The Ultimate Getting Started Guide for Merch By Amazon

Hey guys! I’m Danny.

Welcome to my website Merchpursuits.com – the website dedicated to helping you start, grow, or expand your Merch by Amazon business.

I haven’t seen many quality Merch by Amazon tutorials or guides yet, so I decided to dedicate this website to it.

So now, I’m here to help you -for free! No e-courses, no paid subscriptions, just quality Merch By Amazon material for you to use. Follow along to be emailed whenever I make a new post, income report, or guide. And don’t forget to check out my Merch Resources page to see what tools I use to create shirts, get t-shirt inspiration, and for some killer font and vector deals.

Enjoy!

So, What is Merch By Amazon?

Merch by Amazon is an on demand t-shirt printing service. It allows you to create and list t-shirt designs right on Amazon – for free. Gone are the days of ordering t-shirts in bulk, shipping them to Amazon using their Fulfillment by Amazon(FBA) service, and waiting to see if they even sell.

This what a Merch by Amazon listing looks like.

With Merch by Amazon, you get paid on a per shirt basis. There is literally no upfront cost to do this. You just upload your design, set a price and colors, and let Amazon do the rest. Your royalty depends on the price you set.

Merch by Amazon is specifically for t-shirts at this time, but if the name is any indicator, they will be branching into all forms of branded merch in the future. Some of us have even received a survey asking what types of Merch we would like to sell in the future. Merch by Amazon will be huge, guys. The time to get started is now.

Now, there’s a few tips and tricks to becoming successful with Merch. You could just create a bunch of t-shirts and see what sells, but you’ll probably waste your time. You could also create t-shirts you like, but again, no one else may think so.

Or, you can take the smarter approach and create t-shirts you know people will buy. In this guide, I’m going to show you how to get started with Merch By Amazon.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Get Your Account

Merch by Amazon was extremely popular when it first launched. Amazon was flooded with hundreds of members and thousands of unique designs almost overnight.

As a result, the only way you can join is by signing up to a waiting list. This waiting list can be anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 months.

The best thing you can do is sign up now. Absorb as much of this knowledge as you can while you wait your invitation. It sucks, trust me. I waited a few months myself.

Once approved, you’ll log into your account here. Before you can list designs and get paid, Amazon will ask for some basic information about you.

After that, you should see a screen this:

 merchdashboard1

This is your Merch Dashboard. Here you can upload designs, promote your t-shirts, analyze sales, and much more.

More on the Dashboard later.

First, let’s go over the tools you need to get started.

Things You Need

Step 2: Make a Gameplan

Before you can start uploading designs, you first need a plan of action. You need to know which t-shirts to go after. Like I said, you could just create designs you like, but there’s no guarantee any of those will sell.

Consider these:

  • Your target audience
  • Will you be doing quotes, or images, or both?
  • How do you come up with T-shirt ideas?
  • Which shirts are the hottest sellers?
  • How familiar are you with Photoshop?

Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with Photoshop or GIMP, I’ve created several video tutorials, as well as several posts specifically for creating unique, professional Merch by Amazon t-shirts at the end of this post.

Once accepted, you are limited to 25 designs. Sell 25 shirts, and you’ll automatically be upgraded to the next tier.

Merch Tiers

You start out, you’ll have the ability to create 25 designs. Once you sell 25 individual t-shirts, you’ll be upgraded to Tier 2.

It doesn’t take a genius to tell you the more designs you have, the bigger the more money you can make.

The first 25 designs are critical to your success. You don’t want to be stuck with only 25 designs and not sell a single shirt. Quality research for these first 25 shirts ensures you’ll get bumped up to the next tier. After selling 25 shirts, you’ll have a better idea of what shirts are selling better for you and you continue to create designs in that niche.

Here’s what the Merch tiers look like:

Tier 1: 25 designs.

Tier 2: 100 designs

Tier 3: 500 Designs

Tier 5: 1000 Designs

Tier 6: 2000 Designs

Tier 7: 4000 Designs

Pro: Invite Only.

I personally think a tiered system like this is a good thing. It rewards those who are create quality t-shirts. It also helps prevent spammers from uploading 10,000 designs and destroying any chance you have of being successful.

Step 3: Recognizing Merch T-Shirts

Before you start doing any research, you need to recognize what a Merch listing looks like. If you didn’t click the link earlier, click it now.

Once you know that, you can check the BSR (best selling rank) to see how well that shirt is selling on Amazon.

All Merch listing have two things in common: a sizing chart, and a visible white tag.

See below.

Sizing Chart

merchsizingchartamericanapparel

Visible White Tag

 

whitetag

Sidenote: any listing with a person wear a t-shirt is not a Merch listing.

Step 4: Understanding Amazon Best Sellers Rank

Now that you know what Merch shirts look like, you need to determine how well they are selling. You can do this by checking the Amazon Best Sellers Rank of that shirt.

Find any Merch shirt, click into the listing, and scroll to the Product Description section. If you’re on the Amazon app, scroll down and click into the “Features and Details” section.

bsr2

If you don’t see any ranking, that means a grand total of 0 t-shirts have been sold.

Generally speaking, I only go after t-shirts that are under #100,000 BSR. One would expect a t-shirt around #100,000 BSR to sell one t-shirt every few days. Anything #50,000 and lower is probably selling a few shirts every single day.

The goal is to use these designs for inspiration. You should never straight up copy a design. Use different vectors, different fonts, or different layouts. You want to create a design that is similar, but different. Make your design stand out among the competition.

The example above would definitely be a great choice. Every time you come across a winning quote or design, add it to a list. Your goal is to come up with at least 25 designs, around #100,000-#150,000 BSR, to use as inspiration.

Step 5: Check the Competition

Let’s say you found a good t-shirt with just under #100,000 BSR. You enter it into Amazon and see 264 listings, all with the same quote.

Would this be a good t-shirt to target?

In most cases, no.

The t-shirt may have a low BSR rank, which is what we want, but it doesn’t account for a couple things: Competition and Optimization. It doesn’t matter how amazing your design is, you still have to fight with 264 other sellers to make a sale. If you see quite a few sellers in the same low BSR range, you have a fighting chance with that design. If you only see 1 shirt with a low BSR, but 10 pages of no ranks/really high BSR – you’ll want to find a new design.

Couple things to note here. All Merch shirts are placed in the Clothing, Shoes, & Jewelry > Novelty & More > Clothing category. For this example, I’ll be using the quote”Zero Fox Given t shirt”. If you enter that quote directly into Amazon, you’ll see listings from all categories – including all of the Amazon FBA shirts.

You do not want to do your research from the homepage of Amazon. You want to do it from Novelty & More category. I go into more detail about that in my Writing Better Merch Bullet Points post.

I use an awesome Merch tool called Merch Informer. Whenever I type in a search term into the tool, it automatically searches the Novelty & More section.

Once you have 25+ ideas, quotes, or designs, it’s time to create your first t-shirt!

Step 6: Creating Your First T-Shirt

Since many of you probably don’t have your Merch invite yet, I’ve included the template files for you to download. This will let you create your designs while you wait your invitation.

In this tutorial, I’ll be using Photoshop CS6, however any version of Photoshop will work.

Don’t have Photoshop?

Here’s your alternatives:

I’ve used all 3 in the past, and Photoshop has always been the easiest for me to use. Plus, there is a lot more tutorials to learn from.


Photoshop Merch Template

Gimp Merch Template

Illustrator Template


If you’ve already received your invite, you can download these templates from your Dashboard.

After opening the template, you should see this:

merchamazontemplate

It’s pretty straightforward from here. For Photoshop CS6, just right-click on the “Front” layer on the right hand side and choose “Edit Contents”.

Delete the sample image layer. This will leave 1 layer remaining.

From there, the design is completely up to you. Add vectors, quotes, or whatever you want. If you’re using images or vectors, make sure to use a high quality image or else it will look stretched and pixelated.

Then, click Save (not Save As). You can return to the t-shirt page and see what it will end up looking like on a shirt. If you like it, and want to upload it to Amazon, save it as a PNG somewhere.

I ALWAYS save as a PSD (an editable photoshop file), as well as a PNG. This way, if I ever want to tweak the image, change the color, use the same layout for another design – I don’t have to completely recreate it.

I won’t be going over how to use Photoshop in this tutorial, but I’ll be uploading videos to my Youtube channel where I walk you through step-by-step on how I create a t-shirt, or read my Using Photoshop for Merch by Amazon Tutorial.

If you’re just not a designer, and would rather purchase some pre-made Merch by Amazon designs, I recommend you join MerchReadyDesigns.

Merch Research Tools

The typical Merch t-shirt research process goes like this:

Enter “quote+ t shirt” > Click into a listing > view the BSR. Click back, do it again..

Let me save you some time with these Amazon Merch tips and tricks.

DS Amazon Quick View

This tool is awesome. It displays the BSR rank on the search results page of Amazon without having to click into each product page to view.

DS Amazon Quickview (all all Chrome extensions that claim to show BSR) do not work after an algorithm change by Amazon. You must use MerchInformer to find the true sales rank.

MerchResearch

This tool will enter your search phrase into the Merch category within Amazon in a new tab. No more going back and forth between pages.This is probably my favorite free tool.

merchshirts

Copyright

Do not infringe upon copyright with Merch. All of your designs go through an approval process anyway. If you are using a copywritten term, image, or quote, you risk your entire account be shutdown without warning.

You’ll see a lot of it going on. And it may make some people a lot of money. But make no mistake, you will get caught, banned, and lose all the money you made.

Just don’t do it guys.

If you aren’t sure if it’s been copywritten, check out Trademarkia or the USPTO.gov website.

Quotes or images from TV shows or movies are usually off limits.

Finding Free Vectors

Vectors are images that you can use to enhance your design. If you have an animal quote, you could find an animal vector to add somewhere on the shirt. At some point, you’ll find yourself needing to add vectors to your designs. Usually you can search Google for ” free animal vector”, to find some ideas. Other times, you can look up a “free vector website”.

The term “silhouette” can often be used as well.

fox-vector-graphics

Here’s a few I’ve used:

The reason you’ll want to use vectors instead of another image is because you can resize vectors without losing any quality of the image. You should read the Creative Commons License for the image you are about to use.

Merch Idea Research

There’s a lot of ways to get t-shirt inspiration. Remember, the goal isn’t to copy another sellers shirt – it’s to stand out. Standing out will help you differentiate your design from all the similar designs of other sellers.

Here’s a few techniques I use:

Search Latest Merch T-shirts

Go to Amazon.com, and drill into the Merch listings category. Clothing, Shoes, & Jewelry > Novelty & More > Clothing. Sort by “Newest Arrivals”. Now you can see what other Merch members have just posted.

Click here to see what it looks like.

Chances are they’ve gone through some kind of Merch research as well.

Every Merch shirt will have the same bulleted phrase:

“Lightweight, Classic fit, Double-needle sleeve and bottom hem”

Copy that into the search bar on the Amazon homepage. This will display all shirts uploaded by other Merch members. You want to scroll to find listings around #200,000 or less, and then create a t-shirt around that. The DS View plugin is very handy if searching this way.

merch by amazon tricks

View A Seller’s Store

With Merch by Amazon, you can create 1 “store” for all your shirts, or 25 stores each with different store names. It’s up to you. If you find a design you like, and it seems like it’s selling well, view the seller’s other tees. They could have a gold mine of inspiration for you.

Enter the T-Shirt into Google

There’s a good chance you can find inspiration on other t-shirt websites like Teespring. Just Google the quote+t-shirt. Other websites to check are Printful or RedBubble.

Google Trends

Google Trends is awesome. You can view the most trending keywords on the web, or enter your own. It you see a steady decline for the keyword, chances are people won’t be buying t-shirts around it, either.

Finishing Up

There you go guys! This tutorial should get you started with the basics of selling on Merch by Amazon. I hope it helps you create a bunch of cool designs that sell well. And the best part is, because Amazon is such a behemoth of a site, you don’t have to do any advertising to make sales. That’s why I stress that research is the key to success.

And sign up here to follow my journey and view monthly income reports!

Good luck! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below!

Also check out these articles:

Optimizing Keywords and Product Descriptions

How To Do Merch by Amazon Research

Organization Tips for the Merch Seller

Writing Killer Bullet Points

Leave a comment



Andre

1 year ago

Where is your 4-part video tutorials about photoshop you mentioned in this article?

Danny

1 year ago

Jorge

1 year ago

Thanks for sharing your 4 part video tutorial about photoshop on youtube!

Danny

1 year ago

You’re welcome Jorge! I hope it helps you out.

thatrandomguy

1 year ago

Thank you so much for posting about this. I wanted to sign up at a later time when I already know much about Merch. So now I’m going to request an invite and study here in your blog 😀

Danny

1 year ago

You are very welcome! Reach out to me at merchpursuits@gmail.com if there’s anything I can help with.

Mike

1 year ago

I was trying to read the competition section but looks like maybe you missed it/forgot to mention it? What is a good competition to look for? You wrote what NOT to go for but not what is good! Lol!

Also, do you do BSR of better than 100k for just MERCH shirts? Or of ALL t shirts on Amazon having better than 100k BSR?

Danny

1 year ago

I responded to your other comment, but anything between 100k BSR-200k BSR is fair game in my book.

That tells me those designs are selling at least once every few days.

I only compare the BSR from the “merch” pages, not all of Amazon.

Manol Yosifov

1 year ago

Nice article, but how do you give credit to the authors of the vector images?

camy

11 months ago

Hi Danny, thank you for all the valuable info you give us! I’ve just found out about this program and I can’t wait to give it a try, but one quesyion pops up in my mind, and I hope it’s not a silly one but I’m just wondering: can I sign up to this and become a t-shirt seller as a plain individual? I mean, without having a company or anything registered as a business firm? Don’t we have to pay taxes and all? Hope you’ll answer!

Danny

11 months ago

Yes you can. You will sign up using your SSN isntead, and Amazon will issue a 1040 at the end of the year. You will be responsible for paying your own taxes(which in the US is around 25-30%)

camy

11 months ago

Thanks for the answer Danny, I appreciate it! I forgot to mention though that I’m from Europe, do you happen to know how does this work? Or where can I find something to read about it?

Danny

11 months ago

Nope, I’m not sure how it works in other countries. I recommend using the Search feature within some Merch Facebook groups. I’m sure others have had the same question.

Costin Untilov

11 months ago

Camy, I think I can help you with info for a specific part of Europe. costinuntilov@gmail.com

thanh

6 months ago

Hello. I read your article about Merch by amazon. Great article. I am in Vietnam, I create account but amazon does not browse. I want an account. My gmail. Nguyenthanh07uct@gmail.com

Michael J. Rifenburg

6 months ago

You will meed to go the the North America. amazon.com website. It will nit work from an international Amazon site, only http://www.Amazon.com

MsGO

6 months ago

Thanks so much for the GIMP template! I used it to create and upload my first design to Merch.

Danny

6 months ago

You’re welcome! I’m glad it helped you out.

tn

5 months ago

Such great information. I just got my Merch account and I found your article very helpful. Thank you. I suck at Photoshop and am learning GIMP but I found it even harder. To get started, I will probably use your MerchReadyDesigners. If I buy one, I assume I won’t have to worry about copyrights? Thanks.

Dawn

4 months ago

Hey Danny! You are my new guru!! First off, thank you SO VERY MUCH for putting together this site with its wealth of info, guides, and tutorials. I just heard about Merch last week and I can’t wait to get my feet wet. I’ve been selling on CafePress since 2009 and Zazzle since 2011, so I have a good idea about what it will involve, but the details you provide are priceless. I’m wondering if you have any advice regarding the brand name. I think I have a good niche and the main word for the brand but what about the ending? XXXX Clothing? XXXX Designs? XXXX Apparel? Thank you in advance for steering me in the right direction.

Danny

4 months ago

Thanks! I’m glad you found my posts helpful!

You don’t have to put all your brand names under the same umbrella brand. What I typically do is put each niche under it’s own brand. I make my brand names something a customer might type in. For instance, if I was looking for a mushroom hunting t-shirt, as a customer I might type in “funny mushroom hunting tshirts” into the Amazon search. A lot of times – I use that as my brand name!

Josie

3 months ago

This was very helpful
I’m new at this

Fred Horstman

3 months ago

Danny, this was the most detailed information about Merch that I have come across yet. Great information throughout the post. Subscribed and looking forward to reading your material. Maybe have ten months before I am approved so I will definitely be learning as much as I can from you. Thanks . Spend a lot of time with the family. You will be glad you did when you get my age (67).

About Me

About Me



I'm a full time father of 2, IT Manager, and Merch by Amazon seller.

Follow along as I document my journey with tips, monthly income reports, and more!


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