It’s one of the most frequently asked questions in my inbox: “How should I use the Merch Momentum Monday Strategy Guide to get the most out of it?”
For all those who have not yet asked but wonder the same, I’m going to shed some light on this question today.
Firstly, if you’re not familiar, the Merch Momentum Monday Strategy Guide is a strategy-focused newsletter published weekly. It’s approximately 25 pages in length and offers keyword / niche leads and creative ideas to help Merch By Amazon sellers conceptualize and create unique products in profitable niches and opportune sub-niches.
Why do I produce this guide? It all started because I personally needed one.
You see, books and courses can only help so much. And they quickly grow outdated and irrelevant. Everyone in POD needs a consistent and steady stream of fresh ideas, topical research, relevant leads, original graphic assets, and knowledgeable advice to keep focused, motivated, and progressing.
In the absence of such a resource for Merchers, I created it. 141 issues later, it’s still going strong!
There are four primary sections in the weekly guide. Many overthink and under-utilize these sections.
Let’s go through each and focus on how you can make the most out of everything offered in the simplest ways possible.
Every week, after sharing my ten best-selling niches for the preceding seven days, I open the guide with detailed thoughts on three fresh or opportune design and messaging concepts on my radar. These ideas come from either a personal sales success, data-driven research, or insight gleaned from the many Merch sellers with whom I routinely consult.
As an example from an upcoming guide I’m working on, I’ve recently discovered the strong POD sales potential of messaging pertinent to “fanboys” and “fangirls”, individuals who are obsessive about comics, music, movies, or science fiction. More broadly, “fanboy” and “fangirl” are terms loosely used among younger audiences to either sweetly or disparagingly refer to men or women who are enamored of anything to a borderline-obsessive degree — foods, hobbies, places, etc.
So what should you do with information like this? Some Merchers might read this passage about fanboys and fangirls and think that I’ve just assigned them niche homework. Is it time to go out and research fanboys and fangirls? No! I’ve already done the research on that part of the equation. Fanboy and fangirl terminology is widely used in life but poorly leveraged in POD. What is incumbent upon you is to make designs that connect “fanboy” and “fangirl” to appropriate and bankable niches you know.
For example, in my own social circle, I have a close friend who is a die-hard vegan. Not only does he eat a vegan diet, he reads vegan books, donates to vegan causes, and champions the veganism message to anyone who listens. He’s been lovingly christened a “vegan fanboy” among his friends. Without a doubt, there are many such “vegan fanboys” and “vegan fangirls” in the world. How many tshirts on Amazon utilize this message? None.
In a nutshell, the three creative leads that comprise the opening section of every weekly guide serve as a template to action. In the case of fanboy/fangirl, there are hundreds of niche messaging opportunities that you could tie to the fanboy/fangirl template using whatever niche imagery and messaging you see fit. If you have a thriving brand of taco tshirts and an arsenal of images and keywords that work for you, start by making a “taco fanboy” or “taco fangirl” tshirt.
Don’t overthink the leads and don’t under-utilize your own experiences, resources, and ideas in putting my leads to work. In the opening section of every guide, I am simply elevating a well-researched canvas upon which you can paint in any number of ways that will still leverage the quality opportunity I’ve called to your attention because of how poorly used or ignored it’s been by our peers in POD.
Seasonal / Topical or Viral Leads
Writing the seasonal/viral section is particularly exciting to me. Why? To be successful on MBA, every portfolio must include a diverse array of designs covering an equally diverse array of niches. This necessitates the creation of some designs that have a very short or modest shelf life.
Sometimes, there may be a seasonal event, a trending meme, or a political gaffe that sparks a POD sales frenzy that will heat up fast and cool off over a period of days. It’s imperative to be on the lookout for these opportunities and quickly capitalize when they surface.
When I find emerging seasonal or topical opportunities, I address them in this section. More often than not, I use this space to delve into happenings that will be topical in the very near future (In short, I give you an emerging lead to act on, rather than wait for a viral moment that puts you in a position to catch up when other Merchers already have a lead).
Keeping you ahead of the crowd on emerging opportunities is the goal here. Many months ago, for example, I leveraged this section to discuss the upcoming prom season well before others in our community were discussing tuxedos, prom dresses, and limo rentals.
Every year, more prom tshirts come to MBA, but I’m yet to be impressed by the degree of creativity injected into the niche. This year, I encouraged readers to capitalize on the profound wave of 70s, 80s, and 90s nostalgia sweeping over POD by targeting the parents of prom-goers with prom-related tshirts that offer sentimental, funny, and flat-out weird nostalgic messages, such as:
- 1972 Prom Queen
- 1985 Prom King… 73rd Runner Up
- Should’ve Been Prom King #BitterSince1980
- I Can’t Believe My Husband Still Fits Into My Prom Dress
- Still Can’t Find a Date for Prom
- I Went to Prom With My Cousin Before Going to Prom with a Cousin Was Cool
In this section, “prom nostalgia” is the key takeaway for Merchers. A niche approach and niche audience were clearly defined. This type of seasonal framework can help Merchers find their own voice in articulating messages related to the niche opportunity at hand – in this case, prom nostalgia.
The seasonal/viral section of every guide isn’t meant to prompt hours of subsequent research and investigation into the prom niche. The prom niche contains many opportunities but, in the big picture, warrants only a small amount of your design time and attention.
Small chunks of your attention and design time devoted to each section of the guide will result in your portfolio gaining a healthy mix of designs that are based on empirical, evergreen, topical, and data-driven leads and ideas spanning a crazy assortment of niches (the lifeblood of a thriving POD portfolio).
Many Merchers are surprised to learn that I spend substantially more money every year on research and data than I do for designs and assets to make designs.
From Helium 10 to Amazon’s search bar, I procure data from dozens of paid and free resources alike. Although in total I spend thousands annually on data, the insight gleaned is invaluable and the additional royalties earned make it all worth it.
These research tools and the research experience I’ve garnered are behind the composition of the weekly keyword/niche leads that come with every guide. These 100 weekly leads which are hand picked and screened with my own eyes can be put to use right away in your design efforts and keyword composition of your listings (you can also use new leads to update old listings in the same or similar niche if they’ve stopped selling or are under-performing).
This keyword/niche leads section is where most questions about the guide emerge. Specifically, I’m always asked how to use these words. So let’s discuss.
Last month, one of the keyword/niche suggestions on my list was “cat litter.” Yes, cat litter. Why? Not only is the cat niche worth millions, it’s rich with quirky sub-niche messaging opportunities — designs just waiting to be made for the massive audience of cat lovers who spend fortunes on unique cat apparel and novelty items.
As I recently stated in the Merch Momentum group, it’s important to think of a large, competitive niche as a big jigsaw puzzle. There are many small pieces to that puzzle. These are your sub-niches. Cats represent a big niche. Kitty litter is one of many subniches. These sub-niches make great fodder for designs targeting the big niches.
Getting back to kitty litter, it’s packed full of pun potential, which immediately stands out to me. One such possible design message? Put a picture of a refined cat on a tshirt. Place a book in its paw and a pair of reading glasses on its face. A possible title? “Sophisticated Cats Read Litterature“
As far as I can tell, nobody used the kitty litter keyword/niche lead to make this type of design. But the potential for unique and quality messaging exists with all of my leads if they’re used properly. So how should you be using them? Here are three quick tips.
- Don’t overthink it. Take a suggested word or niche and put it into the first sentence that comes to mind, ideally one expressing appreciation, humor, or passion for the niche at hand. Check Amazon for competition and evaluate the phrase for trademark or copyright compliance. If all is clear, you have the foundation for a tshirt message.
- Can’t think of anything clever with the keyword suggested? Go to the free Search Momentum tool on my website and input the keyword. You’ll be met with a laundry list of insight about idioms, puns, related words and themes to help you quickly deploy the keyword/niche at hand into a new design.
- Don’t force yourself to work the keyword itself into the tshirt message. As in my example, “cat litter” isn’t in the tshirt message. But I’ll use “cat litter” in the title and description (for example: “Cat Meme Kitty Litter Pun Tshirt”).
Remember, these 100 weekly suggestions are niche and listing leads, not messaging mandates. A keyword/niche lead is meant to be used in the title and at least one bullet (ideally, the brand as well if possible). If the word doesn’t fit appropriately or comfortably into the actual design message, don’t force it!
All told, there’s a reason why these leads don’t typically result in a flood of similar or exact messages on tshirts across Amazon. I’m providing a well-researched and opportune lead that’s open-ended on the creator side of the equation. Designers will go their own way and come up with wildly different messages, puns, and quotes, but all within the general framework of the niche at hand. So relax and don’t stress yourself out viewing each lead as a research assignment. Again, the research has already been done. Now, you just have to put these words and leads into messaging and concepts that amuse or inspire yourself. Chances are, if you like what you come up with, consumers will too.
In the fourth and final section of the weekly guide, I focus on POD leads and opportunities. What are these and how do they differ from Merch By Amazon-centric leads? For starters, it’s important to remember that I encourage all Merchers to expand their POD reach and not rely exclusively on Merch By Amazon.
As we witnessed this past spring and early summer, MBA was closed to new uploads for months as the global pandemic set in. Meanwhile, Etsy, Redbubble, KDP and other platforms were generating record earnings for creators. For Merchers not already established on these platforms, a great deal of money was not made.
So my POD leads section tends to focus on the broader Print-on-Demand landscape.
Many of the ideas shared here come from insight and data around the POD world. This could mean everything from leads based on an idea that’s selling well for me and others on Etsy mugs or an interview with a POD creator who has expert insight to share about growing a POD business.
Once a month, the strategy guide comes with an exclusive niche graphics bundle made by Adam Guballa of Tshirtfella. The niches selected are generally geared toward content areas and ideas that can drive sales on MBA, Etsy, KDP, Redbubble, and most other PODs (not just one). I often use this section to provide ideas and tips for using the provided graphics.
The paramount goal of this section? To remind and motivate sellers to not put all of their eggs in MBA or any one POD basket. Doing so can be a costly mistake, as we’ve already observed in 2020.
As we inch closer to Q4, having an expansive presence across numerous PODs is the smartest and safest approach to building not just a print-on-demand business, but also a POD brand and eventual empire.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, I believe that the only reason the Merch Momentum Monday Strategy Guide has a 97% 5-star rating on Gumroad is because of its structure, direction, and volume of data-driven leads and creative suggestions.
I’m often told by subscribers that the ultimate benefit of the guide is to have their creative thinking stimulated every week. In fact, I’ve heard quite a few times from sellers that some of their best-selling tshirt ideas didn’t come from the guide directly but were inspired by ideas they came up with based on inspiration from approaches and ideas previously articulated in the guides.
It’s also been said that the guides are too long and cumbersome to use practically on a weekly basis. Some sellers only have time to act on the leads from one guide per month, let alone four or five. But I see this volume output as a strength and here’s why.
We have a small subscriber base. More than 95% of people in my Merch Momentum group have never subscribed to the guide. Let that sink in for a minute. Those who get the guide are provided with so many leads and information that the risk of multiple Merchers deploying the same designs and ideas is minimal. In fact, I never run into that problem.
But it’s also important to note that you should NEVER feel pressure to tackle too many of the ideas and leads week to week. Don’t overthink, overwork, or overwhelm yourself with any aspect of these guides, as it’s counterproductive to the objective of these guides. Read every guide thoroughly and make designs based on the ideas and suggestions that appeal to you. It’s impossible to think that any one person can make multiple designs based on 500 or more potential niche and keyword leads that emerge from these guides every single month.
I’m tremendously proud of how far the Merch Momentum community has come in the last three years. With MBA and the POD industry growing by leaps and bounds, I can’t even imagine how much more progress we will be celebrating in the months and years to come.
I’m committed to making the weekly strategy guide better every week and am determined to see the guide grow and evolve along with our rapidly changing industry. I couldn’t possibly be more excited for what the future holds and I look forward to helping you in any way I can.
To learn more about the Merch Momentum Monday Strategy Guide or to sign up and get the latest guide and graphics, click here: https://gumroad.com/l/mIuN