100k Business In One Year – Merch by Amazon Case Study Update 3
Welcome to the third installment of the case study and Happy New Year! December went by incredibly fast to wrap up the year and there was lots of traveling, people out of the office, and spending time with family but among all of that, we still managed to make some progress with the case study.
December also marked the end of Q4 (and really good sales!), so let me set the stage by saying: EXPECT lower sales moving forward for the next few months.
This is completely normal and to be expected as the holiday shopping season is over. It is also the reason why I tell everyone that the majority of their designs should be evergreen once they have enough slots (I would say tier 100-500). This will give your account a good steady stream of income even in the slower months.
To see the previous month’s case study, you can find it below:
100k Business In One Year – Merch by Amazon Case Study Update 2
Now, before we get into everything, let’s go over some of the changes that Merch by Amazon made.
First, they updated the dashboard!
It only took….3 years, but hey, I will take it! I think it is an improvement over the old design, but also leaves a lot to be desired. I know the Merch team has been working on this, and soon you should see changes across most of the Merch tabs and not just the dashboard. That being said, the new design is clean, easy to read, and I think a good foundation of what is to come.
The dashboard change sent most of the Merch community that uses plugins into a full on meltdown when they broke. Keep in mind that whenever Merch pushes changes to their UX, most developers are not aware of the changes beforehand and have to work to update their code so that everything works again. This takes TIME, and the next time it happens, I would urge everyone to have a little patience.
Now, with that being said, I think people getting upset that their dashboard plugins breaking really highlights a bigger issue.
People are focused on the WRONG things!
Does your dashboard plugin that makes Merch look a certain way help you make more money?
Does your dashboard plugin help you create well researched unique designs?
Does that plugin that you have come to love help you optimize your listings?
Nope, it does NONE of those things. While everyone was focused on free plugins breaking for 24 hours or less, other people were busy uploading and selling more designs.
If everyone simply focused on the variables that they could control that have a direct impact on their own business, I think the community would be a lot better off. This is not to say I don’t like a lot of these plugins, but at the end of the day, I think everyone should be focused on their own business.
To improve the experience for Content Creators worldwide, today we launched an option to display Merch in German. You can update your preferred language in the header or footer of the Merch portal
Merch also pushed an update to the dashboard to change everything into German. While this is not beneficial for me at all, this was a welcomed update for all my native German speaking friends and I think a great start to cater towards a larger audience. With new marketplaces on the way, I am curious if this will be implemented into other languages as well.
Uploaded To ALL Products
Since we did the original account audit in the first case study here, we have been uploading designs to every product available.
As you can see a single design equals 20 products. With more products on the way as well as more marketplaces, I think we will begin to see some MASSIVE tiers (well over 100k) in 2020. Time should tell!
In December for the account in the case study, there were only a few days of uploading. During those days, we continued to add all the designs we ALREADY had. Most of the products were up in one or two forms, but so many of the different products were missing. I noticed that during December, a lot of the new designs that were put up started selling on Hoodies. This is to be expected when you sit down and think about it because of the colder months, but it was nice to see the higher royalties start to stream in.
This just goes to show you that you should always be thinking like the customer when listing your designs.
The customer may love the t-shirt, but it’s freezing cold outside and they want it in a hoodie or a long sleeve. If you do not have those forms of the design up, you just lost out on a potential sale. This is ALSO why I recommend putting the forms of your design (if you already have them up in a standard shirt), under the same brand. It makes it a lot easier for the customer to find the other products and purchase them. It would be awesome if we had some version of tracking from Amazon on this to see how many people click the brand, but for now, putting them under the same brand is the strategy we are going with and it seems to be working well.
So, after the uploading days, here is what the account looks like:
As you can see, the account got tiered up to 4k!
This is what it looked like previously in November:
Not only did the account get tiered up to 4,000 but there was a total of 1941 products published to the account in December.
This represents about 3-4 days of uploading, thanks to the Merch Informer Lister that we mentioned in the last month’s case study.
I should also point out that there were NO new designs uploaded in December and this represents the entire backlog of designs fully uploaded onto the account. This will be the foundation moving forward as it is finally caught up, and ready for new designs.
Also keep in mind that uploading to all products (while a great idea and what we have done) will not have a greater impact on NEW unique designs to your catalog. If you are in a lower tier, I would always upload more unique designs before uploading to all products if you have run out of space.
Merch by Amazon Response Issues
One of the general frustrations that I see in the Merch community is the response by the Amazon team every time that you email them. They have a VERY small team for the amount of content creators they are supporting so I understand when they are slow to respond or have issues. However, they REALLY need to up their game here and I think that is a fair criticism.
In last month’s case study, there was a design that got rejected in the UK market for mental illness on the account. Every time a rejection or a take down happens, I always recommend that you reach out to Amazon to get more information (their email templates are very vague) so that you can either understand what went wrong and fix it, have the Merch team put your products back up, or learn from your mistake to correct it moving forward (we all make mistakes).
There was also another design that racked up a bunch of rejections because of trademark even though there was no trademark for that term in any of the products that we sell on Merch.
That email was sent over a month ago now and just got a response.
The Merch Team took a look and replied with the trademark issues they thought caused the issue.
The only problem….
The trademark is for FOOTWEAR.
The last time I checked, we do not sell print on demand shoes. Another email was sent off and I expect to be waiting a good while before I hear back.
That brings us to this month’s case study.
There was a design on this account that had been up for well over a year, no trademarked terms and had 2 reviews. Uploading to all of the other products a bunch of rejections came back. While I am not worried about the account getting banned since we are not bad actors, this is frustrating.
The weird part is, the designs that were up previously that got rejected when they were put up again….are still live on Amazon and searchable.
I have no idea what is going on there:
The lesson here is that if you are having these same issues, you are not alone but should not worry about your account. While frustrating, I still hope that in the future, Amazon does better.
Testing New Designers
In order for this account to grow over the next 12 months, we are going to have to come to the table with GREAT designs, but also up the volume of these designs.
You can earn a lot of royalties from very few designs, but if you have a LOT of designs that also happen to be great, you still start to see your account grow and grow. A good example of this is an interview we did last year here:
Exclusive Interview With 6 Figure A Year Merch Brand
So, in December we kept interviewing a few designs and getting a few created. Most of these were found on Upwork and another was found through a service.
Now, I know a LOT of people are doing their own designs, and we have created a few of those as well! Merch Informer recently launched a new service that is completely free for PRO level subscribers where we will take custom suggestions and include 100 vectors each and every month.
All of these come with a commercial license so we used some of those to create some unique designs in certain niches. None of these have been uploaded yet.
The outsourced designs have also not been uploaded yet as we are still testing different designs and trying to get a good hold on what our team needs to look like moving forward.
There are a lot of people still doing strictly white text based designs. While these still work, quality is going to be a big thing going forward as there are just THAT many more designers jumping on board the Merch platform.
To demonstrate the kind of quality I am talking about, here is one of the designs we picked up from a design service (I will probably review this service on the Merch Informer blog soon):
AMS/Promotion – Let’s Talk
To date, there has been ZERO ad spend run on this account as well as ZERO promotion of any kind.
No Pinterest, no AMS ads, no Facebook posts… nothing!
This should change in the coming months once we really start going. The first thing I want to set up is some low spend AMS ads on best sellers WITHOUT reviews in order to try and get more volume. More volume on those products should produce a review or two. Once that happens, we can monitor the products to see if we should turn the ads off, or keep them on and what effect it is having on sales.
Second, I want to try and see if we can get some organic Pinterest traffic moving. This is one of the easiest forms of FREE advertising that you can do which we have written about many times in the past:
Leverage Pinterest Marketing To Sell Your Merch by Amazon T-Shirts
I know a LOT of you still do not have access to AMS ads. Amazon seems to be slowly rolling out invitations again (so keep an eye on your email). If you are looking to get started and do not yet have an AMS account, you will have to be patient. However, you used to be able to run ads on your AMS account for ANY shirt (it did not have to be yours or in your account). I have not double checked to see if that is still possible, but if it is, you may want to find someone who has an account already and strike up a deal with them. This should get you access to ads, and also a potential business partner for the future.
Sales – Foundation Set
Now that all of the previous designs for the account have been uploaded to all forms, the foundation of the account is finally set!
Here is how the account did in December:
This is actually fairly close to what the account did in December of 2018 (one year ago) if we account for the 2 political designs that rode a trend that no longer sell (trend over).
Merch by Amazon ALSO cut shirt royalties right after December 2018:
This is what the account looked like in the previous month:
Let’s break these numbers down a little bit.
The best-selling shirt for December sold 151 times for $423.28 in royalties.
This represents 27% of the US royalties for the month.
The shirt is a standard t-shirt, and has over 20 reviews on it currently.
Now, it could be priced higher for sure, but the design has been knocked off 100s of times and it is STILL on top because of reviews and sales volume. This represents why being first to market and making sure your strategy is solid is a good idea. If you can be unique and move shirts, you will rarely have to worry about anyone copying you.
Standard shirts continue to make up the bread and butter of Merch. According to the data, 75% of all products sold in December were standard shirts:
Since December is a big sales month, this also helped bring down the average days until first sale:
Something else I found interesting is that 10.43% of all products uploaded to the account have been sold while 92.77% of the DESIGNS uploaded to the account have been sold.
This basically tells us that while customers may not always buy all products (10.43% of the products have sold ever), 92.77% of all the designs uploaded (no matter what product) have sold at least once. This goes to show that market fit is the most important. With over 90% of all the designs uploaded selling, the market likes what the account is putting out. This comes down to great research and understanding how to optimize your listings.
I pulled the above information from the productor extension that we reviewed on the blog earlier.
Side Note: When I was looking over the stats for this month, I noticed that a shirt that was created as a joke between friends and had been put up on Amazon has now passed over 50 sales:
This basically just goes to show you that even the most outlandish things you can think of will still sell if there is an audience for the product that finds the design interesting/funny.
Wrapping It Up
That about wraps up the month of December in a nutshell.
Now that we have the foundation completely laid and all designs uploaded to all products, we can start actually digging into the research and creating some fresh new designs for the market.
Remember, YOU are not your target audience. Therefore, when we start doing research, almost everything we will put up and create is not something that we would wear ourselves. It is what we think the market is missing and would like to buy from us.
Until next time, keep uploading!
100k Business In One Year – Merch by Amazon Case Study Update 2
A LOT has happened this month and progress has been made with this case study!
I realized that we started this case study during one of the peak times of the season which makes everything look great, but if anyone has been around for a while, knows that after Q4, sales start to decline and we are in for some slow months.
That is 100% okay and to be expected but it is something you should keep in the back of your head when you see the numbers we are going to post in this case study.
Now, before we get into the actual case study, let’s talk about some of the changes that Merch by Amazon has made in the past few weeks because that has effected the workflow thus far.
On 11/22 we got the ability to add and save drafts. Now, while this is something I have never really used and do not plan to really use going forward, this was a huge undertaking by the Merch by Amazon team. The coding for something like this, across hundreds of thousands of accounts is not a small task, epsecially to make sure everything runs smoothly!
This is a case study for November, but since you are reading this in December, I should also mention that we got this update:
They finally updated the dashboard after 3 years! It looks good, looks clean and is just the start to our dashboard looking a lot better!
There are some changes I would like to see moving forward, but so far, so good!
Now, let’s get into the case study because all of these dashboard updates has effected this account. Let’s talk about it.
Uploading To Merch by Amazon – Push Your Full Catalog
Just take one look at the first case study in this series and you will see that this account was doing incredibly well with the number of designs that were uploaded. However, MOST of the products had fallen off.
100k Business In One Year – Merch by Amazon Case Study Update 1
When you are first starting your Merch by Amazon journey, you have only 10 slots.
My main recommendation if you are just starting and following this series is that you create 10 unique designs, and upload all of those to Merch on ONLY standard shirts. The data shows that these are by far the most popular and will give you the biggest spread possible.
However, this account was already at the 2k tier and while most of the products were up in standard shirts, some of them were up on hoodies and long sleeves. MOST of them were not though.
It was pretty apparent that this account had not been touched in ages yet continues to bring in money every month.
With the changes to Merch since this account last uploaded, we now see this:
Your single design in your catalog is equivalent to TWENTY products spread between 3 locales. This account for the case study had almost nothing uploaded in the UK or DE markets, and almost all of the US products were just standard t-shirts.
This gives a lot of opportunity to use what we ALREADY have.
Your first step should be going through your catalog and uploading every design you have to every product available (as long as you are tier 500 or better). If you are below tier 500, I would still just stick with standard shirts and increase the quality and number of designs you have.
So, we set to work uploading products at 500 a day. 500 products a day only 25 designs at 20 each.
This quickly got the account to 1990 out of 2000 products uploaded:
See those last 10 pesky products? Since each design uploads to 20 products, everytime we tried to upload that 1 more design we got an error. So, all that was left at this point was wait for a tier up.
Speeding This Uploading Process Up
Truth be told, uploading these products only took us around 3 days. Each day took around 1 hour or less to get the 500 products live.
The reason for this is that we used tools that we created, in this case, the Merch Informer Lister: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/merch-informer-lister/ffkgbikejcgiojinaohlajcogfkpihlf
If you do not have a MI account, grab a 3 day trial because this extension will change how you upload to Merch.
So, we started off by creating a profile. These profiles are hotkeyed to your keyboard. Every time you click the hotkey on your keyboard, it will fill out all your Merch by Amazon information FOR YOU!
In this case, since a lot of these products are in different niches, have different brands and titles, we used it by only creating profiles that will standardize pricing and colors.
Here is the exact profile used.
What we did is have all the prices stay the same that Merch auto fills for everything BUT standard shirts. Standard shirts are by far the best seller so the thought process here was:
…if we can get the standard shirts uploaded and at least 1 copy sold, it will be VERY easy to relist these products later on if they fall off since the listing will still be live.
You will also see that we have a bunch of colors selected for all the products. This account has designs that look great on darker shirts, so those were selected. If we are using this profile and need to make some quick edits, we can do that, instead of going through the ENTIRE color selection process. This along saves an incredible amount of time.
Finally, you will notice that we set this profile to only fit men and women.
We all know how annoying it is to get a rejection for a shirt when you accidentally select youth. This way, we get rid of youth and can make a judgement call for each shirt we list on if we want to add youth or not.
Since most of the products were already up, just use the hotkey to fill out all of the information, and then copy and paste the title and bullets that you already have.
If you need to quickly resize some merch designs like we did for a few (poor organization on our part), we used:
..which is a handy drag and drop tool.
Merch Slowed Us Down
Now, since we now have a new dashboard, everyone is happy (or should be), but before we got it, we were getting a little bit frustrated!
On two days that we were going to sit down and bust out these uploads, the Merch platform was so unstable that it would either not load, wouldn’t let us delete products that had been removed, or was just throwing error after error.
I can see that the dashboard updates they were working on were the cause and everything seems to be working properly now, but at the time, I wasn’t sure if all the products were going to be uploaded in time.
Let’s Talk Pricing
There has always been back and forth on what you should price products.
We decided to price the standard t-shirts VERY low to get initial traction while keeping pricing on the rest of the products the Merch standard.
I have heard all sorts of arguments on how we do not value our time, do not value the work, we are in a race to the bottom, this is what copycats do, we only price low because its the only experience we have had…. you name it, we have heard it.
Let me introduce anyone who says/thinks the above to an economic concept: Price Elasticity Of Demand
Price elasticity of demand (PED or Ed) is a measure used in economics to show the responsiveness, or elasticity, of the quantity demanded of a good or service to increase in its price when nothing but the price changes. More precisely, it gives the percentage change in quantity demanded in response to a one percent change in price.
These price elasticities are pretty much always negative. However, there are some goods in the economic world called Veblen and Giffen goods that are positive.
- A Veblen good is a type of luxury good where the quantity demanded increases as the price increases
- A Giffen good is a type of good that people consume more of as the price rises and vice versa
I think we can agree that t-shirts and the designs we sell on POD items are NOT Veblen or Giffen goods.
So that leaves us with the price elasticity of demand!
The easier a shopper can substitute one product with a rising price for another, the more the price will be “elastic”. This means if a design in a niche increases, consumers will have no problems switching to a design in the same niche at a lower price.
Bottom line, it matters!
You didn’t think you would be getting an economics less today did you?
Anyways, moving on!
Starting The Designer Search
Most of the designs this account has have already been created by the owner with a few that were outsourced in the past.
However, if we are going to hit our goal in 12 months, we need to start looking at this account as a BUSINESS.
This is one of the biggest downfalls I see in the Merch community. Everyone wants to do everything themselves.
Name one business where 1 person can run the entire thing AND scale it at the same time? You can’t. There is a theoretical ceiling to every example you can think of because there is only 24 hours in a day, and you have to sleep probably 6 of those at the least.
When you hire other people for your business, you are leveraging their 24 hours on top of yours, allowing you to scale.
Yes… it costs money.
Yes…it costs time to find the right person for your team.
But if you are not a designer, and it takes you 1 hour to create something GREAT that will actually compete with the quality of designs on the Merch by Amazon platform, are you really valuing your time? Are you really doing what’s best for your business to make more money?
None of this matters if Merch is just a hobby for you, but if you want to make truly life changing money, we have to switch our mindset.
For me, I still do all the research myself because this is what I am BEST at. It is why we created Merch Informer in the first place.
You know what I am NOT good at? Designing. So I pay someone else that can do it in less than half the time with 10X more quality so I can build the business.
For this account, we needed to find some good designers.
Off to Upwork we went!
How To Use Upwork To Outsource And Scale Your Merch Business
The above guide is pretty spot on exactly what we do. If you have a Merch Informer account, we also have some videos on how to hire a designer and vet them in the Merch Academy:
When I went to the original article we wrote and grabbed the text and searched it on Upwork, I was amazed at how many of you all just straight up copied the text into an Upwork Job.
That text was just a GUIDELINE.
So, we switched up the text to make our job look unique and posted it.
The next morning we had 37 designers apply (at $5 each mind you), and tested out 3 of the best ones.
1 of the designers ended up being trash, while 2 of them were giving us back quality work. We have a total of 5 designs from each of these designs (each designer was given the same 5 phrases to create unique designs). None of them have been uploaded yet though.
I am not sure if either of them will be able to do the volume we need, but we are not at that point yet. The first priority is getting all the designs we have in all forms before we start loading new designs.
While uploading products the account already had, we ran into a few instances where the shirt was live and selling for the last year or so, but when we ran it through our Trademark Checker before we uploaded, it came back trademarked!
This is such a pain, but something we must deal with, so we skipped those products (since they would have gotten rejected anyways).
You can read about how that plugin works and what you are looking for here:
USPTO Merch by Amazon Trademark Tutorial Guide
Something else we ran into was getting a solid 5 rejections on one design where the rest of the products went live:
These are all from the same design. All of the rejections happened JUST in the UK.
So, off to the content policy to read through it again to see what we missed:
The design in question was not making light of a mental illness but mentioned it in the title. That is why they all got rejected in the UK and not in the USA or DE markets.
Mistakes like this happen.
I know a lot of people freak out when they get these rejections because they think Merch is 2 seconds from shutting down your account.
I can assure you that they only ban bad actors and not people who are doing their best to follow the rules and make a mistake here or there. I sleep perfectly well at night and you should too if you are putting in the effort to be a good seller on Amazon.
Sales (Why You All Read This)
Let’s finally get to the point of this entire case study and talk numbers.
The goal was to get as many of the old products up as possible before Black Friday. Before we go into that, October earnings were posted:
Here is what the actual sales for that month looked like:
Keep in mind the actual sales are lower while the estimated earnings are higher because of when products shipped.
These earnings were down a little bit from the last month, but nothing had been done to the account in October really. So, on to November!
November saw over double the sales as the previous month and if we add in the UK and DE royalties, this puts it over $1k in royalties!
Just Black Friday did pretty good as well!
What is REALLY nice though is the spread of products sold this month. In the below screenshot, I have blocked out the NEW designs (designs that were uploaded since we started the case study) that sold in the MI colors, and the old designs in black.
It looks like Amazon is getting faster at indexing and putting those new products in front of the right audience.
I would HIGHLY suggest that everyone get their designs that they already have on all of the products available to us (if you have the slots).
Wrapping It Up
That about wraps up the month of November for the case study!
This month (December) will mostly be about getting the rest of the products all live since it can clearly be seen that by not doing this, we are leaving money on the table.
If you haven’t get those products up!
Next up on the list is doing some more research to come up with some unique phrases and saying and keep testing the designers on Upwork. This is where it will get interesting and really lay down the evergreen catalog which will pad us over for the slower months.
Until next time, keep uploading!
100k Business In One Year – Merch by Amazon Case Study Update 1
After being involved with Merch by Amazon from near the beginning, we have seen all sorts of changes to the platform, changes to the community, and have had the opportunity to watch everyone grow their businesses in all different directions. Not only has this been super rewarding but it has also given us a lot of insight on what it takes to be successful on the platform and how many ways there are to make money in the world of print on demand.
There are people who’s sole focus it is to turn print on demand (POD) into a full time income so that they can live life on their own terms, people who want to pay their car or mortgage payment with their POD royalties, and then those who just want to make some beer money for the weekends.
No matter what your goal is for your business, no matter how big or how small, I want to first let you know that it IS possible to achieve! Anyone can do this, and that includes you (yes, you, the one who is reading this).
Over a year ago, we started a case study here on the Merch Informer blog going from ZERO to an average of $4,000 per month through just the Merch by Amazon platform in an attempt to pay off school debt.
100k School Debt to Financial Freedom – Merch by Amazon Update 1
This case study got so much attention, that many people actually started their print on demand journey from reading it!
Many people have reached out to us asking if we were going to do another case study since that one helped them so much in order to get the proper systems in place for their business. Since I look at Merch as a BUSINESS, I know that systems are important and anyone can replicate this success if they put in the time and effort. Instead of continuing on with the old case study, I decided to take another approach and bring back the case study series!
With the improvement that Merch has given us to the platform, along with new tools and methods, we believe that we can build on an abandoned Merch by Amazon account and bring it up to a six figure business in 12 months.
I want to encourage anyone out there that might just be starting, or struggling with their Merch business to follow along! This case study is going to be about putting in the work, showing you what works, and how you can leverage your time and resources to create a business that pays you ever month for years to come.
Without further ado…
Note: This first case study is going to include a lot of math and data. This is what is important and why the system is repeatable, so don’t skip it!
If you have been involved with Merch and print on demand for any amount of time, you know how addicting it can be.
This involves telling pretty much everyone you know what a great opportunity it is, and how you can make money by just uploading things to Amazon and getting paid for it! But how many people that you mention it to actually follow through?
In fact, I only know a handful of people that I have told about Merch that actually signed up and uploaded anything at all.
It usually goes like this:
- Tell them about Merch by Amazon
- They ask 1001 Questions
- Sign up for an account
- Get Accepted!
- Upload a design or two
- MAYBE make a sale
- Forget about it, or worse, become complacent
I have a good friend that I explained the platform to, they signed up and got accepted, and initially was really into it! They uploaded some designs they created themselves and started seeing a few sales trickle in (that is when you know it works and typically want to upload more and more). However, if you do not have the time to dedicate to something, real life typically takes over.
After months, more and more focus went into their day job, and Merch fell to the wayside.
However, that initial work that they put into their Merch by Amazon account is STILL paying them every month. Just check out their earnings graph since they started in 2017.
You can see that it started off slow, then started to ramp up. They started in August 2017, and the last design uploaded to the account was in March of 2018.
Since then, they have added the same design to some of the new products that have been released (we will go over this in a second), but really, over that time period, all of the unique designs were created, and just let to sit. There was no optimization, no more designs uploaded, and no more work done.
The Math Is Impressive
Just taking the previous month’s earnings at $608.55, this is incredible for something that is paying every month but no work is currently being put in.
Imagine Merch like a stock that pays dividends EVERY MONTH. Most stocks do not not actually pay monthly dividends, but only once per quarter.
So here I am, talking to my friend about Merch again and blabbing about stocks I have been looking at. We get to talking about dividends, and that is when I decided to pull out a phone.
So lets say over the next 12 months, if he were to do nothing, he pulls in an average of 600 dollars a month. This equates to $7200 doing nothing.
Pretty good right?
When you sit back and think about how much money it would take to make THAT amount in the stock market, it gets even better.
Stock dividends are all over the place, but you can find plenty of good stocks that pay anywhere between 2-4% per year.
So, to make that same $7200 a year, you would need:
- $180,000 yielding 4% per year
- $240,000 yielding 3% per year
- $360,000 yielding 2% per year
That is just what the account is currently making! That means if you wanted to make the same amount of yearly income from the stock market in dividend investments, you would have to have anywhere between 180,000-360,000 working for you to make the same amount of money that the Merch account is currently putting out!
The Goal Of This Case Study
If you want to be running an online business worth 6 figures (100k), then you need to be making around 3,000-3500 per month given around 30X multiple. This is usually how businesses are evaluated when they are sold.
The goal of this case study is not to make 100k after 12 months, but have the business be worth 6 figures at the end.
Currently, the 6 month average earnings per month are at $652.55.
At a 30X multiple, this means the business is currently worth $19,576.5
In order to reach the goal for this case study, we need to add about $80,423.5 worth of value to the business. We are going to do this by building up our print on demand revenue!
Another way to look at this is by going back to the stock market example.
If we manage to hit our goal, we need to do around $3333 per month averaged out. This equates to $40,000 per year.
To make that same $40,000 per year in the stock market you would need:
- $1,000,000 yielding 4% per year
- $1,333,333 yielding 3% per year
- $2,000,000 yielding 2% per year
So, you either need to have 1 million or more dollars working for you OR you can be working on your Merch account. I know which one looks more appealing to me! I also know which one is a LOT easier to achieve (hint, its the Merch business!).
Merch Account Audit
Before we kick off this case study, we need to actually do an audit on the business as it stands right now.
SO MANY people that do print on demand completely miss this step, or just never go back and do it. BIG MISTAKE.
Doing an account audit will let you know where you currently stand so that you have something to go back to to measure your results.
If you are following along with this case study, this is the first step you should take!
So, what all should be included in an account audit? Here is my list:
- Live Products
- Sold Products (Sell Through Rate)
- Time Until First Sale
- Amazon Choice
- Sales by Brand
- Unique Products Sold
- How Many Niches?
Most of this information is pretty easy to get by using a few different tools.
First, I installed the Productor plugin which gives your dashboard a few different tabs that will pull a lot of these stats for you.
So far, we have the amount of products live (506), out of the total tier (2k tier).
We have the amount of products that have sold out of those live which is 364. This gives us a sell through rate of 71.937%.
There are a total of 117 reviews on the account and 2 of them are Amazon choice.
The account has an average of 56 days between uploading a design and making the first sale on that design.
It also pulls the brand list information so you know the breakdown by brand (this is also helpful if you group brands by niches).
Next, I pulled the sales CSVs from Merch by Amazon and uploaded them to the Merch Analytics module inside of Merch Informer:
We see the number of unique designs sold is sitting at 350. This is very close to the sold designs in Productor which basically tells you that almost all of these unique designs are t-shirts but there are a few sales in there for popsockets and other products.
Note: 24 hours after writing this article, Productor has added this functionality in the left hand menu under the “productor manage” tab. Since most of the designs are from the old upload system, and the new one was tested a few times, these numbers can be slightly skewed.
Finally, we go through the entire account and basically do the hard work to determine exactly HOW MANY niches we are in.
If you ask almost everyone how many niches they are in, they have NO IDEA. This is information you should know.
If you went to a car dealership and asked them how many models they had on their lot do you think they could tell you? Of course they could, because they are running a business!
If you don’t know how many niches you are actually in, then you are flying blind.
Going through everything, we determined that the account is currently in 73 different niches. We are defining a niche as an overarching category. So for example, “politics” would be considered a niche as would “cars”. If you had a shirt about trucks, and a shirt about sports cars, these are both in the overarching niche of “cars” or “automobiles”. We are not counting these twice.
So, here is what we are left with:
- Live Products: 506
- Sold Products (Sell Through Rate): 364 (71.937% sell through rate)
- Reviews: 117
- Time Until First Sale: 56.1 days
- Amazon Choice: 2
- Sales by Brand: See screenshot above
- Unique Products Sold: 350
- How Many Niches?: 73
What Does The Data Tell Us?
All of this data gives us a good starting point for the case study.
Right off the bat, we notice that we have 506 products live but only 350 unique designs have sold. This basically boils down to not adding all the unique designs to all the products so that should be a quick and easy win right there.
It also shows us that by pricing low to start (and he never raised his prices), his royalties per shirt is really low. This allowed him to gather 117 reviews from only 506 live products. This is REALLY REALLY good and just goes to show that pricing low at the start works. However, there is room for improvement here as the reviews are there, but the prices have not been hiked to increase the royalties. This can be an easy win, or we can decide to keep the price low and load the business up with more unique designs. Time will tell what we decide to do here.
The sell through rate is also REALLY good. This again points to low pricing being a driving factor in the sale decisions. I would almost guarantee that anyone pricing high and running the same account audit is not going to see the same STR (sell through rate). That being said, this gives us more opportunity to play around with the pricing and start milking more royalties from the same designs.
The niches are a bit high for such a small account. One of the things we will do going forward is actually break down the account by niche, and go deeper into the niches that are already working. That is another easy win since we know what is working there.
Goals For Next Month
I am going to be doing a lot of the research for this case study as well as providing direction. This means I will probably be doing some live videos, answering questions, and really leading the charge to get this business to a 6 figure valuation.
Why would I do this?
Because I share in the profits from the account. One of the easiest ways once you know how to build a Merch business to make extra money is actually partnering with new people and helping them as well. (NO I will not do this with you or the people who are bound to leave comments asking =)). The reason I bring this up is because the work load will be split since he has a day job and we want to be as transparent as possible during this case study.
So, here are a list of goals that we will hopefully hit for the next month’s update:
- Upload designs to ALL products and locales. The account has some very good selling designs but they are only uploaded to 1 or 2 products at best. Going through the account and getting every unique design uploaded to all products and all of the locales should easily fill up the slots and make the account eligible for a tier up.
- Research existing niches that the account is already a part of. Formulate a plan to go deeper into those niches.
- Discuss pricing. Q4 is upon us, but since this case study is a year long, we may be better off keeping the low pricing and trying to push as much volume during December as possible. This is all up in the air currently.
Wrapping It Up
This about wraps it up for the first series in the new case study. For everyone that is going to follow along and build their accounts alongside us, DO YOUR ACCOUNT AUDIT!
Once you have done your proper audit, drop a comment below to let us know where you currently stand. We are going to document everything month by month as we aim for a 6 figure business in one year. This is the perfect opportunity to start, or restart your side hustle and turn it into something that you can count on each and every month.
Will we make it in 12 months? Who knows!
80k+ in value added to a business in a year is not a small task, but in the end, I think everyone will be happy with the results.
To your success!