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How To Offer Merch That Doesn’t Break the Bank


Instead of investing a lump sum of cash into merchandise that may or may not sell…

Think differently.

You can sell merch that costs very little (or nothing) upfront.

This is good news for indie musicians — any chance you get to save money without sacrificing quality, take it.

So here are three types of merch that won’t empty your bank account…

Print-On-Demand Merch

Selling print-on-demand (POD) items is the best way to offer merchandise online.

If you plan on selling merch on tour, that’s another story.

But POD merch is convenient because there’s zero upfront cost for you. You don’t have to buy a huge batch of shirts or do the packing and shipping. All of that is outsourced to the printer.

For example, your fan pays for a T-shirt from your online store, including the cost of shipping, and that money goes to you.

You take that money, pay the printer for the cost of fulfillment and shipping, and you keep the profits (based on the price you set). The printer then prints the shirt and ships it out to the fan.

So here are three of the top POD printers you can work with…

Printful

I use Printful and have been super happy with it so far. The big plus for me is that they integrate with Bandzoogle, the website builder I use for my music site.

It’s very easy to create designs or apply your own designs to the merch. And you have plenty of mockups to choose from, and they all look great.

A nice feature is that you can see exactly how much your profit will be for each product, and you can change the storefront price accordingly.

Shopify

Shopify is Audio Issues’ choice of print-on-demand store — and for a good reason. Not only is it a reputable POD provider, but you can also build your entire storefront on Shopify.

You can also integrate your Shopify store on other platforms, like Amazon, Facebook, and Pinterest. This is a huge benefit as it makes the buying process much easier for your social media followers.

They also make it simple to sell both physical and digital merch (more on digital merch below).

Check out Audio Issues’ merch here!

Spreadshop

Spreadshop is a totally free POD platform. There are no monthly charges or service fees.

You set your own prices above the cost of fulfillment, meaning you control your profit.

This platform is great for beginners because it’s very simple to use.

Digital Merch

Don’t underestimate or overlook digital merch. This type of merch has no upfront cost (other than an initial time investment), and it’s completely passive.

Here are some digital merch ideas…

Song Inspirations eBook

Figure out which songs your fans love the most.

Then open a Microsoft Word Doc or Google Doc and start writing about the inspiration or backstory of each song. Format it in a way that’s easy to read and convert that into a PDF.

There you go — you now have an eBook you can sell as a download in your shop.

Unreleased Songs and B-sides

Grab those demos or fully produced tracks you haven’t released and bundle them together. Offer those as a download exclusively through your website.

This will allow you to share music with a much higher payout than streaming services pay.

Book a Call With Fans

The foundation of your fanbase is connection. People resonate with your music, so they want to connect with you, get to know you better.

So offer one-on-one calls. They don’t have to be long — 15-30 minutes will be plenty. And a simple conversation with a fan can go a long way.

Custom Songs

If your music connects with people, imagine how much a custom song would connect with a fan?

Set up a product in your store called “Get a custom song.” Then when someone buys it, you email the fan and ask them if they want you to write about a certain topic or if it’s for a specific occasion (birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, etc.).

This one isn’t passive income, but because of the time you’d be committing, you can charge more for these.

Plus, it can be super fun.

Behind-The-Scenes Videos

During the recording of your next project, get a friend to shoot some behind-the-scenes of you in the studio (they can just use their smartphone).

After the project comes out, you can release a nicely edited version to the public on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

But then you can also offer the unedited footage as a download in your store.

This would be for the fans who really want to get to know you and support you.

Handmade Merch

Whether or not you’re crafty, here are a couple of merch ideas you can offer…

Tie-dye shirts

Tie-dying is simple, affordable, and you end up with a style that many people love.

You can tie-dye shirts, socks, and any piece of clothing made of soft cloth. This can work especially well if you throw your name, song title, or lyric on a white shirt before tie-dying it.

Handwritten lyric sheets

The benefit of offering handwritten lyric sheets is that each one is like a little custom gift for each fan.

Writing out the lyrics on each sheet gives this merch idea a novelty that’s hard to get with other products.

Final Thoughts

To recap, the most affordable yet high-quality types of merch are print-on-demand, digital, and handmade.

As long as you create merch the same way you (should) create music — with intention, creativity, and feedback from others — you’ll be good to go.

– – –

Caleb J. Murphy is a songwriter and producer based in Austin, Tx. He also blogs at Musician With A Day Job, a site that helps part-time musicians keep going.


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About me

About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

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