Evergreen Versus Trending and Seasonal Merch by Amazon Designs – Understanding The Difference

When it comes to any print on demand business out there, and especially Merch by Amazon, there are 3 core areas on how to build your business: Evergreen, Trending, and Seasonal designs.

While this seems pretty straight forward on the surface, there seems to be some confusion on each of these areas, where they overlap, and how Amazon works with each. Today we are going to go over each of these in detail, and why you might think you are going into a trending niche but really, you are no where to be found and finding it impossible to rank.

Lets jump into it!

Evergreen Merch Designs

Evergreen at its core just means that something has enduring popularity. Put in simple terms, evergreen merch designs are going to be those designs who appeal to an audience that buys YEAR round! They will buy these shirts in January. They will buy them in August, and they will purchase the shirts for Christmas.

Just because they buy a shirt during Christmas season does NOT mean that it is not an evergreen design (more on that further down).

Most of the largest Merch by Amazon sellers build the base of their account on evergreen designs. This acts as a hedge for slower months. If you have shirts that sell year in and year out, you guarantee yourself a base level of income even when it seems that the majority of the buyer pool is drying up in the dog days of summer.

Think of evergreen designs as those BIG niches you hear about every day in life and in Facebook groups: dogs, unicorns, jobs… these are all evergreen broad niches.

Looking at this design, one might automatically think about the 4th of July and think it is seasonal or trending, but in reality, this is simply an American flag patriotic shirt, which will sell YEAR round. This is an evergreen shirt.

The sales data backs it up!

As you can see, the sales are consistent over longer periods of time making this design evergreen.

So many people think that seasonal niches are trending designs when they see something like this.

In reality, these are evergreen shirts with seasonal sales.

Let me say that again….evergreen designs with seasonal sales! This is why when you find something you think is trending and put up a bunch of shirts thinking you will easily rank and make money, you are left wondering why no one can find your designs!

Evergreen niches with seasonal sales are very hard to rank for. The reason is that people have been uploading in these niches for years and Amazon gives priority to shirts with reviews, sales rank (the shirts have sales velocity and click through rate data) and have been optimized to be sellers. When you come along in a sea of 10,000 other shirts in an evergreen niche that just has some seasonal sales, you stand very little chance.

This is where keyword research comes into play. If you find a niche like this, you CAN break through with the proper research and optimization. That being said, if you make a mediocre design in the “dog” niche, and do not dive down on new phrases and long tail keywords, you will still be stuck.

The idea is that even though these niches are getting crowded, find a way to stick out. Find a way to use keywords that are still being searched for on Amazon but not by thousands of people. This gives you a chance to start ranking for the main keywords if you can squeeze out some sales on lesser used keywords.

The video below is a long one, but this goes over exactly how you can easily come up with phrases that people will buy that are not saturated on Amazon:

Seasonal Merch Designs

Seasonal merch designs are NOT trending designs. Just because you see a shirt taking off does not mean it is a trend. In fact, almost all seasonal merch designs are part of an evergreen base that just has seasonal sales. For example, Christmas designs. Christmas occurs every single year and because of that, people have been uploading Christmas related shirts since the beginning of the internet.

There are all types of “seasons” that can be considered seasonal. There are holidays every year that are part of a season: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Halloween. There are seasons for specific hobbies such as mushrooms, and then there are seasonal niches that occur at a specific time but are not necessarily a holiday or a hobby: 100 days of school, groundhog day, pi day.

Seasonal niches are something that occur every single year meaning that every year they will see a spike in buyers. This does not mean that they are trending designs, but that certain designs can trend DURING that season (I hope that makes sense)

An example I always like to go back to is Mushrooms. There is a specific time window where people go out and harvest mushrooms.

Here you can see the keywords in the Merch Informer keyword tool. If you click on the far right information icon, you will see exactly what I was describing above.

See that graph at the very bottom of the screenshot? That is a Google Trends graph and shows you when the keyword gets popular and starts spiking in the amount of searches people are making.

This graph CLEARLY shows when the season occurs for morel mushroom hunting. Every single year it happens at the same time (just like all the niches mentioned above).

The key to sticking out in seasonal niches is three fold:

  • Be Unique
  • Get designs up early
  • Niche Down

When you find a seasonal niche you want to go into, you first want to do your research. You can use the video above to figure out how to be unique by coming up with your own phrases (that people still want to buy!), but you also want to get your designs up early to make sure you have a chance to rank. Your chance to rank will have a lot to do with optimization as well as niching down within the overarching seasonal niche that you are going into.

For more info about seasonal niches, make sure to check out this article we did:

A Definitive Guide On Seasonal Niches – How To Find, Rank, And Manage Your Listings

Trending Merch Designs

Trending designs are a great thing to get into when you are first jumping into Merch by Amazon as these have the possibility to rank quickly and get you tiered up in record time if you land on something that hits!

Trending designs are something that is trending because of a specific event that does not always happen every year. Since these are one off events, there are almost always no other long standing shirts on Amazon. This means that there is no competition that has been selling for years previous, there are not thousands of designs before you, and there are no shirts with reviews if you catch it early enough!
The perfect example of this that is current as of this article is: Storm Area 51.

If you are not familiar with this, there was a Facebook group set up about storming area 51 and figuring out what was really there. This movement has become HUGE!

Now, there have been lots of “Area 51” shirts up on Merch. These would be considered evergreen shirts. However, the phrases and sayings being used to promote this “storm area 51” are trending because it is a one off event that has seemingly come out of nowhere and exploded. If you were to catch this trend early, there was ZERO shirts for a while on Merch. The ones that got in early are seeing massive success and sales by getting in early.

As you can see from this example, they even included some different terms in their shirt (such as 5k fun run), but also used the saying that is being spread everywhere “They can’t stop all of us”.

Getting in early had its advantages for this seller!

They managed to make hundreds of dollars from one simple design because they decided to put in the work and do the research.

Not only that, but if this was a new seller at a lower tier, this would ensure that they tiered up and got more slots to increase their earnings potential going forward in their Merch by Amazon Journey!

Wrapping It Up

No matter if you are a long time Merch by Amazon seller or someone just starting, it is important to understand the difference between these three areas. This alone could save you a bunch of headache as you fill out your account.

When you are starting off, focusing on just evergreen could be a slow journey to get out of those initial tiers. The most important thing early on is sales volume so that you can open up more slots for evergreen designs. You should be looking into niching down, seasonal and trending designs. Once you have the space, build the foundation for your business on evergreen designs but never completely ignore one of these 3 categories.

And most of all, don’t get fooled into thinking you have found the perfect trend when really you found an evergreen niches with seasonal sales!

Good luck building your Merch business!

  • I managed to jump on the Area 51 a little early. There were shirts up, but not a ton and I’ve managed to get out of tier 10 because of it, though no where near the amount the shirt above has sold haha. It could be my 2 designs weren’t that amazing but I did sell the first one at $25!
    People have been telling me that Area 51 is trademarked (they aren’t wrong), but wouldn’t area 51 be considered a geographical location (which is said to be allowed and can’t be trademarked). Would love to hear your opinion on it.

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