Merch By Amazon Tools and Resources for NoobsLast Updated: April 10, 2017
Are you a complete Merch By Amazon newbie?
Then you’re probably overwhelmed with all the information being thrown at you.
Everybody’s using abbreviations and talking about plugins and stuff – things you know nothing about.
So I thought I’d run through some of the basic Merch By Amazon tools that every newcomer should know about – before you go a-diving into the world of Merch By Amazon.
Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in amongst the following – because Shakespeare got to get paid, son.
1. Design Software And Resources
If you’re going to be designing T-Shirts yourself, you need some software fit for the task.
Probably the most popular programs for designing T-Shirts are Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator – both are paid professional applications that start from $9.99/month individually, or around $40/month for both (also includes the rest of Adobe Creative Cloud suite).
But if you don’t fancy dropping 40 big ones a month from the get-go – there are some free or cheaper options available.
GIMP is a free Photoshop alternative with a good supportive community and plenty of free online resources to help you get started.
Inkscape is to Illustrator what Gimp is to Photoshop – a vector program that is completely free and open source. Both Gimp and Inkscape are available for all major operating systems.
Other notable mentions and design-related resources include:
- Affinity Designer – an up and coming vector program (alternative to Illustrator) that retails for $40 (one off fee).
- Over App – This is an iPad/iPhone app that some people are using instead of Photoshop or whatever. The basic app is free but there are add-ons for additional fees. Some more info in this video playlist from Chris Green.
- Commercial Use Fonts – FontSquirrel is my go-to for free commercial use fonts (meaning you can safely use them in your designs without worrying about copyright infringement).
- Wordmark.it – View all the fonts on your machine in an instant with this handy website. Great way to quickly scan fonts that might be appropriate for your design.
- Shirtoid Tutorials – This is a great collection of free tutorial vids for T-Shirt designers. Especially useful are those that cover adding ‘distressed’ effects to your designs, or using halftones.
- Vector Graphics – Vector graphics are often the best types of elements to use in your designs, as it should mean your design is crisp and clean whatever the size of the canvas. CreativeMarket is a great place to get low cost vector artwork, as is Design Cuts. FreePik.com is another great place for vectors – but with all the above be sure to check that you have commercial rights before you use any of them in your designs.
2. Research Plugins and Tactics
It doesn’t matter if your designs are some Leonardo-da-vinci level stuff – if you aren’t designing T-Shirts that people are searching for and want to buy – you aren’t going to get great results with Merch By Amazon.
So what tools exist to help you tackle this most important of problems?
The first thing I would recommend is a BSR rank checking plugin.
BSR stands for ‘Best Sellers Rank’ and refers to Amazon’s internal score – which it gives to every product.
The higher the number, the lower the amount of sales.
So for example – a T-Shirt with a BSR rank of 20,000 might make between 5-10 sales a day.
Whereas a Shirt with a BSR of 500 might make 100-200 sales a day.
(these numbers are for illustration purposes only – plus Amazon’s rank is a constant rolling and subjective number so there’s no hard and fast data on this).
So – the ability to quickly see whether there exists a sufficient or attractive market for a particular type of design is a valuable one.
To this end – I recommend the use of a BSR checker plugin – such as:
The main purpose of these plugins is to display the current BSR of any given product in the Amazon search results page.
So you simply search within Amazon.com for your given phrase or keyword, and these tools will help you see – at a glance – what is selling, and how well they are selling.
I have used all of the above tools, and find them essential for doing research into any T-Shirt market, and helping me decide which niches to target.
The Amazon research / analysis industry is a pretty big one, and there are some relatively expensive software services you can use – such as JungleScout, Helium10, Asinspector and others. But for my purposes – the above plugins tell me 90% of what I want to know.
Other notable mentions in the world of Merch Research:
- Merchant Words. This is a paid subscription service that’s supposed to let you see what people are searching for on amazon, and at what volumes. I’ve used it, but found it to be somewhat unreliable and pretty limited in it’s applications. May be worth checking out, but I no longer use it as part of my regular research.
- Merchinformer. This is another paid software subscription aimed at helping you find good opportunities within Merch and streamlining your workflow (eg. making it easy to save ideas and niches that you like). I haven’t had time to do a ‘deep dive’ into this software yet, so I can’t personally recommend it, but they do have a free trial so you can check it out for yourself.
- My eBook! Perhaps more important than the software tools you use is the ability to know what you should be looking for, and where to look for it. You need to have the right strategies and mindsets to make regular sales – and I cover a lot of tips and tricks to do this in my ebook: How To Sell More Shirts! It’s still free (limited time only) so go and grab your free copy while you still can.
3. Where To Get Help And More Info
Once you have the basics in place, you’ll probably find you have a bunch more questions.
So where are you going to turn to get help?
Number 1 on my list would be Facebook groups – in particular the Merch By Amazon Facebook Group – although there are a bunch of other quality Merch groups across the FB. (full disclosure – I am an admin of the Merch By Amazon group.)
This is the best place to ask questions, get feedback, and pick up the latest Merch info.
But please – use the search function before you ask a question! Most questions have been answered a hundred times before – so the group search function is your friend :).
For ‘official’ support – you can consult the Merch By Amazon forum, where the Merch Team occasionally (or regularly – depends how busy they are) may be able to answer your questions.
Other Notable Mentions:
- Copyright Info. If you have had a design stolen and need to report it, you can do so via the Amazon Copyright Infringement reports page. If you’re confused about copyright and Intellectual Property – and how it relates to T-Shirt design – then check out these 2 blog posts: Copyright and T-Shirts: An Introduction and Parody, Fair Use and Mash-Ups.
- Analysis Tools. Merch Reports is a handy piece of software to help analyse your Shirt sales. Just export and upload your CSV from Merch, and it will do the rest. I’ve used this a few times and it’s a nice little tool. Also check out the ‘Merch By Amazon Analytics‘ Chrome Plugin for quick and easy display of your daily and monthly sales.
- Podcasts. I was featured recently on Manny Coat’s AM/PM Podcast – you can listen to the full interview here. His podcast is more geared towards direct Amazon sellers, but it does have a lot of crossover with Merch. Also check out the Merch Entrepreneur podcast by Elaine Heney. (Update: also the Merch Minds podcast by Glen Zubia and Yong Jae Chong).
- Other Places To Sell Shirts Online. There are more than a few sites that work like Merch – in particular Redbubble and Teepublic. For more info on these and how to sell on them, check out this article: Where Can You Sell T-Shirts Online? The Ultimate Guide To The Different Types Of Shirt Sites
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