How to Make and Sell Your Merchandise Online
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With smarter marketing tools and a variety of new ways to sell,
Whether you’re a recognized industry expert, a beauty blogger, or a high school student with a few funny TikTok videos, Ecwid can help you turn your follower base into new revenue streams. Read on to learn how to create and sell your own branded merchandise in minutes, right from your computer or smartphone.
What You Need to Know About Branded Merchandise
Branded merchandise is a type of product with logos or original lettering that’s connected to or advertises a popular persona, organization, or event.
Almost every popular musician has their own merchandise — from Metallica to Kanye West. Social media influencers have also been known to sell merch. In fact, according to Sellfy, YouTubers that sell merch can make up to 10 times more revenue than those who profit from ads alone.
YouTubers that sell merch can make up to 10 times more revenue than those who profit off ads only.
Any product suitable for printing can be sold as merchandise. It’s often products people can wear for promotion. For example, if one of your followers wears a cool
The most popular forms of branded merchandise are:
T-shirts,hoodies, tank tops;
- accessories: bags, caps, beanies, cases for gadgets, wraps;
- souvenirs: mugs, pins, notebooks, charms, mouse pads.
Beauty bloggers often partner with famous brands to make their own makeup lines or perfumes. Fitness bloggers sell clothes, accessories, and shoes for exercising.
Others go even further to sell anything from food to furniture. The German magazine 032с sells branded socks, duct tape, laces, and scrunchies.
Rock musicians are often people with great imagination. Kiss sold wine, knives, coffins, and funeral urns with the band’s logo. NOFX used inflatable sheep to support one of their albums, and Rammstein started selling bicycles in 2016.
As a matter of law, the rights for merchandise belong to the author, which means your merchandise also can’t be copied.
No one can use your photos or original images and prints — for example, pictures that were especially designed for a piece of merchandise — without your permission as the copyright holder. Your work is protected by copyright from the moment of creation, though you may be required to prove your authorship in order to enforce your copyright.
The name of a band can be registered as a trademark in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It will protect your rights in case of a legal argument.
If your products portray commonly used words or phrases, it will be more difficult to protect your right of authorship.
Legally, an author, as well as any other brand that has bought the right to use elements of the author’s brand, is permitted to sell merchandise.
How to Create Merchandise
A lot of things depend on the product you want to sell. Each item is produced differently. For example, you can’t use the same method of printing on
Step 1. Decide what you’re going to sell
Choose the things that are relevant to your audience. For example, if your band is popular among bikers, think about selling motorcycle apparel.
Or if you’re brave enough, create merch that isn’t relatable to your audience at all. For example, items with unusual sayings, funny illustrations, or anything else that highlights your style and personality. The White Stripes sold sewing kits.
Any printed product can become merchandise. It can be a commonly used item or something only your fans would understand. Is it something your audience would buy? If the answer’s yes, it’s the right product.
Brainstorm several good ideas, then estimate which would be the most profitable. Review your suppliers’ prices to calculate the prime cost. And if you’re limited on time, money, or ideas,
Step 2. Create the design
You can print a logo, a photo, a catchphrase, or an image on your merchandise.
Your prints have to be exclusive. People can buy cheaper mugs and
The easiest way to evaluate future demand for your merchandise is to offer a
Step 3. Order a mockup
First, you need to find a designer that will prepare a mockup of your image for the print. You can look for freelancers at websites like Upwork and DesignCrowd or art communities as Behance or Dribbble. The cost of the work depends on the intricacy of the image and a designer’s expertise.
If you use Printful and Ecwid, you can just upload the picture to the app and see how it looks on different products.
Step 4. Order a pilot batch
It’s better to start with a small batch. Some companies can do the whole job for you: buy products, print your image, and deliver the merch to you (or directly to your customers). In the case of Printful, you can make a sample order.
Step 5. Calculate the prime cost
The prime cost is the price you’re going to sell your products at. It consists of a first cost and a retail margin.
A first cost of merchandise is a cost of production, advertising, and delivery. It depends on many factors: quality of the product, the complexity of the print, a number of copies printed.
The bigger your order, the cheaper the production and the printing. However, you need to pace yourself. For example, it’s cheaper to order 1,000 mugs than 100 mugs, but if you can’t guarantee that you can sell all of them, you might want to order fewer.
When calculating the first cost, keep in mind how much you want to earn and how solvent your audience is.
If you are not sure of your idea, run a crowdfunding campaign before you make the first lot of your merch. If you’ve calculated everything right, you won’t lose anything (don’t forget to add the fee of a crowdfunding platform to the price). In case of a failure, if the audience is indifferent to your sweatshirts and
If you use Printful, you don’t have to worry about
Step 6. Expand your business
If everything goes like clockwork and the first lot is sold out, you can think about selling merchandise on a regular basis or even about running your own merch production, like making your own clothes.
In this case, you need to find a supplier so that you buy a lot of simple
Check out our guides:
- Where to Find a Wholesale Supplier for Your Online Store
- Checklist: How to Find the Right Supplier on AliExpress
It’s easier to make a limited lot of merchandise, for instance, 500 items only. Tell your audience it’s a limited edition — that trick can even grow your sales. Next time you can change the prints or products to keep the interest up. You can also sell several basic products and offer limited collections from time to time, when it’s a holiday or concert season.
How to Sell Merchandise and Where to Do It
Now that you’ve decided what you’re going to sell, it’s time to think about how to do it. Social media helps to promote your merchandise, and an online store makes the order process easier for customers.
Social media and blog pages
You can sell a small lot of products
Throw contests with your merch as a prize. For example, run a repost giveaway on social media. This way you’ll make your audience more active and introduce other people to your product.
Try selling through influencers — partner with bloggers or famous people you know to make ad posts. If you don’t know any bloggers personally, order advertising from the influencers you can find in your niche.
Promote your products on social media as the majority of your customers are your followers. Ads on search engines aren’t so effective if you’re not a celebrity. So try to wear your own merch more often, and offer it on all platforms.
Get an online store if you sell more than one product and want to have a permanent income from your merch. A store helps to get more traffic, helps to run promotions, and strengthens your brand.
If you’re new to creating online stores, one of the easiest options is to use Ecwid. There are two ways to do that. You can make a free Ecwid
There are online marketplaces that sell other people’s products, like Represent, MerchNOW, or Hello Merch. Selling your products on marketplaces helps to access a bigger audience. Keep in mind that these platforms have their own rules. Some of them take a commission on every sale they bring you, while others charge you a listing fee.
So you’ve chosen the products you’re going to sell, come up with a print, and ordered a pilot batch. You’ve made an online store and prepared social media posts. Congrats, it looks like you’re ready to launch your merchandise. What’s your next step? You need to learn how to promote your products and attract your first customers. Check out our guides that can help you with that:
- Intro to Advertising: Where to Begin When You’re a Beginner
- 12 Ways to Make Your First Sale Online
- 14 Psychological Triggers That Will Win Over Customers and Increase Your Sales
Try to keep up the interest to the merchandise so that your sales remain high. Offer different new products, experiment with prints, expand the assortment, be creative. Give it a try! Hopefully, our guide will help you to start.