How We Made Over $150,000 With Merch By Amazon In 2016

product-search*Note: This article was original posted on passive.marketing my old blog. It has been moved over to its new home neillassen.com

It is not often that such an amazing opportunity just lands in your lap, but that is what happened when Amazon launched Merch By Amazon in late 2015. In case you were not aware, Merch By Amazon is a t-shirt print on demand (POD) and fulfillment service. I have written a few posts about this service this year. You can check out the tutorial here where I go over everything from A-Z on how to get started. You could tell I was excited about the opportunity and I even hinted at some big news right around the corner.

This post will be going over, in extreme detail, how my business partner and I earned over $150,000 this year (2016) with Merch by Amazon, and how you can too!

Make sure to read to the end where you can see my current monthly earnings, and how my business partner and I sold an account for $73,000!

What You Will Learn

  • What Is Merch By Amazon?
  • How To Sign Up
  • How To Research Niches
  • What You Need To Create Designs
  • Listing Optimization + Keywords
  • Outsourcing Design Work
  • Selling Your Business

This is going to be a long one, but in the end you should have all the tools to have success with Merch. Let’s do it!

What Is Merch By Amazon?

Merch by Amazon is a print on demand or POD service that launched late last year. To simplify the concept, you create artwork, upload that artwork to the platform, and then Amazon will print it on a t-shirt when someone purchases it. Amazon handles the printing, the fulfillment, and customer service. Each and every product that you put up becomes a listing in their catalog that is searchable for consumers. Did I mention that they are all eligible for prime?

Time and time again I read about people starting a t-shirt business. In fact, I think a shirt business is what the majority of online entrepreneurs actually try out at some point in their journey. The sad part is the large majority of them end up failing. Do you know someone in that boat? Perhaps yourself?

Where Merch differs is that you are selling on Amazon! There are no minimum sales required for the shirt to print, there are no upfront costs, no overhead, no customer service. All you do is research niches, upload artwork, and Amazon handles the rest. The best part about ALL of this is that you do not need to send traffic to your listings. Amazon is one of the most trafficked websites ever which means millions of potential customers each and every day. All you need to do is optimize your listings, which we will get to later.

If you cannot see the massive potential with this program, turn back now. If the gears in your head are turning, let’s get to it.

Signing Up For An Account

Originally Merch was a program that Amazon envisioned app developers would take advantage of. Quickly internet marketers took notice and started signing up because they saw the massive opportunity. Since the program was so new, Amazon did not have enough printers and resources to run this program for everyone who signed up. After a month of registration, Merch was locked down and there is now a wait time to be accepted. This used to be many months, but Amazon has been working hard to expand capacity, and the wait time is much shorter today. If you are reading this and are already accepted, congratulations!

For the rest of you, start by visiting the Merch homepage here: https://merch.amazon.com/landing

merch-signup

This will require you to log in and fill out some information about your business. For the organization name, if you are an individual, this is your full name. I usually pick a Novelty T-Shirt store for the Industry type, and then if you have any websites where you could drive traffic, include those in the additional information. If you do not, no worries! Eventually everyone gets accepted to the program.

Once you have filled out the information, submit it, and the waiting game begins. At this point you can get prepared for your acceptance! Also, make sure you check back and try and login to the account every so often. I had a friend that was accepted to the program and it took Amazon an entire month to send him the welcome email (even though he was making sales and designing that entire time!).

Dashboard Walk Through

For anyone already accepted and designing, you are probably very familiar with the dashboard so you can skip down to the next section. For everyone else, let’s take a quick walk through the dashboard to get familiar with where everything is.

The first thing you will see when you login is a page that looks similar to this

merch-dashboard

When you first get access to your account, you have 25 total slots, or design spots that you can upload. The Merch program works on a tier structure. You will start with 25 designs, but as soon as you have sold 25 designs, you get tiered up and more spots will open up.

Tier Levels Include:

  • 25
  • 100
  • 500
  • 1000
  • 2000
  • 4000
  • 6000
  • 8000

The tier levels above are the ones that I know people have hit. Sometimes you may get tiered up and completely skip a tier. This means that when you have 25 shirt sales, instead of getting tiered to 100 designs, they may bump you up to 500 because you are selling to well. Also note that the Merch FAQs section notes a different tier structure than what actually seems to be happening with the program.

Company Profile

Before you can put up any t-shirts live on Amazon, you need to fill out some information. Click on “My Account” in the top right hand corner. Under company profile, you need to fill out your information. If you have a business already, enter in that information. If you are an individual, your business name is the name you go by. Enter in your address, phone number, and an email you want to receive notifications on and hit save and continue.

Payment & Banking

On the left hand side of the same page, you will see payment and banking. You want to be paid for all the work you are about to do, so go ahead and click on “Add A Bank Account” and put in your information for direct deposit.

Tax Information

On the same page, on the left hand side, click on Tax Information. You will need to take their short quiz that will fill out the tax information before you can upload a shirt. Remember that if you are in the USA, Amazon will send you a 1099 at the end of the year. Save around 30% for taxes, as none are taken out when you get your direct deposit!

Resources

Now, at the very top of the page next to the “My Account” tab, you should see Resources. Click on this. You will want to read through all the information here as it is very important.  This will go over exactly how your royalties are calculated, best practices, content policies, FAQs, and the legal terms and conditions. Make sure you read through all of it and really familiarize yourself with the platform.

dashboard-top

From here, we have the 5 main tabs that you will be using. Dashboard, Create, Promote, Manage, and Analyze.

*Note: Merch by Amazon promotions are in-app only. This means they are not available to you if you do not have an app.

Dashboard

The dashboard is where you will see all your products for sale. These will appear in the right hand column as well as links to that product. The middle column is used for active promotions. If you are not an app developer, this will be blank. On the right hand side, you will see the column called “Messages”. This is where you can get any updates about the platform.

merch-messages

Manage

The manage tab is where you can keep track of all the shirts you have “live” on Amazon. You will be able to see their name, a very small image of what the design looks like, the date it was created, the price you are selling it for, the status, and you’ll be able to edit or create promotions. Since I am not an app developer, I will not be talking about promotions.

There are multiple statuses that may show. After you upload a shirt, the first status that you will see is that it is “under review”. This is completely normal. Once it passes under review, it will change to “starting processing” and quickly go to “processing”. This means that your shirt has been accepted and now it needs to process before it goes “live”. Eventually it will go live and you will get an email stating so. People can now begin finding your shirt in the Amazon catalog.

Analyze

Once you start selling, this is going to be the tab that you visit the most. Here you can see what products sold on what days. You will also see an earnings tab up top. When earnings finalize, they will show here so you know exactly how much you are making. Make sure to check this page daily to see which products are selling!

earnings

That about covers everything you need to know and will use in the backend!

T-Shirt Niche Research

Now that you have an account, or are waiting for an account, this is the time that you need to research niches. There are two key aspects you MUST understand for you to have any success on Merch. The first is BSR or Best Sellers Rank, and the second is understanding Copyright.

Amazon BSR (Best Sellers Rank)

Every product on Amazon has something called a BSR or Best Sellers Rank. When you come across a product in the Amazon catalog, simply scroll down past the product pictures and right under the product description, you should see a box that looks like this:

bsr

Here you can see the Amazon Best Sellers Rank for this item. The BSR is a representation of how well that item is selling. From my time selling on Amazon FBA and selling on Amazon Merch, a good rule of thumb is that if an item has a BSR of 100,000 in clothing, that shirt is probably selling 1 design every day. The lower the number, the more shirts are being sold each day.

If the BSR is around #2,000 you can expect that the shirt is selling 25-50 of that design daily. Around #400,000 and the design is probably selling once or twice a week. The more you sell on Amazon and keep track of the BSR, the better idea you will get on how it correlates to sales. Just remember that the lower the number, the more popular the shirt is with consumers! Keep that in mind when doing research.

Copyright

You also need to have a full understanding that you cannot infringe on copyright with Merch. You may come across some shirts with a very low BSR, but they might have disney characters or sayings on them. You clearly do not own the intellectual property to those sayings or images so this would be infringement. If Merch catches you, they will take that design down and send you an email telling you not to do it again. If you get enough of these, your account will eventually be closed, so you need to be careful.

To ensure no sayings or characters are copyrighted, you should be checking all your ideas through one or both of these websites. I prefer Trademarkia, as they are much more user friendly and I have had zero issues since starting Merch by using them.

Finding Designs

Now that you understand Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank, and know that you need to be checking Copyright, you can now start looking for designs. The goal is to find shirts with a low BSR that cannot be Copyrighted. This means they are SELLING and that customers like products in that niche. You can then go on to create shirt designs that are much better than what is currently being offered and make sales!

You could go on Amazon and start searching for keywords. You could go and click on each individual shirt that pops up for your keyword searches and look at each listing to see what the BSR is. You could also search for each and every name through Trademarkia individually.

These are the exact steps that we took when building our accounts at first.

… But it took a long time! What started out as a side project, ended up taking time away from multiple other projects that we were working on.

I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it. ~ Bill Gates

So, wanting to continue the upward trend in earnings without wasting our time searching hundreds of listings on Amazon, we came up with a better way.

Introducing Merch Informer

For the past 5 months, we have been working to replicate my process of finding T-Shirts ideas that sell! Merch Informer was built to give you all the data you need to succeed with Merch by Amazon, and more importantly save you a ton of time in the process. We are just days from Launch so if you want to get in at the lowest price we will ever offer ($10 p/m), then make sure you hop on the list here: Merch Informer.

Long gone are the days of searching for multiple hours to find a few t-shirt ideas to send to your designer. With our all-in-one solution, you will be able to search for 5 keywords at a time, grab the top 100 best selling t shirts for each keyword, and have it all sorted by Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank. Not only are the shirts sorted by BSR, but in a single screen, you have the URL of each product, the bullet points that Merch seller has used, and the description.

Not only can you easily see the top 100 selling products per keyword, you also have the ability to run a quick competition check to see how many competitors are in the niche. Remember that if there is little to no shirts in that keyword/niche but the shirts have a low BSR, this is a prime opportunity for your account to make money!

If you need to check the Copyright on a certain shirt or keywords, simply click on the Copyright button which will bring up Tradmarkia already prefilled with the shirt title.

Perhaps you found a shirt while using Merch Informer that infringes on your Copyright? No problem! Simply click on the report infringement button to pull up the Amazon Infringement Form. Fill it out and get the copycats taken down.

Now, let’s say that you found a few designs that you like and think that you (or your designer) could really improve upon and sell on Merch. Simply click on the favorites button for each design you like, and it will be moved to your favorites tab. From the favorites tab, you will be able to download high resolution images, shirt titles, shirt bullet points, and shirt descriptions all in an Excel spreadsheet that you can send straight to your designer to get your new, more improved designs created!

Niche Research

When you login, navigate to the right hand menu, and select product search. Here is the interface where you will be able to search for up to 5 keywords at a time. If you want to add a keyword, simply select + Add Search Field.

product-search

 

Let’s do some niche research and see if we can find some good designs we could improve on! In the below screenshot you can see I entered a keyword I want to see the best ranking shirts for. Make sure to check “Only by Amazon” if you want to search for just Merch by Amazon shirts, or leave this unchecked to search all of clothing. Both are excellent for research.

Keyword Searched:

  • cat

cat

If you want to search more than 1 keyword at a time, it would look like the below screenshot. For now, to make things simplified for this guide, we will only be searching for cat t-shirts.

search-keywords

Click on Search and wait. Each keyword you search for will take around 10 seconds. When the tool is done pulling your results, they will be displayed below. You have the option to show all results on the page, or pick to only show a certain amount of results with the filter drop down.

cat-shirt-results

You can see above that Merch Informer will keep track of your past searches which comes in handy when you are switching back and forth from your favorites tab.

Each result is sorted by Best Sellers Rank so you can see at a single glance which designs are selling. Scrolling down a bit, something catches my eye right away.

more-cat-tees

Notice that last shirt there? What a simple design! It combines 2 niches in 1. You have Cats/Kittens and Nurses. You can see on the right that this shirt is currently ranked at a #93,279 BSR which means that this design is likely selling at least one shirt a day. Since I like this design and know it is selling, I think that my designer could easily make something a lot better. Add it to your favorites by clicking on the little heart icon!

add-to-favorites

You can also check the Trademarkia for Copyright by clicking on the check mark, check the competition for that shirt by clicking the graph icon, or click on the Copyright icon to fill out Amazon’s infringement form if that design is infringing on your IP!

Merchant/Brand Search

Maybe while you were doing research, you found a certain brand that seems to be doing well and does not have any designs which are Copyrighted. Even though they have a lot of shirts up, their designs are simple and could be improved on. With Merch Informer, you can easily go through and pick out their top 100 selling shirts with a single click.

top-merchant-results

Going through different Merchant’s products has literally never been easier. 10 seconds and you have their top 100 selling shirts that you can improve on and see which niches they are selling well in, and which would be a waste of time. You can easily see how this can put more money in your pocket.

Statistics

After a while of selling on Merch, you may want to keep track of your best selling shirts. We have built in a BSR Rank Tracker which will allow you to import your top sellers and see how they perform day-to-day by tracking the swings in your BSR.

What You Need To Create Designs

After you have saved 25 shirts to your favorites in Merch Informer, download them and the details you want into an excel spreadsheet with the click of a button.

Now you have a choice to make, do you make these designs yourself, or do you outsource them? Let’s start with creating them yourself which is exactly what we did when our accounts were brand new.

Merch By Amazon Templates

You will need one of the above templates depending on what program you wish to use to create your designs. Photoshop is a paid program (they do offer a monthly payment plan), or you can go with GIMP which is free. Since I already have Photoshop, that is what I have chosen to use.

Open up Photoshop, and then open the template from Merch. It should look just like this:

merch photoshop

Now you need to follow the directions on the right side. Right click, edit contents, and then hit okay. The window that comes up is the design window.

Design your image in this window. Once you are done, go up to the Photoshop menu, and save as a PNG. Saving as a PNG is important. If you use the supplied templates, the designs will be the correct dimensions!

Listing Optimization + Keywords

Now that you have your images designed and saved, it is time to upload them to Merch!

I will be using an example that I created for this blog before. This is the image I had:

passive marketing T shirt design

Now head over to Merch By Amazon, login, and click on upload new artwork. It should bring up a page that looks like this:

design uploaded

Once your design is uploaded, click on Save selection and continue.

This will bring up a page that looks like this:

t shirt configure

This is where your listing optimization starts! In a recent Merch by Amazon webinar, they let it drop that the colors are sorted by the most popular. That means that black, blue, grey, and navy blue are the 4 most popular colors.

With that knowledge in mind, pick 5 colors (5 is the max), that you think looks best with your design.

Your listing price is up to you. The price that is already entered is $19.99, but I have found that the majority of the shirts I sell are priced between $15.99-$18.99. I price them based on the competition check in the Merch Informer software. The less results/competition I have, the higher I price the shirts!

Once you are happy with your color selection and your price, click on Save selection and continue.

shirt description

This will then bring up the most important aspect of your listing. The product details page!

Choose a brand name that you think fits with the shirt design. You can add a keyword here, but do not make it look spammy. For this example the brand name is the name of this blog.

The title of the product is very important. You want to properly describe the T-Shirt while adding as many keywords as you can think of (from a buyers perspective), without looking spammy. As you can see from the above example, I have the keywords “marketing”, and “money” included in the title. Always end your titles with T-Shirt because so many customers actually search that while looking for products to buy. If I were to do a cat t-shirt like the example above, I might title the shirt “Kitten My Nurse On T-Shirt Nurse Cat Love Tee”. From this title you can see that I have included a bunch of keywords that I think a potential buyer might search for.

Remember: Think of keywords as if you wanted to find this shirt as a buyer!’

The key product features are what end up being your bullet points under your shirt. The title and the bullet points from my testing and experience are the ONLY thing that matter for ranking in Amazon. In fact, for my own account, I leave the description blank!

The first product feature should be about the shirt itself! Remember to include keywords that a potential buyer might be searching for! Are they buying it as a gift for friends or family? You may want to include the word “gift” somewhere in there.

The second bullet point is where I take the opportunity to tell potential buyers that all these shirts are printed to be fitted. Since I want to get 5 star ratings, I want to ensure that they are purchasing the right size. I will often let them know in this bullet point to order a size up if they prefer a looser fit.

As I said, I often skip the product description but if you want to fill it out, go ahead and describe your shirt!

Click on Save selection and continue when you are happy.

final t shirt page

It will bring you to a page that looks similar to this. Simply check the box that says “Sell – Public on Amazon” and click on submit!

Your shirt will then go into the review process, and once it passes will be live for anyone to purchase on Amazon and make you money!

Outsourcing Designs

After my account started to make money from the designs I did myself, I decided to outsource them! This is the easiest way I know of to scale as fast as possible. Since this was a side project, I wanted to free up my time as much as possible.

After you use Merch Informer and have a lot of designs saved in your favorites, it is now time to send them to your designer. Download your saved favorites into an excel spreadsheet. This is the file you will be sending to your designer.

So where do you find a designer you can count on? I have had excellent success by using Upwork. In fact, I found a designer that I have hired full time for $4 per design. I have found that a lot of great designers are in the Philippines and $4 a design really ads up to a great wage there. Ryan, if you are reading this, thank you for all the work you have done!

Below I have posted the exact script I used to find an excellent designer. Feel free to use it yourself!

Hey, I am in need of 400 t-shirt designs in the time period of 2-3 months.

Your task will be pretty basic, I will send you ideas of t-shirts I want to make and you make them even better and unique. For example, I might send you a link of a already existing tshirt and I would need it being inspired by it and made even better and unique.

I will leave you a lot of 5* reviews so that you will be able to get jobs easier in the future and this is a long-term position needed. Once we have done the first batch of 400 – around 4 per day, we could continue if everything looks good.

I look forward to doing business with you!

This works so well for a couple of reasons. The first being that you have a LOT of work for someone to do. This means continued work for them. It also works well because you will pick up designers that are looking to build up their Upwork profile by getting some great 5 star reviews. This means they will be putting their best designing effort towards your projects.

Weeding Out Bad Designers

When I first tried to hire someone to design for me, they stole images and straight up copied designs. This is wrong, and will get your Merch account banned. I was not able to use any of these designs.

When I first hired someone, I let them know that they cannot use any images which are Copyrighted, or infringe on any Copyright someone else owns.

Then, I will send them a T-Shirt idea that is very clearly Copyright infringement. If they copy it or do not change it enough to be considered free use, I will immediately get rid of that designer. The design may have cost me $4, but that is an extremely small price to pay to weed out the copycats!

Selling Your T-Shirt Business

When it comes down to it, this is a business and should be treated as such (not just a hobby). We are all here to make money.

I have hinted at this in the past, but now it is just time to come out and say it.

Earlier this year, my business partner and I decided to sell a Merch account. Since the platform was so new, we knew it was going to be difficult to find a buyer.

We reached out to a few website brokers, but none of them were willing to accept a Merch account as the vast majority did not have any idea what the platform even was! Then I got in touch with my friends at Empire Flippers.

I had sold a site with them previously and am told it is still doing well to this day. I reached out and asked if they would be interested in taking on this project and selling it for me.  It turns out they were! I described exactly what the platform was, how it works, and what needed to happen to get the process started.

Since it is not a website, I simply paid the listing fee, and then emailed them over all the earnings statements and documents needed to prove that we owned the account and it was making what I said it was making. The account averaged about $3,000 a month at that point.

I ended up doing a seller interview with them, and got the listing posted.

sold

We talked to a bunch of interested parties, but finally came to an agreement and sold the account without an issue!

Where We Are Today

There we have it. All the steps laid out 1-by-1 that we used to make over $150,000 in 2016 with Merch by Amazon. When you add up the monthly earnings that account was making, the sales price, and what my account is currently doing per month, you can see the vast opportunity that is in front of us. There has never been an easier way to make money online than by selling T-Shirts on Amazon.

amazonmerch2

To leave you with a little inspiration, here is my current account sales for the week. You can see how many shirts I currently have live as well as what tier I am at. Good luck out there and keep pushing forward!

current-earnings

Comments
  • Great article Neil!

    I am new to Merch and will be signing up for your program as soon as its live. I was wondering if I can already start using the platform as a tester.

    Currently I only have 18 designs and am having some trouble with shirts getting rejected. In 3 weeks in Merch I already have 137 sales. Mainly from 2 shirts making all the sales.

    Also, do you offer coaching?

    • Shirts being rejected is due to improper copyright searching or trademarked words or against TOS. What are you doing for the two big sellers? Trending stuff? If those are being rejected they may be hitting phrases deemed not free use.

      • I am new to Merch and my first design got rejected. Curious to know what i may be doing wrong. Any way I can pick your brain when you have some time? Thank you

    • No coaching as I am way too busy and believe in giving people information for free (hence this blog). As for the software, it is currently not complete yet and we should be finishing it soon!

      Excellent work on your sales, especially with only 18 designs up. Make sure you are checking on copyright for the ones that are getting rejected.

  • Neil – do you go deep vs wide by chance? Struggling a bit myself even with these principles (been doing that). I am not doing trending/latest/news trends – just trying to find smaller evergreen stuff. Dipping the foot in various niches though instead of going after 1-2 at first.

    • Both. If I find a certain niche that has a low BSR on a many shirts, there is clearly demand for products in that niche so I will hit everything I can. I will also go extremely wide and just come up with everything I can (again making sure I check to see that that niche/keyword is in demand on Amazon by BSR).

      • Will do. Trying to ramp up – sales have gone flat… even with proper research… throttling maybe? Did 9-10 designs for a popular keyphrase. Top few shirts selling very well… about 500-550 shirts for the keyphrase. Just uploaded and let Amazon do it’s thing… they look to be buried deep in page 3-5.

      • I have found alot of high demand keywords on Amz, but when I tried to put these keywords in the tilte and feature, Amazon kept rejecting my shirt although keywords are not trademarked anyway. So in your opinion, how can I handle this problem?

        Thank you

        • If you actually email the merch team and ASK why they were rejected, they will be able to get back to you with more information.

    • I dont know if you ever got an answer to your question but the waiting list is 6-12 months right now. They have paused all accounts at this point because they are so busy!

  • Might be too much to ask but I would definitely pay money if it had a bulk check of keywords/phrases number of products listed for that word/phrase in title and maybe an average BSR or the top three listings BSR.

  • Hi Neil,

    Thanks so much for the detailed insights! I been approved by Merch by Amazon 10 days ago and have already submitted (approved) 25 of my designs. So far, I only have 1 shirt sold. Not sure when will it start to move. How long did it take for you to sell shirts in the very initial stage? I’m also wondering if it is because of the recent surge of new approved applicants that is causing less sales for the merchants? I read some related articles during Feb-May period, seems to have done well (selling in 2 days or so). Let me know what are your thoughts. Cheers!

    • Some shirts seem to take off right away, while others will need to be up a week or two to start seeing sales. If you are seeing zero sales after 1 month (and are still stuck at 25 slots), I would suggest removing the non sellers and putting up something new. Remember that once you tier up, you can put up your old designs back up (so nothing is lost). Best of luck!

  • So are you using any link building tactics to your product pages, like PBNs or Pinterest for organic ranking in the SERPs, or just relying on customers finding your merch directly by Amazon search?

  • Signed up for Merch Informer. Is the $10/month a lifetime price? It looks like such a useful tool. I can’t wait to test it out. I can totally see this being the Jungle Scout of Merch tools.

    • Hey James, yes that will be a lifetime price. While the prices may increase in the future (after beta), prices will never increase if you sign up during our beta launch. We want to make sure the people that sign up first and help with feedback and bug reports get the tool for an affordable price.

  • Wow! I am so impressed. This is a game changer for me. I have signed up for merch and if approved I will definitely sign up for merch informer! It looks like a very helpful product. Thank you for sharing this knowledge and experience!

    • They will not, as soon as you apply you will be redirected to the page you JUST filled out. Do not worry, this just means that they got your application. Keep trying to log in periodically and see if you see the dashboard. This can take a few months on average to get accepted.

  • Hey! thanks for this awesome review. I’m new in amazon merch.
    Would you please give me some suggestion on how to research amazon keyword? example, some website links for keyword research?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Hey Neil, what do you think about the email they just sent? Amazon is going to remove designs that don’t sell in 90 days, will it benefit us because only designs that sell will stay? Or will it reduce the chance of selling just because no one liked it in 90 days but the design was pretty good?

    • Was just discussing this with some people. They are going to be removing designs that do not sell within 60 days (not 90 =/). The way I read it, I believe that this will not have any effect on seasonal designs as long as they get a sale within the first 60 days of uploading, they should remain on the platform. That is how I read it. As of now, I do not think it will really hurt earnings at all. In fact, after 60 days if a design is removed, its probably going to benefit you because you will then have the chance to take a look at that design and put more work into the keywords you used to list it in the first place.

      • Hopefully they don’t just wipe the designs and instead they tell you which ones have been removed, if they just delete them silently it will be a pain to figure out. Maybe I should organize my designs better. And yes it’s 60 days not 90, my mistake.

  • Hi Neil, thanks for your sharing, you are great. I have my own online store, and I just got my Amazon Merch account approved in 1 month ago, this place really new to me.

    Are you open for any collaboration with other designer for Amazon Merch store? I have some existing design, you can check it out from my website. I believe with your experince, we can make something nice together. Please email me if you intrested on the collaboration.

    Thanks!
    ~ Hon

  • Hi Neil! Are there going to be other payment methods for Merchinformer in the future? Paypal maybe? I can’t pay with Stripe as i’m from the Netherlands (i’m not eligible for a creditcard here) but I definitely wanna use that tool.

    • Currently we will be sticking with Stripe as paypal is known to not always play nice with service providers and that is something I am not interesting in dealing with. Possibly in the future we will be adding other forms of payments. Thanks!

  • Hey Neil,

    How much was the merch account making per month when it sold for 73k? That’s a large multiple (2x revenue)! Good shit btw man, keep hustling, awesome to see you hitting your goals.

  • Hi! Great post. Thank you for this info. I just started with 3 designs. Would it be better to release different listings per shirt color or keep each listing with multiple colors inside each listing?
    Thx SW

  • Hey Neil,
    Some Great Information you’ve provided here. A few questions please?
    1) When you sell your Merch account, presumably the buyer must update the account information (company name, bank details, associated email address etc etc) – Amazon doesn’t cause any problems with this I suppose (useful to know also, if someone wishes to move the account from one holding company to another).
    2) In some respects this tool is like Spencers keyword tool – and there is some ‘sentiment out there’ that probably 9 out of 10 people that buy this tool ultimately spend hours just finding the same niches that are totally saturated – and that the tool is not so useful as advertized. How would you argue the case for your Merch tool to someone who is concerned that (i) the range of niches is actually smaller here than someone making a nichde website (ii) that within 6 months this space will be so saturated that your tool will not be that useful (and will really just be bought by newbies who will spend 50 hours all finding the same over saturated tee shirt niches)?

    • Hey Mike,

      1:When we sold the account, the buyer is able to update all of that information. The one thing that matters most though is that you need to be able to give away the email. The email you signed up with is attached to your associated/FBA account as well (if you sell there), and you would not want to give away an email that is attached to those. If you can give away the email, then there is no issue at all.

      2: The thing with Amazon (just like niche sites), is that there are almost an endless amount of niches to explore. Different people have different approaches. Some go after trends, others go after evergreen niches. There are some people who will JUST focus on some top best sellers, while others (like me), like to hang back where there is less competition and just sell a few shirts a day per niche but go into every niche. Merch Informer is helpful for each and every one of these approaches. It is not just about saturation though. While it will help you find out what niches are selling, and if a keyword has low competition, its also incredibly useful for organizing your thoughts/ideas, and keeping track of designs you are sending to your designers. We are currently working on a few more modules which should bring further value to the tool. The bottom line is that it helps you compete, saturated or not.

  • What are your thoughts for this upcoming Black friday on Amazon, will there be an increase in sales for the t-shirts? How was last year’s black friday sales?
    I wonder if march by amazon would do anything to promote our t-shirts as well? or they will be listed as the normal pricing.

  • Hi Neil,

    I signed 2 months ago and still waiting, I just go into the My account. I filled all the information, except the tax part. I am living in Canada, do you how to process the tax part as the foreigner.

  • Hey Neil,

    It clearly states in the Merch policies that you cannot sell your account. How did you get around this? My sales are currently comparable to yours so I am curious.

    Thanks!

    • Hello George. That was actually added after we sold the business. That being said, the current policy states that they do not support the sale of Merch accounts. If you read the entire thing, on the Legal page (12. General), you will see this: “You may not assign any of your rights or obligations under this Agreement, whether by operation of law or otherwise, without our prior written consent, except that you may assign all of your rights and obligations under this Agreement to any corporation or other entity without consent in connection with a merger or the sale of all or substantially all of your assets as long as you give us written notice of any such assignment no later than ten business days before such assignment.”

  • Very Good Post. Do you know if i can use my acc payoneer master card ? i know in the CPA is able to use it when you’re going to redeem but i don’t have any idea of Merch Amazon works too. 2) This is Open for everybody ? I mean latinoamerican people, asian, german, etc or only Americans.

    • Yes you can use payoneer. In fact, most people outside the USA use them for Merch I think. This is open for everyone as long as they wait in line to be accepted. Currently it is invite only so put in your application and start designing while you are waiting.

      • hey neil, for some reason merch by amazon stopped accepting new designs at the beginning of december, they said we’ll release more info the 9th but I’m still unable to upload new designs and no info from merch, which is very frustrating.

        • They actually did release more information in the dashboard on the right. They are just trying to catch up but I know how frustrating it is!

          • I just noticed the new update, a bit dumb to post newer stuff after old stuff when the rest of the posts follow the regular order;

            12/5
            We have temporarily suspended the ability to submit t-shirts or edit existing listings. You will be able to save these products in draft form and submit them when publishing resumes. We will provide an update here on Friday, December 9 regarding the status of new submissions and edits.

            12/9 Update: We will continue to pause through next week. Our next update will be by Friday, December 16. Thank you for your patience.

  • I’ve heard that Amazon Merch were having a lot of technical issues and may be in trouble.

    My question is, why not use a site like Spreadshirt.com which has a marketplace and I believe Amazon actually lists their top sellers too. There’s no waiting and no limit on what you can upload there. They have a built in 20% commission on products (which you can opt out of if you just want to have your own design commissions) – Also pretty generous bulk discounts and a volume bonus for people who may sell more than 100 in two weeks. I found more details here: https://help.spreadshirt.com/hc/en-us/articles/207233389-Affiliate-Commission

    • You can certainly use other POD services. I am actually in the middle of uploading all my designs and writing guides on them. Thing is, if your products are on Amazon, you automatically get traffic because of the mass amount of daily buyers. With spread shirt only the top selling shirts get on Amazon I believe.

  • Hi Neil, how about for a European, there are exactly the same rules? I’m refering to taxes and all. Do you know how does this work? Thank you!

  • Hi! I’m trying to find the answer to a few questions about Merch… seems like their selection is hidden until you get approve! Does Amazon offer a good selection of shirts? Do they have organic and/or fair trade shirts available? That’s all I want to know! Thanks!

  • Hi Neil,

    Is your account locked from editing and submitting existing/new T-Shirt designs? They have blocked mine for 2 months now and I am unable to make any changes to my designs or even put up new ones. Very frustrating. Their support line is not responsive as well.

  • Hello My name is Garland and I have been designing T – shirts
    for about 1 year now but I have not seen or heard of a of a company such as this. Yes, I’ve heard of AMAZON, who hasn’t? Anyway my question is, Do I have to have an APP in order to come aboard with you folks? I’m not a gamer or APP developer or any of that, but I would really be interested in selling my T shirts on AMAZON. Thanks
    Garland.

  • hello ,

    I am new for online selling .I am thinking for selling online T-shirts on Amazon .I recently printed 100 t-shirts .I also have lots of designs and some are relevant too .But is it for Amazon Merch available in India.And How I start with my own designs .

    Thank You

    • Not at all! Amazon gets billions of visitors per month, so if you optimize your listings properly, they will sell organically.

  • Hi Neil, a couple of questions.

    1) i cant get phone verified on an amazon affiliatte account, i dont think it would be wise to throw 70 buscks a year to get a us local number just for this (i already paid for merchinformer). Any alternatives? for the moment merch informer is useless.

    2) can you describe your workflow for the following things? I see that they are hard to scale efficiently. Maybe im missing some massive upload option or something like that.
    – generating product images
    – generating products listings (using shopify integration)

    • Hey Sabastian, I have been hearing about a few people who are having the verified issue. I would suggest using a land line (family friends might have one), or just wait 12 hours and try again with your cell phone. If that does not work, perhaps try one of the free USA number apps on your cell? These used to work for me when I was doing verified Facebook accounts back in the day.

      As for my work flow, there is really no quick way to go about it so far. First, I am not targeting clothing with the shopify method. I am going after products that do not require a bunch of variations (mugs for example). I then go make the product on teelaunch, save the image, then go upload that image to Amazon (create the product page), and wait for it to sync with Shopify (happens every 6 hours or so), and repeat. By focusing on products that only need a single variation, you can go a bit faster and will have a lot less competition.

      • Ive solved the issue, and at last i cant test the software. Great piece of software. I have a couple more questions if you dont mind.

        I have not researched enough about Amazon SEO yet, but up to now i think the basics are quite simple. Something that its getting hard to me to get used to is the absence of a clear search volume to any given keyword. You have to end up making an educating guess using BSR of the items in the results for that keyword search, and maybe total results.

        1) Do you take both BSR results and total results of items into account when calculating the competition score?

        2) Ive seen some very low BSR ranking on top for non related seed keywords because of keyword stuffing. Going long tail is the way to go here?

        3) Last question leads to another. Ive seen that when a BSR is arround 100k, that would mean a sale a day or so. Do you have the numbers for 150k 200k BSR or more?

        The reason i bring this up is that after an hour or so playing with the tool i have not encountered a single A rated keyword with a BSR under a million. I have a couple of old designs im gonna test with A competition keyword but just to test them. But im clueless if i have to expect any sale at all. I guess no BSR would be worse.

        Thanks!
        Sebastian

        • Just helping out, Sebastian, if you haven’t got a phone number yet, get with Skype and you can get a US number assign to you, you can pay for a 3 month subscription for that number. It is fairly cheap and you can have call forward to your current local number. Example, I’m in Philippines and I have such a number set up in my skype and when someone calls it, it ring my cellphone here in Philippines

    • Rahul, you can sign up as a seller through Merch, provided your application is approved by Amazon. However, these products will be sold in Amazon. Com only and not in India. For payments, use Payoneer as suggested by Neil.

      I have applied for a Merch account last week. Hoping to get approved ASAP…

  • Neil … are you allowed to have an Amazon Pro Sellers Account and a Merch account at the same time? … Or does the Merch account somehow fall under your Amazon Pro Sellers account?

  • Just came across this article, this has got to be the best article I’ve read about Amazon Merch, very informative, I recently just signed up, hopefully it gets approved sooner, I’m excited to get started, I’m a Graphic Designer so I’ll save a little bit of money not having to hire a designer. btw, I have tried different platform and still a member of it, I’ve spent quite a few trying to get traffic and advertise on social media, I might have a better luck at Amazon Merch since Amazon is viewed everyday !! by shoppers. Thanks again for this informative article.

  • Can you please clarify what you mean by a “design that cannot be copyrighted”?

    As a designer whose work has been used dozens of times without permission, this rubs me the wrong way. As soon as I created the work, the copyright is mine eve of it is not registered.

    I feel like this blog post may be misleading aspiring entrepreneurs into thinking they can take images they see selling well and use them for their own profit without permission simply because they didn’t see a trademark on the artwork’s concept or wording.

    • I guess what I meant was a niche with something that cannot be trademarked. If there is no trademark on a saying that is popular in a particular niche, anyone is free to use that if they are not copying the design itself.

  • Hi Neil,
    Do you ever register trademarks for any of your designs? Or do you simply check to make sure something isn’t currently trademarked then move on?

    • Trademarking a design costs a good chunk of money so this is something I have not done yet. I just to make sure terms are not trademarked, and then put designs up.

  • I applied for a Merch account in late January. I know it takes a while, is there any idea on how long it usually takes?

    Thanks!

  • Got approved today. Took about 3 months. Explanation on e-mail was as follows “Hello,
    Your request to participate in Merch by Amazon has been approved. We appreciate your patience as we scaled up operations. You can now use the account associated with your request to create and sell t-shirts through merch.amazon.com.”

  • when looking at t-shirts on Amazon, is there any easy way to tell and/or filter just Merch by Amazon t-shirts? the best i can right do now is just filter by Prime eligible and look at the sample image.

  • hey man! i tried to register for merchinformer but it keeps bringing me back to the trial landing page after putting in my info. is this a known issue?

    thanks

    • This is more than likely an issue with your card. We use Stripe as our payment processor and sometimes the cards are not accepted because your bank declines them. You might have an adblocker that is not showing the message we display. Drop us a help ticket with the email you used to sign up here and we will get you fixed up: http://helpdesk.merchinformer.com/. Thanks.

  • What are the factors on which your tier is upgraded? I have a account since july 2016 with 25, sold few (20 sales, 4 designs) but still not upgraded. Also have a limit of 2 uploads per day?

  • Hi, I was interested how many designs you created by the time you sold the account. I know it says that you have 914 live products, but it says that you are at the 8000 (6000?) tier. I’m assuming you created more than a total of 914 designs by the time you sold the account, so I’m just looking for an estimate or even better, an ratio of designs that worked to designs that you didn’t use.
    Thanks a million!

  • Hi Neil,
    I know you are getting a ton of questions, and I really work you have done and info you have provided. I just had a few questions when ever you get time.

    Do you recommend setting up an LLC or a business to stand behind before you set up an account or does it matter?
    I don’t necessarily want my name out there while I’m selling, plus any tax implications that go along with this. I apologize in advance if this has been answered elsewhere.

    Thanks

  • Hey Neil! Thanks for the informative article.

    I had originally applied for Merch and got in, but due to my own procrastination and poor planning, I never did anything with it initially and a month went by and I got blocked from the program. Do you know if there is any way around this or to fix this? I would’ve been a bit more proactive had I known there was the possibility of loosing the privilege. I already have one Amazon biz account; I’m not sure if having another one is allowed.

    Thanks!

  • Hey Neil,

    I have signed up for a six month subscription to MerchInformer. I am wondering will my sign up price be my lifetime price to to platform as per a few months back?

    Also, is it recommenced when signing up to Amazon associates to use the same email as your Amazon seller account. Or can you create a new email/account to match your t-shirt store brand name?

    Many thanks!

  • Thanks for the information, curious, why would you sell your account? Has this business model dried up now, is that basically what I’m reading between the lines?

    • This business model is doing better than ever actually. We sold the account because we needed funds to finish Merch Informer.

  • Hi. I have requested an invitation to Merch and still have not received an acceptance into Merch after about 2 months. When I sign in and click the create or manage tabs, it just sends me to the “request invitation” page. Does it normally take this long? Is there any way that I can ask Amazon about this? I dont see any contact information on the merch page. Please let me know…..thank u!

    • Yes, some people have been waiting for 6 months or longer. All you can do at this point is wait, but take action with uploading your designs to the other integrations (like shopify/teespring).

  • Hi Neil,
    Thanks for this awesome article you put together! Great job! I did have a question though, if you just put your real name in the Organization, is that how it shows up for who the seller is when it comes up on Amazon? If so, I was wondering if it’s just better to use a Pseudo name? Or maybe Amazon allows you to list the item under a Pseudo name? Kind of like how I use a Pseudo name when I puts reviews on items from Amazon? Thanks! 🙂

    • Yes, you need to put your real name so you can get paid. This will not show up on Amazon since you will be picking a brand name for each and every shirt that you put up.

  • Hello thanks for the info . Can you tell me how long it takes for amazon to aprobé designs and make them available for sale ?
    Thanks !

    • Once you submit a design, it usually takes anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours to go through and go live on Amazon.

  • I just applied using my real first and last name…….I read somewhere that once accepted, you can make up a brand name to use as your store name, so that it doesn’t show your first and last name associated with your t-shirt store, so that’s good news since naming your store with your first and last name would probably look silly and unprofessional

  • hey Neil! thanks for this detailed information, I just know about this Merch Service and want to start my own account.

  • Hey Neil, I am pretty amazed at all the information you provided. Just wondering whether I am eligible to signup for Merch Service from being overseas, I am currently in Australia by the way. If so, how Amazon will handle tax thingy if I get approved. Thank you very much.

    • Anyone can sign up and do Merch by Amazon. I believe if you do not have a tax treaty with the US, they withhold 30%.

  • Yo Neil,
    Awesome write-up man. I just got on the waiting list for an account.
    I have a question about the copyright stuff. Is taking a popular saying from a tv show and putting your own spin on it an infringement? Or taking a brand’s logo and putting your own spin on it? I saw this shirt for example and to me it feels like Nike can definitely make them take it down, but I don’t know the legality behind it.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GONF146?th=1&psc=1

  • Hello, Neil, how are you? Give me a doubt, please!
    You say above that rt ensure no sayings or characters are copyrighted, you should be checking all your ideas through one or both of these websites. I prefer Trademarkia, as they are much more user friendly and I have had zero issues since starting Merch by using them.
    Trademarkia
    USPTO
    How does it work, I get and type in the search field on these platforms eg the name of the title of the product I want to use, keywords, or company name or how do I proceed to know? Can you explain me, please?

  • Hi Neil,
    Thanks so much for such a thorough post on Merch for beginners! How did you set up your account, payment, and tax information with your business partner? My friend and I are interested in partnering up with designs and using one account. Did you share an account with a LLC? Any recommendations on streamlining this process would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    • Since we are in 2 different countries we had an account under one of our names and just do wire transfers each month. You only pay tax on your part of the income.

  • Hi Neil!, Thanks for sharing about Amazon Merch, you share detailed information and answering a lot. I just want to ask, you mentioned that real name is necessary but right now I do not use my full name (name from my IDs) I use my nickname instead for my online profiles. Is that ok if I registered in Amazon Merch? Usually when joining other websites, I only use the real name under the account information which is not visible to customers.

    • You will need to use your real name since they will send you money and tax documents. No worries though, your real name will not be displayed to anyone when you sell products through Merch by Amazon. This is strictly for Amazon to get you paid.

  • Hello Neil, great post, thank you for sharing. Since I am starting out and have only 10 merchandise slots on Amazon I am wondering which of the following is the best strategy: should I list 10 designs in the same niche (for example 10 football related tees) or try to target 10 different niches? (As in, one football, one for golden retrievers, and so on.)

    Thanks so much in advance for your advice!

    • I would hit as many different niches as possible. Then if you make a sale in one niche, make more designs and rotate out some of the ones that have not sold yet until you tier up. Good luck!

  • Neil- I’m not so sure Amazon will tell you why your shirt was rejected if you email them. I’ve had my Merch account only for 3 months and invested several hundred $ into having graphic design help as I learn (…negative ROI) and I have had 2 rejections. I emailed both times telling them how thankful I was for the opportunity, the steps I took to check to make sure it would be good to sell, and then asked them if they could enlighten me as to why so I could avoid in the future. I never got any response. What if we want to follow the rules but it’s a total rabbit hole of vagueness and no direction? One of my shirts was actually approved and up on the site for 5 weeks before I randomly got an email that it was taken down. It just seems so random at times. I love doing this but I’m starting to feel anxious every time I submit something and I’m trying really hard to comply! I can’t even imagine what a blow this would be to someone at a high tier level

    • Are you emailing the email that is in the FAQ for Merch? They have always gotten back to me within a couple of days (usually around 3). I would email again if you are still having issues.

  • Hi Neil, what would you say is the top keys to success in Merch? I am guessing its

    1. Good design
    2. Well Researched keywords & Strong listing
    3. Volume of designs

    Any thoughts?

  • Great articles about Merch for beginners like me, and definitely the best among the ones I found. Thank you for them from the heart!
    Neil, I have a great collection of military and post-apocalyptic pictures and going to make a t-shirt designs based thereon. What do you think? Have customers need such type of designs? Are there any chances?

    • Make sure you are not using the branch names of the military in your titles and descriptions (as these are trademarked) but images should be just fine if you own the rights to them!

      • Yes, I have encountered such problem already ((
        Designs were rejected because of using “Marine Corps” in title
        But I have seen, definitely seen such tshirts on Amazon, with names of military branches on them! How do they do it?!

  • I got scaled up super fast and have only sold about 12 shirts (only 4 to random people) – I skipped Level three at 50 and went straight to 100 from 25. Is that unusual? What’s Amazon’s rationale for that? Can be thrown out of merch if my sales are weak?

  • Does anyone know the current exceptance times? I applied tonight and Amazon posted a message that the account invitation would be sent within about two weeks. Thanks for writing this great article, it is very thorough and answer questions that I had going through my mind.

  • Hey Neil,
    Thanks for the great post and congratulation on your success. What I love about Merch is the low cost of entry which makes it available for everyone but consequently inundated with competitions. The problem I have with Merch T-Shirt with low BSR is the number of copycats and competition that undercut each other on prices. I recently had a designer produce 5 designs for me, however, all he/she did was regurgitate a Gamer Theme T-shirt.
    How do or did you distinguish between a theme that’s early in its uptrend verses at ones in later stages where margins are wiped out due to copycats.

    • I always try and be first. If you can be first with a design idea (not the niche), then copycats will not matter and will always fall second. The goal is to find where people are selling, but be able to come up with unique designs in that niche. To this day, I still have not reported anyone copying me and continue to sell with that strategy.

  • HI Neil. I am just now finding all of this info. This is exactly what I needed.

    Question, I have been approved by merchant. Do you suggest doing everything through Merchant, or still setting everything up through Shopify and linking it up to Amazon. That part I am a little confused by.

    Thank you!

    • Start with Merch by Amazon first, and then grow from there once you are comfortable with everything and start seeing sales.

  • I’m quite interested in AMAZON Merch, but my concern is whether AMAZON takes control of your intellectual property, or not? Or can Amazon decide to continue printing your designs, copyrighted or not, w/ or w/o your consent? I read somethin’ in the contractual agreement that concerns me until I receive clarification. Could you explain what this means: ‘We are not obligated to return copies of any Content or other materials that you provide. The following provisions of this Agreement will survive termination of this Agreement: Sections 3, 4, 7 through 12, all your representations and warranties in this Agreement, and any other provisions that, by their nature, are intended to survive.

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