Tips For Making Money Selling Online

Creative Market: Sometimes The Best Tools For Merch Are Free

Hey everyone! Ken here, with my first official post on this blog!

As more and more people get their accounts approved, the Merch By Amazon world will continue to be more competitive. Jason and I both have successful shirts on this platform with nothing but text on them. I also have a couple with text and a simple clipart image. That method does work, but at some point it won’t be enough. What you should be doing now is positioning yourself with better designs. Have a design that sells consistently every month? GREAT! Don’t stop there. Keep it Live, and put up another version, sharpen the look, try different fonts, gradients, even give it that “weathered” look that is trendy.

Enter Creative Market. This site has a TON of stuff on it. Stock Photos, Graphics, Templates, Themes (HTML/CSS/WordPress etc.) Fonts & Add-Ons. There are always new things popping up, and you should be constantly looking to upgrade your tool belt.

Many of you are going to read this and only apply it to designing shirts via Amazon. That’s fine, but that’s only a small piece of the big puzzle. There are plenty of Print-On-Demand (POD) sites out there. Use these items on mugs, tote bags (you know the ladies love a solid tote!), pillows, whatever! People are killing it out there on Shopify with these types of solutions.

Here’s where I’ll slide in my disclaimer, to save the blog some potential grief. Make sure when you are downloading this content and using it for personal/commercial use, you are allowed to. Failing to look and/or give a shit, can result in banning of your account(s) or other legal action(s).

Here’s an example of a great quality, free font, fully legal for Commercial Use: Gineva Font

Browse their selection and something might just jump out at you. Might be a font, might be a theme, that’s up to you!

Feel free to connect with me on the Facebook Group or reach out to me directly HERE!

Why You Suck At Merch And How To Finally Start Selling Some Shirts On Merch

Recently I was in a large Mech By Amazon Facebook group and saw a post that the person was complaining about the fact that they had 18 shirts up and had made 1 sale in like 4 weeks. Then they mentioned running ads, keywords, etc and nothing was working.

Why You Suck At Merch

I  made a reply to the post that people just don’t get this Merch thing and with this post, I want to explain why I think people are failing at Merch.

I am going to make an assumption that a large number of people doing Merch By Amazon are also FBA sellers. I am sure some aren’t, but if they aren’t , they will understand this even less.

The basic reason people fail is that they don’t understand how the Amazon algorithm works.

I know, you are yelling BS right now. Your saying ”I put in keywords on my listings” . ( So quit your damn keyword stuffing. It doesn’t work) That isn’t all the algorithm cares about.

Yeah you suck. You still don’t get it, so sit down, shut up and learn some shit!

What Amazon Algorithm Was Designed To Do

Amazons algorithm was not designed to be gamed by you. Putting 500 keywords into a listing thinking that more is better and the algorithm will rank your shirt high is just plain stupid.

That algorithm is written by a bunch of smarter people than you or me and they know what you are up to.

Amazon’s algorithm is made to sell products. That is the only goal Amazon has for it.

Type into AZ search the phrase “ funny t shirt” .

funny t shirt

Amazon only returns 60 of over 2 million items.

These are the 60 items that Amazon’s algorithm thinks you will most likely BUY when you are looking for a “funny t shirt”.

It is not the listings with the search term “funny t shirt” stuffed in 40 times.

So the simple fact is that Amazon wants to show you items that you most likely will buy for each search you do.

This is the MOST important part.

How Amazon’s Algorithm Learns

When you put keywords into your listings, it tells the algorithm what your listing is about at first but then it learns if the terms are right.

Huh?

Yeah, the true measure of if your search words are right is ( drum roll)

CONVERSIONS

If you say your shirt is about say “owls” and when someone searches for a shirt about “owls” and Amazon displays your shirt and they don’t buy it, that tells the algorithm that your listing isn’t about “owls” or that it sucks. Either way, the algorithm doesn’t want to waste a spot in search results by showing your shitty listing that doesn’t sell.

As a side note, the algorithm gets more clues from things like reviews but that normally happens after conversions.

So when you first put up a t shirt and have it loaded with your keywords, the algorithm is going to sort of take your word for it. It will display your shirt sometimes as a search result for those keywords but if it doesn’t start to sell, it discounts those keywords as being valid.

Basically you get a chance to prove yourself and if you don’t, well you are pushed to the search results abyss.

So the goal for any shirts that you put up is to make fast sales.

Merch Is Just Like Private Label

The whole thing is to handle Merch like Private Label ( or any listing you make for Amazon FBA).

When private label sellers bring a product to market, they have to do stuff to get their products to rank in Amazon search and make it sell well.

The normal process is (was) to give away ( or discount) a bunch of the product at launch to get sales, reviews and to move up in ranking.

Well that same holds true for Merch shirts.

Remember me mentioning conversions? ( sales ) Well in private label, people give stuff away or sell cheaply to get the conversions.

Well we can’t exactly do that with Merch, but we can sell our shirts cheaply to make sales ( conversions) .

Time out for my rant

Everyone that knows me, knows how much I despise “fast turn” FBA sellers. I believe people are suckered into the math of compounding returns that some gurus teach. It normally goes something like this, “ If you return 10% every 2 weeks, that turns into a massive return after a year”.

Yes on paper it is amazing, except that it results in a crap load of work trying to spend that much money every 2 weeks.

Basically it is taught by people that don’t understand margin and basic business.

Ever walk into a Walmart that sells out everything on their shelves every 2 weeks?

No, never and that is not how you should run a business. The only thing you do is destroy the margins for everyone else before you burn out and quit selling on Amazon FBA.

Rant over

With that said, I have found that the same low ball, fast turn sellers on FBA have a totally opposite strategy when it come to Merch.

They believe that their shirt designs should sell for a premium. They think that every one of their designs are worth $20, $25, $30 each.

They are willing to make 10-20% return on a product that they buy from Walmart but there is no freaken way that they would sell their shirts for say $14.99. ( $3.47 royalty )

They are willing to make $1 on a $10 investment on a product that they bought from Walmart but $3.50 from a digital file is sacrilegious. Go figure.

With that said, I am going to suggest you become the low ball seller on Mech that I hate on FBA.

Besides making a good design and basic keywords, the only other thing that we can control is the price we ask for our shirts.

Why would we want to do this?

Conversions!

Most people are more likely to buy a cheap shirt than an expensive one ( yeah I know that isn’t always the case) .

So let’s go back the owl shirt.

You have just designed a cool looking owl shirt. You put some good ( relevant) keywords into useful, human readable title, bullet points and description. ( ie keywork stuffing on these doesn’t make people want to buy anything)

keyword stuff

So you have told the algorithm what the listing is about so it gives you a chance to show your stuff.

Someone searches for an owl t shirt and yours gets displayed in the search results.

This is your chance to show the algorithm that you really should be displayed for the search term “owl”.

Now there is the problem. Your shirt has no reviews and is priced at $24.99 ( remember you think it is freaken the most awesome thing to ever be listed on Amazon) and is shown next to a shirts that have reviews ( social proof) and priced at $19.99.

What are the chances that you convert?

Slim.

Now the algorithm begins to think that the keywords in your listing are wrong. The buyer bought another “owl” shirt. There is a strike against your listing.

This keeps happening the next several times that someone search for owl shirts.

Now the algorithm says enough is enough, the listing isn’t really about owls and it isn’t going to show it to buyers anymore when they are looking for owl shirts.

Now let’s say you priced your shirt at $11.99 and it showed up in the search results for owl shirts.

Many people shop on price and some of them will buy the $11.99 shirt. ( Oh, no. There is no way in Hell that I am giving away the shirt that isn’t selling for almost nothing…..)

When you sell your owl shirt for $11.99 you don’t make crap on it (like $.88, but hey you are in fast turner range of return) but and the BIG BUT is, that you made a conversion. You just told the algorithm that your shirt is what people want to buy when they search for an owl shirt ( see this is exactly the same thing of what private label sellers are doing)
Your shirt will start to show up in search results more which will result in more and more sales.

So you would keep your price at this point until you make several sales on your shirt and then start to raise the price ( people do the same thing with private label. There is a launch price and a full retail price that they move to).

This is really no different than how you would launch any other product but for some reason people are afraid that every person that would ever buy their shirt will snag it for $11.99 and the will never have another person want to buy it.

Basically if 10 people buy your shirt for $11.99 and that is the end of it and there is no more demand for your shirt after that, then you have a dud of a shirt design anyway.

So what if 10 or 20 people get a great deal on your masterpiece of a shirt design.

Sell some cheap to teach the algorithm that you are the real deal and you will benefit down the road.

Conclusion

If you are someone that is totally sucking at Merch and you aren’t making sales, you have nothing to lose by following my advice. Log into your Merch account and reprice all you nonsellers to $11.99 and let them sit for awhile. Some are still going to suck but some will start to sell and after you have taught the algorithm, you can start to raise your prices up to increase your profits.

Or you can just keep sucking at Merch.

Organic Marketing For Merch By Amazon T Shirts

“Welcome to Merch By Amazon!”

Now what?

How do I get sales?

Facebook ads? Pinterest? Instagram?

Everyone is scrambling to figure it out.

Here is what I know about Facebook ads for Merch:

0 , zero, zip, nada

Going Old School

I want to present a totally different idea for marketing Merch tee shirts that I haven’t heard anyone talking about that I have seen happen with my own t shirt designs.

I can’t prove that this works but I think if you follow my thought process you might buy into how this can work.

Niches Baby, It Is All About Niches

Everyone wants to jump into the big niches that have hundreds of the same design or saying. You have seen it, 3 pages of the exact same shirts.

Or people trying to jump onto the current events. Really? How long does current stay current?

So what should you focus on?

Small, unreached niches.

Unreached niches?

Think about it, How many knitting fan t shirts are there? ( ok there are a lot of them on AZ so not a great example, but have you tried to find on at Walmart or your local mall?)

In general, odd hobbies or interests are not going to be found locally.

So say your mom is a big time knitter and you want to get her a shirt for her birthday. You are going to have to go to Amazon to buy one because the sales numbers for those shirts are too low for other retailers ( other than other print on demand t shirt companies) to manufacture them.
So now let’s move on to an example of how I see this working.

Case Example

So first I want to choose a niche that I believe this will work in a little different way.

I chose the niche dental hygienist.

When was the last time you saw a dental hygienist t shirt in the store?

Probably never.

But……there are a lot of dental hygienists out there.

I did a quick search to see how many searches does Amazon have a month for dental hygienist t shirt

merch1

Wow, less than 100 a month.

Most people are moving on right now. ( not me, I wouldn’t mind selling 100 t shirts a month but 100 search would lead to less than 100 sales)

So let’s look at another search

merch2

Dental hygienist gift

211,000 searches a month

That is really good and I shouldn’t have used it because it won’t prove my point but you have a great keyword right there.

So let’s just forget about about that but hint, hint, the word “gift” seems to be something we should be adding to any niche search terms.

Ok, let’s get straight on this.

We know there are a crap load of dental hygienist out there. We also know that you can’t buy a t shirt for one at just about any other place except Amazon. And finally, we know that less than 100 searches are done looking just for “ dental hygienist t shirt” ( that last one sounds so unpromising )

Organic Marketing For Merch By Amazon T Shirts

Why would I want to make a dental hygienist t shirt and why do I think I can sell any of them?

shirtfba

Currently the sales rank of this shirt is #385,476, which if you look at FBA Toolkit, that says that it is selling about 1 shirt every 4 day, so 7 or 8 a month.

Not killing it but remember that the term “dental hygienist “ is only being searched less than 100 times a month and there are a few other designs to chose from on Amazon.

Now here comes the secret sauce ( hold on tight)

Now say someone order one of these dental hygienist t shirts and say it is really a cool shirt. Now they wear it to work in the dental office and their co workers think it is a cool shirt too.

What is going to happen?

They are going to say, “ That is a cool shirt. Where did you find it? “ and they answer “ On Amazon”

Amazon is easy to remember and easy to access. It wasn’t like they said, “I found it at a flea market in Alaska”

So now you have a walking billboard to your t shirt.

Nobody sells dental hygienist t shirts locally and there is this person where it around the office.

There is a good chance that their co workers might order some of the shirts too.

Now imagine that every month the same thing happens. 7 or 8 t shirt get ordered and then you have the walking billboard showing it off around the office.

Next then you know 7 turns into 15, then into 25.

Notice I haven’t said anything about paid promotions?

I think the term is “ organic sales

Here is the thing. Merch hasn’t been around very long. People haven’t taken notice of the whole organic sales thing yet. Too busy trying to make a current event, hashtag shirt. Too busy trying to copy the best selling shirts.

Now fast forward to Q4.

You are the dentist. You are having an office Christmas party. You need to buy a gift for everyone in the group.

Hey there is that cool shirt that Suzy Q has been wear once a week all year on casual Friday.

A quick Amazon shirt shows the shirt and you can visually recognize the shirt ( no need for the perfect keywords because you know the shirt you are looking for)

You place an order for 12 shirts and go about your day.

Organic sales and nobody has been thinking of this.

Conclusion

Just think about every different job or hobby that isn’t represented. That is a shit load of niches. Make the cool shirt and then sit back and let the magic happen over time ( remember that once the shirt is up, it is there forever to make you money)