Designing and selling your own merch can be a fun and exciting process, but it can also be an expensive one. Here are some tips for how avoid some common merch pitfalls create a product fans will want to buy.
Creating a slick merch package can be a fun job – you sit together with designers and graphic artists, ping-ponging ideas while creating fun products that go along with your awesome music and live show.
Then, when you’re at the point where everyone loves the look & feel, you begin selecting the means of production and distribution.
To keep the process running smoothly, I am going to point out 5 important mistakes that you can and should avoid while dealing with merch:
1) Hidden production costs
The merch-business has come to a point where the simple band t-shirt has been broadly extended to a whole line of creative ideas and clothing lines.
Be aware that awesome prints, colors, cuts and material all come with a price – and even if you save a lot of money by ordering in bulk, you should be aware of hidden production costs.
Compare different services and talk to fellow musicians about rates – get a feeling for the industry standard.
2) Quality Wins
In a normal order of merch there is a 3-5 % fault frame – meaning the amount of cosmetic glitches. That sounds ok, right? Well, those are only the fabric problems that are clearly visible while unpacking.
Most problems arise after wearing merch the first couple of times, at the latest after washing it. So even though everything looks fine to you, your fans are the ones who are going to be confronted with production- and material problems.
Think like a consumer and, even though you might have to spend more in the initial investment, make sure the quality suits your fans needs. That’s the whole idea behind merch – creating something that lasts far beyond the live concert experience.
3) Get your design line straight
Let’s talk some corporate identity here. To make one thing clear – your merch is an extension of everything you create musically and visually. Shooting dark, gloomy music videos and printing bright, neon color ways can work – but most of the times it just feels out of line.
So – think holistic. What does your social media appearance look like? Flyers? Posters? Reference your own style in your merch, and make sure you remain faithful to your own aesthetic radar.
4) Logistics 101
One major aspect most DIY artists underestimate is the enormous workload and time connected to organizing consumer info, packing and shipping.
If you don’t divide the logistical work among the band members, it can be a 10–15 hour/week job to organize the orders.
Also, double checking orders and payments can be a life saver, especially when dealing with multiple waves of orders.
5) The selling routine
In most bands there 1-2 people who are more engaging, more talkative, more HYPED than the others. It’s an energy thing.
Identify these band members and make sure they are the first ones off the stage and at the merch-stand when finishing a concert.
That way you can ride the wave of excitement – it shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes to have an up and running merch stand. Let them congratulate you – and then, with a big smile, offer them some awesome merch that you and your friends came up with .