How To Make Money Selling Merch [series draft]
Many artists don't think they can make money from merch until they have built a big fan base however that's far from the truth.
Imagine if all of your friends and family bought merch from you?
Really think about that.
At $40 per hoodie x 20 family members (or friends) = $800 total.
If you subtract let’s say $200 in expenses (for the clothing and printing), that’s still $600 profit from only 20 people.
That’s $600 you can use to invest back into marketing your music. $600 you can put into Facebook ads, $600 you can put towards a photoshoot or a music video or studio time.
That’s money you are missing out on right now, and that money really adds up.
Believe it or not, it can be easier to sell someone a cool looking hoodie than it is to sell them a mixtape (even though the hoodie is much more expensive). Even if you’re not selling music yet, everyone loves a cool t-shirt.
This is a big reason why you see many artists bundle their music with their merch.
Merch is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make money to invest back into your music career.
If you're not already making money off of merch, now is definitely the time to do so.
But where do you even start?
What kind of merch should you sell?
Isn’t it expensive?
How do you create an online store?
How do you get people to buy it?
You may be asking yourself all of those questions, but we want you to do yourself a favor and get out of your head because selling merch is actually not that hard to do.
All it takes is some know-how and some effort.
We’ll handle the know-how part, but you have to put in the effort.
Awesome, let’s get started!
First things first, you’ll need some merch designs to start with.
If you already have some ideas of what you want your merch to look like, great! If you have some design skills, start designing and bringing your ideas to life. If you don’t have any design skills, head on over to our resource library [hyperlink] and reach out to one of our trusted graphic designers so they can help bring your merch designs to life.
If you’re not sure what your merch should look like, start by doing some research. Look up some of your favorite artists and see what their merch looks like. Also think about the type of clothes you like to wear and visit your favorite online stores to see what they’re selling. By doing some research it’ll help get your wheels turning and will hopefully inspire you to come up with some awesome merch ideas.
To give you a bit of a head start, here’s a few possible options that have worked in the past and are still working to this day:
Put your name on your merch: This is the most common but can also be a bit boring since you’re not doing anything different. Plus, if you haven’t already built up a strong brand or audience yet, it can be a bit harder to sell a stranger something with your name on it if they’ve never heard of you or ‘just don’t know you like that’. A name isn’t as enticing as a really awesome design or a really cool relatable saying.
Put your logo on your merch: If your logo is just your name, refer back to the first point. While you should definitely have very basic merch (with your name on it) that you can sell for a bit cheaper, it’s not always the easiest to sell when you’re first starting out. But if you have a really cool looking logo that’s a symbol or awesome graphic, you might be onto something.
Put your stand-out lyrics on a shirt: Do any of your songs have “tweet-able” lyrics? Aka lyrics that can relate to a lot of people? If so, you may want to incorporate those lyrics in your merch designs.
Put a cool saying or “mantra” that you always use on your merch: Aside from your lyrics, anything from a tagline that you use all the time or a word you shout at the beginning of all your songs, or even a really great life mantra that you go by (maybe something someone told you that really stuck with you), all of those things can be cool to use in your merch.
Put your latest album cover on your merch
Collaborate with a graphic designer to develop ideas
Remember, your merch designs play a big part in how many sales you’ll make. Some people (like friends, family and those who really know you and love you) will buy your merch just to support the cause. But if you want to use merch as a marketing tool to get new people familiar with your music and brand, you definitely want to make sure your merch designs are something worth buying.
Now that you have your merch designs all ready to go, you have some decisions to make. Who will you use to print your merch? Will you buy, print and ship all the items yourself or will you use a warehouse or drop-shipper? Do you know what all of these options mean or is this all a bit overwhelming to you?
Remember, stay out of your head as this isn’t going to be as hard as you think it is and we’re here to coach you through it!
So here are your options (and you may be surprised at what we’re about to tell you)…
With new technology, there’s multiple ways to go about printing, shipping and selling your merch.
One of the biggest hurdles that artists face is budget. Many artists just don't have the budget to buy a whole bunch of merch to sell.
The great news is that because of new technology, you can sell merch online without having to pay anything up front. Yes you read that right. You can sell merch without having to pay anything up front! This is called drop-shipping.
You should always have merch on hand for shows and giveaways, however it’s also great to be able to sell merch online as it can be a consistent source of income.
Drop-Shipping vs Selling On Your Own
You’ll make more money per sale when selling on your own.
We suggest you do a mixture of both (but maybe start with dropshipping so that you can raise some capital to invest in buying and printing it yourself).
If you do have the budget to purchase all of your merch up front and you prefer to ship it on your own, feel free to head on over to our Resource Library and check out some of our favorite merch printing companies.
Selling Merch With Printful (drop-shipping)
If you are new to selling merch and/or if you don’t have a big budget to spend on buying and printing merch, Printful is highly recommended.
Setting Up Your Merch Store:
You'll need to set up your online store platform so that you can take orders and collect payments online.
Printful can be used along with Shopify, or it can connect right to your Squarespace website.
If you already have a website built on Squarespace, you already have the capability to sell merch items.
Selling merch from your squarespace site
If you already have a website designed on Squarespace, you can easily start selling merch. You can either connect your Squarespace site to Printful and have your merch drop-shipped per order, or you can upload your merch mockups and print and ship it on your own.
If you don’t already have a website built on Squarespace, you can either design one, or
Selling merch with Shopify
One of the best platforms to sell merch on is Shopify.
Shopify is the leading online store platform. It's not free (it's around $26 per month), but it pays for itself.
Shopify is an online store on it’s own. If you don’t already have a website, you can design your website using Shopify.
If you do already have a website but still want to use Shopify, you can do that too as Shopify will allow you to embed products on other websites (like your artist site) with simple html codes that work for websites on all platforms (like wordpress, squarespace, wix, etc.)
Since there are many amazing apps that you can install to give your store even more capabilities (like giving discount codes to super fans on their birthday), Shopify is great if you plan on expanding and selling lots of merch.
However, if you’re just looking to have a few items for sale and you don’t think you’ll be selling a few hundred units per month anytime soon, there are ways around shopify if your website is built on squarespace platform since Printful app now connects directly to Squarespace.
So first you'll need to create a shopify account. You can start with a 7 day free trial.
Once you have shopify set up, you'll have to create a Printful account.
Printful is the company that will be printing and shipping your merch for you.
Printful is ABSOLUTELY FREE.
Now that you have shopify and printful accounts, you can start designing your online store:
Create your merch mockups with Printful.
Login to your printful account. You'll see a tab that says "mockups"
Setting up your sales funnels:
Simply put, a sales funnel is the journey to making a sale.
For instance, you want to buy a hoodie from H&M but you don’t feel like going to the H&M store, so what do you do? You visit the H&M website, find the hoodie you want, click “check out”, input your credit card inF.o and BOOM
the easier you make it for someone to buy from you, the more money you’ll make. we’ve seen artists post a picture of their merch and tell people to DM them if they want it (which does work from time to time), but that’s more work for you to do and it’s a longer process for your customer.
Would you want to have to send your favorite brand a DM every time you wanted to shop?
We don’t think so, as that would be a pain in the youknowwhat.
Marketing Your Merch
Now that your store is all set up and your sales funnels are in place, you’ll need some graphics that you can post to promote your merch store and start getting some sales.
Get your merch designed. Create 2-5 different merch designs to start with.
Set up your online store.
Set up your sales funnels.
Create your promo graphics.
Hop in the MBHT Facebook group and show us your new store! You never know, you might just make a few sales instantly!
Need help along the way? Send us an email or schedule a call [hyperlink to page only accessible to higher lever members that has a contact form and a link to set up a call online]