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How to Use Merch to Get Your Name Out There

If you are looking to promote your band or your music industry business, merch is a great way to do it.

Merch comes in many forms and works in several ways to get your name out to the masses. When people use or wear your merch, it reminds them of your band. When other people see your fans wearing or using your merch, it gets your name out to new audiences.

You can also sell merch to make money.

If you are thinking of making merch available to your fans, here is some advice that will get you headed in the right direction.

What Types of Merch Can I Offer My Fans?

When it comes to the types of merch you can make available to fans, the choices are endless. Here are some options.

T-Shirts

T-shirts are probably the most effective type of merch you can make available. Everyone needs clothing so if you give fans shirts, it’s likely they will end up wearing them.

T-shirts are also highly visible so when your fans wear your shirt, other people will see your logo and become familiar with your band.

Make your t-shirts attractive and provide multiple sizes to ensure they will fit well. This will increase the likelihood that people will want to wear them.

The only downside to t-shirts is that they are expensive to make. They can cost anywhere between $6 and $12 to make and the nicer they are, the more you will have to pay.

In order to make money, you will have to charge fans $15 to $20 which can be hard to make back if you’re trying to sell them at a club where people are saving money to buy drinks. And because you’ll be buying t-shirts in bulk, it may take a while before you get back your initial investment.

However, because t-shirts are such an effective marketing tool, it may be worth it for you to roll the dice and see if you make any money.

Pins

Pins are fun and they are relatively inexpensive to make. They usually cost about 20 to 30 cents a piece to manufacture (depending on size), so you can get a hundred and still not spend a lot of money.

Pins can be sold for a dollar a piece to yield a profit or you may end up giving them away.

Stickers

Stickers are another fun item and if you give them to your fans, chances are they will end up somewhere where they will be seen. Bands can also stick their own stickers in clubs and other key locations to get their name out there.

However, stickers, especially nice ones, can be pretty expensive to make. What’s more, fans typically expect to get them for free. Therefore, you may end up taking a bath on them.

Physical Music Product

Today’s world of music is very digitally oriented but having a physical music product is important as well. It adds credibility to the release and it’s great to sell at shows.

When people have an item on hand, say in a car that has a CD player, they will be more likely to listen. What’s more, there are some media outlets that will only review your music if you send it to them in a physical format.

When it comes to physical music products, there is a variety to choose from. Obviously, CD’s are a good option. They are lightweight and relatively cheap to manufacture. Bands can usually order their CD’s in bulk for less than $2 a piece (depending on the features they require). They can then sell them for $5 at clubs or online to make a decent profit.

CD’s are also easy to carry around and inexpensive to ship.

But today, the vinyl generation is taking over. People love vinyl because the sound just can’t be beat. It also has a vintage appeal and the large format cover gives listeners a chance to pour over pictures and enjoy your band.

Unfortunately, vinyl is not the most convenient option as it’s expensive, difficult to ship and carry and it can take a long time to receive your shipment. However, because vinyl is such a hot trend, it may be worth it to order a limited pressing to see how it does with fans.

Other Types of Merch

When it comes to band merch, the possibilities are endless. In fact, we could make an entire article on the types of merch you can offer alone. But to make this resource more comprehensive, we’ll move on to include other important merch related advice.

In the meantime, here’s a quick list on some of the more unusual items you can create.

  • Pens
  • Clothing Items like jacket, pants, hats, sweatshirts, socks, etc.
  • Water bottles
  • Tote bags
  • Keychains
  • Lyric books
  • Mugs
  • Ear plugs
  • Bandanas
  • Face masks

And the list goes on.

The bottom line here is to think of which of these items fans will actually buy and use. Also consider how much they cost to make and how much money you will need to charge to get a ROI.

One thing that’s worth mentioning is, if you are crafty and have the capital to invest in the right equipment, you can make these items for your band yourself. You can even offer your services to other bands to make a little money on the side or turn it into a full-blown business.

How to Come Up with Merch Designs

You may think that your fans will wear your merch designs just because they like your band, but you’d be surprised to find out how far a good aesthetic can go. Think of Kylie Jenner and all these other celebrities who wear band merch just to look cool and it will be easy to see how important a good design is.

Because design is so important, you may want to splurge a little by ordering multi-color merch. The more colors you incorporate in your designs, the more expensive they will be. But it may just be worth it in the long run.

Beyond color, you will also want to consider the quality of the type of merch you are printing on.

For instance, if you’re printing a t-shirt, you can take advantage of the full space to make a design that’s eye catching and noticeable.

If you’re printing on a pin, on the other hand, you will want your design to be suited to the small surface area. Therefore, you may want to use your logo only as opposed to a design that requires more space.

You should also consider the quality of what you are printing on.

If you are printing up tees, for instance, it’s important to find good quality tees that will fit well, feature a vibrant color and are made of a durable material.

If you are printing on a coffee mug, choose one that’s well constructed and will hold up well in a dishwasher. Make sure the print won’t fade immediately either.

Merch is really about getting your name out there, but if the products you are selling are shoddy, it could hurt your reputation. What’s more, providing a good product will mean it’s more likely to get used so it will be more effective in promoting your band.

Where Should I Sell My Merch?

Once you have your merch, you need to think about how to sell it. Here are a few effective methods.

At Shows

As we’ve mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to sell merch is to bring it to shows with you. Fans who are at your shows may be willing to support your band by buying a t-shirt, CD or whatever other item you have available.

If you plan to sell merch at shows, it’s a good idea to have a roadie help out. You can set up a table and have someone there to take the money, give change and dole out the items.

This is a good idea as it will help draw attention to the merch you have available. It will also keep you from having to deal with making change and digging for merch when you also have to concentrate on setting up, loading in and out, greeting fans and playing a good show.

If you don’t have anyone to help you with merch, make the process of selling as easy as possible. Make sure items are packed so it’s easy to find what you are looking for. Bring singles for making change.

It will also help if you charge an even number, such as $10, $15 or $20, for your items so you don’t have to make change very often.

Online

Another good way to sell merch is to offer it online.

If you have your music on Bandcamp, you can set up a store on the platform that you can use to sell shirts and other merch items.

You can also create an eBay account for selling merch or make your own merch store on your web site.

Threadless is another great option for selling merch online. To use the service, all you need to do is submit your logo.

The platform will immediately virtually place it on countless items including shirts, baby onesies, shower curtains, welcome mats… you name it.

Fans can go to the web site and order these items.

The service is absolutely free for bands and businesses. When people buy the items, you get a cut of each sale.

The percentage you make is relatively small but the platform is fun to use and if you sell a lot of items you can make a considerable amount of money.

On Commission

You also may be able to sell your merch in thrift stores and music stores. You may be able to get a store to buy your shirts up front and sell them for a profit, but you will probably have better luck working out a commission deal.

With commission, you ask the store to sell your merch for a limited amount of time and see if anyone buys it. If the merch sells, the store will split the money with you. Hopefully this will be enough to pay for your expenses in ordering the merch.

If the merch does well, the store may end up ordering more an they may even pay you up front on future orders.

If the merch doesn’t do well, they may return your items to you after a few months. However, it will not cost you any money. What’s more, it will be cool to have your merch displayed in a local shop, even if it’s just for a limited amount of time.

Merch and Social Media

Another great thing about merch is it goes hand in hand with social media.

Bands and music businesses should be posting on social media often, at least a couple of times a week. The problem lies in coming up with things to post about.

Merch provides great social media material. You can post to advertise new items you have available.

Also, when fans buy your merch, you can ask them to post pictures of themselves wearing or using your branded items. Share the pictures to your own site for a fun way to maintain online visibility. It will also make your fans feel special.

Where Can I Get Merch Made?

If you look online, you will find several stores that specialize in making merch. You may even have a friend that makes merch and they might give you a special deal.

Some shops make different merch items such as pins, shirts, hats, water bottles… and the list goes on. Others may specialize in one item such as t-shirts or stickers only.

It’s likely that the more items you buy from one company, the better your pricing will be. However, this might not always be the case.

Shop around to determine how you can get the best deals whether it’s buying all your merch from one company or purchasing separate items from different companies. Go from there to find the selection that’s best for you.

How to Make Your Own Merch

As mentioned earlier, an affordable option is to make your own merch. If you go this route, you will be able to save money and you can even start a business making merch for other bands and companies.

Here is a brief rundown on how to get started.

Screen Printing and Digital Printing

Screen printing and digital printing are both great ways to put logos on t-shirts, patches and other clothing items.

A screen print machine is an expensive investment, but it could save and/or make you money in the long run.

To use a screen print machine, you will have to create the logo you are using on the screen or stencil. Then apply ink on the printing surface. Each individual color will have its own screen.

Keep creating stencils and applying ink until you achieve the desired outcome.

While screen printing is a tried-and-true method, digital printing is another option.

Digital printing requires artwork to be processed by a computer. It is then adhered to the surface of the product. Each print produces one product so it is recommended for small batch orders. It is ideal for prints that require a greater attention to detail.

Stickers

Making stickers can be as easy as finding sticky paper, printing band logos onto the paper and cutting them out by hand. You may also find precut swatches or paper that may be easier to work with.

The end product won’t be as professional looking as the glossy stickers you can get done if you use an established service, but it’s a fun way to get your name out there and it has a DIY appeal

Pins

Pins are another item that’s easy to make.

There are a wide variety of pins that can be created and the possibilities are endless.

Essentially, you will need to create your design, purchase a pinback or attach some type of safety pin, and use a sealant to protect the surface. You can even make pins out of shrinky dinks.

Here is an article that will give you some pin making design ideas.

Other Items

Making items like branded water bottles, keychains, etc. may be more difficult. However, there are always DIY options.

If you are crafty and/or artistic, and have enough time on your hands, you can apply your own artwork or logos to items bought in bulk. You can also create your own lyric books or scrap books.

Again, these items may not have a professional look, but the DIY appeal will more than make up for it. And if you’re band ever gets famous, rarities like these are likely to go for a pretty penny.

Merch plays a major role in getting your band noticed. The tips in this article will help you come up with great products that will promote your music and help you earn some much-needed income. How do you use merch to get the word out?

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