Let me ask you something:
How organized are your Merch folders right now?
How quickly can you find your already uploaded designs? What about designs that need to be uploaded? If you searched your computer, would you be able to find them by file name?
If you can’t answer any of these questions…
This post is for you.
Don’t worry, it’s not all your fault for being unorganized. No one really ever teaches you how to organize the folder structure on your computer. Luckily for you guys, I’ve been in the IT industry for years and have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way to help you out. You may have your own way of organizing, and that’s fine, but there’s still a lot of tips and tricks you might find useful in this post.
In this blog post, I’ll show you how I organize some of my folders and why it’s important to stay organized during your Merch journey. It’s especially important to work smarter, not harder as you scale. You may only have a daily upload limit of 5…but once you have 10, 20, or 40 – you’re going to wish you could speed things up.
It’s a pretty straightforward guide, so I hope it helps you out!
Why You Need To Stay Organized
Organization makes the world go round.
We organize conference calls, sporting events, holiday parties, and soccer tournaments. We organize clothing for the next day, or when we should work out next.
Ever since the introduction of daily upload limits, we now dedicate a small amount of our time to Merch by Amazon every single day. Whether it’s writing bullet points, researching designs, managing designers – every single task you do is time consuming. If we don’t get our designs uploaded, we’re missing out on potential income in the future.
If you could shave off even a few minutes of your daily routine just by being organized, wouldn’t you do that?
I certainly would.
The less time I spend managing the repetitive day-to-day stuff – the more time I can dedicate to other areas of my life.
Staying organized is especially important as you tier up and start to scale your Merch operations. Things can start to get very unorganized, very quickly. Soon, you’ll be outsourcing designs and having new designs coming in each week, you’ll have designs removed by Amazon due to the
60 day 90 Day no-sale rule, and you’ll probably have a small stockpile of “ready to upload” designs for the rest of the week.
You may only spend 30 minutes today uploading 5 designs per day in the 100 tier, but what happens when you can upload 10, 20, or 50 per day?
Are you starting to see the bigger picture here? Get organized now, and save time later.
Using Google Drive
Google Drive is a fantastic solution for us Merch sellers to use.
Google Drive gives us 15gb of cloud backup storage for free. 15gb is the equivalent of several hundred t-shirt designs. If I ever need more space, it’s only $1.99 per month for 100gb of online storage.
There’s plenty of other cloud backup solutions out there (Dropbox, for instance), but when it comes to cost per gigabyte if you have to upgrade, Google Drive wins every time. You might as well go with the most cost-effective option from the very beginning.
Google Drive has both a web interface and a downloadable application. Once downloaded, it works just like a normal folder on your computer. Anything you drop into your Google Drive folder is automatically synced and backed up to Google’s servers, too. Which is awesome.
You can now access your designs from any computer in the world, and you can rest assured that your designs and design lists are safe.
Once you download the desktop client, this is what it looks like:
See? It looks just like a regular folder, so you can treat it as a regular folder.
In your Taskbar (by the clock), you will now see a Google Drive icon. Whenever you paste a file into your Google Drive folder, you’ll see this Taskbar icon start to spin. This means it’s uploading and syncing to Google’s servers.
If you plan on installing Google Drive on many computers, make sure that when you hover over the icon it says “Google Drive – Sync Complete”. Otherwise, you might scare yourself if you log in from another computer and notice missing files.
You can usually restart the Google Drive service on your PC or restart your PC and the files will continue to sync up.
The Basics of Organization
If you’re just getting started, there are 2 main folders you need to create on Google Drive.
Once you download the desktop app (which installs to C:\users\YOURNAME\Google Drive), double-click into that folder.
Name one folder ‘Uploaded’, and name the other one ‘Not Uploaded’. To do that, just right-click in the empty space > New>Folder.
Here’s what it should now look like:
Note: If you’ve been selling on Merch for a while, create 2 additional folders. Name these “Outsource’ and ‘Removed’. I’ll explain why later.
You don’t have to name your folders the same way I did, either. It doesn’t really matter what you name them, as long as it makes sense to you and you understand what these two main folders will be used for.
One for your already uploaded designs, and one for you designs that are ready to be uploaded.
Drag & Drop, or Copy & Paste?
When adding files to folders, it’s always best practice to cut & paste rather than drag and drop. Copying & pasting prevents files from accidentally being moved to the wrong location.
I see this all the time at my day job. Someone will drag a file or folder into the wrong location and think that they somehow lost the file.
A simple cut and paste is a much better approach. If you accidentally paste something to the wrong folder and can’t find it – just paste it again to the correct one.
The file may be in two places now, but at least it’s not “lost” somewhere on your computer.
Adding Files To Google Drive
Like I said earlier, once you download the Google Drive folder, it works just like any normal folder would.
Any new designs you create should now be saved to the Not Yet Uploaded folder, instead of where you normally saved them.
Any designs that are already uploaded to Merch by Amazon will go into the Uploaded folder.
Now when you go to upload designs, you only have to search the Not Yet Uploaded folder for new designs instead of cluttering up your desktop.
Rename Your Files
The next step in being organized is naming your designs. Simply adding designs to a folder isn’t quite good enough.
I outsource close to 250 designs every week for both myself and my Merch Ready Designs business, and I can tell you first hand, if I didn’t rename my files, I would have tons of duplicates.
Here’s what most designers send me…
There’s 3 things wrong with this screenshot.
Do you see them?
- Files are numbered, not named.
- Navigation Pane is set to Details.
- Folder View is set to Details.
If two designers both were to send me files named “1.png” each week, I’d end up with a 1.png and a 1 (1).png in the same folder. That’s because Windows automatically appends a Parenthesis’d number when duplicate files are found in the same folder.
How am I supposed to quickly know which file is which?
That’s why it’s important to name your file something easy to find, and easy to remember.
Here’s how to fix each:
To rename a file, just right click on it, and select Rename.
I usually name my files whatever the quote on the design says to simplify things. If I have two variations of the designs, I may name it something like Quote-white.png, and quote-black.png.
You can now go through every single of one your designs and rename them in the same fashion.
Sounds like a blast right?
I’m kidding. Renaming files is very time consuming. But luckily, you should only have to go through the entire renaming process once. It’s much better to get in the habit of naming your files as soon as you receive them back from your designers. Such a small change can really speed things up when it comes to uploading designs.
Oh, and once Amazon starts removing your unsold designs after 90 days – and they will – you’ll be glad you can quickly find those designs later on. These designs can always be re-uploaded to Merch later on. It’s as easy as searching your Uploaded folder for the designs, and cutting/pasting into the Removed folder.
Tip: Instead of double-clicking into every single file just to see what each file is, you can simply change the way Windows displays your files. (screenshots below)
Change Navigation Pane to Preview
Switch to the View tab at the top of Google Drive window.
In the stop left corner, there’s a section that says Panes. Details Pane is selected.
Choose Preview Pane instead.
Now it’ll actually display the file for you on the far right without you having to double-click into it!
Here’s what making this change looks like:
Renaming files should go much quicker now.
But let’s take this one step further.
By just changing to the Preview pane, all that it really helps with is quickly displaying the design on the far for renaming designs. When you actually sit down to upload to Amazon, it’s not all that helpful. You’d still have to click through all the designs in the list to see what you have available.
If you had to click through every single of your designs, everyday, just to see a Preview of it before uploading to Merch – you’d go crazy. I know I would.
I’ve got a solution for that too.
Set Folder Layout to Large Icons
Under the View tab, in the Layout box, you’ll notice my Google Drive window is still set to “Details”.
Change that layout to Large Icons.
Here’s what it looks like now:
Much better, right? This view lets you see everything!
When uploading designs, you can now see exactly what the design looks like before uploading to Merch. No more clicking each individual file, or pressing the down arrow key until you find one you want to upload that day.
When you have hundreds of designs sitting in a folder, and can only upload 5-10 per day, you have to start making smart upload decisions. Which designs should be uploaded this week? What about next week? Or today?
If you have a trending or holiday, having a visual of all your files might quickly remind you that “Oh yeah! I need to upload this one today”.
You can get as creative as you want inside “Not Yet Uploaded” folder, too. Maybe you want to create a subfolder that says “Upload this week”, or “Upload this summer”.
It’s really up to you. The goal is to stay consistent and find a way that makes the most sense to you. I’m just giving you the framework for a very basic folder setup.
Organizing Removed Designs
Back in January 2017, Amazon introduced a new “60-Day Rule” that basically said if you don’t sell a design within 60 days, it automatically gets removed from your account. As you scale, you’ll soon realized that not all of your shirts will sell.
Note: As of 3/28/2017, the 60 Day Rule is gone, and is being replaced by a 90 Day Rule. Which is a huge, awesome change.
Some of my ugliest designs are my best-sellers, and and some of my highest quality designs, with next to no competition haven’t sold at all.
There is a tab in your Merch by Amazon account that shows which t-shirts were removed, however, it doesn’t show the bullet points, description, or anything like that. If you want to save these for later, you’ll have to start taking a more proactive approach and saving that info before the listing is removed.
If you’ve been naming your files correctly, all designs uploaded to Merch are sitting in your Not Yet Uploaded folder. Every few weeks, just check your Removed tab on Merch by Amazon to see which designs have been auto-removed. Now, just search your Uploaded folder, and move them to the Removed folder.
If you ever run out designs to upload, you can now just as quickly check your Removed folders to find an old design. Same as before, once you upload a Removed design, add it back to the Uploaded folder.
I hope you found this post useful! It’s crazy how much time you can save with your daily Merch processes just by organizing folders, naming files, and changing the folder view.
Spend a few minutes getting your folders organized now, and I promise, you’ll see a huge decrease in time spent on Merch everyday. Merch can be a very passive form on income, and even moreso once you speed up some of more mundane processes.
If you have any tips or trick you’d like to add, please comment below and if you haven’t already, sign up to my email list so I can email you whenever I write a new blog post!
Do me a favor, if you think other Merch sellers would benefit from reading this post, please share it to the Merch Facebook groups! (I don’t like to self-promote, but would love to help others speed up and stay organized.)
As always, Happy Merching!