There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just come out and say it…
I sold Merch Ready Designs.
That’s right, the side business that helped me sell over $26,000 in t-shirt designs in the last 7 months – has been sold and transferred over to the new owner.
Obligatory screenshot proof:
There’s a lot of reasons why I decided to sell (which I’ll get into later) but before I go into too much detail, just know that Merch Ready Designs isn’t going anywhere. If you’re a current member, you will continue to be a member.
I’m confident that the new owner can do just as good a job running it that I did. He’s a Merch seller himself, and he’s very familiar with the Merch by Amazon rules. I trust that the future of Merch Ready Designs is in good hands.
So, why did I sell in the in the first place?
At the end of the day, the decision came down to two options: close down shop, or sell it.
Keep reading to find out more.
What Is Merch Ready Designs?
MerchReadyDesigns.com is a membership website that sells pre-made Merch by Amazon designs to other Merch sellers. All designs are unique, high quality, and have been checked for copyright. Instead of researching designs, checking them for copyright, or creating designs themselves – members could purchase my premade ones. Once a designs gets purchased, it’s automatically removed from my store.
I typically uploaded 75-125 unique designs to my shop each and every week. I don’t mean to brag – but people LOVED my service. Which makes perfect sense – it saved Merch sellers so much time! They could literally log in, purchase a few designs, and within minutes have them uploaded to their own Merch by Amazon account.
I was constantly told that my desigbs consistently sold better than any of their other designs. That alone was fuel to push harder an harder
I was selling shovels in a Gold Rush, so to speak.
After several online business failures, I had finally struck gold. It was a win-win for both the customer and my small business.
How Merch Ready Designs Got Started
Before I tell you why I sold it, I thought it’d be fun to tell you how I came up with the idea in the first place. It’s a pretty funny story, so buckle up; this might be a long ride!
It all started back in December of 2016. It had been two months since I started my Merch journey, and I was in the 25 Tier (meaning I could upload a maximum of 25 t-shirt designs to Amazon). All 25 designs had sold at least once, and most were doing quite well.
In fact, I’d sold over 100 t-shirts organically at this point in time.
Amazon wasn’t exactly tiering people up as soon as they hit 100 sales (like they were supposed to). All I wanted to do was tier up so I could hurry up and upload as many designs as I could!
Since there was nothing I could do except wait, I took the advice of others, and just kept cranking out designs.
At one point, I had close to 150 designs stockpiled!
My plan was have a bunch of designs ready so as soon as did get tiered up, I could max out the remaining 75 slots right away. Better yet, I’d heard about people skipping the 100 tier altogether, and wanted to be ready in case I was lucky enough for that to happen to me.
I kept outsourcing designs like this until I was hit with some bad news…
Daily upload limits were coming.
The majority of my stockpiled designs were seasonal designs or holiday designs. At my new daily upload rate of 3 designs per day, it would take me 3 solid months before I could upload all of these to my account.
Once the realization of this kicked in, I felt that sinking feeling in my chest. Not only did I have 150+ designs that were soon going to be “out of season”, but I was hundreds of dollars in the hole.
$400 down the drain is NOT how I wanted to start the new year. So, I kept thinking about what I could do with all these designs..
I distinctly remember when the idea hit me.
I was on a 14 hour car ride to North Carolina to visit family, both kids and my wife were fast asleep (not sure how, I’ve never been able to sleep well on long car rides), and I had nothing but time and the open road to think. At a rest stop, I received a comment on one of my blog posts asking something along the lines of:
“Where do you find your designers? I’m having a hard time finding good quality designers. Thanks in advance!”
That was it! A WEBSITE! I would create a website and sell these extra designs. At a small premium, of course. After all, I was doing all the legwork here. $10-$15 each.
I already had a small audience of readers here on Merch Pursuits I could sell to. I had gathered a small mailing list of Merch by Amazon sellers from my blog. I had WordPress experience building website from my days creating Amazon Affiliate websites. I had a stockpile of designs! I had everything I needed to make this work.
But it couldn’t just be a standard Shopify site. I knew copycats were a big problem, and the last thing I wanted was to spend all this time creating a website just get my design ideas stolen. So, I researched membership plugins that forced you to sign up before seeing the content behind it. That would solve my problem.
As soon we got home from the trip, I got right to work. It cost me $120 for the WordPress theme and membership plugins I needed, but I was pretty certain that I could at least make my $120 back. I decided to go with a lifetime membership vs. monthly recurring model. $25 seemed fair, after all, I only had a few designs uploaded at this point and figured no one would purchase at a higher price.
I quickly sent an email to my tiny mailing list of 67 subscribers, and surprisingly a few of them joined the very first day!
That was all I needed to get the entrepreneurial juices flowing. I wanted more members, so I decided to reach out to Chris Green. He let me share some blog posts in the past, and and hoped he would let me share this this business idea of mine. So, I asked him if he’d be willing to let me post in his group.
The day I posted to that group was unreal.
Chris, if you ever see this post, I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to post in your group on that fateful day. It truly jump-started my foray into entrepreneurship.
From there, the rest is history. Merch Ready Designs was born! So there I was, uploading designs every day, week after week, month after month.
Here’s some quick stats about the site:
- Length of time I owned it: December 2016 – July 2016.
- Total designs sold: Over 2,000
- Lifetime member served: Over 150
- Amount of designers vetted: 27
- Designers that made the cut: 4
- Designs outsourced per week: Around 75-125
- Membership price: Ranged from $25-$199.
Why I Sold My Business
So, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself;
“This sounds like a dream come true. Why’d you sell?”
When you run a business, inevitably things are going to go wrong. Nothing went wrong on MRD, but things in my personal life did change drastically.
I had several fires to put out over those 7 months, but nothing I couldn’t fix or find a solution to. Occasionally designers had delays. Sometimes I didn’t come up with design ideas.
In one case, one customer single-handedly sabotaged my entire store by purchasing every single design I uploaded over a 3 day period. Every single one!
It was flattering in a weird way, but also kind of sad. You see, I didn’t upload 20 designs a day all at once, I scheduled them to go live randomly all throughout the day to give all members a better chance to purchase designs. This customer must’ve been sitting on my site and hitting refresh for 3 days straight.
I addressed that “power user” issue, and even brought my wife in to take over the daily uploading procedure. For the last 4 months, things ran very smoothly.
So, why did I sell it?
When I created it, I was at a crossroads in my life. I wasn’t making quite enough at my 9-5 to live comfortably. We live a pretty frugal lifestyle, too. Having a newborn in the house, the bills start to really add up. I considered leaving my place of employment (where I’d been for the last 4 years) in search of a better-paying IT job.
I created Merch Ready Designs to solve a problem, and solve a problem it did. Both financially for me, and for the customers.
All of sudden, an opportunity of a lifetime presented itself. My boss decided to leave the company.
The IT Manager position needed to be filled, and I’d be dumb not to apply for it. After several meetings with upper management, and countless nights of restless sleep – they agreed to hire me as his replacement.
Almost overnight, my goal of becoming an IT manager had been fulfilled.
But – that also meant things had to change, and had to change fast.
New Goals, New Responsibilities
A new position at work meant I had more responsibility. It means bigger projects, longer meetings, and certain expectations from others. All these things I was sort of thrown into.
Without meaning to, Merch Ready Designs was starting to become less of a priority to me. I never wanted an online business to feel like a chore. Like something I HAD to do. Before, if I missed a few days of uploading designs, it was okay, my member understood. But now, if I wasn’t uploading designs for a week, or two weeks, people started to worry.
Simply put, after the promotion, I ran out of time to come up with design ideas.
My designers were upset because they had no work. My customers were upset because they had no designs, and I was struggling because I was trying to keep everyone happy.
Instead of spending an hour researching designs after getting my kids to sleep, I found myself looking into better backup solutions for our servers. Instead of writing new blog posts here on Merch Pursuits, I was looking into issues that were never addressed by the old manager. I was left with a mess of a department, and my priorities changed almost overnight.
I no longer NEEDED the extra month that Merch Ready Designs brought in. It was nice to have, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t fire myself from MRD if I don’t perform. Make sense?
And I’m not saying my work would ever fire me, I don’t they would, but the thought is certainly there in the back of my mind. I had to show my company that they made the right decision in promoting me. Not just for me, but for my wife, kids, and future too.
I knew that my members were starving for designs. A lot of people became very reliant on my service, and would purchase several designs each and everyday. I didn’t know it at the time, but daily upload limits had an incredibly positive effect on my business model. It almost “forced” members to upload designs everyday in order to max out their slots. People get busy (and lazy), and can’t always upload their daily allowance of designs. I understood that. On those days, they turned to my service, and I almost always had designs for them to choose from.
I know how valuable of a service Merch Ready Designs is. I would hate to see it get shut down, I really would. It’s my baby.
At the end of the day, I had two choices: sell it or shut it down.
I decided to sell it, and keep my dream alive. It was far too important to far too many people to let it all go to waste.
Under New Management
If you’re a member of MRD, you shouldn’t notice anything different on your end. Cosmetic changes may be made to the frontend of the site, but for the most part, things probably won’t change much.
In fact – if you are a member and have bought anything in the last week or two, you’ve bought from the new owner, Andrew, not me.
I’ve walked him through exactly how I ran the store. He’s more than capable. I’m confident he can start uploading even more designs than I could for all of you.
So, that’s basically it.
One journey ends for me, but starts for someone else. Such is life. This won’t be my last entrepreneurial venture. I’m STILL going to write here on Merch Pursuits, and upload my own designs on Merch by Amazon. In fact, you’ll probably see a lot more activity from me in the Merch Pursuits Facebook group, and see a whole lot more blog posts now that I have a little more freetime.
I’m actually looking forward to all of this.
I will always be thankful to have this as my first success entrepreneurial success story. It was something my wife and I built together, and something we were proud to tell others about. I built it from scratch, with money I didn’t have, and it’s now become a very well-known and respected service in the Merch community.
I wanted to thank each and every one of you, both members and readers, for being a part of my Merch journey. I wouldn’t be here writing this post if it wasn’t for you.
If you Facebook messaged me about Merch Ready Designs and I didn’t get back to you yet, it’s because I wanted to write this post first. If you emailed firstname.lastname@example.org, I no longer have access to that email account – so I definitely didn’t see your email, either.
Thanks for reading.