Several people have recently asked me about Merch by Amazon and other print on demand services. It’s a great passive income stream that is almost tailor-made for the RV lifestyle. I’ve been dabbling in it for about eight months and it has treated me very well. While it hasn’t provided me what I would call a full-time income, I have also put very little time into it. The return on time invested that I have experienced lets me know that the potential is huge. I can see how someone could very easily turn this into a six-figure passive income stream.
Merch by Amazon is a great way to build a passive income stream so you can concentrate on the RV lifestyle or full-time travel. Whether you’re traveling through national parks or you simply live in a remote area and need an extra source of income, an entrepreneurial effort like this one pays off in the long run. So, what does it take to be successful on this platform and how can you prepare for your future of merchandise, design and marketing? This in-depth guide will introduce you to everything you need to know when it comes to building a business through Amazon’s print on demand service, even when traveling full-time.
How Does Print on Demand Work?
Merch by Amazon provides print on demand services so you can easily create merchandise for customers without a large up-front cost. Basically, you design the shirt, upload your design to Amazon, set your price and Amazon sells it for you. When the shirt sells, Amazon prints it up (the “on demand” part), and ships it out to the customer. You sit back and collect the commissions on your sales.
It’s not difficult to sell your t-shirts online and find customers who are happy to add another item to their collection. The key is to pick a niche so your t-shirts stand out from your competition and be first to the market on new trends. I’ll get into that a little more later.
To start up, it’s necessary to apply for Merch by Amazon and wait for approval. After a bit of time (could be days, could be months), you’ll be approved and ready to upload shirt designs. I recommend getting your designs in order (up to 25) even before you’re approved. That way, you’re able to upload them as soon as you have access and you’ll minimize lag time.
Once you create a design that fits within Amazon’s technical specifications, you can upload it and wait for those sales. The more shirts you sell, the more designs you can upload. The number of available designs you can upload is directly related to how many shirts you have sold. Pay attention to what’s successful and what isn’t, so you can make the most of your time in the product development stage.
Is It Worth It?
Like any passive income stream, it takes a bit of time to build up success. Merch by Amazon and other print on demand services makes it possible to receive quality income, typically after you’ve built up your catalog of designs and figured out what works best. When you design t-shirts with an intentional approach, you can tailor each design to be more successful than the last. You’ll start out the process learning the ropes and in due time, Merch by Amazon will be the reason you can keep traveling.
For the traveler, passive income is the key to enjoying more time on the road and less time in the office. You can put in the hours when it suits you and spend a weekend driving through remote wilderness on your off-time. It really is a flexible opportunity that works well for the full-time RV traveler. You could be boondocking and working on your designs, then come in to civilization to upload them real quick, then head back out! For me, any passive income stream is worth it, especially one with as high an earning potential as Amazon Merch. Admittedly, I haven’t put the time into merch that it needs. I haven’t touched it in months, but I still get money deposited into my account every month. It’s literally like free money at this point.
Is Merch by Amazon the Only Option?
There are other similar services like Teespring, Teepublic, and Redbubble. Those services may provide you an outlet while you are waiting to get approved in Merch by Amazon. I don’t know a lot about them. I’ve never used these services. I do know they don’t have near the reach that Amazon does, so once you are approved in Merch, you may want to concentrate your efforts there.
What If I’m Not A Designer?
If you have design skills, that’s great! However, the truth is most people making big bucks on Amazon Merch actually outsource the work to someone else. Sites like Fiverr, Freelancer and Upwork are some affordable places to search for artists. Plenty of these designers live in countries where the cost of living is incredibly low, making your commissions a win-win situation for both parties. You could even hire a permanent VA through a service such as 20four7va.com. If you went that route, you could have a VA pumping out designs right and left. You could use the ones you like and maybe resell the ones you’re not so fond of. When you commission a designer to create work for you, make sure you also receive resale rights as you are printing the work and selling it.
If you don’t have a ton of experience with design but you still want to try creating quality graphic tees, fear not! The internet provides plenty of great design tutorials. Software like Inkscape, Gimp and Krita are a few free starting points if you want a robust tool-set without all the costs of industry standard software. Check out PluralSight, CreativeBloq and even YouTube to get a solid foundation of design skills. With knowledge of both art fundamentals and software, you’ll have no problem creating your own graphic tees that stand out from the competition.
Tips and Tricks for Success
With these things in mind, here are a few pieces of advice that will help you get started on your entrepreneurial “road to freedom“. With these tips and tricks, it’s possible to grow your business from the ground up, without a start-up investment.
- Conduct market research.- Get a grasp on what’s hot and what’s not before you commission a designer to make 20 images. Browse Amazon’s tops & tees to understand today’s trends. Although the fashion market can change rapidly, it pays to obtain a solid understanding of the quality and style you should be aiming for as an entrepreneurial designer.
- …but don’t copy!- It’s important to develop a consistent brand and focus on your niche. If you make your work look too much like others, you risk both copyright infringement and obscurity. Focus on finding your own take on current trends and your business will ultimately be better off.
- Keep up with popular culture.- One of the best sources of inspiration for content that resonates with your customers is popular culture. Whether you niche involves SciFi movies, political campaigns, or celebrity gossip, staying current will make you sales. If you’re traveling around without a consistent internet connection, consider reading bestselling books so you can get inspired by what your customers love.
- Iterate- Your first attempts at designing t-shirts for sale are not guaranteed to be winners. Track sales, monitor reviews and focus on trends. Experiment until you find something that sells, and you can continue to grow your print on demand business. With these tips for the hard-working entrepreneur, it’s easy to see how you can find passive income success from the comfort of your RV.
- Always check trademarks before you publish a shirt. Not checking can put your entire Merch account at risk. You can use the USPTO website to do a basic search.
- If you want to learn some decent strategies and the basics of design at a good price, you may want to check out this course by Chris Green.
- If you want full-on complete and thorough understanding of merch and every other print on demand service out there and how to use them, you’ll want to pick up “Merch and the World of Print on Demand” by Jacob Topping. Yes, it’s more than the basic course from Chris Green, but it also covers MUCH more. If you are an artistic type, you could use this book to build an empire!
- There’s also an easy editor you can use before you upload your artwork. It’s called MerchPower.