How to Make Money with Merch by Amazon: Complete Guide

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Merch By Amazon InfoBox

 

Merch by Amazon takes your designs, applies them to various products and using a print on demand service lists them for sail globally across the Amazon platform.

You just create the design and Amazon handle the product listing, printing, shipping, returns etc. Once you upload your design it is totally hands off and a great way to get a consitant income.

Earning Methods: Skill/Creative, Print On Demand
Payout Options: Bank

Available on: Website
Country Availability: USA Canada UK Europe Australia How to Make Money with Merch By Amazon: A Complete Guide Japan

Time-Two-Tone

TIME

  • Variable.
  • Time to research & design
Money-Two-Tone-Two

EARNINGS

  • Potentially $100s – $1,000s per month.
  • Direct payment monthly via bank transfer. 
Reliability

TRUST

  • Reliable & trustworthy.
  • No issues found.

What is Merch By Amazon?

Merch By Amazon, also known as Amazon Merch is a great way to earn online by simply uploading a design to Amazon. You choose what product types you want your design to be added to, such as t-shirts, hoodies, pillows etc. and Amazon will handle the rest.

Because Amazon Merch is print on demand service, once uploaded Amazon handles creating the listing, printing, shipping, payments and returns for your products.

From an earner’s point of view, it is incredibly simple to add new products, there is no investment required and you get access to Amazon’s globally dominating marketplace.

Despite it’s simplicity, depending on how you approach it you can earn nothing, up to potentially thousands of dollars per month. This is where we come in to nudge you towards earning more with Merch By Amazon.

How to Sign Up

Signing up to Amazon Merch isn’t as instant as with most earning opportunities here on Earnologist. You have to sign up and be accepted. Luckily, we have the information you need to significantly increase your chances of acceptance.

We cannot overstate the importance of this; in order to earn money online with Amazon Merch you must get your sign up/application just right otherwise you will not be accepted.

The Signup Form

The form itself is simple, but do not simply rush through it or gloss over its importance. This is a mini-interview and is crucial that you fill it in correctly.

Amazon Merch Request Invite Form
Amazon Merch Request Invite Form. This is important!

Organization name: Not important – just enter your own name here.

Website: Only relevant if you run a website. If you do run a website, only add it here if it is a high-quality website and/or shows off your design skills.

Industry type: Select “Novelty T-Shirt Business”. These are the products that sell the best through Amazon Merch and other’s have reported success with selecting this industry type.

Additional information: This is VERY important. Think of this as your application or cover letter for a job interview. Whether it is true or not, describe that you have extensive past experience with design, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), keyword analysis, print on demand services etc. Be detailed. Name drop some other POD sites you’ve worked with. Reference your website or social media if it is relevant.

In fact, the additional information is so important that we’ve created an in-depth article containing examples of exactly what to write for your Amazon Merch additional info/cover letter.

Then, you just need to wait. Your application will be reviewed and in a matter of days, up to a few weeks, you will be accepted into the Amazon Merch platform and can begin to earn immediately!

How to Earn More Money Online With Amazon Merch

Jumping straight into Merch by Amazon (MBA) once you have been accepted can be tempting but in the long run can lead to little or no sales, design rejections and even account suspension/termination. To make sure that you get the most out of your Amazon Merch account, in terms of general success & profit, and to avoid losing your account we’ve put together this quick reference guide.

This Merch by Amazon guide will assume that you are fairly proficient with an image editing program such as Photoshop or GIMP. You will need to be able to at the very least create a basic design on a transparent background to upload through your dashboard. If you are not yet at this level look for simple tutorials on how to create text/graphic designs using your application of choice. 

1. Research Your Designs & the Importance of Keywords

Most people jump straight into Amazon Merch and create a design based on keywords for something that they think people will be interested in. This is not an effective approach.
 
For a business that supposedly centres on design, interestingly design is not the most important aspect of your Amazon Merch Enterprise. You have to realise that your designs are swamped amongst millions of t-shirts on Amazon and even if you have the most incredible, beautiful design it’s not going to be found unless people are searching for keywords that are part of your listing. And if it’s not found, obviously it doesn’t sell.
 
Online, keywords are king.
 
So not only do you need to make sure that you have good keywords, you need to make sure that people are searching for those keywords. You have a few options here.
 
Merch Informer
 
The easiest way to approach this is by using Merch Informer, which will show you how popular t-shirts featuring certain keywords are. It analyses it against the BSR (Best Seller Rank) and converts that into estimated sales which you can use to determine if your keywords are generating enough interest before you bother with creating a design.
 
Merch Informer Stats
Detailed statistics for competition, sales and Google Trends integration.
 

Additionally, it provides you with trending phrases and keyword finder, taking a lot of time and effort out of the research process.

Merch Informer Keywords
Merch informer details for a keyword/design.

Merch Informer is not free, however, but the good news is that it only costs $9.99 a month for the cheapest subscription which is more than powerful enough for most people.

And because it’s just a monthly commitment you can always try it out and gauge whether this approach is useful for you.

The Manual Approach

A tool like Merch Informer takes a lot of the pain away from the research process, but it can be done still be done manually without it.

General: Generally you can just keep an eye out online or on TV for phrases, shirts, memes etc. that seem popular.

Twitter/Reddit: Look at what’s trending in terms of memes, current events etc. and base your keywords and designs on that. For example, the Twitter trending tab is a good place to start.

Amazon Auto Suggest: You can also just start typing in the search bar on Amazon and take advantage of the Amazon Auto Suggest. For example, begin to type a phrase and the suggestion will show you common terms that match. Additionally, pick a t-shirt phrase and type it in. Most of the time the result page will show not only t-shirts for that design but also other related tees, expanding your possibilities.
 
Amazon auto suggest
Using Amazon Search Bar for Keyword Ideas.

Google Trends: With Google Trends, you can dip in and well, see what’s trending at the moment! Additionally, you can enter keywords such as “t-shirt”, funny, or something around a specific niche to generate keywords based on what people are searching on Google for.

Whichever approach you take, just understand that picking good keywords are very important for earning online with Amazon Merch.

Remember, you have 4 (potentially 5) locations to get keywords into your design so don’t waste or overlook them:

  • Title
  • Brand
  • Keywords 1
  • Keywords 2
  • Description (This is debatable but may be useful for search engine traffic)

2. Avoid Keyword Stuffing

In addition to the advice above regarding keyword research, when you’re submitting your design and filling in your title, brand, keywords, description etc. do not under any circumstances think that you can just throw every keyword you’ve found into your listing in hopes of hitting a decent keyword/phrase.

Amazon does not kindly on keyword stuffing in Merch by Amazon listings and will likely reject your design… not good.

In fact, you will be penalized by not only Amazon but by search engines that also pass traffic to your products. Take a look at the dangers of keyword stuffing.

Fill in the fields available with each design you upload in a human-readable way. Liberally scatter your keyword(s) in the listing but only if they genuinely apply to your design.

3. The Importance of Competition

Another common-sense point, but worth mentioning is to look at your competition before even starting research or design. If your idea or concept already exists on 1,000 other t-shirts you’re going to find it very hard to break into the market unless your design is incredible or very cheap, and even then it’s debatable whether it’ll ever be seen.

That being said, once you’re in the higher tiers and you have hundreds of empty slots, it becomes less of a big deal. Why not “gamble” and fill some of your slots with these highly profitable but highly competitive tees just on the off chance that you hit the big time.

4. Use Online Resources for Amazon Merch

Before you start creating anything, it’s worth the time to spend collecting resources or at least sources of resources. You will use these resources for designing, keyword analysis etc. We’ve compiled a quick reference list of where to find what:

Merch Design Templates

Amazon provides templates for designing so that you have the correct dimensions and can be downloaded from the resources area in your Dashboard. We’ve linked them directly below for your convenience.

Image Editing Software

image editing software

There is a lot of choice for imaging editing software – our recommendation being Adobe Photoshop CC because it is the industry standard, easy to use and fully featured. Currently, this can be picked up at £9.99/$9.99 a month as part of Adobe’s Photography package. The full list of recommended software packages are as follows:

Additionally, with the Adobe Photoshop subscription, you gain access to the web browser-based Adobe Spark including all premium backgrounds, icons, imagery and fonts for free. Spark is great for beginners as it features templates and pre-made designs that you can tweak to rapidly create your designs for Amazon Merch.

Free Vectors (Images)

The first point here is that you need to be very careful that the vectors you choose are in the public domain and free for commercial use without attribution. It can be a bit of a minefield. Luckily there are sites that collect such images and vectors and provide them free for you to use:

Even with these sites, it’s important to note that user uploads may be allowed so it’s worth doing a reverse image search using Google or Tineye to confirm that someone hasn’t simply stolen them from elsewhere and uploaded them to the above sites.

Of course, the true fire way to avoid any problems is to create the vectors/images yourself or even to go for text-only designs.

If you’re unsure of how to use reverse image search to check for potential copyright issues check out this Reverse Image Search Guide.

Free Fonts

Again, you need to make sure that these fonts are free for commercial use without attribution so make sure you read the licenses for each font properly.

Make sure you cover yourself and do a quick search on the name of the font in case it has been added to the site under the free for commercial use tag in error.

5. Design Considerations (What Sells Well on Amazon)

Once you have a keyword targeted, you need to consider the design. People buy with their eyes, so it’s important that your design looks good. Straying from what people expect or what people demand will likely not yield good results. Things to bear in mind:

  • Font choice (looks good on a tee)
  • Color combinations
  • Text only sells well
  • Conventional layouts (Chest, pocket, full torso)
  • The Vintage/distressed look sells well
How to Make Money with Merch By Amazon: A Complete Guide
For example, distressed/vintage designs appear less “stuck on” to a tee and are integrated better giving a higher quality look.

6. Evergreen vs Season vs One-Off Designs on Amazon Merch

First, let’s define each type of t-shirt design:

  • Evergreen – is not tied to an event or trend and should be profitable year-round. E.g. “I love karate”
  • Seasonal – tied to a seasonal event such as Christmas, Easter etc.
  • One-off – a trending phrase or specific to a year/ month E.g. Covfefe / Best Dad 2020

People tend to say to stick with evergreen to guarantee year-round profits but I say why limit yourself? Evergreen should comprise the bulk of your designs for sure, but also make sure you add a healthy mix of seasonal designs.

If you hit a winner you will sell a lot of tees for that particular event. Even one-offs have their place but only if you get in on the ground floor – if something starts trending on Twitter and you can get a t-shirt up within the hour you may get a blast of sales for a day but you have to be incredibly lucky.

The advice I give for such one-offs is once the trend or date has passed, if you’ve maxed out your upload slots, delete these tees as they’re just taking up space.

7. Tiering Up Quickly

With the mention of slots, it’s important to understand that Merch by Amazon works on a tiered system. In the beginning, you will be severely limited in how many designs you can upload per day and how many total designs you have. Your starting point will be 10 or 25 design slots.

Making a profit at this point is actually not your major goal as strange as that seems. Your actual goal is to tier up as quickly as possible, which will unlock more slots for designs. The reason for this line of thinking is that Merch by Amazon is a numbers game and the more designs you have, the more sales you make, but if you can only have 10 total designs you’re stumped.

Amazon Merch is a numbers game.

So, with that in mind, make sure that you follow the design considerations above and also make sure that your keywords are on point – more of that below.

OK, so how do you quickly tier up on Merch by Amazon?

The answer is simple:

Very cheap t-shirts, with good keywords and clean designs will lead to more sales, more quickly. This will result in you tiering up and giving you access to more design slots on Amazon Merch.

So, as painful as it may be, really drop the prices of your products when you’re starting out to break out of the limitations of the lower tiers. Once you’re in a tier that gives you more room to upload you can of course update the prices of the shirts you’ve already uploaded and list new designs with a more profitable price point.

8. How to Price Your T-Shirts for Max Profit

Once you’re out of the Merch by Amazon lower tiers, your goal is of course now to make as much profit as possible. But this raises the conundrum of do I price low to get more sales but less profit per tee or do I price high to get fewer sales but more profit per tee?

In the world of Merch by Amazon, just like any business, there is no one size fits all answer. You will need to do a bit of research and use a bit of common sense by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is there much competition for this particular design?
  • Is your design better, the same or worse than other similar tees?
  • What is the average price of competing tees?

But just because someone has dropped a tee on at $11 don’t be discouraged or feel like you must match this, as with a low price comes a mental link with low quality with customers.

8. Don’t Limit Yourself to T-Shirts (Sort of)

Merch By Amazon started off by allowing only print on demand t-shirts but they have since branched out into hoodies, sweatshirts, phone covers, pop sockets and pillows.

amazon merch new products
Selection of products available on Amazon Merch

This provides a whole host of new earning opportunities for your design. However, this comes with a bit of a warning. T-shirts are by far the most profitable product to sell on Amazon Merch. The advice here is different depending on your tier:

If you’re in a low tier and are limited by the number of products you can list, just stick with t-shirts. You will get much more sales from this product type than any other.

If you’re in a higher tier and you have plenty of slots available, then go crazy and list your design on anything. Empty slots are wasted slots, so fill them with any and all product types to increase your Amazon Merch sales and profits.

9. Don’t Limit Yourself to Just Amazon.com

Another recent addition to Amazon Merch is access to multiple Amazon local (country-specific) marketplaces. These include the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Japan.

As with multiple product types, the same warning applies. In low tiers stick with amazon.com, potentially branch out to amazon.co.uk. In the higher tiers, go crazy and list every product type in every country/region available to you to increase your coverage and therefore sales and earnings from Amazon Merch.

Additionally, don’t worry about translating your descriptions, titles etc. Just let Amazon do it for you. This recent addition means that Amazon will auto-translate your listings for the relevant marketplace – just remember to check the box to enable it!

Amazon merch autotranslate
Remember to turn on MBA auto-translate.

10. Avoid Trademark Bans

Unlike a lot of other print on demand services, Amazon does not mess around with trademarks and copyrights. If you infringe on a trademark expect the ban hammer to come crashing down on you and to potentially lose your account.

Again, Merch Informer can help you here with auto trademark checks and alerts.

Alternatively,

USPTO Example
USPTO example search of a trademarked term of phrase.

you can do a manual search on the USPTO Trademark Database and perform a search:

11. Avoid Violation Rejections

Avoiding rejections in Amazon Merch is easier said than done. Very little guidance is given and for that reason, it pays to be overly cautious to ensure the well being of your account.

Things to avoid:

  • Curse words/profanity
    • Harsh swear words
    • More mild swear words like crap and asshole have been reported to be OK by some users but in my opinion, are not worth the risk.
    • Remember that “Shirt” and “Shit” are just one letter different from each other so make sure you check that you don’t make this fatal mistake.
  • Advocating Hate
    • The obvious hate against groups of people, races etc. should be avoided simply by virtue of the fact that you’re not a bad person, but worth mentioning nonetheless.
    • Hating anything can trigger rejections: “I hate pickles”, “I hate cats” are best avoided.
  • Profiting from Tragedy
    • Any natural disaster, mass shooting or terrorist attack should again be avoided, if not simply because you are a decent person!
  • Pornography
    • Anything depicting sexual acts
    • This might be overkill but I also avoid mentioning sexual acts, even just hinting or suggesting at something.
  • Drugs
    • Marijuana is a particularly sore point for merch
    • Any recreational drugs by name
    • To play it safe even mentioning recreational drug use or drug culture and paraphernalia
  • Copyright & Trademarks (The Big One)
    • Make sure you check a site like TESS or trademarkia.com for the main title of your shirt, any keywords you use or any phrases.
    • Avoid quotes from movies, books etc.
    • If the concept of your tee is utilising some reference, obscure or not that is copyrighted/trademarked such as a movie, book, video game etc. don’t do it.
    • Make sure you re-check trademarks/copyrights each month as someone can acquire a trademark after you list your tee and from experience, Amazon doesn’t care about prior use – they will pull your tee anyway.
  • Physically describing the shirt/shipping info
    • Do not mention how many/which colors are available
    • Don’t mention the quality of the shirts
    • Don’t mention prime or shipping times
  • Misleading Titles/Description
    • For example, don’t mention dogs in your title if your tee features only cats
    • Don’t say that your tee glows in the dark, reflective, activated by heat etc… because it’s not!
    • Don’t say it’s a maternity tee. This one is a little unfortunate as you may mean maternity due to it being for pregnant women to announce their pregnancy for example. But Amazon sees this as being misleading. It may make buyers think the t-shirt is designed specifically as a maternity shirt.
  • T-Shirts Targeted at Children
    • Now that youth sizes are available, really make sure that if you select it you avoid anything even slightly adult-themed. Mentioning “Wine” or the word “Sexy” on a t-shirt available for children is not a good look and Merch by Amazon will react accordingly.
  • Misc
    • Blank designs
    • Low-quality design – blurry, low resolution
    • URLs or contact info

Minimum Payout & How to Get Paid by Merch By Amazon

There is no minimum withdrawal. At the end of the month whatever you’ve earned will be automatically transferred to your bank.

Is it Worth it?

Merch By Amazon is potentially one of the most profitable ventures available online. As you can see above there is a lot of pre-work and learning to be done but if you put the time in you can earn a significant amount of money each month.

You need to understand that this is not an instant moneymaker, nor a guaranteed moneymaker. You will need to build up gradually – it is effectively your own mini-business. But the good news is that there are no upfront costs or risks etc. generally associated with running a business.

Sign Up To Merch By Amazon Today

The very best print on demand service that anyone with even a  minimal design spark can get involved in. A fantastic earning opportunity with zero costs or risks involved.

Join Amazon Merch
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