How To Sell T-Shirts Online AND Make Money With Merch by Amazon

What is merch by amazon blog post

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the products and services mentioned on this website pay affiliate commissions to the creators at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Look at this image below. It will show you why you need to read this article from beginning to end regarding Merch by Amazon.

sales from Amazon Merch

The picture above shows JUST ONE week worth of royalties for someone I know who is using the Amazon Merch program to sell custom Amazon t-shirts. 

It proves that you can make money selling T-shirts.

These after tax royalties of $1773.04 are almost pure profit!!

Merch by Amazon is a program that allows approved creators to submit t-shirt designs that are then printed on demand when they are ordered. 

Here is the program in Amazon's own words . . .

Amazon Merch

It’s easy for anyone to sell a custom t-shirt using Merch by Amazon.

These t-shirts are searchable on Amazon, so there are countless niche t-shirt ideas to consider.

This is an awesome alternative to your own online store. There are millions of customers waiting for your new designs.

If you have a web presence, social media presence, or dedicated website, there are many ways to monetize. Advertisements, affiliate marketing, and product sales are only the beginning. 

T-shirt designs are like walking billboards. Budweiser gets it!

Merch is great whether you have an audience to sell directly to or not. Have fans? Promote directly to them, and you make a profit AND have their body as free ad space.

T-Shirt Ad Space

T-shirts are like walking billboards. Budweiser gets it!

Merch by Amazon is one of many print on demand services (POD) that help creative people sell their own t-shirt designs without needing access to a printing press or any of the overhead involved.

There are zero upfront costs. All you need to do is design a t-shirt (pick fonts, colors etc), set a price, and reap the royalties. It’s that simple.

The Amazon Merch service launched in 2015, and a staggering amount of Amazon customers began signing up for it. Amazon had to eventually make their "Merch by Amazon" service invite only because of the sheer number of users flooding the service.

Now anyone can apply to be a Merch by Amazon designer, but the process of approval can be quite long. The application process can be several weeks to the better part of a year!

So apply for approval now if you haven't already!

Getting approved for a merch account can take awhile. After you apply for your invitation, you should attempt to log in every now and again. It’s common for people to receive a welcoming email more than one month after the date of their acceptance into the program.

What is the difference between Merch and Amazon?

Merch by Amazon is an exciting new tool to help you jumpstart your t-shirt business.

There are no upfront costs, and you get paid royalties when a customer buys your shirt.

Merch by Amazon provides free shirts printed for a limited time to the public online. You can also buy T-shirt products and sell these directly via Amazon or Facebook for free. There are virtually no costs involved. You simply put together a new website, set an image price or color, and allow Amazon to take care of it. 

Why Sell Merch on Amazon?

Selling custom t-shirts over the internet isn’t a new idea. That much is true, but Amazon is the best platform bar none. They are currently the number one online apparel retailer, and they outsell their closest online competitors by more than $10 billion per year. Many analysts believe that Amazon will become the single largest apparel retailer in the United States by 2020. Some believe this will happen sooner.

  • ZERO inventory costs --> Your "assets" are image files!
  • (Almost) ZERO design skills required --> "Attractive" isn't necessarily what sells on Merch, and there are TONS of tools to make the process of designing simple for even a novice like myself. 
  • You're paid a royalty when shirts are purchased --> There is no "penalty" for not selling designs (other than individual designs being periodically removed due to no sales). 
  • Access to Hundreds of Millions of Amazon Buyers --> These are sold directly on the Amazon marketplace. 
  • Set Your Own Prices --> You control how expensive your Merch t-shirts are, and your royalty is a % of this price! Higher prices means higher royalties. 

If you're thinking that the royalties must be insanely small since the process is so "easy," you're wrong.

Merch by Amazon pays fairly well in comparison to other services. For instance, a t-shirt sold for $25 will net you almost $12 in royalties. On many other sites, a $25 t-shirt sale will only bring you about $4-6.

With the right keywords, it’s possible to rank any product high in Amazon’s search engine results. All the products on their website tend to rank highly on internet search engines, and that means your t-shirts will receive organic traffic. If you sell your t-shirts on other web platforms, you may have to do a hefty amount of self-promotion to make a sale. On Amazon, you can choose your t-shirt niche and keywords carefully to find buyers.

How to Start Merch by Amazon ?

Getting started is straightforward. You head to the landing page and click the button labeled “request for invitation.” Log in with your Amazon ID and then fill out a simple form to create your Amazon merch account. After this, you play the waiting game. Don’t forget to check back often. The welcome email may or may not arrive on time.

Use your time wisely. While you are waiting for formal acceptance into the Merch program, you can do research and perfect your t-shirt designs. You’ll want to find good niche keywords, and you’ll want to create an eye-catching piece of clothing.

How to Make a Merch Shirt

The actual t-shirt creation process is simple. Amazon has a template that will help you size your PNG file for placement on the t-shirt. The final creation process is short and sweet:

  • Place your PNG file(s) on the front and/or back of the shirt

  • Configure the shirt type, color, and price

  • Give your t-shirt a brand name, Amazon title, and product description

  • Choose to sell via direct product link or to the general public

Storefront Stalker PRO

Here is one of my shirts. I use my shirts for marketing and "swag."

It really is this easy to get started selling shirts. Just make sure to sell to the public if you want to earn money. Amazon has streamlined the process as much as possible, but you will need decent photo software to make the PNG file. Amazon will print the t-shirt design at 300 DPI, so your PNG file must be 300 PPI (pixels-per-inch). Some software labels this “pixels/inch.”

At first, you can only sell 10 different t-shirts. This is tier one. Once you make 10 sales, Amazon will eventually upgrade you to tier 2. At tier 2, you can upload 25 designs. The tiers go up from there: 100, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, and beyond. It doesn’t matter which shirts you sell. You can sell the same shirt 25 times to move up in the tier rankings.

The tiered system helps reward those who create quality designs and prevents spammers from flooding the program with loads of designs.

Keep in mind that t-shirts can be printed with front and back artwork, but it will cost more money to print a t-shirt with artwork on both sides. This will reduce your Amazon Merch royalties significantly.

What Makes a Profitable Shirt?

It’s hard to say what makes for a great t-shirt design, but bad designs are easy to spot. There are lots of things to keep in mind.

High quality design is NOT the most important factor to high performing Merch shirts. Some of the top performing shirts on the marketplace are EXTREMELY simple and text based. 

Color is extremely important. It might be the single most important thing to keep in mind, and you may want to limit your colors as much as possible. Many great t-shirt creators recommend using 3 colors or fewer for simple shirts, but you may have more complex artwork in mind. It’s important to understand the color wheel. You should be aware of complementary colors, warm colors, cool colors, and neutral colors. The proper use of colors will help your t-shirt to stand out.

Don’t make your shirt too “busy.”

It’s easy to get carried away when creating t-shirt graphics, but sales figures reflect the fact that simple designs sell. If someone has to look at your shirt for 30 seconds just to understand it, your shirt may be too busy. You want your shirts to be easily recognizable. People wear graphic t-shirts to attract attention, but confusion is not the right kind of attention for your shirt to inspire.

Balance is another important subject to consider in the creation of a great shirt. The vast majority of successful shirt designs have symmetry. Asymmetrical designs aren’t necessarily bad, but the human mind craves structure.

Always consider your shirt’s target audience, and keep in mind that Amazon sells most of these shirts to people below 34 years of age. It never hurts to get opinions from your friends.

Creating your First T-shirt Design

You have choices when it comes to creating your t-shirt design. You can use any graphic design software of your choosing as long as it can make files in the sizes needed.

Adobe Photoshop, or alternatives like Gimp or Pixlr. Check out Amazons Best Practice Merch pages for advice on design.

You don’t have to create your design from scratch. I know that's a relief for those who aren't designers

Get inspiration from successful designs that are selling now. Search sites like Etsy to see what the best-sellers are and use those designs as inspiration.

You'll then upload designs into your Merch by Amazon account, and they will be live shortly after. The entire process to list t shirt designs doesn't take long unless you upload artwork or other more detailed designs. The learning curve is relatively low, but if you need help, there are many YouTube channel video tutorials you can check out. 

Use Keywords to Sell Your T-Shirts

The best thing about Amazon is the huge customer base. You can tap into millions of customers in any particular niche with the right keywords. The best way to sell T-shirts online is to use keywords. You can insert some of these keywords into your t-shirt’s product description and the product title. 

My recommended tools for keywords are Merch InformerKWFinder, or Merchant Words.

These are all paid options but are well worth the small investment. 

Your exploration of long tail keywords could take days. It’s important to choose keywords with minimal competition. You’ll want to select “clothing, shoes, and jewelry” for your research, and don’t underestimate the power of Amazon’s autocomplete feature. Any long tail keywords within the autocomplete engine represent real searches being conducted on the site. Always search for keywords in an incognito window because Amazon will record your own searches into the autocomplete engine.

A search for “Mao Zedong Shirt” yields about 69 results. Shirt queries deliver a large amount of results on the first results page, and this is good for business. You want to be on the first page of any search. A search for “president Jefferson shirt” yields 19 results. Always check the Amazon ratings of your results. In the case of the Jefferson shirt, the first result has a Best Sellers Rank of over 300,000. That means this person is only selling a few shirts per week.

Understanding Merch by Amazon Fees

The fees for selling on Amazon Merch vary based on multiple factors. 

  • The price you set for the shirt --> Higher prices leads to higher net payouts per shirt. 
  • The shirt type you choose --> Currently you can choose between Anvil or "Premium" shirts. Premium cost $1.50 more. 
  • If your shirt is one sided or double sided --> Double sided shirts cost an additional $4.50.

As of March 15th of 2017, the base cost for materials, fulfillment, and production of a shirt is $9.80.

Amazon then charges a 15% listing fee.

How to Not Get Your Merch Account Suspended

Now that we have drooled over the awesomeness of designing t shirts on Amazon, it's time to drop some sobering information on you. 

Amazon has zero tolerance for policy violations. Many Merch designers lose their accounts and have almost no chance to get them back. 

Amazon Merch Suspension

Amazon is so flooded with people wanting in that they have made it clear they have no desire to give suspended designers a second chance.

Here is what you need to know about keeping your Merch account safe . . .

  1. Never incorporate any copyrighted materials (that aren't your own). Ask, "did I create this or did I copy it from someone else?" If you copied it, you know the answer to whether or not you should publish the design. 
  2. Never incorporate any trademarked materials (that aren't your own).  If you have doubts, visit ttps://
  3. Never incorporate something that violates international law. You will need to talk to an attorney if you have doubts on this. 
  4. Never incorporate pornographic material
  5. Never incorporate content that exploits children. Duh...
  6. Never use profanity. As tempting as it can be, avoid curse words. 
  7. Never incorporate anything that encourage hate or intolerance. Amazon doesn't tolerate intolerance. 
  8. Never incorporate anything that relates to human tragedy. If you're making sales based on a recent tragedy (act of terror, war, natural disaster etc.) you will find yourself in trouble. 
  9. Never publish blank designs. Why would you though? They mention it in the policy area though so...
  10. Always make sure that your content descriptions match your products exactly.
  11. Never solicit feedback or reviews
  12. Never share external contact information. Linking to an external site in your product or product description violates Amazon's merch terms of service. 
  13. Always create quality designs. If your designs look like they were made my a child, they shouldn't be published. 
  14. Never allude to Amazon donating proceeds of sales to charity or political causes. This would make you a terrible person anyway...
  15. Never mention the speed of shipment. Don't allude to "faster shipping." 

That may seem like a lot, but most of it is common sense. Just be sure to pay close attention to what you publish. When in doubt, don't publish. 


  1. I am personally selling VERY LITTLE Merch. I mostly use it for my own branded items. I'm not making many "niche shirts" but use the program for my own "swag" and marketing. Much of this information was gathered interviewing experts in the field and people who are doing extremely well with the program. 
  2. Questions about the process, selling more shirts etc. should be asked in the comments not as emails. 
  3. Don't ask how to get approved faster .. 🙂 
  4. Some of this article was outsourced so I am NOT an expert on Merch by Amazon. 
  5. Merch by Amazon is still relatively "young" and evolving. Check the "last edited" date on this article and consider double checking anything I wrote here at the time you are reading it. 
  6. Check out the AmazonMerch Reddit thread for lively merch discussions.
Nate McCallister

Are you making merch? Has it worked? Let me know in the comments! I pick commenters at random for cool giveaways like MerchInformer!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. My biggest concern is creating a design that I believe is my own, and getting rejected for copyright reasons, but getting no explanation or visual of the item that was upposedly copied. The only thing you'll get is a reiteration of the policy that you allegedly violated. I often wondered, if there are employees on the Merch program that steal your ideas and then flag you for copyright infrongement. Either way, I don't trust these people.

  2. I have merch wondering if its possible to link to my website? Sell my designs on website but still going through amazon as they print and ship? Anyone know if thats possible and if so how to do it? Thanks all

  3. Hey Nate,Nice guide. Simple, detailed, and on point. I would love to connect with you via Skype and chat one of these soon days if you are up for it. Let me know!

  4. Thanks Nate for detailed Post on the Topic.I just started three days ago with Merch by Amazon and uploaded my first Two tees. Let’s see how it is going to work for me?I’m learning from those, who are already doing.

  5. About to get started when I get back to the US in a couple of weeks. I’m going to be selling shirts in a shopify store. My thinking is why not put them in Amazon merch too! Any reason you could think of why not?

    1. I’m wondering about this, too. Any rules in either program that would get you suspended? Quality of t-shirt may be inconsistent (and even style)…

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}