I’m telling you now research is the number one factor that will lead to you selling a shirt or leave you scratching your head and asking how the hell is this working for “everyone” else. While in tier 10 all your slots are highly precious and to be honest extremely limiting. MBA is a numbers game, the more shirts you have to live the more likely you are to make a sale. Think of it this way, who is more likely to sell a coffee on the street with ten coffee shops, the owner of 1 coffee shop or the owner with 9?
But that doesn’t help you when you are limited to 10 slots does it…… Anyway back on track, the key to conducting the perfect research can be attributed to the following factors:
- How much competition is within a niche?
- Is the shirt is selling?
Firstly a niche is a specific segment of a topic, for example, we might want to sell a shirt that targets people who like fishing. Our topic would be “fishing”, but our niche could be something along the lines of “Alabama fly fishing contest 2017”.
The reason you want to niche down when creating shirts is to reduce the competition, which in turn makes it more likely that your shirt will be seen and bought.
If you are not already using merchinformer go sign up to the three-day free trial right now, I do 100% of my research through it and contribute the majority of my success to the software itself.
Now that you have merchinformer you will be wanting to use the product search tool by typing in niche phrases like “fly fishing t-shirts” to find a niche with low competition (anywhere between 10 – 20 similar shirts) and a BSR between 100k – 300k. BSR stands for best sellers rank and is Amazon’s way of ranking an item by its volume of sales. While you are there click the small button on the right side of the page in the shape of a tick to make sure the term is not trademarked.
So you have now found a design idea that has a low amount of competition and a BSR between 100k and 300k, perfect. What you now want to do is plug that phrase into the merch hunter tool. Once one of the shirts in your niche pops up click the little cog (BSR History Button) next to the listing, it will bring up a graph of the shirts complete sales history! This is how we tell if the shirt is selling consistently or if it received a once-off sale resulting in a good BSR.
That is how you find a shirt that will sell, repeat the same process with another nine niches and you are ready to either make the designs yourself or send them off to a designer.
- Listing / Keywords
Another major contributing factor when creating a shirt that is going to sell is the listing and the keywords your sprinkle in there. The reason the keywords are so important is that without them your potential customer cannot find the fantastic shirt you have created.
Below is an example of what I consider a good listing, a listing can be broken down into the following points, Brand Name, Title name, Product description and Two Bullet points.
First of all the Brand name and title of your listing should be precisely the same. The first bullet point should have all your keywords included into sentence form and the second bullet point should be a disclaimer regarding the shirts sizing (as seen in the example). This is just a quick overview of how your listing should look to get you your first few sales, I could write a whole post only on keywords and listing optimisation, but that’s something I will add in the future.
There are a lot of opinions out there on how to price your shirts and why. What I did when I was in tier 10 and 25 was price my shirts at just above break-even ($11.99) I can’t say if this helped me in the first few weeks or not. Looking back if I was to start another merch account I would not do the same; I would price my shirts similar to the competition. Example if there are ten shirts within your niche and the average price of the 10 is $16.99 that is what your listing price will be. I say this because as soon as I reached tier 100, I raised all my shirt prices for $11.99 to a minimum of $16.99 and expected a decrease in sales. What happened was the opposite, my shirts that were selling starting selling more on average each day.
The two big questions I had when I first started my merch account was……
“How long should I keep my initial designs up for?”
If you have a shirt that doesn’t sell within the first seven days pull it and replace it with a new design that has been thoroughly researched (re-list that design once you have more slots available).
“Should I have Trending or evergreen designs”
I think when you are in tiers 10 or 25 the majority of your shirts should be trending. Trending shirts will almost always receive a more significant sales volume than evergreen designs.
For those of you who do not know what the difference between an evergreen and trending design read the following.
- An evergreen design is a shirt that will sell all year round, for example, a fly-fishing t-shirt.
- A trending design is a t-shirt that will sell for maybe a couple of months a year, for example, a father’s day t-shirt.
- Wrap up
If you follow the advice above you will be ahead of 90% of the other newbies out there. Once you get your first sale, you will be hooked trust me! But also do not be discouraged if you do not make a sale within the first few weeks! If you head over to my very first case study, you will see how I struggled during my first month of merch as I tried to find my feet.
One last piece of advice which changed my perspective when approaching each design is you do not need to create something brand new each time, more often than not you only need to improve on what is already there.