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!

How I’m Breaking the Mold as an Artist

Hey guys! Today I’d like to share with you a little bit about how I’m breaking the mold of being an artist in the 21st century.

Throughout history, artists have had to fit certain molds to have their work accepted by galleries and the art community.

But the greatest artists were the ones who broke the mold.

In Medieval Europe, art was controlled by the Church. Artists had to create work featuring religious characters and stories in order to sell. Artists found ways to work around these limitations by inserting the faces of their patrons into religious scenes.

The great art of the Renaissance was a rejection of these restrictions. In fact, there has been a constant back and forth throughout history, with each art movement being a reaction to the one that came before.

Impressionism was a reaction to Realism. Monet and the Impressionists were originally shunned by the art community in Paris. Of course they are now widely loved and celebrated (not to mention, the art is worth millions).

In 1917, Marcel DuChamp submitted an upside down urinal as an affront to the so-called “Society of Independent Artists”. This move has gone down in history and gave rise to Dadaism.

Marcel Duchamp Fountain 1917

The greatest historical artists we know today were the ones who broke the mold and pushed back against the establishment. These artists were ahead of their time, controversial, and often under appreciated until late in life or even after death.

Artist Gustav Klimt The Kiss

So how can I follow in the footsteps of the great artists of the past?

Today, there are once again pervasive ideas about what being an artist should look like.

Many of my professors at University scoffed at the idea of selling art online on fashion and home decor products. They held the belief that a true artist should suffer for their work, and should only show in established galleries, otherwise they’re “selling out”.

Another pervasive idea is that art should only be understood and accessible to an elite few. I think that idea is bullshit and needs to be smashed like the patriarchy! I hold the belief that art should be accessible to all.

The internet and the ability to self represent has completely changed the landscape of being an artist today. We can spread our work around the world all on our own, and become business men and women in our own right. We can create any kind of artwork we want and find a market for it.

All artists should be taking advantage of this and starting a new movement. Our movement doesn’t have a name yet but one day people will be reading about this time in history. Just like we read about the “Renaissance” “Impressionism” and “Dadaism” movements of the past.

This is how I’m breaking the mold as an artist and doing what every other great artist has done before me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what being an Artist in the 21st century means to you. Leave your comments below! Please note: I’m not an art historian and have definitely over-simplified some aspects here, so feel free to point out if I’m completely wrong.

Thanks for sticking around long enough to read my rant! I really appreciate it. Head over to my gallery to check out my artwork, and make sure to subscribe to my blog if you want to follow along on my journey.

Cheers,

Julie

What to do When Sales are Slow in Your Print on Demand Store

What to do when sales are slow print on demand stores

Hey guys!  Today I’d like to share with you my thoughts on what to do when sales are slow in your Print on Demand shops and online stores.

In retail, whether online or brick and mortar, there are sales cycles.  This means that sales slow down at certain times of the year and peak during other times, like at Christmas.

It can be frustrating and confusing to go from making several sales in a month to barely any, but that is totally normal and just the reality of retail. It does not mean you’ve failed, so don’t get down!

Think about how you personally shop. What times of the year do you spend the most money and when do you save? You will most likely find this reflected in your sales.

Here you can easily see the cycle peaks and lows during the year from my Redbubble analytics:

sales cycles on print on demand online retail stores

You can see my sales peak in November and December and drop down in the spring. Then they steadily climb back up until August when people shop for Back to School.

Now this sales cycle is totally normal and something you will need to get used to and prepare for, especially if your sole income is through online retail shops.

Instead of getting frustrated and throwing in the towel, there are lots of things you can do during these low times to get your shops ready for when the sales start to rise again!

Here is a list of ideas:

  • Work on your website or blog. Start one if you haven’t yet.
  • Continue creating and adding new designs to your shops.
  • Find new ways to promote your shops. Start using Pinterest for example.
  • Grow your social media followings.
  • Go through your stores and fix or delete under-performing designs.
  • Go through your designs and update keywords.
  • Enable new products you haven’t offered before.
  • Do a brand overhaul: new logo, banners, etc.
  • Promote sales. If your sales are slow, so are the websites you sell on and they will often have really good sales during slow times to get people to buy.
  • Ask others for feedback. You could ask friends or other Print on Demand artists for feedback on your stores and/or designs.
  • Network. Find and join support groups with like-minded individuals. There are lots of Print on Demand groups on Facebook.
  • Learn new business and marketing strategies through YouTube or other sources.
  • Take a break. Sometimes we need some time away to replenish our creativity.  Go on a holiday or spend time with friends and family and come back with new ideas.
  • Open a new store. There are lots of print on demand sites out there, perhaps there is one more suited to your style. Here is a list of Print on Demand sites to try.
  • And most importantly don’t give up!

Looking for more? You can find lots more tips about selling your art through Print on Demand websites in the resources section of my blog.

Happy selling!

Cheers,

Julie

How to Sell Your Art Online in 5 Steps

5 steps to sell your art online

Step 1. Build your portfolio.

In order to start selling your art online, you should have a decent sized portfolio for potential customers to choose from. Aim for 10-25 artworks.

sketch book designs feathers pug painting watercolour

You can either make a bunch of new artwork, or dig up some old pieces that could work digitally or physically to sell.

Step 2: Decide where to sell your art.

Next, you’ll have to decide where to sell your art and that will depend on your medium, style, and goals as an artist.

Identify your audience and how you want to sell your art.

  • Are you going to sell primarily prints? (many avenues)
  • Are you going to sell physical work, such as paintings? (Etsy, or Fine Art America)
  • Do you create sculptures, jewelry or something else tangible? (Etsy)
  • Are you interested in designing t-shirts and/or home decor products? (Society6, Zazzle or Redbubble)

Check out my blog post about Where to Sell Your Art Online to help you decide.

For even more help on deciding where to sell your art online check out these posts:

Step 3. Optimize your artwork for sale

You’ll have to optimize your art digitally, or take a nice photo of it in order to sell it online.

  • Scan or photograph your artwork
  • Make it a large file size
  • Try to get sharp lines and true colors
  • Post process in a program like Photoshop to fix colors, or clean up scans.

Here is a an explanation of how I clean up my drawings using Photoshop and Illustrator

Step 4: Upload and enable as many products as possible

Upload your art to your chosen platform.

If you are going the Print On Demand route,  only add to products that look good and work with the design.

mermaid cell phone case example

Step 5: Market your products

This is where a lot of artists struggle because, well, we’re artists not business or marketing professionals!

  • Share your products and artwork on social media. 
    • Create an Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook page dedicated to your art.
    • Ideally, choose one you use frequently so it’s not a burden to learn or use daily.
  • You may consider building a website, which can be a hub if you sell on multiple platforms. It could be a blog or just a portfolio of your work.
  • Check out my pages for inspiration:
  • To dive deeper into marketing, watch tutorials on YouTube or try Skillshare to hone your business skills or even artistic skills as your business grows.

There is a lot to learn on the business side, but don’t neglect your art!

Consistently create new designs so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t, and go from there.

Consistency is key!

For more tips on selling your art online check out these posts:

Social Media Marketing Tips For Artists
Blogging for Your Art Business
How to Increase Your Sales on POD Websites

I hope you’ve found this guide to selling your art online useful.  Feel free to leave any additional tips or questions for me in the comments below!>

Cheers,

Julie

6 Inspiring Quotes for Female Entrepreneurs

Hey guys!

As you may already know, being an entrepreneur can be challenging at times and especially for us ladies who are often juggling multiple responsibilities like jobs and families.

Sometimes you need a little something to keep you motivated so I’ve created these fun, inspirational quotes for you to enjoy and share as you like.

These are all made using Canva.  If you haven’t used Canva before you really should check it out, it makes creating share-able social media posts so quick and simple.

Without further ado, on to the quotes!

inspirational motivational entrepreneur hustle quotes quote
but every day we get a little closer motivational quotes
wake up and slay quote
motivational inspirational girl boss quote
inspiring motivating female entrepreneur quote quotes
sassy fun entrepreneur hustle girl boss quote quotes

Which one of these resonates with you the most? Let me know in the comments below!

Also feel free to share these far and wide as much as you like.

You can also check out more share-able quotes from my blog here:

10 Inspiring Quotes by Famous Artists
10 Inspirational Quotes About Art

Are you just getting started with your own side hustle?  Check out some of my articles on selling your art online for extra ca$h!

Where to Sell Your Art Online
Social Media Marketing Tips

Cheers,

Julie