There has been a lot of talk lately about Merch by Amazon and selling merchandise via POD platforms on Amazon in general. With the upcoming Teespring update I decided to write this short guide on how i create research and optimize my listings since I see there is quite a bit of confusion especially when it comes to organic sales and the type of designs that work best with Amazon. As you can see by the screenshot below I’m by no means a millionaire yet but I think I'm doing OK considering that I have less than 200 designs up and all the sales are completely organic. Disclaimer: I mostly use Merch by Amazon as pod service and just recently started to implement Antichrists Shopify guide as well so most of the tips regarding listing optimization will be for MBA however you can easily implement those and probably even more if you sell directly on Amazon. I'm going to try to keep this as simple as possible so without further introduction let’s start with: 1. Design As far as designs go a lot of people will probably suggest outsourcing the work to Fiverr or places like Upwork and freelancer.com but I prefer to do them on my own.I know this might sound a bit intimidating for some of you however I mostly target simple designs that consist of a single image or icon and a nice font. Here is a nice example of a shirt I have that was selling pretty decently and it took literally less than 10 minutes to make in gimp. 1.1 Fonts When it comes to picking fonts Google is your friend ( https://fonts.google.com/ ) and its pretty much the only repository I use. They currently have more than 800 fonts which are all open source and can be used on t-shirts, mugs etc. Another great repository is - http://www.1001fonts.com/ however when downloading a font from there make sure that it’s free for commercial use since you wouldn’t want to get in trouble with Amazon and endanger your account. 1.2 Images When it comes to adding images to your design obviously you dont have to draw them yourself. There are plenty of repositories with free or cheap commercial licensed images you can use. https://thenounproject.com - costs $9.99/mo you get access to 500k+ royalty free icons you can implent on your designs (the design example above was done with one of those) http://www.freepik.com - a nice aggregator for images from various places however make sure to check that the one the image is actually free and two you are not required to give attribution to the author. https://eu.fotolia.com - great repository even though the monthly plans can be a bit steep for some ($250 for 500 images) however if you are looking for high quality images to make your designs really stick the investment is totally worth it. And even at $250 for 500 images that cuts the cost per design to 0.50c per t-shirt plus the time you actually invest which once you already have the idea infront of you would be pretty minimal. One last tip on design: Never buy premade packs from places like Fiverr those are sold to hundreds of people many of which do list them on Amazon and there is no point in competing with 50 or even 100 pixel by pixel copies of the same design. PS: You can save 20% off on your fotolia subscription here - https://us.fotolia.com/Info/Subscription/Monthly. No affiliation 2. Research Well that’s probably the most important part of the guide since there is no point in designing your own t-shirts or outsourcing the work if you don’t know what sells at the first place. There are two ways to go about that you could either just open Amazon and start typing random stuff till you stumble upon an interesting niche or use a tool like http://junglescout.com or http://merchinformer.com. I personally prefer MI since its more targeted to POD sellers and has some specific features that JS is missing also the tool has been developed by a member of this forum and communication so far has been stellar. 2.1 Finding Keywords Some people recommend using the Google keywords tool but I personally prefer to stick with information that Amazon provides since their search engine is a lot more targeted to people with buying intend and the keyword suggestions Amazon provides are based exactly on what people are looking for to purchase. Now again as I said above you can use a tool like MI or if you are really cash strapped the best option you got is to head directly to Amazon switch your search to the Apparel category and start typing phrases to see what people might be looking for. Since Amazon search is based on auto complete start with as basic words as possible and just write down the suggestions. Good starting point would be: · Straight Outta · Keep Calm and · I am · I might Be · Will You · My Best · Happy · This is Basically the idea is to come up as many sentence starters as possible and narrow down the results till you find some good t-shirts that people are looking for. Here is a great example for the words "I am" and the suggestions Amazon provides: 2.2 Establishing if the niche is worth getting into Once you have gathered enough t-shirt ideas its time to check if the niches are actually worth getting into and we do this by checking the main category BSR of the shirts and getting sales estimates. Now I usually aim for anything between 50 000 and 200 000 BSR which means between 60 and 5-10 sales per month. Unfortunately since Amazon did some changes last week the main category BSR is not showing on the Amazon page itself anymore so you will need either one of the tools above(if you want to see both the real BSR and estimated sales) or one of those chrome extensions that just display BSR. 2.3 Other ways of finding niches If you want to broaden your research you can check the current hot topics in Google trends and places like Buzzfeed. I had great success with some phrases from Donald Trumps and Hillary Clinton speeches that wore selling like hot cakes on Amazon (think Nasty Woman and Basket Of Depolorables). The Fun Holidays calendar provided by timeanddate.com which can be found here - https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/fun/ is a great source for inspiration as well. However, keep in mind that both of the examples above are just for trends and they won’t guarantee you a stable sales flow during the whole year. Merch Informer mailed out a 10% coupon a few weeks ago: Holiday10. No affiliation 3. Optimization When it comes to optimizing your listings there are a few key elements you can influence directly while you are still listing your products: 3.1 Title and Brand Let’s take the example words from the screenshot above and use "I'm an immigrant tshirt" make sure to use the word exactly as suggested by amazon both as your Title and Brand like this: Obviously you can add extra words to both to try and rank for even more suggestions. I usually add stuff like gift idea, funny, cool and variations of the word t-shirt like tee, shirt, tshirt. 3.2: Features Again using your main keyword at least once in your product features is key however whatever you do don’t keyword stuff since Amazon really frowns on that and you can lose your account pretty fast. Be as descriptive as possible and try to use some synonyms as well. If you dont know the synonyms for the main words you are targeting use thesaurus.com. 3.3: Product description. From my personal experience this doesn’t affect my rankings as much as the other two factors however a short and sweet description won’t hurt your sales and I even though when it comes to buying clothes I don’t usually read it maybe some people do so I'll leave that to you. I personally use something along the lines of: "T-shirt Name - This shirt is relaxed, well designed and comfortable. It’s made from 100% ring-spun cotton and has a weight of 4.8 oz. The t-shirt is unisex and "SHIRT MANUFACTURER"(Regular Fit) so there are three size variations - men, women and kids. And you can choose between 5 colors. " 3.4 Pricing As far as pricing goes I usually sell my shirts for $18 to $19.99 however when I initially list the products I always go with a lower price and limit my profit margin to $2-$3. From my experience this strategy works great because you will get an initial influx of sales which are one of the most important metrics for Amazon to determine your ranking position and once you are on top you can increase the price to match your competitors. Well this pretty much sums up my research process I hope I was able to lay it out as simply as possible and it helps some of you to make your first steps in the POD business. If you have any questions just drop em below.