Tips For Making Money Selling Online

How To Quickly Become Successful On The Merch By Amazon Platform

Getting a Merch By Amazon account ( if you don’t already have one) is thought to be like hitting the lottery. In theory you can basically put products ( t shirts) up on the largest retail website in the world (Amazon) that don’t cost you a dime ( if you make the designs yourself) and have Amazon promote and sell them 24/7 and send you a rolatity payment each month.

A no cost business model. I like the sounds of that ( and so does a LOT of other people). In fact, I jumped onto Merch right after it launched ( before it was hard to get an account) and I have sort of had an advantage over the late adopters.

I have been a FBA seller for several years but in 2017, I actually made more on Merch than I did from Amazon FBA ( not much more, but more none the less).

In this post, I want to lay out how someone new to Merch ( or has been unsuccessful) should proceed. I want to share some of the training I personally took ( I didn’t know jack about using design programs) and some of the best resources you should use.

Learn The Merch By Amazon Platform First

The first thing I would recommend is to take the Udemy course by Chris Green. I took the advanced one and if you know how Udemy works, you can almost always get the course for around $10-$11

https://www.udemy.com/merchbyamazon/learn/v4/overview

I would actually avoid the Merch Facebook groups because they are really big and full of people that are either whining about not having a Merch account or asking all the beginner questions. If you take Green’s course ( and actually watch ALL of the videos) , you will know everything you need to know about how Merch works.

At Least Know The Basics

“I just plan on buying all my designs”. Well that is fine and dandy, but you still should have a basic understanding of how to do basic things with the files and images.

Here is where I will deviate from the crowd. I like to use the free open source programs, GIMP and Inkscape instead of the Adobe programs ( Photoshop and Illustrator). It isn’t a money thing but more of a principal thing, but either will work fine, but don’t try to think using an iPhone or iPad app ( or the online editors) is the way to go. You need to learn a real program.

So I will say this first. You should learn a vector editing program. It is what artists and designers use, but with that said, I learned GIMP first. It is great for simple stuff like text but you really can’t draw/design with it.

The course I took was actually a book cover course on Udemy. All the same principles and a guy with a cool French accent

https://www.udemy.com/gimp-for-beginners/learn/v4/overview

Again this is probably a $10-$11 Udemy course.

Next you need to move up the food chain to a vector program that actually allows you to do some stuff.

The course I took was

https://www.udemy.com/udemy-master-inkscape-beginner-course-20162017-unofficial/learn/v4/overview

Again probably $10-$11 course

This is going to show you how the program works but not how to “design”.

Finally I suggest that you learn how people actually draw stuff ( trust me, once you understand vector, you will start making your own designs and/or start tearing designs apart and making “new” designs.)

This is another “accent” friendly teacher ( makes you feel like you went abroad to study art)

This is the course I took

https://www.udemy.com/learn-to-use-inkscape/learn/v4/

Again probably a $10-$11 Udemy course.

( while I have shown GIMP and Inkscape, I am sure that there are similar ( and probably more) for Photoshop and Illustrator)

Now here is the catch. You need to invest a little money ( we are up to maybe $50 right now) and more importantly, you need to invest TIME to learn both how Merch works and how to make designs.

Most people aren’t willing to do either and this is where they fail ( remember they were attracted to the “ no money invested” business model )

This is actually the biggest secret to success of Merch ( or anything ) is to invest in learning and find a source that has everything you need in one place ( you are wasting your time trying to piece together Youtube videos and blog posts trying learn how to do something. Just pay $10 to get the training all in one place.

So once again you are probably saying “ I will just hire it out”.

Guess what? I do have some design made for me but sometimes I need to change something in the design or I want to “boilerplate” the design.

Sometimes I get some elements made and then make multiple designs out of it.

And sometimes I simply can make it faster or better than hiring it out.

I can do this because I took the time to learn how to use the programs ( and I seriously couldn’t do anything when I first started ).

If you can’t do the basics, you will find that you will have a hard time with Merch.

Now For The Merch Designs

Now that you are able to function on the Merch platform and can handle the files/designs, now you need to learn how to actually put up designs that sell.

Once again, this is where people fail.

If your game plan is to copy all the best selling designs, you WILL fail or not have an account long.

“But everyone is doing it”

Yeah, I know. Heck I use to do it when I first started. ( Merch was a whole lot easier back then and a lot less regulated)

So what do I suggest?

Well there is one expert I have followed, Michael Essek.

He is some British dude that has been killing it on Merch and knows a whole lot more than I do, so that is what I am looking for.

Successful sellers and people know more than me that I can learn from.

Business ( and life) advice: If you are the smartest guy in the room, then you are in the wrong room.

Michael has a couple of books that will help you learn to be a better Merch seller.

https://gumroad.com/a/574272627

He has a private Facebook group as part the package ( remember, avoid the crowds of the big, free Facebook groups) and you can usually find him on some Merch podcasts.

Another resource ( and I consider this a little more on the advanced side) is a new “newsletter” from a Merch guru call Michael Essany.

This comes out each Monday and is only $10 a month.

The ideas you get here are really outside the box and timely. Every time I read it I have that OMG moment and it really sparks the ideas in me.

https://gumroad.com/a/230339699

Other Merch Tools

The number one service I use is Merchantwords. I use it daily to find the search volume on Amazon. It is $30 a month but if you Google, you can always find a code for $9 a month.

I saw the owner George Lawrence speak a couple years back at a conference and it has made a massive difference in my Merch sales.

( One thing I beg you not to do is keyword stuff. It doesn’t really do anything except confuse the Amazon algorithm )

I like to use this site to check the competition out. ( Merchinformer)

It is free and gives be a better idea of what I am up against.

To really super charge this, use the Chrome browser and add this extension, DS Amazon Quick View

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ds-amazon-quick-view/jkompbllimaoekaogchhkmkdogpkhojg?utm_source=chrome-app-launcher-info-dialog

This will show you all the sales ranks of the search results from Merchinformer

And finally you need a system to rank your shirts/get your first sale to keep them live.

I personally like to price a regular shirt at $14.99 ( $16.99 for premium) to get the first sale and then raise the price once it live. ( sometimes I will leave it for awhile to built the rank)

I use another Chrome extension to handle this called MerchTools.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/merchtools/cmhaijgncfpbbhfnieobpbadekcpjpol?utm_source=chrome-app-launcher-info-dialog

If you go to the Quick editor in it, you can sort shirts.

I sort via the price, so when I look at the $14.99 shirts, if I see a green checkmark, I will edit the price up ( I know that that shirt is “live” ( it has made at least 1 sale). This makes it very easy to use this system.

Conclusion

Merch is a great business to get into but most people think it is just easy money. Many just jump in and fail because they don’t take the time to educate themselves ( and definitely are afraid to invest in knowledge)

I to a different approach to Merch and it has paid off for me.

To sum it up referring to the post title, the quickest way to become successful at Merch is to do it right at first and educate yourself.

I will leave leave you with this.

I use to work in a steel mill before it shutdown. I was trying to work 30 years so I could a pension. ( and it really sucked working there)

I was able to make a passive monthly income from Merch in less than 1 year that more than surpassed what I would have gotten for 30 years of working in the steel mill!

Simple Technique For Proving Pixel For Pixel Theft Of Merch By Amazon Designs

As a person that has had a #1 selling tee shirt design on the Merch By Amazon platform, I can attest to the fact of people stealing designs via the pixel for pixel method. It can be very frustrating and the simple fact is that you don’t always know how Amazon will handle this from day to day or case to case.

Sure there is copyright law but having a copyright and enforcing a copyright are two different things. It gets really muddy when Amazon is involved. It is more about how Amazon enforces copyright and in this post I want to show a simple, 1 minute or less technique that probably 99.9% of the people are not using that might just sway Amazon to rule in your favor when and if one of your tee shirt designs are hijacked.

Copyright

Before we begin, I want to cover some basics on copyright ( and I need to fill some space in this post)

You can download a copy of the copyright basics from the official government copyright site here:

https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

Straight from the government:

“Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S.Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works”

So your original tee shirt design would fall under artistic works.

Again straight from the government:

“Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work”

So if you are sitting at your laptop at 2AM and create a tee shirt design, it is automatically copyrighted to you.

Publication is no longer the key to obtaining federal copyright as it was under the Copyright Act of 1909.”

When you create a design, you don’t have to do anything to get it copyright like people had to do in the past.

Copyright is what we are going to use to help prove to Amazon that we were the creator of a design and legal copyright holder in the event that we have people stealing our designs.

Using Copyright Symbol In Our Designs

“The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although it is often beneficial.”

This is what we are going to do because as it said, it is beneficial.

“Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible Copies

The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the following three elements:

1 The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word “Copyright,” or the abbreviation “Copr.”; and

2 The year of first publication of the work. In the case of compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published material, the year date of first publication of the compilation or derivative work is sufficient. The year date may be omitted where a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, with accompanying textual matter, if any, is reproduced in or on greeting cards, postcards, stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful article; and

3 The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.

Example: © 2011 John Doe”

Do you have a copyright notice on any of your stolen designs? I am guessing 99.9% of the people reading this don’t.

Adding Copyright Notices

We are going to add copyright notices to all our designs. This will not take away anything from the design because outside of the Merch world it is common practice for all companies to place copyright and trademark symbols on their products.

Image if I have someone steal my design pixel for pixel, it will also contain my copyright notice. When I contact Amazon, it is a slam dunk case when the image of the other Merch seller says

Copyright Jason Wilkey 2017

The common practice is to place the notice at the bottom of the image. I simply have this notice saved on my desktop and drag it to the template just prior to saving the image to be uploaded. This might require changing the text color or resizing it slightly, but this should take less than 30 seconds.

Now I would guess that some of the design thieves might get wise to this, so to have a little fun, we can actually move this into the body of the design and use it to delete out some areas of color ( this is easier to see on the video) Basically you can have “hidden messages” with your designs. ( this is also fun to do with other text messages if you are immature and sophomoric like me)

This video show what I am talking about

 

Conclusion

While we don’t know for sure what Amazon will do in every case, by adding the copyright notice to every image we create ( which we are legally entitled to do) , this is almost absolute proof that you own the image design and  i would believe that Amazon would be hard pressed to deny this.

This is a very simple technique that most people overlook because it is not something we are use to doing as opposed to traditional businesses. Take the extra minute or so to include this and add some protection to your designs. 

Creative Market: Sometimes The Best Tools For Merch Are Free

Hey everyone! Ken here, with my first official post on this blog!

As more and more people get their accounts approved, the Merch By Amazon world will continue to be more competitive. Jason and I both have successful shirts on this platform with nothing but text on them. I also have a couple with text and a simple clipart image. That method does work, but at some point it won’t be enough. What you should be doing now is positioning yourself with better designs. Have a design that sells consistently every month? GREAT! Don’t stop there. Keep it Live, and put up another version, sharpen the look, try different fonts, gradients, even give it that “weathered” look that is trendy.

Enter Creative Market. This site has a TON of stuff on it. Stock Photos, Graphics, Templates, Themes (HTML/CSS/WordPress etc.) Fonts & Add-Ons. There are always new things popping up, and you should be constantly looking to upgrade your tool belt.

Many of you are going to read this and only apply it to designing shirts via Amazon. That’s fine, but that’s only a small piece of the big puzzle. There are plenty of Print-On-Demand (POD) sites out there. Use these items on mugs, tote bags (you know the ladies love a solid tote!), pillows, whatever! People are killing it out there on Shopify with these types of solutions.

Here’s where I’ll slide in my disclaimer, to save the blog some potential grief. Make sure when you are downloading this content and using it for personal/commercial use, you are allowed to. Failing to look and/or give a shit, can result in banning of your account(s) or other legal action(s).

Here’s an example of a great quality, free font, fully legal for Commercial Use: Gineva Font

Browse their selection and something might just jump out at you. Might be a font, might be a theme, that’s up to you!

Feel free to connect with me on the Facebook Group or reach out to me directly HERE!

Why You Suck At Merch And How To Finally Start Selling Some Shirts On Merch

Recently I was in a large Mech By Amazon Facebook group and saw a post that the person was complaining about the fact that they had 18 shirts up and had made 1 sale in like 4 weeks. Then they mentioned running ads, keywords, etc and nothing was working.

Why You Suck At Merch

I  made a reply to the post that people just don’t get this Merch thing and with this post, I want to explain why I think people are failing at Merch.

I am going to make an assumption that a large number of people doing Merch By Amazon are also FBA sellers. I am sure some aren’t, but if they aren’t , they will understand this even less.

The basic reason people fail is that they don’t understand how the Amazon algorithm works.

I know, you are yelling BS right now. Your saying ”I put in keywords on my listings” . ( So quit your damn keyword stuffing. It doesn’t work) That isn’t all the algorithm cares about.

Yeah you suck. You still don’t get it, so sit down, shut up and learn some shit!

What Amazon Algorithm Was Designed To Do

Amazons algorithm was not designed to be gamed by you. Putting 500 keywords into a listing thinking that more is better and the algorithm will rank your shirt high is just plain stupid.

That algorithm is written by a bunch of smarter people than you or me and they know what you are up to.

Amazon’s algorithm is made to sell products. That is the only goal Amazon has for it.

Type into AZ search the phrase “ funny t shirt” .

funny t shirt

Amazon only returns 60 of over 2 million items.

These are the 60 items that Amazon’s algorithm thinks you will most likely BUY when you are looking for a “funny t shirt”.

It is not the listings with the search term “funny t shirt” stuffed in 40 times.

So the simple fact is that Amazon wants to show you items that you most likely will buy for each search you do.

This is the MOST important part.

How Amazon’s Algorithm Learns

When you put keywords into your listings, it tells the algorithm what your listing is about at first but then it learns if the terms are right.

Huh?

Yeah, the true measure of if your search words are right is ( drum roll)

CONVERSIONS

If you say your shirt is about say “owls” and when someone searches for a shirt about “owls” and Amazon displays your shirt and they don’t buy it, that tells the algorithm that your listing isn’t about “owls” or that it sucks. Either way, the algorithm doesn’t want to waste a spot in search results by showing your shitty listing that doesn’t sell.

As a side note, the algorithm gets more clues from things like reviews but that normally happens after conversions.

So when you first put up a t shirt and have it loaded with your keywords, the algorithm is going to sort of take your word for it. It will display your shirt sometimes as a search result for those keywords but if it doesn’t start to sell, it discounts those keywords as being valid.

Basically you get a chance to prove yourself and if you don’t, well you are pushed to the search results abyss.

So the goal for any shirts that you put up is to make fast sales.

Merch Is Just Like Private Label

The whole thing is to handle Merch like Private Label ( or any listing you make for Amazon FBA).

When private label sellers bring a product to market, they have to do stuff to get their products to rank in Amazon search and make it sell well.

The normal process is (was) to give away ( or discount) a bunch of the product at launch to get sales, reviews and to move up in ranking.

Well that same holds true for Merch shirts.

Remember me mentioning conversions? ( sales ) Well in private label, people give stuff away or sell cheaply to get the conversions.

Well we can’t exactly do that with Merch, but we can sell our shirts cheaply to make sales ( conversions) .

Time out for my rant

Everyone that knows me, knows how much I despise “fast turn” FBA sellers. I believe people are suckered into the math of compounding returns that some gurus teach. It normally goes something like this, “ If you return 10% every 2 weeks, that turns into a massive return after a year”.

Yes on paper it is amazing, except that it results in a crap load of work trying to spend that much money every 2 weeks.

Basically it is taught by people that don’t understand margin and basic business.

Ever walk into a Walmart that sells out everything on their shelves every 2 weeks?

No, never and that is not how you should run a business. The only thing you do is destroy the margins for everyone else before you burn out and quit selling on Amazon FBA.

Rant over

With that said, I have found that the same low ball, fast turn sellers on FBA have a totally opposite strategy when it come to Merch.

They believe that their shirt designs should sell for a premium. They think that every one of their designs are worth $20, $25, $30 each.

They are willing to make 10-20% return on a product that they buy from Walmart but there is no freaken way that they would sell their shirts for say $14.99. ( $3.47 royalty )

They are willing to make $1 on a $10 investment on a product that they bought from Walmart but $3.50 from a digital file is sacrilegious. Go figure.

With that said, I am going to suggest you become the low ball seller on Mech that I hate on FBA.

Besides making a good design and basic keywords, the only other thing that we can control is the price we ask for our shirts.

Why would we want to do this?

Conversions!

Most people are more likely to buy a cheap shirt than an expensive one ( yeah I know that isn’t always the case) .

So let’s go back the owl shirt.

You have just designed a cool looking owl shirt. You put some good ( relevant) keywords into useful, human readable title, bullet points and description. ( ie keywork stuffing on these doesn’t make people want to buy anything)

keyword stuff

So you have told the algorithm what the listing is about so it gives you a chance to show your stuff.

Someone searches for an owl t shirt and yours gets displayed in the search results.

This is your chance to show the algorithm that you really should be displayed for the search term “owl”.

Now there is the problem. Your shirt has no reviews and is priced at $24.99 ( remember you think it is freaken the most awesome thing to ever be listed on Amazon) and is shown next to a shirts that have reviews ( social proof) and priced at $19.99.

What are the chances that you convert?

Slim.

Now the algorithm begins to think that the keywords in your listing are wrong. The buyer bought another “owl” shirt. There is a strike against your listing.

This keeps happening the next several times that someone search for owl shirts.

Now the algorithm says enough is enough, the listing isn’t really about owls and it isn’t going to show it to buyers anymore when they are looking for owl shirts.

Now let’s say you priced your shirt at $11.99 and it showed up in the search results for owl shirts.

Many people shop on price and some of them will buy the $11.99 shirt. ( Oh, no. There is no way in Hell that I am giving away the shirt that isn’t selling for almost nothing…..)

When you sell your owl shirt for $11.99 you don’t make crap on it (like $.88, but hey you are in fast turner range of return) but and the BIG BUT is, that you made a conversion. You just told the algorithm that your shirt is what people want to buy when they search for an owl shirt ( see this is exactly the same thing of what private label sellers are doing)
Your shirt will start to show up in search results more which will result in more and more sales.

So you would keep your price at this point until you make several sales on your shirt and then start to raise the price ( people do the same thing with private label. There is a launch price and a full retail price that they move to).

This is really no different than how you would launch any other product but for some reason people are afraid that every person that would ever buy their shirt will snag it for $11.99 and the will never have another person want to buy it.

Basically if 10 people buy your shirt for $11.99 and that is the end of it and there is no more demand for your shirt after that, then you have a dud of a shirt design anyway.

So what if 10 or 20 people get a great deal on your masterpiece of a shirt design.

Sell some cheap to teach the algorithm that you are the real deal and you will benefit down the road.

Conclusion

If you are someone that is totally sucking at Merch and you aren’t making sales, you have nothing to lose by following my advice. Log into your Merch account and reprice all you nonsellers to $11.99 and let them sit for awhile. Some are still going to suck but some will start to sell and after you have taught the algorithm, you can start to raise your prices up to increase your profits.

Or you can just keep sucking at Merch.

Organic Marketing For Merch By Amazon T Shirts

“Welcome to Merch By Amazon!”

Now what?

How do I get sales?

Facebook ads? Pinterest? Instagram?

Everyone is scrambling to figure it out.

Here is what I know about Facebook ads for Merch:

0 , zero, zip, nada

Going Old School

I want to present a totally different idea for marketing Merch tee shirts that I haven’t heard anyone talking about that I have seen happen with my own t shirt designs.

I can’t prove that this works but I think if you follow my thought process you might buy into how this can work.

Niches Baby, It Is All About Niches

Everyone wants to jump into the big niches that have hundreds of the same design or saying. You have seen it, 3 pages of the exact same shirts.

Or people trying to jump onto the current events. Really? How long does current stay current?

So what should you focus on?

Small, unreached niches.

Unreached niches?

Think about it, How many knitting fan t shirts are there? ( ok there are a lot of them on AZ so not a great example, but have you tried to find on at Walmart or your local mall?)

In general, odd hobbies or interests are not going to be found locally.

So say your mom is a big time knitter and you want to get her a shirt for her birthday. You are going to have to go to Amazon to buy one because the sales numbers for those shirts are too low for other retailers ( other than other print on demand t shirt companies) to manufacture them.
So now let’s move on to an example of how I see this working.

Case Example

So first I want to choose a niche that I believe this will work in a little different way.

I chose the niche dental hygienist.

When was the last time you saw a dental hygienist t shirt in the store?

Probably never.

But……there are a lot of dental hygienists out there.

I did a quick search to see how many searches does Amazon have a month for dental hygienist t shirt

merch1

Wow, less than 100 a month.

Most people are moving on right now. ( not me, I wouldn’t mind selling 100 t shirts a month but 100 search would lead to less than 100 sales)

So let’s look at another search

merch2

Dental hygienist gift

211,000 searches a month

That is really good and I shouldn’t have used it because it won’t prove my point but you have a great keyword right there.

So let’s just forget about about that but hint, hint, the word “gift” seems to be something we should be adding to any niche search terms.

Ok, let’s get straight on this.

We know there are a crap load of dental hygienist out there. We also know that you can’t buy a t shirt for one at just about any other place except Amazon. And finally, we know that less than 100 searches are done looking just for “ dental hygienist t shirt” ( that last one sounds so unpromising )

Organic Marketing For Merch By Amazon T Shirts

Why would I want to make a dental hygienist t shirt and why do I think I can sell any of them?

shirtfba

Currently the sales rank of this shirt is #385,476, which if you look at FBA Toolkit, that says that it is selling about 1 shirt every 4 day, so 7 or 8 a month.

Not killing it but remember that the term “dental hygienist “ is only being searched less than 100 times a month and there are a few other designs to chose from on Amazon.

Now here comes the secret sauce ( hold on tight)

Now say someone order one of these dental hygienist t shirts and say it is really a cool shirt. Now they wear it to work in the dental office and their co workers think it is a cool shirt too.

What is going to happen?

They are going to say, “ That is a cool shirt. Where did you find it? “ and they answer “ On Amazon”

Amazon is easy to remember and easy to access. It wasn’t like they said, “I found it at a flea market in Alaska”

So now you have a walking billboard to your t shirt.

Nobody sells dental hygienist t shirts locally and there is this person where it around the office.

There is a good chance that their co workers might order some of the shirts too.

Now imagine that every month the same thing happens. 7 or 8 t shirt get ordered and then you have the walking billboard showing it off around the office.

Next then you know 7 turns into 15, then into 25.

Notice I haven’t said anything about paid promotions?

I think the term is “ organic sales

Here is the thing. Merch hasn’t been around very long. People haven’t taken notice of the whole organic sales thing yet. Too busy trying to make a current event, hashtag shirt. Too busy trying to copy the best selling shirts.

Now fast forward to Q4.

You are the dentist. You are having an office Christmas party. You need to buy a gift for everyone in the group.

Hey there is that cool shirt that Suzy Q has been wear once a week all year on casual Friday.

A quick Amazon shirt shows the shirt and you can visually recognize the shirt ( no need for the perfect keywords because you know the shirt you are looking for)

You place an order for 12 shirts and go about your day.

Organic sales and nobody has been thinking of this.

Conclusion

Just think about every different job or hobby that isn’t represented. That is a shit load of niches. Make the cool shirt and then sit back and let the magic happen over time ( remember that once the shirt is up, it is there forever to make you money)

The Quick Start Guide For Profiting On Merch By Amazon

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.

The into version of Merch By Amazon Udmeny

The advanced version of Merch By Amazon

( 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

http://www.aiga.org/copyright-basics-for-graphic-designers/

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.

GIMP For Beginners

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.

Udemy

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.

http://www.1001fonts.com/free-fonts-for-commercial-use.html

http://www.dafont.com/top.php?l%5B%5D=10

https://pixabay.com/

https://www.wpclipart.com/

http://www.pdclipart.org/

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

vintagegumroad

https://gum.co/JTQQe

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

30daysales

 

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.

Sell T Shirts With Teespring

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,

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url

http://www.bing.com/toolbox/submit-site-url

Conclusion

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?

Shopify!

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.