How to Sell Your Own Products on Amazon – A Success Story

This post is a guest post written by Thomas from the 7 Pillars of Selling Online.

“Opportunities are everywhere.”

I sure wasn’t confident about that a few years ago…

Starting a business was something that I had always wanted to do, but I didn’t see how I could do it.

Thinking it would be a good idea to build entrepreneurial skills, I left my first job out of college to get some sales experience. People thought I was crazy…and they were right.

I got a lot of experience, but not a lot of sales. It was not for me. I really needed something else to create an income for my family.

I discovered almost by accident how to sell on Amazon. It changed everything, and I started to believe once again that I could make it.

Opportunities abound; taking the first step is easy…it’s what a lot of people do…but it’s knowing what to do for the following steps that makes all the difference.

That’s when you find success, and you don’t need a fortune or need to be “well connected” to get started.

You Can Start Small: That’s the Beauty of Selling On Amazon

It doesn’t take much to get started selling on Amazon, and that’s what saved me because I didn’t have a lot to start with.

Had I first tried to create my own ecommerce website, I would have spent hundreds (more like thousands) of dollars just to get started– not to mention committing to a product line, buying product, paying for storage…all before knowing if the product would sell. What a mess!

Starting out selling on Amazon is easy because you can start with just one product.

That’s how I started…just one product, then two, then three…you get the picture.

It was easy to build from the ground up because I didn’t need an upfront investment in an expensive ecommerce site, SEO, and trying to get traffic.

The traffic is already there on Amazon; that’s the beauty of it.

My business selling on Amazon has no employees–just me, and my wife helps out too sometimes.

  • Our first month, we did  $256.59 in sales. We were surprised we did that well.
  • The second month, we did $1,303.79. Things were looking even better.
  • December is when the magic happens, and our first December, we did $20,051.09.
  • It’s grown since then and last December we had $95,632.74 in sales in just one month!

I share that only to show that it is possible to start small, with one product, and slowly build your business with baby steps until it becomes as big as you want it to be.

The Biggest Secret to Selling on Amazon: Three Little Letters

FBA…those three letters are like Magic.

Imagine building your business to the point of shipping 20 orders a day. That’s fantastic–and a manageable amount.

But what happens when the Holidays come around and you need to ship hundreds of orders per day, and then deal with returns, undeliverable shipments, and deadlines…ouch.

That’s where the magic letters come in: FBA. They stand for Fulfillment by Amazon.

Here’s what Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) means:

  • You ship products in bulk to one of Amazon’s warehouses
  • Amazon ships the individual customer orders for you
  • Amazon takes care of returns and customer service
  • Millions of Amazon’s customers can now get free shipping on your items with Super Saver Shipping, and Amazon Prime members get Free, 2-Day shipping

What this means for you:

  • Your business works while you sleep
  • You forgo the headaches of dealing with returns
  • Your customers love the fast and free shipping options
  • You can use the Amazon Fulfillment Center to ship out your eBay orders or your own website orders
  • Your business can grow without having to hire employees
  • You can sell a lot more product

Now, you don’t have to use FBA for your business, and it’s not available in all countries, but if you have the option, it’s how you can build your business fast.

But what sort of products should you choose to sell on Amazon…

Blue Ocean vs. Red Ocean: How to Pick Products that will Make you Money

Imagine shark infested waters where any potential piece of food is torn to shreds amidst the thrashing and biting…not a very happy place.

Now imagine the spacious, pristine, blue waters off the coast of Hawaii (or your favorite tropical paradise). There are miles and miles of open, clear, clean water.

If you’ve read the book Blue Ocean Strategy you’ll recognize these two different ocean waters as “Red Ocean” and “Blue Ocean.”

Red Ocean (with the sharks) is fraught with cutthroat competition. It’s hard to make a dime here.

Blue Ocean (imagine your favorite tropical paradise) is open for expansion with no relevant competition.

Amazon has both oceans, and if you want to keep all your fingers and toes intact, it’s important to play in the right ocean…

Choosing Your Products Wisely: How to Play in “Blue Oceans” on Amazon

The strategy is simple:

Sell products that people want and other sellers can’t or don’t offer.

Amazon creates one page for each product available on its site. All sellers that sell the same product are tossed onto that same product page.

Notice the seller counts when searching for a product on Amazon.com: “66 new” and “145 used” placed next to the product name.

Those numbers show that 66 different sellers are selling that product new, and 145 sellers are selling it used (this smells of “Red Ocean” big time).

The sellers are competing for the top spot called the “Buy Box” which is home to the “Add to Cart” Button.

The seller with the best price and history gets the Buy Box (the automatic sale) when someone presses “Add to Cart.”

The other sellers get listed off to the side or on a secondary page.

With all those sellers selling the same new item, all they really have to compete on is price, and the price gets driven down to where no one is making a profit.

So what can you do?

There are two types of products you can sell:

  1. Products you make (or have made for you)
  2. Products that someone else makes and you resell

If you make your own products (or have them made for you), as long as they’re not a copy of some other product, you’ve essentially created a “Blue Ocean” for yourself. There is no competition on the Amazon product page you would create.

If you resell products made by someone else, check to make sure the products are not already on Amazon with a bazillion other sellers selling the same thing.

The items you decide not to sell can be just as important as the ones you decide to sell because you’ll be spared the headache of an unprofitable product and be able to use the money on profitable products.

As for what types of products–you can sell all sorts of products on Amazon. I prefer to sell non-media items (products that are not DVD’s, Music, and Books).

You can absolutely make a living selling books (used and new) on Amazon, but that just didn’t interest me as much. I like being able to sell products for $30, $50, or $100 a piece, and that’s hard to do with books.

The product possibilities are endless, and are often right in your own backyard. You’ll be surprised how many companies there are near you that make products that are not listed online.

The key is to just take it one step at a time.

Diversifying Risk: Best of both Worlds

Since 2008, my full time income has come from selling products on Amazon, but it’s fun to explore new opportunities.

I looked into additional income streams and found Paula and Wanda’s site. Right when their Amazonian Profit Plan went live, I bought it, and revamped a small review site I had on the side that was making only a few dollars.

With their insights, our review site provided extra income we used on vacation for a helicopter tour overlooking the crystal clear, blue waters of Kauai, Hawaii. It was breathtaking!

The point is, once you’ve built up one business, it’s fun and rewarding to explore additional options.

If you sell products on Amazon as your only income for instance, build an affiliate business.

If you have an affiliate business, sell your own products online.

Diversifying so you’re not dependent on just one income stream not only safeguards against risk…it’s a lot of fun!

Here’s to your success.

Thomas John makes a full-time living selling physical products on Amazon. He is the founder of the 7 Pillars of Selling Online where he shares his story and teaches how to sell products online. He invites you to discover more about selling on Amazon.

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Comments

  1. I must say that getting published on Amazon opens up a whole new revenue stream for online sellers, especially if you are already established as an ebook producer through a site like clickbank or e-junkies.

    Being able to sell the same books in paperback has allowed me to target audiences which steer clear of online products.

    Great article!

    • Hi Chris, Thanks! I’ve found “Aiming at Amazon” by by Aaron Shepard to be a great book about getting physical books published and into Amazon.

      Most of my sales on Amazon are from non-book items, but for those wanting to publish paperback books, Aaron’s book on the subject is fantastic.

  2. Nice John, I’ve been getting ready to start a drop shipping site and was eyeing Amazon. Pretty impressive story, it’s great to hear from someone that is doing so well just off of selling products from Amazon.

    • Thanks Gabe. Congrats on your new site. It’s exciting when things start coming together!

      I highly recommend selling on Amazon and your own website as a general strategy. That way, you build your business and your brand.

      If you’re drop shipping though, I’d check with Amazon’s policies. I’ve heard a number of people say Amazon doesn’t allow drop shipping.

      I’ve always had the product on hand or in Amazon’s warehouse so I haven’t come up against that. You could ship your items to Amazon and they fulfill the Amazon orders for you.

  3. Very fascinating to read about how things are from the seller’s point of view.

    I must admit that when I choose products to promote as an affiliate, I always try to go for the free shipping. It seems to help with conversions.

    • Hi Rose, thanks. The free shipping really does help boost business. Customers love it, and it does help when promoting affiliate products because in the end, it’s better for the customer, and when it’s better for the customer, it’s better for everyone. :)

      • Do you absorb the costs of the free shipping Thomas or does Amazon do that?

        • Hi Paula,

          With Fulfillment by Amazon, Amazon absorbs the costs for the free shipping to customers.

          Amazon puts the costs on the statements they provide to sellers and then cancels out those costs in the same statement.

          The statements are handy because you can get a rough idea how much it would cost if you were shipping on your own.

  4. This is a great article with some very worthwhile tips to selling on Amazon. It’s not something I had thought about doing at this point but definitely something to consider for the future. I will be keeping my eyes open for interesting and unique products. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Hi Shirley, what’s great is that you can start out with just one or two products and grow it from there.

      If you have the Amazon app on your phone, it makes it easy to see if something you’ve found is already on Amazon and if it makes sense to list it or not.

  5. Great article Thomas. I do believe in diversifying and your article has certainly given me some ideas on how to go about it. I feel I’m pretty clued up on using Amazon as an affiliate but am a babe in the woods when it comes to selling on Amazon. Your article told me many things that I didn’t know. I wasn’t aware of just how ignorant I was on the selling process! At least I will be going into it with my eyes wide open.

    • Thanks, Dawn. Generating income from different sources really is a stress reliever. You don’t have to worry as much if a big player changes the rules and what not.

      That’s why I love Wanda & Paula’s site because as a seller on Amazon, I wanted to diversify my income stream. Creating an affiliate site with the help of Wanda & Paula’s eBook really helped me to do that, and it’s been a lot of fun to enjoy the best of both worlds!

  6. This was an awesome article!
    I so needed to read something like this to see not only the growth that is possible – but that the sky really is the limit.
    I think the only thing holding me back is the mindset at this point to be honest. I just seem content with 5k a month and really – why?!?

    Thanks for sharing your inspirational story

  7. Selling on Amazon is something I am very interested in, and having them handle the shipping and customer service seems to add level of ease to an e-commerce business. I did some poking around on Google last night though and there seems to be a lot of disgruntled business people who have used Amazon’s FBA program. It also seemed though that they were selling media, mostly used books. Is this why you avoid media sales, and do you have any good tips for avoiding problems with Amazon?

    I signed up with your auto-responder, and I’m looking forward to learning more!

    Ashley

    • Hi Ashley, that’s awesome. Thanks!

      With FBA, you can send in books, DVD’s (media) or non-book (non-media) items.

      I’d suggest selling non-media items.

      You could send in a high-end lamp fixture for example that could sell for $100, but how many books sell for $100?

      There’s just not the pricing flexibility with books as with other products.

      If it’s used books, then you have a bit of setup work listing each and every different used book you get.

      But, if you’re selling new, non-book products, you can do the setup once on Amazon, and then just keep restocking your item (sending it to Amazon) when the quantity gets low.

      One of the problems with selling used items is that Amazon is very strict on condition descriptions (“excellent,” “like new,” etc). If a customer gets a used product and the condition description doesn’t match in their mind with what they got and they raise the issue with Amazon, then you’ve got a problem.

      That’s one of the reasons why I sell new items only. That way, it’s not even an issue.

      Since Amazon takes care of shipping the individual orders, handling returns and such, that really opens up time to focus on getting additional product and growing the business.

  8. I really enjoyed your post Thomas. It really makes sense not to put all your eggs in one basket. I love what I’ve learned from Paula and Wanda but diversity is a good thing.

    When your income is totally dependent on Google search rankings, strange things can happen that can drastically affect your traffic overnight. Plus I’m from California and Amazon just dropped all California affiliates. It’s a great idea to have another game plan and I’ll be checking out your site. Thanks,

    Jerry

    • Hi Jerry, that’s too bad about the California affiliates. I think it’s made a lot of people worried in other states. Hopefully California rethinks their strategy.

      On some of the pages that I have on my affiliate site, I’ve linked to Amazon and to the manufacturer’s website as an affiliate. That way, if my state makes Amazon say bye-bye to the affiliates, I can still have commissions through the manufacturer’s affiliate program.

      Diversifying does help one sleep better at night knowing that you’re not reliant on just one source. Having the business selling products on Amazon and then the affiliate site I have following Paula and Wanda’s teachings has been a lot of fun and let’s me hope back and forth between the two if I get a little tired working on one or the other.

      My suggestion is to put in the time to get one venture up, running, and doing well first, and then to diversify adding different income streams. Otherwise, we end up with a lot of half-done projects, which I’m definitely guilty of over and over :)

  9. This is the kind of inspirational tale that keeps us aspiring entrepreneurs hopeful. Keep up the good posts!

  10. Bethany says:

    Great post! I actually have a side business selling some custom items that sell VERY well for me in person, but online I haven’t had the energy to drum up the traffic to my site. I’d like to sell on Amazon but I have been hesitating because I would be required to have the Professional account (since my items don’t have a barcode). I can’t afford to pay the monthly fee just yet! But you’ve given me new hope. My items are only $15 items but the profit margin is very nice and demand is pretty high when people see them, so maybe that would be the trick. And I do agree with Jerry – diversifying is so important and not only within your products and affiliate stuff, but doing something completely different as well. I just need to get up enough cash to be able to afford the monthly fee.

    • Hi Bethany, congrats on your business. Getting traffic to a site does require a bit of work. I sell on my own websites too, but have found that sales on Amazon far outpace the sales on my own website because millions of shoppers are already on Amazon searching and buying.

      You’re right about needing a pro account to create your own product pages, but if you feel your volume can be high enough, then I’ve found it’s worth it.

      My first item I started selling listed for $26, but I’ve also had items for $15 that have done real well, the monthly fee is $39.99 last time I looked at it, so if you feel you can get the volume to cover it, it could work out well. I’ve found though that the items I list tend to gain traction as time goes on. They start out slow, and then build. If they’re in the FBA program that helps speed things up a bit.

      • Okay Thomas – I took the plunge sent out my first box of products to Amazon this weekend. It feels kind of nice, a relief – since they were essentially gathering dust on my shelf. If I even have moderate success with that I will look to see what I can do in expanding the product line. Thanks for doing this guest post… I don’t think I ever would have thought about doing FBA until I read about it here.

  11. If you bulk ship to their warehouse, do they warn you of product getting low, or is this something you have to keep track of?

    • Hi Dennis, you can set up alerts so Amazon will send you an email when your stock gets to the point you specify.

      They’ll also send emails based on your previous sales history of an item compared to what you have in stock in the Amazon warehouse and will tell you they estimate you have 18 days (or whatever it is) of supply left based on recent sales of your product(s).

      You can also log in and see at a glance how much you have in their warehouse of each of your items.

  12. Thanks for an eye-opening post Thomas, I had no idea about starting that type of business with Amazon. The appealing this about this would be that Amazon does the fulfillment and handles returns and customer service, this is a huge plus point as these are the things that I don’t think I would enjoy if I were to have an ecommerce store.

    Is there info anywhere about the pricing structure for shipping products to Amazon’s warehouse?
    The other thing I’m curious to know about is how you go about sourcing your products? Do you go to tradeshows? Do you go overseas to find manufacturers?

    Congratulations on your success, its been inspiring to read your story.

    • Hello Tara,

      That’s why partnering with Amazon was appealing to me. It takes away the headache of the returns and being bogged down with shipping one order at a time.

      Amazon likes to change/update their link structure and sites at times, so if you search on Google for “FBA Pricing” the first result should take you to the Amazon Services website which has the pricing and examples of what different types of items would cost to have Amazon fulfill.

      There’s a whole lot to cover with sourcing, but keep in mind the following when looking at a product or types of products to sell:

      1. Is it something you Know
      – If you’re not familiar with the product it’ll be hard to know the customer base and sell to them.

      2. Is is something you Love
      – If you don’t like or love the products, it can get old real fast, and passion and excitement help move product.

      3. Does it make Dollars and “Sense”
      – If you can’t make a profit on an item or provide value to the customer, then it doesn’t make sense.

      With trade shows, there are so many for all sorts of different interests. Jot down what your interested in and search online for the trade shows that might be happening. I like to let my fingers do the walking but sometimes I’ll visit the trade shows too.

  13. Hi! This is very interesting post, but i will need to check what options i have here in Italy.

    Maybe i could collaborate with someone in US? Worth trying for sure!

    • Hi Luke, I believe FBA for Amazon Italy has recently been announced. No target date yet, but could be soon if they’re already making announcements about it.

      Amazon UK, France and Germany offer the FBA program and those Amazon sites can export products to other countries in Europe.

  14. Hi Paula and wanda,,i just want to know what plugin do you use to make comment author get notification if there is any new other comment on your blog? As I see at the bottom of this page, I have a choice to mark the box if I want to get notification on followup comment via email
    Thanks for your reply

  15. Great post, I had never thought about expanding the Amazon strategy to include selling your own product. This in itself leaves you options to drive traffic to that page or if the interest is sufficient, let Amazon due what it does best and sell it for you. Thank you for giving me another way to monetize using Amazon.

    • Hi Charles, thanks. It’s a good way to get started because there’s already so much traffic on Amazon, people looking to buy products.

  16. I just had a thought and I wanted to post it here since this is where it’s most relevant. As I commented above, I’ve taken the plunge and put some of my products on Amazon. As of today they are live and I’m really excited.

    Anyway, when I first got into internet marketing I was firmly steered into the realm of clickbank type informational products. I was not very enamored with them, and so I eventually ended up looking for more information on affiliate selling with Amazon. I liked the “real value” of selling people physical products, as opposed to informational ones. Selling informational products to me just seemed a little hokey, since most of the info that’s sold is also available freely with a little Google-Fu.

    I realized today that being a seller on Amazon as well is not only diversifying but if you use their fulfillment service it’s really not that much different than affiliate sales. The main drawback to selling a physical product is, well, you have to sell it! And package it and ship it out or go to shows and hawk it there, etc. This takes all of that out of the picture. It really struck me how this is a way for me to go with what my real desire is – sell physical products to people – but still be able to do it while I’m asleep. Not only that, but I don’t have to make trips to the PO box. All I have to do is make sure they have enough inventory. Creating the product descriptions and doing the legwork to get started is not much different than a regular marketing site where you have to build a website, create content, backlink, etc.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is – actually being a seller of a physical product has somewhat of a bad rap in the internet marketing world, but it’s really not that different if you use the Amazon fulfillment. They’ve basically leveled the playing field between the two.

  17. This was an eye opening article. Thanks for sharing. I have one question. Once you pick your product and have it on Amazon, are you trying to get traffic to that page or are you letting the natural traffic of Amazon do the selling for you?

    Thanks
    Stephanie

    • Hello Stephanie,

      You can do both. I’ll usually do a little initial work up front to get traffic to the Amazon page, and then let it build on it’s own from there.

      One of the keys is to have good description, bullet points, and pictures on the page, and then to encourage customer reviews from those who buy.

  18. No matter how many times you say it, it doesn’t get old – ‘focus.’ So many people think that multi-tasking is the key to efficiency, but Julien Smith for example recently published a blog post at http://InOverYourHead.net called “How To Tell if You’re Doing Your Life’s Work.”

    In that post, this NY Times bestselling author wrote:

    “I suspect that those who can do many things at once aren’t actually doing anything properly. They commit to numerous ideas and try to deliver on all of them, but none end up exceptional. They’re blogging every day but few ideas are truly interesting or have much of a wide spread.

    This is how someone like me can end up not blogging for a month. I focus on one thing and make it happen in the best way possible. Afterwards, I’m drained. I have to do something else– anything else– but worry about delivering new ideas.”

  19. Good stuff. Ok. Question. I have my own patent pending product and am going to be selling it on amazon with it’s own upc number and everything but not sure about using Amazon for fullfillment. I’m thinking about another company for fullfillment.
    I want there to be an incentive for amazon affiliates to earn commission on my product. Will affiliates still earn money by referring my product even though I’m using a different fullfillment center?

    • Hi Mat,

      Amazon affiliates will earn on what you sell regardless of who fulfills the product warehouse-wise, as long as it is a purchase made through Amazon. I will say this though – The stats say that 50% of Amazon buyers will only buy what’s eligible for the free shipping, or Amazon Prime. In other words, you might sell more widgets if you use Amazon’s fulfillment. No way to really know, though, unless you do a test.

  20. I liked the motivational aspect of the article, but I was looking more into the “how to technical” side of this story. Have you written something else perhaps?

    What documentation is required? How to file a product? How to ship it? And all those similar things.

    Best regards from Belgrade

    • Hello Bojan, glad you like the article. 7pillarsofsellingonline.com is where I have additional articles.

      Best Regards,
      Thomas

  21. Hi, I’m considering selling on Amazon, i make my own products but i can’t find how to list them on Amazon, as it wouldn’t be under any other product. How do i set up an Amazon product page? Thanks!

    • Hi Becca,

      To create your own product listings on Amazon, you need to have a pro merchant seller account. It requires a monthly fee to have a pro merchant account but the benefits are worth it (opportunity to gain the Buy Box as a featured merchant, create your own listings, and so on).

      sellercentral.amazon.com is where you can register.

      -Thomas

      • Really useful article thanks.

        Do you know if you need to have a bar code for your product in order to sell it via the Pro Merchant Account that you mention?

        Regards
        Anthony

  22. I’ve just recently started selling on Amazon and i’ve come to notice that they have set prices on certain things. For example all DVDs, regardless of if they are single movie or 10 pound box set DVDs are given $3.99 for shipping by amazon. I’ve been losing money from this because the shipping comes out to much more than $3.99 Do you know how I can make my own price for the shipping? I tried calling them but the customer service rep barely spoke English and i could not understand him/

  23. I try to create product seller but I don’t know to sell it, Please recommend me.

  24. This is a nice guide to continue working hard and figuring out on how to earn from Amazon since there are a lot of products to choose from.

  25. Is this 7 pillars of selling online legit? I cannot find any other site that has reviews on this.

  26. I am sunglass distributor, with a recognized brand. We are stopping our fulfillment relationship, simply barbecue Amazon keeps lowering its prices well below our minimum advertised price, which infuriates my retailers both online and retail stores. This year they also instituted a new packaging charge, which was the point we decided not to continue….. If you have a brand and want to protect it…. don’t sell to amazon, as Amazon allows other suppliers to use your brand to list their products…….

  27. so how do you sell your own products? Amazon advantage? I have a product that no one else has yet, I invented it, not sure which platform to use

  28. I am very confused on the Amazon thing. I called them to inquire about selling and they said I could send my products to them and they was the only way they offered free shipping and I would be the one paying for the shipping cost. I also can not figure out how ppl sell products so dirt cheap. I have access to buying wholesale for my company and I know you get a discount for buying more but I see wholesale prices at $20 if you buy 50 and I see that same product on sale at Amazon for $25 with free shipping. I think WHAT?? Are they buying wholesale from overseas, because you still have to pay a fee to Amazon plus shipping fees. How is that is done? Are people making minimal money off their products trying to sell alot to make profit?

  29. Great article. I agree with most of what you had to say. However, I do think you can sell the same physical products as some of the top sellers, as long as there’s no patent infringement issues, and make tons of cash. For example, if you found a manufacturer and “private labeled” a hot selling silicone spatula and silicone spatulas are selling like hot cakes then you can make money and not have to worry about others(competitors)trying to sell your product. So if a silicone spatula is ranked #3 in Kitchen & Dining and you are ranked number 500 or 1000 in the same category you’ll still make a lot of money. The key is private labeling. Just my 2 cents.

  30. I have a question. I have my own product. But I need a UPC to register it, but I don’t have one. Is there anyway around that?

    • Hi Dan

      It is easy to get UPC codes and there are few places where you can get them, but they tend to be expensive. So you can get it cheaper than you can get anywhere else right here:
      http://www.barcodestalk.com/?gclid=CMDilYSp8bgCFeRj7Aod-G8ABA

      I found in other place that the price for one was $80.00 dollars and up into over $100.00 but in the link above I bought 50 for $64.00 (just about June 8th(You only need one per product, but you can safe the other for future products). Buy online is fast and easy.

      Hey Dan, I hope this will help you some.

      PAULA AND WANDA,

      Thank you so much for responding to my email question and pointing me to HOW TO SELL YOUR PRODUCT ON AMAZON – A SUCCESS STORY. Thomas did a great job in explaining things.

      I began selling my own product in Amazon just about 45 days ago and have made over $1000.00 so far, and I am pretty sure it will multiply fast.

      However, I want to check a few other things with Thomas; so I will contact him later on.

      Thank you all again for a great site.
      Arnold

      I will surely be coming back to your site and I want to congratulate you for such a great site.

      You

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