Looking to join the thousands of people who have created a steady passive income on Merch by Amazon (MBA) and you need some pointers to ace the application?
This article will give you specific tips on how to improve your chances of getting accepted into the MBA program. These strategies summarize the advice of top tier sellers on MBA and include my own special sauce which I believe will get you through the door.
In the fall of 2020, I coached a friend through this process: Three weeks later, he was accepted. As the largest POD marketplace in the world, MBA represents an amazing opportunity to generate an (almost) passive revenue stream. The platform continually keeps adding more products and more international markets.
Unlike other POD platforms, MBA requires that you first apply for an account, and not all applications are accepted on the first try. The first step is to request an invitation from MBA. If you already have an Amazon account, it will automatically log you in. If not, you’ll have to create a new account.
I won’t spend too much time on the administrative parts of the application which involve providing a business address, bank information and a social security number (or tax ID number). Those sections are pretty self-explanatory and you’ll find a host of Youtube videos that walk you step-by-step through this part of the application. I’ll just note here that you do not need to have a registered business to request an account. Also, the information Amazon asks for varies whether you’re based in the United States or applying from abroad.
You’ll see four text fields in the “Request invitation form” page.
Industry type: If you have a business, select from the drop down menu the industry type that best matches your business profile. For most folks, “novelty t-shirt business” is fine.
Organization name: Enter the name of your business, or your own name if you don’t have a business.
Website: Although the website says ‘optional’, do not skip this part. The information you include here will set you apart from other applicants and significantly increase your chances of getting the nod from the Amazon gods. List here the platform that best showcases your work. Amazon is looking for partners that can bring traffic to them and increase their bottom line. The website can be your own website, another POD platform, a Youtube channel, or even an Instagram account. Again, your MOST impressive platform goes here.
Additional Information: All the other platforms or social media channels that either show design experience or some type of traffic/following should be listed in this section. If you’re including links to a library of designs on another POD site, make sure you’re showing Amazon quality designs. When MBA started in late 2015, the quality of designs was poor and amateurish, and featured a lot of clip-arty designs with crude typography. There are still tons of crappy designs on the platform, but if you want to compete and rise to the top, you’ll need to up your design game.
If you do not already have a website, or some designs for sale on another POD site (like Redbubble, Teepublic, Spreadshirt), this is the time to create an account on one or more of these platforms and upload some designs. Aim to list about a dozen designs so your page doesn’t look too sparse. On some sites (like Redbubble), you can personalize your store and add a banner. Take advantage of that. These are the little touches that make it look professional. Finally, ensure the links you’re including in ‘website’ and ‘additional information’ are not broken.
What designs should I create?
There are thousands of look-alike designs on MBA: Don’t apply to Amazon with yet another dabbing unicorn (will this visual meme ever die?). Not only will you have a hard time selling unoriginal designs in a highly saturated niche after you get accepted, but it will hurt your chances of getting accepted into MBA in the first place. So spend some time researching a niche (hint: google ‘list of popular hobbies’) and design a few dozen designs around that niche. As an example, the friend I helped get into Amazon developed designs in the Spanish-language niche (he’s from Venezuela). All the designs he submitted were related to the culture of Latin/South America and to hispanic/latino themes.
🚀Pro tip: You do NOT need to be a designer yourself to sell on MBA. Some of the power sellers on MBA could not draw a stick figure if their life depended on it. You can either hire a designer (I’ll write an article soon on how to use Upwork for that), or you can license designs from a company that offer POD licenses. My favorite is Creative Fabrica because of their huge library of upload-ready POD designs.
No grammatical errors
Just like submitting a cover letter for a new job, your application should be free of grammatical errors and be well-written. Ask a friend (or grammarly) to check what you wrote in the “Additional info” section. Remember creating a listing on MBA requires that you come up with well composed titles and descriptions. Amazon will assess your application in part with how well you present and express yourself. You want to show you’ve invested some effort in putting together your application.
Do not beg
Don’t tell Amazon you just lost your job and need to get into MBA to feed your children. This is a business transaction and Amazon is not in the charity business. They want to bring in partners who can add value to their marketplace and generate sales.
Tell them you’re going to play by the rules
This might seem very obvious. Designs that might be acceptable on, let’s say, Redbubble or Teepublic, will get you banned from MBA. Amazon is very strict about intellectual property and trademark infringement. In the “additional information” section, include a sentence or two letting them know that you’ve read and understood the MBA terms of service (do actually read them!) and promise you’ll abide by them. Saying you’ll play by the rules is no guarantee you won’t break them after you get accepted, but it does show Amazon you are aware of their terms and have made a written commitment to follow them.
Will following this advice automatically get you approved into MBA? No.
The criteria Amazon uses to accept new MBA sellers is somewhat of a black box. We do know however that Amazon will give priority to sellers who have some experience selling designs and who will respect their terms of service. Following these tips will definitely boost your chances of getting to yes.
Good luck and let me know if this advice helped.
if you’re looking for tips on how to hire an illustrator or graphic design for MBA, check out this article.
Arthur Gladwell is a tier 6000 MBA seller with more than $20K in sales.