Lauren Butterfield spent most of 2023 searching for side hustles that could top off her income to offset the rising cost of living.
The recruiter at Adobe first tried affiliate marketing by creating a blog about sustainability that included links to brands that use environmentally friendly materials. But her website’s traffic was too low. She then tried selling celery juice powder on Amazon. It sold well, but Amazon’s fees were too high, making her profit margins too small relative to the time she invested.
Butterfield gave up on finding additional gigs until she began seeing posts on TikTok about how others were earning commissions from posting review videos on Amazon. At first, she assumed it was another get-rich-quick scheme. But after seeing multiple posts, she thought there was little to lose in trying.
By the end of July, she had created an Amazon storefront account through the site’s influencer page, which stores all uploaded content. She then posted three video reviews, which is the number required by Amazon to get accepted for the on-site commission program.
Her first products were a tank top, a makeup concealer, and a gratitude journal. She had purchased them from Amazon and used them every day.
“It was uncomfortable at first,” Butterfield, 32, said. “I’m not an influencer I don’t talk to the camera. It’s not my bread and butter. So it took several different takes, to be honest.”
The videos were between 60 and 90 seconds long. Butterfield liked the products, so she shared the pros of each one, including how the tank top fit, the concealer’s consistency, and the features of the journal.
Three days later, she knew she had been approved because the “earned on-site commission” feature in her storefront was now accessible. If it remains locked, you won’t earn commissions even if you post hundreds of videos, she emphasized.
Within the first week, Butterfield made a little under $5. Once she saw commissions trickle in, she became excited and set a goal of making $300 a month.
“In my mind, I thought this was actually going to be something, even if it was going to be a couple hundred dollars,” Butterfield said. “Life is so expensive. I was like, this can help with groceries, with gas — and it was minimal effort.”
During her first month, she put in about three hours a week, sometimes after work and sometimes on the weekends. After the third month, she was only spending about three to four hours a month uploading anywhere between 20 to 30 videos a month, she said.
Within the first 30 days, she had uploaded over 200 videos and made over $900 by the end of August.
Since July, she has uploaded over 400 videos. Most of the products she reviews fall into three categories: low-ticket items under $50, high-ticket items over $100, and trending or seasonal items. One category she has observed that does well is home improvement products such as faucets and showerheads because they are popular with shoppers and can earn up to 4% commissions.
Since last July, she has earned $8,849 in commissions, according to a screenshot of her Amazon dashboard.
You have to be prepared to remain consistent. Don’t expect to upload 100 videos, walk away, and then expect to make thousands of dollars. She recommends hitting 200 videos within the first month — roughly six a day — because if you can see the returns early on, then you’re more likely to be excited about it and commit to the process, she said. Afterwards, maintain the volume by setting a goal you can stick to. She suggests adding at least 20 to 30 videos a month after that.
Although videos that make it to the carousel of new content tend to see the most returns, a strong archive is also key, she said. For example, Butterfield reviewed a hair oil that had been trending on social media in July. It did well that month, but it eventually died down. She recently noticed that her review began to earn commission again. And so, a video you created six months ago may stop earning, but it could also make a comeback.
Your videos must be creative, and the content must provide quality information. This is very important because if there are multiple review videos for a product, the last video watched before a purchase is what earns the commission. Amazon assumes that the video converted the shopper, she said. There’s no set guide to ensuring your video is watched last, but if you create a convincing review, you can take a person from “‘do I really want this?’ to ‘OK, now that I watch that, I’m adding it to my cart,’” Butterfield said.
Don’t sleep on the low-ticket items. Butterfield reviews products under $25 even if the commission is pennies, she said.
“The perfect example is the hair oil,” Butterfield said. “I bought it for $8 off of Amazon nine months ago, and last week, that product alone brought in over $80. So, if you can get on the carousel, those couple cents add up to your lump sum. And I also believe there are not as many people purchasing thousands of dollars on Amazon as frequently as they are $15 here, $80 there. So those low-ticket items really carry you through.”
The cheaper products she reviewed that did really well and surprised her were a $7 hair wax stick, a $25 nail-repair gel, and a $28 mascara stick.
Lean into trends that you see. These include products that are becoming popular on social media, especially TikTok. Another great source is Amazon’s trending list, which can be found by clicking “All” at the top left of the site.
Butterfield suggests paying attention to all three categories listed in the image above. She added that it is important to note how often a product has been sold and its ratings to ensure that people like it and continue to buy it.
An example of a viral product she reviewed was a plumping lipstick. After seeing an influencer create a video about it, Butterfield became convinced to purchase it from a TikTok shop. But she also noticed it had sold more than 700 times within the last 30 days on Amazon, so she decided to review it. One thing to note is that trending products can die down quickly.
Even if you don’t own the same brand of the trending product, you can own and review a dupe, which is a similar product from a cheaper brand, she said. For example, Butterfield noted that while the Stanley cup has recently been trending on Amazon’s bestseller list, there’s a good chance shoppers will look through significantly cheaper brands.
Pay attention to seasonal products. The next opportunity is Valentine’s Day, so you should be reviewing items that may be popular now, she said. This way, as people browse ideas, your videos will already be up.
Perhaps Butterfield’s most important tip is to just get started and not be intimidated about putting yourself out there.
“Anyone can do this,” Butterfield said. “Again, I think people want to see authentic reviews. So even if you’re feeling, ‘well, gosh, my hair is not great, or my background is not perfect, it does not matter. I have so many of my reviews where I have zero makeup, a greasy bun on my head, and they do great because people want to see real people. So don’t let that stop you from trying this.”
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