So just over 4 weeks ago I stumbled down the stairs at 6:30 a.m. and looked at my phone (which is a bad habit I need to overcome). That being said, I was flabbergasted with delight to see that I had finally been received into Merch by Amazon.
Merch by Amazon is a print on demand t-shirt service Amazon offers which allows designers to create and upload their own designs to be sold for sale on Amazon. What is great about this is that Amazon prints and ships the shirts once somebody purchases one. Which is amazing and finally allows me to scale my merch offerings with zero risk except for the time invested. The catch is that you have to apply for an invite and there is a waiting period. Mine was about 7 months.
I was finally in!
So I'm almost exactly one month out. It's been a whirlwind of consistent trial and error. After one month, here are my initial observations you may find helpful.
1. Learn everything you can about Merch by Amazon.
Watch youtube videos. Listen to great podcasts. Just deluge yourself with information. Certain hacks will be repeated by multiple sources. Make note of those hacks.
2. Don't worry about making money at first. Just fill your slots and sell quickly.
Don't even worry about making money in the 10 and 25 tier. Just do what you need to get out of those quickly. I did, and Amazon seemed to take notice and bumped me up quickly. I created a shirt that had local appeal to a group of friends and priced at cost. I sold about 20 of them in a week's time. Fill your daily amount of slots diligently.
3. Diligently check to make certain you aren't violating somebody else's copyright or trademark.
Make no mistake, Amazon errs on the side of safety and will reject your design if you are infringing on a trademark. The first design I submitted was a funny one of that yodeling Walmart kid. Even though it was completely stylized and cartoony, they still rejected it right out of the gate.
3. Filling my slots consistently got me tiered up to 500 in slightly less than 4 weeks.
I posted new designs daily. I stayed up late. I kept them coming. Amazon apparently honored my diligence. In fact just a few hours after uploading my 100th design, I got bumped up to the 500 tier.
4. Research. Talk to other people trying to do the same thing.
I first discovered Elaine Haney's podcast, (which is amazing. Thank you Elaine!) I ended up contacting one of the guests she had on her show which has spawned an ongoing great information sharing friendship between us.
5. There are alot of people with zero design skills making a ton of money on there.
Which is both encouraging and depressing. I'm an artist and designer so I place a certain importance on quality. Which leads me to my next point....
6. Strike a healthy balance between quality of designs and quantity of designs.
I'm learning how to strike this balance. I hear stories about people who have 2,500 + designs and making bank. At this point, I've noticed that the designs I've sold most of, had alot of thought and intent put into them. I've sold next to none that are text only, or that used stock illustrations.
7. Create designs that you can reuse for other niches.
If you do one design that works well, make another version slightly different and post that as well. Repeat. Swap out key words. Swap out text. Experiment.
8. This will take time.
As with any new endeavor, there is a learning curve. Be patient. Start small by targeting two or three niches and focus your attention there. Try a variety of designs. Image, Image + Text, Just text.
9. See what people are liking, and do more of that.
It seems obvious, but if one of your shirts is selling, start asking yourself, "Why?"
Figure it out, and repeat!
So in almost one month, with alot of blood, sweat, and tears, I've sold about 75 shirts. I believe that most of those are due to using social media to promote my designs.
Check them out, and let me know what you think!