Mental Health & Escaping the 9-5
In this first post I just want to give a brief background. How I came to be involved in the Merch by Amazon, entrepreneurial life and what my reality was before this. Some people reading this will already know me and will know my story but most of you won’t. Those that have read my previous blogs will know that in the past my writing has gotten me in to trouble. It appears that this blog is also being closely watched by certain people too – hi legal people!
I’m delighted to say that I have now escaped the 9-5 and I couldn’t be happier. I’m sure that all of those connected with any of my previous jobs will be really pleased at how well I’m now doing.
Mental Health Awareness
For the majority of my life I’ve suffered with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Depression. This has been a big thing to deal with and my previous blog went in to detail on this. I’m not going to be detailing that here because it’s not the aim of this site but if anybody wants to reach out and talk about this please do – I’m always willing to talk and help.
Things came to a head for me over the past 12 months and after realising that my REMOVED DUE TO UPSET LEGAL PEOPLE I decided enough was enough. My dad always taught me to stand up for what you believe is right and as a result I refuse to let people walk all over me.
People often ask me how I got started with Merch and in general with online business. It’s a tough one to answer (partly because my memory is terrible) and mainly because it sort of just evolved over time. The first thing I attribute to my journey is listening to The Smart Passive Income podcast by Pat Flynn.
I’m a massive Podcast consumer now but I think this was probably the first one that I listened to consistently. I can’t remember how I stumbled across it but I imagine it was driven by me wanting to find a way out of my job that was making me ill. The podcast is about ways of making passive income online and it’s really interesting and polished, Pat Flynn is a great speaker. The shows had various special guests and they covered a plethora of online business models.
One of them was affiliate marketing which I have dabbled with in the past and this was my first foray in to the online money making world. I created a few different WordPress sites and threw up some content, adding affiliate links to relevant products and attempting to drive traffic through SEO. With working full-time and learning as I went nothing really came of this. My Forklift Truck Training site saw very limited success and I still occasionally sell an ebook I put together through KDP. One of the Pat Flynn shows made mention of Merch by Amazon and that’s where my Merch journey began.
Merch By Amazon
Merch started out as just another idea to dip my toe in to, in the hope of finding something that could give me a route out of my day job. I have zero graphic design experience and had never used photoshop, illustrator or any design software. I didn’t want to spend any money on getting started and so Merch appealed to me.
Instead of paying for Photoshop I downloaded Gimp (an open source alternative). One of the reasons I have taken to Merch is that I enjoy research. I enjoy delving in to the theory behind things, looking for trends, patterns and opportunities through data. Straight away I started watching YouTube videos, listening to Podcasts and reading blogs on Merch by Amazon. Whilst waiting for my account to be approved I set myself up on Redbubble and uploaded some complete trash. The important thing was though that I’d taken action.
The Merch by Amazon Community
After a while I began to realise who were the people in the community worth reading and listening to and who should be disregarded as spam. The first Podcast I started listening to was Merch Minds by Glen & Yong and it’s still the first Podcast I listen to each week. On top of that I watched everything by RJ Martinez & Matt Sheeran. When I say everything I mean I went back to the very start and absorbed it all. These are the main go to people for me if I want to cut through the bullshit and see what is really happening in the industry.
On top of these the biggest help to me had been joining the Merch Empire: Inside Edition Facebook group. You have to be a subscriber to Merchinator to be able to join this (a cool mass upload filtering site). I’d argue that as good as Merchinator is, being part of the Facebook group is worth way more. Anthony Busciglio from the Jersey Merch Podcast (another favourite of mine) runs the group with the help of some brilliant moderators. The amount of knowledge and help shared in the group is amazing. Like seriously invaluable and it has helped me no end. There are people charging ridiculous amounts for Merch courses but there’s no way they can tell me anything that isn’t already shared in the group.
Until starting my Merch journey I was always sceptical about online communities. I’m not mad on socialising in person so to do it online with random people always seemed weird. I’ve come to realise though that most people are cool, normal and just wanna help. If you give back and stay polite then there’s so much to be gained from engaging with the community.
Merch by Amazon – Eight Months In
The first design went live on 30th January 2018. Tier 10, one upload allowed per day with a maximum of 10 live designs at any one time. That first design is my best selling shirt to date. As you can see from the screenshot below it has made me $1099.58 (£841.11) in royalties.
The BSR hovers between 200,000 & 500,000 generally and it sells at least once every day on average. Mad. This first ever design has been an amazing success which I’d imagine is pretty rare. Don’t get me wrong, the next 100 designs probably sold 5 between them. I’m just saying that this one was a success. It didn’t take off straight away though and I did have to work on pricing and keyword strategy. For the past six months those consistent sales have all been at $21.99. I’m actually really proud of how I got it to take off because it wasn’t luck. It felt good to have put some work in to it. I’ll write a post on how I did it.
Merch by Amazon by Numbers
If I’d have know I’d eventually write a blog about all of this I’d have kept a note of milestones. First 10 sales, dates of tier ups etc. I didn’t though and I know I could probably go back through my analytics and fins some figures but at the moment, quite frankly, I can’t be arsed. What I do know is that I’m now eight months in and have made it to Tier 2000 with 1912 live designs. I did have 2000 a few days ago but as I’m only at about 1450 sales (not sure exactly because Pretty Merch doesn’t add on the UK and DE sales I don’t think) I have deleted a batch so that I can upload some trending designs.
The UK market being available now is great because it has been difficult drilling down in to niches without having any local knowledge. I’m selling 1-2 per day in the UK so far and have about 100 relevant designs.
My Online Plans
So in a nutshell that’s Merch by Amazon and me. I’m also active on Redbubble, Etsy and weirdly I sell a lot on Spreadshirt. I’m only on there because I used Orbitkit for a month. Createspace is slowly building and I sell books through FBA too (Shout out to Reezy Resells – big in the game).
At the moment I’m planning and designing like mad for Q4. I’m excited as I wasn’t selling at this point last year and I’m hoping to see a spike in sales. This blog will be my way of escaping the design and upload process and also my way of trying to give back to the community. I hope it can be of use to some people. My YouTube channel has been neglected of late, as has my Instagram. I’m back on it now so please subscribe to YouTube to see my latest content and follow on Instagram.