For van life, making money with T-shirts or printed designs that need delivered may seem a hassle you would rather not get involved with, however Merch by Amazon (aka Amazon Merch) is one platform that takes away the stress and makes it possible for nearly anyone to design T-shirts. Even if you’re not a great designer 😉
The difficulties of having to print a design when someone needs it, and then ship it to the person are all delt with by Amazon, as are all the costs and expenses involved and returns. You just have to sit back and watch the money roll in….sort of!
What is Merch by Amazon?
Merch by Amazon is a Print on Demand (PoD) service that started with T-shirts and moved into other items of clothing and apparel products, before recently adding bags, pillows, phone cases and other items.
As a designer on the platform, you can create and list your designs for free, earning when anyone purchases a product with your design. And you DO NOT have to be a great designer to make money with Amazon Merch – slogans work really well.
As an approved creator on Amazon Merch, you can submit a design that will be printed on demand when a buyer orders it. With numerous niches available (including van life), and designs being on Amazon, almost anyone can earn money by uploading designs. Here are a few T-shirts for ‘van life';
The best part is, you only worry about what designs you upload, everything else is handled by Amazon Merch.
I started with Amazon Merch back in 2016 and really enjoyed the creative aspect of coming up with T-shirt ideas, researching keywords and niches and producing really cool shirts. I often had someone help me with the design aspect as I'm not a great designer &/or very slow!
However, there is a boring part to it too; uploading and formatting designs and applying to multiple shirts and colors. There's also massive amounts of competition and copycats. I worked my account up to around 150 designs before calling it a day, however I'm still reaping the passive rewards more than 4 years later 🙂
Pros and Cons of Amazon Merch
Like every opportunity, there are certain pros and cons you need to consider before you decide whether Amazon Merch is the right platform to earn with your designs.
Pros of Amazon Merch
Zero inventory costs and expenses
With Amazon Merch, all you have to do is upload your created design on your chosen product. No additional expenses or costs are involved. You can start selling on Amazon Merch completely free without having to worry about any expenses.
Once a product with your design is purchased, you get paid a royalty. As far as your design keeps getting sales consistently, you will get paid consistently. Apart from your design getting removed if it stays for too long without sales, you’re designs will stay live.
You set the sale price
With Amazon Merch, you’re allowed the freedom to set your price, and your payments will be a percentage of that price. This allows you to set higher prices so you can earn more from each sale you make.
Access to millions of Amazon buyers:
Your designs are being made available to millions of Amazon buyers, allowing you to sell to as many people as you can. You can even sell in multiple countries.
Buyers get free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your designs will be available to Amazon Prime members, making the platform more appealing than many others that charge a shipping fee.
Unlimited niches for those with imagination
Have you got a ninja niece or a brother who loves badminton? How about the best mom born in 1971? Or maybe you simply want to design some #vanlife swag? You’re only limited by your imagination (and of course Amazon’s T&Cs!).
No need to be a design guru
Slogans work great. If you're on the ball you can do well with text-based tshirts. Like burnt toast? There's a good chance somebody else does too. And one of their friends will buy them it for a laugh. You'd be surprised what sh1t sells!
Cons of Amazon Merch
Your designs need to be approved
When you create a design and submit it, it will need to be approved before it will is allowed on the platform. If your designs don’t follow the guidelines or meet the requirements stated by Amazon Merch, they will be declined.
Limitations in quantity of designs
As a beginner on Amazon Merch, you’re only allowed to post 10 designs, limiting the opportunity to get a sale and this limitation can is removed after a certain number of sales (currently 10), making Amazon Merch, a platform that is not as beginner-friendly as some of their PoD competitors.
Join by invitation/application only
Amazon Merch is an invitation-only platform. To get started and join them, you have to request an invitation from their website, stating your purpose, goals, and overall, what you want to achieve on the platform. Approval can take up to six months due to the large number of requests they receive, although it is usually much sooner. Either way, think about registering ASAP if you’re interested.
It is VERY competitive:
There are thousands of sellers in the Merch by Amazon system and if you have a good design or quirky slogan, it will soon have a dozen copycat designs. Not only that, other ‘pro’ sellers will often copy your design, then buy their own and solicit reviews to boost their T-shirt in the Amazon search results. And, because the barrier to entry is low and you’re competing globally, there are designers who work for peanuts churning out designs in factory-like environments, making it difficult to get an edge. This was the main thing that put me off investing any more time/effort in Amazon Merch, much as I enjoyed the creative aspect.
Copycats & trademarks:
The latter, I have already mentioned, but trademark infringement can be a minefield too and one that Amazon and the holders are very proactive with enforcing. That’s all good in a normal or ‘common sense’ context, however over the years merch sellers have been registering fairly trademarks for common phrases in relation to clothing, which means you need to check everything with the TESS before submitting or risk getting your account flagged, a warning and then a ban. Here are two text examples that are trademarked; “this girl” and “love is love” are both trademarked and could get you banned. I got my wrists slapped for using “love is love”!
How much do you earn on Amazon Merch?
The royalty varies depending on the type of product, however it is displayed when you input your price. $17.99 is quite a popular T-shirt price and that currently gets you $3.72. One at $15.99 earns $2.21 and at the other end of the scale, $25.99 earns you $9.77. As you can see, it can be quite lucrative if you make a few sales! You can view the royalty rates here.
This is one of my shirts from back in 2016 when, many of us Brits felt we were the biggest numpties on the world stage (cough #brexit). However, it didn't take long for the Yanks to knock us off the top spot 😉 It's an example of playing whatever is popular at the time. Obviously, you'll have your own moral compass as regards slogans and whatnot (for example, pro-Trump tshirts were also clearly very popular, however they certainly weren't for me!).
Anyway, as you can see, the estimated royalty is displayed when you input the list price.
When does Amazon Merch pay you?
You get paid approximately one month AFTER the end of the month in which the product was shipped (not sold – shipped!). So if an item sold and was shipped on 31st May, you would expect to receive the payment around 30th June (ie 30 days later). However if that item was not shipped until one day later, the 1st June, then you would not receive payment until around 31st July (approx 60 days later).
Bear this in mind, especially when getting started – it can feel like quite a wait those first few months!
How to Get Started with Amazon Merch
Getting started is simple. All you need to do is go to their website and request an invitation, stating why you want to join and what you hope to achieve. Then you wait for a reply.
While waiting, you can use the time on your hands to research and create unique designs that you’ll upload to the platform once you get approved. It is important to do some research about what designs and slogans are popular, otherwise they won’t sell: remember, Amazon is also a search engine so you’ll need some good keywords and decent descriptions to rank your merch!
Earning money from the platform might take some time (especially if you’re climbing the ranks to unlock tiers), but once you have gotten an idea of what is working, and tweak your designs to meet those specifications, it is possible to make a lot of money with Amazon Merch.
I earn about $1,000 passive income from Amazon Merch. Around $400 comes in over the Christmas period.
Best of all, it’ eventually becomes passive income — I have not touched my Amazon Merch account for about 4 years and it continues to earn around $1,000 per year. Looking at the screenshot below, I can see my live shirts have dropped to 44. This is because after 335 days with no sales, the shirt will be removed — back in 2016/17 it was much less, only 90 days I think, which was really bad as all your seasonal shirts would disappear (for which I had several).
I haven't done anything in years – lots of opportunities are available due to new products etc. I should really spend a few hours looking at this!
Just remember that Amazon Merch isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, but if you are good at design or are good at coming up with slogans, it can be a way of earning while doing what you love. If you're genuinely, properly good, I'd recommend coming up with a brand and building your designs around a brand/tag…and possibly even trademarking it!
I’ll do another post at a later date about Amazon Merch research and some of the tools that can help you if you want to make a serious business out of Merch by Amazon. Meanwhile, you can register for Merch by Amazon here.