Last updated on January 8, 2021
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Merch by Amazon, also known as Merch and MBA, is a frequent topic of conversation in the make money online arena. Also, it’s one of many ways to make money on Amazon. I had come across several articles of untold fortunes, so I wanted to give it a shot. If people are making “$150,000” from selling print-on-demand clothing, I didn’t want to miss out.
Merch by Amazon Overview
Merch by Amazon is Amazon’s print-on-demand (POD) apparel division. Individuals can sell their designs on the world’s largest marketplace with no upfront investment or costs. Product formats include:
- Women’s v-neck t-shirt
- Baseball t-shirt
- Long-sleeve t-shirt
- Crewneck sweatshirt
- Pullover hoodie
- Zip hoodie
How It Works
Upload your artwork, select a product type and color, set your price, and add a product description. Your artwork must adhere to Amazon’s specifications, dimensions, and content policies. (Get design templates here.) Amazon will create a product page, and when customers buy your product, it will handle production, shipping, and customer service at no cost to you. Merch is available in the US, UK, and German markets.
Applying to Merch by Amazon
Merch by Amazon receives thousands of requests to join its program. To handle the influx of applications, it uses an invitation-only system. Amazon notifies applicants when spaces become available.
A few people I know are still waiting for invites or have been declined, and there’s no rhyme or reason for Amazon’s decisions. I’ve been on Amazon for years selling books, so perhaps a little marketplace equity helped me to get approved.
Amazon allows ten submissions to begin. You’ll need to sell at least ten products from those you’ve created to move up to the next tier. The next tier is 25 items followed by 100, 500, and Pro (by invitation) product levels.
MBA limits the number of new products that you can submit each day; for example, mine is one. Daily publishing limits are based on tiers.
My Merch Experiment
Step One: Create
Upon the approval of my account, I created ten designs. I searched for a graphic designer on Fiverr (I don’t have photoshop experience and wanted help). Alternatively, I could have searched for a freelancer on another site. I hired a designer who charged five dollars per shirt. I sent him my designs, and he produced them.
Step Two: Publish
I uploaded my designs to Merch (and Redbubble since Merch doesn’t require exclusivity). I created more designs because three got rejected by Amazon’s review team. The reasons for rejection included, “Promotion of Hate or Intolerance,” “Objectionable Content,” and “Copyright.” Amazon’s review team is rigorous because they want to avoid legal issues, negative press coverage, and customer complaints.
Step Three: Promote
My ten t-shirts went live by the end of August. I priced them at $11.99 to be competitive and volume-focused. I created a Twitter profile and a Facebook page for my brand and promoted my shirts regularly through those channels.
Step Four: Review
Aside from not generating a single sale, I lost interest in Merch by Amazon for the following reasons.
Search engine optimization features are lacking. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical to product ranking and visibility. When self-publishing books on Kindle Direct Publishing, I can influence SEO significantly. On Merch, I’m limited to product titles, for example, “Funny Beer T-Shirt.” I don’t have the ability to influence meta descriptions or add keywords.
If a product has had at least one sale in the previous 180 days, it won’t be removed. However, Amazon will remove products that haven’t sold within the first 180 days of being published. I hate that policy because it’s discouraging and counterproductive. Content creators can relist their products, but instead of making it easy, for example, being able to select “relist” from a drop-down menu, Amazon forces creators to go through the approval process again.
Generating enough income would be challenging. Suppose you, I, and eight other creators sell enough products to reach and publish 500 listings (obviously, there are hundreds to thousands of creators are on Merch). If all of us publish our maximums at roughly the same time, there will be 5,000 listings. Every now and again, customers will purchase our goods, but not enough for all of us to make thousands of dollars monthly.
MBA could shut down because the POD market is highly competitive, saturated, and Amazon doesn’t need it. Furthermore, POD marketplaces compete with millions of regular online and offline stores. You might think that Merch isn’t at risk of being phased out, but Amazon occasionally fails and pivots. For instance, the Amazon Fire phone was a mega flop, and Amazon has shut down its online wine store to move distribution. If Merch doesn’t deliver, Amazon will terminate it and refocus on more profitable divisions and new experiments.
A foray into any Amazon division is exciting. However, POD marketplaces have been around for years, for example, Zazzle and CafePress. Amazon’s entry into the market was a tad late. Secondly, some POD sites have a variety of products that content creators can sell, including pillows, blankets, mugs, key racks, phone cases, and wall decals. By comparison, Merch is quite limited in its product formats.
Whether you sell on one site or many, there are tools to help you.
Printify is a print-on-demand platform that makes it dead simple to work with multiple print providers all around the world. It makes fulfilling and sending your products to your customers easy. Printify integrates with Shopify, WooCommerce, and eBay.
Printful provides on-demand order fulfillment and warehousing services for products such as clothing, accessories, home, and living items for online businesses. It’s free to set up and doesn’t come with monthly fees or minimum order requirements. It integrates with Amazon, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, and many other platforms.
Multisite Selling Strategy
To improve your sales prospects, Merch should be one of the many platforms you use. Since it doesn’t require exclusivity, you can sell on other POD websites simultaneously. You could sell on leading online marketplaces, such as eBay, Etsy, and Amazon (as a professional seller). You could create an online store with software, for example, Shopify. Shopify also supports selling on Facebook and Instagram. Some creators even sell offline, which is another option.
Combining Merch with other platforms could produce excellent results and profits. Case in point, Crazy Dog T-Shirts has a Shopify store and is on Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. It also has an affiliate program to increase its marketing and sales reach.
MBA + POD Sites + Marketplaces + Online Store = $$$,$$$
Many people flock to Merch and similar platforms because they’re easy to join, low-risk, and low-cost. Moreover, everyone thinks they have excellent designs. However, most people won’t succeed. Also, the low barrier to entry reduces income prospects for all and creates a race to the bottom. Secondly, making five-figures per month is highly unlikely on Merch alone. Creators who claim they make or made those amounts probably benefited from first-mover advantages and low competition. They could also be lying or trying to exploit you with online courses and products that will supposedly help you.
On the other hand, Merch can work if you have many followers and subscribers, influencers, and marketers who will promote your goods, or your designs become bestsellers. It can also work when combined with a multisite selling strategy. By being present on multiple sites, more people will see your products, which can lead to more sales. I would start with an income goal of $100 to $500 monthly with the possibility to earn more. Learn more about starting an online t-shirt business.
Frequently Ask Questions
MBA has a comprehensive resources and FAQ page that addresses best practices, royalties, content policy, tools, templates, and more. It’s worth exploring if you’re serious about succeeding in MBA.
Merch by Amazon is legit. Amazon launched it in 2015.
Yes, Merch by Amazon is free to join. Costs only apply to goods that you sell.
MBA's cost structure frequently changes, which makes it challenging to estimate royalties six to twelve months out. However, you can expect royalties of roughly 10 to 40 percent per sale, depending on your list price. Amazon deducts royalties for returned products.
Yes, you can. Amazon Advertising is available for some Merch by Amazon accounts.