19. How I sold $128,295.78 of t-shirts in 10 months with Merch by Amazon: Elaine’s 2016 Income Report

In this episode Elaine’s breaks down her 2016 Merch By Amazon income report, including how she sold $128,295.78 of t-shirts in 10 months on Merch by Amazon. Learn more about selling on Merch by Amazon in the free online masterclass.

Listen to the podcast on iTunes HERE.

Merch by Amazon is Amazon’s newest platform, and sells t-shirts based on a print on demand model. I applied for an invite in November, 2015 and got approved in late February, 2016. I created 25 simple designs on my computer and uploaded them for free to the Merch by Amazon website. My profit for my first week at the end month of February was $49.84. I didn’t have to buy any inventory (Amazon owned and printed the t-shirts themselves).

At this time I didn’t know how the marketplace was going to work. Was it going to be like TeeSpring where I had to drive traffic, or was it going to be something different? I was thrilled to make my first $49 with 100% organic traffic. It proved to me that if I can make $50 with 25 t-shirts, then it’s just a question of scale and publishing more designs.

Throughout March, April, and May, my business on Merch was growing. Political t-shirts were very popular. The anti-Trump and pro Bernie Sanders t-shirts were selling well. Amazon limits how many designs you can upload. When I sold more than 25 t-shirts, I was able to go up to the 100 tier and have 100 different designs for sale. Now I had more capacity to upload more designs, and test out more niches. Between March and May, I made about $1,400 profit a month. Initially I priced my t-shirts on the high side, from $20 to $24.

One issue around this time was that my brother had started a couple of weeks before me, and he seemed to be selling more t-shirts and tiering up faster than I was. His prices were cheaper than mine. So I had to rethink my strategy – should my main goal be profit or sales volume?

In early summer 2016 my Father’s Day sales went completely crazy. Any t-shirts with Father’s Day on them seemed to do really well. But downside to that was after Father’s Day, everything seemed to get very quiet. My income seemed to get stuck at this $1400/month profit level. It was really good, but I’m always interested in figuring how can I scale? During this time as well, my virtual assistant took over some of the uploading, which really saved me a lot of time.

Now it became more important for me to tier up so I could publish more designs, rather than chasing profit every month. Over June and July, I lowered my prices to get more sales volume.

In June and July, I was making in profit just over $2,000 a month, which was fantastic. In August, I was tiered up to 2,000 and I had reached $1,000 profit a week. As Q4 was approaching my focus was on research, getting new designs made, and uploaded. I knew this hard work would pay off once we came to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the Christmas shopping season.

In August because I had more room to upload designs I decided to raise my prices in order to increase my profits. It definitely worked. My average profit per t-shirt increased from the end of summer onwards.

By September, I had got up to the 4,000 tier. By the end of October, I had got up to $2,000 a week profit, which was totally insane. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would get up to this level of profit. Halloween was a really busy time. I think a lot of sellers also saw this.

In terms of the two major factors that I found for increasing how much profit I earn on Merch every week or every month is the first thing is your prices. When I raised my prices, my profit per month did go up quite a bit. Secondly, every time I went up a tier and I got busy and I uploaded more designs, then this had a direct impact on how much money I was earning every month.

One of my strategies is always to try to have my design slots full. By mid-November, I was up to two and a half thousand dollars a week profit, which again is insane. That’s $10,000 profit a month. It really did blow me away that this was possible. At this stage I decided to start a podcast to document my progress: https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/merch-entrepreneur/id1171930091 and also a blog: http://www.merchentrepreneur.com/

This business was proving to be much more fun, a lot more straightforward and less time intensive than FBA. With FBA you’ve got to worry about buying inventory. You’ve got to worry about customer service. There’s a lot of things absolutely to keep organized

There is nothing similar that I can compare Merch to. It’s crazy. I’m at the computer, I make a simple design in Photoshop or on my phone. I upload it. All my traffic is 100% organic. I do not do any paid advertising. The whole thing costs me nothing, and then someone pays $20 for a t-shirt, and I get $7. It’s really insane. There’s no customer service. You don’t have to pay for inventory. You don’t have to deal with suppliers in China or Amazon storage fees.

My total Merch t-shirt sales over the 10 months starting the end of February up to the end of December 2016 was $128,295.78. My total profit in 10 months on Merch by Amazon is over $53,000.

There is still so much room for expansion. When I get tiered up again (soon hopefully), I will have space to upload even more designs. I am also hopeful that in 2017 Amazon will expand the Merch program to products like hoodies and hats, and maybe expand to Europe as well.. This is the biggest opportunity I’ve seen in a long time. And this has only just begun. This is still the really early days.

If you haven’t already applied, there is a waiting list. You’ve got to go to Merch.Amazon.com and apply there. The best thing is to do it today. Don’t get frustrated that you’ve got to wait a couple of months. This is what happens to everybody, but it’s much better to do it today and get approved maybe in February or March with luck.

December 2016 was my biggest month. In this month I’ve sold over $39,508 worth of t-shirts and my profit has been $17,629. Plus for most of this month, I was travelling and not working a lot. I was in Spain, then in Ireland, in New York for a film festival and also in Austin, Texas for a business conference. Then I had a week off over Christmas and I still had my biggest revenue month ever.

It’s been a crazy year looking back over it. I never expected this to happen but it’s a great journey to be on. You can learn more at my free online masterclass.

Thanks so much for joining us this week. If you enjoyed this episode, press the SUBSCRIBE button on your iPhone and automatically get each new episode when it is released. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave us a review on iTunes!


    • Rafael B

      I’ve got approved yesterday, after losing all hope. I waited more than 7 months, I had forgotten this idea but now I hop on again. My advice: register and forget it. But everyday keep your email in check.. oh and finally, create 3 or 4 good designs and save them so you can use them when you receive your email. You have limited time to upload your first artwork, this way you’ll be ready

  1. Jay

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story!

    I have a questions in regards to RETURNS.

    Have you ever got a lot of returns, especially in the beginning? If so what did you do to offset those returns and also if you tiered up and then got more returns do you have to sell more shirts again to tier up.

    example if you sell 10 shirts and tier up to 25 but then lose 9 shirts due to refunds do you then need to sell 24 shirts or only 15 to tier up again?

    Thank you 🙂

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