Income Report #2: 60 Days of Merch By Amazon

Hey guys!

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a month since my last income report, isn’t it? But I’ve got some awesome news! This month turned out to be even better than last month.

I sold more shirts, I made more money, and I made some changes on my research processes.

Wanna see how I did in month 2?

Follow along!

merch by amazon income report

Previous Income Reports

Income Report #1: My first 30 Days on Merch

Current Month Income Report

Date Range: 10/9/16 – 11/1/2016

Total Designs Uploaded/Tier Level: 25/Tier 1 (see below)

Shirts Sold: 27

Total Profit: $121.06

Marketing dollars spent:$0

Outsourcing dollars spent: $0

Month 2 Recap

After looking at the stats above, I’m sure some of you have a few questions.

  • Why did you start a week and a half into October?
  • Why haven’t you uploaded more designs? 
  • Why aren’t you in Tier 2 yet?

Q1. Why did you start a week and a half into October?

I started my Merch journey on 9/1/2016. My first income report was published on 10/9/2016 – about 40 days into my journey. So technically, this income report only reflects the last 21 days.

Not bad for only 3 weeks!

Going forward, income reports will be posted at the beginning on the month.

Q2: Why haven’t you uploaded more designs? Why aren’t you in Tier 2 yet?

Simply put, Amazon limits the amount of t-shirts you can upload to 25 designs until you sell 25 shirts. After you sell 25 shirts, Amazon will place you into the next tier at which point you can list 100 designs.

As you can see above, I’ve sold far more than 25 shirts and I’m still waiting to “tier up”. Amazon reportedly tiers everyone up in chunks, and unfortunately, there is no rhyme or reason behind who they tier up and when.

I’ve been waiting for 3 weeks already. Maybe if they wait long enough, I’ll have sold enough shirts to be bumped from Tier 1 to Tier 3 right away. 🙂

So, that’s the reason I’m not able to upload to upload more designs. On one hand, it’s probably so they keep up with demand, which is good for our customers, but on the other hand, I’m really limited on what I can and can’t do at this point. I would love to fill all 100 slots of tier 2 and start working towards the 500 shirt tier.

I’ve done all I can do at this point. Nothing left to do but wait on Amazon.

Shirts Sold This Month

As you can see from the image above, I’ve sold 26 shirts this month!

That means I’ve told a grand total of 43 shirts sold in 60 days. All made with Adobe Photoshop (only 9.99, if you don’t have it yet.)

If you’re wondering how I was able to get started, I’ve written some really in-depth posts specifically for Merch by Amazon sellers. See links below:

Ultimate Starting Out with Merch Guide & Tutorial

Optimizing Keywords and Product Descriptions

How To do Merch by Amazon Research

I’ve also only had one return this month, which is a big decrease in comparison to last month. It’s a shame we’ll never know why someone cancels or returns a shirt, though. But still, one return isn’t really anything I can complain about.

Commission: Month 2

commission-month-2

In my 2nd month on the Merch by Amazon platform, I have made 121.06! That comes out to $4.65 profit from each shirt I sell.

That’s a dollar more per shirt than last month.

So, what does that mean?

It means people aren’t afraid to spend an extra dollar or two on a t-shirt design they like. If I had to guess, a lot of it has to do with buyer perception. When buyer’s see a shirt for $19.99, they perceive it to be “better” in some way than a $15.99 shirt. Realistically it’s the same material coming out of the exact same factory, but the customer doesn’t know that. All they see is a shirt they like, and because it’s a couple dollars more, it *must* be better quality.

It could also be that they preferred my design over someone else’s, which is always a great feeling.

To be making $120 after only two months of work is really a pretty cool feeling. I’m not used to making this kind of mind after such a short amount of time. Affiliate marketing is whole different world, but I’m starting to see my world’s combine a little the longer I’m in the Merch world. The difference is you can start seeing the fruits of your labor much quicker with Merch than you would by creating affiliate websites. But, the process is really quite the same.

Find a niche, use buyer-oriented keywords in the bullet points, title, and brand, and produce better shirts than what’s already out there.

As with affilite marketing, research is the most important part. You can have the most awesome deisgns in the world, but if you’re entering a market with thousands of competitors, you have 0% chance of standing out.

I’m really happy to see how well I’m doing, considering I started from the very bottom just like most of you are. Once I tier up, I should have no problem seeing 2-3x monthly profit to what I’m already doing right away. It should only snowball from there.

Marketing & Sharing

All of my sales have still been 100% organic. I haven’t paid to run any Facebook ads, or paid for any social media sponsored posts. With the right combination of keywords, and good looking designs, shoppers are going right to Amazon.com and finding my shirts.

How cool is that. People on this planet are wearing a shirt I CREATED. I don’t know about you, but I keep my shirts for years. My customers are wearing a shirt I designed for years! That’s just really fun to think about sometimes.

Everyone has a little bit different of a strategy. Some people target trending topics such as politics or news. I choose to target evergreen niche for my shirts. An evergreen niche is a niche that remains constant as time passes or as trends change.

You guys probably do this too without realizing. Shopping, weight loss, entrepreneurship – those are just a few evergreen niches you could be targeting. Under those umbrella niches, there are much smaller niches you can hyper focus on:.

  • Instead of making shopping shirts, you could target Black Friday shopping.
  • Instead of making weight loss shirts, you could focus on creating killer Keto diet shirts.
  • And instead of Entrepreneurship designs, you could target individuals in a startup or use motivational quotes.

These are probably not the best examples, but it gives you an idea of my thought processt. I don’t expect any of these shirts to make a killing.

I’d rather have 100 designs that sell once a month consistently, than 1 shirt that sells a hundred times once. – Danny B, http://merchpursuits.com

As time goes on, and I have a lot more designs uploaded, I hope to have quite a few shirts selling consistently month after month, rather than spend my time tackling trends or holidays.

Am I leaving money on the table? Probably. But that’s the strategy I choose to take. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it.

Some of you may be killing it with Christmas shirts, and that’s awesome. But after Christmas, you won’t see a single sale from those for at least another year. As especially for those of you starting out – the last thing you should be doing is spending time creating designs around a holiday, just to turn around and delete them all and re-upload new ones after Christmas.

Experimenting With Holidays

But, just so I’m clear, I’m focusing on evergreen niches, but that doesn’t mean I won’t post a single holiday shirt. Because I have, and will every so often.

On October 15th, we all received this message from you Amazon:

merch-policy-update-1

After receiving that message, I went through and looked at all my designs.

Which ones haven’t sold yet? What should I do with them? Should I remove them?

The way I looked at was this: I’m still in the 25 shirt tier. I can only list a maximum of 25 shirts total. I have no idea how long I’ll be in this tier since we’re all waiting on Amazon.

So, I decided to remove those listings. They were about to be removed by Amazon in a month anyway, and my best bet of cashing in on the Halloween season was now or never. So, I removed 8 designs and put 6 Halloween designs up.

All in all, I probably spent 5 hours researching and creating a few Halloween designs. Here’s an example of a simple “couples Halloween shirt” I made. (the other one said “Mummy”. Mummy and Deady). I was hoping to target parents who are passing out candy, or taking their kids to school parties and “sort of” dressing up with these shirts. I don’t think I put them up soon enough though.

deady

Of those 6 designs, only 2 sold.

While I’m glad I posted them because that’s two more sales I wouldn’t have had – I’m still not sure if it was worth my time to create Halloween t-shirts. Maybe I should have started posting them as soon as I was approved. The biggest problem is everyone has the “let’s create holiday shirts!” mentality. This makes it pretty hard to stand out.

But not impossible. For Christmas, you don’t have to only do Santa or elf shirts like everyone else. You can make shirts about snow, hot cocoa, snowmen, Christmas carols, bells, reindeer, dreidals, Hannakuh, etc.

So, will I  be replacing a couple slots with Thanksgiving and Christmas shirts? Maybe. But only if I stumble onto a potential goldmine of a design. For the most part, I think my strategy going forward will be to focus on evergreen niches, and sprinkle in a few holiday or trending shirts along the way just to see how well they do.

Reviews

To date, I still don’t have a single review on any of my shirts. I’m not much of a shirt reviewer myself either, so I can’t blame the buyers, but still, I’m curious to see how much better my shirts would sell if they were to have a few reviews.

Someday though, I’ll see the reviews trickle in.

More than likely that won’t be until I tier up and start seeing a significant increase in sales.

Moving Forward

There’s a lot I would LOVE to be doing right now. But being stuck in this tier is very limiting. There’s just not a whole lot I can do besides prepare myself for when I do get tiered up.

But, I won’t dwell on things I can’t change. Instead, I can spend my time on things that I do have control over: research and designing.

Just because you haven’t been approved for Merch, or haven’t tiered up right away does not mean you should just sit and wait. That’s a poor excuse.

Do some research, get some ideas, and start cranking out designs while you wait. That way once you are approved, you’ll already have a bunch of winning designs to upload right away.

This is also just another reason I’m not creating Thanksgiving or Christmas designs at this point. What if I don’t get tiered up until January? Well, then I’ve wasted a whole lot of time & energy on designs that I won’t get to use until next holiday season.

Final Thoughts

I’m very happy with my Month 2 results so far. I sold quite a few more shirts, I made a little bit more money, and my average profit per shirt has also increased.

I’m happy with the platform as a whole, but it can definitely be frustrating sometimes. For example, I’ve been selling an average of 1-2 shirts a day, and all of a sudden for the last week I’ve only sold one shirt. One single shirt.

Is Amazon throttling sales? Who knows. There’s some talk about throttling in Chris Green’s Merch Facebook group and the Merch developer forums. If they are in fact throttling sales, Amazon is keep very tight-lipped about it. One thing is for sure though, most of us are seeing a delay in shipping times. Shirts that normally ship in 2-3 days are now showing 6-7 day estimates. I can only imagine this had to do with the influx of Halloween shirts being purchased and shipped, and Amazon just couldn’t keep up with demand, so they might be throttling Merch sales across the board.

How they throttle – if they even are –  isn’t something you or I will ever know. They could simply be removing the listings from the main Amazon search page, or bumping Merch listings down a few pages to where no one see them. Maybe I’m just having a really slow week. All I know is if I continue to have weeks like this past one, my next income report won’t be very pretty.

That’s why it’s important to tier up asap. The faster you can tier up, the more shirts you can sell. So in the future, if a few of your best-selling shirts stop selling for a few weeks, or someone comes in and undercuts you on price, you’ll have a few other designs in your arsenal to make up for it.

As always, thanks for reading! (and don’t forget to sign up here to be emailed every time I submit a new post)

-Danny

 

Leave a comment



Mike

1 year ago

Hey, another great post, Danny. Could it be that delivery times are slowing because Amazon had a shed load of Tee orders based around the ‘Presidential Election’ theme, and everything kinda slowed down?

Given Amazon will pull any Tee that doesn’t cut the mustard after 60 days – does that mean any Tee designer need be careful about going Hyper local in their niche? Technically a Tee that sells once a month would suit me fine – but if you look at the laws of probability a good chunk of such Tees would be nixed by Amazon before they ever got off the ground (a coin lands on heads 50% of the time – but you can easily get a row of 3 or 4 tails).

With advancing a tier – could it be that your designs are not considered solid enough? Amazon does state that Tier advancement depends on volume of sales AND quality of Tee designs. Should those of us that focus on catchy phrases and slogans be worried? Could Amazon be focusing on promoting designers that produce something more artistic?

Danny

1 year ago

Hey Mike, thanks for reading!

Delivery times seem to be back to normal now. At the time of writing this article though, Halloween just ended, the election was coming up, & Thanksgiving was just around the corner. I’m sure a combination of all that contributed to the slowdown.

As far as the 60 Day rule, it really depends on what tier you are in. If you’re still in the 25 shirt tier, I would recommend creating shirts in several niches to help you gauge which niche seems to sell better. If you have the ability to upload 2,000 designs, you have much more room to experiment with hyper local niches.

I see advantages and disadvantages to both. If you focus on a hyper niche, they’re might not many shirts on Amazon because no one is buying them. On the other hand, maybe no one has uploaded any yet, and you could be sitting on a potential goldmine.

I considered the possibility that my designs aren’t “good” enough. They’re certainly nothing spectacular. But, I’m in quite a few Merch groups, and I haven’t seen a single person report that they’ve tiered up yet.

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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