your business.
You can set pricing and define your product features however you want and no one else can sell the exact same product on Amazon.
As a result, your margins for a private label Amazon business are typically above 66% which allows you to pocket the majority of the revenue you generate online.
In general, the bulk of the students in my Create A Profitable Online Store course make their money selling their own branded products.
Here are some podcast interviews with successful students who sell their own private label products on Amazon with a professional selling account.
Meanwhile, my 7 figure ecommerce business over at Bumblebee Linens sells custom handkerchiefs on Amazon which command up to 90% margins.
The only downside to selling private label products via Amazon FBA is that it costs more to begin. Depending on exactly what you sell, the cost to sell private label on Amazon will run you around $2000-3000.
Amazon Private Label Business Model Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 4/10) – Finding factories to work with and creating your first product can take several months. In addition, you may have to import your goods from China to get the best pricing possible. Overall, expect the process to take at least 3 months before you start selling online.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 10/10) – This is easily the fastest way to make money on Amazon because your margins are so high and you own your own brand.
- Startup Costs (Rating 3/10) – Because you are working with factories, your minimum order quantity will be higher. Expect to spend at least $2000-3000 to launch your first product.
Amazon Flex And Selling Professional Services Through Amazon
Finally, you can make money on Amazon by providing a service.
Amazon Flex is a way to make money by using your own vehicle to deliver packages for Amazon. You can think of Amazon Flex like driving for Uber or Door Dash.
Here’s how it works.
You reserve a block of your time upfront with Amazon. You pick up packages from an Amazon warehouse in your area and deliver them to the end customer.
In addition to Amazon Flex, you can also make money selling your own professional services through the Amazon Home Services program.
For example, if you are an appliance technician, air duct cleaner, carpenter, gardener etc…, you can apply to advertise your services on Amazon.
To qualify for Amazon Home Services, you must apply with your own personal information, pass a background check, and get approved.
Amazon is fairly strict with their approval process in order to maintain a high level of quality for their service program.
Driving For Amazon Flex Or Offering Professional Services Rating from 1-10(Best)
- Difficulty To Start (Rating 8/10) – After a simple application process, you can start driving or selling your services right away.
- Revenue Velocity (Rating 5/10) – Because you are trading time for money, your earning potential is hard capped by the number of hours in a day.
- Startup Costs (Rating 7/10) – To earn money with Amazon Flex or Amazon Home Services, you mainly just need a car.
How To Make Money On Amazon – Which Method Should I Choose?
If you have the money to invest, selling private label products on Amazon will easily be the fastest way to make life changing money online.
Choosing from the remaining business models will depend on your budget, your talents and the amount of time you are willing to devote to your side hustle.
For example, if you are a writer, then selling your books on Amazon KDP is a no brainer.
If you are a designer, then selling with Merch By Amazon might make more sense.
If you don’t have the time or the money to spend on a side hustle at the moment, it might make sense to sign up for Amazon Mechanical Turk to make a couple of extra bucks while watching tv.
Regardless of what you choose, the general rule of thumb is that the more money and time you are willing to invest on your side hustle, the more money you will make.
At the lower end of the revenue scale, Mechanical Turk will net you around $200-300/month on average whereas a private label business can easily net you 7 figures or more.
Figure out what your priorities are and your tolerance for risk and make money on Amazon with the method that makes the most sense based on your personality. Good luck!
Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?
If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.
In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's free and you'll receive weekly ecommerce tips and strategies!
Related Posts In Amazon Business Models
- The Amazon Flywheel And How To Apply It To Your Business
- How To Sell Amazon Wholesale To Make Money Online
- Amazon Influencer Program – How It Works And The Juicy Details
- How To Use Amazon Handmade To Sell Products You Create Yourself
- How To Dropship On Amazon In 4 Easy Steps [Updated For 2023]
Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.