There are those tried and true methods of finding niche ideas and design ideas like searching Amazon Merch shirts and using software like Merch Informer. While those two ways work for most people, and me as well, sometimes I like to get out and look in new places. Whether it is actually out in the real world (gasp!) or just stepping away from the computer for a bit, I’ve found some amazing inspiration with the below techniques. Some came by accident, others I sought out.
DEPARTMENT & DISCOUNT STORES
I actually figured this one out while doing some retail arbitrage at a local Ross Dress for Less store.
While going around the store looking for some cheap items I could flip on Amazon and eBay, I walked into the home goods section. I started scanning some of the products like pots, Yankee candles, and some as seen on TV items when I walked right by the mugs.
I figured the mugs wouldn’t be an item I could flip on Amazon so I almost skipped them. Then I saw a funny quote on one. Then an inspirational quote on another.
There was a treasure trove of great merch ideas for shirts (and mugs for my Etsy store) sitting on the shelf here. I just switched over from my RA app to my iPhone camera and started snapping photos of the mugs.
Keep wandering around and you’ll see other signs, housewares, and clothes that have similar quotes and humorous sayings that make for some profitable Amazon Merch design ideas.
The best stores I’ve personally found with this tactic are Ross, Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack, Target, and Walmart.
This one feels creepy sometimes, but hey…I like money and this is an awesome resource.
I’m a single guy so I spend time, probably too much, on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. It’s an endless realm of photos of regular women in their everyday lives.
What I noticed at one point was I’d sometimes see a shirt and laugh or pass a quick judgement based on what the design or saying was on the shirt. Eventually I realized that these are shirts that regular women are actually spending their money on.
I hate that I do it, but I’m finding myself taking lots of screenshots of the ladies of Tinder and Bumble who have interesting shirts that I think I can use for inspiration or a new way to scale a shirt.
The only issue I find with this is I’ll forget I’m trying to find a date and end up fast swiping on women to just see who has the most interesting shirts.
Did you know people with pets sometimes get a little obsessed over their “babies?” Well why not capitalize on that?
I got sent to a local pet store to get my roommate’s dog some food and couldn’t help but notice some of the posters and merch around the store. There were tee shirts, silly posters, and just some hand written puns on the fish tanks.
I also had a brain fart moment and realized there are way more pets than just cats and dogs. There are birds, lizards, fish, rodents, etc.
Then within each of those animal types, you also have different breeds. So instead of going Dog->pitbull, you can go Lizard->iguana. The timing worked out when I was there that there was a girl wearing a bearded dragon shirt. I didn’t realize that was an actual pet lizard until then. I figured what the hell and made a few designs of just that. Guess what…they sold!
BOOKSTORES & LIBRARIES
I’m kind of a dork for reading so I end up wandering around Barnes and Noble or the library to find a new book to check out. I’m also cheap so I’ll find the book there then buy it on Amazon. No shame here.
The aisles of Barnes and Noble and the stacks in a library are broken down into big niches. Those big niches are broken down into sub niches.
Each book on the shelves was written by someone who really cared about the topic and took a lot of time to put it together. Odds are there are plenty of people willing to spend their money on the book and time reading it because they also care about that subject.
Why does this matter?
Well you just found some hidden gems with these books and super niched shelves.
Think about the dieting section alone. People buy vegan, keto, paleo, and other major diet shirts since it is something that represents who they are. Look a little closer on these shelves and you’ll find the other diets that people might be passionate about that you’ve never heard of.
I find myself falling down Reddit and Wikipedia holes way more often than I’d like to admit. I get a little click happy going from one tangent to the next thinking I’m about to discover something incredible.
What I have found on these sometimes strange paths would be some great shirt and merch ideas!
I think the best niches are the ones that are somewhat obscure, but still have a decent following. I love finding communities in a subculture that might not be getting all of those tee shirts they dream so much about.
To find these niches I’ll often use Wikipedia or Reddit and use the random subreddit or random Wiki tools to find myself in some strange world I know nothing about.
Reddit will actually show you how many followers are in each section which gives a good idea of how big the niche could be. Wikipedia you just have to use your judgement a little more.
WRAPPING IT UP
So there are some of my best ideas for finding new shirt ideas for Amazon Merch.
I really like to use these strategies when I’m feeling burnt out researching or when I start to get some writers block (or designer’s block?).
The key takeaway here is to just always keep your eyes open to the many opportunities around you. You never know where some great inspiration might show up for your next best seller.
Comment below with any thoughts on how to use these ideas better or anything you use to research Merch ideas besides the regular methods.