Merch By Amazon is the newest income stream that many FBA sellers have jumped onto but it requires a totally different set of skills. I have decided to put together this little Merch seller start up guide to show people how I personally have done it and hopefully that can help you if you are wondering where to start.
If you are totally new, lost, don’t have a clue, my first advice is to take Chris Green’s Merch By Amazon course.
There are 2 version available and I personally recommend taking the advanced version.
( Here is a little secret. Green sells the advanced course with 2 other of his courses for $49 on Gumroad as a package. I would go that route myself instead of Udemy. Check out the deal here: https://gumroad.com/a/790246515 )
It Is Just Paying People $5 On Fiverr, Isn’t it?
Many people will tell you the business model is as simple as paying someone $5 on Fiverr to make the design for you. Well, no it isn’t.
Yes, I personally have done that with some success, but that flizzed out really quickly. I had 1 person out of 4 that was able to actually make the designs but they got out of the business.
Plus there are legal issues with the actual copyright of the designs even though you are paying someone to make them for you.
Here is a little info about copyrights
The work around is to create your own designs. This is where people start to drop off at because it is going to require knowing how to use image software and many have very large learning curves.
Graphic And Image Creation Software Programs For Merch
Most people love Adobe programs and most people that already know how to use the graphic creation programs are using Adobe products.
I am not one of them.
I had no idea how to use Photoshop. If me it was a lot of clicking and cussing without getting any thing to work.
Then there is the fact that you have to pay for Adobe programs. If you buy them outright, they are expensive.
The good news is that they are now on the cloud and you just pay a monthly fee.
I am still too cheap for that.
I am also a fan of open source software. Basically there are free versions of the popular software out there that works almost as good as the paid. ( I am typing this up on OpenOffice, which is the open source version of Word and it works just as good and is free)
So my choice of software to start Merch was GIMP, which is the open source version of Photoshop.
I had no skills at all with GIMP. I couldn’t do the simplest tasks on GIMP.
I tried to watch some Youtube videos on GIMP, but the problem is that they aren’t well laid out and don’t exactly show the beginner step by step how to use GIMP.
Udemy to the rescue!
I really like taking Udemy courses on subjects that I want to get trained on instead of trying to piece together training by watching a 100 different Youtube videos. Time is money and it is worth paying a little to get the training all in one place.
I searched for GIMP training on Udemy and the course I found and took was actually for book cover design with GIMP. It had several hours of training and covered all the basics of using GIMP. Designing a book cover is very similar to designing a tee shirt.
I spent about 4-5 hours of watching videos for the GIMP course. The guy that teaches it is from France and I found it weird that I was learning how to use GIMP on my computer in Indiana from a guy in France.
I highly recommend taking this course, but with that said, watching and applying the techniques are 2 different things. There is a long learning curve and many people will just quit.
Now I am somewhat proficient in using GIMP but still struggle with it but I have been able to produce a lot of designs that have sold good and I know that there isn’t copyright issues with them.
GIMP has allowed me to create simple designs but there seems to be something missing. I just can’t seem to produce complex graphics.
Then I happened to see this video
This opened my eyes to the fact that there are other programs that can allow you to be more creative. This video uses Adobe Illustrator, which is a paid program.
Well we are in luck because there is an open source version of this called Inkscape.
I found a Udemy course to learn how to use Inkscape.
The course is called: Learn Inkscape now – create vector graphics for free!
I do recommend this course but not to learn Inkscape exactly. The instructor moves pretty fast through stuff and it is hard to follow along with what tools to use, but the real value is the instructor’s creativity. That makes the course worthwhile. I was amazed on how easy it was to create images with Inkscape.
So while I recommend that you take this course, I also recommend a Youtube course that has 10 videos that show you how to use Inkscape.
Here is the first of the series:
This is going to take several hours of your time to watch. This where people will quit.
Then I would go back and take the course on Udemy
Resources For Merch Tee Shirt Designing
No matter what graphic program you end up using, you are going to need some graphics and fonts to make good designs.
Once again you could pay for images but many have strings attached to them on how many products can be sold with the image on it.
My suggestion is to use public domain images and public domain fonts becasue you can do whatever you want with them.
You just can’t grab any old image off the internet and use it for whatever you want. Most images are copyrighted and you could get into big trouble.
The same goes for fonts. If you use the basic fonts that are on your computer, you designs will probably suck but you can’t just grab any old font from the internet to use. Most are copyrighted or do not allow you to use them for commercial use.
There are several sites that I use but the thing to make sure of before using anything is that you have rights to use it.
You can also use Google images and click Search Tools and then Usage Rights to find images that you can use.
Making More Creative Designs Quickly
Giving a tee shirt design a vintage, distressed or dirty look seems to sell more shirts. This is suprising easy to do one you figure it out. You can actually double the number of designs you have up by simply doing this.
I made a video on how to do it:
I also made a template to do it that I sell on Gumroad. You don’t need to buy the template since I show how to make it in the video, but the ready made template is easy to use and there is more detail instructions on how to use it that comes with the Gumroad
Merch Business Models
There are several schools of thought to the Merch business model.
Some people think that their designs are worth big bucks. Other like myself think that these are just digital files that are passive income and any money we make on them is good.
One of the biggest problems I see is that people on the 25 shirt tier put up 25 shirts that sell for $25-$30 and make very few sells if any and can’t get tiered up. A great design that never sells because it is priced too high is worth $0.
Shirts that don’t sell stay hidden way down on the Amazon search results. Amazon shows search result of the best selling stuff.
My business model for new sellers on Merch is to create designs that sell fast and sell a lot of even if you make very little off of each one.
Your goal is to get tier up to the 100 or 500 level. At that point you can have a lot of the higher priced, slower selling tee shirts up and have some of them sell every day because you have so many up.
My other business model is to have a ton of designs up that don’t sell very often. I currently am at the 1000 tier level.
Now say that I have 1000 designs up on Merch and they each sell 2 per month.
That is 2000 tees selling in a month. That is a pretty good passive income stream and the bonus is that none of those designs are going to be ranked well. They may be sales ranked 800k to over a million. At that rank, nobody is going to try to copy the design, which is a big problem right now on Merch.
By me designing simple, low priced shirts myself, I can get a ton of designs up on Merch. Even if you were able to get someone to do it on Fiverr, it would cost you $5500 to get the 1000 designs up ( they add $.50 fee to Fiverr for some reason) Not to mention that most likely you won’t find someone that will keep making the designs for $5 ( actually they only get $4 of it) They Fiverr people are only doing the gigs to get you to upgrade to higher levels and high cost services.
Driving Traffic To Your Merch Shirts
Relying on Amazon organic traffic to find your shirt designs is not going to get you fast or great results. With at said, you should try to add keywords and search terms into you tee shirt title, bullets and description.
I am not an expert on that and my best selling shirt actually has no bullets or description.
While I am on that topic, I will say that price is a big fact on selling tee shirts.
Here is a screenshot of a holiday shirt that I priced low and got to 5k sales rank. It took me 5 minutes to make and helped move me to the 1000 tier
Not every shirt has to be priced like this, but it was a good return for 5 minute of work.
There are lots of ways to drive traffic to you shirts.
One free way is to pin them to a Pinterest board.
The concept is that you create a board for a niche. You post a lot of different things to the board that are not tee shirts and then you randomly add one of your Merch shirts to the board. This looks very natural and once set up, can drive traffic to your Merch shirts.
Here is a video on how it works:
Another thing that many people are doing is running Facebook ads.
This isn’t as easy as you would think because you have to know how to target your ads and it can get expensive.
For this I am going to go back to my old stand by advice, go get some training on Udemy.
With that said, here is the secret.
People were selling t shirts online before Mech came out. They were selling on Teespring and there is a lot of information and courses on how to sell on Teespring.
In these courses they tell how to advertise on Facebook and how to use Pinterest and other social media to drive traffic and make sales.
Here the Udemy course that I personally took.
Here is my advice, don’t be afraid to invest in your knowledge and don’t waste time and money by trying to figure it all out yourself when you came pay a little and fast forward your success.
Here is a quick trick to help your shirts be found in the search engines ( ie Google and Bing) You have to understand that you are trying to be found in Amazon search and Google search.
Take the Amazon url that they send you when your shirt is approved and enter it into both of these. It will tell the search spiders to come and index the page, which will help send traffic to Amazon when people are searching online,
Merch By Amazon is a good income stream but it takes work. It is also changing daily and the competition is getting stronger everyday, but once you have some success with it, you will find it addictive.
While this article was about Merch By Amazon, I will let you in on the real secret.
People that have been having success on Merch are already moving into another platform that is making them even more money ( they are still on Merch, but just expanding)
What am I talking about?
People are using Shopify to build there own “ Merch” site. They are using print on demand services that print and fulfill and they drive traffic in the same ways they do for Merch and Teespring, but the bonus is that they own the customers ( email lists for example) and they can market to proven buyers.
Yeah here is the catch. This requires work. You have to learn a whole lot more and like I have mentioned several time in this article, that is where people will quit, which thins the herd and is where the profit is.