Trying New Things: Merch by Amazon

I scrolled through the Medium app on my phone and ran across an article that piqued my interest. It reviewed the author’s experience with selling on Merch by Amazon.

Anyone who isn’t familiar with this is a platform that allows sellers to market their own designs through Amazon. Similar to websites like Etsy, Redbubble, TeeSpring, and Zazzle, you can upload your own creation and have it printed on several different products.

The process is called Print On Demand, and it makes everything so much easier for the seller.

Because you don’t need to purchase materials or manage inventory, or ship products to a warehouse to be held for sale.

The print on demand platform does all of this work for you.


What’s Involved With Print on Demand?

Each platform has its own set of rules, but there are some main similarities. You follow their specific criteria when creating your designs, upload them to the site, and then they take care of the rest.

If a buyer on their website selects a product with your design, the site handles payment collection, printing, and shipping out to the customer.

This entire concept just sounded so interesting to me. You develop a few creative ideas, place them strategically on a t-shirt, and then start making money. What’s easier than that?

Well, we will see how true that statement is. Because after some further research, I decided to go ahead and pursue this Side Jam. 

And I will be making regular updates on my blog so you can all come along for the ride!

I love learning new skills, especially when they are web or tech-related.

There’s something about taking an idea and making it come alive on the computer screen that gives me tingles.

And although this is something that’s still quite new to me, here are the steps I’ve been taking to get started with the Merch by Amazon program.

Step 1 – Get Approved

You first need to be approved to get started with the Merch by Amazon program.

When Merch by Amazon was first rolled out in 2015, sellers were initially put on a waiting list. I read online that it could take several months to even be approved for the program.

Thankfully, that is no longer the case. But you do need to answer a few questions for the Merch team to evaluate your eligibility as a seller.

The questions consist of basic info about yourself/your business and any helpful education or background info to show your potential as a Merch seller.

I feel like this part is the most important since I’ve read many articles online where the Merch team has rejected people. Like several times. I suppose it could go in ebbs and flows, but the more positives you have to offer, the better off you probably are.

My Merch by Amazon Application 

Honestly, I have no graphic design experience. But what I do have is the willingness to learn and a pre-existing online presence.

I believe what helped me get approved is that I’m already an approved Amazon Affiliate (maybe), and also because I have two websites up and running.

I specifically mentioned my sites as a potential vehicle to sell Merch products. But who knows, it could be I just got lucky.

I submitted my application on December 27th. I figured while waiting for approval; I’d do more research on the process to be fully prepared once approved.

It turns out my approval came in on January 4th, which was sooner than anticipated. While that was a happy surprise, I felt the need to get cranking.

Luckily, I already had a few design topics in mind. If you’ve read other articles on my site, you probably noticed I have a “thing” for English Bulldogs. I have a separate website specifically for the bulldog breed.

That site is still in a growing phase, but I plan to make it a mainly passive niche site for bulldog-specific information. So using that site to display my bulldog t-shirt designs seemed like a logical place to go.

In addition, I had a few ideas in mind for text to put on quirky t-shirts. I compiled a list of ideas to use for the shirts, so I immediately got started with my newly approved Merch by Amazon account.

Step 2 – Figure Out What I’m Doing

So now that I was approved as a Merch by Amazon seller and had a few ideas in mind — the next step was to list something.

When you’re approved for the Merch by Amazon program, you are initially allowed a total of 10 product listings. In addition, you can only publish one product per day.

The Amazon team reviews all product submissions for specific criteria such as quality, adherence to technical requirements, and legal compliance.

Design images need to follow specific size requirements to display on each clothing item correctly (whether it’s a t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, or hoodie.)

And there are also legal requirements to make sure you are not infringing on someone else’s copyright, trademark, or using questionable language or content.

And then there’s also the basic quality control of spelling words correctly and making sure your design looks decent on the shirt.

The Merch team will review each submission before it goes live on the Amazon site. Therefore, it’s important to know all of the rules so your design doesn’t get rejected.

You want to make sure you take full advantage of your available submissions to start making a profit and tier up to the next level.

And in case you are interested, here are the product listings that I currently have live on Merch by Amazon:


Tiering Up

As mentioned above, you only start with ten listings and can only publish one per day.

That’s because Amazon wants to make sure you submit quality designs before flooding their site with hundreds of not-so-great product listings.

As a Merch by Amazon seller, you will be reviewed for advancement to the next level once you have made ten successful sales.

The next tier will give you a total of 25 submissions, allowing you to publish up to 3 listings per day.

At that point, you’ll need to make 15 more sales (for a total of 25, including your first 10) to tier up again.

The next level will allow you 100 listings at a time. And that’s usually where you can start to gain some momentum.

Because (as you know) Amazon is a huge marketplace, which can be both a blessing and a curse. There are so many potential customers shopping on a constant basis and a huge amount of competition from other sellers.

Step 3 – Fine-tune My Strategy, Researching Keywords and Trends

This next step will be a work in progress since I’ve just started this journey selling through Merch.

Like many other selling platforms, Amazon makes significant use of its search capabilities. So think about it — when you log onto Amazon as a consumer, what’s the first thing you do? I’m guessing you go right up to that search bar and type in the type of product you’re looking for.

What does this mean when you’re a seller? First, it means you need to know what your audience is searching for to convert them into buyers.

Like Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you can do keyword research on what people are searching for on Amazon.

Some sellers do well following social trends based on recent events. But it would be best if you jumped on those ideas before someone else does & the market gets saturated.

Other sellers put a super-narrow focus on niche topics, knowing they’d be one of very few sellers offering that type of merchandise. Again, there is never a right or wrong answer here, as long as you do your homework.

As I mentioned, I’m currently focusing on English Bulldogs and quirky introvert t-shirts.

Because those two topics are of interest to me, I know many others who might be interested in those products. But only time will tell. And once I reach a higher tier level, I should have the luxury of trying different ideas.

Because when it all comes down to it, these experiences are all experiments of sorts.

Trial and error, learning by doing, and all that good stuff. Some ideas may work, while others won’t — but it’s all part of the learning process.