4 Ways to Let Amazon Pay You

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When you think of Amazon.com (AMZN) you probably think about the many ways that you can spend money on its website. However, for a growing number of enterprising souls, the leading online retailer is also a way to make money, too.

We're not talking about the Amazon Rewards credit card, whereby folks get as much as 3 percent back on purchases in the form of Amazon credit. There are actually plenty of ways for people who have a nose for arts and crafts or who own merchandise to sell or resell to walk away with a check from the dot-com darling. Let's go over a few of them.

1. Be the merchant. If you stroll around Amazon long enough, you will find that many of the available items aren't being sold by Amazon itself. Third parties are welcome to unload wares through the growing site's marketplace.

You don't need to be a master reseller to take advantage of the platform. You can sell as little as a single item, and it doesn't cost anything to list on the site. You will only pay 99 cents if an item sells, and on top of that you will be charged a referral fee that is typically between 8 percent and 15 percent for most product categories. That's a higher cut than what you will have to dole out through many other online marketplaces, but it could be a small price to pay to be exposed to Amazon's huge buyer base.

If you plan on doing this a lot, Amazon also offers a pro level where folks pay $39.99 a month without having to pay the 99-cent per-item fee. It opens up other product categories to sell from, but in a nutshell it only makes sense if you plan to move at least 40 items a month through the site. If you really want to go all in, you can pay to ship and store your items at one of Amazon's warehouses. The benefit there is that it will be that much more compelling to Amazon Prime shoppers who get free two-day shipping on Amazon-stocked goods.

2. Be the webmaster. If you happen to run a website, group page, or even a modest hosted blog, you can apply to join Amazon Associates and collect commissions by referring folks to the e-tailer. You simply use a unique link or embed a code into your content, and if the links result in qualifying sales, you will receive typically between 4 percent and 10 percent of that as your advertising fee.

Obviously, there's an art to making that work. Your readers will shy away from a hard sell. However, if you actually single out relevant products that your target audience may actually want to buy or you add value to the pitches with genuine reviews, you will probably perform better than you might think.

3. Be the author. Amazon is the undisputed champ in e-book readers with the success of Kindle, and that naturally means that its store of digital books is also the top dog. You don't need to land a book deal with a major publishing house to make yourself available through Amazon's e-books storefront. You can publish your works -- whether it's that novel you wrote back in college or the "how to" guide to that thing that you're really good at -- directly through Kindle Direct Publishing.

It's a free platform that also helps you format your copy so that it's optimized for Amazon's e-reader. You then get as much as 70 percent of any resulting sales. Opt in to participate in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library and you can also get a piece of the action when Amazon Prime members borrow your book.

4. Be the artist. Amazon's CreateSpace is a platform that allows content creators to get their DVDs, CDs, MP3s and video downloads available for sale on the site. Authors who want their words on leafy pages for non-Kindle owners can even participate in the program where physical media is manufactured on demand.

It certainly doesn't hurt if you have a knack for self-promotion after you self-publish your original work. The leveled playing field is great, but it also means that you're competing with a lot of fellow artists for customer attention.

There are plenty of people succeeding in all four of these niches. Amazon's cutting checks, and maybe you have what it takes to make money on Amazon instead of just spending it there.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. He has e-books, MP3s and CDs available on Amazon.com. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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