Merch by Amazon Success: Interview with Michael V

Do you have that one friend or family member that you have been talking about Merch by Amazon with but they just would not get started? Well, in today’s interview, we are going to talk to a good friend of ours who did the same thing! We finally convinced him to start with Merch since he already had the tools to succeed and as you are about to find out, he is already doing great money with very little designs up.

From our previous success interviews, it can be daunting to see some of these people who do not have normal jobs (9-5) and are doing over six figures a year with thousands of designs live. I believe you can ALL get to that point, but starting off, that can seem forever away. This interview is a more down to earth approach. Michael is married, works a steady job, and has less than 100 designs uploaded yet is seeing enough money every month from print on demand that most people could pay their monthly mortgage! Let’s get into it!

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 Michael, I work full time in I.T. and I live in Australia with my beautiful wife who is my t-shirt designer! Right now, I am currently making around $1,200 – $1,500 AUD a month in royalties from PoD services, such as Merch by Amazon.

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

I have been a member of the Merch by Amazon platform since November 2016.

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

I first found out about Merch from a group of friends who had been involved in the platform since the beginning and had a lot of success with selling their products. I honestly could not believe the amount of sales they were making and it seemed to be so easy to make and upload your own designs and start making income instantly.

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

After having my first 10 designs up I started to get some sales in my first month on Merch, which got me damn excited! Over Christmas my sales exploded and got 100 sales in my second, but first, full month.

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

Yes, I had to wait a little while for approval; I was one of the lucky few to get in fast. I took full advantage of gaining all the knowledge I could before I got approved to which I think helped me accelerate my sales and tiering up as soon as I started Merch.

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

Right now I am on the 500 tier with just under 80 designs live. I plan to fill as many design slots as possibly over the next few months.

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

Thanks to my amazing wife, none of my shirt designs are outsourced; they are all made professionally and for free!

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

I do no outside marketing for my shirts; I purely rely on ranking my shirts BSR naturally with keyword placement / optimization.

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

In my experience, I definitely try to find the best keywords applicable to my shirt and subtly include them into my title and taglines as this has been successful for me.

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

Yes, I use and highly recommend Merch Informer. I have been using MI since it first started the BETA and do not use anything else to find my shirt ideas. The product search and keyword tools are some of the best.

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

I try to find what keywords my competition is using, match them and include a few more. I do not do a bunch of obvious keywords like tags with commas between them. I subtly include them into my taglines to be as natural as possible.

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

For my pricing, I try to experiment with every design. I do not have a consistent pricing theme that I do. For instance, I will always try to price my shirts low until they start selling and then slowly raise their prices according to the amount of sales.

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

Since my success on Merch I had tried different platforms such as Shopify and Teespring, but never really had any results like what I have got from Merch. For now, I am just sticking to Merch but I plan to expand it more soon.

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

I always double or triple check any terms or quotes I may be using in my design against a trademark / copyright search such as Trademarkia. Once my design idea passes this test, I then come up with a unique design that stands out from the rest.

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

Definitely do not copy someone’s design, always try to make it different and pop out more than the other.

What is the end goal for your MBA business?

End goal is to be earning as much as my full-time working income, if not more. By expanding more into different platforms and marketing techniques, I should be able to achieve this easily.

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

Most of my money is going towards paying off my debts. Once my debts are paid off and my Merch income keeps increasing, majority of my money will be put towards saving for a new house as well as a small portion re-invested into marketing and other PoD platforms.

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?

Get your hands on Merch Informer and go for it! Search for anything and everything to find a design that has low competition and that you can make a better outstanding design.

Avoid using designs that incorporate brand names, movie quotes or song lyrics. A lot of these phrases are copyrighted and can get your designs rejected which can impact your account reliability with MBA resulting in a suspension.

  • Fantastic, thanks for sharing! It’s great to see someone successful with 80 designs. Seems totally doable.

  • I’m loving these blog posts.
    I like the last line about never using movie quotes/song lyrics. I could never really tell before if we were allowed to use them.

  • Are you going to do more these interviews? Or will you also keep putting out informative resource guide posts?

  • Hey Neil, I am stuck at tier 10. Do you think it’s a good idea to purchase 25 shirts to get to tier 100? Thank you for the awesome blog

  • If Amazon decides to one day ban my Merch account randomly, would that also prevent me from publishing a Kindle book or vice versa? Thanks.

  • Hi Neil! I’ve got a question about how to best combine the Merch Informer tool’s competition checker with the product search. Am I supposed to be trying to find competition keywords that rank with an “A” AND find products in the product finder using those “A” ranked keywords under 300,000 BSR. OR would it also work to find a competition keyword ranked with an “A” even if the product finder’s results are high BSR’s if MY design is a completely different saying in that keyword category. I think I could do really well on Merch if I could just figure out how I’m supposed to be combining these tools together.

    • Your best bet is to find a keyword with an “A” score but also has products with LOW BSR when you put it in the product search module. This means there is not much competition but the low BSR tells you that there are good sales occurring in that niche.

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