How Non-Designer Daniel Caudill Makes $12k a Month From Merch By Amazon [Q & A Interview]Last Updated: November 18, 2016
Daniel Caudill isn’t a designer.
He doesn’t use Photoshop.
He doesn’t create illustrations or graphics.
But last month alone Daniel made over $12k from selling T-Shirts online.
And this isn’t just a one-off – Daniel has been seeing similar number for the previous 6 months, with ever increasing monthly numbers before he ever hit $12k.
The best bit?
Daniel has been doing this for less than 1 year!
Daniel was kind enough to answer some questions about how he managed to achieve such great numbers within such a short space of time – so read on to fast-track your knowledge!
(And check out the links at the end of the article to find out more about Daniel’s Courses and some other excellent resources).
Q. You’ve been on the Merch Platform since it started right? So that’s almost exactly a year ago. If you could go back in time and visit yourself at the start of October 2015 – what are the main things you would say to the younger Daniel?
That’s a fantastic question!
I would definitely start with a smack in the back of the head for not starting earlier than I did (November, 2015) and then tell myself to kick into high gear!
If I had of known at the very beginning that I would make over $4,000 in December with only 99 designs I would have not slept to post as many as physically possible.
Other than that I think I don’t really know if there would be any other advice that I needed. Just get going quicker than I did!
Q. Would you mind updating us with some numbers to give an idea of what you are currently earning and your current number of designs listed on Amazon? Have you seen any major increases or decreases in earnings over the summer, and if so why do you think that was?
I have seen decreases from May, as the past three months I’ve been hitting around the same number of shirts sold and royalties even though the amount of designs in my account is ever-increasing. That number has stayed steady right around $12,000 per month.
So definitely nothing to complain about, but definitely around a 25% decrease over my peak month, which was May. I definitely feel like that’s a mixture of summer always being slow for t-shirt sales and the amount of competition ballooning on Amazon.
Currently I have nearly 5,500 designs up and I have heard of some with more, and I know that there is well over 100,000 shirts in the marketplace now so that was bound to effect sales eventually. But $12,000 is still nothing to be ashamed of, so I am just thankful for the blessing of getting to sell on the platform!
Q. ‘Copycats’ has been a hot topic in Merch, and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. What are your thoughts on the copycat issue – have you seen this affect your earnings, and are you actively reporting infringers? Has your thinking or attitude to this issue changed at all over the past year?
I would say that the copycats have affected my bottom line, but that’s why I just keep putting more designs up.
I would rather focus my time and efforts into more revenue producing actions than into things that aren’t within my control. I have reported maybe 5 designs now, in total, and those were all when I just happened across them or I was bored and wanted to look and see if I had a copycat on a shirt.
It’s not been a deep concern of mine since the beginning, and it’s not likely to become one in the future as I believe Amazon is going to handle it swiftly eventually.
Q. You have provided some great free information for beginner merch sellers in the form of video chats (see the resources at the end of the article) – and you have a paid course for more advanced users. What do you think are the key elements to continued success and growth in Merch?
Key elements for now may be different from the key elements in the future. But for now it’s as simple as giving Amazon’s customers what they want.
I teach ways to do that in the course and I have given some examples of how I do it outside of the course.
For example, if you go to the mall and see someone wearing a shirt that says “I love my mom” then you automatically know that at least one person wanted a shirt that said that phrase. And if one person that you came across in a mall liked it enough to spend money on it, then there’s a great chance that out of the 244 million active Amazon customers someone else would want one. So moving on from there your ultimate goal will be to get a shirt up that says “I love my mom” that looks presentable onto the platform.
I firmly believe that the element of simply providing a good shirt that people will want will still be in play in the future, but I don’t believe that it will be the primary element after another year or two. After that I believe people are going to have to really know how to drive traffic to their listings to get the proper eyeballs on it.
Thankfully we all have a little while to learn how to do that before it will be a necessity, but I do believe that it eventually will be.
Q. Where do you see the Merch platform heading, and what do you think will be the main things people should think about or plan for as regards to the future of Merch?
This is actually a really hard question to answer. It’s almost as if a seed was planted at Amazon and a green leaf has just popped up out of the ground and now we’re all trying to figure out exactly what it’s going to blossom into. It could go a number of directions. But one thing I do feel confident about is that they will begin to add more products as time goes on. And with each new product there will be a new wave of big money to be made (albeit probably not quite as much as the t-shirts have been) and that will be great.
As for planning for the future I recommend going ahead and looking at ways to drive traffic to your listings. Like I said, I believe it will be a while before that is a necessity to make good money on Merch (I am a testament to the fact that it is not needed at all right now), but I am already trying to learn all I can to be ahead of the curve for when it does become more and more important.
Q. You outsource your designs to others and simply manage the process. For other Merch sellers who are trying to go this route – what advice would you give them?
Don’t settle for the first designer you work with. Even if you love them. Try others out and see what is offered.
I have worked with over 30 designers over the past 11 months and work with two primarily right now. I was looking for someone with talent, communication skills, speed, and ability to work cheaply while still understanding and following trademark and copyright rules. That is a fairly difficult mix to come across in one person, but it is definitely possible!
Q. What are your thoughts about what makes a winning idea and design?
The only thing that differs between my winning designs and ideas and those that aren’t winning, is that people want to buy the ones that are winning. Any other differences, I honestly couldn’t tell you.
Q. As far as idea generation goes – are you using any specific software to help you find opportunities? If not, what can you tell us about your general approach to idea generation and validation?
I am not, actually. I have found most software, extensions, tools, and anything else anyone likes to use to be generally very distracting and just simply complicating the process. My process is a very straightforward and clean and I outline that in extreme detail in my advanced course.
But generally my approach is to see what others are wearing, as I mentioned in my example from the mall earlier. There’s no greater validation for a shirt design than it being on someone’s body out in public!
Q. What does the future hold for Daniel Caudill? Do you see Merch as a big part of your income a year or so into the future, or are you branching out into other opportunities – whether that be other sites, or entirely new/different businesses?
I surely hope it’s still a great income at this time next year, as I have spent nearly a solid year working on it, but if it is not than I trust completely in God’s plan for my life moving forward. It actually dawned on me the other day that I have had a different primary income stream at the end of every year for the past six, with no major warning of the coming shift for almost every time, so I am definitely not afraid of change.
Though I will say that I am definitely going to be focusing hard on getting my 10,000+ designs that I have in my database uploaded to other sites such as Redbubble, Etsy, etc. to expand the possibilities of making money from them in the future. And I know I’m going to be working on expanding my book selling business through FBA, but I don’t know what else is in store for me, but I know God’s got it handled so I’m not too concerned.
Thank you for wanting to talk with me and if anyone has any questions about Merch or anything I said in this interview or even anything else, feel free to message me on Facebook or email me at Daniel.E.Caudill@gmail.com. Sometimes I may take a little bit more time to get back to you then I’d like to because of being busy, but I do always try to get back to everyone eventually!
Thanks so much Daniel!
What Daniel has understood (and executed to great success) is that with a system like Merch By Amazon, volume of designs is the key factor. The more designs you have, the higher your sales will be.
Daniel knew his strengths were not in designing – so he developed a system to outsource his ideas to people who could design. That has taken a significant investment (of both in time and money), but the results speak for themselves.
Be sure to check out Daniel’s courses below – and you can also get a lot of value from Daniel’s video chats with Dave Espino.
- Daniel Caudill’s Merch By Amazon Beginners Course
- Daniel Caudill’s Merch Strategies Course (Advanced)
- Merch By Amazon Q & A With Daniel Caudill (YouTube Playlist)
- How To Tier Up In Merch By Amazon (YouTube Playlist)
- The Merch By Amazon Outsourcing Design Process (YouTube Playlist)
- Merch By Amazon Success Facebook Group (that Daniel runs)
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