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Where Do Youtubers Make Merch
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You have launched your brand. You’ve built a loyal fan base. Now, you want to create and sell merchandise featuring your brand.
Products like T-shirts, plush toys, phone cases, custom socks and sweatshirts can turn loyal customers into brand ambassadors, creating a new source of revenue for your business.
But first, you need to know how to make the product. So we asked Jack Hoener, co-founder of Fan of a Fan, a company that develops business strategies for creators and brands. It works with everyone from rising star YouTubers like Yes Theory to direct-to-consumer companies like Olipop.
Here, Zach shares insight and advice and tips on how to sell business products to influence and create the perfect merchandise for your brand.
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Well, merchandising helps fans feel connected to your brand and others in your community.
For example, Yes Theory fans have shared stories of wearing merchandise from the creators’ sub-brand, Sick Discomfort, under their suits on their first day at a new job. Others have even worn it on the birth of their first child, as the brand represents optimism and personal growth.
“One of our fans wrote to us about how their flight was canceled and the next flight was hours away,” says Jack. “They saw a guy at the gate wearing a Sick Comfort hoodie. While stuck at the airport, the two strangers became good friends, due to the fact that they were mutual fans of the channel. While die-hard fans may shell out their wallets for a T-shirt bearing your logo, Jack says meaningful merchandise has the potential to reach new audiences beyond your fan base.
The merchandise is as versatile as you want it to be. This could be a source of sustainable income through your own store, a catalyst for collaborations with other brands, or you could offer free swag to loyal customers.
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One of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your business strategy is whether to sell it under your existing brand or launch it under a sub-brand (like Yes Theory’s Sick Uncomfortable).
A sub-brand typically displays the characteristics (color palette, messaging, and imagery) of the main brand, but usually has its own logo, products, and services.
“The advantage of this approach is that it can expand your audience beyond your existing customer base,” says Jack. A sub-brand may facilitate collaboration or co-branding.
For example, Sick Discomfort has collaborated with brands including Bose, Lululemon, and Timbuk2 backpacks – an opportunity Jack feels they may have missed if the brands were featured at the “Yes Theory March”.
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In the case of another of Jack’s clients, Atticus the Poet, this meant leveraging the name he built as an author through a commerce website where fans could own his books, T-shirts, hats, jewelry, and wine. Could get the brand.
“Atticus has a clothing line that’s a little more product-oriented,” says Jack. “But then he has a line that he sells in stores and online called Lost Poet Wine. And it’s a bit of a spin off of his ‘Atticus’ brand.”
“Make a product you’re proud of, that you want to stand behind, and that you want to use or wear,” says Jack.
Creating merchandise is as easy as putting your signature logo on a t-shirt or hat. But there is a simple process for generating new business ideas that will appeal to your fans and even new audiences:
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Let’s use our own brand as an example to show how to go from concept to prototype.
It is a platform that empowers the businesses of over one million entrepreneurs, providing them with the tools they need to start and grow their own unique brands.
Think about what your brand represents and what makes it unique. This will help you narrow down the aesthetic and even the type of product you want to create. Use this as a starting point for the product creation process.
Over the years, you have established a brand that your customers love. Why not ask them what type of products they want to buy?
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“We always recommend that creators or brands ask their audiences what they want, or let them decide between different options. You can also ask through Instagram story or email or community or texting. ‘Would you like a hat, a board game, a t-shirt or a hoodie?” Zach says.
Polling your audience for feedback has the added benefit of making them feel like they’re a part of the process and ultimately the products you create.
So, we did this with our audience on Twitter to see what we wanted to see in potential merchandise.
He says, “You’re probably better off purchasing your own designs, because you’ll understand your brand much better than someone who is learning about your brand for the first time.”
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You can hire a merchandising designer using Upwork or your network for designers, but keep the following tips in mind:
Many print-on-demand companies have mockup generators that you can use to create your product. Mockups and design tools Placita lets you create lifestyle mockups of your designs that you can share with your audience for feedback.
Just like asking your audience for product ideas, you can also get design feedback. Your audience will feel engaged and you’ll be confident that you’re headed in the right direction.
We came up with some business ideas. Ronnie Frank, Sid Selch and Jack Bowman helped with the design.
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Most of these services are free to start (you only pay for the products when a customer orders). Each has its own catalog of products, but you can usually find basic clothing items and accessories, including t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, and phone cases.
For our products, we use Printful. Even if you don’t want to use print-on-demand for a long time, this is a great way to prototype and test out a merchandise store.
Always order samples for quality assurance before starting sales. Colors may look the same on your computer screen but look different in person. If you’re not sure, you can contact customer support for your print-on-demand service.
Things can go wrong from designing to printing, like this mismatched embroidery on the negative space of our logo.
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If you are not interested in making and selling your own handmade items, you can find a manufacturer to make your products. With capital, you can get money to cover the costs involved in building your own item.
Compared to print on demand, you can think more outside the box about how you want to design your product. You can create a uniquely designed hoodie or even your own board game.
There are companies like Fan of a Fan that create products for creators and brands; It is best to shop around before choosing a partner.
Marketing merchandise is a little different from marketing a traditional product – you’re selling to existing fans first and then to new customers. This means you have a guaranteed audience of potential customers.
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Great product marketing in itself. If a fan buys your product and wears it often, people will likely ask them about it.
But it must be a high quality product. “If you’re selling merchandise, that’s real estate that you now have with your fans, who are walking around and promoting your brand,” says Jack. “But if you make something low-quality, they’ll only wear it once or twice.”
The more people wear your merchandise or pull out your product to show others how amazing it is, the more exposure you’ll get. Promote the merchandise to generate more publicity.
Sick Discomfort has become known as high-end merchandise, so much so that celebrities and athletes like top tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas have been seen wearing it in person and on social media.
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Content you create is another natural place to add your merchandise. Wear it in your videos, promote it directly in social media posts, or create creative ideas for your next content (like contest prizes).
If you create your own product store, you can more easily sell your products on your content by integrating your store wherever your audience lives. Here are some channels you can explore and methods you can try:
You can also use a “link in bio” tool like Linkpop to create a landing page that connects your social media followers to the products you sell online as well as other content.
The best way to connect your merchandise to your content is up to you—it’s your audience, after all. In search of restlessness, this means hosting a fashion show in your backyard.
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Retargeting lets you advertise to your existing audience based on certain criteria, like whether they follow you on Instagram or have already made a purchase.
Many ad platforms (Google, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat) allow you to run retargeting ads, as long as you install their ad pixels on your website. If
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