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Merch By Amazon: Starting Over in Month #4

Hi everyone!  I hope that you had a nice Thanksgiving and that you’re seeing extra FBA sales this time of the year.

Lately, my daily routine consists of sourcing & shipping with a little Merch mixed in.  In this post, I’ll go over my Merch business.  I lost designs, had 6 sales in one day and even made my own shirt from start to finish in 4 days!

Both Amazon FBA and Merch by Amazon have kept me busy and I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow multiple streams of income while working at home.

Amazon Removing Designs

Due to Amazon’s new policy of removing designs that haven’t sold in the first 60 days, I had 10 designs removed and 7 are about to be removed.

removal-report

A peek at my Manage Products report.

Of course it’s not great to lose designs.  But it’s not the end of the world either and it was actually the kick that I needed to get going with Merch again.

Merch Sales

I have 15 sales from real customers.  I purchased 9 shirts for gifts or for testing purposes.

Three designs are doing well.

Three designs are doing well.

For the first shirt shown, all 6 sales happened on the same day.  Looks like someone purchased them for a group.  I’m glad that they did as it saved the shirt from being removed.

The last shirt listed isn’t “live” yet.  It’s my first design and I purchased it to see first-hand if I have the text placement and font sizes right.

New Merch Motivation

As most of you know, I outsourced my first set of designs with VA Rentals.  Then once I received all of my designs and had them uploaded, I did practically nothing with Merch and focused most of my time on Amazon FBA.

However, last week my mindset changed and I’ve been spending my afternoons and evenings working on Merch.  Don’t worry, I’m still shopping for inventory.

Empty Walmart Aisles on BF

Empty Walmart toy aisles on Black Friday

But what changed my mindset to become more Merch-Oriented are 3 things:

  1. I received a nasty-gram from a person telling me to get off a listing because I’m not authorized to sell it.  Though this person isn’t in charge of what I can or can’t sell, it did remind me that Amazon can restrict our ability to sell specific ASINs or specific brands.  Amazon can even suspend our account too!  I sure don’t want to put all of my eggs in the Amazon FBA Basket.
  2. Merch is a fantastic opportunity to make money and it’s a very low-cost business.  There’s no inventory to buy!  Plus it seems silly to have open slots in my account due to the removals.
  3. I accepted an offer for a free Merch Informer account so I figured that I better use the software.  I’m very impressed with the developers Neil & Todor as they are earning almost $8000 a month in Merch profits.  You can read about them in this CNBC interview.  What’s neat about their success is that they didn’t start out on Merch with years of t-shirt design experience.  In the interview, Neil said he’s not a designer and could barely use Photoshop.  I can relate to that!

First T-Shirt Design

My Merch Informer account was opened on Nov 17 and I started my design research.  I punched in “cockatiel” and found a t-shirt with a cartoon-cockatiel wearing a Santa hat.  It’s ranked pretty well and I’m assuming that cockatiel-lovers are buying it since it’s Christmas time.

Since there aren’t many holiday-themed cockatiel shirts, I wanted to make one too.  But since I’m not a copycat, I decided to make my own unique design by using a real bird instead of a cartoon bird.

I figured that since I have a picture of my first cockatiel Eddy wearing a Santa hat, this would be an easy project.

Cockatiel with Santa hat

It’s not a real hat, it’s clipart.

Unfortunately, my Photoshop skills aren’t quite there yet and making that into a Merch t-shirt is too advanced for me.  That’s a project for next year.

So I went back to Merch Informer and quickly came up with another design idea.  This is a text-phrase targeted towards a specific niche and that people are buying.  To give it my own twist, I replaced one of the main words and added a sentence on the bottom.

I then started teaching myself Photoshop and a few days later, I had a text-based design finished and uploaded to my Merch account.  It was approved instantly.

As mentioned earlier, I bought the shirt to see how the text looks on it.  It does look funny so I made a few changes.  I’ll be uploading my improved design today.  Once that’s finished, I have 3 more design ideas in the pipeline.

General Overview of the Design Process

Here’s what I did to get a design up so quickly:

Get Design Ideas: I’m viewing designs the same way as I look at Amazon FBA Inventory.  I want designs with low-competition and low-rankings.  Merch Informer is a great tool for helping with that.

Check for Trademarks: Once I find a word or phrase that I want to use, I check to make sure that it’s not trademarked.  I do this by going to Trademarkia.  Merch Informer has a direct link to Trademarkia for the search term that you’re interested in.  Before using Merch Informer, I was using USPTO to check for trademarks.

Start Designing: This is the tough one for me as I’m just learning Photoshop.  However, with the two Udemy courses that I have, I was able to learn enough to make a basic text-only design.

Don’t be a Copycat!  Don’t risk losing your Merch account by copying someone else’s design.  Rather, find a low competition niche or design that’s selling.  Then use that as a starting point for your own original design.

Outsourcing: I want to learn enough Photoshop so that I can quickly make simple text-only designs or designs with one image.  But I also plan on using VA Rentals again to create designs from my ideas.  At $4.00 to $5.00 each, this will be an affordable way to get my design ideas up quickly while I learn Photoshop.

Action Plan: To take my design idea and design it in Photoshop on my own.  If I can make a decent looking t-shirt design, I’ll use it.  If not, then I’ll outsource the job to VA Rentals.

Merch Resources and Images

I created a Merch Resource Page that will list my Merch blog posts and the tools and services that I use.  At this time, I don’t have any recommendations for where to get low-cost images that are licensed for t-shirts.  I found sites that sell extended licenses but each image is $30 and up and that’s not in my budget.  If you have any recommendations, please share below or on my Facebook page!

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Ree Klein November 29, 2016, 12:37 am

    Congratulations on the sales, Diana! I have seven designs up and after a couple weeks I have NO sales! I even did some promoting on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram but zip, nada, nothing.

    I’m not giving up though because I agree with you that Merch is a cost-effective way to try generating revenue and, like anything, it takes commitment and determination to build success.

    I’ll have to check out the tool you mention. It sounds interesting!

    Reply
  • Diana November 29, 2016, 2:56 am

    Hi Ree,

    Even if you haven’t had any sales for a couple of weeks, it can happen at any time! My 6-shirt sale came practically at the last minute before Amazon was going to remove it.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how you’re doing with Merch in the upcoming weeks! As always, thanks for commenting!

    Diana

    Reply
  • Kim November 29, 2016, 11:50 pm

    Great post! I’d like to start Merch but I am waiting for them to approve me. How did you handle that nasty-gram? I’ll be starting FBA in 2017 and I see a lot of sellers getting those messages lately. Some are even getting suspended. Makes me worried before even starting!

    Reply
    • Diana December 2, 2016, 12:05 am

      Hi Kim,
      For that person that sent me the nasty-gram, I had only one left in stock and it actually sold shortly after I received the message. So, I just marked “no response needed” in Seller Central. The person that wrote the email also wanted me to write him and answer all these questions, but I didn’t and haven’t heard from him since.

      A few months ago, I received a similar email and I contacted Seller Support to see what to do. They said that I could continue selling the product.

      Amazon is really the one that tells us what we can and cannot sell, but receiving those emails is scary.

      Good luck with FBA and let me know if you have any questions on it and I hope you get approved in Merch soon.

      Diana

      Reply

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About Diana


I am working towards creating a full-time income by selling on Amazon. It's a lot of work but very fun! If you're interested in selling on Amazon, be sure to follow my blog as I'll be providing you with lots of tips!

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