The online business space is constantly evolving, with new opportunities popping up left and right seemingly every week. Naturally, this comes with trends and hype coming and going. One business model that received increased popularity among people in the recent years is that of “print on demand”. Simply said, it describes the process of printing custom designs on various different types of products, ranging from t-shirts, over hoodies, to mugs and gym bags.
While this business practice is nothing new at all, it has gained increased traction in the recent years due to new players joining the space — including Amazon. Opening up its very own “Merch by Amazon” platform in 2015 introduced this business model to the biggest online marketplace, bringing with it tons of potential to make money.
As with any other online business method and the natural speed of things on the internet, the discovery of this opportunity is for many often followed by a very reasonable question coming to mind — “Is it still worth it?”. Therefore, I would like to share my own experiences with Merch by Amazon (also often referred to as “MBA”) and to show why I am convinced it is still worth to consider this opportunity for anyone interested in building an online income and especially for people having no or little previous experience with this matter.
By the time of writing this article, I have been signed up to the platform for about 11 months. My first sale occurred in March 2019, around one month after I got accepted to join the platform. By the end of 2019, I managed to make 802 sales in total, adding up to a combined profit of about 2.546,90 €.
This is also my first ever and consistently growing income stream from an online business.
A Great Introduction to Online Business
The great thing about the print on demand business model in general is that it combines an opportunity to make money online with the very tangible and comprehensible process of selling physical products. Even if you have never pursued any kind of online business before, selling t-shirts to make money should seem reasonable to you, as probably you and everyone around you are wearing them on a daily basis. Universal product demand — check.
You also have probably been wearing t-shirts since you were born, so if you think about it, you are bringing year-long experience to the table from day one. You have t-shirts you love and you have some for which you don’t feel anything. You have a favorite shirt to lie on the sofa and watch movies in and you have a hoodie with a design that’s always a great conversation starter. Even if you don’t have any of that yourself and you only wear black clothes, you know those things from other people. Product knowledge — check.
Build and Grow Something from Nothing
Platforms like Merch by Amazon are the main reason why pursuing a print on demand income is so attractive to many people. They take away pretty much every barrier that would usually be standing between you and selling your designs printed on t-shirts and other products to international customers.
You don’t need to build any infrastructure and you don’t need to deal with customer service at all. Amazon handles all of that. Literally the only thing you need to do in order for someone to be able to buy a t-shirt with your design on is creating one and uploading it to the platform. Once done, your design is available to Amazon customers and ready to be ordered. Only when someone actually orders a product with one of your designs on, it will be printed and delivered to the customer. Hence, print on demand. For every sale, you will receive a royalty fee from Amazon.
This process allows you to build a product portfolio on Amazon without investing any capital (unless you outsource the design process) and without taking any risk that comes with building and investing in an infrastructure. The only thing really required to get started with Merch by Amazon is time and obviously being accepted to the platform after requesting your invite.
The great potential about building that product portfolio over time is that it pretty much can only grow bigger with every minute spent creating and uploading more designs. Each additional design on the platform increases your chance to sell a product with your design on. All of your designs are available to be bought by customers at any given time of the day, no matter if you sleep, spend time with your family, or hit the gym. The required work is active, but it enables a passive income stream.
Of course, selling products through Merch by Amazon makes your income from there dependent on the continued existence of this platform. Yet, it is reasonably simple to diversify across multiple other print on demand providers once you acquired basic knowledge. This not only allows you to reduce the risk of full dependence, but also to increase the income stream with designs you already have, by uploading them to other platforms.
Comparatively Simple with Quick Feedback
One of the biggest struggles coming with pursuing any kind of online business is long-term motivation. While it is easy to get hyped up about a new opportunity or a new project, it is just as easy to lose your drive and motivation again due to not seeing any results. Often this ends in giving up before even really reaching a point where results might slowly start to come in.
A website needs more than one blog post to become relevant to search engines and to attract a significant amount of users. A YouTube channel won’t attract thousands of subscribers with one video uploaded. Even on the fast-paced internet, patience is required.
However, from my personal experience I can say that Merch by Amazon enables a rather rare chance of getting quick feedback. Even your first created design could already sell one day after you uploaded it, immidiately creating revenue and making you a profit. It might be unlikely, but not impossible. This is because Amazon is already an established marketplace with millions of customers browsing each single day. You don’t need to build the marketplace first.
As mentioned in the beginning, I made my first sale after one month. I didn’t even recognize it until six weeks later, when I randomly logged in to check and saw that I had sold four products. I had only uploaded the ten designs that I was allowed to upload right after signing up to the platform and didn’t really believe that this could actually result in anything. I just signed up because my best friend told me to just do it and give it a try.
Today, I get real-time notifications on my laptop about product sales on a daily basis and have achieved a great financial goal last month, mainly through print on demand and Merch by Amazon. A year ago, I had none of this and I only pursued this project part-time throughout 2019. Now that I can focus on it more thoroughly, creating an income on the level of a full-time job from it this year seems not at all like an impossible goal to reach.
My Merch by Amazon Income 2019
In above chart you can see how my income stream developed over the course of 2019.
In September I had to make a drastic cut and deleted a bunch of my designs, as I had acquired more knowledge which lead me to understand that some of my designs were to close to registered trademarks (nothing like actual brands, but there are some very generic words trademarked which you wouldn’t believe possible).
To not take any risk, I decided to delete anything I had a doubt about and take time to fully understand trademark and intellectual property regulations when it comes to merchandise products. This area requires a lot of due diligence in this business, which I learned now.
You can see the impact of this measure in my chart.
All that being said, I don’t want to create the impression that simply uploading anything to Merch by Amazon will result in guaranteed sales. It also doesn’t come over night and requires a lot of work, that especially in the beginning will not pay off. There is a lot to learn and a lot to understand in this business as well. But it is a great opportunity to get started with an online business for anyone curious and interested and I can say with confidence:
Yes, Merch by Amazon is still worth it in 2020.
Update: You can track my ongoing progress with all details through my monthly print on demand income reports.
So if you’re curious — just request your invite, hope to get accepted, and give it a try.
Feel free to share your experiences or to ask questions regarding MBA in the comments below this article.
Have you heard of people reapplying and becoming accepted within months of being denied?
Within different Facebook groups I have seen many people who got accepted after trying 10 or 20 times without success.
Hi, I’m from Russia. Please tell me how to apply correctly – do I need to specify a link to my work, how Many of them should be there ? Recently, Amazon rejects applications, and after a few days ….((
Unfortunately, I believe it is completely random if or if not you get accepted. There are many speculations about what you should write in your application, but there are also people who got accepted after their first try without writing anything or even writing stuff like “test” in the text field.
I wouldn’t overthink it, just keep trying and don’t trust anyone who is selling an online course or an ebook claiming that it will teach you “how to get accepted into Merch by Amazon”. Nobody knows how it works.
Good luck for you to get in! ?
Benny, thank you for your answer, you gave a little hope) I also hope the approval does not depend on the country.
Crossing fingers for you! ?
I don’t think the country should be an issue, Russian citizens are also eligible to become sellers on Amazon, which you can read here: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/200405020
Should be the same for MBA then.
yes ! Thank you! im a seller already on amazon handmade, but amafrade this may interfere with approval but hope)) i wish you grow your merch)
Hi! I have a relatively known brand and about 10 sales per day on Redbubble but have applied to MBA 7 times with no luck. I wonder why? is it that I’m from Argentina? (Argentinians should be eligible but maybe we are harder to get accepted) Is my Payoneer US bank an issue? Real mystery.
Hi Pablo! ?
Unfortunately, nobody knows the process behind the applications. I honestly believe it is completely random. Your country or bank account with Payoneer should not be an issue. Many people from many countries also using Payoneer are active on MBA.
Don’t overthink it, keep trying, and never buy a course or something from someone who claims it can get you accepted — nothing can.
Have you heard of Merch by Amazon? Are you already on the platform and selling products? What do you think about it? ?
I’ve never heard of MDA before this article. I had run a small campaign on Teespring which seemed to go moderately well. Love everything you’re doing with this post and your blog in general!
Thank you Adam! ?
I think Merch by Amazon is worth it, the only thing that is a pain is going after people who steal your designs. There is an online shop that has been stealing my designs left and right, and I saw a lot of people designs from Merch by Amazon and Red Bubble also on their site, and they refuse to take the designs down. Teecoolhome.com and teebapc.com which I believe are one and the same. I was shocked to see 5 of my designs up on their site without my permission, and other peoples tshirt from Merch by Amazon and… Read more »
Yeah, I have heard about this being a problem. But it is questionable whether those (often poorly created) third-party sites can gain any serious traffic and sales, even when they are stealing. People are shopping on Amazon mostly after all and usually stay there.
For people stealing your designs and offering them through Merch by Amazon, you can report to Amazon through their infringement report form.