T-Shirts, Teamwork, and Trying New Things
Hello again, and welcome to the next installment of My Prioritized Life!
When we last met, I was outlining my Top 5 “Rose”-solutions for the New Year.
And Numero Uno was getting my business and priorities in order. So guess what? It’s exactly one week later, and I now have a follow-up for you.
So far so good, right?
Today, what I have for you is a somewhat comprehensive outline of two activities I’m currently pursuing. I know, that sounds a bit like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?
I say “comprehensive” because there is quite a bit of detail. But then I also say “outline” because there is so much more that can be added, for those who are interested.
So here is the gist of what we will be going over:
- My new Side-Jam-in-progress of selling t-shirts on “Merch by Amazon”, and
- My introduction of a new “Side Jam Interview Series” on this website
Since I’m pretty early in both of these processes, I just want to delve a little bit into how these ideas came to be, and what made me want to pursue them.
But I plan to write more juicy posts going forward, to include a lot more detail.
So without further ado, here is what I’ve been working on lately —
This page includes affiliate links — which means I may receive some sort of compensation (at no cost to you) if you sign up or make a purchase through these links.
Part One – Merch by Amazon
I had been scrolling through the Medium app on my phone, and ran across an article that piqued my interest. It was a review of the author’s experience with selling on Merch by Amazon.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with this, it’s a platform that allows sellers to market their own designs through Amazon. Similar to websites like Etsy, Redbubble, TeeSpring, and Zazzle, where you can upload your own creation and have it printed on a number of different products.
The process is called Print On Demand, and it makes everything so much easier for the seller.
Because you don’t need to purchase materials, or manage inventory, or ship products to a warehouse to be held for sale.
The print on demand platform does all of this work for you.
What’s Involved with Print on Demand?
Each platform has its own set of rules, but there are some main similarities. You follow their specific criteria when creating your designs, upload to the site, and then they take care of the rest.
If a buyer on their website selects a product with your design, the site handles payment collection, printing, and shipping out to the customer.
This entire concept just sounded so interesting to me. You come up with a few creative ideas, place strategically on a t-shirt, and then start making money. What’s easier than that?
Well, we will see how truthful that statement actually is. Because after some further research, I decided to go ahead and pursue this Side Jam.
And I will be making regular updates on my blog so you can all come along for the ride!
I love learning new skills, especially when they are web or tech-related.
There’s something about taking an idea and making it come alive on the computer screen that gives me the absolute tingles.
And although this is something that’s still quite new to me, here are the steps I’ve been taking to get started with the Merch by Amazon program.
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Step 1 – Get Approved
To get started with the Merch by Amazon program, you first need to be approved.
When Merch by Amazon was first rolled out in 2015, sellers initially were put on a waiting list. From what I read online, it could take several months to even be approved for the program.
Thankfully, that is no longer the case. But you do need to answer a few questions for the Merch team to evaluate your eligibility as a seller.
The questions consist of basic info about yourself/your business, as well as any helpful education or background info to show your potential as a Merch seller.
I feel like this part is the most important, since I’ve read many articles online where people have been rejected by the Merch team. Like several times. I suppose it could go in ebbs and flows, but the more positives you have to offer, the better off you probably are.
My Merch by Amazon Application
Honestly, I have no graphic design experience. But what I do have is the willingness to learn, and a pre-existing online presence.
I believe what helped me to get approved is the fact that I’m already an approved Amazon Affiliate (maybe), and also because I have two websites up and running.
I specifically mentioned my sites as a potential vehicle to sell Merch products. But who knows…it could be I just got lucky.
I submitted my application on December 27th. Figured while waiting for approval, I’d do more research on the process to be fully prepared once approved.
It turns out, my approval came in on January 4th, which was sooner than anticipated. While that was definitely a happy surprise, I then felt the need to get cranking.
Luckily, I already had a few design topics in mind. If you’ve read other articles on my site, you probably noticed I have a “thing” for English Bulldogs. I have a separate website specifically for the bulldog breed.
That site is still in a growing phase, but I plan to make it a mainly passive niche site for bulldog-specific information. So using that site to display my bulldog t-shirt designs seemed like a logical place to go.
In addition, I had a few ideas in mind for text to put on quirky t-shirts. I compiled a list of ideas to use for the shirts, so I was able to immediately get started with my newly approved Merch by Amazon account.
Step 2 – Figure out What I’m Doing
So now that I was approved as a Merch by Amazon seller, and had a few ideas in mind — the next step was to actually list something.
When you’re approved for the Merch by Amazon program, you initially are allowed a total of 10 product listings. In addition, you can only publish one product per day.
The Amazon team reviews all product submissions for specific criteria such as quality, adherence to technical requirements, and legal compliance.
Design images need to follow specific size requirements in order to display on each clothing item correctly (whether it’s a t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, or hoodie.)
And there are also legal requirements, to make sure you are not infringing on someone else’s copyright, trademark, or using questionable language or content.
And then there’s also the basic quality control of spelling words correctly, and making sure your design looks decent on the shirt.
The Merch team will review each submission before it goes live on the Amazon site. It’s important to make sure you know all of the rules, so your design doesn’t get rejected.
You want to make sure you take full advantage of your available submissions so you can start making a profit, and tier up to the next level.
And in case you are interested, here are the product listings that I currently have live on Merch by Amazon:
As mentioned above, you only start out with 10 listings, and can only publish one per day.
That’s because Amazon wants to make sure you are submitting quality designs before flooding their site with hundreds of not-so-great product listings.
As a Merch by Amazon seller, once you have made 10 successful sales, you will be reviewed for advancement to the next level.
The next tier will give you a total of 25 submissions, allowing you to publish up to 3 listings per day.
At that point, you’ll need to make 15 more sales (for a total of 25, including your first 10) in order to tier up again.
The next level will allow you 100 listings at a time. And that’s usually where you can start to gain some momentum.
Because (as you know) Amazon is a huge marketplace, which can be both a blessing and a curse. There are so many potential customers shopping on a constant basis, but also a huge amount of competition from other sellers.
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Step 3 – Fine-Tune My Strategy, Researching Keywords and Trends
This next step will be a work in progress, since I’ve really just started this journey selling through Merch.
Like many other selling platforms, Amazon makes significant use of its search capabilities. Think about it — when you log onto Amazon as a consumer, what’s the first thing you do? I’m guessing you go right up to that search bar and type in the type of product you’re looking for.
What does this mean when you’re a seller? It means you need to know what your audience is searching for, in order to convert them into buyers.
Just like Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you can do keyword research on what people are searching for on Amazon.
Some sellers do really well following social trends, based on recent events. But you definitely need to jump on those ideas before someone else does & the market gets saturated.
Other sellers put a super-narrow focus on niche topics, knowing they’d be one of very few sellers offering that type of merchandise. There is never a right or wrong answer here, as long as you do your homework.
As I mentioned, I’m currently focusing on English Bulldogs and quirky introvert t-shirts.
Because those two topics are of interest to me, and I know many others who might be interested in those products. But only time will really tell. And once I reach a higher tier level, I should have the luxury of trying a variety of different ideas.
Because when it all comes down to it, these experiences are all experiments of sorts.
Trial and error, learning by doing, and all that good stuff. Some ideas may work, while some others won’t — but it’s all part of the learning process.
Part Two – The Interview Series
Another new endeavor I’m starting up is my first ever interview series.
Many bloggers have either contributed to, or hosted, their own interview series. Currently, I have done neither.
So this year, that’s gonna change.
And while I don’t feel I’m exactly the most interesting candidate to be an interviewee, I do like the idea of sharing cool stories about others. (Give me some time, once I’m able to actually accomplish something — then we’ll talk!)
Some well known interview series that come to mind are:
- ESI Money’s Millionaire Interviews
- Chief Mom Officer’s Breadwinning, Six-Figure, and/or Millionaire Women Interviews
- Every Day by the Lake’s Financially Dumb, Personally Brilliant Interviews
All of the above have the basic requirements of a compelling read. Topics of interest that others may desire to attain themselves, or that invoke a sense of community.
Because who doesn’t dream about some day becoming a millionaire? And as an introvert myself (as many bloggers are), it’s reassuring to know there are others who share the same thoughts, feelings, and routines.
The last one on the list is probably the closest to one I may actually qualify for. Every Day by the Lake’s “Financially Dumb, Personally Brilliant” interview series.
Laura interviews people who have taken risks based on what they felt was right, as opposed to adhering to what’s expected or looks best on paper.
Well, at least I’ve got the financially dumb part down pat (based on some previous financial decisions.) 😆
It’s just a matter of proving I can be personally brilliant, in the long run!
Side Jam Interviews
So with the new year, I’ve decided to create my very own Side Jam Interview Series.
The purpose is to highlight unique, interesting, or creative ways to make extra money. I will be interviewing people who tried various side hustles or gigs, and will find out if they were ultimately worth the effort. Did they make money? Did it justify the amount of work put into it? What type of knowledge was required, and what was the learning curve?
I’m hoping this interview series will be beneficial to many, and might spark some interest in those who want to try something new.
Plus it will also offer different perspectives on various ways to make money part-time. You won’t just be hearing from me, you’ll also be receiving the viewpoints of others.
And it doesn’t even have to be other bloggers. I’d like to interview many types of people, at different stages of life and career. I have a few potential interviewees lined up, and would love to drum up as many others as possible.
Right now, there is a form set up at the top of my blog (in the Interviews section) for anyone to submit their responses.
Or if you’re interested in submitting info on a Side Jam you’ve tried, CLICK HERE and it will bring you directly to the form.
So that’s my plan for the time being. Two pretty significant endeavors that will be taking a large chunk of my time, but will hopefully be worth it in the long run.
And I also hope to keep learning about both of these topics, expanding into a lot of different spaces.
Because even though I feel like I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a good amount of time (1 year, 4 months, and counting…), I also feel like there is still so much to learn!
I honestly agree with others who say you can never have too many bloggers out there. Because each person is so unique and different, we all bring so much creativity to the table.
Also, I’ve made so many friends in the blogosphere, it’s ridiculous. For an introvert like myself, it’s crazy to see how many connections I’ve already made. And I’m definitely not a people person.
So that goes to show — others who may be more extroverted or socially-savvy than I am — the entire blogging world is your oyster! [This is probably where I would paste in a neat little “How to Start a Blog” link, but I don’t have one. So just take this as positive reinforcement — If I can successfully start a blog, then you can definitely do it too!]
There you have it — two creative ideas for the new year that I’m currently putting into action —
What do you think, do they sound interesting? Is it something you might want to try?
Do you know someone who might be interested in either selling Merch by Amazon, or contributing to my Side Jam Interview Series?
I’d love to hear — Hit me up in the Comments!
Robin : )
Robin is a full-time business professional who has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. She is also a personal finance blogger who shares her first hand experience with the struggles of money and debt. On Mastering the Side Jam, she focuses on ways to maximize efficiencies to make & save money, pay off debt, and live your best life.
She has been been featured on The Money Mix, Rockstar Finance, The Financial Diet and Women’s Money Talk, and has been quoted in various online publications.