Meet a Creative: Helen Kinson
Helen Kinson is the founder and co-owner of Merch Money. This platform was born to encourage and educate those who want to start earning an income with a Print on Demand Store. Helen founded Merch Money in April 2018. Nowadays, she and her partner Christina Sisson manage a YouTube show, a podcast, a Facebook group, and a POD Community.
In today’s interview, you’ll get the chance to meet Helen. Please keep reading to get to know her better!
How did your POD journey begin? And how did Merch Money start?
When Merch by Amazon came out in 2015, I heard about it right away because I was selling products on Amazon. I had never heard of POD prior to this and was very intrigued. Although it sounded interesting, I was so busy selling physical products on Amazon that I took about a year to start POD. I finally listed my first shirt on Merch in 2016 and continued to list about 25 shirts per month from 2016 to 2018. In 2018 I started taking POD more seriously and realized that I wanted to go full time with it.
Since all of my time was going to be dedicated to print on demand, I decided to start Merch Money in April of 2018 to document my journey and also to learn from as many people as possible. I wanted to be able to build a community where everyone could learn from one another. Several people have helped me build Merch Money and Christina Sisson is my partner.
How do you usually find inspiration for your POD stores?
I find inspiration from everywhere! People will say funny things and it will make me think of a t-shirt idea! Besides finding inspiration from my daily life, I also find inspiration from the news, Pinterest, and Amazon.
Could you please describe your creative process?
I usually start with researching a niche and then from there I start to think of ideas. My next step is to look through fonts and graphics on Creative Fabrica and choose ones that will work well with my design idea. Once I put the design together, I post the design on Merch by Amazon. Amazon does most of the work of advertising it for me, but I will occasionally also advertise my design on Pinterest.
What do you like about POD the most? And what do you like about the Merch Money project the most?
I love that POD is creative and can be done anywhere. Whether I’m traveling for a conference or visiting friends and family, I can work from anywhere. I also like the fact that I can still be getting paid for a t-shirt design long after I create it because once it’s listed for sale, there is no limit to how many times it can sell.
I love everything about Merch Money! I never could have foreseen how much it has grown over the last two years and how many amazing people I have gotten to meet and interview. I have learned so much from all of our guests on the show and all of the wonderful people in our group. It brings me tremendous joy and I love seeing how many people learn from the group and the show and use what they learn to build their businesses.
What design or creation makes you feel more proud?
I would have to say the Merch Money shirts that I created bring me the most joy. I’m proud of the group and love to wear the shirts anytime I can.
Did you expect to make a living out of this? Or did you have something completely different in mind when you started?
I saw the potential in it right away, but I did not know if I personally could make a living with it because I did not have any graphic design experience. I did it on the side for a couple of years before I went full time.
Looking back, what would have you done differently?
I would have started earlier and spent more time on it right away. I held myself back because I thought you had to be a graphic designer. There are so many resources available to help everyone learn graphic design and Creative Fabrica has so many great fonts and graphics that make designing a lot easier.
What is the next thing you want to create or learn?
I have focused mainly on Merch by Amazon over the last couple of years, but now I am also expanding into Kindle Direct Publishing. I am designing covers for books and journals.
Can you give us three specific tips for somebody that wants to start a POD business?
Learn everything you can about graphic design, keywords for your listings, and how to research and come up with great t-shirt ideas. One place to start is Merch Money! We have a Facebook group, podcast, and YouTube channel that are all free and filled with information to help you get started.
Read the terms of service of any platform that you want to sell your print on demand products on and make sure you understand trademarks and copyrights.
Be patient for the first 6 months. It takes most people several months to really learn how to succeed at POD and to build up their portfolio of products.