6. 5 ways to get out of the 25 tier

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Welcome to the Merch Entrepreneur podcast. I am your host, Elaine Heney, and in this episode, we are going to take a look at the five ways that you can get out of the 25 tier. When you get a new Merch by Amazon account, you are limited in the amount of t-shirts that you can upload. You can only upload 25 designs, and Amazon won’t give you any more room to upload any more until you’ve actually sold 25 t-shirts, whether it’s all the same t-shirt or one of each t-shirt. Amazon don’t care; you just need to have 25 t-shirts sold in your account.

When you are doing Merch by Amazon, and certainly it was my experience, that the hardest stage in this whole process is selling your first 25 t-shirts. It’s really, really difficult. It’s so much easier to sell 25 t-shirts if you’ve got 100 t-shirts listed, if you’ve got 500, if you’ve got 1,000, it’s much, much easier, so at the beginning, getting out of the 25 tier is the toughest thing that you can do, but the good news is, yes, it’s doable, and secondly, if … Not “if,” actually when you get out of the 25 tier, everything just becomes a lot easier to tier up after that.

Here are five really good ways to get out of the 25 tier to get your first 25 sales. The first one, and this actually goes regardless of what tier that you’re in, is to try and find hot trends. So, what are people talking about? What are people writing about in the newspaper? What has Donald Trump said? What has Hillary Clinton done? What is going on in the world? Is there anything that people are really passionate about? Is there anything that people are really annoyed about?

I check places like online American news sites, online celebrity sites, because sometimes they have some trending news in there as well. Google Trends is another really good place that you can have a look. Also, just in your Facebook feed, if you’re on Facebook, just see what your friends are sharing and talking about. You can find, sometimes, weird things like “Oh my God, I can’t believe he actually did that yesterday, did you see that?” and everyone’s talking about it.

Hot trends are a really good way of actually selling some t-shirts, but the thing about the hot trends is that it cannot be a trend from like three weeks ago, because the chances are, everyone’s already jumped on it, and people have actually stopped talking about it because it’s yesterday’s news, basically.

So to really use hot trends to your advantage, you kind of have to be on the ball, and every day go and check the news sites, but don’t read the news like “Oh, that’s interesting, oh, I can’t believe they did that.” Read the news from a t-shirt designer perspective. You know, did someone say a funny slogan that would be good on a t-shirt? Did someone create some kind of new catchphrase that everybody is now using?

And, of course, the second thing with this is the hot trends, you’ve got to make sure that you don’t infringe on any trademarks. Most things to do with any kind of big sports teams, or anything like that, you can’t go near. Other things you kind of have to say, any kind of brand names, like Disney, or TV shows, or anything like that, again, you can’t go near. Anything that someone else has created and is making money out of, they’ve probably trademarked, so you can’t go near anything like that, but what’s been really good, actually, the last couple of months is the political trends.

A little while ago, I think Donald Trump called Hillary a “nasty woman”; that’s not trademarked, so everybody went crazy, and right now, the top-selling merch t-shirt, of a rank of 400 and something, which is absolutely insane, is the simplest, most basic t-shirt you’ve ever seen in your life. All it says is “nasty woman.” I can’t even imagine how much money they’re making every day; it’s absolutely crazy. So hot trends definitely work, but just be careful with trademarks. You don’t want to put up something that won’t actually get through, that Amazon will reject. So that’s the first idea, and that’s definitely probably the fastest way to tier up. Well, maybe the second fastest, if there’s a popular trend going through.

The second way, and this is actually the fastest, is to upload 25 designs, and then just to buy 25 designs, or get your friend to buy 25 designs for you. It’s kind of basically investment in your business. You can set your price to being the cost price, which I think is something under $12, and then by 25, so whatever 25 of 12 is, and then that’s the cost. You’re allowed to do this, you’re allowed to buy your own t-shirts. Yes, if you buy 25 t-shirts, they do count as your sales.

If, like me, you live in America … Or you live in Ireland, I should say, one thing about Merch by Amazon is right now, and I’m sure it will change, but right now, they only ship to America. So I can’t actually go onto Amazon.com and buy 25 t-shirts, because they won’t ship to Ireland, but if, like me, you do live somewhere outside the States, if you have an American friend, you can say, “Listen, could you do me a favor? Buy these t-shirts, send them over to me, I’ll pay you money for the t-shirts and the shipping,” or whatever you want to do. Or, there’s actually shipping companies, if you Google “reshipping company,” companies where you can send stuff to, and then pay them some kind of fee, and then they’ll actually ship it on to you wherever you live.

So that second option is a good option. What’s even a better way to do this option is if you actually have a purpose for the t-shirts, like if you have another business, and you’re like, “Okay, so I need to buy 25 t-shirts, I’m going to actually put my other business’s logo,” or maybe your brother has a business, or your mother has a business doing something, say, “Listen, do you want 25 t-shirts? You know, I have to get them anyway, and if they’d be useful to you as promotional material or something like that, let me get your logo, stick it on it, and you can use them that way, so it’s kind of like two birds and one stone.”

The third way to do this is to find some people who are actually looking for t-shirts. Maybe your local school or local sports group, or if you have kids, maybe in their class, or whatever group they’re in, their music class or music school, or soccer, whatever it is, maybe they need some t-shirts.

Maybe they have a match coming up, maybe there’s, I don’t know, a class presentation or something coming up, and maybe they need t-shirts for the sports team, or the geography excursion they’re all going on, or whatever it is. So definitely ask local sports coaches, ask teachers. Ask your friends, like, “Does anyone here have a business they need t-shirts for, or they’d want t-shirts for, or they could do me a favor and buy some t-shirts from me for?”

The fourth idea, then, is if there’s any local businesses in your area that need or would like some promotional t-shirts, so maybe you have a friend working in a pizza place down the road, and you’re like, “Hey, have you ever thought of getting t-shirts?” and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, but it’s just too much trouble, because I’d have to, like, go and order like a hundred, and then where would I put them,” and blah blah blah. So you could say, “Listen, I can actually design you your own custom t-shirt. You don’t have to even order anything.

They’ll actually be for sale up on Amazon; we can keep them private if you want, and I can just give you the link, and you can share that on your Facebook, you can share that on your Twitter, and your customers can actually just go and buy these t-shirts. You don’t even have to see the t-shirts, you don’t have to take their money. They just order the color they want, they order the size they want, and then maybe you can give them a promotion or something, if they come into your shop, or your restaurant, or whatever it is wearing a t-shirt.” That probably involves a little bit of hustle, but definitely, you know, you probably haven’t got this far without a little bit of hustle, so it’s another good option.

And then number five, the five best way, is if you are working in a job or an office, or maybe you have a local group, and they have a Christmas party coming up, or a summer party, or whatever kind of party, depending on the time of year, you could completely offer to say, “Listen, I will … I can make Christmas t-shirts for everybody in the office,” you know, with some joke, and whatever your work, some funny saying or something that people will appreciate. Or if you’ve some event coming up, or maybe you’re doing like a charity day or something, and you say, “Listen, I can organize, get t-shirts made,” and just get them made at cost; you don’t even have to make any money on these t-shirts, but it’s just literally to get 25 t-shirts sold.

Then the last way, so this is the sixth and bonus way that’s also a good way to do it, is if you’ve got 25 t-shirts up, and literally nothing has been happening, like zero, what’s good is to go back into your 25 t-shirts and just double-check, try and have a bit of perspective, and actually say, “Right, are these designs actually any good?” Compare them, just open up the Amazon store, and look in … Type in “t-shirts,” and compare yours to the ones that come up, and say, “Okay, do mine kind of … Could they mix in okay, or do mine look, you know, really bad?” just to try and figure out where the art level is.

But, more importantly, keywords. Go and look at what you’ve written in. Have you written in a title for your t-shirt that’s more than like two words? Have you written in a brand name? Are they the same? They probably shouldn’t be the same. Have you written in a description for your t-shirts that involves some kind of keywords that people could be searching for to find your t-shirt? If you just write, “Oh yeah, this is a really funny t-shirt, you’re going to love it,” like, no one’s going to find that.

You need to … If it’s a dog t-shirt, you need to put in keywords that people who have dogs would be looking for, you know, so you could say, “Awesome dog-lovers t-shirt, great for those dog owners who love Labrador dogs,” you know, something like that, off the top of my head. Use keywords in your description, in your bullets, that are actually applicable to the t-shirt. If you leave them blank, if you put hardly anything in, it’s going to be much harder for people, number one, to find your t-shirt, never mind actually buying your t-shirt.

Again, the 25 tier, it’s like, we all went through this phase, and it is really, really tricky to get your first 25 sales, but on the other hand, it is completely doable, absolutely 110% doable. Everything gets easier after this, and don’t take it personally if you put t-shirts up for like two or three weeks and nothing is sold.

You just seriously need to get in gear and go, “Okay, which one of these five methods am I going to do?” or six methods, to tier up. Just pick one, go for it. Put some time, put some energy, and guarantee you’ll be able to tier up if you put in the work, and then things will get a lot easier, and then you’ll see your revenue start to grow as your t-shirt numbers increase on Merch by Amazon.

That’s it for this episode. Thank you very much for listening. I really appreciate it. If you are a Merch by Amazon seller, and if you would like to share your story on this podcast, I’d love to hear from you, so what you can do is go to the website, MerchEntrepreneur.com, and then just find the “Contact Me” page, and just drop me an email and let me know about your story, when you started, how you’re getting on, and if you’d like to be featured on the podcast. Looking forward to hearing from you. So that’s it. Thank you very much again, and see you in the next episode.

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