Merch by Amazon Success: Interview with Chris Green

If you are in the world of selling online via Amazon, even a little bit, you have no doubt at least heard the name Chris Green.
A type of “Merch Messiah” to many, thousands of people have attributed him as the reason they got started with Merch by Amazon in the first place. Coming over from the seller world, I never really understood how many people he got started selling on Amazon (all types of selling not just merch) until I met the guy in person! Everyone had their own CG story of how he had helped them in their journey.
With that, I will let him take it away in our interview where I ask him some questions on his background and why he sees so much potential in MBA!


Tell us a little about who you are and a general ballpark of how much per month you are doing with Print on Demand?

My name is Chris Green and I have 10+ years of experience with Amazon as a seller, author, third-party software provider, and now Merch designer. I don’t really share numbers but I certainly feel as though I should be doing more with it. I have been spending more time on the Merch-services side, providing tools and resources to Merch designers.

How long have you been a member of the Merch by Amazon Platform?

Since it was first introduced in October 2015. As soon as I saw it, I was all-in and told everyone who would listen to go sign up.

How did you first find out about the platform and what were your initial thoughts?

There must have been some sort of press release because it popped up on several sites on the same day. TechCrunch, etc.
Merch Informer Note: TechCrunch alerted us to MBA as well!
Link Here: https://techcrunch.com/2015/09/30/amazon-introduces-merch-by-amazon-a-way-for-game-developers-or-anyone-to-sell-print-on-demand-tees/

What was your “AHA!” moment when you realized the potential from selling Merch online?

It was pretty instant. I have a lot of experience coming from the seller side and being a third-party software provider for Amazon so I was very familiar with the reasons that customers go to Amazon first to shop as well as the power of being Prime-eligible. Merch By Amazon listings having no upfront costs and are eligible for free Prime shipping was so obvious that I was all-in right away. I had no doubt that this would be the next ‘Fulfillment By Amazon’ as a new opportunity for many people.
I rushed to produce YouTube video content, a Udemy course, and write a book. I was intentionally staking my claim as an early innovator and adopter of the Merch By Amazon platform.

Did you have to wait for approval? Any tips for those submitting applications today?

There was no wait when I first signed up. Within days, I saw Merch account with 4,000+ listings. It was clear that I was not the only one who saw the opportunity with Merch By Amazon.

What tier are you at and how many designs do you currently have live?

Only 150 designs on a 2,000 tier account.

Do you outsource your design work or do you do it yourself?

Mostly myself but I do use Design Pickle as well as have some friends who help me as needed (sometimes paid, sometimes free)

Any Tips on the process?

For Design Pickle, you need to be able to describe what you want in an email. You can also provide examples and images to help convey your idea/design. Communication is key. Sometimes it can be difficult to convey what you want a designer to make. The more you do it, though, the easier it will get.
I would also strongly recommend that people NOT try to hire people for $5/design. I don’t know where this started but it’s silly. To think that $10 or $25 is too much for a design is just ridiculous. Pay designers well! If you don’t believe in a design for $15 worth, then why bother? That’s only two sales before the design pays for itself. If you don’t believe in a design so much that you don’t even expect it to sell TWICE, then why bother with it in the first place.

Do you do any outside marketing at all or are you strictly focused on the organic traffic from on page optimization?

Mostly upload and rely on organic Amazon traffic. I do send some traffic from Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon Giveaway.

Do you do any Amazon PPC (Pay Per Click)?

some small daily ads using AMS (Amazon Marketing Services)

Do you do any Facebook advertising?

Yes

Do you prefer free or paid traffic?

Sometimes small budget ads but mostly free. I have several large Facebook groups and pages

Any tips or suggestions with regards to free or paid traffic?

Build up your own groups and pages by making them places that provide value. It’s work and takes time, but then you have something where you can make offers and promote without being spammy.

When it comes to your experience what is the most important factor in getting your shirt ranked in Amazon?

Being early, having quality designs, and using relevant keywords. It’s no secret that customers will not be able to find your shirt, no matter how good the design is, if there are no keywords.

Do you Use Any Tools For Your Research Process? If so, what aspects do you like best about?

Merch Informer’s Merch research tools. I like to see what the most popular shirts are as well as the most popular shirts for specific keywords. You can tell if a niche, topic, keyword, or trend is selling or is wide open with no competition.
I basically want to see what’s selling as well as what’s not available.

When it comes to your keywords, how are you approaching them?

Honestly, I just try to think of what kind of search terms would be being used by the customer who would be searching for the shirt/design.

What about your pricing? Do you experiment with your prices or are you listing all your designs at the industry standard of $19.99?

Lower price can lead to more sales, but of course at lower royalties and payouts. Amazon has said that there most common price point is $19.99, but since these are on demand products with no upfront costs or inventory costs, it can be attractive to lower price to attract sales. Prices can always be adjusted (both up and down) to increase sales or payouts.

Have you expanded into other platforms or are you taking advantage of any of the integrations to list on Amazon (Shopify/Printful/Printaura/Teespring)?

FanPrint is very interesting and attractive. Anything with Amazon integration is a no-brainer.

How do you ensure your designs remain safe from any possible infringement?

USPTO searches and actually being original.

If there is one thing to avoid when learning the MBA business, what would you say that is?

Seeing someone else do something that they shouldn’t and then thinking that if they can get away with it, that you should be able to as well. This is a bad way to think about things. Everyone should worry about themselves. Bad apples will get themselves in trouble.
I also see a lot of people spend way too much time trying to track down random sites that have stolen designs. While I understand that this can be frustrating, to see your designs on other sites, I have found that they effort to monitor and police this isn’t worth it.

What is the end goal for your MBA business?

To help 100,000 people make $1,000 – $10,000/month with Merch By Amazon

Any plans for all the money you have made from Merch?

Reinvest into helping others with their ‘side hustles’.

If there is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is starting to use Merch by Amazon for the first time and wants to get ahead, what would it be?

Befriend or pay a local lawyer who can give you good advice on copyright, trademark, parody, etc. Find someone who can keep you out of trouble. A Merch By Amazon account is very valuable and you do not want to lose it because of simple, avoidable mistakes.

Comments
  • Great Interview.
    The 1 Thing I learned: Be Early.
    If something is hot, jump on it. Early Bird gets the worm

  • I would also strongly recommend that people NOT try to hire people for $5/design. I don’t know where this started but it’s silly. To think that $10 or $25 is too much for a design is just ridiculous. Pay designers well! If you don’t believe in a design for $15 worth, then why bother? That’s only two sales before the design pays for itself. If you don’t believe in a design so much that you don’t even expect it to sell TWICE, then why bother with it in the first place.
    Niel…. comment?

    • I agree with the premise, but we are in this Merch game to make money! If I can get the same quality design for cheaper, of course I am going to do it!

    • Unfortunately if you put into context that Cost of Living plays a huge factor, $15 to one person may mean as much as $5 to another person in a different country.
      It’s not about how we perceive what good pay for a designer is, it’s about what a designer perceives is a good pay for them.
      If you give them a solid deal or contract (especially long term) and it works out to $5 per design, but it secures a designers income in a country that the CoL is very low, more times than not they will be pretty happy.
      Chris’ statement seems to not align with real world thinking, just what we believe to be true as Americans who are fixated on this concept of “you get what you pay for”, on top of the fact that It’s not nearly as scalable at that cost point.

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