Are you a creator with a following? Making merch is one of the best avenues you can pursue to monetize your audience. But how can you make merch? This article walks through the entire process of how to make merch so you can start making and selling merch now.
How to Make Merch: Types of Merch Products You Can Make
First, let’s start with your merch options.
There are so many merch products available to creators now, and you can get them printed with quotes and images your audience wants to wear.
Here are some popular merch products:
- Sweatpants: Sweatpants have long been the leisurewear of choice for all generations
- Shirts & Sweatshirts: They’re easy to source, comfy to wear day and night, and consumers can always be tempted by unique designs
- Socks: This lightweight item is cheap to ship, they can make fun gifts, and they’re a subtle way for consumers to rep their merch
- Hats: Functional and simple, yet a go-to merch product
- Mugs: They’re easy to customize and market
- Phone Cases: Since the general population is pretty much stapled to their phones, why not offer customized phone cases?
- Jewelry: Earrings, necklaces, and bracelets can be special, more premium merch options. Selling jewelry as merch can be easier than you think
- Laptop Cases: Customize laptop cases and/or opt for various waterproof and hard-wearing materials—all branded with your logo, of course!
- Backpacks: A necessary and very functional accessory, you can personalize backpacks with your logo or with embroidered illustrations
- Beach Towels: Depending on your brand and audience, beach products might be an ideal merch product. Print your logo, designs, or slogans onto a beach towel!
- Blankets: Create cozy blankets with your logo, designs, illustrations, or slogans. Provide a choice of fabrics and colors to suit your customers’ tastes!
- Canvases: Are you an artist, designer, illustrator, or photographer? Print your work onto canvases so your customers can purchase your creations
- Tote Bags: Tote bags are an original merch product and for good reason—they’re functional, easy to source, practical, and consumers love to have multiple on-hand!
- Facemasks: Let’s face it—facemasks are here to stay for the indefinite future, so lean into it and create facemasks for your merch line! Whether you design your own masks or work with a fellow creator to develop something unique, it doesn’t matter; it’s a cheap and easy way to use up material and sell easy-to-ship products
- Pet Bandanas: Does your pet have a popular social media account? Make some merch for your follower’s pets! Pet bandanas are an easy-to-make and sell item that plenty of pet owners can appreciate
- Babygrows: A parent’s go-to staple, make babygrows with cute slogans, illustrations, or anything else associated with your brand
- Aprons: Appeal to foodies, cooks, bakers, and home chefs with customized aprons!
This list is by no means exhaustive, as there are tons of options out there. But when you start selling merch, what kind of products you sell is up to you! You can mix and match your merch to suit your brand and get as creative as you want.
Where to Get Your Merch Made
Now that you have an idea of what kind of merch you can make—where do you get that merch made?
The good news is, you don’t have to make your merch yourself.
Long gone are the days of purchasing wholesale t-shirts in bulk and screenprinting your own designs onto them. You can work with dropshipping suppliers to make your merch for you.
We recommend outsourcing the merch-making process to a dropshipping company because it’s easier and likely cheaper for you! They handle the printing, packaging, inventory management, and shipping so all you have to do is make designs and handle your online store and customer service.
Below are 3 of the best dropshipping services we recommend.
Printful (Printful Review) is one of the best companies you can make merch with. Not only are they simple to use, but they also integrate directly with Shopify (Shopify Review) stores so you can automate order fulfillment and get your merch dropshipped directly to your customers’ doors.
Printful also offers a massive selection of print-on-demand products that you can customize with your own designs, illustrations, artwork, and slogans so you can make each merch item your own.
There are also no minimum order quantities or monthly subscription fees, and items generally go out to customers within three working days. They also offer custom packaging options, so your customer’s orders can be branded with stickers, labels, and customized packing slips.
Gooten is another reliable dropshipping supplier with a wide range of products to choose from. Their products are also print-on-demand so you can print your own designs, illustrations, slogans, etc. on each item, and they also integrate with Shopify stores.
We like to recommend Gooten because they offer print-on-demand products that other merch suppliers may not offer, like:
- Journals and notebooks
- Beer steins
- Huggable body pillows
- Compact mirrors
- More ideas
Which can give you more choices that you may not see elsewhere.
If you’re looking to sell unique merch products, check out Gooten’s product selection to see what you can find.
Another great print-on-demand merch supplier is Printify. While their product offering is a little bit more curated, they provide high-quality items and promise quick turnaround times with their 90+ print provider locations.
Some of the items Printify offers include:
- Insulated bottles
- Enamel camping mugs
- Desk calendars
- Personalized lamps
- Indoor wall tapestries
Getting Ideas for Your Merch Designs
If your talents lie in online marketing, sales, and lead generation, but you’re short on creative ideas for your merch, listen up!
You want to create designs that are distinct and tailored to the tastes of your specific audience. The important thing here is to avoid the generic. So, say you host a true-crime podcast. You’re going to want to make merch that’s tailored towards your audience and branded with your show’s title. Take True Crime All The Time as an example. They run a top-rated podcast and have successfully monetized their show by selling a wide array of branded merch.
Alternatively, if your YouTube, TikTok, or podcast shows have inside jokes, catchphrases, or different seasons, you can capitalize on creating products that your audience recognizes, loves, and identifies with. This is a simple yet effective way of uniting your online community.
If you’re still unsure what to print on your merch designs, reach out to your audience for ideas! Ask your followers to DM suggestions or leave comments on one of your posts. Run a competition for design/slogan suggestions where the winner(s) receive free merch and a shout-out on your social platforms. Or, run an Instagram or Facebook poll with multiple-choice suggestions where followers can vote for their favorite idea.
Designing Illustrations & Slogans for Your Merch
To actually create your merch designs, you have a few options. You can either:
- Make Your Designs Yourself: If you’re up to the challenge, there’s plenty of software you can use to bring your design ideas to life, such as Canva and Adobe Photoshop. Check out YouTube or Skillshare tutorials to learn how to use the software if you don’t already know
- Customize Design Templates: Find design templates on places like Creative Market and make them your own! This means you can still make bespoke designs without having to create them from scratch
- Hire a Designer: If you don’t have the time nor the inclination, check out online marketplaces such as Upwork, Fiverr, and FreeUp to outsource your design work. A designer or illustrator will be able to turn your concepts into fully fleshed-out designs that look professional and high-quality
Setting Up Your Merch Store
Now it’s time to set up your online merch store and generate some income and brand awareness!
If you’ve committed to a dropshipping supplier, it’s pretty simple to set up your store because you have no inventory to buy upfront, and you don’t have to wait until your merch has been made before you can start selling because your supplier can print on demand.
So, all you need to do is set up your online store using your chosen ecommerce platform, then integrate it with Printful, Gooten, Printify, or whatever other dropshipping partners you’re using. From there, you can import your products onto your online storefront and start selling.
If you’re starting from scratch, we’re going to briefly walk you through what you need to do to set up a Shopify merch store.
Let’s walk through it step-by-step.
Step 1: Pick a Name
Decide on the name of your merch store. This could be the same title as your podcast or YouTube channel, or TikTok profile, or it could be something associated with it (like a catchphrase) that your audience will recognize and remember.
For name ideas, check out Shopify’s Domain Name Generator!
Step 2: Register for a Shopify Account
It’s easy to sign up for Shopify and there are several payment plans to choose from—including Shopify Lite which is an excellent option if you’re just dipping a toe in the water. From there, you can upgrade your plan as you scale your business over time.
If you’re unsure whether Shopify is the right platform for you, they offer a 14-day free trial that you can start with before you commit.
Step 3: Set up your Shopify Store
Follow Shopify’s prompts to get your store set up—they’ll lead you through the most important parts. They also have a helpful guide that goes into detail and this checklist for starting a new Shopify store.
But, to give you a sense of what’s involved, these are the general steps:
- Log into your Shopify account
- Name your store
- Choose your legal business name and address
- Add your billing information
- Choose your payment gateway and default currency. Shopify integrates with all the major payment providers and you can accept payments in multiple currencies
- Set up your shipping options. If your customers are local, you could set up your store to offer local pick-up and delivery options
- Set your taxes
- Set up your domain name
Step 4: Choose Your Merch Supplier
After reviewing all your options, select a merch supplier that suits your needs best.
When you work with suppliers like Printful, Gooten, and Printify you have lots of flexibility; you can sell just one of their products and expand later, you can list a few products and change them around whenever you want, and you can even source from multiple suppliers.
Ideally, sourcing your products from a supplier who integrates with Shopify will make your life a lot easier, so we recommend making that a priority when you choose your merch supplier.
Step 5: Make Your Merch Designs
Make your merch designs or hire someone to make your designs for you!
Make sure your designs look exactly how you want them, ensure that they’re unique and don’t infringe on anyone’s copyright (this applies to slogans/quotes as well), and if you purchase templates, ensure that you purchase the correct licensing option (such as a commercial license) so that you have the right to print the designs on items that are being sold.
Step 6: Order Samples
This is a super important step—don’t skip it! Order samples to make sure the quality of the product meets your standards and the design is printed properly on your product.
Most dropshipping suppliers will offer discounts on samples so merchants can check their merch before they sell it.
Step 7: Take Product Photos
Take product photos of your merch to upload onto your store. Remember, these are what will attract customers, so make sure that they’re of good quality!
Step 8: Choose a Website Theme
Choose a website theme that best reflects your brand. Website themes can be customized in small ways to your liking, but the overall layout will generally stay the same so pick a theme layout that you like. You can customize the colors, images, menus, and sections later.
Step 9: Test Your Store
Test your online store to guarantee that everything actually works before going live. The last thing you need is glitches from the get-go!
The easiest way to do this is to run trial transactions, refunds, and order cancellations to evaluate whether everything is operating as it should be. It’s also worth appraising Shopify’s fraud analysis settings so you’re better positioned to identify any rare cases of fraudulent orders.
Step 10: Launch & Start Selling!
Launch your site and make it public so your audience can buy your merch! Remove your store’s password so your site is accessible to the outside world and orders can start coming in.
Step 11: Market Your Merch Store
Start marketing via your YouTube channel, TikTok profile, podcast, and social feeds! Let your audience know that your merch store is up and running so they can support you and grab the merch they want to buy.
You can also encourage your audience to share photos of themselves wearing or using your merch so you can share their posts on your profile. This kind of user-generated content not only cements the relationship you have with your audience but also doubles as social proof which goes a long way to add to your brand’s credibility and establish trust.
So now you know how to make merch that represents your brand and your audience will love! Go get your merch brand started—what are you waiting for?