Learn how to get started with Amazon Merch and incorporate this revenue stream into your blog’s income. Included are steps to take you from setup all the way up to the promotion.
How to Get Started with Amazon Merch
Amazon Merch (and other print-on-demand services) has been around for years, however, many bloggers are just incorporating it into our online income strategy. While we have resources available to us unavailable to those who pioneered the service, there is hefty competition.
Your goal with print-on-demand (POD) services could be to make your blog content available for purchase (taglines, reader attributes, etc.). Or, you could have a plan to branch out and include other niches and pop culture.
No matter your goal for Amazon Merch earnings, attack this just like you would any other product – be prepared for promotion.
This first half of how to get started with Amazon Merch is the easy part.
Sign Up and What to Read While Waiting
Sign up for Amazon Merch and wait for approval. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes months to actually get started with Amazon Merch. Each week, check your dashboard to see if you were approved (not everyone receives an email).
Read through the best practices by Amazon Merch and the Merch content policy – both are quick reads.
You can have 2 submissions a day when you first begin and up to 10 active shirt designs, so if you’re waiting on approval, download the template and start designing. While you’re waiting for approval (or once you’re in), read the Amazon Merch SEO Guide.
Once You’re Approved for Amazon Merch
- Fill out your business and tax information. You.Want.To.Get.Paid.
- Join one or more of the Amazon Facebook groups (listed below). There is a LOT of education and advice provided for free in the big groups, but they can get overwhelming.
- Get familiar with the template and test where to place your design (I use the Photoshop template but if you don’t have that, Amazon provides other options). If you’d like, you can even get started with Amazon Merch by creating an 8×10 canvas in PicMonkey or Canva.
Note: if you use something other than a template, consider using this site to resize your design for the best output.
Fonts and Imagery
If you do not have a system already, consider creating a commercial-use fonts file of all those which allow for commercial or complete use. This is no joke – you don’t want a report through Amazon. Check out this free listing of free fonts and resources to get free and quality, low-priced commercial-use fonts.
Be very careful and use only commercially-licensed or original images or clipart in your designs. Amazon seeks to avoid ALL issues, so they will remove your design and terminate your account without warning if someone even hints at infringement.
I prefer to work from my laptop, but there are apps you can use when designing shirts. Per Merch Entrepreneur, there are apps you can download (like OVER and WordSwag).
Before You Upload
- Be sure to check for trademark issues at Trademarkia or USPTO (both are free). And just to warn you, this is a huge, ugly, slippery slope. Amazon will reject what they see fit if they believe it violates any trademark.
- Check for copyright issues with the copyright office (United States). Again, this can be a fast downward slide into a pool of confusion, so ask your fellow Merch bloggers for help or clarification. We can often point you in the right direction to resolve your issue.
- Do not submit designs with curse words or use them in your listing (more on them below). Amazon will likely reject your design. If you’re really set on making a shirt with them, try another print-on-demand service like Zazzle or Redbubble.
- Do keyword research for your title and listing (there are third-party tools or you can use Amazon as a search engine for your terms).
Create Your Listing
- Be sure to position your design carefully – where it gets placed is exactly how it will print.
- Some of the t-shirts run small after a wash and you can indicate this or not. Per feedback from other Merch sellers, don’t put that information in the listing.
- Dark color shirts sell better.
- Select your cost and royalty (for each shirt, not once for all shirts).
- Do not incorporate a website address in your listing even if it is on your shirt (blog-related, for example).
- Just like your blog, do not keyword stuff your listing. Make sure you use your two bullet points wisely, however, try to make them a cohesive sentence. Write it with the reader (and your potential customer) in mind.
- Within the listing, avoid stating any proceeds would be donated or that your shirt will ‘support a particular organization.’ Those are against the Merch terms (here is a great resource for general questions about Merch).
After Your Listing Is Approved
After you submit your shirt design and listing, you might need to wait a bit (anywhere from 1 – 4 days). Once you have approval, you’ll likely receive an email.
If you adjust the shirt in any way after approval, it will go back to approval and you’ll need to check your dashboard to find out when it’s been approved.
Now it’s time to get started on your Amazon Merch marketing plan for t-shirts.
A Nice Chrome Extension for Amazon Merch
I have tinkered around with a few Chrome extensions to support my Merch sideline business and wanted to update this article with a decent one.
Pretty Merch is a free extension which adds a button to your browser (alerting you to sales). It also, however, adds a tab inside your Merch account and this is the part I really like.
In it, you’ll get all this and at the bottom, it displays your top-selling shirts and your top-royalty earnings shirts. #handy
“Good To Know” About Amazon Merch Listings
- If a shirt doesn’t sell for 90 days, it will be removed. You can delete your own shirts if they aren’t selling and you want to use your slot for another design. Amazon, however, will only delete those which do not sell after 90 days or those which violate their terms.
- There have been times in which Amazon was not accepting new designs, no matter the tier structure. They have cited a desire to keep up with the demand.
- Another limit they put on for the same reason, was the availability of colors.
- And yet another restriction they have placed in the past is a limitation of orders AND reduced visibility in search. That sucks but there is nothing you can do about it but force traffic to the listing yourself.
The moral of the story is to keep track of them, that’s all. If you are unable to offer a design, it is most likely for a limited time. It can result in lost sales, however, there is no recovery from Amazon Merch.
Additional Reading and Research
- Read this (mentioned above) to help you get started with Amazon Merch (SEO for Merch Guide).
- Consider following the resource for general questions about Merch
- One of the most well-known and successful Merch entrepreneurs and website (and training).
Facebook Groups for Merch
In order to get started with Amazon Merch properly, consider the following groups as your tribe. The search function within these groups will likely be your best friend for a while – they really are amazing resources when starting.
Stay tuned for a detailed look at marketing Amazon Merch products. Right now, I’m testing a few methods and gathering data from clients. I’m a geek, I know, but I’m super excited to share it with you soon!
Have you already started with Amazon Merch or another print-on-demand service? Can you please pin this to your blogging income board to help others increase their earnings?
Is it only shirts? Or can I design coffee mugs? And planner covers? I have so many ideas, but not many are shirt worthy.
Sarah Nenni Daher says
Merch is (currently) only shirts but they keep noting they will expand.
For mugs, notebooks, and so much more, I use Redbubble. There are many print-on-demand services like Merch and RedBubble –
a few well-known ones are Cafe Press, Society6, Pixels, Zazzle, and Tostadora.
With Merch, your designs do not have to be exclusive (because you maintain all rights), so you can put the design on a t-shirt there and then on mugs, notebooks, stickers, and more with the other sites.
Good luck – it’s so much fun when you get sales!
Clearissa Coward says
Interesting. So I design a t-shirt and upload to Merch and it sells? What is the initial investment cost? As usual, you provided great content. Thank you.
Sarah Nenni Daher says
Girl, no investment other than your time. There are free commercial fonts out there and Amazon provides the templates! If your family has a catch phrase or event (like a family reunion, for example), you can design a shirt, sell it at cost and get exactly what you wanted. 🙂
This is an avenue I want to look into, but not just with shirts. I might try some other avenues before I try for Amazon, though.
Thanks for the in depth post, it gave me a lot to think about.
Sarah Nenni Daher says
You’re welcome, Audrey. I have sold notebooks, tote bags, and baby stuff on RedBubble, so definitely look into that one, as well. Just remember to use commercially-licensed fonts and clip art (or your own photos or graphics), and the sky is the limit!