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.