4. How to get approved and create your first t-shirt designs

Learn about the Merch by Amazon approval times and discover the best practises for creating PNG files for Merch by Amazon. Find out more at the Merch Entrepreneur website. Sign up to get my 5 favorite Merch by Amazon tools & resources today at www.merchentrepreneur.com/tools. Building your Merch by Amazon business? Get free case studies and POD tactics delivered to your inbox at www.merchentrepreneur.com/signup. Join our facebook community at www.facebook.com/groups/merchentrepreneurs.

Welcome to the Merch Entrepreneur Podcast. I’m your host, Elaine Heney. On this episode, we’re going to get a little bit technical, but we’re not going to get too technical so don’t panic. I want to just discuss what size and format that your design should be for uploading to Merch. The end product of Merch by Amazon for now and it is my hope that they will expand in to hoodies and t-shirts and sunglasses and socks and lots of crazy things, but for now it’s just t-shirts.

When Amazon is printing the t-shirts, obviously they want the design to look really good. Because of this, we can’t just upload any old crappy small picture that will end up being blurry and look really bad. Amazon has set a minimum spec that they need us to upload our artwork with.


For this, the format that they want is something called a PNG file. A PNG file is basically an image file that has a transparent background. When you’re designing for Merch, you don’t really want to upload a big rectangular picture, because that doesn’t look very good on a t-shirt. It’s just a big rectangle. That’s what would happen if you were uploading other types that don’t have a transparent background.

With PNG files, what you can do is you can have an image, you can have text on the image that says, “I love Hillary Clinton,” “Trump for President,” whatever you’re interested in, and they’ll just see the text, but all of the room around the text will be transparent, so they’ll just the t-shirt. It’ll be just like text printed on a t-shirt so it’ll come out really well. The format is a PNG file. It’s quite a normal format, so if you’re working in any of the design programs like Photoshop or Illustrator or GIMP or anything like that, you can save … Usually whatever file you’re working on, you can just go save that as PNG format and there’s no problem there.


A few other things that are good to know. The size of the image has to be 5,400 pixels tall. The image has to be 4,500 pixels wide. The DPI, the quality of the image, has to be 300 DPI. If this sounds all a bit complicated or crazy, what you can do, the really easy way to get through this, is to go to merchentrepreneur.com/tools and you can actually there download the exact template that I use. It’s already set up. It’s ready to export as a PNG. It has a black background, because most people, their t-shirts, the colors that they buy, they’re dark colors.

When you’re designing your t-shirt, it’s really handy to be able to see it on black background. If you’re writing text in dark navy or something, it’s not going to look good on black, so maybe rethink it. If you text is maybe white or yellow or green or pink or something, that’s going to look good on black. For me, when I’m doing my t-shirts, I always test them out with a black background, and then just before I save as PNG, I just hide the black background and then go save as PNG and then they are guaranteed to look good on those darker colored shirts because they’re the shirts that most people tend to buy.


That’s the size and format. If you don’t have the right size t-shirt or maybe the format isn’t correct maybe you’re trying to upload a JPG or some other different kind of format, when you are on the Merch website and you’re trying to upload it, if it’s not the right format, they will give you an error message.

It’s no problem, but they’ll just say, “Sorry, can’t upload.” Again, you just have to go back and check if you made it yourself or maybe you got a graphic designer to make it or maybe an artist or a virtual assistant or something. You need to just check that it’s 5,400 pixels tall, 4,500 pixels wide, 300 DPI, and it’s a PNG file, and then that should get you going from there.


While you’re waiting for your account, maybe you haven’t got approved yet, what you can do if you’re welcome is you can join our Facebook group. We have a new Facebook group, so you can get into that at merchentrepreneur.com and there you can chat other Merch entrepreneurs, see what they’re doing, get ideas for t-shirts.

It’s really good while you’re waiting to actually start designing t-shirts, to maybe have a little dabble around in Photoshop, see if you can get some apps on your phone that you can start making designs with, because the more work you do now, then you will be really really ready the day when the email comes that says, “You’re approved.” You’ll be like, “Brilliant,” and in ten minutes, you’ll have uploaded your 25 t-shirts because you have them done already.


Actually, one thing, in terms of getting approved, at the moment, it takes months, which is really hard to cope with. We’re not really mostly patient. I’m not particularly patient, but you have no choice. What’s a good idea isif you’re waiting to get approved, every couple of days, actually log into your Merch account and double-check to see if you have been approved.

I’ve heard from a lot of people that they never actually got the email to say they were approved, but when they logged in, they were actually there. If you haven’t been approved, but you haven’t heard anything, definitely every couple of days, go in and have a look and see if you actually have got through.

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!

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