The Complete Step by Step Guide for Merch by Amazon in 2018

What Is Merch by Amazon?

Merch by Amazon started in 2015 as a way for Amazon to attract app developers to their vast ecosystem by allowing these developers to design, and upload branded t-shirts to Amazon’s marketplace that are then sold, produced, and shipped by Amazon.

You collect a commission for every single sale with no worries of customer service, upfront costs, or returns as Amazon handles everything for you…It’s the ultimate Print on Demand opportunity for just about anyone!

Merch by Amazon quickly attracted people far and wide from completely different markets, professions, and avenues and continues to grow at a rapid pace. The demand for Merch by Amazon exceeded Amazon’s expectations which brought many challenges to the platform and pushed them to move to “Application Only” which is where it remains as of now.

If you haven’t signed up for an account, keep reading and follow the instructions below to give yourself the best chance of being accepted as quickly as possible. The wait to get accepted into the platform may be long, but the opportunity is well worth it.

What is the potential of Merch by Amazon?

This is one of the best passive income opportunities I’ve seen in a very long time, and to give you some insight into the potential of this platform I reached out to a current Merch by Amazon content creator to see if it was okay to share her recent success story with you. Here’s Kim’s story.

Kim Jensen and her daughter were accepted into the Merch by Amazon platform in 2016 and started uploading t-shirt designs. They were earning about $40 – $80 per month early on which was enough money for them to justify uploading more designs as It is a free platform after all.

Skipping ahead a bit, they really hit it BIG in 2017 when Kim was doing research and saw that there was a solar eclipse coming up that summer…

They took advantage of the solar eclipse trend and created 5 different t-shirts designs, and uploaded them to Merch by Amazon. By April 2017 the eclipse t-shirts started selling and they earned about $600 that month. The amazing part is that these solar eclipse t-shirts kept snowballing all summer long, and during the last two weeks leading up to the solar eclipse event in August Kim was earning over $40,000+ dollars per week in royalties.

If that story doesn’t excite you about the potential of Merch by Amazon I don’t know what will!

How to Apply for a Merch by Amazon Account

The first thing you want to do is go over to merch.amazon.com. You’ll see a page that looks like this:

Merch by Amazon Signup Page

Click on the “Request Invitation” button, and you’ll be prompted to sign in or create an Amazon account. Go ahead and do that.

Click “Agree” on the Terms of Service, and then you’ll be presented with the application page.

Now, in order to improve your chances of being accepted into Merch by Amazon as quickly as possible I recommend you take the time to fully fill this application out…
Don’t leave any stone unturned!

Make sure you include your Name or a Business Name.

Include a Website or a link to your portfolio such as RedBubble (create an account and upload a few designs before you apply for Merch if you don’t have an existing website to use).

Fill out the Additional Information field explaining how excited you are to bring your unique design skills, expertise, and knowledge to the Merch by Amazon platform.

Again, make sure you take the time to craft a good message here and show that you have design experience and that you care (you’ll have experience soon enough). It’s vital in making sure your application stands out.

You can refer to the image below for inspiration on your application.

Merch by Amazon Application Example

When you finish filling out the application form go ahead and click the “Send Request” button. You’ll see a page that looks like this:

Merch by Amazon Application Successfully Sent

Now that the application process is over you’ll have to wait to be accepted. You’ll receive an email when that day comes.
I’ve had several friends follow this process of applying and most of their accounts were approved within 3 months. However, there’s no guarantee on how long it will take for your application to be approved.

What can I do while I wait for my Merch by Amazon account to be approved?

I recommend you read the rest of this guide, get familiar with the design templates, Photoshop, Illustrator, or Gimp. Learn how to do proper product and keyword research and even create and upload some designs to other Print on Demand platforms to get the hang of things. You could earn a bit of money while getting the necessary experience.

Understanding the Merch by Amazon Dashboard

Now that you have access to a Merch by Amazon account you can login and get familiar with the Dashboard. The Dashboard is the basic landing page you’ll see by default each time you log in.

You’ll be presented with a menu (dashboard, create, manage, and analyze), as well as recently uploaded products, sales data for the previous 7 days, and recent updates from the Merch team as shown below.

Merch by Amazon - Inside Dashboard

In the menu you have a couple different options:

Create

This is where you go to upload a design. After uploading a design, you can then choose where that design is placed (front or back of t-shirt), as well as the product type.

Merch by Amazon - Create T-Shirt

After you upload the design, and choose the product type you’ll click “Save selection and continue”.

On the next page you’ll be presented with various options to configure your product such as fit type (Men, Women, and Youth), t-shirt colors (you can pick up to 5 colors), list price and estimated royalties.

Merch by Amazon - Configure Product

Once you have fully configured your product you’ll click the “Save selection and continue” button to move onto the next page.

This is the Product Details page, and it is one of the most important pages in determining how and where your product finds its positioning on Amazon.

In order for your product to do well you’ll want to put it in front of the right people (niche) on Amazon thus you’ll want to study and learn how to optimize listings for the right keywords (which I’ll talk about in more depth here on Merch Titans).

You’ll want to fill this page out in full detail as shown in the image below.

Merch by Amazon - Product Details Page

You have the Brand name, Title of product, List price, Key product features, and Product description. Each of these are important.

To keep things simple. A general rule of thumb you should follow when writing your product details is to include your primary keyword in the “Brand”, “Title”, and both the “Product Features” fields.

Why?

Because it gives Amazon the necessary data to place your shirt (design) where you want it positioned on the vast Amazon ecosystem. The more specific the data, the better.

As you can see in the image above my primary keyword is “Merch Titans” and it’s included in these 4 fields. I recommend you do the same when optimizing your product listings.

Now… the Product description field is optional and Merch by Amazon as of right now does not put much weight on this field in determining how well your product will rank for it’s primary keyword. I have heard the description influences product ranks on mobile. You can ignore this field if you wish, but the more data Amazon has specific to your product, the better.

Optimizing and properly writing out your Product details page is perhaps the most important step of the entire upload process outside of the design itself, and should be done thoughtfully and strategically.

We’ll jump into how to find product ideas and good keywords a bit later to really give you a full understanding.

A few more things to note…

As a new Merch by Amazon user there are a few things you’ll want to be aware of. They work on a “tiered” structure, and they have “upload limits” in place… What does this mean?

Well, with a new account you’ll start at the 10 tier and be limited to 1 upload per day up to a max of 10 total designs on your account. As you tier up you’ll be given more slots and allowed more uploads per day.

How do I tier up?

You can tier up by selling as many products as the tier level you are on. If you are at the 10 tier you’ll need to achieve 10+ sales to be eligible for a tier up when Amazon ultimately decides to send out a wave of tier ups.

How many tiers are there?

As of right now the tier levels and daily uploads limits per tier are:

  • 10 – 1 upload per day.
  • 25 – 2 uploads per day.
  • 100 – 5 uploads per day.
  • 500 – 10 uploads per day.
  • 1000 – 20 uploads per day.
  • 2000 – 40 uploads per day.
  • 4000 – 80 uploads per day.
  • 8000 – 160 uploads per day.
  • 8000+ (Pro – Invite Only)

Now that you understand tiers, tier structure, and upload limits, let’s go over one more aspect of Merch.

They have a 90-day rule on all designs uploaded…

What does this mean?

If you don’t generate a sale on a new design (product) within 90 days of it being uploaded it will be removed automatically.

Honestly, this is a good thing… It clears up more space for you. You can always reupload your design with a better optimized listing, or use the extra slot to upload a better design.

Managing Designs

Managing your Merch by Amazon designs is quite simple. You can find all your uploaded designs under the “Manage” tab.

You have the ability to search for designs or filter designs by status as well. You can also edit, or delete a live design by clicking on the “Actions” button.

Merch by Amazon - Manage Designs Page

That’s about all you need to know in regards to managing your uploaded designs on Merch by Amazon. It’s quite simple and straight forward.

Analyze

The Analyze tab is where you can check sales data, earnings, cancellations, and more. You can select a date within a 90-day range to view all t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, hoodies, and sweatshirt sales in that time period, and have them nicely laid out for you.
You can also download a CSV file of this data.

Getting Started: Researching Design Ideas & Keywords

Now that you understand your Merch by Amazon dashboard, account, and how to properly upload designs and optimize your listings for your primary keyword we can move on to the good stuff.

I’ll show you how to find design ideas and inspiration along with the right keywords to use in your listing.

In this section I want to cover a couple of websites in which you can find a trove of design ideas and gather inspiration from such as Pinterest, Amazon, and Google search.

I’ll also show you how to do simple keyword research. Now, if you’re really looking to ramp up your Merch by Amazon game I recommend you get a Merch Titans membership and use our suite of tools inside. It will make everything so much easier and quicker for you.

Finding Design Ideas & Inspiration

The best way to quickly find design ideas and inspiration is to have a general idea in mind already. You surely have a passion and interest that you know more about than the average person… I recommend you make that your starting point.

I’ll explain this process for you using one of my own interests as an example.

I enjoy Basketball. I played it my entire life competitively, and I understand the lingo, I see what t-shirts or tank tops people spend their money on and wear to the gym. I understand the words used to reference aspects of the game such as “Paint” “Free Throws” “3 Pointers” “Jump Shot” “Layup”, and the words people use in the game such as “Pick Left”, “Pick Right”, “Flare”, “Foul”, ect…

I can say with confidence that I know more about basketball than the average person so I’ll make that my starting point to look for design ideas.

This gives me an advantage as I know what interests people about this niche.

The first place I recommend you start is using the full Product Search feature inside Merch Titans, but if you don’t have a membership, let’s start with Pinterest and Amazon.

Using Pinterest & Amazon to find Product Design Ideas & Inspiration

Pinterest can be a treasure trove full of pinned t-shirts from various different sources. You can use Pinterest to find more ideas than you know what to do with, and then run a search query on Amazon to see what exists.

I’ll stick to my example as previously explained. Go to Pinterest.com, and do a search. I’ll start with a basic search such as “Basketball shirts”, and see what I come up with. Instantly I see so many shirts that get my creative juices flowing. However, I’ll keep this simple, and focus on just one design.

Merch by Amazon - Pinterest Product Research

I see a “It’s in my DNA” t-shirt with a thumbprint of a basketball. That shirt stood out to me, and I actually like the design. I’ll use that shirt as inspiration, take the keyword “It’s in my DNA” and dig a little deeper.

Now, go to Amazon.com and do a search with that keyword, but here’s the catch. Don’t click enter on the search query just yet…
Let Amazon show you the “Suggested / Autocomplete” keywords that are most commonly searched for by other consumers.

Why?

Because you can use these keywords to generate even more ideas and inspiration, and they’re usually a bit more long-tail and buyer keywords.

I primarily try to stick to autocomplete keywords with some added research to use in most of my personal product listings, and I do quite well.

Here are the autocomplete results from Amazon for “It’s in my DNA”:

Amazon Autocomplete Research

As you can see one of the first autocomplete keywords is a long-tail basketball related buyer keyword which is perfect.

Now, it’s also important to recognize the other keywords being suggested on this list. I can take my one design idea (basketball thumbprint with the text “It’s In My DNA”), and also make it for football, soccer, baseball, and softball, and I see that enough people are searching for it to appear as an autosuggested option.

One product idea can quickly turn into multiple product ideas if you use Amazon to gauge what people are searching for…

Again, sticking to the “It’s In My DNA” basketball shirt idea I found from Pinterest I’m going to see what currently exists on Amazon, so I’ll click the “It’s in my dna basketball shirt” autosuggested keyword.

Once the results are loaded, I filter down even further to see what already exists in the Merch by Amazon space by clicking on the “Novelty & More” category on the left-hand side, and then refine the search by “prime” only, and “Sold by Amazon”.

Here are the results:

Amazon Autocomplete Research

Once the results are loaded you’ll want to first recognize how much competition exists for this product idea. As you can see from the image there are a total of 57 results for this keyword under the Novelty & More category.

It’s low competition, and I can see that a few of the shirts are getting sales too because they have a BSR (more on this later).

Secondly, it’s important to know if you or your designer can create a better, and more unique design to present the marketplace with before you start your design process.

Another thing you always want to remember is to always check your idea for “trademarks” before you ever put any time into creating a design.

I’ll get into trademark safety in another post, but it’s quite easy to check the safety of a phrase using the trademark search from Trademarkia or the official USPTO.gov websites.

Using Trademarkia you can see the “Its in my DNA” phrase isn’t trademarked, and it’s okay to use.

Trademark Safety checked with Trademarkia

And there you have it…

The product research method above can be rinsed and repeated as much as you like until you find design idea(s) that interests you.

We offer a free Merch by Amazon product research tool that will automatically sort the top 20 best-selling t-shirts (products)in the Merch by Amazon space for any keyword you enter and give you estimated sales data! You can find it here.

Let’s recap:

Use Pinterest, Google Search, and/or Amazon to find design ideas.
Check trademark safety on design idea.
Check Amazon’s “Autosuggested Keywords” to see what pops up (if anything).
Check the existing competition & demand on Amazon.
If your idea has high or medium demand with low competition – create the design, and upload to Merch by Amazon.

Understanding Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank (BSR)

The Best Sellers Rank which is also referenced as “BSR” is perhaps the most important piece of data Amazon gives us in determining if a product is selling, and it also gives us a general idea of how well a product is selling. This information is super valuable…

If a product has a Best Sellers Rank on Amazon it means that it has received at least one sale. If it has no BSR it has not received a sale at all.

The lower Best Sellers Rank a product has the more sales it’s receiving on a daily/monthly basis.

If sales slow down for a product the Best Sellers Rank will start going up.

In simpler terms:
Low BSR = More Sales
High BSR = Less Sales
No BSR = Never Received a Sale

The Best Sellers Rank is always fluctuating based on the categories a product is in, and how well all the products in the entire market/niche are selling collectively.

How can I find the BSR of a product on Amazon?

You can easily find the BSR of any product on Amazon by first finding and opening a product, and then scrolling down to the “Product Description” section. The BSR will be included there as shown in the image below:

How to Check Product BSR On Amazon

A good rule of thumb when creating Merch by Amazon shirts is to avoid HIGH competition, and LOW demand. You can do that while doing your research and sticking to ideas that are in the 300K – 550K BSR range to use as a model for inspiration, keyword ideas, and ultimately to create a better design.

I try to stick to this BSR range myself, especially when jumping into new niches and it has served me well. It should serve you well too if you follow it.

Understanding Keywords & Keyword Research

I touched on keywords earlier for a brief moment, but this concept needs a section of its own. Keywords are very important in determining how and where your product is positioned on Amazon, Google, and other search engines too.

The more you understand how Amazon ranks products by keywords (and other metrics), the quicker you’re going to start seeing Merch by Amazon sales.

It’s important to do proper “Keyword Research” to determine if a keyword is actually searched for by consumers, if it’s a “buyer related” keyword, and if it has enough “search volume” to make it worth using on one of your design listings as a “primary keyword”.

I’ll explain each of these to you and show you how to conduct basic keyword research so that you can better understand how to make the most out of your Merch by Amazon opportunity.

Let’s go back to the “It’s in my DNA” example I used earlier. My t-shirt idea revolves around this phrase so naturally I want to see if that’s the primary keyword I should use to optimize my Merch by Amazon listing.

Now that I have a basic keyword in mind that I know already has some demand and is being searched enough by consumers to appear as an “autosuggested keyword” on Amazon, I’m going to dig deeper and look at the search volume for this keyword, and others related to it.

How can I find search volume for a keyword?

There are various different ways to do this through paid services and free services. The data usually comes from Google Adwords anyway, and fortunately it is free to use.

Now to check the search volume for my keyword. Go to Google Adwords Keyword Planner, sign in and click the “Start Using Keyword Planner” button, and then click the “Get search volume data and trends” button as shown below:

Get Started With Google Adwords Keyword Planner for Merch by Amazon Keyword Research

You’ll be presented with a page that lets you input keywords, and adjust targeting filters. I recommend you keep the default filters. Also, this is a good time to put any keyword that comes to mind that is similar to the primary keyword into the tool to get more data.

Make sure you place ALL the “autosuggested keywords” from Amazon into this tool too. You can get many ideas this way and start to see what keywords are being searched for on Google the most.

How to Check Product BSR On Amazon

Now click on “Get search volume” to see how many searches each keyword is receiving.

How to Check Product BSR On Amazon

As you can see the average monthly searches for “Its in my dna shirt” Is in the 100 – 1000 range, but the more specific keyword to my design “Its in my dna basketball shirt” doesn’t have any search volume.

Keep in mind that this search volume is related to Google (not Amazon), but in general, buyer related keywords are searched about x2 – x3 more times on Amazon than Google.
Even if I use the long-tail buyer keyword “Its in my dna basketball shirt” I’ll still rank for “Its in my dna shirt” which receives 100 – 1000 searches per month on Google, meaning it probably receives closer to 2000 – 3000+ on Amazon.

Anyway, that’s a quick run-down on how to do keyword research for Merch by Amazon, and how you can find search volume and competition for keywords using Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

If you are looking to learn more about keyword research be sure to check out the various different educational resources online by doing a Google or YouTube search. I’ll expand on this further with in-depth blog posts and videos.

You can rinse and repeat the above method until you find product ideas and keywords that are worth pursuing further.

Merch by Amazon Designs Resources

In order to benefit from all your research and new product ideas you’ll need to know how to create a design, or have a designer that can do it for you. I’m not going to teach you how to create a design or how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, or GIMP in this post as that’s a lengthy process and there’s an unlimited amount of free resources that you can find on YouTube and Google, but I will explain a few things and show you a few valuable resources to get you pointed in the right direction.

Understanding Vector Files & Fonts

Vector files are images that can be scaled to any resolutions without losing quality. They are ideal for creating quick high-quality designs on Merch by Amazon. You can use these files to spice up your text based designs (or any design really) with an image quickly and easily.

Let’s assume you found a good design idea for St. Patrick’s Day, and you needed a nice Font (typeface) and a Clover or a Top Hat graphic. You could go to one of the vector websites below, run a “St. Patrick’s Day” search, find a vector file that has a top hat and a clover, check the licensing rights (if okay to use commercially), download it, and use the different graphical elements on your design.

How to use free Pics for Merch by Amazon Shirts

Free Vector File Resources
FreePik
Vector4Free
OpenClipArt

In order to open AI files (vector files), you’ll need Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator. If you don’t have Photoshop or Illustrator you can install GIMP and Inkscape, open the vector file in Inkscape first and then Import it into GIMP. It’s free this way and should save you some money.

This sums up using vector files in your designs. If you need to know more I recommend that you search YouTube and Google for design tutorials. If you apply a few small tutorials per day consistently you’ll learn enough about design to create designs that will sell in no time!

You can find a huge list of free fonts (typefaces) that you can install and use. Again, make sure you check the licensing rights / copyrights before freely using these fonts on your designs.

Free Font Resources
DaFont
Fontspace
1001FreeFonts

Wrapping Up

There you go! This guide should give you enough information to understand the basics surrounding Merch by Amazon. If you followed this guide from start to finish you’ll be equipped with enough information and resources to hit the ground running when you are approved for a Merch account.

Merch by Amazon is one of the greatest hassle free passive income opportunities I’ve seen in a long time. I recommend you roll up your sleeves, continue to learn, and stay consistent with your uploads each day. If you do these things you’ll be creating a viable passive income stream in no time.

Subscribe to our newsletter and bookmark this blog! I’ll be writing and creating many in-depth guides and videos that will show you various different strategies that you can use in unison with Merch Titans to truly take your Merch game to the next level!

If you have any questions please let me know in the comments section below.

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Comments 30

Add Comment
Lacy Holm

I’m new to Amazon Merch and this was a very helpful guide.
Thank you! 🙂

Joshua

I just got approved last week on Merch, and this article is just a LIFESAVER

But, there is something that I don’t see covered, what about the Tax information? I had really big time trying to figure this out on my own

Thank you and keep up the good work guys!

    Joshua

    P.S: An off-topic question, How much time do you needed to get your first sale? I got 5 designs up so far but unfortunately no sale yet ( I know there is no certain rule, I was wondering if there are people with 10 designs which never got a sale )

      Curtis Blackmore

      As for how much time is needed to get your first sale… That’s difficult to gauge, and can vary for everyone.

      However, I usually see a consistent pattern on my designs that end up selling. If the design is good and the product listing is properly optimized I’ll usually see a sale within 1-2 weeks.

      My recommendation is to keep learning, keep asking good questions, and stay consistent with your daily uploads. The sales will no doubt come if you do this. 🙂

        Joshua

        yeah, as you mentioned in the article probably the description and features are the game changer since we have to try to rank the products as much as possible in searches

    Curtis Blackmore

    Hey Joshua,
    I considered going over the tax information in this post, but I came to the conclusion that it will be better to write a separate post for taxes/account related info that I can go more in depth on.

    It’s on my to do list! Stay tuned. 🙂

      Joshua

      Thanks for the quick reply Curtis, I will definitely stay tuned.

Eli Barlow

This is a great post! I’ve sent it to multiple people that have been quizzing me about Merch By Amazon and how to start!

alex frank

How do you think a keyword which have about 500 result at Amazon? Is it able to implement this keyword?

    Curtis Blackmore

    Hey Alex,
    I have multiple products in niches that have over 10,000 total results that sell quite well.

    500 is a bit lower on the spectrum in terms of overall competition.

    If the search volume is good on your keyword(s) then it’s definitely worth experimenting with.

    Curtis Blackmore

    Hey Francis,
    I’m glad you found it valuable! Thanks for the kind comment. 🙂

Choukri

Hello Curtis,
Thank you so much.
This guide is very very helpful!
I’m currently a new to Merch by Amazon, and I have published 2 products until now.
But, this article has changed my mind.
Thank you again!

    Curtis Blackmore

    Hello Choukri!
    You’re welcome. Keep learning and improving, and upload daily, and watch those sales numbers grow.
    Wishing you much success! 🙂

Beth B.

Great article ~ thank you for sharing so much information.

adyl

Hello Curtis Blackmore,
My order has been rejected 3 times in a row!

Please help me

Doan

Hello Curtis Blackmore,

How can I check the licensing rights / copyrights of “Free vector files resources” and “Free font resources”?

Thanks in advance

MD

Have you guys played around with any of the other POD that dont require the tier system? I found an awesome and am crushing it. Just wondering why everyone is so crazy about Amazon?

    Curtis Blackmore

    Hey MD,
    I have, and I’m working on tools for other PODs too. Mostly automation for the upload process which can be very time consuming and mundane.
    I’m seeing success on other PODs too, but nothing like Amazon. The organic reach that Amazon has is unmatched, but other PODs are good too. Especially Etsy, and RedBubble (in my limited experience).

Ching Suarez

Hello,

I just started researching about Merch about a week ago. I have been a Handmade by Amazon seller for the past three years. I know nothing about Merch but am slowly getting to know a lot. I’m not a professional designer, but my work at Handmade by Amazon are products of pure restyling and redesigning using all kinds of materials. They’re personal and home decor items. I just love creating new stuff that I know I won’t have to worry about copywriting because my work just like in Handmade are just straight from the heart. Your article settled my nerves a little bit because I so madly want to be a Merch seller. Thank you and hoping to see more!

donovan

Hello,
i created a merch by amazon 3 weeks ago, and started earning some money in the last week.. but one day they suspended my account and i didn’t know what happened or what’s going on ..

    Curtis Blackmore

    Hey Donovan,
    You must have been doing something against Merch by Amazon’s Terms of Service. I recommend you reach out to them, and ask for an explanation, and for a chance to get your account back.

Abdirahman

I am new with merch amazon, this guide is very helpful thank you

Anirudh

Is it possible to get accepted into Merch by Amazon, considering I don’t have any real design experience? I am a data scientist by profession and am exploring other sources of income such as affiliate marketing, blogging etc. Merch is something that really interests me, but I have no experience. What would you suggest to somebody like me?

    Curtis Blackmore

    Hello,
    It’s definitely possible.
    Simply put, start uploading designs to RedBubble, Spreadshirt, ect… and then go apply to Merch by Amazon and use those stores as a reference in your application to show that you have experience with Print on Demand. It can increase your chances of getting approved. 🙂

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