Hello Niche Pursuits!Many of you probably have no idea who I am, but just like you guys, I like to check what's going on Spencer and always learn what I can fill in gaps in areas that I may not understand.
My name is Neil and I have been self-employed in the Internet marketing industry (if you want to call it that), for almost 5 years.I'll show you exactly how to start an online t-shirt business.
You see, I started my Sophomore college year by creating hosting affiliate sites.I pushed shopping carts to a local store down the road to pay for my living expenses and start building a PBN (yay 2012!).This first hosting affiliate allowed me to reach the figure of 5 per month and I made the leap of confidence to leave my job.
To speed up this story a bit, since then, I graduated, decided not to pursue law school, created 10 if not hundreds of Amazon affiliate sites, created a small marketing blog that I tend to overlook, sold Clickbank software and products, handled all kinds of paid traffic, and now I sell T-shirts and other products on Amazon!
The other day I came across an article Spencer had written about how to make money using Amazon here, and noticed that I actually received a mention on that list for earning over $150,000 on Amazon selling shirts through the Merch by Amazon program.
Today I want to review exactly how I did it, and the steps you can take to replicate this year's process starting NOW!
HOW TO START YOUR CLOTHING LINE WITH THE MERCH BY AMAZON PROGRAM
Many of you probably don't know this, but the Merch by Amazon program was launched some time ago.This is a great program for those looking to learn how to start a T-shirt business and sell their own clothing line.For the first few months, hardly anyone knew that this Amazon program that had just been released existed and this is because you are probably not a developer.
If you still have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain.Amazon's Merch is a print-on-demand (POD) platform for selling T-shirts and MANY other products such as mugs, etc. On their platform.
The way it works is that once you have an account, you upload designs to the platform, choose some shirt colors that your design looks perfect on, enter a title, brand, some bullet points, and a description of your shirt, and click publish.Within minutes, you now have a money-generating page on Amazon that sells your shirt to billions of monthly visitors.
Amazon handles the sale, printing, shipping, and even customer service for the t-shirt sales you get, and all you do is collect a royalty on each sale.This is a fantastic program because your initial cost is $0.That's right, it doesn't cost you anything to start selling Merch on Amazon.
Since the product is not made until it is ordered, there is no need to manage inventory or pay storage fees.Once the payment has been collected, Amazon makes the t-shirt and sends you everything beyond your expenses.
If you started connecting the dots, you would notice how great this opportunity is.You can sell products to people with all the strength of Amazon behind you and collect royalties!Many other people started seeing this opportunity, people who weren't app developers.
As the program was flooded with memberships, Amazon's Merch quickly went to an invitation-only program.You can still request an invitation, but there are no guarantees when you will be accepted.
Amazon has also placed a limit on the number of designs Amazon allows you to create at once. This means that, essentially, you can only post so many shirts on an account when you have one.You have to prove that you can make enough sales with those slots that are assigned to you, before you get even more slots for T-shirts.
If your interest is at its peak, I highly recommend going to Merch from Amazon and requesting an invitation.You could wait a long time, but it can be really nice once you get in…
START YOUR CLOTHING LINE: 6 STEPS TO HOW TO START A T-SHIRT BUSINESS ON AMAZON
Amazon's Merch isn't the only way to start selling shirts on Amazon, far from it.You can always print your designs and then send them to be made by Amazon (FBA), or you can print and sell them from your home.There is also the option of dropshipping t-shirts from Ebay or another marketplace by doing retail arbitrage.
Think about this not just selling on Amazon.Think about this as starting your own clothing line.This is a brand, a business you can build.You could launch a niche site and sell your clothes from there.You can design and sell clothes on Shopify.The opportunities here are endless.
What if there was a way to sell not just T-shirts, but hundreds of different items on the Amazon marketplace without holding a single piece of inventory and seeing the same level of success if not higher numbers than those seen in the last year?
There is, and I'm going to look into exactly how to do it based on the brand new Amazon/Shopify integration.You can set it up and sell it on Amazon today if you decide to take action.
STEP 1: UNDERSTAND HOW AMAZON WORKS
Before you even consider connecting everything else, you first need to understand how Amazon works.These are Amazon BSR and Copyright/Trademark metrics.
BSR (RANKING OF THE BEST SELLERS)
For every product it's selling on Amazon Marketplace, they'll have something called a Best Seller or BSR ranking for short.This number provided will be relative to the number of sales the item is receiving.This BSR number is also related to the category in which the product is located. 100,000 BSR in clothing will not sell the same amount of units as 100,000 BSR in Gardening and so on.
If you were to go searching for a product, scroll down to the product description and you should see a box similar to this:
To give a very rough idea of what BSR means, a BSR of 100,000 in clothing sells about 1-2 units per day.You can also use Jungle Scout's free estimator to keep track of how much each seller sells each day.The BSR pictured above probably means they're getting a sale or two every few days.
The lower the BSR, the more units are selling.I can tell you from experience that a BSR of around #2000 means you are selling 25-50 units per day.The more experience you sell in certain categories, the better your estimate of the number of sales you get from these lists.
COPYRIGHT / TRADEMARKS
Copyright and trademark are very different, but they're both something you need to know well enough not to violate someone else's rights.When you do not put drawings on the goods, you should never copy the drawings.This is a copyright infringement and will eventually ban you from selling on Amazon after people report you.
Amazon doesn't want to rip off and they will punish you if caught.Why risk it?
Brand is the big other you need to know how to use.These are recognizable expressions that people have protected.These can be signs, expressions or logos.When you're dealing with making projects on Amazon, you need to avoid saying on your merch that they've been protected.Make sure there's some kind of text or logo going on with your designs to execute the phrase through one of these sites:
STEP 2: RESEARCH BEFORE YOU START DESIGNING CLOTHES
Now that you're familiar with BSR and copyright/trademark, we can actually get into the fun part; Niche research.This is by far the most important step in selling merch on Amazon.If you don't search correctly, you will fail.
Let me repeat that you have to do your research properly or you will not succeed.
So far I have made a lot of money following a very simple strategy.It makes better products than competitors in niches where there is demand.
Simply put, I find what customers buy and create more visually appealing products to buy at a fair price.I do this by analyzing keywords and ranking of best sellers!
SEARCH BY KEYWORD
Go to Amazon.com and enter any niche you want more "t-shirt" and click Search.For this example, I will use a niche example: veganism.
Note: niches where people are passionate about their cause sell the best.
This brings up the product page for your search.You can see some examples of shirts for sale.If you scroll to the bottom of the page you can see that there are more than 15 pages of shirts in this niche.Just because there are a lot of products doesn't mean they're selling well.
Start opening all the different shirts you see!This process can be time-consuming, but open as many tabs as you can.After opening many, go to each page and go to the "Product Description" section on the product page and locate the BSR.
Important tip: I personally target any project around 100k-300k BSR.This typically means that the design is sold once every day and that if you come up with something better, you can also make sales.This also seems like the sweet spot between a lot of competition and making easy money.
I will then take every single shirt that has a fairly low BSR and copy that URL into a spreadsheet.
The designs you find on these shirts may be simple or may be complicated.Your first goal is to determine if you or a designer can make a BETTER-looking product in the niche.If you can't, don't add it to your list!
As you can see from the screenshot, if you go and take a look at those t-shirts, they are selling very well.It would be extremely easy to compete against these because the shirts so far are mainly just text. A little graphic design around the same idea and you'll have a better product!
I typically go through at least 5 pages at the bottom of the page looking at each individual t-shirt to determine the BSR and save my links to an Excel file.
You'll have to do this for every single niche you can think of.I would recommend creating 100 niches, and then going through the first 5 pages of shirts for each of those niches to create your initial file of potential projects to address.
Keep in mind that this is a numbers game.If you want to put up 10 drawings and think that you are going to approach large numbers, you are very wrong.Eventually you want to get to the point where you have thousands of designs online, each sold every day or two.Start with a few drawings and scale as you earn.This is a process.
SEARCH BY BRAND
The second thing I'm going to do is related to the keyword research we just looked at.Sometimes it can be extremely difficult to find other niches at the top of the head, right?I love letting other people do this niche research for me!
The way we do this is to take a look at the brands that are already selling well on the platform.
If you go back to the screenshot of vegan shirts, you will see that there is this list: https://www.amazon.com/Plants-Protein-Vegetarian-T-Shirt-Medium/dp/B01APINC7E
Right above the title, you will notice the brand of the shirt.This shirt may not sell well when you read this (currently #98k BSR), but you may be wondering what other niches this brand created.Just click on the brand at the top of the page there.
As you can see, this brand has 169 shirts right now !Just scroll through the list to find new niches, then open all shirts in a new tab to check if they sell via BSR (yes, open all 169 links, I know it will take a long time).Keep adding that spreadsheet you're creating!
Keep following the keyword research and brand research I exposed above until you feel you have a solid foundation for 100 killer projects.If you do exactly as I laid out above, you should have what it takes to make the kind of money I take a screenshot at the top of this article.
SPEED UP THE SEARCH PROCESS
These were the exact steps I took to build my initial revenue stream.If you try it you will notice that it can take forever!Since I still run many large affiliate sites, this growing side business has taken a long time.I needed to continue the process (because it worked) but I needed to free up some of my time.
I, along with my business partner, decided to devise a better way.We have created our software to complete the entire search process as automated as possible.As merch income increased, so did community demands.After many months of polishing our self-use tool, we released it to the public and Merch Informer was born in October 2016.
Merch Informer allows you to find the best-selling t-shirts for any keyword or brand.These are ranked by top sellers, and you have the option to save and download your links, images, descriptions, prices, and check keyword competition within Amazon.Using the example of Vegan from above, you can see what it would look like within the software.I use all this information to send to my designers that we will review in the next step.The easiest way to grow this business is to outsource at lightning speed!
You can do everything I talk about in this article manually, or you can try it with a 3-day free trial that we give to everyone.
We have put a lot of time and effort into putting together the most comprehensive Merch search tool available on the market.As a thank you to the Niche Pursuits community, please use the coupon code NICHEPURSUITS for a 20% discount if you want to try it out.
The biggest challenge most newcomers face in the POD (print on demand) space is that they have trouble finding niches that sell.With Merch Informer, we've pretty much created a keyword tool that mines keywords into niches that are almost guaranteed to get you to sell.How do we do this?We pull from Amazon we suggest!
Amazon is a big data company, so it uses all this data to optimize the number of sales obtained.When you start typing a keyword, you'll see that Amazon automatically starts recommending or suggesting the end of the original seed keyword.They do this because they know from their data that if you were to break into one of the suggested niches, you're much more likely to buy things.
Use everything I've put in above along with Amazon to suggest that your search is solid!
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHING LINE STEP 3: CREATE YOUR DESIGNS
There are two ways to create your own projects.You can create custom t-shirts yourself, or you can outsource them.
I ended up doing my first 100 projects on my own, but after seeing that the model worked, I started outsourcing.Since I'm not an artist, I had to watch some videos on Youtube to understand what I was doing.
If you plan to create them yourself, you can use:
GIMP is a free option you might want to look into.If you're interested in Photoshop or Illustrator, you can check out Adobe CC here.
NOTE: When creating drawings, make the size 4500X5400.You want a large resolution so that when printed, they look sharp and sharp.
If you're not an artist like me, it really leaves you with only one choice: outsource!
If you're familiar with VA content outsourcing, this is extremely similar.Since I was already hiring writers on Upwork, I decided that this was the place I would get my graphic designs from.It turns out that you can get charts for about $4 per project.There are many custom t-shirt companies that outsource this way.Here's the exact script I used:
Hey, I need 400 templates of T-shirts in the period of 2-3 months.
Your task will be quite simple, I will send you ideas of t-shirts that I want to make and make them yourself in your own unique style.For example, I could send you a link to an existing t-shirt and I would need you to inspire yourself and create a better version in your creative style.
I will leave many 5* reviews so I can get easier jobs in the future and this is a long-term position.Once we have done the first batch of 400 – about 4 per day, we could continue if everything looks fine.
Looking forward to doing business with you!
I'm going to hire a few and give each one some of the research links we did in the previous step.If they come back with good designs in their unique style, I hire them in the long run.Keep in mind that you want to give them the links and / or images as inspiration and receive something in return that is a better product than what is currently being sold.
STEP 4 IN YOUR CLOTHING LINE: SET UP SHOPIFY
Now that you have some nice drawings lying around your search, you need some shit to put them in!I mentioned at the beginning that the Merch by Amazon program was closed, so if you want to start a T-shirt business or any other merch business, there is a way around the merch program.Not only is there a way around it, this is a much better solution.It will allow you to put your designs on tons of different products besides shirts.The sky is the limit and you don't need to keep any inventory.
The way we do this is through the brand new Shopify/Amazon integration.Since there are print-on-demand services that integrate with Shopify and Shopify now switches to Amazon, you can set everything up to become fully automated.
Go to Shopify and sign up for a free trial (yes, the whole method works in the free trial version).
After signing up, the backend should look like this:
What you want to do is scroll down to the apps section at the bottom and look for an app called Teelaunch.It will look like this:
Teelaunch is the company we will use to print our designs on products without ever touching them.You see, when you receive an order from Amazon (we'll review that in a minute), then the order appears in your shopify store.Teelaunch automatically sees that order, prints it for you, and ships it to the Amazon customer.All this happens without any input from you!
Note: I went with Teelaunch because of their price which means a higher ROI.There are many print-on-demand services that integrate with Shopify that you might want to use for this method.
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After installing the Teelaunch app in your Shopify backend, you need to set it up quickly.Go to the app and click the "Account" button on the upper right corner.Enter your details and enter a credit card that will be charged when you receive an order.You will take profits from Amazon and pay this credit card every 14 days.All that's left is your profit.
Before the comments start pouring in, if you are from another country, YES you can perform this method.Simply Google's "free US address" and search through the options that will give you an address and a freight forwarder.Most people from abroad will handle returns simply by reimbursing the customer and allowing them to keep the product.
Back to the Teelaunch app, we will add our first product.Click "New Product" at the top of the page.
Choose any type of merchandise you want to sell.In this example, I'm going to sell shirts because that's what I started.
Choose the shirt you want to print on.I went with the Gildan t-shirt because from personal experience they are of excellent quality and actually the cheapest choice.
Upload your design to the editor until it looks good, choose some colors, then select some sizes.
When you're happy with how everything is set up, give it a title and a few bullet points in the backend and then publish it.
You now have a t-shirt in your Shopify backend.Now we will have to stick this shirt so that it appears on Amazon.
Go back to the Shopify menu and click "Add a sales channel"
From here, install the Amazon sales channel.This is where the magic happens Once the Amazon channel is installed, you will need to link it to your Amazon seller account.
IMPORTANT: If you don't have an Amazon seller account, go and sign up for one.You'll need a professional seller account that's $39.99 per month for the entire integration to work.
Accept the Amazon MWS agreement, and you've successfully linked your account to Shopify!
Now that these 2 accounts are linked, we recommend that you log into the Amazon app and click "Sell on Amazon".When you click this button, you'll see a list of products you've listed in your Shopify store.From this screenshot you can see the t-shirt I was creating earlier.
Since you're building your brand here, select that the product is made by your brand.Choose the appropriate category and start entering the title, brand, some bullet points, and a description.
Keep two things in mind.The first is that you will need to click on "Apply to sell in this category" before the shirt can be published on Amazon.This application asks you some questions and you have been approved INSTANTLY.Also, you will have to make multiple lists for men's and women's shirts.I actually prefer this as it gives us a chance to be more targeted in our approach to keywords.
For every jersey you collect, you will have variations.Each variant requires a UPC and SKU.
SKUs are for internal use and can be invented.They're just a bunch of characters.I decided to make mine random using a random string of 10 digits: https://www.random.org/strings/
However, you will need to purchase UPC.These are 12 digits long and can be purchased from many places online.I have thousands on eBay for a few dollars.It is very important that when you buy them, you get the 12-digit ones and NOT the 13-digit EAN numbers.
Since you need a new UPC for EVERY variant you want to put online, I recommend putting your designs on other things that don't require size.
Once you're done getting into the variants and have been approved for the clothing category, you can post your design.It should take about 30 minutes for the item to appear live on Amazon.
If ANY of these instructions are confusing or you want a more detailed description of how to set up and link the two, read this article here.
Log in to your central seller account and be sure to change the shipping time and shipping price.The teelaunch was very quick on their shipping, but I like to extend it a bit and reduce shipping to $2.99 for the bottom 48 states.This makes my products more interesting for the buyer.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT CALCULATIONS
If the price of your shirts is around $17 on Amazon with $2.99 shipping, the customer will be charged around $20.If you feel that a typical t-shirt we've created will cost you $12.50 (this is with shipping included) and Amazon pays its fee of around $3, they'll be left with over $4 per shirt sold.
This may not seem like much at first, but when you realize that you're selling on Amazon.com where there are millions of daily shoppers, your perspective may start to change. I sell hundreds of shirts a day.
Shirts have a profit margin of $4, but think about the other products you could sell.Mugs and sweatshirts could have a much higher profit margin depending on the price.Play with it because the sky is the limit.
STEP 5 FOR YOUR ONLINE T-SHIRT BUSINESS: OPTIMIZE YOUR LISTINGS ON AMAZON
When it comes to building your Amazon listing around the product you're building, there are just a few important points that need to be covered.These are: price, brand, title, bullet points and competition.
This is important because it's one of the first things a buyer will notice.Make sure you have a competitive price.If everyone else in your niche sells for $20, then why should you try to sell your merchandise for $25?Sure, you'd get a better margin, but you'll get drastically less sales.If the price is around $20, you must have an extremely valid reason to do so.
Let the market determine where you are evaluating.Take a look at your competition.They might have the same product, but take a really tough look and see if your designs are really much better to ask for a higher price.I like to make sure my prices are in the middle.
An easy way to do this is to take all the prices on the first page, add them and then divide them by the total amount of listings on the page and then evaluate the product at that price.
I recommended that people on Amazon's Merch come up with a different brand for every T-shirt they put online.This is no longer the case with this method because you are selling on Amazon Seller Central and have full control over reviews and other aspects of the listing.Choose a brand that works for many products and follow it!
The title is extremely important for positioning on Amazon and where the keywords will be entered.To talk about keywords, we have to stay ahead of the competition.
For this example, let's say you just created a great design on "Cats."When you're loading the shirt, you really want to see what similar models are available and the price of what the market demands.When you start writing your title, you could just call it "Black Cat T-shirt."This is a huge mistake!
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Look at that!If you were to call it a black cat t-shirt, you would probably get lost in almost 150 thousand different results that appear.You want niche if you have the ability to make sales.
Think to yourself, "What would a customer look for if they were looking for this shirt"?Maybe your shirt has ears.
Improve, but still many results.It's time to try using a modifier to further reduce the niche.
Nearby!I like to see if I can get less than 1,000 results if possible.Undo this way is the perfect way to add keywords to your ad title without looking like spam.
As you can see, by tweaking the title a bit, we've discovered a way to lower the competition you'll face and put some keywords in the title for better rankings throughout.This is what you want to put into practice with every product you are assembling.
This is the same process used by Spencer with long-tail keywords. Money is not in the short tail, high-volume keywords. It is low volume, long-tailed ones.People who search for this type of object know what they are looking for, and the competition for you is almost none.
Bullet points are what your Amazon ranked merchandise gets from all the tests I've done.These bullets need to be rich in keywords without keyword stuffing.To do this, make sure that they are consistent sentences.Read them aloud to make sure they sound correctly.
What many people do here is simply describe their product.Should you do that?
Bullet points are those that you wear your marketing hat and SELL the prospect.You have multiple bullet points to work with here, so be sure to market them here.They will read these.Tell them why they want it!
I also like to put one last bullet point telling them to order an extra size because these on-demand shirts often reduce a size in washing.
If the bullet points are where you sell the customer, the description is where you want to describe what's in the shirt.Keep in mind that this section is what appears on mobile devices and is often used in the meta description for ranking on Google.Be sure to fill them and not leave them empty.
STEP 6: SCALE THE CLOTHING LINE
The whole method is nothing more than a numbers game and pretty simple.Most people probably won't even try it because of the time it takes for investment, but it works!
To scale quickly, you need to be able to design yourself or afford to outsource designs.I would suggest making at least 10 products a week if possible.
A lot of people who read this and who listened to the whole process on my site started wearing t-shirts on Amazon because that's what I used on Amazon.
DON'T DO THAT.
New Amazon accounts are limited to 100 variations per week.If you put 1 shirt in 5 colors and all sizes, you blow through almost 50 variations with only one shirt.
Instead, while everyone is focusing on creating a few shirts a week, you can take your designs and put them on hundreds of products a week!Place them on products that do not require dimensions.
If you look and the Shopify app doesn't have the category you want to list in, list the product through the central seller and let it sync with the Shopify app.
Doing such a thing will set you apart from the competition and allow you to grow at an incredible rate.
SUCCESS STORIES YOUR ONLINE T-SHIRT BUSINESS
If you're still reading this, you have no idea who I am, you probably have no reason to believe me.
You don't go anywhere in life without at least trying, but people always like to see evidence and I understand that.
You've seen some of the numbers posted above, but let me offer you 3 people who have found their success selling Merch on Amazon in the last year.
The first guy I won't name, he's been a friend for a long time.It's heavily focused on Amazon affiliate sites, but when I started talking about Merch right when it opened, he decided to give it a try and scale it quickly.Here are his earnings:
The second is a guy named Tom.One of the most motivated people I've ever met, he designed every single piece of artwork himself and just looks at what kind of earnings he's hitting.Keep in mind that these are screenshots of selling T-shirts ONLY.Can you imagine what they will look like after he started putting those same designs on other pieces of merchandise?
Finally we have Albert from Canada.This guy is always the first to take the opportunity and test it before coming to conclusions.Be like Albert!I actually spoke to him personally only a few times.According to him, he heard about Merch through my little marketing blog and started running.
He managed to quickly hit and create some very well done sales models and ended up making nearly $6,500 his second month of selling shirts online.
So when the Shopify/Amazon integration happened, Albert saw the writing on the wall and started putting up his designs that he had already created on other products.In just 3 days he made 8 sales!It currently only has a couple of projects that use the Shopify method, and plans to scale quickly.
Disclaimer: To see the same level of success as above, you MUST be able to devote time and effort.Don't expect to put up 10 designs and ask yourself why you're not making money.Dedicate yourself to it.Numbers matter, so go out there and hit numbers that your competitors can't.
If you don't have much time and don't want to spend much, there's a shortcut.You can have better tools than the competition.Merch Informer helps you understand what keywords people are searching for.It helps you locate the low-slope fruit that requires the least time and effort to classify.
If you want to read an entire Merch Informer review, go here.
The one on encapsulates the whole method and exactly how to start a t-shirt business today.Leveraging millions of shoppers on Amazon has never been easier.If you lack startup costs, you can do it cheaply by learning to design yourself.
There is a ZERO inventory that you need to keep and minimal problems that you need to solve.Think of this entire process as starting an ecommerce brand with Amazon's strength behind you.
I appreciate the Niche Pursuits community for allowing me to bring it to the table today, and if you have any questions, put them in the comments and I'll make sure to answer them.Good luck!