Welcome to the latest post in my side hustle series, looking at tried and tested methods to earn extra income. There are so many ways to make extra cash when you need to. This week Becca Whitestone from Boost My Budget tells us how to make money with Merch by Amazon.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been making extra income each month designing T-shirts to sell on Amazon.
I’m not a graphic designer, and I don’t print or ship any T-shirts myself. So how did I start my own online T-shirt business?
It’s simple with Amazon’s platform, Merch by Amazon! Here’s a run down of everything you need to know to get started and make money with Merch.
How to Make Money with Merch by Amazon
What is Merch by Amazon?
Merch by Amazon is a platform that lets you design your own T-shirts, hoodies and similar items to sell on Amazon.
Merch is a ‘print on demand’ platform, where your products are manufactured on demand, once a customer has already ordered it. That means there’s no waste, which keeps profits high!
Amazon handle the manufacturing, shipping and customer service. All you have to do is create the designs on your computer and upload them! Amazon pay you a small royalty for each product sold.
This is a perfect side hustle for anyone wanting to start selling online because you don’t have to deal with any physical products yourself, and there are no upfront costs.
It can also be a source of passive income. Once you hit on a bestselling design, it will continue to sell month after month with no more input from you!
How to get started on Merch by Amazon
To start selling on Merch by Amazon, you need to apply for an account here.
There is a short application form to fill in. Don’t worry too much about this – you can get accepted even with no design experience.
Once you’ve been accepted, you’ll have to fill in your payment information. If you’re in the UK, you’ll also have to fill in a short tax form to declare that you don’t pay US income tax. Don’t forget you’ll be responsible for declaring your extra income to HMRC!
How to make your designs
Once you’re all set up on your new Merch account, it’s time to get designing!
You can use any design program you like to create your designs, as long as you can make a transparent PNG file. If you already have a design program such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, you can use that.
I use the online design tool Canva. It’s very easy to use, but you have to pay a small monthly subscription to make transparent files. I’ve also used a free software called GIMP, which is similar to Photoshop.
There are lots of tutorials on YouTube about how to make designs for Merch, so I recommend watching a few to learn some tricks!
You can check what size to make your design for all the various Merch products here.
Design ideas that will make money on Merch
You can put almost anything you want on a shirt. You can design custom artwork, graphic designs, simple text slogans, or a combination of these.
Bestselling products tend to be based either around major events or holidays (Christmas, St Patrick’s Day, elections, etc) or hobbies/niche interests (sports, cooking, animals, gaming, and so on).
People often buy slogan T shirts as a novelty gift, so try to think about things people might search for on Amazon, such as ‘gift ideas for golf lovers’.
Personally, I don’t have many design skills, but I’ve found that very simple text T-shirts sell well for me!
For example, I speak some Japanese so I made a line of T-shirts with popular Japanese funny or slang words on them. There are no pictures or fancy design elements – just one or two words. There is a small but very passionate market of people who love all things Japan, so these shirts sell quite well.
You could replicate this idea in any hobby or subculture that you have experience with. Think of slang, funny phrases or in-jokes related to your own hobbies and put those on a shirt. Once you hit on an idea that sells, make lots more designs in the same niche.
You can also take inspiration from current events, trending topics on social media, and things you see out and about. If you see someone wearing a funny slogan shirt, don’t copy it, but perhaps think about how you could adapt the phrase for a different market.
How much can you make on Merch?
With Merch by Amazon, the sky’s the limit! The more designs you upload, the more you can make.
I make a royalty of around $5 per shirt and I make over $100 each month from Merch. This rises and falls throughout the year. Last December, the peak shopping month, I made over $1000!
In my case, this is purely passive income. I worked hard on creating shirts a couple of years ago, but I have barely touched my account since then because I am working on so many other extra income streams. The designs that I uploaded months or even years ago still make me money every month!
If you committed to uploading new shirts regularly, you could make a lot more than me. I know of several people making a full-time income from Merch – but you will need to upload hundreds of designs to get there.
You can read more about my journey with Merch (including a screenshot of my income statement) in this post on my blog.
How to make more money with print on demand
If you want to make even more money with print on demand, there are a few things you can do to go over and above just listing your designs on Merch.
Firstly, you can promote your shirts. You could use social media to drive traffic to your listings, and you could also try paid advertising.
Secondly, if you want to scale up quickly but you don’t have the time or skill to make lots of designs yourself, consider outsourcing. You can find designers on freelance sites such as Fiverr who can create designs for you for a reasonable price.
Thirdly, add your designs to as many different Merch products as possible, and also try different print on demand platforms. There are several different platforms such as Zazzle, Printful, Cafepress and Redbubble. Why not upload your bestsellers to several different sites and see which ones sell the best? You can also start selling on these sites while you wait for your Merch application to be approved.
As you can see, Merch by Amazon can be a fun and profitable side hustle that anyone can try – even if you don’t have any design skills. If you want to know more, feel free to contact me through my blog or leave a comment below.
Happy side hustling!
Becca is a blogger and online entrepreneur. She’s the founder of Boost My Budget, a UK money blog dedicated to helping you earn extra cash through side hustling, making money online and working from home.
I think this is a great introduction to how to make money with Merch. I hadn’t heard of it, but it sounds fantastic if you are the creative type. For more posts on how to earn extra money, head here.