There three main ways to make money with Amazon. On this page we'll talk about these three ways of earning a full time income ($100k+) per year with Amazon. The first method requires some startup money (about $500), and can produce results within a couple weeks. The second method requires either personal time for writing, or startup money to pay someone to “ghost write” while you do research.
The third method, which I have the most experience in is cheap, but takes a longer time to start earning. This is the one I recommend for most newbies because it requires less money to start and allows for more “free mistakes”, rather than mistakes costing you money!
Each way leverages a different service that Amazon offers. Each requires a different level of active involvement in the business. My personal favorite (method #3) is the most passive, so allows you the most freedom to leave the business for weeks at a time and still earn money. However, it also takes the longest to build. As you read this page, keep these two things in mind:
- Do you have the money to buy inventory for an Amazon shop?
- Do you have the patience to work for several months without seeing monetary results?
You'll have to do one of those. Of course, that doesn't sound like the glorious “easy online income” that the gurus want to sell you but that's the real deal.
I'll dig in deeper to both methods below, but I wanted to start you out with realistic expectations.
Now, the good news: You don't have to be a genius to figure this stuff out. I am not a college educated person, nor have I studied online marketing in any formal way. I don't have any type of business training at all.
However, by taking a few online courses and dedicating a year of my life to building a business, I'm now able to work from home and earn more than most college graduates. A year of hard work has provided me the option of a lifetime of working for myself.
So let's dig into these different ways of making money with Amazon.
- Method #1: Fulfillment By Amazon
- Method #2: Kindle Publishing
- Method #3: Amazon Associates
- Bonus #1 & 2: Amazon Handmade & Mechanical Turk
Method #1: Selling On Amazon + Amazon FBA
- Cost for courses: $150 – $5,000 one time fee
- Potential Profit: Infinite (use your imagination!)
- Money Investment Level: High (need to purchase inventory)
- Time To Profits: Fast
Selling real, physical products on Amazon is probably the first thing that comes to mind when trying to make money on Amazon. It's the most obvious method – buy something cheap, sell it at a higher price online. The concept of how to make money isn't very hard to grasp.
But learning how to do it, or even just what the first step is going to be to start your own Amazon store is a big challenge!
Questions like these need to be answered:
- Where do I source my products?
- How do I take care of shipping?
- Do I need to pay for an Amazon store?
- What types of products sell well?
- What's going to make me the most profit?
- Do I need to store inventory?
- How do I deal with competition?
In combination with selling on Amazon, there's a program called Amazon FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon). When starting your Amazon store, you have the option to ship directly from your home or other storage location. You also have the option to ship to Amazon's warehouses, let them store your product, and have them take care of all the shipping stuff.
The advantage of the first option is more profit for you. The advantage of the second situation (FBA) is less hassle for you. But other than organizing the details of shipping, the rest is pretty much the same.
If you have never started a business, and never sold anything online before, I would highly recommend you enroll in an Amazon selling course to get started. It will save you a lot of time and headache, and get your business moving much faster than if you had done the research on your own.
I have reviewed many great products on starting an Amazon store, and listed them here on my review of Amazon FBA courses. My favorite courses from the bunch are Amazon Bootcamp and Proven Amazon Course.
Cheaper ebooks and courses on the topic will cost between $150 and $400, depending on the quality of the course, the materials delivered, type of support, and amount of resources available to members.
Method #2: Kindle Publishing
- Cost: $5 – $500+ One Time Fee
- Potential Profit: Infinite (Limited only by what you publish)
- Money Investment Level: Low
- Time To Profits: Slow
If you are a writer or enjoy writing, you cannot ignore Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) as a potential way to earn money online. I recently published my first book and have been amazed by the results so far.
Even if you aren't a natural writer, you should seriously consider looking into becoming a Kindle author…or at least paying someone to write books for you. If you are thinking, “this isn't for me”, then you need to think again about the diverse type of content that's published online. Just some ideas off the top of my head:
- How to start your own hydroponic garden
- Fruit beer recipes
- How to age whiskey at home
- Family cake recipes
- Art projects for kids with autism
- How to toilet train your cat
- Winter camping tips
- Classic motorcycle repair and maintenance
- Dating for newly divorced women
- …and anything else you have experience with or want to research
- Romantic novellas
- Scary stories for kids
- Detective novels or True Crime
- Fan Fiction (Harry Potter, Twilight)
- Science Fiction
- Well, any genre really. Or combine them like Sci-Fi Romance, or Harry Potter Crime!
There are some really weird books out there that are making sales. How about The Zen of Farting, or How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men. It may sound silly (OK, the fart book is a comedy book), but there definitely Asian guys out there that want to date white women, and will buy that book.
If there's a problem that you can solve with knowledge, you can make money by publishing your own book. If there's an interest that you can feed by writing your opinions, you can make money selling books. I tend to gravitate towards the non-fiction part of publishing because that's how my mind works, but there are large groups of fiction publishers online that are also making money self publishing on Amazon.
Most people are not going to have a “big hit”, so volume of money is made with volume of publishing.
For example, my current book is only making about $50/month. But if I publish 10 books, each making that amount of money, now I have $500 in passive income from online publishing.
The thing that stops most people is that they think, “I'm not writer and don't know how to publish a book.”. But it's actually very easy.
If you have the ideas, simply write them down. Writing a book is not a one-and-done process. It takes several rounds of editing to get things right. The most important thing is to get the bulk of your ideas published first, then edit them into a more comprehensive and entertaining work.
Once your book is done, you can then either figure out how to format and upload the book yourself, which could take a few hours, or pay someone do it. It cost me about $200 for professional formatting, and $5 for a book cover. You may want to pay an editor, or just take the time to edit yourself for your first couple publications, depending on how much money or time you have to invest.
Another thing to consider is that you can actually pay people to write books for you (ghost writing). This will definitely bump up the level of investment needed, and thus require you to do more research into which publishing topics will be most profitable. But it is an option!
Imagine paying $500 for a book that you now own the rights to and can earn you $100/month. After five months you'll have made your money back and will be earning passive income from someone else's words!
I don't currently have any in depth reviews for publishing courses, but my #1 recommendation so far is Self-Publishing School from Chandler Bolt and James Roper. Other people worth checking out are Steve Scott, The Self Publishing Podcast, and Joanna Penn.
Method #3: Amazon Associates (Affiliate Marketing)
- Cost: $47/month (training) + $14/year (website address)
- Potential Profit: Infinite (the internet never sleeps. People shop 24/7/365)
- Money Investment Level: Low
- Time To Profits: Medium
This is how I personally earn money online, and the method I know most about.
You might not have heard of this section of Amazon, but the “associates program” is how they manage affiliates. There are lots of tools already in place within the Amazon website that can help you promote ANYTHING you find there.
To join, you just need a website. Your site can be about anything you want except of course things like violence, sexually explicit stuff, or any discriminatory/hate topics. If you don't have a website yet, I'm going to show you how to make one on this page.
You can have one site, or multiple sites, and the program is available in many countries from around the world. Not all countries however, and very surprisingly, it’s also unavailable in the US States: Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, and Rhode Island.
There a few specific rules you need to follow to keep your account in good standing:
- Your website must be clearly marked as an affiliate site
- You cannot click your own links to buy stuff
- Your friends cannot click your links to buy stuff
- You cannot take content, reviews, or ratings from the Amazon website (Pictures and specs provided by the vendor are OK)
I know that starting with a bunch of requirements probably bored you to tears, but I the main thing I wanted to let you know is that all you need to make money as an Amazon affiliate is to have a simple website where you can publish information like articles and product reviews.
It’s as simple as that. You can even start building your Amazon associates website right now!
What If You Don’t Have A Website…
Building a website these days is easier than you think. If you use a site builder like WordPress, you don’t even need to know any code. The website actually builds itself, and you are just responsible for writing the content. Things like informational articles, research, and product reviews will be the things that attract visitors to your site.
Most of the time, boring sites convert to sales much better because people can read the product information more clearly.
But our business strategy is not as simple as creating something called “Mike’s Virtual Mall” and sticking a bunch of pictures and links on there!
Developing a plan of how to get your website found in Google is very important. Our job as a website owner and online marketer for Amazon products is to find the people that want to buy stuff, and help them find the best products.
For example, if I want to sell some running shoes, I can put a page on my website called “Top 3 Brands For Running Shoes” and compare the top 3 brands.
Then I can make a different page called “How To Size A Childs Running Shoe Properly”, and link to some popular kids shoes. After I make bunch of pages like that, Google can see that my site is about running shoes, and start to rank my website in search engines for those terms
When I get ranked and people find my pages, that’s how I start selling stuff from Amazon! And did you notice?
- I don't need any inventory
- I don't need to pay for any resell rights
- I don't handle customer service
- I don't deal with shipping or returns
- I only promote the products I truly believe in based on personal experience or research
How To Actually Make Money
Amazon will provide us with a special link that contains code unique to us. That code is called an affiliate code, and it leaves a “cookie” that is stored on a persons browser when they click your link. The cookie lasts 24 hours, so if someone buys within that timeframe after clicking, you get credit (90 days if they add to cart after clicking).
Other affiliate programs have anything from 7 day cookie life to lifetime cookies. It varies. They also pay different size commissions. Best Buy only pays 1%, while other programs pay 50%-75% per sale. Amazon pays between 4% and 10% depending on how many items you sell.
To be honest, the base commissions of 4% from Amazon isn’t bad, but it’s not great. As you sell more volume, you get bumped up to the 10% range, which is actually pretty darn good for physical products. It can be tough to sell a $10 item and make $0.60 per sale, which is why many affiliates go for high ticket items. Selling something for $100 will result in a $6 sale. Sell 10 of those per day, and now you are getting paid $60 per day as an affiliate advertiser for Amazon!
How Much Can You Earn with Amazon?
This is the big question, and I can only give you an answer you don’t want to hear: it depends!
Boring answer, I know, but it's true. A lot depends on which products you promote, who you promote them to, and how well you do your job! Some people make a full time income just from Amazon's program. Other people like myself, earn money in several affiliate programs (so they don't put all their eggs in one basket).
I earned $100 in 2015 from a website I built as part of an experiment I was playing around with. A hundred bucks doesn't sound like a lot of money, but I wasn't serious about that website as a business. A few of my more serious websites earn between $1,000 and $10,000 per month and are still growing.
There are more than 2 billion people that use the internet every day, and another 4 billion or so that will get access at some point in the future. Thousands of visits each day to your website may seem like a long shot at this point, but every website starts the same way – at 0! Getting 10,000 visits to a website when there are 3.5 BILLION searches in Google alone every single day.
If you invest time and resources into yourself and learn how to build an online business, earning a full time income is possible for anyone, including you. All you need to do is to take action! The first step to earning money is not collecting a check. The first step to making money online is building a website.
Just for fun: I have 1 website that makes me $3,000 per month with only 50-100 visits a day. This is a highly specialized site, and not all sites can be this amazing, but I wanted to show you the incredible possibilities of affiliate marketing.
It's Only The Beginning
Amazon is just one website that has an affiliate program. It's one of the most widely used because it's a famous website and they have tons of products to choose from. It's an easy choice, and simple to understand, so I talk about them a lot here on One More Cup of Coffee.
But there are many other websites out there that also have affiliate programs you can use. Some pay as much as 75% commissions per sale! If Amazon Associates doesn't operate in your area or they don't have the products you want to promote, you can always find something else to take it's place. Chances are, some of your favorite brands are are being sold RIGHT NOW by affiliates.
Want Help Getting Started?
The place where I learned to build my first affiliate website is called Wealthy Affiliate. They are one of the most trusted affiliate marketing training centers online. I started back in 2010, I’ve been a member for over 7 years now.
My success with my websites was largely due to the awesome support network that Wealthy Affiliate provides. One of the biggest challenges that new affiliate marketers will face is confusion and fear! It's not easy navigating all the steps of setting up your website, learning how to rank pages, and what type of content will attract visitors and help you make sales.
Wealthy Affiliate is a huge network of internet entrepreneurs just like yourself. Some are complete newbies taking their first steps into online business. Others are seasoned professionals that use this community as a way to network with other smart people. It's a really cool mix!
The normal price of membership to this community is $49/month. That includes training, hosting for your website, weekly live webinars, and of course personal support, website feedback, updated training modules, and more stuff. If you'd like to read more about what they offer and what type of business they'll teach you how to build, you should head over to my review of Wealthy Affiliate.
But not everyone wants to shell out $47 right away to learn how start up a business! They understand that, so they offer a Starter Membership for free. That will get you the basic training, seven days of live chat, and access to the other members of the community. This way you can do your due diligence and find out if this is a company you want to work with.
Bonus #1: Amazon Handmade
This is a new venture by Amazon, and not full developed, so I wouldn't count on it to be around in a couple years. It might though! So for now, I'd stick with Etsy, although Amazon Handmade could be worth your time if you can dominate in your category of handmade goods. While everyone's busy fighting over Etsy traffic, you can master Amazon's version and figure out a system before anyone else does.
I don't dabble in handmade stuff, so haven't even begun to investigate the details, but it's just one more way to make money with Amazon.
Bonus #2: Amazon Mechanical Turk
This is a weird site you may not have heard of, but it's basically a “micro task” website, meaning you get paid to do small, repetitive work. This could include naming images, organizing files, or clicking buttons. It's boring stuff, that pays horribly, but it's very simple to do, and if you develop a system, you can actually make reliable money here.
If you want to spend the time to pick away at small projects as you have the time, instead of building out a big, complicated business, then Mechanical Turk could be an option for you. It's much more reliable than many of these “get paid to watch TV” or “get paid to take survey” type of junk that are advertised online.
So what type of Amazon business is going to suit you the most?
Would you rather handle physical products and start an Amazon store without worry about driving traffic to a website?
Would you rather exercise your creative nature and start a Kindle publishing business?
Or would you rather follow in my footsteps and just handle the advertising side of things?
Leave a comment below and let me know which ones you've tried or want to try!