Thinking about selling your own merchandise? Here, John Armstrong, Director and Co-Owner of printwear and branding specialist Custom Planet, explains everything you need to know.
If you’re a solo musician or in a band, you’ve probably thought about creating your own merchandise. And you’re not alone. Bands have been selling merch for decades both as a means of earning some extra money and as a way of building a closer relationship with their fans. By creating your own merchandise, you will give your fans the chance to support you directly and earn a bit of extra cash while doing it. In this article, I’m going to explain how you can go about creating and selling your own branded merchandise.
Why bother with merch?
When you’re a musician, trying to make it in the industry and taking any gig you can, it can be hard to make a living. The reality is that the more revenue streams you have, the better off you’ll be, and selling merchandise can be one of the most lucrative ways of generating extra cash. If you’ve already built up a bit of a fanbase, bringing in merchandise could be the key to making music your full-time job.
Having your own range of well-designed merchandise is also a great way to advertise your band, making each T-shirt sale extra valuable. Creating great merch that people will want to buy can be one of your best marketing tools, letting your fans do the hard work for you. When done right, merch can become one of your biggest assets.
What kind of merch should you sell?
The first step is to think about your own life and the kind of merchandise you would buy from your favourite bands. Another great way to get some ideas is to see what other bands are doing in the local area. Getting tips and advice from others is a great way to avoid some pitfalls early on. It’s also wise to ask your fans to find out what they would like to see you make, as they may well come up with something you hadn’t thought of.
Before you get too excited and print hundreds of T-shirts, you’ll also need to come up with a budget and stick to it. Items such as badges and posters cost a lot less to make compared to clothing, but they also sell for less. Having a budget will help to make sure you aren’t out of pocket in the initial stages. The best bet is to spread your budget across a range of cheap and more expensive items to see which ones sell best.
How do you make your own merch?
Now you’ve come up with some great ideas, it’s time to make that merch. Fortunately, it’s never been easier for anyone to brand and make their own merchandise. Step one is to come up with a design. If you have friends that can help, that’s great. If not, turn to the digital creative marketplace and hire a designer online. Invest in getting this right now and it’ll pay off in the long run.
One thing you can’t do without is a range of great T-shirts. You can easily design custom T-shirts with your logo in any colour you want. But, when you’re first coming up with designs, it’s a good idea to limit your selection to three designs at most, with each catering to different tastes. Whatever you go for, make sure you have high-resolution designs and send them over to the printing company.
How much should you charge for your band merch?
Getting the price right is a challenge and will depend on a number of factors such as location, audience age, and production costs. If you charge too much, no one will buy anything but, if you don’t charge enough, you’ll be losing out. Start with what you think is right and slowly tweak your prices over time. Buying your merch in bulk will make each item cheaper, but there will be a higher initial cost.
It is wise to start with a limited run and see how it goes. If you are struggling, a great way to sell more is by using the power of bargains. If you’re selling a hoodie for £15, try selling two for £25. Just make sure you don’t undercut your own production costs with a deal. Ultimately, getting the price right is an art form, so feel free to play around with things until you get it right.
Designing, creating, and selling your own merchandise is a learning process but, with the help of this guide, you should have everything you need to make a success of it.