Let’s just jump into it!
#1 There is more than one way to do Merch
90% of the merchers are chasing trends, waiting for seasonals and researching for evergreen designs, and that’s great! But what if I told you a friend is getting married and she’s throwing a bachelorette party and it so happens to make good use of some bachelorette party t-shirts?
There’s a business opportunity right there. And what if you can make those t-shirts in a way you can offer them to other future brides? Look for local parties and events where you can be the hero who supplies them with awesome t-shirts. Also, think bands and local stores around your area too.
#2 Start from Zero
Okay, this is one of the popular tips, but it’s hardly given the worth it really has because it’s very effective. It goes like this: when you upload a product, set it at its lowest value possible, one that gives you almost zero revenue (as of October 2018 it’s about $12,99); once this design makes a sale, start bumping up the price by $1-2 as it keeps ramping up sales.
Do this until you hit about $19-21, you don’t want to overprice! That being said, this is not a silver bullet; the success of your product depends critically on your design and your keywords as well.
#3 Tweak. Tweak. Tweak!
Merch is a long game, and sometimes designs are not selling, but you still believe in your design because it’s good. So do yourself and your design a favor and test variables, keywords, prices and shirt colors to see what works best.
Maybe a design runs better on dark shirts, or sells more if you up the price (yes, I said up the price); another really good testing technique consists in uploading the same design but with different keywords to see what works. Sometimes adding “Men Women” to a title can go a long way.
Try this out: if a design doesn’t sell for the first 60 days, change its keywords; if it doesn’t sell by 120 days, redo the keywords and drop the price a little; if by 180 days still no sales, drop the price to the lowest; if you still don’t get a sale, kill your design and pay its respects.
#4 Outsource design like a boss
Most Merchers aren’t designers, so they look for their designs elsewhere. In the Freelance Designer department, you have places like Fiverr and Upwork, where you can hire a designer and buy a design ranging from $5 to up to $60/hour; successful Merchers oftentimes work with a team of designers either locally or remotely.
For not-so-rich Merchers, a more practical way to get professional design is by using Commercial/Merch-use designs from graphic stocks like MerchReady or Vexels; in the case of the latter, their subscription gives you access to all their graphics for Merch use (not just their t-shirt designs) and other perks like free design requests per month. Their designs are not exclusive, but you get the license to prove you can sell with them.
#5 Shoot at one trend per month
This is one of those hit-or-miss hacks so it’s arguably as efficient as it is unreliable, but sometimes it works all the time! *wink wink* This is how it—sometimes—works: once in a month, take a look at a trend, meme, news or post that goes viral, and make a shirt about it.
Don’t worry too much about the best quality, just get a solid t-shirt out there quick enough to be there when the trend is at its peak. It can take off, it can make a few sales, or it can crash and burn in silence. Ideally, you want to create a good shirt that makes sales every year, so try going for something relevant and timeless enough that you foresee may have a revival in the future.
#6 Keeping your account full gets you up in tiers
This is widely true for low-tier accounts, less so for higher tiers, which oftentimes don’t need to be at full capacity. Amazon values account activity, so while you keep uploading designs and keep your account fresh and healthy, they will reward your interest by tiering you up to allow you to make more sales.
Yes, you also need sales to tier up, but there’s an extensive record of users who have been tiered up to T100-500 with only a handful of sales. Even if you keep your account full, keep uploading designs and leaving them on Draft; once you get bumped up you will have done the hard work beforehand already.
#7 If in doubt, don’t do it
The Dark Side is tempting, and tools like Merch Informer might lead you to copy or “inspire a bit too much” on a design; the same goes for designs that err in between the thin parody/copyrighted content edge. Always, always play safe with Merch. You don’t want to be a victim of a fun design that may violate copyright or is loosely connected to a famous person or trademarked material.
If you find yourself doubting if you should upload a design, you probably shouldn’t do it. And lastly, it should go without mention, but NEVER EVER EVER even GET the idea of buying a Merch by Amazon account. There are actual people behind Amazon Merch who can save or ax your account, and they can track all of your activity, so if you’ve purchased an account, they’ll know.
#8 Lions are on Reddit, Bobcats are on Facebook
The ruthless and true advice here. You’ll find more serious, honest, crude and valuable information and discussion on Reddit for advanced Merchers, whereas Facebook communities are much more open and permeable to beginner questions and motivation/encouragement posts, which is also valuable, but in a more laid-back way. You will want to navigate both seas and fish out what’s good for you.
#9 Know yourself and stick to your guns
You could say Merch is a loner’s journey, but it’s quite the contrary; oftentimes you’ll find yourself joining Facebook groups and looking for Youtube videos for advice, tools, and strategies others are having success with, all of which you will want to try out and hopefully make sales. Soon enough you find that you are struggling to create quality designs, that uploading design takes more time than you can spare and to top it off you don’t know where to start to do research.
If you are doing that: you are living another mercher’s life (in a way) instead of your own, so snap out of it. First: know yourself, your possibilities and limitations, and then apply all the knowledge and tactics you’ve learned as you can fit in your own life and routine. This will determine whether you have to invest in designers or a design stock if you can upload 1 or 10 products per day, the time you devote to do research, and consequently, you’ll see that reflected in your sales.
A lot of people get frustrated and drop off because they “try everything but get no sales”, and that’s simply because they’re trying everything that works for other merchers instead of what works for themselves.
#10 Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the ride
There’s a good reason why Merch by Amazon is a side-hustle, and it’s mainly because it takes time to really take off. You never really know when a design is going to boom or bust, and more often than not you’ll find designs you’re really hyped about are not selling and designs you just uploaded on a whim are making sales. Add to that all the keywording, Amazon Ads, research and design work…
You can say Merch is a crazy, long ride, and you need to be consistently active, persistent and resilient to failure. You’ll see a lot of merchers getting low sales until a design makes a break and goes off to 10x-20x its sales from one month to another. With time, this will definitely be you as well. Once you make your break, or well before it, consider branching out to other POD platforms since you don’t want all your eggs in one basket.
So that’s it. These were the 10 Amazon Merch Tips and Hacks Gurus Won’t Tell You. Do you see any of them being applicable to your own Merch journey? Let us know!