Getting a Merch By Amazon account ( if you don’t already have one) is thought to be like hitting the lottery. In theory you can basically put products ( t shirts) up on the largest retail website in the world (Amazon) that don’t cost you a dime ( if you make the designs yourself) and have Amazon promote and sell them 24/7 and send you a rolatity payment each month.
A no cost business model. I like the sounds of that ( and so does a LOT of other people). In fact, I jumped onto Merch right after it launched ( before it was hard to get an account) and I have sort of had an advantage over the late adopters.
I have been a FBA seller for several years but in 2017, I actually made more on Merch than I did from Amazon FBA ( not much more, but more none the less).
In this post, I want to lay out how someone new to Merch ( or has been unsuccessful) should proceed. I want to share some of the training I personally took ( I didn’t know jack about using design programs) and some of the best resources you should use.
Learn The Merch By Amazon Platform First
The first thing I would recommend is to take the Udemy course by Chris Green. I took the advanced one and if you know how Udemy works, you can almost always get the course for around $10-$11
I would actually avoid the Merch Facebook groups because they are really big and full of people that are either whining about not having a Merch account or asking all the beginner questions. If you take Green’s course ( and actually watch ALL of the videos) , you will know everything you need to know about how Merch works.
At Least Know The Basics
“I just plan on buying all my designs”. Well that is fine and dandy, but you still should have a basic understanding of how to do basic things with the files and images.
Here is where I will deviate from the crowd. I like to use the free open source programs, GIMP and Inkscape instead of the Adobe programs ( Photoshop and Illustrator). It isn’t a money thing but more of a principal thing, but either will work fine, but don’t try to think using an iPhone or iPad app ( or the online editors) is the way to go. You need to learn a real program.
So I will say this first. You should learn a vector editing program. It is what artists and designers use, but with that said, I learned GIMP first. It is great for simple stuff like text but you really can’t draw/design with it.
The course I took was actually a book cover course on Udemy. All the same principles and a guy with a cool French accent
Again this is probably a $10-$11 Udemy course.
Next you need to move up the food chain to a vector program that actually allows you to do some stuff.
The course I took was
Again probably $10-$11 course
This is going to show you how the program works but not how to “design”.
Finally I suggest that you learn how people actually draw stuff ( trust me, once you understand vector, you will start making your own designs and/or start tearing designs apart and making “new” designs.)
This is another “accent” friendly teacher ( makes you feel like you went abroad to study art)
This is the course I took
Again probably a $10-$11 Udemy course.
( while I have shown GIMP and Inkscape, I am sure that there are similar ( and probably more) for Photoshop and Illustrator)
Now here is the catch. You need to invest a little money ( we are up to maybe $50 right now) and more importantly, you need to invest TIME to learn both how Merch works and how to make designs.
Most people aren’t willing to do either and this is where they fail ( remember they were attracted to the “ no money invested” business model )
This is actually the biggest secret to success of Merch ( or anything ) is to invest in learning and find a source that has everything you need in one place ( you are wasting your time trying to piece together Youtube videos and blog posts trying learn how to do something. Just pay $10 to get the training all in one place.
So once again you are probably saying “ I will just hire it out”.
Guess what? I do have some design made for me but sometimes I need to change something in the design or I want to “boilerplate” the design.
Sometimes I get some elements made and then make multiple designs out of it.
And sometimes I simply can make it faster or better than hiring it out.
I can do this because I took the time to learn how to use the programs ( and I seriously couldn’t do anything when I first started ).
If you can’t do the basics, you will find that you will have a hard time with Merch.
Now For The Merch Designs
Now that you are able to function on the Merch platform and can handle the files/designs, now you need to learn how to actually put up designs that sell.
Once again, this is where people fail.
If your game plan is to copy all the best selling designs, you WILL fail or not have an account long.
“But everyone is doing it”
Yeah, I know. Heck I use to do it when I first started. ( Merch was a whole lot easier back then and a lot less regulated)
So what do I suggest?
Well there is one expert I have followed, Michael Essek.
He is some British dude that has been killing it on Merch and knows a whole lot more than I do, so that is what I am looking for.
Successful sellers and people know more than me that I can learn from.
Business ( and life) advice: If you are the smartest guy in the room, then you are in the wrong room.
Michael has a couple of books that will help you learn to be a better Merch seller.
He has a private Facebook group as part the package ( remember, avoid the crowds of the big, free Facebook groups) and you can usually find him on some Merch podcasts.
Another resource ( and I consider this a little more on the advanced side) is a new “newsletter” from a Merch guru call Michael Essany.
This comes out each Monday and is only $10 a month.
The ideas you get here are really outside the box and timely. Every time I read it I have that OMG moment and it really sparks the ideas in me.
Other Merch Tools
The number one service I use is Merchantwords. I use it daily to find the search volume on Amazon. It is $30 a month but if you Google, you can always find a code for $9 a month.
I saw the owner George Lawrence speak a couple years back at a conference and it has made a massive difference in my Merch sales.
( One thing I beg you not to do is keyword stuff. It doesn’t really do anything except confuse the Amazon algorithm )
I like to use this site to check the competition out. ( Merchinformer)
It is free and gives be a better idea of what I am up against.
To really super charge this, use the Chrome browser and add this extension, DS Amazon Quick View
This will show you all the sales ranks of the search results from Merchinformer
And finally you need a system to rank your shirts/get your first sale to keep them live.
I personally like to price a regular shirt at $14.99 ( $16.99 for premium) to get the first sale and then raise the price once it live. ( sometimes I will leave it for awhile to built the rank)
I use another Chrome extension to handle this called MerchTools.
If you go to the Quick editor in it, you can sort shirts.
I sort via the price, so when I look at the $14.99 shirts, if I see a green checkmark, I will edit the price up ( I know that that shirt is “live” ( it has made at least 1 sale). This makes it very easy to use this system.
Merch is a great business to get into but most people think it is just easy money. Many just jump in and fail because they don’t take the time to educate themselves ( and definitely are afraid to invest in knowledge)
I to a different approach to Merch and it has paid off for me.
To sum it up referring to the post title, the quickest way to become successful at Merch is to do it right at first and educate yourself.
I will leave leave you with this.
I use to work in a steel mill before it shutdown. I was trying to work 30 years so I could a pension. ( and it really sucked working there)
I was able to make a passive monthly income from Merch in less than 1 year that more than surpassed what I would have gotten for 30 years of working in the steel mill!