I have sold just about all possible types of products, and I would like to share some of the steps to getting started to selling on Amazon for beginners.
This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about starting a profitable Amazon business.
There is a lot of ground to cover, and I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed by all the information. So, grab a cup of tea, get comfortable, and learn how to set up your Amazon store and, most importantly, make money.
Why Sell on Amazon?
Most people know that Amazon is one of the world’s largest online marketplaces. And, while a lot of retailers are selling their products on Amazon, there’s still room for regular people like me and you to get in on the action. From worrying about the inventory versus demand to being intimidated by the associated costs, there are tons of reasons for not selling on Amazon. However, on closer inspection, it’s easy to see that the pros outweigh the cons.
Here are just some of the reasons selling on Amazon is an excellent idea.
Amazon is the Biggest Online Retailer in the US
Let’s start with the obvious: Amazon is big. So big that it’s the number one retail website in the America. Amazon has around 184 million unique visits per month. According to recent reports, most sellers see an average of 50% increase in sales when they join the Amazon marketplace.
You might think that Amazon is stealing customers from your web store. And, that’s a valid concern. But, think about it this way: your web store, as fantastic as it is, can’t compare to Amazon.Ask yourself: what website is a prospect more likely to end up on? When you look at things from this perspective, you realize that, in fact, Amazon might bring more customers instead of stealing them from you.
How to Sell on Amazon
“Getting started with Amazon is too tedious and time-consuming!”
That’s what most people say. But, in reality, it all comes down to these four steps:
- Set up a New Email Account: I recommend setting up a separate email account to handle all things related to your Amazon business. Choose an ID that is similar to the name of your Amazon store.
- Set up Buyer Accounts: Open new accounts on stores like Alibaba, AliExpress or DHGate. These will be some of the resources for finding wholesale products (more about it later.)
- Create Your Amazon Seller’s Account: Head over to Amazon and set up your account. I recommend you go with the free individual Seller Plan for now. You can upgrade to the Paid Professional Plan later when you start making money. Make sure you add all the necessary information, such as your business name, your legal name and address, and your telephone number to get your account ready to sell.
- Set up Your Seller Profile: Once your account is up and running, you’ll want to make your profile as trustworthy as possible. Complete the “About” section to introduce prospects to your business, add a logo, and create a “Return and Refund Policy.”
Now that your account is active and you have a complete profile, you are ready to list, sell, ship, and make money on Amazon.
Most Items on Amazon Are Sold by Third Parties
Amazon is a retailer, but a big chunk of its sales units come from third-party merchants. Recent data shows that third-party retailers are responsible for selling 83% of the products purchased from the online retail platform. What that means is that Amazon has created a space that’s available to everyone.
If that number alone is not sufficient, think that Amazon is one of the best distribution tools you can get. Through Fulfillment by Amazon (you’ll learn later what it is and how it works), you can rapidly scale your small e-commerce business. Not only that you can leverage Amazon’s global fulfillment capabilities, but you can also piggyback on the platform’s loyal consumers.
How Much Money Can You Make Selling on Amazon?
Amazon hit $35.1 billion in sales in Q4, 2015. And, it had made over $4.74 billion from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday last year. So, it’s a no-brainer that every retailer should have a presence there.
Ok, you might say to yourself, it’s relatively easy for an established retailer to make money selling on Amazon. But, how much can I, a regular seller who is just starting out, make per month?
Well, if you look at the data, you’ll see that it’s possible to make anywhere between $1,000 a month to $10,000 or more a month.
You Can Make $1,000 a Month Importing Products from China
A surefire way to earn a decent income is importing products from China and reselling them on Amazon. To get started, you first need to search for profitable products. Don’t import and sale electronics because the chances of people buying them from Amazon are pretty slim. Look for products that are lightweight (save on shipping fees) and cost somewhere between $10 and $200.
After you’ve decided on one or more profitable products, it’s time to search for suppliers. The best website for contacting Chinese suppliers is Alibaba. Use Alibaba to send out messages to all the vendors who fit your criteria, and make sure to only work with Alibaba Gold Suppliers, as they are more trustworthy from being vetted by Alibaba.
You have your products, and you have a list of suppliers. Now it’s time to start shipping and get down to business.
How to Make Six-Figure Incomes by Self-Publishing eBooks on Amazon
Amazon has created a system, called Kindle Direct Publishing that allows authors to skip traditional publishers and sell their books directly through Amazon. You, as the author, receive 70% of the royalties from the sales of the eBooks.
A recent survey found that “Self-published authors” make $10,000 a year on average. Other authors, such as Hugh Howey, have earned six-figure incomes selling through Amazon. E.L. James, for instance, sold 250,000 copies of “50 Shades of Grey” before being picked up by publishers.
What Can You Sell on Amazon
Anyone who has something for sale can start an Amazon business. While that is correct to some extent, some products are more profitable than others.
Selling Books and Audiobooks on Amazon
With the rise of e-readers and tablets, you might think that reading books is a dying art. You’d be wrong. The book community is still very much alive and kicking. In fact, a significant fraction of Amazon’s profit comes from selling books. You could make a pretty decent living picking up wholesale lots of second-hand books and selling them on Amazon.
Just, don’t expect to make a fortune from the beginning. In some instances, the profit margins could be rather small depending on the book in question. But, as you are expanding and learning what genres and authors are most profitable, you’ll soon find yourself with a vigorous sales funnel.
Selling Your Movie on Amazon Prime (Amazon Instant Video)
Films can be expensive, and not everyone has the budget to purchase every movie they want to see. So, they’ll turn to sites such as Amazon that offer video subscription services, similar to Netflix and Hulu.
Amazon Video Direct allows you to create video content and send it to Prime subscribers. Amazon will pay you a percentage of the retail price, rental, or subscription fees.
Selling Physical Products on Amazon
As I’ve mentioned already, you must be very careful about the products you choose if you want to make money on Amazon. Don’t dive in head first. Do a bit of research to determine:
- Is there a market for that product?
- How stiff is the competition;
- What is the selling price?
- What are the Amazon fees?
- How much will it cost you to ship the product?
- What will the profit per unit be?
- What will the total profit be?
Once you have a system in place that can help you determine whether a product is a good fit or not, you can get started and look for suppliers. If you’re having a difficult time trying to decide on a product, keep in mind that Lego, bicycles, and toys have been shown to be hot ticket items.
If you’ve started a new company, selling your products through Amazon is a great way to ensure you’ll get plenty of eyeballs that could potentially turn into customers. The process isn’t very complicated, and it starts with deciding how many units of your product you intend to sell. I’ll talk more about it later.
How to Sell Books on Amazon
Here’s what you need to know if you want to make money selling books on Amazon:
Sell eBooks Using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
There’s no doubt about the fact that Amazon is the largest web store in the world. But, there’s more to it than you might think. There’s a reason why famous authors such as Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki have published exclusively to Amazon.
Amazon is the biggest online book seller. Think about it this way. Sure, publishing through your site has its benefits, but people usually don’t Google things with their credit cards in their hands. But, they do it on Amazon. More than that, Amazon is a giant marketing machine. Not only that your book will be available online in a matter of hours, but, once you start selling, Amazon will put your work in front of millions of potential buyers.
So, how can you make money publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing?
- Step 1: Decide Between KDP and KDP Select: The first step you need to take is choosing between Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and KDP Select. Both platforms connect you with millions of readers and offer 70% royalties for books priced from $2.99 to $9.99. However, KDP Select requires 100% exclusivity, meaning that your book cannot be published anywhere else. Enroll in KDP Select and earn more money through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
- Step 2: Design the Cover: Amazon only shows your eBook’s cover to potential buyers, so it goes without saying that it’s a vital element. Don’t ask a friend who just discovered Photoshop to give it a try. Check out 99Designs and Crowdspring for affordable design services. Make sure the image is 1500px by 2500px with a height/weight ratio of 1.6.
- Step 3: Convert Your Manuscript to Mobi: Although KDP supports a variety of formats, such as .doc, PDF, ePub, and RTF, experts recommend uploading your document as Mobi, a format unique to Kindle.
- Step 4: Publish: Sign up to KDP with your Amazon account. Enter the required information: author name, book title, categories, keywords, etc. Upload the cover. Check out your rights and territories. You’re almost there. All you have to do next is set your prices and publish. Once the eBook is live, KDP will show you a detailed report that allows you to track your metrics. Bonus tip: Upload your book a few weeks before you plan to launch it. Then, send free copies to friends and families and ask for reviews to give your book social proof. That way, when you are ready to promote your book, prospective buyers will see tons of positive reviews.
- Step 5: Promote Your Book: Amazon requires you to earn a certain number of sales before it puts your book on the Top 100 lists. So, you’ll need to put in a bit of effort and spread the word about your eBook yourself. Share quotes from it on social media, submit guest posts and offer promotions.
Sell Audiobooks on Amazon Using Amazon Creation Exchange (ACX)
With a market that is worth over $2 billion, it would be a pity not to take advantage of audiobooks. But, as with most things in life, you need to put in some time and effort if you want to benefit from this growing market. Unless you have a soothing voice and perfect diction, reading your book into your computer’s microphone won’t cut it. Audiobook production requires talent and professional equipment. Luckily, Amazon has got you covered.
Here’s how to publish an audiobook on Amazon Creation Exchange and make money:
- Step 1: Post a Project: If you already have an eBook published on Amazon, go to the menu and select the “New Project” window. ACX offers three choices: find someone to narrate and produce your audiobook, upload your book in audio format and sell it or narrate your book and upload the audio file later. I recommend you to choose the first option.
- Step 2: Pitch Your Book: One of the things that make ACX so great is that you can find voice professionals for no up-front costs. You will pay them later by offering a percentage of your royalties. To ensure you get the best talent, try to make your book as appealing as possible. Include selling points, awards, reviews, best-seller status, and so on. Provide information about your fan base (for instance, tell if you have a massive following on Twitter or Facebook.)
- Step 3: Post an Audition Script: This critical step will help you separate the goods from the mediocre. Keep the sample short. You don’t want to spend an hour listening to every submission. If your book uses specific language, make sure to include examples of it in the sample.
- Step 4: Find a Narrator: ACX also allows you to send invites to different narrators and encourage them to send submissions for your project.
- Step 5: Produce: After you have selected a narrator, you can move to the ACX workspace, where you can communicate about the project. Don’t expect the narrator to get everything right on the first try. Give them feedback about what problems exist at what particular time.
- Step 6: Publish: After you’re finished, both you and the narrator must confirm that the audiobook is ready for release. It will take a few days until Amazon ACX will convert the file into the proper format, so be patient.
Sell Paperback Books on Amazon Using Create Space
In spite of what you might think, the printed book is not dead yet. In fact, paperback sales rose by 8.4% in the first five months of 2015 alone. There’s something about printed books that is dear to the heart – you can’t deny that. But, here’s the problem: getting your book published the traditional way can be a hassle. Your manuscript could end up on an agent’s desk for months (even years) until they find a publisher interested in your work.
Fortunately, there’s another way: print-on-demand (POD.) With POD, you don’t have to print thousands of books and hope that they’ll eventually fly off the shelves. Instead, you upload the book and a cover file to a POD service, such as Createspace.com and IngramSpark.com, and when a customer orders your book from Amazon, the service will print one copy and send it directly to them.
So, here’s how to self-publish a paperback book with Createspace.com:
- Set up Your Account: Make sure you provide all the necessary information, including your tax information and bank account information so that Amazon can pay royalties on your book sales.
- Design Your Cover: Just as with uploading an eBook on KDP, you need to ensure that you create a high-quality cover. If you already have an eBook cover designed, all you need is the spine and back cover design. If you’re uploading a new manuscript, make sure that it’s correctly formatted. The most common trim size for paperbacks is 6”x 9”.
- Upload Your Book to Createspace: Log into your account to get started. Enter the book title, select the paperback format and choose a setup process based on your level – you can make a choice between “Guided” and “Expert.” Upload your book cover, as well. Don’t forget to fill all the relevant information about your book, such as the title, author, categories, description, etc.
- Submit for Review: Createspace will get back to you within the next 24 hours after you’ve submitted your book for examination. Once approved, order yourself a proof copy to review.
- Start Selling: After you’ve approved your review copy, it will immediately become available on Createspace. It might take a bit longer for it to be live on Amazon, as well.
Sell Hardcover Books on Amazon Using Ingram Spark
Ingram Spark works pretty much the same way as Createspace. Ingram Spark is best suited if you want a hardcover or if you have a lot of colored pictures inside your book and want high-quality images. Ingram Spark also has a larger international distribution than Createspace and is the same publisher professional publishing houses use. It makes sense to go with Ingram Spark if you want to have your book made available to bookstores and libraries.
In the end, both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses, so analyze your needs and goals before making a decision.
How to Get Your Film on Amazon Video
How Does Amazon Video Direct Work?
At the beginning of last year, Amazon has taken on YouTube by offering a new video platform where anyone can post videos and get paid for it. Amazon Video Direct allows filmmakers, content creators, and companies to upload their videos for the millions of members of Amazon’s Prime Video service to watch. Amazon will pay you 50% of the retail price for every purchase, rental, and subscription fee.
Unlike YouTube, you can only upload high-definition videos to Amazon Video Direct.
Here’s how to sell your film on Amazon Video Direct:
- Create an Account: First thing first, you need to sign up for an account if you want to use Amazon Video Direct to sell your videos.’
- Upload Your Film: As mentioned above, make sure it’s in HD format.
- Trailer: Don’t forget to create and upload an HD trailer for your movie.
- Artwork: Amazon requires two posters in 16:9 and 3:4 ratio. You will also have to upload a 16:9 background image.
- Metadata: Provide detailed information, such as movie title, author, cast, producers, etc.
- Setup Payment and Banking Information: Amazon will pay royalties into your bank account automatically.
Making Your Film Available on Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is a subscription-based service where members can watch unlimited content. What makes Prime different from other services is that it pays content creators and filmmakers per stream. Unlike Netflix, where you get a one-time licensing fee regardless of the success of your content, on Amazon Prime, the more views you get, the more money you make.
To get your video onto Amazon Prime, you will need to deliver the video in ProRes 422 HQ format (what the professionals use). You can use Amazon Video Direct and select the option to make your video available on Prime. After you’ve uploaded your file, artwork, and trailer, Amazon will review your submission.
Once your film is live on Amazon Prime, you need to promote it. One effective tactic that almost everyone is ignoring is to ask the cast and crew members to share it with their friends.
How to Sell Physical Products on Amazon
Too many people refuse to look at Amazon as a new way of doing business. They think the effort of getting listed is overwhelming.
That is absurd, of course.
As comprehensive as the Amazon system might be, the decision to sell doesn’t have to be an all or nothing choice. You don’t have to map the entire world, just get profitable on a particular niche. True, Amazon can be a lot of work, but the benefits are indisputable if you do it right.
So, let’s dive into your options.
Amazon Seller Central
Amazon breaks down the selling process into four simple steps: list, sell, ship, and get paid. Let’s assume that you’ve already identified a winning product and a trusted wholesaler and you are ready to start selling on Amazon. The first thing you’ll need to do is to list the products.
Listing Products on Amazon
Amazon Seller Central offers various options for listing your products. If you are selling products that are already on Amazon, you can use the descriptions and stock images available on the site. You only have to tell Amazon how many products you have to sell and select the available shipping options.
If you design your products, you need to take a few extra steps to list your products on Amazon.
- Provide a UPC/EAN Number: This is a unique 12 or 13 digit code used to track your products. If you create multiple listings of the same products, you will have a single UPC/EAN number.
- The SKU: This unique number helps you track each of your listings.
- The Product Title: Create a product title that describes your listing as accurately as possible.
- Product Description: Create a compelling explanation that helps buyers make a decision. Use bullet points to make it easier for prospects to skim through the features and benefits of your product.
- Product Pictures: Create high-quality images of your product. As a rule of thumb, make sure your photos are at least 500×500 pixels on a white background without any text or watermarks.
Upload Your Listing to Amazon
You have several different options for uploading your product listing. If you only have a few products (up to 50,) you can upload them using the Add a Product tool.
If you have multiple products, you can download the Inventory File Excel template from Seller Central. Use it to add details about your products.
If you are just starting out on Amazon, it’s a good idea to limit the number of items to 20. That way, you won’t waste too much time and energy if things go south and an error prevents you from uploading your listing.
Amazon might take up to 24 hours to verify your listing, so don’t get anxious if you don’t see your products immediately. If your listing is still missing after a few days, contact Amazon through the Seller Portal.
Sell Your Amazon Products
Now that your listing is live on Amazon, you can use the Seller Central website to handle all aspects of your account. You can check for orders, track your listing’s performance, update your inventory, and so on.
You’ll notice that numerous other sellers offer the same products as you. So, you need to stand out if you want to build a profitable Amazon business.
Keep an eye on your competitors to ensure that you are offering the best possible deal. Amazon most frequently displays the lowest available prices.
Monitor your performance to determine your most profitable products. Also, make sure you are updating your inventory regularly.
Ship Your Amazon Products
You’ve sold your first product on Amazon. Congratulation! It wasn’t that hard, was it? Now, you need to make sure that the product gets in your customer’s hand safe and sound.
If you choose to fulfill orders yourself, you are responsible for packing, labeling, and shipping items to individual customers. Keep in mind that Amazon will charge customers standard shipping fees for all products (including media ones) sold by Individual Sellers. The problem with this strategy is that, if your shipping costs don’t match Amazon’s fees, you might lose the difference in any additional shipping costs you acquire.
The other option you can choose for shipping products is moving up to Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
Get Paid by Amazon
Amazon will deposit payment in your account 14 days after the order is processed.
How to Sell on Amazon Prime
Your little Amazon business has blown up, and sales are pouring in.
The only problem is that you’re getting more orders than you can handle. You’re thinking about hiring a few people to help you with order fulfillment and customer service.
Not so fast. You can use Fulfillment by Amazon and let them take care of everything.
Fulfillment by Amazon, also known as FBA, is a business model that allows you to take advantage of Amazon’s distribution network. Simply put, Amazon will store your inventory in one of their warehouses, fulfill orders, and even provide customer service, so that you don’t have to be hands-on with every aspect of your business. In simple terms, you’re outsourcing your packing, shipping and return services to Amazon and give them a cut of your sales.
In addition, having your products fulfilled by Amazon, makes them available for Amazon Prime one-day and two-day shipping, increasing your potential to make money on Amazon.
Here’s how it works.
Send Inventory to Amazon, and they Handle Everything
First, go to your account and select “I want Amazon to ship and provide customer service for my items if they sell” from the Shipping Method tab. The next step you’ll need to take is to convert your merchandise to FBA items. Go to “Inventory” and click on the “Manage Inventory” tab. Click on the “Action” button and selects the “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon” option from the drop down menu.
Once you modify the status of your inventory, Amazon will ask you to choose between FBA Label Service and Stickerless, Commingled Inventory. If you’re selling new items, you can use stickerless, commingled inventory. What that means is that Amazon will commingle your products with other items from matching sellers. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of printing out your stickers, you can opt for the FBA Label Service.
After you’ve selected one of these two options, Amazon will prompt you to either “Convert Only” or “Convert and Send Inventory.” Pick the second option and create a shipping plan.
Now that your items are converted, it’s time to ship your products to Amazon for FBA. Make sure to check the weight of your packages before dropping them at your local UPS or Fedex.
From now on, Amazon handles everything from stocking to shipping your products. So, when someone makes an order, Amazon warehouse workers find and ship your product. If there’s a problem with the order, their customer service will handle it for you.
Amazon Prime Means Competitive Pricing + Trusted Customer Service
Not only that your FBA listings benefit from competitive pricing, but you can also leverage Amazon’s reputation and Prime Service. When a customer receives a package with the “Fulfillment by Amazon” logo, they know that packing, delivering, and customer services are all handled by Amazon.
FBA is not free, but it’s much more advantageous than hiring staff.
Where to Find Wholesale Products
One of the primary challenges most people face when starting an Amazon business is finding reputable wholesalers. Although domestically buying comes with some perks, most wholesale dealers in the US offer extremely high prices. So, an excellent idea would be to buy direct from overseas vendors.
Although buying from overseas vendors is the best way to get the lowest price, it also comes with a lot of hassles. For starters, communication can be an issue since most Chinese vendors and manufacturers don’t speak English very well. Their websites are awful, and it’s hard to get an idea of the quality of the product. So, you have to request samples, which can take time. The logistic of shipping products overseas can be a headache as well.
That said, in spite of all the hassles mentioned above, buying from overseas vendors is still the best option you have. You will probably face a lot of challenges in the beginning, but once you’ve established a good relationship with a vendor, the process will become smooth and straightforward.
If you’ve decided to source your supplier from overseas, then Alibaba is probably your best option.
Alibaba is the largest e-commerce company in the world (yes, it’s bigger than Amazon and eBay combined.) Its extensive directory connects suppliers (mostly from Asia) with buyers worldwide. There are tens of millions of products from hundreds of thousands of vendors. So, whatever you need, you will find it here.
AliExpress is a branch of Alibaba targeted primarily at international buyers. Small Asian businesses use the platform to sell their products to customers worldwide. Just like with Alibaba, you can find almost anything you want here. The prices on here are not as low as regular Alibaba, however, there’s no need to negotiate or communicate with suppliers on AliExpress. You simply buy with a credit or debit card and enter your shipping information.
Private Labeling Products
Consumers are getting more and more accustomed to private label products. In fact, recent reports have shown that 80% of consumers believe that private label products’ quality is comparable to established brands.
What Is Private Labeling (OEM)?
If you are new to Amazon, private labeling might seem like yet another complicated concept that you need to learn and understand. But, it’s not that complicated – trust me. Simply put, private labeling means that you work with a manufacturer and buy a generic product that you then make your own by adding your logo to the products.
Here’s an example. Let’s imagine that after extensive research you’ve decided that you can make a profit selling yoga mats on Amazon. You come up with a name for your company and create a logo and customized packaging design. Then, you look for a manufacturer (domestically or on Alibaba) who makes yoga mats. After you’ve found one that is trustworthy, you send your customized packaging design for them to use. The manufacturer will produce the same generic yoga mats, but they will label it with your branding so that you can sell them as your product.
Keep in mind that manufacturers are Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and not private labeling manufacturers.
Here are some examples of Popular Private Labeled Products
- Daniel Wellington: The popular watch brand, Daniel Wellington, is a custom private label brand. However, they’ve managed to create such a strong brand that they are now one of the most successful watch companies in the world.
- Shredz: A fitness supplement brand, Shredz has gone viral over the last couple of years thanks to leveraging Instagram marketing.
- Amazon Basics: Amazon Basics is a private label electronics brand that provides USB, Ethernet cables, A/V cables, and other electronic accessories for a low price.
- Costco Kirkland: Anyone who regularly shops at Costco has seen this brand on just about any product, from Kirkland clothing to Kirkland ham.
How to Private Label Products?
Here are the steps necessary to creating a custom product to sell. Note that since you’re selling a generic product, the biggest factor that will control how much money you make is your marketing.
Contact a Manufacturer That Has OEM Capabilities
As mentioned above, OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturers. However, the acronym isn’t relevant to who sells the product but to whom the product is meant to be sold. Look for manufacturers that can create products that can be customized with your logo, colors, and other specifications.
Send Designs to Them
After you’ve found a supplier with OEM capabilities and you’ve agreed to an established set of quality standards, you can send them your customized packaging and logo. The company will produce and ship the product to stores. Most suppliers will provide you with a design template that you can send to a graphic designer to use. Sites like 99 Designs have great designers for creating packaging and logos.
I’ll be the first to admit: Amazon can be frightening. The sheer size of it, multiple options, and fierce competition can make anyone think twice before starting a business on Amazon. But, as you’ve hopefully learned from this guide, setting yourself up for success is not that hard, as long as you have a plan and strategy in place. If you are interested in a full course on how to sell physical products on Amazon FBA, I highly recommend you check out the Startup Bros free webinar. This was the webinar I watched when I was just starting out.
Hopefully, this guide has covered your questions on how to sell on Amazon for beginners. Let me know your questions in the comments below.
Start selling on Amazon today! There’s lots of money to be made.