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How We Replaced Our Incomes By Selling On Amazon

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Make a full-time income by selling on Amazon! Read this post to learn more and sign up for a FREE course!

Guest post from Jessica of TheSellingFamily.com

Five years ago, I had a dream that I would be able to retire my husband from the job that he hated. Little did I know that in less than 2 years of setting that goal, it would actually come true.

You see, I was laid off from the same company he was working for… but instead of finding another job, I replaced my income by selling new and used goods on eBay.

It was a blast! I would go to yard sales and hunt for deals that could be resold for a profit.

There was a problem though, it wasn’t scalable. I got to where I was making around $1,500 in profit each month… but, in order to bring my husband home, I needed to make more than that.

I went on a hunt for a different way to run my new business and made a couple changes…

I started using the Amazon platform and their Fulfillment By Amazon program (FBA).

This was a game-changer for my business. It meant that Amazon’s employees would handle all of the customer support and order processing for the items I was selling.

This saved me a lot of time everyday because I no longer had to ship out 10+ orders on my own.

I was also storing my products at the Amazon fulfillment centers so I wasn’t even limited by space in my office anymore!

I started buying products from regular drug stores on clearance and reselling them on Amazon.

I would go to places like CVS and Rite Aid weekly to see what new items had gone to 75% off.

I have an app on my phone called “Amazon Seller” that I can use to scan the barcode of a product and the app will tell me how much that item is selling for on Amazon, and even calculate out how much I would make on it after fees.

I could buy things like Norelco Electric Razors for $25 and resell them for $75 or more. When I found deals like this at one store, I would head to other locations of the same store and look for those same items.

I would also find lots of vitamins or lotions for $5 that I could resell for $15 or more. The key is just finding the items that sell for more than the clearance price, and have room for profit after my cost and expenses.

Less than a year after switching to the Amazon FBA system and buying my “inventory” from clearance aisles, my husband was finally able to join our son and I at home! We now have a thriving business selling products on Amazon and earning more than $3,000 a month in profit (we earned over $30,000 just in November/December!)

If you are a fan of bargain shopping, selling on Amazon could be a great way for you to add an extra income stream for your family.

Want to give it a try?

I often recommend that people interested in selling on Amazon get started with products that they have around their own homes. It’s always surprising how many brand new products we have in our possession that don’t get used for one reason or another.

Take a look in your board game closet, kitchen cupboards, and baby closets to see what things you never ended up using! Hey, even check out that coupon stockpile if you have one!

Bring any of those new items to your computer and look for them on Amazon.com. See how much they are selling for. If they are selling for more than $15, send them into the warehouse and test the waters.

Many people find that they have a few hundred dollars worth of things that could be sold on Amazon. I personally recommend just focusing on brand new items for all categories except for books. If you have gently used books you can send those in as used as well.

Here are 8 quick steps to help you get started:

1. Check your house for new items that could possibly be resold on Amazon. Unloved Christmas gifts, birthday presents, “gift closet items”, board games that looked fun but never got played, etc.

2. Bring those items up on Amazon.com and see which ones are selling for $15 or more. Remember, this is all just seed money, so it isn’t necessarily about how much more you can sell them for versus what you paid. You just want to get your feet wet and understand the process.

3. Sign up for a free Amazon Seller Account.

4. List those items for sale in your new seller account. Choose Fulfillment By Amazon as your fulfillment option. Use the current price on Amazon to decide how much to sell yours for.

5. Send those products to Amazon so they can handle the rest for you. (You will create a shipment inside of your seller account, and Amazon will tell you where to send those items. You will need a box, packing tape, address labels and a printer for this part.)

6. Once your items are checked in to the warehouses, you will get notified that your items are “live” and for sale.

7. After your items are sold and shipped to the customer, you will get an email letting you know that they have shipped.

8. Now it’s time to CELEBRATE!!

Not so bad right?

For a more visual idea of what you will be doing in this process, you can check out this post about getting started as an Amazon FBA seller. You can also sign up here for a free eCourse on how to get started started selling on Amazon.

This post was written by Jessica Larrew of TheSellingFamily.com. That is where she and her husband share about their journey of selling on Amazon to make a full time income, working part time hours. They also help Amazon entrepreneurs build successful and profitable businesses for themselves.

Looking for more in-depth advice on how to make money from home?

Be sure to check out my book Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make A Difference, where I share creative ways to manage money, generate income and–most importantly–live a life of deeper meaning, fulfillment, and generosity than you might have ever imagined possible. This book is packed with hard-won wisdom, real-life stories, and practical tips to help inspire and motivate you!

I also highly, highly recommend Angie Nelson’s eCourse: How to Land Your First Work-At-Home Job. This step-by-step guide is packed with valuable information and tips!


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77 Comments

  • jmp says:

    I’d love to hear more about the tax implications of this. both in terms of sales tax and income tax.

    • Hi! As far as income taxes go, this is treated as a self employed income. So you would pay taxes on all of the profit you earn.

      Sales tax can be collected by Amazon and then you would pay that to the state. Hope that helps 🙂

  • I’d love to try this! We live in such a rural area, it’s hard to get out to find the deals. Maybe I’ll still see what I can do.

    • Hi Christine 🙂

      We lived in a pretty rural area when we got started, so I had to drive 20 minutes to get to stores.

      There is a great option of sourcing online though, so that is a possibility you could check into. Then the products come to your door!

  • K says:

    So for example, if you have 10 items to sell, do you package them all together to ship to Amazon, pay the shipping to send them to Amazon, & Amazon does the rest? If I have to pay $10-15 shipping on one $15 item, it may not be worth it. Do you have to pay the shipping to ship to Amazon? How much are the seller fees? How & when do you get paid?

    • K says:

      I checked on Amazon & it looks like they charge $39.99 per month to sell + additional fees. 🙁 That would not be worth it to try one or two $15 items. Can you give more details on how this works?

    • Great question.

      We send our items to Amazon in large shipments and pay an average of $.50-$.75 per pound to get the product to them.

      They then ship the individual products to the buyer when they sell.

      You can start with a free account, and then only pay the fees when the items sell. As a rough estimate, Amazon will take 30% of the selling price in commission and fees.

      Hope that helps.

  • Mary H says:

    One of the things stated in the article this is linked to at the end about being an Amazon FBA seller is “You pay them a percentage of all sales and some handling/shipping fees”, but I don’t see it in this post. I’d be curious to know more about the fees and percentage.

  • Susan says:

    You are conducting a business and should be aware of all applicable laws, tax and otherwise.

  • Melissa says:

    I have a friend who made a killing on e-bay a few years ago but after she got used to making that amount (and spending it) her business slowed down big time. You need to be aware of the taxes you will need to pay as well and decide if it’s worth it.

  • Leslie says:

    I’m wondering about the kinds of items around the house you can try to sell. Does it have to be in original packaging? What kind of condition do any of the products you source have to be in?

  • Amber says:

    Jessica, thanks for sharing your story. I am a Goodwill addict and use to buy to resell. Now I have something else to try. Have a blessed day.

  • Kelly S says:

    Thanks for this interesting post! I always see “fulfilled by Amazon” options as a buyer, but never realized this is how it works.

    I’ll be honest, I don’t think this is the career for me, but I’m glad to have learned something new! 🙂

  • Great job Jessica!! =) I love your entrepreneurial mindset and your willingness to make things happen!

  • Susan says:

    Curious, say you bought a product for 35$, you send it to Amazon (est 12$ to ship) that’s 47$, now ur product sells for 75$, Amazon gets 30% (22.50$). That means I get $52.50 minus the 47$ cost me orig and I only make 5.50$, now I have to pay taxes … So, explain how you make money ??? Doesn’t make sense .. Thanks

  • Maryalene says:

    What a fantastic post. Just when you think you’ve heard about every money making method under the sun, a new one pops up!

    I’m curious as the to time commitment it takes to make a full-time income from this. Are you working every day or is more of a part-time commitment? I’m guessing the shopping takes the most time but do you also have to peel off price labels, etc?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Maralene,

      It took me almost a full year of working a few full time days (at night and weekends) to replace my husbands income. Once we got our system down, we are now able to work less than 20 hours a week on the business.

      Another factor is how much money you have to start with. If we had more to invest we could have made more to begin with.

      Hope that helps.

  • Jana says:

    Thanks so much for the info. I am unable to get the “3 free videos” to play. Is there an error or am I doing something wrong? I sell on ebay and unfortunately, it’s getting more difficult. This sounds like a great option. It sounds like I’d need to get a smart phone to be successful too.

  • Cheryl says:

    In my opinion, I think this “business” is not fair nor should be on Money Saving Mom’s site. Thank you

    • Sara Gift says:

      Just wanted to share, that for someone who works outside the home and has a little more money and a lot less time…it is worth it to me to pay others to find deals on goods or services that are still cheaper than full price but not quite bargain basement. When I make these purchases, I feel good I am not paying 100% of the price, and I am paying for her time to scout them out. In addition, sometimes I will pay full price just for the sake of convenience. Online purchasing is the main shopping that my family uses. So even if I am paying full price I am also receiving ebates, etc. Just wanted to respectfully share an additional thought as to why this would be beneficial on the buyer’s end of the shopping experience.

      • Lisa says:

        I agree with your perspective, Sara. Additionally, there is so much waste in our world, it is good to see someone making what might eventually be wasted into something useful for someone, somewhere. There are many people who live in remote areas and do not have easy access to products, so this is a great benefit to them. Jessica is not “ripping off” the stores by purchasing at their clearance prices. She is probably paying even more than the store originally paid for it, then making it available to someone who would not otherwise be able to obtain it, so it is a win-win-win.

        • Toby says:

          I agree. This is in no way ripping off the stores even if they are losing money on the items. If an item is on clearance, it is inventory the store wants to get rid of as fast as possible and they won’t feel ripped off if somebody buys it all. It they don’t sell it all at the current clearance price, they have to use more labor and cost to make new tags to sell it at an even lower clearance price. If it still doesn’t sell, then they get paid pennies on the dollar to sell it to a wholesale company that is going to turn around and resell it.

      • @ Sara I completely feel the same way. We purchase so much of our own things on Amazon as well. I figure when I buy from a store they are making a profit as well, so what does it hurt if the person I buy from online makes a profit too. The main concern is if I (or the end user) is comfortable paying the asking price.

        @Lisa Thanks for your input!

        @Toby Exactly! The store sets their price, and we set our price. Free market for everyone 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      WHY is it “not fair”? Because you don’t do it? It is a legitimate, legal way that this family, and many others, makes money. They are paid for the time and effort they spend finding these deals to resell. It absolutely SHOULD be included on a money saving/money making site!

    • Amanda says:

      Why is this not fair? It’s capitalism. Just like anyone who sells at a flea market or antique mall… Or any for-profit secondhand store… Half Price Books, Once Upon a Child, etc…

  • Toby says:

    Should I avoid clearance items with a black marker through the UPC or with a clearance label that can’t be peeled off without peeling off part of the package.

  • Kathy says:

    I was wondering if there would be an option to bring the items yourself to a “local” Amazon distribution center. We have a truck and that option seems like something we’d be more interested in. Thanks by the way for a very well-written article.

    • Unfortunately there isn’t. They don’t always accept every type of item at each warehouse and they tell us which warehouse our products need to go to. We don’t get to choose. Sometimes it’s the close one, other times it is the farthest.

  • K says:

    HOW do you only pay $0.50 per pound to ship items? I don’t see how to possibly do that. USPS does not allow 1st class shipping on anything over one pound. HOW are you getting such low shipping rates? I’m not seeing how I could make a PROFIT at this. I thought that self employment taxes were approximately 40%.

    Also, do you set your price & write your ad like on ebay? Or does Amazon do that?

    • Betsy says:

      When you ship items to Amazon for their FBA program, they let you use the shipping rate they’ve negotiated with UPS. It’s excellent! If I ship a 12x12x16, 40 pound box to a fulfillment center close to me, it’s around $7. If Amazon wants my items to go to a different fulfillment center farther away, it could be as much as $20. But, still quite reasonable.

    • It’s part of the program. They have their own shipping agreement that we couldn’t get on our own.

      Everyone uses the same listings.

    • Anne says:

      Self-employment tax is closer to 15% plus you have to pay income tax, too, and that depends on your tax bracket. My husband is a CPA but not a tax professional, so it’s best to consult a tax adviser for these types of questions.

  • Heather says:

    Thank you for such an informative article. I’m wondering how you deal with returns…does Amazon shoulder that burden or does it cut out of your pay somehow when someone returns one of your items?
    Also, do you do both local stores and online scouting and if so, what percentage would you say you do of each? Do you also buy wholesale?

    • Returns are your cost. Part of having a retail type of business. You can get the products returned to you and do something with them. Or, just get rid of them and take the loss. We average less than a 4% return rate.

      We do both online and local sourcing. No wholesale for us, but many people do wholesale. The percentage depends on the time of year it really varies.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I am a full time stay at home mama. I done a number of different “jobs” to bring in some extra money for our family, but nothing that has been real substantial. I started selling on Amazon about 18 months ago and I have been able to significantly add to our family’s income! Jessica knows what she is talking about! I love that I can truly work for myself and work around my family’schedule. And yes, I do have to claim and pay taxes, but that just means I am actually making money =)

  • Lisa says:

    What happens to the items you paid for and shipped to Amazon if they don’t sell?

  • Miha says:

    Do you need to open a business to be able to get fulfillment by amazon?
    Thank you!

  • Christie says:

    How fast do you items typically sell? My worry would be investing in this and not selling anything. Thanks!

  • Rachel says:

    Sarah, I believe you can not sell the coupons themselves. But I don’t think you could get in trouble for selling an item you used a coupon on and I don’t believe that’s illegal. That would be like buying a pair of shoes at Payless and using a coupon for a discount. Then they sit in your closet for a year and you never wear them do you decide to get rid of them. So you put them in your yard sale. Your saying that’s illegal? No difference between that and offering them for sale on eBay of Amazon. Or say you wear them once and don’t like them and then sell them and that’s illegal. I’m not intending to be rude. I just think your misunderstanding and if I am than maybe that las should be removed. Because once you own an item you should be able to Do what you want with it. Also k think most people and the author are talking about buying stuff on clearance and not with coupons. Most stores are happy to get the stuff out the store. Some stores sell their clearance stuff in bulk to a liquidation house, who then marks them back up some and sells them. It’s all the same. Just a thought. Then there are stores (like Walmart ) who simply throw the merchandise in the dump if they don’t sell on clearance. Which is terribly wasteful and horrible for our environment and not to mention greedy since they’d rather discard it than donating it to people or organizations in need. I’m sure all these stores would rather sell the items than deal with them other ways.

  • Rachel says:

    Jessica, this is all very interesting to me. I’ve been an ebay seller for over 10 years and have sold s few things on Amazon. I’ve thought of using Amazon more but the fees were so expensive I couldn’t imagine how people did better than ebay. I knew about the fulfillment center but then my thought was that cost more and then you have to pay to ship to them. After reading the comments I had an aha moment. I didn’t realize you could send into Amazon so cheap. So does the 30% in fees cover the shipping cost Amazon has to shop to customers. So if posted something for $30, then Amazon adds a shipping charge on top for customers or they get free shipping on qualified orders? So I get 70% of that $30 right and then of course my cost and shipping to Amazon. One thing I have a hard time with is with Amazon you can’t tell like you can through completed listings on ebay if certain items are actually selling. Or maybe you can and I just don’t know how? So how many items do you send in on average that don’t sell or that you mark down to cost or below your cost so they will sell? Also do you only list things that are already in their system? Or create new listings for items that are not? Have you listed any clothing? I’m wondering how they would do. How many fulfillment centers are there? I have only ever sold books on Amazon and the price seems to rapidly drop. If you do find a book that’s selling for more than a penny everyone seems to be in s war to keep lowering their price to be the lowest until it goes down to a penny. Does that happen with other items as well or is it mainly just books. Sorry for all the questions. I’m just trying to figure it if moving to Amazon would be better. I currently have employees to help me with ebay because of my lack of time to create listings and then ship. This would save me so much time using Amazons fulfillment center. Thank You!

  • MaryS says:

    Hi Jessica! I just happened upon your site the other day and decided to take the plunge. Question though, to be approved to sell in the beauty category, you now need to be preapproved. To do so, you need to provide invoices. If I’m purchasing items from stores, there are no invoices so I’m not sure how to make this work. Did you have to do this? Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you!

    • Julee says:

      This is the same question I had – please help! Amazon customer service is of no help!

      Hi Jessica! I just happened upon your site the other day and decided to take the plunge. Question though, to be approved to sell in the beauty category, you now need to be preapproved. To do so, you need to provide invoices. If I’m purchasing items from stores, there are no invoices so I’m not sure how to make this work. Did you have to do this? Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hey Mark & Julee,

      The invoices are needed for the Beauty, Grocery & Health / Personal care categories. These are “restricted” categories for new sellers.

      I recommend that sellers just starting out stay out of these categories and focus on categories that do not have any restrictions.

      At the time, it is very hard to get approval in those 3 and Amazon keeps changing the “rules” for approval.

  • Jod says:

    Awesome article, however at the end of the comments you mention to stay away from Beauty, Grocery, Health/Personal Care. Aren’t those the items you mentioned that you do sell because you get them on clearance? If not those, which types of items do you suggest with which to start where you would actually be able to profit? Also, if you find items on clearance at Pottery Barn for example, do they have any problem with you reselling their items? Thank you for the info and I’m so happy for your success in doing this for your family!

    • Hi Jod, those are just a few examples of the types of products that we sell. Clearance items can be found in every department. Those categories mentioned are restricted to new sellers, so I can sell them, but you can’t to start with.

  • Natalie says:

    The link to the free seller account seems to be broken.

  • Sheri Biel says:

    How long does it take to sell an item or to make a significant amount of money doing this? If I ship my items to Amazon and it doesn’t sell for 6-12 months I’m not sure it’s even worth it.

  • Rita says:

    Hi Jessica, just came upon your page. Thank you for the helpful information. I have been selling on Amazon in Home & Garden for a few months but cannot get approved in Beauty. I have hundreds of new beauty items to sell for which I paid and have receipts or packing slips. Amazon does not accept these as proper documentation.

    I think you mentioned that you do not sell in Beauty. But do you have any suggestions for me? Thank you!

  • Celeste says:

    Another option for selling on Amazon is to actually buy products in bulk at wholesale price and then ship them in in smaller sets. We do this with pots, and plant tray cells that we are already buying for use on our vegetable farm. So if there are items you use a lot of anyway you can start buying extra and reselling them. We also make our own skin care products and sell them on there, but we started before the new restrictions on that category. But there may be other handmade items that could work.

  • Lisette says:

    Hi what is the app I need to scan bar codes? Thanks!

  • Erica says:

    Are there any restrictions we cant sell in? I tried to sell beauty products and under garments but it won’t like me I was wondering if you knew why

  • Amie says:

    I’m really excited to try this, the extra income would mean so much for my family. I’m curious about the $15 part, is this just to start with? Or do you always keep it as a rule that if it’s not selling for $15 it’s not worth it?

  • CID says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing option to earn income. Many CVS products have a sticker mentioning that the product can only be find at CVS and to contact them if the product is sold elsewhere. How do you sell these products without a consequence? Also, are you allowed to resell store name products, like CVS or Members Mark,etc. Thanks.

  • Amanda says:

    It says that if you sell more than 30 items a month you need a professional sellers account. Is that how you do it? That $40 per month fee, plus other fees? I have a new adrenal disease where going to work isn’t OK for my body & now I am trying to make income and work from home. This seems perfect! I can definitely shop and post part time and give my body the rest it needs. I’m a good shopper and especially with discount, so I’m pretty sure I would list more than 30 items sometimes. Please help with whatever knowledge on this you have.

  • Felicia Butler says:

    Sounds interesting. I already have a seller account. I have a mobile app (free) on Amazon. Would like to learn more!

  • Rebecca says:

    Great article!!! One more way to make money from home…I’m always amazed when I see so many jealous people who choose to find fault & attack an article just because they didn’t think of the idea…or aren’t brave enough to try something new themselves. Keep up the good work & thank you for sharing your story with us 🙂

  • Fee says:

    Hi. I signed up for seller account after reading your article. But it looks like I need approval for a lot of the items I want to sell. For example, I am trying to sell my used Breville Juice or my xbox 360. This makes it tough to actually sell something. What is your experience on this? Thank you in advance.

  • Rachael says:

    Hi, can you please tell me how feasible it is to do this business from Australia? I’m assuming I could only do wholesale, shipped directly to Amazon as postage between US and Oz would make it an unprofitable exercise.
    Thanks! Rachael (SAHM)

  • Holly says:

    Can you sell handmade items on amazon? Or just stuff in commercial production?

  • Bonnie Nolen says:

    My husband and I own a chocolate shop. Our two best sellers are English Toffee and Sea Salt Caramels. With retail sales going down every year, we are looking to expand into Amazon sales. Probably just 2-5 items first. We are worried about our products being in their warehouse, and have fears of melting in a non-climate controlled facility, or damage to pallets. FBA sounds ideal for us, logistically, but would it be safer for us to ship ourselves?

  • Lori says:

    Hello can anyone please tell me how i can do the amazon FBA when ifind items that are cheaper with my phone n buy them then how do i get them to amazon thank you

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