Over the last ten years, MMW has featured no shortage of prominent and inspiring entrepreneurs. Neil Lassen is among the most interesting — and brilliant — of the whole lot.
This week, CNBC shared Lassen’s success story as a marketer and content creator with the world. But MMW reached out for an exclusive in-depth interview and he was happy to oblige.
So how did Neil go from pushing carts at Target to pulling down six-figures a year (and climbing) through his entrepreneurial efforts? Kicking off our new Merch By Amazon interview series, below you will find our first exclusive profile.
Last fall, Amazon launched a new platform for designers to create and publish high-quality shirts for purchase — Merch By Amazon.
To say that the program has been a success would be the understatement of the year.
Consequently, 2016 may very well turn out to be Amazon’s best year on record for T-Shirt sales. And Lassen has brilliantly found a way to secure a sizable piece of that lucrative pie. And now you can too with Lassen’s Merch Informer platform (we’ve been playing with it — it’s invaluable and works like a charm for research). We’re confident that it’s the best chance you’ll have at following in Lassen’s successful footsteps as a creator and seller on Amazon.com.
MMW: How did you discover Merch By Amazon?
NEIL: I first discovered Merch by Amazon by talking to my business partner Todor. He had seen that Amazon was launching a print on demand service from one of the many online tech news sites and mentioned it to me. Since I am very familiar with Amazon Affiliate, as well as had just picked up selling physical products via Amazon FBA, I knew this opportunity was going to be good. I had the chance to sell products on Amazon without holding any inventory or dealing with customer service? Sign me up!
MMW: Give us the quick and dirty on your awesome success story recently featured on CNBC.
NEIL: To be completely honest, I am a bit surprised that I got featured on CNBC in the first place. Like a lot of people, I love to spend time on Reddit (probably a little bit too much), and decided that day that I was going to do a write up about my journey selling shirts thus far. I did not think much of it, since this is a side business for me and I really do not spend much time on it compared to my other businesses. Well, the Reddit thread took off and the Senior Entrepreneurship writer at CNBC emailed me and wanted to do a piece on me. I agreed, and now I am most known for selling shirts. Who would have thought?
MMW: For those who aren’t familiar with this awesome new tool you’ve created, what is Merch Informer?
NEIL: Merch Informer takes the exact process of what I did to find niches/shirt ideas that were selling and drastically cuts down on the amount of time it was taking. Originally my business partner and I were doing all the research by hand. We both run different internet businesses and Merch started to take up too much time. Since Merch by Amazon was bringing us great money, we did not want to give up on it and set off to simplify the process. I currently have multiple designers working for me, so Merch Informer both helps with research, as well as organizing your ideas to quickly send them to people working for you.
MMW: Are opportunities for making good money through Merch by Amazon largely exaggerated or underestimated?
NEIL: The opportunity for making good money through Merch is drastically underestimated. People tell me all the time that “X” is super saturated, do not waste your time. “Y” is saturated, you are better off doing something else. Every single time, I decided to test it out for myself and see what kind of results I can get. You are selling on the biggest marketplace for the western world, you hold zero inventory, you print and ship nothing yourself, and you will not need to have any customer interaction. Not to mention that Merch is currently limiting the amount of people that get in as they try and scale up their operations to keep up with demand. It is pretty hard to NOT make money on this platform if you are giving it a focused effort.
MMW: What is the biggest advantage Merch Informer gives to creators?
NEIL: Merch Informer was created out of a desire to make life easier. Remember that we are still Merch by Amazon users ourselves! I know how much of a pain it is to scroll through thousands of Amazon results just to get a few ideas you could create. The short answer is that we want it to be accessible to everyone and I think this pricing model offers that. When I first got into online marketing I was in college and completely broke. There were tools out there that could have helped me but at the time simply were priced to highly for someone who was trying to make it online but held a minimum wage job at Target. With this pricing model, we make a little bit of money, we help a lot of people, and no one feels like they were ripped off. We see it as the best of both worlds.
MMW: For many publishers and creators, Merch is hit or miss. How did you make it a hit for you?
NEIL: The way I was successful with Merch so far is that I did not try to recreate the wheel. I went after niches that were “hot”, “trending” or current. The reason why most people who get into the program and give up is because they cannot get past the first tier. Essentially when you first get your account, you are only give 25 slots. In order to get access to 100 slots (the next tier), you must first sell 25 t-shirts. I put up shirts right away that were popular at that moment. It would make no sense to put up a snowboarding tee if it is currently the middle of summer. Once you get into the higher tiers where I currently sit, you have a lot more freedom of what to put up. When you are first starting, your one and only priority should be to get access to more slots which is when the money really starts to flow.
MMW: For people who want to know more and sign up for Merch Informer, how can they do so?
NEIL: If anyone is interested in trying Merch Informer, you can head over to our website and take a look around here: https://merchinformer.com. We want to make sure that the software we created is a great fit for your goals/business and do not want to waste anyone’s time so for each and every payment plan we have up, there is a 3 day free trial. Simply try it out for a couple days and see if we are a good fit for you. If we are, excellent! If not, no sweat, simply cancel your trial. Merch has been a fun ride so far and it is only a year old! We are really looking forward to how the program progresses (hoodies please!), and wish everyone the best!