How To Make It Rain Royalties On Merch By Amazon

What’s the first thought that pops into your head when you see a nicely designed t-shirt? Is it “I would love to buy that!” Or “I bet I could make a killing selling that!”

The difference between these two reactions might be a good indicator of whether you’re an entrepreneur or not. But hey, maybe you’re just fashionable and a hustler and you’d say both. In either of these cases, Merch By Amazon could be a great side hustle for you. Maybe even more than that.

Print On Demand With Merch By Amazon

In case you haven’t heard, Merch By Amazon is a print on demand service from Amazon that was launched in 2015. The initial goal was to give app developers and other types of content creators an additional revenue stream through selling branded t-shirts. 

These groups were often held back by the amount of upfront investment required (e.g. customer acquisition and set up costs). But the service appealed to entrepreneurs beyond this initial target audience and took off. 

So much so that today the service is invite-only. Once you’ve got yourself one of those coveted invites, you can sell your designs as Amazon products (more than just t-shirts now) to MILLIONS of customers around the world. 

Bypass The Startup Costs 

With Merch By Amazon there is no upfront cost and your investment would just be a few hours a month, doing some product research; prepping and uploading your artwork; choosing product types and colours, adding in a description of your product, and doing some marketing (optional but recommended). 

Amazon will then set up the product page, take care of production, shipping (with the option of Prime for your customers), and even customer service. You sit back, relax and get your royalties. Pretty sweet deal. 

Getting Started With Merch By Amazon

When you’re ready to start your application for an invite, make sure that you have these details handy:

  1. Business contact information 
  2. Bank account and routing numbers 
  3. Social Security number or other tax identification number 

You can also try these suggestions from the Start Up Bros to get your application approved:

  • Highlight any experience you have selling on other platforms and definitely share if you have an audience. Do this by linking to other designs you have up on different websites or to your personal website. 
  • Share details of how you’ll promote your products to Amazon’s customers.
  • Share a few original designs as part of your application. Anywhere between 5-10 pieces of work should do the trick.
  • Include details of any trademarks you own or licenses to art that you have.

The suggestions above aren’t mandatory to share – but they may go a long way. 

According to the Merch site decisions on applications are made as quickly as possible and you’ll receive an estimate after you’ve applied. It can take up to around 3 months to get approved. Which gives you ample time to brush off on Amazon’s policies, prep artwork to upload and research some ideas for marketing your products. 

Tiering It Up As A Seller

Once your application is approved you’ll enter Tier 10 of the program. This means that you can upload up to 10 designs in total (important to note – you’ll also have a daily limit to keep in mind). BUT you can remove designs and upload new ones without them counting against your total design count. 

Based on the quality of your designs and the number of sales you have, the Merch By Amazon team will grant you the ability to move on to additional Tiers. 

For these reasons you may want to consider getting some professional help if you’re not a designer. Or if you just don’t have enough time on your hands to crank out designs as you test what works and doesn’t. A bit of investment here could go a long way toward landing you your sales. May we suggest Kimp?;)

Once you’ve sold at least 10 t-shirts, if the Amazon team deems you worthy, you could move on to Tier 25 and then following the same process you could move on to Tier 100, Tier 400 and Tier 500. Beyond these Tiers is the Pro Tier. A mythical land that you can gain access to by invitation only.

These hoops that sellers need to jump through are meant to ensure a high standard of quality for the products being sold. They’re worth jumping through because the higher your Tier, the more active designs you’ll have that you can potentially earn sales from.

The Royalty Breakdown

For every product you sell with Merch you’ll get a royalty based on your product’s purchase price less the taxes and Amazon’s costs. With a t-shirt that’s priced at $15.99 you could earn $2.21 and for a t-shirt priced at $25.99 you could earn $9.77. For more examples of pricing in the US and the EU check out the Merch By Amazon site

Payments are made the month following the royalties being accrued. You can review your royalties at any time using the Analyze Tab in your dashboard. The Analyze Tab is also home to other helpful info like an overview of which products you’ve sold, for how much and on what days. 

Making It Rain Sales & Royalties

There are a few things that can increase the chances of getting sales on Amazon drastically: 

  1. Posting Trending Designs:
    Be sure to keep up with trends and try to upload designs as soon as you’re aware of them. Being one of the first out the gate can go a long way to ensuring your products get visibility and sales. In this
    one example, an entrepreneur named Kim Jenson uploaded designs related to a solar eclipse and sales exploded. She ended up making more in 2 weeks in the summer than she would in a year at her full-time job! Of course, you’ll have plenty of competition trying to do the same so try to allot only a portion of your uploads to trending designs.
  2. Posting Evergreen Designs:
    A fresh take on a classic can be as effective as hopping onto a new trend. Posting designs related to holidays or phases in a person’s life (e.g. getting engaged or getting divorced) can be effective as there will always be an audience for your designs.
  3. Finding Transferrable Ideas:
    If you can think of a great concept for a niche, think about how you can repurpose it to appeal to a few others. You’ll be doing quite a bit of trial and error here but hey, lightning can strike twice.
  4. Upgrading What Works:
    Never copy another seller’s work. But do research the products that have the highest search volume and create better designs than what’s already on offer. Then with a bit of on-page SEO get traffic and sales headed your way. 

How To Research, Rinse & Repeat

So how do you get started with the research? Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Try Merch Data to get insights on your competition – it offers a free month’s membership!
  • Brainstorm keywords for product categories and niches that you think will be popular. Check out Google Trends for some help. 
  • Use the autocomplete on Amazon to see the products selling well for the keywords you’ve identified.
  • Here are some more free keyword research tools: WordStream, Google’s Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool’s Amazon Keyword Planner and Sonar.   
  • Search for products with the keywords you’ve identified and keep an eye on the BSR! The Best Sellers Rank on each listing indicates the number of shirts being sold; The lower the BSR, the more shirts being sold per day; The higher the BSR, the less shirts being sold per day. BSRs ranging from 100K to 700K represent designs that are selling between once a day to once a week. 
  • If you can figure out a way to outdo the offerings already available, go forth and make it rain royalties. 

Optimize Your Products And Sales

On your product pages be sure to put the most important keywords in your product titles. And have your product titles start with your most important keywords. 

Customers are scanning for the details they need and they do not have time for your experiments with being witty. Save that for your content marketing! 😉 Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Do you really have time to care about more than the product type, its key features, size, colour and quantity? Probably not.

Once you’re done with your title, use your product page to outline the best features and benefits of your product. Be straight to the point and share these details in concise bullet points. If you’ve got any keywords you couldn’t squeeze into the product title add them in here as well. 

With these tips and tactics you can get your target audience to land on your product pages, and closer to adding your products to their cart.