What if I told you that there is a business model that can generate five figures per year passively and has no need for any upfront cash investment?
And what if I told you that this same business model requires zero marketing to be successful, customers will just be there in their millions, buying products that you haven’t spent much time on?
Sold? Say hello to the first side-hustle that I started that was successful enough to incorporate. The only side-hustle that has still generated a sufficient sum over the past 12 months without me having to lift a finger – Merch By Amazon.
Merch By Amazon is a POD (print on demand) branch of Amazon. Amazon started this operation in 2015 when they invested in printers across the USA and it’s currently still in a beta phase with invite-only participation. There are a few other companies that run in a similar vein such as RedBubble and TeeSpring but none have the behemoth of a customer base that Amazon has.
The way POD services like this work is by offering users the ability to upload a finished merchandise design, they then create a product from that design like seen on the SavingNinja store page. The POD service then deals with everything; the shipping, returns, hosting, rating; all of the stuff that you don’t want to be dealing with. If someone buys that product, the POD will take the manufacturing costs and a small margin, and you’ll get the rest. You’ll get this payment in the form of royalties by the POD. You’re basically employed by them.
POD services are part of the growing list of companies that you can start with absolutely zero cash investment (Stock images, Kindle publishing). You don’t have to find investors, buy stock or a commercial property. It’s completely free to try out, you can literally only make money. Removing the risk also removes the barrier to entry into business for a lot of people. It allows entrepreneurs to ‘try before they buy’ without investing £1000s of their personal savings.
What Makes Amazon Special?
In 2016 Amazon had 310 million active customers. They have 100 million prime subscribers; that’s what makes Amazon special. With Amazon, you’ll be selling your merchandise in the worlds biggest store. You’ll have millions of eyes on your products every single day.
Due to Amazons gargantuan customer base, you don’t have to be a world class designer to sell. In-fact, most of Merch By Amazon’s earnings are via text designs like this and this. A good business model promotes quantity over quality, and it works!
How Easy is it to Think of Designs?
In many ways Merch By Amazon is more about research than design. You want to think of a design idea that not many people have already done, you don’t want to be on page 20 of Amazon’s search results. A lot of the work is also about your product keywords. You need to ensure that customers can find what you’ve made.
As always, like with Matched Betting, this is incredibly easy due to software. With Merch Informer it will basically tell you the exact designs that will perform poorly (due to saturation) or whether there is money to be made. Even though there is a small monthly cost, I definitely recommend this the software as it will pay dividends in time and money down the line.
How Long Does it Take to Make Designs?
When you’ve got a design idea that you’re sure will sell, the next step is to actually make the design. Due to the novelty nature of the designs this is a lot easier than it first may seem. This is due to the designs consisting of mainly font and a simple silhouette image. The less artwork you have on the design, the less risk there is for someone not to like it. A lot of merch customers will mainly be looking for a certain quote or phrase; not a fancy design.
Amazon offers templates for Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator and GIMP. You can use these templates to easily mock up your designs and see what they’ll look like.
When you’ve made a bit of profit, a lot of people decide to delegate the design work to people on freelancing sites like Upwork for $5 – $10 per design. Only one product needs to sell to make up for this cost, you can expand your business very quickly using this method.
I’ll be writing a full guide to Merch By Amazon in the future. But if you think that you’d like to give this side-hustle a go, make sure you head over to the Merch By Amazon website and request an invitation. It can take some people over 12 months to be accepted.[note]They’ve aparantly started accepting people a lot quicker recently.[/note]
If you’ve already been accepted; here are some useful resources to get you started:
Merch Informer – Research is key to be successful – They offer a free trial through this link!
AmazonMerch Reddit – There is a wealth of knowledge available on Reddit
Michael Essek Blog – Very successful Merch seller