So you want to start your own YouTube channel to make some extra cash?
Or maybe you are already an established YouTuber and are looking into personalised T-shirts? As you may know, there are many ways to make money on the video platform and that’s probably what brought you to this post, but before you imagine yourself diving into a pile of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, there are a couple of things we need to straighten out.
- YouTube won’t make you rich overnight.
- Ads on Youtube don’t make as much money as some think.
Still with me? Good. The real money on YouTube comes from partnering with other brands and merchandising. In this post we’ll cover the second one: How to create merchandise for your YouTube channel, and not only that, we’ll tell you exactly what kind of merchandise your channel should sell, according to different factors (number of subscribers, the category of the channel, target audience…)
We’ve analysed more than 1,000 Youtube Channels, both successful and on their way there, that sell merchandise. We’ve looked into where they sell, how and when and we’ve gathered all that data and put it on a nice and tidy on an infographic!
But there’s more… We even created a quiz that will suggest what type of merchandise you should sell according to your channel characteristics. Take it at the end of the article!
How to create your own YouTube Merchandise: Getting started
The first thing you’ll need to do (if you haven’t already done so) is to become a YouTube partner. Doing so will allow you to monetize your channel. If you don’t know how to do it then you can check their website where they clearly explain how it’s done. Luckily for us, becoming a YouTube partner is easier now than ever before.
As we already stated, channels don’t make that much money on ads so if you want to make more cash (or even turn your channel into your primary source of income), you’ll have to expand your brand and selling merchandise is a great way to do so. Some of the benefits of merch are:
- A different source of income
- Publicity for your channel
- Content for your channel
- A way to engage with your followers beyond the screen
- You have full control
- Are you ready to sell your own merchandise?
According to Kevin Kelly, the executive director of Wired Magazine, any creator needs to have at least 1000 “true fans” in order to make a living off their content.
Your channel must be successful first
Before you even start thinking of what colour your T-shirts will be, you must first have a successful channel. Now, what means being successful on YouTube? Is it having millions of subscribers? It sounds tempting, but the number of subscribers a channel has doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of engagement. For example, Pewdiepie the channel with the most subscriptions on YouTube, had so many problems with spam at some point that he had to shut down entirely the comment section of his videos.
Personally, I believe that a successful YouTube channel is one that’s got a healthy number of subscribers (thousands) who are truly engaged with the videos. This means people who view, like and comment on the actual content rather than spammers, trolls or users who are “casually” subscribed to a channel just because it’s popular and may not even check the content. Take a look at this complete guide if you want to learn how to get a decent amount of high-quality subscribers.
YouTube is not just a video platform
It is also a social engagement tool. This is a crucial aspect of YouTube not everyone understands. The platform is built around communities of creators and consumers. If your sole reason for creating a YouTube channel is to sell your stuff, then I’d suggest going somewhere else. A successful YouTuber is the one that creates synergy with its viewers instead of uploading content expecting others to swallow it without a word.
Make sure your brand is awesome
Take a look at some of the most popular YouTube channels: Smosh, Tyler Oakley, Grace Helbig, just to name a few. They’re not just personalities, they’re brands. They have logos, slogans and even corporate colours. Before you sell products, you need to think of your brand. By having it established, you’ll be able to make a bigger impact once you launch.
Try to find as much information about your audience as possible. Discover who they are and create something that you know they will love. The following video from Youtube Creator Academy explains this in a very simple way!
If your brand is on point, if you’re engaged with your audience, and they’re looking for you then you can move on to the next step.
What kind of merchandise can you sell?
Well, all kinds, really. YouTubers have gone from selling T-shirts to writing their own novels. We’ll explore other types of merch later, but some of the most common are:
- Tote Bags
Think of your followers
What would your subscribers like? Have they asked for something in particular? Chances are that if you have a large/medium sized subscription base then someone at some point must have asked you for a T-shirt, at least. Involve them in the process. Maybe you could even organise a design challenge where your viewers get to vote for what they’d like to see on your online shop.
Check the competition
Hey, it’s 2016. You’re not only competing against channels that have been there since the very beginning, you’re also against hundreds of thousands of newcomers who are just as hungry as you. What are the others selling? Can you add something new to the mix? If it’s already been done before, then do something else or do it better.
If you’re on YouTube, chances are you’re creative. After all, it takes a mind full of ideas to come up with fresh and exciting content every week. Badges and mugs are fine, but everyone and their mother have seen them already. An example of good creative products by a YouTuber are the cute plush toys based on Jenna Marbles’ dogs.
What makes your channel popular?
Different from all the others? Use something that’s exclusive to your channel and create something with it. Look through your comments, what do people like? Are they quoting something in particular? Which of your videos has got the most views? Draw inspiration from it and get going.
Produce high-quality merchandise
This one might be a no brainer, but it is important to produce high-quality goodies. Nobody wants to pay for a T-shirt that’ll be torn in a couple of weeks. This is particularly important for online orders. Nothing creates more distrust like receiving a damaged good after you’ve been waiting days (or weeks) for it to arrive. A good advice is to produce stuff you would buy.
Hire a designer
If you’re not one, that is. Just because you can come up with a thumbnail in Photoshop for your video, it does not mean that you can create artwork for merchandise. Going back to quality, if you want the best possible products then it should start with the design. A T-shirt made out of the best possible fabric is not worth much if it’s got a poor design printed on it. A professional designer may be pricey, but see it as an investment.
Promote your merchandise
It pays to advertise. Nobody will be able to buy your stuff if you don’t promote it. The obvious idea is to create a video where you’ll launch your merchandise, that’s a great idea, but then what? You can’t sell every day without the risk of becoming repetitive. Remember you’re on YouTube because you want to produce awesome content, not to become an infomercial. A few ideas in order not to get repetitive are:
- Use social media to promote in addition to your videos
- Collaborate with other YouTubers to promote each other’s merchandise
- Leave a link on every description box, but don’t mention it
- Wear your merch, but (again) don’t mention it
- Leave it inconspicuously in the background while you record
Where will you sell your merch?
Not too long ago, creating your own merchandise meant a huge investment. You’d have to order a minimum number of products and expect for them to sell because if they didn’t, you’d have to assume the losses. Thankfully, nowadays there are platforms that print per order, which means little or no funding. Some platforms that work in this fashion are:
YouTubers and their merchandise (Examples)
The following is a list of some of our favourite YouTubers and their awesome merchandise.
Dan and Phil
These British YouTubers are the perfect example of everything we’ve been talking about. Their products are varied, they’re of good quality and cater specifically to their target audience. Extra points for an online shop that’s well designed and easy to navigate.
The second place goes to Zoella. Some people may refer to her as the queen of beauty channels, but I like to think of her as the Oprah of YouTube. Mainly because she has created a HUGE brand based on all things pretty and feel-good (she’s even starting a book club). Her empire started with the typical YouTube merch (t-shirts, notepads, mugs, etc) but quickly expanded to a makeup line and publishing (with a novel which she may or may have not written herself). I don’t think we’ll have to wait long until we see Zoella, The Movie: finding the perfect High Street Lipstick.
Zoella’s boyfriend, Alfie Deyes has learned a thing or two from his girlfriend and has expanded his “pointless” brand beyond his videos. He’s sold notebooks, hoodies, jumpers, and even a book with blank pages (not a notebook). He is so into his merchandise that it’s got its own Twitter account!
Caspar’s got its own line of t-shirts and hoodies. I don’t know about their quality, but their design is pleasing to the eye.
Aside from the regular merchandise, Joe Sugg (Thatcher’s real name) released a graphic novel called Username: Evie. Just because you’re a YouTuber, it doesn’t mean you have to sell products that directly relate to your audiovisual content. Merchandise can be a great opportunity to explore other creative routes.
Trivial info: Tatcher Joe is Zoella’s brother. They’re all related!
Emma’s merchandise is pretty standard, wrist bands, posters and t-shirts, but it’s a good example of using someone else’s platform to sell your stuff.
Charlie McDonnell is a good example of creative merchandise. He is a filmmaker so instead of selling posters with pictures of himself, he sells ones of designs inspired by his short films. He’s also got his own tea! How cool is that?
Here you have a good example of a creative, alternative type of merchandise that fits your viewers perfectly.
Sometimes a book is just the merch you need for a more professional Youtube Channel
Making competitions with your merch
A perfect example of how to promote your merchandise through giveaways and competitions.
Premium Merch is a nice idea too
Don’t hesitate to create some limited stuff as premium giveaways, I bet your most engaged followers would love to have it!
Show them how you get your merchandise
Here Ben shows us where he gets his merch from! Have you thought about doing the same? 🙂
So after all this… what kind of merchandise should your channel sell?
To be able to answer this question, we’ve analysed more than 1,000 Youtube Channels in order to find out what they do about their merch. Take a look at what we’ve learned!
If you want to sell your own merchandise on YouTube, remember to curate your brand, keep in mind what your followers want and promote! Is there anything we didn’t cover? Please, let us know in the comments below or by contacting us via any of our social media networks.
For more awesome content, keep reading the Printsome Blog.
Printsome is an online T-shirt printing agency in the UK based in London that delivers all across the UK, from printing T-shirts in Brighton to York and anywhere in between. So, if you’re after a T-shirt or custom clothing, get in touch for a quote and indulge yourself in some awesome customer service.