100k School Debt to Financial Freedom – Merch by Amazon Update 3
This post is also available in: German
I am a little late to the table to write this edition of the debt to financial freedom post since I was away at a conference, and this one is going to be a little hard to post. If you missed the second update in the series, you may want to check that otherwise. Otherwise, prepare yourself to get a real dose of what everyone was feeling for the month of July.
You should read that article, but if you are really lazy and do not want to take your time, what happened was that my girlfriend was about to 5X the earnings of the account with 30 days of actual effort. Why is she working so hard on this account you may ask? Well, she is going back to get a second bachelors degree and needs to pay off around $100,000 worth of school debt. The goal is to do this within a single year with Merch by Amazon.
We have about 9 months left to hit the goal. I think this is extremely possible even with this update. Keep in mind that Q4 is just around the corner and the Halloween/Christmas season usually sees a very healthy increase in income. I am talking at least 5X normal monthly income in December as everyone is buying shirts as gifts. This is where you can expect to make a LARGE chunk of money, and where we are trying to focus on time and effort.
Last month, this account did $4,098.54 which was a crazy big improvement over the month previous. This month however, not so much.
What Happened In July?
Life happened. I know I often sit here and preach that you should be hitting your daily uploads, and you need to be spending your time on Merch by Amazon. I only do this because I know the entire process works!
That being said, in early July, we actually ended up traveling 1,000 miles to purchase a new vehicle since the last one was destroyed by hail. If you do not remember what the destroyed vehicle looked like, maybe this will refresh your memory:
So with all the traveling, this ate up some time where not a single shirt was uploaded.
Couple that with the fact that we spent some time with family and July is one of the “down” months for most people on Merch, not much got done within the few days of the month.
Since she is in an accelerated program for her degree, this took up a LOT more time this month than it did before so if any designs got uploaded (some did), it was not many per day.
With the amount of royalties dropping with the season and not having many fresh new designs going live, we finally got hit with something that needed addressed. What might this be? Well, it was something that I never really decided to respond to in the few times that this happened to me before.
False DMCA Notices
During the entire month of July, we had not one, not two, but THREE false DMCA takedowns filed for shirts. Copy and pasting from Google:
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Essentially what happened was that a not so honest competitor got mad that the girlfriends shirts were selling better and outranking them in the results that they decided to file a take down with Amazon in order to get rid of the competition. Even though the designs are 100% different with different sentence structure and different amount of reviews, the shirts were pulled down and it almost seems like there is nothing you can do.
The reason Amazon does this, is because the DMCA is a legal process, and they have to take down the work or else they would risk being sued (is my understanding, I am not a lawyer).
This is what the notice looked like. I have blocked out some of the information.
The most frustrating part of this entire process is even if you contact the Merch by Amazon team at the email they suggest, they will demand that you show them proof that you have rights to the design or trademark that is 100% different than the one you had on Merch by Amazon.
The ONLY solution is to get the person that filed the take down to contact Amazon and ask them to remove the strike. To this date, I have never actually heard of this happening.
There is one thing that you can do, but we will have to go over that in another article.
With the take downs (strikes on the account) and the amount of work outside of Merch by Amazon that had to get done, there really were not that many uploads at ALL in July.
In fact, she was almost afraid to upload since Amazon is not clear on how many infringements you can get before they disable the account. It is hard when she does all she can to do everything right, and then have to deal with people with low morals.
With a little nudge in the right direction and talk of Q4, I finally got her to do some outsourcing, which just came back to us a few days ago. This outsourcing took about 1.5 hours and should be enough for most of this month.
If you are interested in the exact process of how she does the research so fast, I wrote about that here:
The Results For July
Before we get to it, here is a quick recap of June numbers:
I always feel like I need to mention that if you take a look at last months royalties, you will notice that they are higher when mentioned in the previous posts. This is because Amazon pays based on when the products ship out. This almost makes this month a little more depressing but I always have to keep in mind that this is the same trend that MOST people in the community saw as well.
It should also be noted that all the shirts were priced around $16.99 a shirt. This has been the sweet spot but of course, there is always that thought that maybe more money could be made from upping the price slightly. Currently, she is not willing to risk it to find out.
Here is where the current uploads are:
Here is a summary of the totals for July 2017 from downloading the excel spreadsheet:
562 shirts sold and $2,515.57 in royalties.
Some people would be absolutely stoked to see these numbers, but this represents a 40% decrease in the amount of shirts sold and about a 39% decrease in royalties from the previous month.
The longer we keep looking back in the rear view mirror, it takes away from everything that’s moving forward. ~ Dan Quinn
That quote above basically sums up this month perfectly. After I finish this article, I will try not to think about July at all since the only thing that matters is moving forward. I would hope the rest of the Merch community that is down on their numbers from the previous month can take that to heart and move forward.
Since designs can easily be created yourself (and what most people are doing when they start), we are only going to be including the royalties in the math.