You’ve done it! Congrats.
You have a YouTube channel that you love, are passionate about, and the online world knows it.
So now is the time to start cashing-in on your follower-ship. You’ll be surprised by how much your followers, viewers, and subscribers want to buy and wear your merch. They like your channel. They like you. And they want to support you.
Think of merchandise as an extension of your YouTube brand. Like a Patreon page or Kickstarter campaign, your merch can subsidize your channel so you can continue to do what you love: make videos and share your passion with the world.
What is the Best Time to Start Selling Merch?
I hate to burst your bubble, but this question has no real answer. I’d love to say: “Start selling merch after your 100th video” or “Merch is most effective after ### number of followers”, but it’s not that simple. Each channel and subscriber-base is unique. Therefore, there is no real milestone you can point to that tells you when to start selling merchandise
Despite the lack of a black and white answer, there are some questions you can ask that can give you a better gauge as to if you should start selling t-shirts, hats, mugs, and more fun stuff for your YouTube channel:
- Is your audience engaged? Having a lot of subscribers is a great first indicator of your channels success, but are those subscribers engaged enough to buy? You can gauge from the number of comments and likes and the variety of contributors and content discussed if your follower-ship is engaged and ready to buy.
- How strong is your brand? Do a quick analysis of the search activity related to your channel. This will give you a good assessment of your brand’s strength.
- What do you think merch can do for you? It is important to assess the engagement of your subscribers and power of your brand, but also it’s time to do some soul searching. What are your goals for merch? What do you want from your efforts: some side money, brand awareness, personal pride, or a mix of all three? Knowing what you expect to get from merchandise and setting goals for yourself can help guide your decision to start selling.
In the end, what is the best time to start selling merch? How about right now? There are many print-on-demand merchandise providers that can eliminate a lot of the upfront risks and costs. It is important to think through your decision to start selling merch, but it is equally as important to not over think it either.
- Ask your friends and family their thoughts. They are likely your biggest followers and may have more, honest insight into the health of your brand.
- Google yourself. See how your channel appears in search results and where and when it is being discussed elsewhere on the internet.
- Use YouTube statistics to determine traffic levels and search frequency for your channel.
What Merchandise Should I Sell?
Once you decide to start selling, you will have to create merch to sell. It is important to offer products and designs that you think are marketable and true to your brand.
Here are some tricks we see the most successful YouTubers using:
- Keep your ideas relevant and authentic. Make sure your merch makes sense for your channel. You can even ask your audience what they want on merch to increase engagement and sales from the start.
- Don’t swing for the fences; you’ll probably strike-out. Your ideas may be great, but start simple. Give your audience exactly what they are looking for and go for the sure wins. Once you have a merch presence you can try the more intricate ideas, but at the start just stick to the easy, sale-able ideas.
- Slow cook it. Use anticipation and suspension to drive interest in your merch. If you have several ideas, release them overtime and build awareness and desire with “coming soon” promotions.
Remaining authentic in your merch is essential to your success. Keep your designs relevant and give your fans what they want. Keep it exciting and slowly grow your offering to keep your fans engaged and coming back for more.
- Get direct feedback. Ask your fans exactly what they want on merch and then deliver. Engage fans will appreciate this and be even more willing to buy your merchandise.
- Be prepared to grow. Pick a merchandising partner that can keep up with demand as your success grows. Many print-on-demand providers are a great place to start as they eliminate the upfront costs on inventory and can react to your growth and needs in real-time.
How Can I Sell More Merch?
That’s easy. Promote!
Don’t worry about looking like a sell-out for wanting to sell custom merch to monetize your YouTube channels. Your subscribers expect merch… they want merch!
There are several ways we see the most successful YouTube channels promoting, and here is how:
- Create dedicated videos about your merch. Be sure to wear your merch in all of your videos, but also create short videos and intros promoting your custom merchandise outright. This is the best way to keep your audience educated about your merchandise.
- Keep your fans engaged in the process. By thoughtful giveaways or fan shoutouts, you can build a community around your merchandise. A fun way to do this is by asking fans to post to instagram wearing your merch and hashtag your channel. Coupling this with a reward like a giveaway or a shout out will certainly lead to success
- Link to your merch, everywhere. Be sure to post easy ways for people to buy your merch everywhere. Use your channel description and the bio sections of all your social channels for that matter to give your audience an easy clickable way to find your merch.
When deciding to sell custom merch to support your YouTube channel, you are sure to get sales when you start out, but you certainly want this success to continue. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great supplements to your YouTube presence. Use your channel and other socials to keep your fans engaged and aware of your march at all times.
- Get the word out. Share, share, share. Tell people about your merch in all of your videos or even make dedicated videos about your merchandise.
- Wear it! Wear your merch in all of your videos and even when you are out in the real world representing your brand.
- Leverage promotions and discounts. People love a good deal, so tell them about it. Many merchandising platforms have site-wide deals occasionally. Share these deals with fans and they are sure to take advantage of the savings.
- Announce new designs and products frequently. Tell people about your new designs and offerings to keep them excited and coming back to see what is next.
When deciding to sell merchandise online for your YouTube channel there is a lot to consider, but it is important to not overthink it.
Leverage the strength of your brand and make relevant designs and merchandise based on your subscriber-base.
Be sure to promote often and keep it fresh and ever-changing to make sure your merchandising success is sustainable.
In the end, merchandise is a great way to subsidize your channel and make some money from your channel’s success.
Let us know if you have a channel you’d like to promote here. We would love to share examples of how other Youtubers are selling merch with their channels.