How To Create & Sell Merchandise For Your Brand
When you're creating your brand, you're at the center of it. It takes time, hard work, and skill to cultivate an audience and create your voice. Branded merchandise can be an important part of building your empire. It not only helps you generate some extra income, but it also lets your fans show their support. In addition, it's great word-of-mouth marketing; the more places you put your logo, the more exposure! If you're serious about growing your business and audience, then custom branded merchandise is something you should seriously consider. And good news! Selling merch isn't as complicated an undertaking as you might think. The Internet and its many tools actually make selling custom products online a breeze! Keep scrolling to learn how:
Designing and selling merch is easy to do when you have the right tools. One of the best services in terms of logistics (warehousing, fulfillment, shipping, etc.) is partnering with a drop shipper, which is a third party that stores and ships products for you. There are loads of products available through drop shippers. Check out sites like Doba or AliExpress to see what's available.
One print-on-demand drop shipper we love is Printful! They can print your custom designs on T-shirts, phone cases, and more, and then ship the merchandise to your customers. This allows you to completely customize designs and products so they reflect your brand.
How does a drop shipper make selling merch easier?
Basically, a drop shipper does all the heavy lifting for you. They'll store your inventory and ship orders out to your customers, giving you more time to run your business, create content, and build your brand. Other benefits include:
1. White Label Shipping Most drop shippers are white label, which means everything is shipped under your brand. To your customers, it looks like everything is coming directly from you.
2. Less Risk Say you order a hundred custom phone cases but for whatever reason, they don't sell. Maybe the design just isn't working, or it isn't a product that interests your audience. Either way, you're stuck with a pile of unsold inventory. With drop shipping, everything is made on demand, so you can test new products with minimal financial risk.
3. Low Startup Costs You don't have to invest in inventory, packaging, equipment, or space to store and ship out your products. Your drop shipper does that for you. And in many cases, getting started with a drop shipper is free, with no upfront costs. The only times you'll pay is when an order is made.
Drop shipping is pretty great, but it's not perfect. For one, you don't get to control the quality, so it's possible for products to get sent out that don't meet your standards. You also earn less per sale because the drop shipper will take a cut for fulfillment.
The Bottom Line: get to know your drop shipper before committing to them. Chat with their support to see how helpful they are and whether they can answer your questions. Order sample products to test quality yourself. Take a look at what products drop shippers offer and whether they would interest your audience.
What Products Should You Sell?
The items you sell will depend entirely on your audience. Think of what your fans would want to buy from you and what corresponds with your brand.
With custom merch, you get to create your own unique designs that aren't available anywhere else. Print stuff on t-shirts, tote bags, phone cases, posters, you name it! The world is your oyster!
Here are some awesome merch examples from other brands:
The Betches brand is extremely popular with millenials. Their posts are relatable and funny, and they've applied their unique brand of humor to merchandise that fans love.
Carrie is a lifestyle vlogger (with over 170,000 followers!) who creates content about beauty, travel, and style. These T-shirts are an awesome play on words of her "rad" name.
How do you decide what works for your brand?
With drop shipping, you can test different products with low risk. So if your products do wind up as duds, you're not losing much financially. But it's still not fun to flip-flop between products. You want your brand to come out strong. Here are some things you should consider:
1. Your Target Audience Who are your fans? What would they want to buy? How much money would they be willing to spend on what you're offering?
2. Your Brand What do you want your brand to be known for? How will your products push that message? Maybe you have a popular saying you can custom print on your products, or a signature color.
3. Your Profit How much do you want to earn through your custom merch? If you want to set higher prices, you'll have to build your value proposition so your customers know what they're buying. You also want to look at which products offer you a better profit margin.
At the end of the day, keep your brand, customers, and profit goals in mind.
Setting Up Shop
Okay, so now you've got an idea of what you want to sell and know that a drop shipper can handle logistics. But how do you actually go about selling your product online?
First, you'll need a platform to set up your shop, like Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce. If you already have a website or want to sell on your Facebook, Tumblr, or other social media page, you could use a tool like Ecwid, which basically lets you add a shopping cart to your platform.
Another ideal option for busy brands is to sell on an online marketplace, like Inktale, Storenvy, or Society6. With an online marketplace, you don't actually own your own online store. Instead, you're using the marketplace's platform to list your products. It's great because it removes the extra work of maintaining an online store.
Deciding how you want to sell will take some research. Each platform and marketplace offers its own perks, pricing, and services.
Simply creating your merchandise isn't enough to get sales. You have to work at the marketing so your current and future fans know what's available to them. Here are some ideas to get started:
1. Email Marketing Campaign You might have already started building an email list, in which case, use it! Send out an email campaign announcing your fabulous new merchandise.
2. Social Media Giveaway Contest Build your social media presence and let people know about your products in one go! Create some kind of a contest (eg. tag 3 friends in a post) and offer up one of your products as a prize.
3. Flash Sale Or Discount To get some initial sales going, try a discount campaign. You could run a flash sale (eg. 30% off for 24 hours only!) to create a sense of urgency. Free shipping is another popular choice, or you could offer discounts to your most loyal fans.
Your Brand, Your Merch
Your priority is growing your audience and getting the word out about your brand. That's why selling custom printed merch with a drop shipper is an easy way to help monetize your efforts.
Remember to do your research when picking a drop shipper and selling platform. And consider your audience when you're deciding on products and designs. Finally, take some time to market your new swag to encourage your fans to buy and you'll be on your way!