These are the top eight lessons I have learned over the course of my three year print-on-demand journey. In essence, this is the information I wish I had paid attention to when I began selling on Merch by Amazon.
What I Learned Selling 4,000 Products on Merch by Amazon
When starting a side hustle, it becomes apparent quite quickly that if you aren’t constantly learning, pivoting, reflecting and relearning, sooner or later you will stop growing.
Each of these lessons came to me at a different point in my Merch journey. Some arrived in the early tiers (Tier 10 & Tier 25), others appeared at tier 1,000 and beyond, and others have never left my side.
Unlike riding a bike, many of the skills and experiences accumulated while building a side hustle need to be practiced and re-learned many times over.
Some of these lessons may be most applicable during a specific part of the business building cycle but in most cases they tend to remain relevant throughout the climb.
After all, the game of business is composed of a solid mental framework and a set of repeatable steps. Learning from the mistakes of others is one of the quickest ways to gain mastery over each stage in your entrepreneurial process.
Tip #1: Buy Yourself Out of the Earlier Tiers
When it comes to tiering up with Merch by Amazon there is a very simple requirement system. A seller must fill up their available slots AND sell a number of products equal to their current tier level.
For example, if you are in Tier 10, you must publish 10 products and sell 10 units in order to be eligible to tier up.
Getting out of those early tiers is imperative because each subsequent level will more than double the number of products that you can list on the platform (at least until you get to about Tier 4,000).
Fortunately, Amazon allows sellers to purchase their own products and have that number counted towards their total volume!
Buying a product or two on your own dime will:
- Help speed up the process of tiering up, and …
- Give sellers a chance to learn how the Merch by Amazon system works.
Tip #2: Research, Research, Research
Getting into the habit of doing good niche research is the foundation of a good Merch by Amazon t-shirt business. Fortunately, there are tons of tools out there to help sellers accomplish this.
If you want to jumpstart your niche research process, I’ve compiled a list of several hundred e-commerce passion niches that you can download for FREE, HERE.
Tip #3: Price Low; Beat Out the Market & Get More Sales
This is a must for those Merch by Amazon sellers with limited available design slots. When you are just getting started on the Merch platform, you need to take every advantage you can to get sales.
Look at the niche you are competing in and price slightly lower.
Remember, many (but not all) shoppers are price sensitive. If you offer a high quality product design + a better price you are going to pick up sales!
This lesson is one of the ones to be carried throughout the e-commerce journey. Amazon is a momentum based platform that can work for or against you.
Tip #4: Never Stop Experimenting
This one is self explanatory. Even if you think you are crushing it now, it is important to remember that the competition is always a few steps away.
Experiment with everything. Sell the same design on different products, don’t be afraid to adjust pricing until you find a sweet spot, change out keywords on underperforming designs, make more evergreen products or shift your focus to the latest trends.
These are just a few of the obvious ones. The point is, there are a myriad of ways to test new ideas to find out what works!
Tip #5: Learn From Others
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the importance of learning from others. Finding someone to inspire you, push you, or even show you the wrong way of doing things, will put you in the success fast lane.
No joke, this is one of the biggest hacks to speeding up learning.
Nowadays, this is also easier than ever. Sure, if you have a friend, a family member, or business connection who is also building a Merch by Amazon business, then link up with them and pay close attention to what they are doing.
But if not, no problem. The internet is a wild place full of an unfathomable amount of knowledge accessible with just a few clicks of the mouse.
My favorite places to connect with others on the same path are YouTube, blogs, and Facebook groups.
Here are a few of my personal favorite e-commerce content creators:
The balance I like to find is made up of three people at different levels. 1 person who is at my same level or very close to it, 1 person who is just a handful of steps ahead, AND one person at an aspirational level.
Whatever you want to call them; mentors, running mates, colleagues, competitors, each of these individuals serves a purpose.
The person who is at or very close to your level challenges you to stay on your toes, foster some competitiveness, and/or create a mastermind for bouncing ideas around.
The person who is a handful of steps ahead of your journey, acts as a guide to show you what the next few steps look like.
And the person at the aspirational level keeps the fire going. They show you the possibilities!
Tip #6: Invest in Your Business
Now this may not be right for everyone. Some people just want to build a side hustle up to a certain level, take their earnings and enjoy.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
However, if you want to turbo-charge your Merch by Amazon business, take the money you earn and put it back into your business.
Whether that is investing in …
- Software & Tools
- Designs or Design Elements
- Building a Team
- Courses & Learning
You are much more likely to get a better bang for your buck when you invest in the one thing you can count on: yourself.
Tip #7: Expand Onto Other Platforms
As your Merch by Amazon business begins to grow, take some time to diversify your print-on-demand portfolio.
One of my favorite frameworks for thinking about online businesses and passive income is “Build Once, Sell Twice.” Print on demand is a great example of this in action.
If you have already spent the time and money to create 20, 100, or 1,000 designs, then put them to work. Expanding onto other Print-on-Demand Sites gives you access to more digital real estate.
Tip #8: Consistency + Momentum = Success
And the final lesson I’ve learned from selling more than 4,000 products with Merch by Amazon is that Consistency + Momentum = Success.
When I first started my Merch by Amazon t-shirt business, things moved incredibly slow. After 8 months, I decided to make more of an effort to grow my business.
I committed to doing something every day for a month to grow my business. I also started documenting this process on my YouTube channel as a way of holding myself accountable.
One month, turned into two, and then three and then four, until the results finally started to show. Once I got serious about my side hustle, my sales took off.
I went from selling 6 products/mo. to nearly 240/mo. within 6 months.
Just remember that this process can also work against you. I’ve learned the hard way. In 2020, I was consumed with two jobs and 70+ work weeks. While I was learning a lot and had some great professional experiences, my side hustles suffered!
It took me several months to regain momentum.
You don’t need to be perfect but remaining consistent is the final key to dominating on Merch by Amazon. If you fall off the horse, take a quick pause and immediately hop back on.
There are countless other lessons that you can gather from building a Merch by Amazon business. But I believe that if at the very least you absorb just one of these lessons, your business will be better off for it.
Thanks for stopping by and if you want to learn more about the strategies I’m using to grow my side hustles, I encourage you to check out my YouTube channel.