How to sell custom merchandise?
Now you have your designs, you’ve chosen your products, but where will you sell your products? You have a few options, a lot of them depend on your technical prowess and how much effort you’re going to be able to put into your store. If you’re an influencer or you’re a Youtuber or similar internet brand, you might consider a platform like Etsy or Shopify to sell your platforms. If you’re established and have a web presence and are using a platform like WordPress, the easiest thing to do might be to add eCommerce functionality with the Woocommerce plugin.
Selling without an audience
How do you get started selling custom merchandise? Two options:
1. On a platform
Etsy and eBay provide you with a great opportunity to take advantage of the traffic and clicks that these large companies generate. These are good choices if you do not have an audience already that you’ve built up from Instagram, Youtube, or another platform because they will provide you with traffic. It’s an important consideration – if you don’t have customers, you won’t be able to sell. The built-in, free traffic these platforms provide make your job of selling a lot easier. The downside is that you’ll be paying commission rates to the platforms, which can be steep. Etsy charges a flat 5% commission rate for everything sold, plus a 3% + 25¢ commission if you use their payment platform. eBay charges a 10% fee for most categories of goods, up to $750 total, plus a listing fee after your first 50 listings in a month.
2. “Self Hosted”
Your next option, if you don’t want to use these platforms, is using a platform like Shopify or WordPress with Woocommerce. Keep in mind that you’ll still have to pay a fee for these platforms, but it will be a transaction fee based on the purchases with the payment provider. With Shopify, you’ll have a flat fee of $29 plus the transaction fees for their basic plan.
Selling custom merchandise with an audience
If you have an audience already, you can save yourself a lot of money by using Shopify or by using Woocommerce with WordPress. This is the usual solution for Youtubers or influencers that have a built-in audience and are looking to expand their online earnings with some merch sales. If you’re growing your audience and want to start to monetize it, you can dip your toe in the water with just a few items, or launch a whole series of products based on several designs.
You’ll need to settle on your designs as we talked about above. However, we can tell you the best bet is to stay on brand. If you have a catchphrase or other associated logo or design that your followers will instantly recognize as your own, that’s what you want to lead with. Another thing you’ll want to do is order a sample of your merch product, get it right, and then show it on your channel or to your audience. A lot of Youtubers have even started to wear only their merch in their videos, for example.
We’ve also published guides for how to sell best with platforms like Shopify, and what the top-selling Youtubers are selling. Another great resource is our Youtube potential earnings calculator, check it out if you are wondering how much your audience could start to earn you.
Still, a third option is to buy traffic and send it to your site. This is the most difficult strategy because you have to get the “conversion rate” right, meaning the number of people that you pay and subsequently purchase your products. A standard conversion rate for eCommerce is 5%, meaning only about 5% of your visitors will purchase what you’re selling with advertising.
Using pay per click search ads like Google Ads, or social media ads like Facebook ads can generate a lot of traffic for your site. It’s also important that it’s the right kind of traffic – traffic that will buy your products. It’s very difficult, if you have no experience in online advertising, to get your audience right – that’s what professional online marketers do, and sometimes it can take months to get it profitable.
Social Media Ads
Social media platforms are great for advertising and present a low-cost option that helps you get a very targeted audience. If you are selling mainly to online gamers, and especially a specific game, then Facebook will help you reach that audience quite easily. Some Instagrammers have also had success in selling custom merchandise with Instagram shoppable posts. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram are great tools for selling, agin it comes down to knowing how to use these platforms in order to make the most of your budget.
One thing to be careful about with social media platforms is that the goal of the platform is to maximize your time on the platform – so the platform itself and the users don’t like things that take them away from the platform – like your site! That’s why conversions can be difficult with social media.
Do your research
For these reasons, you shouldn’t dive into paid traffic sources without doing a lot of research first, and also determining if your profit model can sustain these types of expenses. It’s possible to waste a lot of money on advertising before you even sell your first product – so be careful and make sure you fully understand your strategy and costs before you dive into online advertising!
Your custom merch journey starts now
We hope that this guide has helped you to sort out the area or areas of your merch journey that needed knowledge gaps filled. We’ve taken you from start to finish on how to set up an online store, from what custom merchandise is, to how to get your designs made, choose the products for that design, where to sell and how to sell it your products.
Now it’s your turn! Get started today with Printify, and unlock your online income by selling merch to your audience, or building your merch empire!