Amazon the company just like the Amazon Jungle, is a mighty beast. It currently accounts for 50% of online sales in the USA and is stretching its roots around the world. There is so much to learn about Amazon and there are literally hundreds of books and courses people read and learn from everyday. To understand the nuances of Amazon and how it operates might take some a lifetime to learn and understand. Some people have their markets cornered and are making money hand over fist.
Our aim here is not to try and tell you everything but provide a basic understanding of how to start in the Amazon Market Place Print on Demand section called Amazon Merch.
If you currently have a store on one of the other Print on Demand Companies you have an understanding of how it works:
Create a Store
Upload a design or as many designs as you like.
Market it through Social Media or other channels
Earn A Commission. Repeat
Easy, right? A process that is all about your designs, your art, your social media, your business growing.
Amazon Merch is nothing like that .It goes like this:
REQUEST AN INVITATION TO JOIN.
Then you either get accepted or not. The invitation process has no guarantee that they will say yes, even if you are a Graphic Designer or Artist of many years standing. It seems incredibly random who they say yes to. I have seen people who have ZERO design experience, ZERO business experience get an invitation to join. They then spend their time in different groups on Facebook asking what they should do or how to start. Alternatively I have seen people who have been in POD for years get declined with no reason given. Then those people spend their time in groups asking what to do to get accepted and then apply over and over again trying different strategies to get accepted. Remarkably sometimes Amazon says Yes to these people, even though the decline email say not to try to apply again. Go figure! As I said Amazon has nuances that nobody will ever fathom.
THEY SAID YES NOW WHAT?
That is the million dollar question, for some quite literally. With Amazon Merch you get 10 slots to fill. Only 10, it is called a Tier. One upload a day for 10 days. This is where the 1st part of the learning process kicks in. You then have to wait up to 4 days for your design to be accepted. It could be rejected for a ton of reasons. Or it could be accepted and then you go live. One design in literally 10 million or more designs. You follow this process through until you have all your slots filled, then you wait for a sale. This is the time I recommend if you haven't already, to start joining communities. Although I am not much of a fan of Facebook it seems this is where the majority of these communities are; In the Amazon Merch Groups. There are an awful lot of groups - some good, some bad and some truly awful. One of the best groups on Facebook that has a HUGE membership base is simply called Merch By Amazon Mastermind This and a couple of other groups I will share at the bottom of this page are really worth your time joining. The creators of these groups constantly have good advice and so many people willing to help.
I POSTED MY 10 DESIGNS NOTHING IS SELLING NOW WHAT?
This is the most often asked question in any of the groups and there are a couple of simple answers.
You can buy yourself out of a tier, effectively going on amazon.com and buying a couple of your T-shirts and wait for Amazon to tier you up to Tier 25 (this is where you can post 25 shirts on Amazon).
Switch out designs and try different ones until one or two shirts sell.
Get your keywords right by changing them, making them more niche specific or learning from Facebook Groups or other Merch Shopkeepers.
WHAT KEYWORDS SHOULD I USE?
Another of those million dollar questions. Put simply, where there is a chance to write something on your page about your shirt. WRITE SOMETHING. Leaving it blank basically turns you into a needle in an bottomless haystack. There are tons of videos online, discussions in groups about what keywords should be. A simple starting point is this: if you were searching for your shirt what would you search for? If you create a shirt about basketball make sure you include references to BASKETBALL. Keep in mind to not break terms and conditions of Amazon by using brand names, celebrity or sportsmen and sportswomen's names or anything else that is copyrighted or trademarked. That in itself is a long dark hole to fall into when you start research keywords as you become more adept at the Amazon Game.
I AM NO GRAPHIC DESIGNER OR ARTIST - WHAT DO I DO?
This particular question is one a lot of people ask. There is a huge industry outside of Amazon Merch of people working for other people who have Amazon Merch accounts. I will leave this question up to the experts to answer. I have so many mixed feelings about it that I personally haven't looked into it. I am walking my own journey with Amazon Merch so it is not an area that I know much about - needless to say there are a ton of You Tube videos that explain this process.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SELL MY SHIRTS FOR?
There are a couple of schools of thought. One is sell them for the lowest price you can to get them selling then gradually raise prices as you TIER UP. Two is sell them for the price you want to get in commission and hope people buy them. Both work depending upon the design and both are worth considering. When starting out I had my prices all over the place. My first shirt sold for $15 and I am currently selling most of my designs for $19.49. I am however not following the route of most Amazon Merch shopkeepers as I am playing a very long niche-specific game that hasn't really been tried before. Over time I will see if it was a good or foolish approach. At the current price structure I have a $5 profit from each shirt. This actually isn't what I will receive from Amazon, because I live in Australia. They pay differently and my bank gouges some fees for the transfer of $US dollars. So my actual margin per shirt will be lower (ah banks don't you just love them!). Do your own research into your payment method with Amazon depending on the country you reside in and find the best way for Amazon to pay your commissions.
I MADE MY FIRST SALE - NOW WHAT?
After you have made your first or second sale, Amazon will TIER YOU UP - the words every person on Amazon wants to hear. After Tier 10 you go to Tier 25 then Tier 100, 500, 1000. 2000 4000, etc. Keeping pace with these tiers can become a full time job - for some people it is. DO NOT QUIT YOUR DAY JOB. Like everything when you go into a business there are risks. No matter how safe you feel as you roll around on your bed counting your cash at any moment it can all be taken away. Amazon is not your business, T-shirt design is, at least to start with.
Amazon is adding more products and territories all the time. Your opportunity to sell there will always be at the invitation of Amazon. If you muck it all up somehow they can take your store away and you will left with pretty much nothing. This is why I always tell people to spread it around. Don't only depend on Amazon for your passive income. Once you get into the Print on Demand game you will find there will always be more to learn, always another POD starting up, always another way to make those "Dolla Dolla Bills Yo". Amazon is a mighty market and if you get the opportunity to become a part of Amazon Merch you are a lucky one. Don't waste your precious time and opportunity not understanding what you have been given.
TO SUM UP
Here are the things you need to start doing with Amazon Merch that should become part of your day however many hours that may be.
RESEARCH - Amazon is all about niches find a niche and put in designs that suit that niche.
RESEARCH - Join Groups who are constantly discussing Amazon Merch and become a part of the community.
RESEARCH - Go on You Tube and watch videos about Amazon Merch and POD's in general.
RESEARCH - Ask friends, family and workmates what they would like on a T-shirt if they had the chance and then tell them you could make it for them.
PROMOTE - Use Social Media, your blog, your podcast, your letters to Grandma, your telegrams to distant cousins, whatever means you can to get the word out. You don't have to be an arse about it either. When someone asks "hey how are you going?", it is easy enough to say "pretty good thanks I just started selling T-shirts on Amazon". Let that conversation go where it takes you both. You don't have to be selling, just letting people know what you are up to - you never know when someone may ask "Hey can you make me a design for a T-shirt for my basketball buddies end of year celebration"? I have heard stories of people making a design for a family reunion a friend was having and then selling 50 T-shirts to the family, buying them all over the USA. I was talking to a girl in my local supermarket and told her I was an Artist and I make T-Shirts. She asked me if I could make a specific saying on a shirt. I went home and created it. Next time I saw her I gave her the link. She didn't buy it. However over the last year I have sold at least 10 products with that saying on it. She gave me a money making idea and I designed it.
CHOOSE. Choose your own path for Amazon. There is no definitive way to succeed, however there are some proven methods that some of the big players in Amazon Merch use and remarkably a lot of them are really happy to share that Information with you. Mostly free of charge on You Tube or Podcasts or Amazon Merch Groups on Facebook. They also have brought out books and learning systems to get you to where you want to go. Who you decide to learn from or purchase from is completely up to you.
So that is a basic run-down of Amazon Merch just to get you started. It answers some of the most asked questions but there is no way every single one can be asked and answered here. Research is how you will succeed in Amazon Merch. There is no easy road but you can make it easier if you are always learning. I hope this has been informative and hope to meet some of you as we climb the Merch ladder together. See you in the Tiers.
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