I’m about three years into being an Amazon Merch, umm Amazon Mercher (?) so I figured now is a good time to review my experience over the years. This Amazon Merch review in no way represents how everyone feels about the platform, but is just how my experience has been.
Amazon sucks at communication with us. That is just something that is a complaint of anyone working with Amazon on anything that doesn’t have to do with customer service. At least when I’m using my Amazon Seller account to private label or do retail arbitrage I can get a response from Amazon. With Merch you almost always just get a canned response and that takes a long time.
I do imagine they are getting slammed with lots of emails everyday from many minor problems that can be answered by a Google search or a Facebook group so I feel the pain and get it. That still doesn’t excuse their inability to give us answers to serious issues like account suspensions/terminations or even a way to respond to trademark trolls who cheat the system to take down your listings.
In 2016 reviews seemed to take much longer which may have something to do with the strict rules on content they allowed. There were rules against having curse words, alcohol & drug related content, and sexual content. The main issue was that the rules were really not that defined and there was some grey area that was dangerous grounds to be in. I’m sure my account was at risk for suspension on multiple occasions for misspelling “shirt” as “shit.”
Luckily they’ve loosened up the rules a bit to give us more flexibility in the designs and themes we post. I’m not saying that I need some pornographic/drug fueled designs, but when you’re trying to be creative it helps to start thinking outside the box. Sometimes you fall into some strange territory that you realize you can cash in on that would have gotten your account suspended or terminated in the past.
I do agree with the rules that are still in place against putting up anything that takes advantage of things like horrible act of violence or natural disasters. I think people should be getting their accounts banned after posting shirts that try to profit off deaths of others.
This is why we can’t have nice things!
Part of the whole process of uploading to Amazon Merch is making sure you are creating wholly unique products that aren’t protected by copyright. There are some assholes online that have made a business out of being “trademark trolls.”
Trademark trolls are these garbage people that will trademark common terms and act like they are running a business based off of it. They’ll use that trademark to issue takedown notices against people on the Merch platform that are playing by the rules and have a design with this new idiotic trademark (or even a pending trademark).
What this does is put users at risk for having their accounts suspended or terminated because someone else is trying to cheat the system.
And I’m not crying wolf about legitimate trademarks. Some people are going on and creating trademarks for things like “born in” so no one on Merch can use those two words on a shirt design.
Like I said in the communication section, Amazon is horrible at responding to us over these sorts of things. Luckily the Merch community is full of digital vigilantes like the Facebook group – Trademark Watch Dawgs.
It seems like the go-to strategy for most people on Merch is to copy other shirt ideas. I’m guilty of this as well. The key thing is to copy the IDEA though, not the actual design.
Once you have a decently selling shirt on Amazon, it is very likely a few more versions will pop up pretty quickly. This just means that you can’t make Amazon Merch a passive income. You always have to be adapting and creating/uploading new designs.
Amazon is good about taking down copycats though, you just need to be on top of it. You’ll have to actually check your designs to see what is being copied and send a note to Amazon to take it down. This is definitely different than the trademark troll situation I mentioned before.
When I first got on Merch the only thing you could sell was regular tee shirts and “premium” tees. Then they started rolling out long sleeve t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies. I thought these were all going to kill it, especially the hoodies, but they just gave us a good way to fill our slots and make a few extra bucks. That isn’t a complaint, just an observation.
Then they released the Popsockets. A lot of people complain about these having a very low royalty and that they don’t sell a lot. I’m in the camp that is so happy to have these available. I’m making a good amount of money from scaling a few designs on Pop Sockets and I feel like I can create and upload these a lot faster. They also sell like crazy around Christmas time!
PRO TIP – put the keywords “stocking stuffers” in your description to get more customers finding them around Christmas. It’s a good, small, cheap gift that people can put in a stocking.
I’m still waiting, along with the rest of the Merch community, for new products to arrive. I’m personally drooling at the idea of coffee mugs or stickers which I think could pull in at least $1,000 a month for my account.
Despite the flooding of new users on the Merch platform and lowering of commission, Merch is still has the best earning potential* of any POD platform. My Merch account makes the most money of all POD platforms followed by Amazon KDP (low content books), Redbubble, then Spreadshirt.
*Technically the best earning potential is owning your own store with a setup like Shopify and Printful, but I’m leaving that out of this right now since that requires a lot more work and has costs attached. Merch and other POD platforms like Redbubble, Spreadshirt, Teespring, Zazzle, and Society6 are all comparable since they are free to use and you really only have to upload designs and write a description.
Yeah they suck at communicating with the users.
No you don’t have access to stats and customer information to resell to your buyers.
Yes it takes some time to start making money.
That all said, once you get in a groove with this, you can make some serious money on Merch by Amazon. You can make the money with ZERO INVESTMENT! Where else can you create a business that pulls in thousands of dollars without having to put any money down?
You’re also on the Amazon platform which controls over 50% of all e-commerce purchases (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/12/amazon-to-take-almost-50-percent-of-us-e-commerce-market-by-years-end.html). They are giving you free traffic full of buyers that is insanely hard to do on your own.
I got started with Merch because it was free and looked like something easy to do. It did require some work and time, but it has paid me a lot of money over the years. It also taught me about building a POD company and opened up a lot of doors. While creating a Merch catalog of designs, I was able to take these designs to other POD sites, create profitable Etsy stores, build my own Shopify store, and even sell low/no content journals.
Merch by Amazon gave me an entryway into making some good money that allowed me to quit my job in early 2019 to focus 100% on making money online. People will complain about the lowered royalties and constantly changing Amazon rules, but they didn’t have to let us on their platform to make this money. I’m going to keep sticking with this gold rush while it lasts!