I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you’re reading this to try and make more money off your music. There are a ton of great ways to do that but what I want to talk to you about today is selling merch. While the process may seem mystifying at first, it has in fact never been easier to create merch, market it, manufacture it, sell it, and start reaping the rewards immediately. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why making extra cash should appeal to you, so let’s get straight to the how.
Self publishing your merch with your own virtual storefronts will create new pathways to diversifying your income WHILE promoting your art.
Independent artists need every form of income they can get to truly make a living off their music; ticket sales are amazing, and selling someone a shirt in person at a gig is great, but if you’re thinking that this is the only way to get your merch into the hands of your fans, you need to learn some new techniques.
It’s quick and easy to use any number of extremely popular websites to get your own online merch stores set up and making sales. And when I say fast, I mean sometimes in a matter of minutes. Let’s dive into a few of these now, starting with Teespring.
If you’re not familiar with Teespring, it’s a site that prints shirts, hoodies, and tons of other stuff (they started with garments but have since moved on to everything from coffee mugs to phone covers) on demand whenever your fans make a purchase. The key phrase here being “on demand”; here’s why that’s way easier and more cost effective for you.
So let’s say you order a hundred t-shirts from a printing company or something similar and half of them end up unsold in a corner in your apartment. Not only is that a large upfront cost for you, but congratulations, you now also get to basically warehouse the stuff yourself. Teespring is going to solve both of these problems for you.
Setting up your Teespring storefront is super quick and super easy. Basically, all you need to do is sign up for an account, design some merch with your logo on it, set the price point you want to sell at, and you’re done. Teespring takes a cut based on that, but setting up your site costs you absolutely nothing.
When a fan clicks your Teespring link, it’s going to take them directly to your storefront where they can select the size, color, and type of merch that they want to buy. Teespring then prints it themselves, ships it, and handles the business end of everything without you having to lift a finger. This is what you want for your merch; automation. A little more on that later.
Promoting your merch online for free has never been easier.
Now that we have our storefront, the next step is to start promoting it. Teespring is going to spit out a link for you and you can stick that link anywhere you’re posting content. You can post it in email newsletters that go out to your fans, post it below your YouTube videos, your Twitch or Mixer livestream, anywhere that you have people’s attention.
Odds are, if someone’s already consuming your content and enjoying it, you’ve got a good shot at selling them a shirt or a hoodie while you’re at it.
This is how easy it is to create and effectively market your own merch online without having to do much of, well, anything really.
Even better, selling more substantial merch isn’t much harder than that!
While Teespring is limited to products that they already print, there’s another site called Shopify that can help you sell pretty much anything you want and get it out to your fans. While Shopify has a monthly fee, it’s not terribly steep (starts at $29/month for the basic plan and they even have a "Lite" plan for just $9/month) and it’s scalable to the size of your campaign.
Once you get your Shopify site set up, you can start selling more complicated-to-produce merch still without the hassle of getting it printed and shipped yourself. The most obvious example that jumps to mind here is your actual music; cd’s, blu-rays, and even vinyl albums. Even better, the process for doing this is much easier and more sophisticated than ever.
For example, there’s another website called Disc Makers that you can use to create your own professional grade physical media on demand. This is another scalable operation, so the more you order, the lower the cost per unit. You can then sell this on your Shopify site.
You may be asking yourself...
"so wait, if I end up ordering a ton of my own merchandise, and it’s just sitting (hopefully temporarily) in a corner of my house, I still have to deal with the hassle of storing and shipping it out myself, right?"
You’ve probably heard of Amazon, real up and comer in the e-commerce field. You can send your newly printed albums straight to them and they’ll store it and fulfill customer orders for you, all of which adds up to achieving our eventual goal of optimally selling our merch online; automating the process so that you can focus on making your music.
If you want all that in a list format (and I don’t blame you), here you go:
- Create a Teespring store to get merch to your fans quickly.
- Market this merch using email marketing and links under your online content.
- Create a Shopify storefront for your albums, blu-rays, and more.
- Print this physical media using Disc Makers.
- Let Amazon store and ship it to your fans.
Congratulations, you’ve just set up an almost entirely automated merch creating process in no time flat. Time (and money of course) is really what we want to save you here, the idea being that making a living off your music should be more about your talent than the nuts and bolts of getting physical products out there.
There is, as always, much more to be said about the subject than we’ve gone into here, especially on the marketing side of things. If you want to learn how to market your music (and your merch!) more effectively, make sure to check out the Music Promotion Machine course.