Merchandise (or merch) as you call it, is one of the best things humanity has ever been blessed with.
If you watch a YouTuber, follow a social media influencer or have preferences for websites and blogs that you read, one of the best ways to show your support is by buying the merchandise.
When a content creator builds an audience, he automatically becomes a brand. While this brand could be monetized in several ways (like Google AdSense), one of the most common methods of monetization and building a steady financial income is by selling merch.
Different content creators have different products to offer to their audience. YouTubers on a large scale sell merch in the form of T-shirts and sweatshirts, hoodies, you name it. On the other side, bloggers could offer printed mugs, posters, stickers, or you know, T-shirts as well, because why not?
Boiling down this whole formula, it usually ends up with a content creator pushing one of his products for his audience to buy.
Okay, let’s back up for a second.
Merchandise is something that people generally don’t know much about. I mean if one of my favorite YouTuber releases a t-shirt or something that grabs my attention, I am going to buy it, HANDS DOWN! That is a great way to show my support towards his channel while giving me something tangible to own as well!
But there is a lot more that goes into the design and making of this merch than what is shown to us.
For any content creator, the options for creating merch are endless. They can sign up with companies, run limited-time campaigns, or build their own stores.
We will talk all about that in the coming sections. But for now, let’s make sure that you and I know the fact that if you are a content creator, there are a lot of things that go into merch manufacturing. This guide will tell you everything, trust me!
A general rule of thumb for the Youtube merch
I am talking about everybody and not just for YouTubers when I say that your merch operation should be a side project, not something that you have to invest your full time into.
Merchandise, just like every other thing you do on your platform is a revenue stream you shouldn’t let go. When you have content that attracts an audience, that is the audience you can monetize. You can’t have a full-time merch operation where all your attention goes to the merch and less of it goes to your content.
What I am saying is that if you have merch, you are going to want to have most of this operation automated than doing everything yourself.
For this purpose, we have MCNs that are going to help you design your merch. And they take care right from the manufacturing to the shipping, which makes them a great option, doesn’t it?
If you are a YouTuber who has no idea how to ship their merch, whom to approach or if you should build an online store of your own, don’t worry, you are going to get your answers here.
However, before you sign up with Multi-channel networks (MCNs), there are a few things that you kind of are expected to consider if you are responsible, obviously.
- Who is going to manage my merch operations?
- With MCNs, how much will I get per sale and how much is their cut?
- Are MCNs trustworthy?
- Will I have control over my merch as much as I expect?
If you sign up with an MCN, these questions are sure to rise. And truth be told, yes, they are going to take some cut from your revenue depending on the sales that you have.
And this is something that’s common with merch managers and other stores as well. Amazon, for example, would easily make a few bucks off every sale that you make, and why not? After all, that’s how businesses work!
All this is complex to understand, but truth be told, there are a lot of options for you to save yourself from the misery of shipping out merch yourself and focus more on your content after all.
How to make your merch operation a success?
While merch is something that’s just a part of your content, it has a significant impact on the credibility of your business.
If you have merchandise that’s of poor quality, features stolen art or isn’t something exactly that the user paid for, it’s going to hurt your brand. And since I already mentioned at the starting of this post that if you build an audience, you become a brand. Realize that if your brand fails to remain credible and authentic, it’s not going to do very well.
As a content creator, before you even start wondering what network to sign up for, here are a few things you should ensure if you want your merch operation to be a success:
- When a customer buys the merch, it should match the exact preferences they mentioned while placing the order.
- While there’s no harm in keeping your merch unique, you should definitely consider it as a piece of clothing that people could wear at different places as well. Not just for the sake of pictures or the internet.
- The quality is something that you need to focus on. If it’s of bad quality, they might wear it once or twice, but not anymore. And do you think they would ever purchase anything from your store again? Chances are very less.
YouTuber merch types
This is the most interesting section of this post. If you are a YouTuber/content creator that wants to make merch, well, there are a bunch of options for you.
As much of a lost cause as it seems, signing up with companies could also prove to be beneficial.
Let’s try to understand what are the different types of YouTuber merch that you could potentially be interested in:
1. Print-on-demand (POD)
Print-on-demand merch is something that you would see most of the YouTubers adhering to. POD is exactly as it sounds like. The company with which the creator signs up with takes charge of the manufacturing of the merch where they can sell their merch to as less as a single shirt.
POD merch type has usually a longer ordering window. If a content creator prefers selling the same merch for a longer period of time (and occasionally add new items in the store), this type of merch sale is common.
So, how exactly does POD work? For companies that work with this fundamental, consider the content creator a customer. This means if you are a content creator, you place the order with the company and ask them to design ‘n’ number of t-shirts in a particular time period.
If you have a large audience with regular merch orders, weekly manufacturing is a great option. This means you can collect orders from your viewers/fans for a week and place the order on the last day of the week. And, the next week you are willing to do the same.
This makes you focus more on your content and less on your merch sales.
Here are some of the companies (vendors) that are based on the POD working style:
2. Limited Time Only (LTO)
The title is self-explanatory.
Often called limited edition [item/book/merch], this merch type is very much in the middle grounds of being a great and a terrible option.
Let’s talk about both.
By definition, Limited edition merch is available for a limited time only. An order window is created that could last somewhere from 3 weeks to 2 months (more or less), depending on the product.
The order window created locks in the orders for a particular period of time. As the order window closes, the orders are finalized, and only then are those orders shipped.
Do you see the order window in the picture above? The window is open for about 6 days, which clearly means you can’t order this item past its time period. In fact, it even mentions when the products would be shipped as well, which prevents you from falling for the fact that it’s been more than a month and you still didn’t get your hoodie. No, you weren’t scammed.
If you, as a creator, are offering limited time merch, you have to know that during the sale period of your merch, you actually have to market your merch aggressively. You might want to remind your audience over and over that you are selling merch, it’s only available for a limited time and that they should buy it.
While it may not seem as effective as print-on-demand companies, you should also bear the fact in mind that the scarcity of such merch is a potential selling point that customers just can’t let go of.
FOMO (fear of missing out) is a potential driving factor for your viewers to buy this merch. As long as you have a deadline for your merch sales, people are going to buy it as fast as they can.
Remember that Avengers edition that OnePlus launched a few years back with the OnePlus 6 in 2018?
Well, it’s not available anymore. Being a limited edition offer, it was sold out in a matter of a few minutes. LITERALLY!
In fact, this behavior could be seen with a lot of other limited-time runs.
While LTO is a great idea, here are some of the serious drawbacks that you should consider:
Cons of LTO
Let’s say you have a fan base that changes every now and then with viewers/fans pouring in and out often.
So, when a potential new member joins your channel/website, they have missed out on all the previous merch that you ever sold. Unless the merch that you are marketing isn’t in the last video/blog you are watching, it’s not available.
What’s even worse is that if you like a particular design/merch type, chances are that it’s not available anymore and all you could do is spend your money on the very latest merch that’s available.
Another common downside to limited edition is that it could take weeks or sometimes even a month for a viewer to receive their shirt. If you are willing to let that slide, totally up to you.
While it’s a bummer that your old merch is getting outdated very soon with every new merch campaign that you run, it still isn’t that bad after all.
One of the most obvious upsides to having a limited edition offer is that when the exact number of orders are placed, every order is taken at once which is further sent to the manufacturers where they start making the merch.
As it’s done, a designer is sitting on the other end that would take these shirts and print the designs on them. Further, it’s sent for shipping. This means there is no unsold stock left for even the creator that is selling all this merch. Pretty clean!
This is a great option for a content creator that could potentially want a switch between graphic designers, or companies he wants to sign up with for shipping the merch.
I know it sounds complex at this point, but it’s actually one of the most significant advantages of limited edition merch.
While the cons to limited edition merch seem to be pretty serious, you should also know that scarcity of the merch and a sense of FOMO are a great sales factor which only makes your merch sale a SUCCESS!
Represent.com is a great LTO vendor, so if you wish to partner up with them, be my guest!
3. Cut and Sew
Cut and Sew is a great merch type as well and to be honest if you want a very intricate and customized branding where you want your product to stand alone from the rest of the merch ideas and types, this is your go-to option.
Cut and sew is such a design that features a garment that has been customized from the raw fabric only. This means that cut and sew garments don’t actually have designs made on shirts that are screenprinted after the shirt is made.
Let’s say you are offering merchandise that you want to be so customized that the design would actually be imprinted in the fabric itself.
That’s where cut and sew comes into play. Cut and sew allows the designers to make the entire garment from scratch with engraved designs and other customizations. These garments are usually of high quality (and price) than a standard merch item.
bapeonline.com, a popular clothing store makes most of its merch through the cut and sew designs.
While the price may be higher than you expect, you should also realize that the quality of such garments is usually through the roof.
There’s no much to say to it except the fact that if you want to offer your fan base something different and out of the ordinary that could potentially stand out on its own apart from just merch, a cut and sew merch type is a great idea.
4. Your own merch store
So you are a creator that wants to do something different. Okay, that’s great!
There are a lot of options for you when it comes to making merch. BUT, if you prefer making merch that not only seems like merch but could also stand out alone as a brand (or maybe a sub-brand), you need to focus on this section.
There are several creators out there who do want to make merch, but want an independent store as well. Something, that seems like channel merch but could also be worn independently by the people that don’t even know about the content creator’s channel at all.
A common example of this is Logan Paul and Elvis the Alien (two renowned YouTubers).
Logan Paul recently came out with channel merch, called the Maverick clothing. This clothing could be called channel merch, but also stands independently as a store. The merch design is intricate and could be recognized as a clothing brand on its own which makes it a great option for the people to wear that don’t even know about Logan Paul in the first place.
The same goes for Elvis the Alien, who’s the owner of Ayylien clothing, one of the top-rated YouTuber merch. The designs that are available in the store are mind-blowing. While the store potentially seems like a merch store, it sure is a treat for people outside the YouTube empire to wear it as well.
While a standalone store would seem like a nice idea, you should also realize that it has its own drawbacks as well.
As you own a merch store, you obviously can’t do everything on your own. You need a team that can manage different parts of your website, like the design, the front-end, the back-end, the customer support, the merch management, giving orders to manufacturers, managing your social media, managing marketing, and of course, the formalities of running a business.
In short, it’s a whole business that needs a lot of supervision and maintenance. That is the main reason why YouTubers and other content creators prefer signing up with stores like Fanjoy to sell their merch.
However, if you are willing to commit yourself to such an online business where you are sure you can take time for content creation as well as store management, there’s nobody stopping you.
At this point, you can easily decide where and how to make merch.
If you have any queries, ask me in the comments section. I will answer for sure.
Also, since I don’t have any merch yet, I can plug my eBook that you can purchase right now. Use the code ‘DOTH10’ for 10% off.