How to Sell Your Merch Online

By Dave Cool, Director of Artist & Industry Outreach at Bandzoogle  •  September 14, 2016

Built for musicians by musicians, Bandzoogle makes it easy to build a beautiful mobile-friendly website, and sell music, merch & tickets commission-free. ASCAP members get an exclusive 6-­month FREE TRIAL, plus 15% off Bandzoogle membership! Click here to start your risk-­free 6-month trial.

Two years ago, Bandzoogle published a blog post called 18 Ways Musicians Can Make Money. But a lot can change in two years, especially in the music industry. There are now even more opportunities for musicians to make money. New tools and services are also available to help take advantage of these new revenue streams. So we decided to update that blog post with new revenue streams, more tips, tools and resources, and publish it as a free eBook called 23 Ways Musicians Can Make Money (download it here).

One important revenue stream for musicians continues to be merchandise. Selling merch can help you generate more income while on tour, but it can also create passive income through your website. Here are some tips to get you started with selling merch online:

1. Choosing your merch

Ask your fans

There are so many things that you can order with your logo on it, why leave it up to chance? Put out a little survey on your website, in your newsletter, and through social media to get an idea of the kind of merch your fans would actually enjoy.

Research other artists / ask what sells best

Being unique and creative is great, but it doesn’t hurt to do a bit of market research and see what other musicians have had success selling.

Consider your budget (aka don’t break the bank)

Speaking of which, you absolutely need to determine the budget you have to work with before considering what merch you’ll be offering. You want to be able to offer merch that your fans are excited by, and ultimately purchase, but it needs to fit your budget.

2. Ordering merch

Generating revenue is not only about selling, it’s also about saving money whenever you can. Here are a few ways you can save money when ordering your merch:

Be aware of price breaks

For almost every merch item, there will be price breaks at certain quantities. This doesn’t mean you should order the highest quantity to get the biggest price break! For example, if you wanted to order 100 shirts, but there’s a price break at 120, then it might make sense to order those extra 20 shirts. 

Check design specs carefully

Make sure that the files you submit meet the supplier’s specifications. Any last-minute changes will cost you.

Limit designs

Each design likely requires a new setup at the supplier, which usually results in extra fees. Limit your designs to avoid these additional costs.

Limit colors

Same goes for colors. When ordering apparel, each additional color will cost you. Try to limit the number of colors you use in the design to reduce the cost.

Don’t order last minute

Don’t get caught having to place a rush order! You’ll likely pay through the roof in shipping costs, which will negatively impact your profit margin.

3. Setting up your online merch store

Organize

First and foremost, your online store needs to be organized. Keep the page simple and clean to navigate. If it’s too messy, fans might just leave the page without buying anything.

If you have a lot of merch items, consider creating separate pages for each type of merch, and linking to them from the main Store page.

Have images for every item

For each item in your Store, you should have an image. Album covers are obvious, but even for stickers and buttons, you should include an image of what they look like. For t-shirts, you can feature the front and back of the shirts, as well as different colors.

Describe each item

You should also add context for each merch item in your store. What’s the story behind the item? Who designed it? Briefly explain the merch item and why you think your fans will enjoy it.

Offer a clear way to contact you

When people are shopping online, they want to know that they can easily contact the seller if they have any questions. On your Store page you can include a contact form specific to sales, or a call-to-action with a link to your Contact section.

4. Offer physical & digital merch options

Any physical merch you produce should also be made available through your website. Everything from t-shirts and CDs to smaller items like buttons and stickers.

Upside to physical merch:

●      Great souvenirs for fans

●      Good for promo of your band (t-shirts, stickers, pins, etc.)

Downside to physical merch:

●      Cost of producing merch

●      Inventory management

But merch doesn’t have to just be physical items! You can also sell digital merch items like videos, PDF documents and images to your fans. Things like lyric books, making-of videos, music lessons, sheet music, exclusive artwork and more.

Upside to digital merch:

●      Low cost of production

●      No inventory

●      Make great items for super-fans

Downside to digital merch:

●      Can be time-consuming to create

Getting your merchandise plans in order can take a bit of time, but it’s well worth the investment. Use these ideas to get your merch store set up today. There’s no excuse for missing out on opportunities to make alternative revenue from your fans.

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For more revenue-generating ideas, download the free eBook: 23 Ways Musicians Can Make Money

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