Chapter 1: Select a Niche
When we, marketers mention the word “niche,” we are usually referring to a small, and a tightly focused target market. We’re not talking about a broad sector of the population. It’s hard to come up with an idea and design that appeals to everyone. But if you focus on a small group of people who share a particular interest, it becomes a lot easier to connect and influence them to buy your shirts.
There isn’t an exact definition of what constitutes a niche market. While niche markets are considered as “small groups,” we can’t really quantify how small of a group we’re talking about as some niche markets are bigger than others.
Rather than focusing on the number, the best way to go about this is to think about their topics of interests. The more niched-down your audience is, the better.
Allow me to share with you a sample to illustrate this:
Broad audience – Mothers
You can niche this audience down to…
– Mothers living in New York
– Mothers living in New York who wants to lose weight.
– Mothers living in New York, who wants to lose weight, using the paleo diet.
– Working mothers living in New York who wants to lose weight using the paleo diet before Christmas.
Of course, you can drill down the niche as much as you can, and on different angles too, I might add.
As you can probably imagine, the more specific your audience is, the more laser-focused your design can become. You can talk about very specific pain points, or interests that will speak to your audience.
If your audience feels, “This shirt is soooo me!” when looking at your shirt design, the chances are good that they will buy it.
Remember – Specificity is one of the keys to selling to your audience.
Facebook Audience Insights
Since we’re talking about the importance of specificity, I’d like to share with you one of the tools that Teespring affiliates can’t live without — Facebook’s audience insight tool.
FB’s Audience Insights tool can help you look for the niched down groups that we’ve been talking about. It can also give you remarkable insights about the group so you can better decide if targeting them is a good idea.
However, before we dive deep down the Audience Insights rabbit hole, let’s talk about how you can access it first. To find the tool, you just have to click the small drop-down button on the upper right side of your FB account, click “Manage Ads,” click the drop-down button beside the “Tool” menu, then choose “Audience Insights.”
If you followed the instructions, you should already be at the “Audience Insights” page. You should see something like this.
Now for the nitty gritty.
Here’s the thing, while there are several ways that you can use this tool, I will share with you the base point of how seasoned marketers use it.
Once you have an understanding of how it is used, you can then experiment. You can try making adjustments so you can come up with an audience that’s laser focused to your shirt’s design.
First, you need to make sure that you’re shirt is targeting the right country (place).
Now that you have the place set up, you can enter the niche that you’d like to target on the “Interests” section. Don’t worry about being vague at this point since we are going to use the tool drill down the niche.
Let’s take the “Beard” niche for example.
After typing in your keyword, you need to click the “Page Likes” tab.
This is where things get scrumptious.
If you scroll down to the “Page Likes” section, you’ll find several pages that are highly relevant to your target niche.
Pretty amazing, huh?
What makes the audience insight even more amazing is how it gives you each page’s Affinity score.
If you aren’t quite familiar with what it is, FB’s Affinity score basically tells you how many times an audience is likely to engage or like your page (or content), as compared to that of a general interest or page that isn’t within your niche.
At this point, you can target these pages since the people who “Liked”, and are following these pages are interested in your niche.
But wait, there’s more…
Why stop there when you can drill down even more by entering the pages that you’ve uncovered above on the “Interests” field.
Check out what happens if I type in “Badass Beard Care” in the “Interests” field.
Rinse and repeat as much as you can my friends. This process will give you a highly targeted, and a niched down audience.
Once you’re happy with the size of your audience (and how targeted it is), you can now save it.
Deciding which audience to target.
Small niches are closed communities, like small remote villages where they speak a different language from everyone else. If you aren’t an insider, it’s hard to fit in and catch their interests. It’s certainly not impossible, but it’s definitely difficult.
These are some of the most important points that you can consider when deciding which audience to target:
1) Familiar to you (at least at the beginning of our journey)
2) Willing and able to spend money on impulse purchases
3) Full of people who have a strong sense of identity and pride in their community
4) Large enough to make it worth our while
It’s worth checking the Teespring marketplace to see if other people are selling similar items.
Some campaigns will show you the number of shirts sold. If you find a winning campaign, then you can use that to somewhat validate your shirt ideas or the audience that you are planning to target.
It’s important that I emphasize how not all Teespring campaigns would show the number of shirts sold. The user has the option whether to show this information or not.
Search for topics and subjects your niche would be into, and see how well their campaigns did.
Don’t worry if you see a few failures; some people have no idea how to sell t-shirts online. Instead, look for successes. These are a real confirmation that your niche has potential.
For instance, the shirt “I Hunt The Evil” is doing really well right now. Check out the number of shirts sold…
I don’t know about you, but the number of shirts sold for this design should be a clear indication of how their target audience is a good market to sell their shirt design too.
* Bonus tip – Teespring’s CEO sent an email telling their users that campaigns would tend to get better conversion rates if they showed their number of shirts sold, ONLY IF they’ve sold more than 500 shirts.
However, if they have not reached the 500 mark, it would be best not to show the number of shirts sold, since doing so can help improve their conversion rate.
Teespring’s default settings will not show the number of shirts sold, if you’d like to show the figure to your audience, then you’ll have to log in to your account and change the settings.
Alrighty. At this point, you probably have a couple of shirt ideas that you think others will find irresistible. Before you jump right into the campaign, though, allow me to share with you the “No-nos” when it comes to choosing topics.
Do not ignore these points, otherwise; you might end up losing your account, or even dealing with legal issues.
1) Copyrighted or trademarked materials that you don’t have the right to use.
This includes brand names, artwork, photography and images that belong to someone else’s.
It’s important to remember that Teespring’s IP department is incredibly strict, even if something is legal, they still might not accept it.
We once tried running a Teespring campaign where we did our own portrait of Harry Potter, and Teespring took it down immediately.
Another example was when we tried selling a shirt that says, “California” — on the shirt’s design was a bear drinking a beer. As you can probably imagine, the word “California” is a state name in the public domain, and the bear is the state animal. Even with how seemingly public/vague these elements are, Teespring didn’t accept the design since they probably connected it to the public university.
2) Overly sexual topics
This includes strongly suggestive images or wording. If you’re trying to sell a t-shirt based on a risqué double entendre, you’re skating on thin ice.
It all depends on the personal judgment of the Facebook employee reviewing your ad. Several of these reviewers are from other countries, and cultural differences mean that something you find amusing could be deeply offensive to their eyes.
3) Shocking, scary or violent images
Facebook doesn’t want your t-shirt scaring off their users! Once again, you’ll have to use your judgment, but I would err on the side of caution.
4) Offensive or hateful content
Hopefully, this goes without saying. Facebook is very strict about materials that degrade other people because of their age, race, gender, religion, and sexuality.
5) Anything that makes suggestions or statements about a person’s personal characteristics, such as their name, age, race, etc…
OK. Let’s examine this more carefully since this is an oddball. Let’s imagine you have a t-shirt that says “Proud to be born in 1995.” You make an ad and show it to people who were born in 1995.
Of course, that’s absolutely forbidden (though it wasn’t before). Why, you might want to ask?
Imagine yourself on the receiving end of an ad like that. You might think it’s a little creepy that an absolute stranger knows when you were born. In fact, you might feel more than a little annoyed that Facebook sold that information to marketers.
Of course, Facebook didn’t sell the information to anyone – but the average non-marketing person wouldn’t know that.
For Facebook to cover themselves against accusations and expensive lawsuits, they just might end up blocking your ad and possibly banning your account.
6) Alcohol (if the ads are visible to minors)
If your t-shirt contains images of alcohol, you have to be really careful that you don’t show it to people who aren’t old enough to buy alcohol.
The legal alcohol buying age changes from country to country, so do your homework and check the guidelines that Facebook publishes.
The same goes for tobacco.
Anything that “promotes gambling” is banned unless you get written permission first. In this case, the term “promotes” is open to interpretation.
For instance, an ad that links to an online casino clearly promotes online gambling. But what about a picture of a roulette wheel and the phrase “Take a Spin?” A reviewer could interpret that as a message encouraging people to gamble.
Once again, you might find yourself in the hands of an overseas reviewer. A lot of cultures are strict about gambling — so don’t even risk it.
8) Anything that tries to make a profit from controversial political or social events
So if a politician is caught in a compromising situation, it would be risky to try to advertise a satirical t-shirt on Facebook. You also shouldn’t try to turn a profit from a natural disaster.
A lot of the time, you can avoid trouble using your good judgment and common sense.
Facebook friendly niches
OK, so we’ve seen that there are niches to avoid. Now let’s look at the type of niches that do well:
1) Buzz Niches
What’s a buzz niche? It’s a niche that suddenly pops into existence due to some sudden surge of interest about certain topics. Often, buzz niches are really short lived. Maybe there was a publicity stunt, or a TV show was leaked before its official release date.
Or perhaps, something amazing and wonderful happened, making the world a better place.
Whatever the reason, these niches spontaneously come into existence and often disappear just as spontaneously too. They can create a lot of interest while they exist, and smart marketers can make a lot of sales in a brief period.
Today, we’re very lucky to have a lot of analytical tools that help us discover new trends as they happen. Google Trends is a very well known and powerful tool that helps you discover search trends as they happen.
You can also use it to see how people have searched for the same keywords in the past. Sometimes, trends go away and then come back again, and knowing what happened in the past can make it easier to predict what will happen again in the present.
There are also tools that track how people are using Twitter – they can help you find related hashtags and see how different topics have become more popular over time.
Hashtagify.me is a good place to start. At the high end of the scale, there’s a service called Bottlenose. They analyze social media, TV and radio broadcasts all over the world in real time.
Bottlenose is not a cheap service, but it does help you discover trends the instant they start. You can also learn a lot from watching what they are talking about in the news and media.
When you spot a buzz niche forming, you have to move quickly to take advantage of the trend. If you’re lucky, you may make tons of money for a couple of weeks before the sales vanish.
2) Passion Niches
This niche is made up of people who share a strong passion for a particular subject, person or thing. The Pride and Prejudice alternative fiction niche is a prime example.
3) Camaraderie Niches
This type of niche is a tightly knit group of people who have a shared identity and are proud to identify themselves with the group. It could be a profession, people from a certain town or neighborhood, or supporters of a sports team.
Dangerous professions are great examples of a camaraderie niche. People who put their lives on the line to protect and serve the rest of us have earned the right to be proud, and this applies to their families, too.
4) Combined Niches
All of us can be slotted into niches, and most of us fit into several others. That’s why it can be really effective to target multiple niches at once.
For instance, you could decide to target teachers who are also Jane Austen fans. That would make your t-shirts really appealing to people who fit into both of those categories.
But you could end up targeting a tiny number of people. I’m sure there are some firemen who are into Pride and Prejudice alternates, but how many of them are there? And how many of them admit to it on Facebook?
And that brings us neatly to the next topic…