Calling all musicians and those in the music industry (and even those who aren’t), today I’m going to show you how to make your own merchandise for free!
In a previous guide I’ve already showed you how to sell more merchandise, but that guide’s going to be no good to you if you haven’t got the money to get merch made to sell.
Luckily though, there are websites out there that will allow you to make merch for free, ship that merch for you when a customer orders, and only take a cut of the money that’s made. What this means is no upfront cost for you, but both you and the product maker get paid when you actually make a sale!
Sound good? Then read on to learn how to get your merch and online store up and running today. Let’s look at how to make merchandise for a band or rapper (or any other musician for that matter) for free.
P.S. Be sure to read on till the end, as later on I give you some very important things to think about when deciding if setting up and online merch store is for you (it might not be for everyone).
P.P.S. In this guide I mention Printful as the place to get your merch made for free as it’s who’s I’ve personally had experience with. That said there are other alternatives out there, so feel free to have a look around for others if you feel the need to.
Step One: How To Make Your Own Merchandise For Free With Printful
So the first thing you’re going to want to do is decide what merch you want to sell. Which merch is best for you? This will be determined by what you personally want to offer fans of your music, what fans request over time, and what sells best.
The great thing about this business model is that it doesn’t cost any additional money to set up lots of different lines of merch. From you’ve got a single good design, you can add that to mugs, t shirts and more. And if you want to vary thing up, you can make them available in different colors.
That said, just because you can offer lots, that doesn’t mean you should to start out with 100 different options. You don’t want to spend ages making all these different designs, only to find out people only want one of them (if any). So start out with say three different products and see how things go. From there, if you ask your fans and you get positive feedback, you can add different things to your range over time.
If you’re not sure what you can offer fans, check out Printful. They will tell you what they can offer, how much it costs them to produce (which you don’t pay for, it comes out of the money the buyer pays), and they give a suggested retail price. They also give pretty much all other details you’ll need to sell your products too.
Once you pick the merchandise you want to offer, next you’ll need to get the product designed. While you could always just put your logo on it, if you want more sales, you’d be better off offering something that hasn’t got your own personal branding on it. You still want it to be related to you so fans in the know recognize it as being one of your products, but you should also make it so it’s attractive to people who have never heard of you before either. If it’s a good product in general, you’ll have the potential to make a lot more sales.
My advice is to go on a freelance hire website such as Odesk and hire a graphic designer to create you a good design. You can get a really good one for around $50, but you can opt to pay more or less if you like. The higher you go, the more applications you’ll get.
Tip: Printful will give you the design specs which your hired designer can work from.
Once you have your design, the next step is to add a store on Printful and connect your product to that store. If you haven’t got a store yet, I’ll show you how I personally done it next.
Note: Printful is great if you want to only sell your music related merch online. If however you want to bring merchandise to shows with you to sell there, there’s not really any way you can make that merch without an upfront cost to you.
Step Two: Get A Store To Sell Your Music On
As you may know, I run all my websites on WordPress. This is because it’s both powerful and easy to use. If you haven’t yet got a website, you can see how to make one step by step here. Follow that guide and you’ll have one set up in less than half an hour.
To make my store, I ended up using the free ecommerce software Woocommerce. This is essentially a WordPress plugin you can search in your WordPress dashboard and install in seconds. If you’re not sure what a WordPress Dashboard is, you should check the guide I linked to about making a WordPress website at the beginning of Step Two.
Printful and Woocommerce connect together to give you a good looking store that will sell your products. When something is ordered on your website, the order goes straight through to Printful and they take care of it for you. This is nice and largely hands off for you!
So your product is made, shipped out and paid for all without you lifting a finger! This is petty ideal and a great time saver.
Step Three: Promote Your Merch
So now you’ve got your online store set up and you have people who will make your merch with no upfront cost to you. Is that it? Are you going to sell lots of merch and get rich? Well, not quite. Just because you have good quality merch up for sale, that doesn’t mean much if people aren’t going to buy it.
Like your music, people won’t buy into it if they don’t know it exists. Because of that, you need to market your merch. You can do this in pretty much the same way you market your music.
The difference however is you now have more places you can promote your merch. If you took my above advice and created designs which will appeal outside of your music fanbase, you could also approach merch related publications and ask them to showcase your designs. For example, if you’ve made a good quality t shirt, you can show them to indie t shirt related websites and media. If they’re good enough, some might cover you.
If you want to get your stuff out there you have to work for it. Don’t be happy with your merch sitting on your website waiting for people to randomly find it, go out and get that exposure for yourself.
Some Things To Think About When Creating Your Own Merch Store
So while creating your merch with no upfront costs to you may sound great, there are some things you need to be aware of. First of all, you need to be aware of refunds.
Let’s say someone buys a t shirt you’ve made, decides they don’t like it, and refunds this shirt. It costs $16 for Printful to make this shirt and you’ve added $10 on for your profit. There’s also $5.50 for US shipping.
As they send the t shirt back, it’s going to be your who’s out of pocket. Printful don’t accept responsibility for this, so if you get more refunds than you get sales, you’ll actually be losing out on money from your own pocket.
That said, as long as you have a good product and you don’t miss sell anything, this shouldn’t be an issue. Just be sure to not spend all the money you receive straight away in case you do need to return anything.
One last thing: be sure to offer support to people who order your products. While Printful take care of all the product making and shipping etc, people will email you with questions about your product. If you’re not willing to take time and reply to these questions, don’t bother setting up a store on your website with your merch. It won’t be a good experience for your fans, and you don’t have the time or willingness to do what needs to be done.
It’s possible to offer your fans good quality merch at no upfront cost to you. All it needs is a WordPress website (find out how to make one quickly and easily here) along with a couple of free tools (Printful and Woocommerce) and you’re good to go!
I hope you’ve found this guide useful, if so please share it around and let me know your thoughts in the comments.