This post was previously written a couple of months ago, but I thought it was worth expanding, updating, and re-publishing since I have learned a lot since then.

In March 2017, I learned about an 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 t-shirt sale. The royalties vary depending on the price you set for your shirt.

As of this writing, the royalty calculation for Merch by Amazon is as follows:

Royalty = Shirt Price * 85% – $9.80.

So, if your shirt is priced at $15.99, your royalty will be $3.79. If you price it at $19.99, your royalty will be $7.19.

If you’d like more information on this program, I suggest listening to Episode 216 The Side Hustle Show with Elaine Heney.

This podcast episode 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.

This was the first resource I found when getting into Merch and it was very helpful. I’m now a part of Elaine’s Facebook group which is an amazing community for Merch sellers.

There are a few reasons why Merch by Amazon 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 many of the best-selling designs are text-based. If you can create a simple text-only design, then you can sell shirts.

You also 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 already use it is Canva. I like Canva because it is really simple and user-friendly.

Here is a good YouTube tutorial by Katharyne Shelton on how to use Canva to create Merch designs quickly and easily:

Minimal time is required:

Elaine said that she 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’m planning to experiment with this in the future.

No marketing is required:

The most appealing part about Merch to me is that you don’t need to do any marketing (if you don’t want to).

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 using the Merch platform.

Amazon takes care of all the inventory, printing, shipping, and customer service. You literally don’t have to do anything except upload designs. This is huge.

There is also no fee to participate. Amazon only takes a percentage of the t-shirt sale. You can purchase paid design software if you’d like, but this is not required to create designs.

I will recommend one paid resource that I am currently using called Merch Informer. Merch Informer helps you research top-selling shirt designs currently listed on the Merch by Amazon platform.

The reason I am subscribed to Merch Informer is that it saves me a lot of time in researching designs and helps me create designs I know have a good chance of selling. It currently costs $9.99 per month with a discount if you purchase a six-month or one-year subscription.

Just like with anything worthwhile, there are some hurdles you’ll need to overcome with Merch, which Elaine described in the podcast episode.

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.

I signed up for Merch by Amazon in March 2017. In May, I was approved and started uploading my first designs.

You shouldn’t let this discourage you, though. You can start creating designs while you are waiting and have them ready to go when you get approved. There are also a lot of educational resources you can start consuming while you wait.

Here are a few resources I’ve found helpful:

Books:

Merch by Amazon Blueprint: Six Figure T-Shirt Business In One Year With Amazon Merch

Merch Life: An Introduction to Using Merch By Amazon to Design Shirts and Make Money – by Chris Green.

Blogs:

Merch Pursuits

Blog – Merch Informer

Podcasts:

Merch Entrepreneur: Sell T-Shirts and Merch and make $ with Merch By Amazon by Merch Entrepreneur

Merch Minds Podcast with Glen and Yong

Of course, the first thing you should read up on is the informational resource Amazon provides directly for Merch, including an overview of the platform, best practices, tools, policies, and FAQs.

There are limits on how many designs you can upload:

The limits, or “tiers” increase as you cross certain sales thresholds.

The initial tier is 10. This means you are capped at 10 t-shirt designs to start. Once you sell 10 shirts, you are “tiered up” to the next level, which is 25 designs, and so on.

Here is the current Merch by Amazon tier structure:

  • 10
  • 25
  • 100
  • 500
  • Pro (by invitation) – I’ve heard about people at the 1,000, 2,000, 4,000, and even 8,000 tier levels

Some of your designs will 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 similar designs on trending topics, so if you weren’t one of the first one or two, you design may not sell.

The most mind-blowing fact I took away 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.

Just like with anything else, I believe success on Merch by Amazon is all about consistency.

Despite these hurdles, Merch by Amazon is the best passive income opportunity I’ve seen in a long time.

I’m still new to the game and obviously have a lot to learn, but I’m really excited about the potential to earn a side income doing something I enjoy.

If you’re reading this and haven’t already signed up, I strongly encourage you to do it if you are even remotely interested.

There is absolutely no risk and a huge upside. Also, this opportunity may not be around forever… who knows?

If you have any questions about the Merch by Amazon platform or getting started, feel free to reach out. I’m happy to help in any way I can.


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