Merch by Amazon  is a print on demand service from Amazon that lets entrepreneurs upload their own designs to be printed on t-shirts. Amazon then prints and ships the products directly to customers and sellers make money off of the royalties from their designs. It also means you don’t need to actually handle any physical merchandise.
It’s also free to sign up, potentially offering small business owners an opportunity to add extra revenue streams to their existing businesses without having to dedicate a lot of resources. Appropriate for the recognition of International Women’s Day, one female entrepreneur shares the secrets she’s learned to build a business with the innovative Amazon service.
Kim Jensen is an entrepreneur who has found success selling designs  using Merch by Amazon over the past year. Here are some tips from Jensen that she’s learned through her own experience.
Learn How to Design — or Hire Someone
Obviously, since the idea by Merch by Amazon is to sell designs you create on t-shirts and similar products, being able to design is a pretty important part of the process. However, this isn’t a skill that Jensen really possesses.
She said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “I have no design background at all. I don’t know Photoshop, Illustrator, I couldn’t make a t-shirt design.”
So after she applied and was accepted to use Merch by Amazon, she asked her daughter, who was in college and in need of work, if she would handle the design part of the business.
Whether you have a family member or partner who can help you with the designs or the ability to hire an actual designer, you don’t necessarily need a lengthy design background to run a successful business using Merch by Amazon. But if you don’t have help, you could also take some design courses to develop your skills on your own.
Keep Up with Current Trends
Jensen says that the early days of her experience with Merch by Amazon weren’t hugely profitable. She and her daughter were still figuring out what types of designs they wanted to feature. Then last year’s Solar Eclipse changed everything.
They uploaded a couple of shirt designs to commemorate the event, and they were hugely popular. Jensen said that the shop actually made more money from Merch by Amazon royalties in just two weeks last summer than she made in a whole year working at her full-time job.
For that reason, she really recommends that sellers keep an eye on trending topics to come up with design ideas that might appeal to the masses.
She says, “I would say just keep up with trends and with what’s showing up in stores and what people are talking about.”
Get Designs Launched Early
When uploading designs related to current events or trending topics, timing is key. If you wait until every other seller has already uploaded their own designs related to the same topic, yours is likely to get buried within the hundreds or even thousands of pages of similar designs. Eventually, Amazon had about 2,000 pages of Solar Eclipse t-shirts. But Jensen uploaded one of the first, leading to early sales and increased visibility.
She added, “I think the fact that there were only a few Eclipse shirts out there when we launched ours made a big difference. Ours started selling really well and then by the time everyone else got theirs listed, we already had a lot of sales so we were showing up in the first page of results.”
Merch by Amazon doesn’t have to be your only business opportunity. In fact, Jensen already had a traditional Amazon shop and continues to run it while also adding designs using Merch by Amazon. So you can use it as another revenue stream for your existing business, or start with Merch by Amazon and then add more revenue streams from there. Additionally, Merch by Amazon is non-exclusive, so you can sell those same designs on other platforms if you so choose.
Get Started Right Away
If you’re still unsure about jumping into Merch by Amazon, Jensen points to the lack of upfront cost as a great reason to take advantage of the opportunity. Even if you’re not sure about your design skills or what type of products you want to offer, you can sign up and figure out those details later on.
Jensen says, “It doesn’t cost anything. It’s like a completely free way to start a business or add to your business so just start out. Don’t wait. Then keep plugging away because if you keep listing new products and make things that people identify with, it’s eventually going to pay off.”