Note: I am fully aware that some people are not approved for Merch by Amazon. There are a million of ways to make money out there and this article simply highlights one of them.
This month alone, I will have invested over $1,300 into Merch by Amazon designs.
Am I insane or am I brilliant?
If you ask my wife, she would say a little of both!
Last month, I was just short of making $1,000 in profit from Merch by Amazon. This month I’m on track to beat last month.
You might need a bit of a back story first.
I originally got my Merch account back in September of 2015 (right around the time they launch the service). My dad told me it was something that I needed to get, so I did. And that was about all I did with it.
The first month, I didn’t upload a design.
The next month, I uploaded 5 designs.
In November of 2015, I made a whopping $17.78. I also uploaded 5 more designs.
In December, I made $30.39 and January brought in $44.77.
I was rolling in dough…….Not.
Disappointed that it wasn’t scaling quicker, I decided to focus my efforts else where. I mean. I could go out and source for an hour and make $100+ at a local Walmart. Why in the world would I want to try to make designs and upload them to Merch by Amazon. It’s not a good use of my time.
So I did the unthinkable. I actually removed all of my designs and sold them to someone else for $100. I was done with this stupid thing called Merch by Amazon.
So the next few months were as follows in terms of profit:
February 2016: $0
March 2016: $0
April 2016: $0
And at the end of April, I was talking to my dad and John about their success in Merch. And I was dumbfounded.
They were both making a killing.
I started to think about getting into Merch again, but I literally didn’t want to mess with creating designs or such. I just wanted to make a passive income and keep doing what I was doing.
That was the key for me.
So the argument started inside of my head.
How do I build up a passive income stream without having to give up my time?
For some, the answer is simple. Outsource.
Duh Chris. Why wouldn’t you outsource your design work? That should have been what you did back in September of 2015.
Well. There was actually a reason that I didn’t outsource at that point.
I didn’t think it would actually make me much money. I spent 10 hours and made a full $40 during the busiest season of the year. Why in the world would I invest money into something that isn’t even that successful?
So I did the dumb thing. I gave up. I decided to focus on things that I knew worked.
Others kept at the grind and are now killing it in Merch.
Instead of sitting there thinking that I missed the boat, I decided to go full throttle to try to make up for lost time.
I went out and found me a VA who could start creating designs for me and then my wife and I started coming up with shirt design ideas.
And the uploading started. Within a few weeks, I was maxed out at 25 shirts.
I’ll admit, it was extremely frustrating. I knew people who had 8,000 open spots and I was stuck at a lousy 25. If I would have only started sooner.
And that started my path.
May brought in $36.84. This taught me two things rather quickly.
Number 1: I’m not a good designer. I should have never spent my time creating designs.
Number 2: Shirt sell year round. Not just during the busy seasons.
And May 2016 brought me another joy: I was now able to upload 50 designs! I could double my designs (and hopefully my profits).
So I kept the VA on my payroll and they started creating more and more designs. And I kept uploading them to Merch by Amazon until I maxed out at 50 designs.
And now the waiting game begins.
While I waited, a few months went by and my profit started to rise:
June 2016: $147.28
July 2016: $320.27
And I started to realize something. If I uploaded high quality designs, they would actually sell. This wasn’t some magic show.
And in July I found out I could upload up to 100 designs. So I started to once again upload designs whenever I could find a few extra seconds. And I was filled up by the middle of August.
And then I got a nice surprise:
August 2016: $463.54 and I tiered up to 500 shirts.
All of a sudden, I could increase the number of products on the market by 5x.
So I pushed it into overdrive and started uploading as many designs as I could possibly get my hands on. I increased my VA’s pay and hour limit and started uploading like a mad man. I was actually able to fill all of my open design spots by the end of September.
And then this happened:
September 2016: $843.85 in profit and I was tiered up to 1,000 designs.
So in 5 months, I was able to take an essentially new account from $0 in profit to just shy of $1,000.
If only I would have stuck with it back in September 2015……
Oh well. Shit happens. We learn and we move forward.
And that brings us to the current day.
Earlier this morning, I finished uploading my 625th design with hopes to fill all 1,000 designs by the end of November. In order to make this happen, I once again expanded my VA’s hours and also brought on another VA to start creating additional designs and I have also purchased a package of 100 designs from a designer who specializes in Merch.
With the latest news that Merch by Amazon will start removing designs that haven’t sold 1 unit within 60 days of being published (which I personally love), I need to have the bandwidth to upload 500-600 designs over the next month or two.
If I have my projections right, I should be able to clear the $3,000 a month mark by December and maintain that level into the new year (and wait to be tiered up to the 2,000 shirt level).
And that is why I’m heavily investing into Merch by Amazon.
Now the question is, should you do the same?
In my opinion, yes.
If you have an account that is sitting empty (much like I did in April of this year), don’t let it just sit there.
The best time to start something is yesterday, and the second best time is right now.
I’m not telling you that you need to spend 10 hours a day creating designs.
I’m telling you that you should stick to your strengths and outsource to your weaknesses.
You never know what can happen if you invest time/money into something now. You might just reap the benefits later.
I have the opposite problem, I could create the designs in photoshop/illustrator but I don’t have any good ideas. can I outsource thinking?
CW, any comprehensive learning sources on Merch? Did you drive paid traffic to your designs?
I don’t have any since I have never paid to promote my shirts. If I come across any, I will let you know!
Great article, Chris. The problem I’m having is that all the design’s I paid to have created aren’t selling, so I’m throwing money away. Any advice for finding a designer who can design shirts that people actually want to buy?
The way I do it is:
1. I use a tool like Merchant Words or AMZShark to do some basic keyword research.
2. I create a list of topics and send them to a designer I hire.
3. Pick the best of the best.
In your situation, you might want to do one of the following to try to generate some sales:
1. Lower your price. The lower the price of the shirt, the better the chance of it selling (granted – I know you make less, but you aren’t making anything on them right now so something is better than nothing).
2. Make sure to add in a title, brand, bullet points, and a description. If you don’t, no one will be able to find your shirt.
3. Make sure the shirt is printed on darker color shirts. According to a Merch by Amazon webinar I attended, these shirts sell the best (and my analytics support this statement on my account).
Thanks Chris! Any ideas on how to speed up the approval process? Waiting to get in =/
Hi Chris, thanks for the post. I was wondering how much do you pay for each of your VAs per week, and how many designs are they able to crank out every week? Thanks!