I recently learned about a really interesting passive income opportunity called Merch by Amazon.
It’s like Teespring for Amazon. You create a t-shirt design, upload it to Amazon, and earn a percentage of each sale. I believe the commission on a $20 shirt is about 35%.
If you’d like more information on this program, I suggest listening to Episode 216 The Side Hustle Show with Elaine Heney.
This is essentially a 45-minute crash course on Merch by Amazon that tells you everything you need to know to get started and reveals some unique strategies from an experienced seller who has made over $53k in profit on the program in one year.
There are a few reasons why this is such a unique opportunity.
Minimal skills are required:
You don’t need to be an amazing graphic designer to succeed on Merch by Amazon because some of the best-selling designs are text-based. If you can create a simple text-only design, then you can sell shirts.
You don’t need to know how to use Photoshop or any other fancy software. There are countless free programs and even mobile apps that you can use to create simple designs. The one I have in mind because I use it already is Canva. It’s really simple and user-friendly.
Minimal time is required:
Elaine spends about 10 hours a week on her Merch business and that includes time spent doing “market research” or thinking about potential t-shirt ideas.
She also produces a lot of designs, which I’ll talk more about later. So, I think you can potentially spend less than 5 hours a week on this and still do well.
In fact, there are ways to potentially shortcut even this amount of time using virtual assistants and freelancers. I’ll plan to experiment with this in the future.
No marketing is required:
The most appealing part about this whole thing to me is that you don’t need to do any marketing.
Personally, I love creating (writing, designing, etc.) but I don’t enjoy marketing or promoting as much. Since you are partnering with Amazon, which is the largest marketplace of buyers in the world, the traffic is already there. Millions of BUYERS are already using Amazon as a search engine.
And unlike with other Amazon products, the Merch by Amazon t-shirts don’t require customer reviews to perform well. So you don’t need to be that person trying to nag someone for a review.
No investment is required:
As far as I can tell, there are no costs associated with doing this.
There is no fee to participate. Amazon only takes commission when a sale is made. You can purchase paid design software if you’d like, but this is not necessary to create designs.
Just like with anything worthwhile, there are some hurdles you’ll need to overcome, which Elaine described.
There is currently an approval process with a long waiting period:
At the time of this writing, you can’t just sign up for Merch by Amazon and get instantly approved to sell. Due to the higher-than-expected demand for the program, the approval process can take months.
You shouldn’t let this discourage you, though, since you can start creating designs while you are waiting and have them ready to go when you get approved.
There are initial limits on how many designs you can upload:
The limits increase as you cross certain sales barriers.
I don’t recall the exact details of this and I haven’t read up on it, but if I remember correctly, Elaine mentioned you are capped at 10 designs to start and once you get 10 sales, you are allowed up to 25 after that, and so on.
Some of your designs may not sell:
You should be prepared for rejection. A lot of it. Many shirt designs just don’t gain traction for whatever reason. There are also many similar designs on trending topics, so if you weren’t one of the first one or two, you design probably won’t sell.
The most mind-blowing fact from Elaine’s interview was that she has uploaded over 6,000 designs in total. Most of these were duds. So yes, she was successful, but she put in a lot of reps to get there.
Despite these hurdles, Merch by Amazon is the best passive income opportunity I’ve seen in a long time.
In fact, I applied for the program within a day of hearing about it. As of the time of this writing, I’m still waiting to hear back. We’ll see what happens!
Update: In May 2017, I was approved for Merch by Amazon and started uploading my first designs. So, we’ll see where this goes!
First published on Quora.