Merch by Amazon is a Print on Demand (POD) platform owned by and connected to one of the world’s biggest marketplaces.
I mean seriously, have you ever thought about how massive Amazon is? It has billions of unique visitors making regular purchases.
I get very excited thinking about the opportunities that the Internet offers. Everything from health and fame to knowledge and money seems very much within reach.
More than ever before, all you need is a really good idea to get started. What a time to be alive!
As a creative writer, I have an abundance of cool and interesting ideas. There is no shortage of those. The problem is: How do I make money with those ideas?
Merchandise offers a great solution. Ultimately, you need to have a product or service that you can sell to other people.
What is Merch by Amazon?
Amazon Merch On Demand or Merch by Amazon allows you to make and sell printed t-shirts and other products. All you need to do is sign-up, upload your designs as graphics, and list your products.
Amazon will handle manufacturing, payments, delivery, and even customer service. That seems too good to be true; Well, read on to find out why it’s not.
As mentioned above, this is a Print On Demand (POD) platform connected to Amazon.com. Print On Demand is a popular business model which can be implemented in a number of different ways.
Basically, in a POD model, a printing partner holds blank, unbranded merchandise like t-shirts, and is provided by graphics from a creator.
The actual printing is only done after an order is placed, hence the “on-demand” part.
This is the characteristic feature of this model. With Amazon’s platform, you can find a place to source and sell, all in one.
Can Anyone Use Merch by Amazon?
I think everyone has a good idea for a design at some point or another in their life. Does that mean they should start this as a side hustle? What about people who don’t have any ideas of their own?
The best thing about Merch by Amazon is its potential for passive income. If you are a content creator, influencer, graphic designer, or artist, the potential is even higher.
You see, anyone who is online will have a brand of their own. If other people like your brand, they will be willing to buy from you just to represent and support a brand they love.
But you don’t have to build something yourself. The most successful people in this niche, make products based on market research. Some people even set up and sell their shops for upwards of $100,000 this way!
Either way, with Amazon Merch, you don’t have to manufacture the products, set up a website, manage payments, and all that trouble. Sales can take a while to kick off, but if successful, you can really rake it in.
Merch is only available to the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan currently.
Creators from other locations can sign up and get paid through Payoneer but are less likely to be accepted, and the customers must obviously be from these places.
How Much Can You Earn From Merch by Amazon?
After setting up a range of products successfully, people can earn anywhere between $1,000 to $20,000 within the first two years. While other people haven’t earned anything at all.
You can set up your shop and start selling on this platform with zero expenses whatsoever. It’s completely free to sign-up, upload your designs, and create listings with Amazon’s range of products.
Merch by Amazon currently offers 14 different products for you to put your designs on. These include a tank top, six types of t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, phone covers, and more.
The store offers you fixed royalties on each of these items. For example, the royalty earned on a small standard t-shirt costing $15.99 is $1.93. This way, you can earn between 12 to 35% of the sales price.
So it’s pretty straightforward if you ask me (just like the screenshot below):
Two major factors will impact your sales the most: marketing and your range of products. Merch by Amazon has a tier system for its partners. The tier system mainly limits your uploads and the number of listings.
The number of the tier is the number of sales needed to attain that tier. So after you’ve made 25 sales, you are eligible for tier 25, which is the second one after tier 10.
The more listings and designs you have, the more you can earn.
In terms of marketing and visibility, there are a few things to consider. Keep these in mind, and you can really set yourself up for success!
Getting Start With Merch By Amazon
We’ve seen that some people can earn thousands of dollars while other people never get past that first sale on this platform.
I’ve collected some best practices that will give you the best chance to succeed using Merch by Amazon.
Let’s go through the process of adding your products here, and I’ll suggest these practices as we go.
1. Sign-Up For The Platform
The first hurdle here is getting accepted by Amazon Merch on Demand. That’s right; it’s not an automatic sign-up. You need to sign up for a Merch account, and your application might not be accepted.
Amazon is looking for serious and professional sellers with the resources and capability to sell large volumes of merch. They are notorious for taking their time to accept applications.
You can apply multiple times, and getting accepted can take anywhere from a week up to two months. Some people have gotten accepted within a week, while other people never did.
What you need to understand is that Amazon is already pretty huge and wants companies that will add outstanding value to their customers.
In fact, even after you get accepted, the first tier, tier 10, is just for Amazon to see if you know what you are doing. Tier 10 acts as a firewall to keep out the low-performing partners.
To get your application accepted quicker, keep in mind the following:
- Make sure to fill in all the information accurately and fully.
- It does not hurt your chances if it is an individual or a company account.
- The additional information section is your best friend here. You can talk about your brand and your promotional strategy.
- You can talk about your research and your expertise. Maybe showcase why you could make better designs than the competition.
- If you can highlight the fact that you understand the copyright infringement stuff, and promise to never use designs that might cause legal issues, nothing like it.
- All of this reassures the company and increases the confidence they have in you. In turn, this will fast-track your application process.
- If you have an established online presence like your own website or social media handles, you can bring in your own audience to Amazon as well.
2. Do The Research
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and good design is never by accident. No matter how confident you are in your ideas, this platform is a very competitive space. It’s a terrible idea to improvise and make things up as you go if you want to get results.
Instead, I suggest you take your time in the beginning and really figure things out strategically. What is your niche? How can it be divided further? What is your competition offering?
If you do research into your niche and study your competition, you can judge the demand for your products. This is very helpful down the line if you ever have to figure out why you aren’t making sales.
At least if you start with a well-researched product and do a few polls and trials for experiments, at least you can have confidence in your designs.
After all, once you’re done with this, you will have a better idea about what you are doing.
This is truly the 20% of the work that gives the 80% of the results, so don’t skip out on this. There are many keyword tools online, not to mention the ones that give you the trends on Amazon itself.
These tools can be beneficial, but you don’t really need them for this research process.
All you really need to do is take some time and study Amazon’s website. Look at your niche and all the best seller. Read the reviews and get an idea.
The most successful sellers on Merch by Amazon make well-researched designs that are guaranteed to be popular.
I seriously suggest making use of visual social media channels like Instagram to get feedback and then move on to the next step.
3. Upload Designs
Now you have these well-researched niches for making your design. This brings us to the actual creative effort from your side to make use of this opportunity. You now have to upload your designs.
Your designs should be:
- Attractive and aesthetically pleasing. Bonus points for high-quality designs that are guided by design principles.
- Appealing and catering to a very specific type of person. Art and fashion are forms of self-expression and people are very unique. The more specific you can get in terms of personality and interest, the more likely it is to sell.
- Unique and have tons of personalities of their own. Let your designs be companions that accompany your customers on their road through life.
Your designs have to be uploaded in very high resolution and with a transparent background.
It’s important to keep all of your available design slots full at all times. The more products you have, the more you can profit. I also suggest making the first-tier sales yourself.
Take help from your family and sell enough to get out of the first tier. This way you can get it off the ground quickly.
As mentioned already, you need to pick a design and choose a product to put it on, and then add the listing.
So as you tier up and unlock more slots, you need to make sure to utilize them fully. The more, the merrier.
Check out Amazon’s Merch on Demand resources to find a full list of royalties and design specifications.
Before you can add the listing, there is another very important thing…let’s get to that!
4. Optimizing For Better Amazon SEO
It’s really great to sell your products on Amazon because it’s convenient for the customers. Unfortunately, there are also hundreds of other brands selling thousands of products.
Since Amazon has a search bar that customers use to find all products, the website also has its own SEO practices.
This means that you can optimize your listings through titles and descriptions to make your products easier to find.
It might sound like a lot of work and feel like a bit of a hassle. Technically, you don’t need to do this, but I would argue that it’s essential.
You see, it won’t take a ton of time and effort, and the returns that you will get will be beyond worthwhile.
Amazon SEO is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. It might sound complex at first, but basically, you are just writing titles that sell and descriptions that attract your target audience.
It helps to keep your titles and descriptions very short and to the point. Less is more. Also, consider adding your company’s name in the title for brand recognition.
5. Kickstarting Marketing
I would say that this is the final thing that you need to take care of to succeed at building a side hustle on Merch by Amazon.
Ultimately, your products on Amazon are just a part of their massive catalog.
Well-researched and good designs can make products worth buying, and SEO can help people find them more easily, but sales don’t happen automatically if you don’t do the marketing.
You see, there are no real costs you need to bear but to make real money you should be willing to spend a little.
If your budget is less, start small, but if you can afford it, make a proper plan on how to drive traffic to Amazon and sell your products.
Content Marketing through social media, as well as running Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Google Ads is a proven way to drive traffic.
But what about Amazon ads? Merch by Amazon only allows ads on an invitation basis. Since this is just one income source for Amazon, they don’t want to oversaturate this platform.
Running Ads is allowed rarely, and applications are accepted judicially. So, we’ve covered everything you need to know about Merch by Amazon. Let’s look at some pros and cons to help guide your decisions.
Pros Of Merch On Demond
There are so many good things about this platform offered, and of course, this business model per see.
Let’s have a look at them.
1. Automated Processes
This is the best thing about this platform in my opinion. As we’ve seen, there is a fair amount of work and research associated with selling your designs here.
Once you do the initial work, figure out the ins and outs, and set up your products, Amazon will take care of everything for you.
The minimal effort it will take to maintain the store after this period makes it ideal as a side hustle.
Amazon will list your products, manufacture, manage inventory, take orders, do the printing, handle payments, shipment, customer service, and even returns.
The only part you need to focus on to boost sales is marketing.
2. Zero Cost Whatsoever
There are no set-up costs or capital requirements needed to start your Merch by Amazon account. Basically, all you really need are your designs.
Marketing and research can be done with minimal costs and even for free if you are willing to invest the time and energy to develop organic traffic.
You really do need to spend on ads to get real results, though. Every step that was done well along the way will further increase your chances.
3. Massive Reach Opportunity
Amazon literally has over a billion unique customers. The company is worth trillions of dollars and the brand name is one of the biggest in the world.
Obviously, just being able to say that your products are available on Amazon totally skyrockets the trustworthiness of your brand.
Although slowly Amazon’s product quality is decreasing a little bit, as selling here from Alibaba has become popular.
Still, the huge customer base and brand value are still going strong today and that’s a big plus in my book.
4. Very Accessible
Since you don’t need to know about e-commerce and all the other related parts of the POD business, Merch by Amazon is more accessible than some of the other options.
If you have good ideas for a design, are willing to put in some time and effort for research, and can get the actual designs, you can start making money with Merch by Amazon.
Cons Of Merch On Demand
Some downsides? Let’s take a round and spot them as well.
1. Time Consuming
The application process itself can take an undefined period of time. Beyond that, leveling up your tier, doing market research, SEO, and marketing are also to be dealt with.
As always, this is no get-rich-quick scheme and it takes some time to get the ball rolling.
But even in the POD model, Merch by Amazon can be a bit more time-consuming compared to other options like Etsy or Shopify.
2. Lack of Flexibility
You also have to work with family-friendly concepts and follow all of Amazon’s rules and regulations. So edgy and provocative concepts are out the window.
Obviously, copyright infringement is never okay, and this platform is no different. Even the product pages are not customizable, all you can edit are the pictures, the titles, and the descriptions.
There is also a lack of flexibility in pricing as you cannot choose your own at all.
Since Amazon has so many things to consider in their business, their streamlined profit margins in the form of royalties are there to simplify things for them.
If every seller chose their own margins, this could lead to further complications.
The profit margins might be lesser than they would if you set the prices yourself, but if you have the plan to leverage Amazon’s traffic, you can possibly make larger volumes of sales.
3. Limited Range of Products
In the POD model, the 14-odd items that Amazon offers for printing are pretty limited in terms of quality, style, and material.
Artists can find more options on other dedicated POD platforms, often with better print quality.
4. Lack of Feedback
Amazon does manage everything for you, including customer service, and product returns. But this can also come with a vulnerability.
Since you interact less with your clients, you have fewer opportunities for feedback.
This is a small drawback as all you are really providing here is the graphics, and you can get feedback for it through other channels.
But I still consider this a trade-off because customer service can be its own kind of research.
5. Competitive Challenges
Even after you’ve done all your SEO and marketing, you still might get drowned out by the competition. This is why competitive research is a crucial part of the process.
This is also why you really do need to have a marketing plan for a promotional strategy.
I think that pretty much covers everything you need to know. Let me summarize for you really quickly.
So Merch by Amazon can be a great way to earn a passive income from a few good designs that can sell widely.
The royalties are set by Amazon and you earn between 12-35% on each sale, depending on the product.
You don’t need to be on a high tier to start earning. You might want to consider marketing and do some research into Amazon SEO and low-competition niches.
Since there is no cost, all you really need is some time. If you are pressed for time though, this POD service provider and platform might not be best for you.
My Personal Advice
So you’ve seen what Merch by Amazon is all about. Let me tell you about some other options. In my eyes, you have two major choices when it comes to a POD business: A Printing Partner and an E-commerce Website.
Basically, you need a place to source your products from and a place to sell them. Merch by Amazon is a unique option that gives you both in one place for free but requires some compromise and effort from your side.
Many people use POD providers like Printful and Printify, to sell their products on e-commerce marketplaces like Etsy or a Shopify store. Explore some more options for Print On Demand companies in this article:
I think you should consider all your options before making the correct decision for you. If you are an artist with tons of unique designs, maybe you would prefer to have a small shop of your own with more flexibility.
If you want to run this model as a business, Merch by Amazon can be a great option provided you put in the work. Personally, I think Merch by Amazon is a great addition to your POD business, but you should also have other options.
Nothing is stopping you from choosing multiple platforms to sell your products. I say sign up on Amazon Merch on Demand, Printful, Etsy, and even RedBubble.
This way you can learn from the different platforms, and stick to what works best.
FAQs [Frequently Asked Questions]
Merch by Amazon gives payments on a monthly basis.
Tiers are also upgraded on a monthly basis, but it is done a lot like the application process. Meaning that it is not automatic. You can make a thousand sales and still be in tier 10 until someone gives you an upgrade.
It’s important to be patient as in most cases this can be a slow process.
Yes! Anyone can join the program as there are no hard and fast requirements to sign up, as long as you accept Amazon’s terms and conditions, and adhere to their guidelines. It can be difficult to get approved without extra effort, though.
Merch by Amazon is currently only available in the US and UK, with even more limited product options in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and Japan. You can sign up from anywhere with a Payoneer account but shipping is limited to these locations.
Yes, it is. I would say leave no stone unturned and explore all your options as a diversified portfolio is always better. If you are getting into something similar, why not make use of this platform as well?