How to “Merch Up” Your Blog
You know how bands make more money from the t-shirts they sell at concerts than they do from their cut of the ticket sales? The same thing is true, in a way, for people who are hoping to turn their blogs and video channels into real income. We’ve talked before about how important branded merchandise is for every business. In this article we’re going to teach you the right way to introduce (and sell more of) branded merchandise to your site and creative endeavors.
Choose the Right Merch
You know that you need merch. That’s a given. But do you know what type of merch you should sell? You need to choose items that your audience really wants and will really use. So how do you figure out what that is?
Ask them! Some people do this by setting up a simple survey with a few options and asking people to fill it out. Others–and this really is the better idea–simply open up the conversation somewhere, like in a blog post or on a social media network (or both) and then monitor the conversation closely.
Choose things that you know your audience loves but doesn’t know they can ask for. A lot of people get caught in the “shirt, button, sticker” mindset of merch and forget that there are so many other things out there that can be branded. Why not look for things that you know are popular within your audience’s culture? For example, the Doubleclicks–understanding that the vast majority of their audience is made up of geeks and gamers, had branded dice made.
How to Sell Your Merch
If you’re not sure what to print and you’re afraid of devoting a bunch of your open space to inventory, you can always upload your logo and other branding graphics to sites like Red Bubble, Cafe Press, Zazzle, etc. This way people can put your graphics on whatever they like. Of course, when you use these channels you only get to keep a small percentage of the money your sales bring in.
If you want a better profit, you need to order inventory and keep it on hand. You pay for the inventory once and then, whatever you make on top of the cost of that initial purchase is profit you get to keep. The catch with this method, though, is that you have to figure out how much inventory you actually need. Some bloggers and entrepreneurs do this by taking pre-orders for certain types of merchandise and then placing their orders. Others simply order a bunch of inventory and then list it for sale on their websites and social media profiles. Then they process the orders as they come in.
Sending Your Merchandise
While selling merch through print on demand services can save you a lot of headache, they also keep you from taking advantage of some great opportunities for further promotion.
For example, when you process your own merch orders, you can send the orders in custom printed boxes that have been designed to reflect the brand you’re building and have your return address, url and logo printed on them. This helps promote your site and business to anybody who might happen to see the delivery, from the UPS guy to neighbors.
Another opportunity for promotions exists within those boxes. Don’t ever send only what the person ordered. Add some value to the order by including a card with a discount code off of future orders (encourage the recipient to share the code with friends). Toss in some extra stuff–smaller branded merch that you can buy in bulk like small buttons, cheap stickers, maybe a postcard or two. People love getting extra stuff, even if it is stuff that might end up in a drawer!
Finally–make sure whatever you’re selling, that it is easy for people to buy. If buyers have to jump through twelve hoops to buy your stuff, they’ll just keep consuming your free offers and never order anything monetizable.