Merch by Amazon – What I’ve Learned After 1 Year

what I've learned after 1 year of merch by amazon

If you’re an artist or graphic designer, applying to sell your designs through Merch by Amazon can definitely be worth your time.

Everyone shops on Amazon these days. And after a year of selling through Merch by Amazon, I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned!

Firstly, what is Amazon Merch? It’s essentially a Print on Demand service, similar to Redbubble or Society6. You can upload finished artwork to a variety of products, including t-shirts and cell phone accessories, and then they are printed and shipped out after a customer purchases that item.

Below is a screenshot of my earnings from September 2018 – August 2019. These figures are not huge compared to others out there, but it’s nothing to shake a fist at either! For reference, I only have about 100 products listed at the time of this writing.

As you can see, I’ve made about $2000 in total so far. I hope to double or even triple that figure in the next year!

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

Merch by Amazon – What I’ve Learned

  • Getting started can be frustrating. Application rejections don’t always make sense. It’s likely an automated process so make sure everything is filled out correctly. One wrong thing could lead to automatic rejection.
  • Getting accepted takes time. Be patient. It can take a few weeks in some cases.
  • Once your application is approved, you will start with only 10 design slots available. Think carefully about which 10 designs you want to use. Once you sell a few products you will be able to add more.
  • Each level is known as a “tier” and each tier comes with more design slots you can fill.
  • Regarding tax withholding – use your SIN number or other similar tax ID number otherwise they will withhold 30% of your earnings (if you are a seller outside of the U.S.). I couldn’t figure out what my Tax ID number was at first (duh…) so I had 30% withheld for the first 5 months. I eventually received those with-holdings but it took an additional 5 months to get it.
  • The brand name doesn’t matter much but may aid in search.
  • You don’t have a storefront unless you sign up for the Amazon Influencer program. You will also have to apply for this using one of your social media accounts, and you are not guaranteed to be accepted.
  • T-shirts and PopSockets seem to be the best selling product types.
  • Keywords and descriptions are very important.
  • Design rejections don’t always make sense and are often automated, just revise and keep going. Make sure to follow all of Amazon’s guidelines for keywords and descriptions to avoid this as much a possible.
  • Not everything will sell, and what does sell might not even be your best work.
  • Your design will be deleted if there are 0 sales after 1 year. When this happens, you can either revise your keywords and description or move on and try another design.
  • There are no discounts or sale promotion on Merch products.
  • PopSockets only ship within the U.S. at this time, while T-shirts you can sell to the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
  • There is a lot of competition on Amazon, so make designs that are unique and stand out.
  • Never use anything than can possibly even be considered copyright infringement, or you can risk losing your account altogether.

I hope you’ve found some of this information useful. Have you considered selling on Merch by Amazon or are you already? I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Happy selling.

Cheers,

Julie

You may also be interested in the following articles:

Common Scams for Artists to Watch Out For

scams for artists to watch out for

Hey guys! If you’ve been online pretty much ever, you’ve probably seen a scammer in action. But did you know there are scams specifically targeting artists and creatives?

I have personally encountered some of these scams and they can be very difficult to identify. I created this post in order to share them with you so you don’t fall prey to them.

Scammers are always coming up with new ways to take your money or intellectual property, so I’m sure this list will be outdated as soon as it’s published. However, I’ve also provided some tips on how to weed out a scam if you think you’ve encountered one.

Ways to Identify a Scam

It’s always exciting as an artist when people reach out to you and recognize your talent. Many people and companies prey on this and find ways to disguise their scams as “opportunities” for artists.

Read every e-mail or message thoroughly. If the language and grammar is very poor and sentences don’t make sense, it’s likely not worth your time and could even just be an automated message.

Whenever you are approached by a person or company find out as much as you can about them before proceeding. Google the company, and read reviews about them on websites like Better Business Bureau. Ask friends or other artists if they have experience with this company. If you can’t find anything about them online that’s usually a red flag.

When a company sends you an offer or contract, thoroughly read the fine print because there could be a catch. If you have to spend any of your own money up front, it’s probably a scam.

Always consider what’s in it for them. Why are they interested in you and your art? What do they get out of the partnership? Not to say your art isn’t good, but no one works for free or without motive.

Here are some common scams for Artists to watch out for

  • Companies reaching out to you for a “media feature” – Don’t waste your time. You will later learn you have to pay upwards of $5000 for this feature that probably doesn’t reach your target audience at all.
  • People asking to “collaborate” only to get free content from you, such as a photo of yourself using their product. Unless it is a big company which aligns with your brand, don’t give away your content for free.
  • Someone asking to use your art for their website or logo. Be very wary and do your research before sending them anything. Do not give it to them for free either. At least create some sort of contract saying they cannot re-sell your art and only use it for a specific purpose so you could take legal action if needed.
  • People asking for free art or products in exchange for a social media shout-out. I strongly encourage you never to give your art away for free. If the person is a legitimate social media influencer they probably would not be approaching you.
  • Amateur art shows that are paid for by the artists. These art shows sound exciting but you should not be forced to sell tickets or pay to fund the show yourself. Always research the company, read reviews, and consider what they are getting out of it.
  • So-called “gurus” trying to you sell you expensive courses to “help your business”. Some of them ask for $20,000 or more! Don’t give up your life savings for the same things you can learn online for free.
  • People asking to buy your artwork, but want to pay through non-traditional payment methods. ONLY accept payment through Paypal, Cards or E-transfer. Do not accept cheques. Never send files or ship art until after you’ve received payment and it’s in your bank account.
  • Sellers ripping off your designs to sell on websites like Amazon, AliExpress, TeeSpring etc. Google the keywords of your most popular works every few months to see if it shows up on websites that are not your own. Then submit take-down notices.

Have you ever been scammed or encountered an artist-specific scam? Leave your experience below for others to learn from!

Cheers,

Julie

Want to learn how to sell your art online? Start here!

A Great Zazzle Promotional Tool! Create Pinterest Ready Images with Ease

zazzle promotional tool

Hey guys! Today I would like to share this awesome promotional tool for creating share-able images from your Zazzle products. These images are especially optimized for Pinterest!

This website was created by Colleen Michele of “Pretty Wedding Paper”.

You can use either a link to a Zazzle “Collection” or a single product to create an image.

If you choose to use a collection you can select from the topmost 18 products in your collection and just check off which ones you want to include.

zazzle promotional tool

There are also options for different background and decoration options, or you can upload your own images to use!  You can also choose the size of each individual image, how many columns of products you want to have, and whether you want a horizontal or vertical layout.

Generally, if you are going to pin to Pinterest I think vertical is best.

You can pin your image directly to Pinterest from Colleen Michele’s website, just make sure to add a link with your own referral code under Pin URL.

Otherwise you can download the image to use later!

zazzle promotional tool

As you can see I’ve already had some fun creating images from my own collections!

I think this is a lovely and simple promotional tool for your Zazzle products.

If you think this could be useful for promoting your own Zazzle products make sure to check out the website!  You can also donate to the creator of this tool on the page if you’re so inclined 🙂

For more tips about selling on POD websites, or if you just want to follow along with my own artistic journey, then subscribe to my blog!  

See you around 🙂
 
Cheers,
 
Julie

10 Ways to Get Over Artist’s Block

getting over artists block

Creative block, a.k.a. Artist’s block is something I am sure all creative people have experienced at one point or another in their lives.

Sometimes you just feel burnt out or cannot even fathom what to do next!

Especially when you have a deadline or a creative assignment this can be a huge burden and cause a lot of stress for an artist or aspiring artist.

Below are some great ways I have found to get over this hump and get my creative juices flowing again!

1. Get a sketchbook

Sometimes just getting a nice new blank sketchbook is all I need to feel motivated to fill it up with drawings and doodles and whatever else I feel like!
I got myself a beautiful Moleskine sketchbook and drew this:

owl drawing sketch moleskine sketchbook

2. Draw anything and everything

Look up pictures of cute animals and draw them (see above). Doodle in your sketchbook – let your hand guide you. Draw your pet, your friend’s pet, or even your friend! Look up pictures on Pinterest or Google images and draw them (but you can’t sell them if you use copyrighted images).

3. Use materials around you

pen highlighter doodle art artist's block

Use office pens, highlighters, nail polish, whatever you have in your general vicinity.  See what you can create using the limited materials available to you.
Here is a little doodle I made using only pens and highlighters:

4. Travel

It doesn’t have to be far, nor cost a fortune. Just get outside and be inspired by the world around you! It could be nature (a park or beach) or the bustling city streets.  Simply observe and immerse yourself in living life. Sometimes a nice change of scenery is all it takes for creative inspiration!

5. Set it down, step away, and forget about it for a little while

Sometimes we just get burnt out creatively.

If you are feeling frustrated, it can be helpful to just walk away for a little while and forget about it.  It doesn’t have to be a long time, even just a relaxing evening with friends or family where you don’t think at all about your art can be like hitting the reset button.

6. Try something new

Maybe you’ve never tried watercolor painting, or needle crafts, or some other artistic medium you have admired from afar.  Give it a shot!

7. Find some new materials to work with

Look for free art materials on Craigslist or Freecycle (freecycle.org), or go buy something at the art supply store.

Sometimes all we need to be inspired are some fun new materials, maybe even something we hadn’t considered using before.

8. Look at other art

Go check out some local galleries or simply look for art online!.

See what other people are making; obviously don’t copy them but you can be inspired by their work and create something in your own style!  Check out my online art gallery for inspiration.

9. Get down and dirty. Destroy to create!

Creation can be a destructive process.  It can also be fun just to get dirty and/or destroy something! Just don’t ruin anything of value or that you will regret later.

Ideas: Throw paint or coffee at a canvas or paper.  Rip up some paper or other materials.  Let out some of that frustration!

10. Do some tutorials

For me, this is a great one to develop creative ideas and get past artist’s block.

Look up tutorials online in your preferred medium: digital (Photoshop, illustrator), painting, drawing etc.  Youtube is a great resource for tutorials in all kinds of mediums!

That’s all the ideas I have for you today, I hope these will help you get over that pesky creative block!

How do you get over artist’s block?  Leave your ideas in the comment section below!!

Check out my website if you would like to see more of my artwork, and feel free to connect with me via Facebook and Instagram too!

Cheers,

Julie