With this post, I hope to encourage people that are struggling to get started with Merch by Amazon and other Print On Demand platforms.
First a little bit of my history: My Print On Demand Journey started back in 2008.
I just dropped out of the first year of college and found a print on demand website called SpreadShirt. I put my first 3 designs up in June 2008.
One of the initial 3 designs that I put up has sold over 500 times since then.
How did I do that?
I got lucky…
I had not done any research, I just saw some video online about a guy with a Free hugs Sign and the video had gone viral a couple months before.
So I Created a design for it. It was a simple text-only design that said “Free Hugs” in big bold letters.
(The design looked like this, nothing fancy)
Sales did not come instantly it just gradually came over time, just a couple of sales a month.
That is the power of an Evergreen design.
Although Sales are not as good as the first couple of years, I do get the occasional sale about once every 2 months still for this design after 10 years.
So now I must be a POD Guru, Right?
Having a 7 Year advantage before Merch by Amazon even existed. You might assume that I would have built up a library of 1000’s of designs at least right?
Before I Applied to Merch by Amazon I only had 25 Designs and put them on Spreadshirt.
So what Happened?
I did not take any real Consistent ACTION for 8 years.
Because of my initial lucky break with the Free Hugs Design, I knew there was potential for me to make at least a nice side income from this Print on Demand stuff.
But something was always holding me back to really pulling the trigger and going for it.
About every 3 to 6 months between 2008 to 2016 I would think about how I should be doing more with Print on Demand.
Every now and then I would put up a design but I was not Consistent. Had no Systems in place to guide my actions, and no discipline or leverage to keep me on track.
Wait for it. It gets Worse:
When I heard about Merch by Amazon in January of 2016 I did not even apply straight away, I waited until April to sign up.
Talk about being a Complete Lazy Fool… I Could not be bothered to fill in the in the application form?!
This was mainly because I wanted everything to be perfect before starting. I was Always over analyzing every minute detail that in the big picture doesn’t really matter.
What was holding me back was wanting to have the perfect website with some Designs to show a portfolio to put into the Application Form for Merch by Amazon.
Eventual I did submit a request. (3 months later)
When I got my acceptance email in August I only fooled around with the account the same as I had done in the years before that, only putting up a couple of designs. not maxing out my tier.
But then in October 2016, I knew I wanted to get serious about this Print on Demand stuff. I had been dreaming it since 2008. And would regret it for the rest of my life if I did give it a bonified shot, and truly put in the work.
I knew the initial boost of motivation would wear off after a couple of days. And then I would probably slack off and lose focus on the POD project like so many times before.
To finally change my ways I needed
- Some skin in the game
- A way to hold me accountable.
- Leverage to push back when I got lazy or distracted
I found that leverage by using my Cheap Skate nature to work for me.
I hired a Virtual Assistant (VA) on Upwork ( I never hired anybody at this point by the way) and paid her a fixed price no matter how many hours she would work.
- My VA’s tasks were to organise Designs in my Google Drive and Google Sheet (Get you Free Design MasterList Template)
- Write the Titles and Descriptions for the Designs.
- Promote designs on Different Social Media sites (mainly Twitter)
So Now I was forced to create Designs for my VA otherwise I would be paying her the fixed price to do nothing.
And my inner Cheap Skate would not allow me to waste any money so I worked harder that first week then I did in the previous 8 years combined.
No more self-sabotage
Before I Would have sabotaged myself by wanting to have the perfect keywords in all of my Bullet points. And all the Designs would have to be Pixel Perfect before I would consider uploading them. But now I did not have time to second guess everything because there was money on the line.
When I was giving my VA instructions for how she should write the Descriptions I did not even know how to do it myself, so if I had not leveraged myself I would have wanted to have the perfect the keyword description writing instructions for the VA before ever starting.
Because of this the first 3 months, the Descriptions and titles where horrible and I knew it. But I was Finally building momentum. and gaining knowledge of how to improve them one baby step at a time.
So that is how I forced myself to Consistently take Action and broke my cycle of slacking.
How am I doing now?
Up until now, My pod business has been a part-time side gig and it’s doing pretty good. I’m nowhere near the top Merch/POD Guru’s for income. But I’m at the 4000 Tier and consistently making money on 4 different POD platforms.
But what I am Most proud of is that I Finally broke the cycle of procrastination, and instead of dreaming about it actually working on it.
Are you putting in the effort?
Remember; I waited 3 months to sign up for merch! and it took me 8 years to finally change my ways. I was that lazy!
If I can change, so can you. But first, you have to Find out how you can get some leverage over yourself.
You can do the same thing I did with the VA to hold you accountable. Or find some other way.
Don’t want a VA? Get leverage in other ways.
Here is a way you can also use leverage that is a little bit easier
If you set a goal of X number of designs per day or week. (if you’re part-time I would suggest with starting on 10 unique designs per week as your goal)
Give a trusted person in your life a $1000 bucks and you have to show them proof every day/week that you created the Designs. Every day/week that you don’t hit the number they get to keep $100. And do that for 2 or 3 months, after that, you get your money back.
If you don’t have $1000 bucks then give them items that hold a lot of value.
99% of people who are reading this will NOT do this because it’s a big thing to commit to.
And a commitment like that will get you results.
Now you know that you have a choice, do you want to muck about like I did for the next 8 years and think back to what you could have done? Or will you get your hands dirty?
The Message to take away is.
- Only Consistent Action creates consistent results
- Put a system in place to “Punish” Yourself if you are not taking Consistent Action by using some form of leverage.
Let me know what kind of leverage you will be using in the comments below.