Well, what a funny day that was the other day and pretty much sums up life in online business.
First of all I get my Redbubble account closed, for no clear reason, then I get a rejection from Amazon because I changed the pirce on one of my shirts and it was not longer deemed acceptable for youth, then….. I get tiered up to Tier 1000!!!
Benefits of Tier 1000
The reason I’m really excited about this is that it has got me out of the lower tiers and I now have a lot more slots that I can play around with. This means I can try more batch / scaled designs eg ‘Best Mom in [US STATE]’, I can also try my designs on some of the other products such as hoodies and popsockets and generally I don’t have to worry about not having enough slots any more.
This was becoming a bit of an issue as I quickly filled my 500 slots previously and have a designer regularly creating designs for me withouth having anywhere to put them.
The other thing for me is this is a bit of a mental shift, where I’ve got out of the Merch by Amazon Kindergarten phase of the lower tiers, and now am probably in the equivalent of first grade elementary school.
How did I get to Tier 1000?
Until recently you needed to sell 100 shirts to get out of T100, 500 to get out of T500 etc etc, but this has changed and I was tiered up with just over 200 total sales.
The other important factor to helo you get tiered up is making sure that you have maxed out your slots as soon as possible. I think it even helps if you start saving your items to drafts as soon as you have filled you slots up, because it shows Amazon you have plenty more designs that you want to sell.
How did I fill my Tier 500 Slots?
Anyone who is familiar with Print on Demand knows that researching, creating and uploading designs that are unique and not scaled is quite a long process and involves:
- Design Research
- Design Creation
- Researching keywords, bullets and descriptions
- Design Uploading
Out of these for items anyone of the first 3 items can be outsourced, which I’d highly recommend you do unless you have bags of time.
Which one of these you should outsource depends completely on your skillset and what you like doing.
Personally, I like to do all my niche research and creation of keywords myself, not because I particularly like doing it, but because I find this harder to outsource and find good candidates to work on this rather than anything else.
At the moment unfortunately #4 is not possible to outsource and if you did, you would probably lose your Amazon account, so for me the obvious candidate was outsourcing the design work.
Even though I like to do some of the designs myself using Photoshop and the really cool Merch Informer Design Tool, I found I was sinking hours of time into this, that I could have spent elsewhere.
I’ve tried 2 different routes to find designers:
An example of my job post that I put out is below:
I’m looking for a designer to work with me to build up my stock of designs for various print on demand services.
Will pay $5 per Tshirt
You must supply all layered files
You must own the rights to all fonts and imagery used
Designs must be unique for my use only
Please send examples of your work and you must be willing to submit a test design based on my criteria I submit.
Likely to be a longer term engagement for successful candidates
After this I received over 20 recipients then gave about 8 of them a test design brief to create. From this I then found 3 designers that I used consitently for the first few months and their designs were pretty good.
One of the issues that I found with the Upwork designers was that they were limited by the stock vectors that they could use so a lot of their designs looked similar to what other people were producing on the market, so you had no competitive edge.
I also found that there would be periods of time where I hadn’t researched things for them, which slowed down the overall production and meant I was creating as many designs as I wanted to.
It was only when I spoke to someone at a UK Merch Meet Up that I found out about a service called Design Pickle. The idea with this service is that you basically hire a designer for a month, or however long you can afford, and they create as many designs as they can get through each week for you. There’s a simple process where you submit a brief to them, with examples of the kind of design you want and as much info as you can give them about the design, and they will crack through their list one by one, with as many revisions as you like.
I wouldn’t usually go for something like this, but as this girl at the meetup mentioned, this is a great way to fill up your slots quickly and it keeps you motivated to keep researching and coming up with designs each day. The next day after speaking to her I looked on the Design Pickle site and they had 35% off of annual memberships and I of course can not resist a bargain so signed up for a year… This set me back a little over $2000 but I think it’s been worth every penny so far.
Getty Images Integration
The other huge benefit with this service, and I mean HUGEEEE, is that for an extra fee of $25 a month you get full commercial rights to images and vectors from their image library. You can either choose the images yourself when you brief your designer or you can let the designer choose the images for you. That’s a pretty crazy deal when you think about it, because most licenses for commercial use are going to cost you over $25 for a single image!!!
Luckily I’ve got a great designer and I’ve got into a good rhythm with him where he understands what I want pretty quickly and hits the mark on about 90% of my designs without the need for revisions.
The other good thing about this is that it forces you to create design ideas, because if you are a stingy bastard like me, then you want to get your money’s worth from this service. If you don’t give your designer any briefs then he just won’t be working and you will be wasting your money.
On average my designer will create 2 sets of designs for me each day. For each design set he’ll usually provide me with a couple of options, so I’m getting a minimum of 4 designs a day from him.
If you’re really stingy (or clever depending on how you look at it), and have a few design skills then you’ll ask your designer to create you templates that you can then use to mass produce some scaled designs yourself. This is what I have done on a number of designs and have meant that I can quickly build up my design library.
So, there you have it… if you want a quick way to create high quality designs and have a few bucks to spend then I can’t recommend these guys highly enough: