September 22, 2023
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Amazon Merch on Demand, also known as Amazon Merch, Merch by Amazon, and MoD, 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 encountered several tales of riches, so I wanted to try. Moreover, I didn’t want to miss out if people make over “$150,000” annually from selling print-on-demand clothing.
Amazon Merch on Demand Overview
Merch on Demand is Amazon’s print-on-demand (POD) apparel and product division. Individuals can sell designs on the world’s largest marketplace without upfront investment or costs. Product formats include the following:
- Women’s v-neck t-shirt
- Baseball t-shirt
- Long-sleeve t-shirt
- Crewneck sweatshirt
- Pullover hoodie
- Zip hoodie
- Throw pillow
- Phone case
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 extra cost. Merch is available in the US, UK, and German markets.
Applying to Merch on Demand
Merch on Demand 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, with no rhyme or reason for Amazon’s decisions. On the other hand, I’ve been on Amazon for years selling books, so perhaps a little marketplace equity helped me 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.
MoD limits the number of new products you submit daily; for example, mine is one. In addition, different tiers have publishing limitations.
My Amazon Merch Experiment
Step One: Create
Upon the approval of my account, I created ten designs. Next, 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. Instead, 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). Then, 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. Then, 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 on Demand for the following reasons.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical to product ranking and visibility. I can influence SEO significantly when self-publishing books on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). On MoD, I can’t. For example, I’m limited to merchandise titles like “Funny Beer T-Shirt.” Additionally, I can’t control meta descriptions or add keywords.
If a product has had at least one sale in the previous 180 days, it can remain in the marketplace. However, Amazon will pull products that haven’t sold within the first 180 days of publication. I’m not fond of that policy because it’s discouraging and counterproductive. Content creators can relist their products, but instead of making it easy, for example, by 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 on Merch). If we all post our maximums simultaneously, there will be 5,000 listings. Customers will purchase our goods occasionally, but not enough for all of us to make thousands of dollars monthly.
MoD could shut down because the POD market is highly competitive and saturated, and Amazon doesn’t need it. Also, POD marketplaces compete with millions of regular online and offline stores.
You might think 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 such as Zazzle and CafePress have existed for years. Therefore, Amazon’s entry into the market was a tad late. Secondly, some POD sites have extensive product listings, including pillows, blankets, mugs, key racks, phone cases, and wall decals. By comparison, Merch is quite limited in its product offerings.
Whether you sell on one site or many, there are tools to support your POD business.
Printify is a print-on-demand platform that makes it dead simple to work with multiple print providers worldwide. 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 decor, and living items for online businesses. It’s free to set up and doesn’t include monthly fees or minimum order requirements. It integrates with Amazon, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, and many other platforms.
Multisite Selling Strategy
Merch should be one of the many platforms you use to improve your sales prospects. Since it doesn’t require exclusivity, you can simultaneously sell on other POD websites. For example, 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, Instagram, and TikTok. Some creators even sell offline, which is another option.
Combining Amazon Merch on Demand with other platforms could produce excellent results and profits. Case in point: Crazy Dog T-Shirts has a Shopify store and sells on Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. It also has an affiliate program to increase its marketing and sales reach.
MoD + 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.
Making five figures per month is highly unlikely on Merch alone. Creators who claim they make 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 or partner with influencers and marketers who will promote your goods or designs. It can also work with a multisite selling strategy, i.e., more people will see your products, leading to more sales.
I recommend starting your Amazon Merch experiment with an income goal of $100 to $250 monthly with the possibility of earning more. Learn more about starting an online t-shirt business.
Frequently Ask Questions
MoD 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 MoD.