In the mid-2000s, Youtube was able to take someone with a shoddy video camera and an internet-ready personality and create a new career path: the “content creator.” It proved that you didn’t need to have all the right tools to reach an audience. In a crowded content landscape, people are turning to a burgeoning new medium to have their voice heard: the podcast. While podcasting isn’t new, it has exploded as a medium over the past few years. Now that there are many affordable and effective ways to record at home, it makes more sense than ever. We’ll detail how you can use podcasts to build an audience and sell merch today using our Podcaster’s Guide to Selling Merch.
Podcasts allow for way more freedom than other forms of media. Since it’s just your voice, you can talk about anything you want and create a thread of information around a topic that spans across episodes: true crime, sports analysis, movie discussion, etc, etc.
Think of a topic, and there’s already a podcast for it (and potential merch).
As more and more people turn to podcasts, the demand for podcast merchandise has grown. Merchandise is an excellent way of generating revenue from your audience while building relationships with them on a deeper level than just producing content and moving on. Podcasting in 2021 is all about increasing listener engagement by selling merchandise that is themed to your podcast that they can’t get anywhere else.
Merch for content creators is not a new concept. Youtubers have taken this idea and run with it. It’s a way for fans to feel closer to their favorite influencer. And it’s already easy for a Youtuber because they have a platform to promote it.
Same goes for podcasters.
Expand Your Product Range
Merchandise will allow you to get your brand out there and be creative for your fans. It can take many forms. We’re not just talking about just t-shirts here – you could potentially sell anything from mugs, to pins! Small items like stickers are great because people can rep their love for your podcast anywhere they want – laptop, water bottle, notebook – at a low cost.
The options are endless when developing merch for your podcast, but certain ones prove to get better results.
Should You Invest in Merchandise?
The simple answer is yes. As a podcaster, it can be difficult to attract revenue because of a crowded market. Say you have a podcast about baking hacks, but it gets buried when people go to look up baking podcasts on Spotify. Building and selling merchandise is an excellent revenue stream that you need to take advantage of to get your name out there. It is also an important way for your community to feel connected to you and your podcast.
Items like hats or mugs are everyday products that can hold special meaning for listeners of your podcast and work as promotion for family, friends, or strangers that see them rocking it in the real word.
It also solidifies and strengthens your brand.
You’ll feel more professional if you are able to carry your podcast brand into an established area like merchandise. It gives you more leverage when you are trying to partner with other podcasts or work with potential advertisers. To say, “Hey, I have t-shirts for my podcast available”, is actually a bigger deal than you may think.
When Should You Create Merchandise?
There is no point jumping the gun with merch creation and developing designs if you don’t have an audience yet. As a new podcaster, it is important to at least build up some sort of regular audience before you invest in merchandise.
Analyze what episodes have gotten the most views, if there is a particular topic that gets more engagement than the rest.
But, honestly, the best time to create merchandise for your fans is when it feels right to YOU.
There is no perfect time or formula, and you will best be able to tell if your merchandise will be well received if you create it. You can even draw up some drafts and pose the question on your podcast, and social media channels like Instagram and Twitter, to gauge the interest of your followers. Get them involved. What do they want to see? What will they actually wear? If they’re involved, they’re more likely to follow through and buy your designs because it’s something they’ve proved they’re interested in.
Drawing Up Designs
There are so many different options you can make when creating merch: use your logo, pull a funny quote from your podcast, use a quirky hashtag – there are endless options. Consider creating something that fits with your brand and that you would be happy to wear yourself. Many creators will use merch as a cash grab and not put enough thought into their designs – but to truly connect with your fans you need to make the effort.
Graphic design can be intimidating, but you don’t have to be an expert to get something that’s clean and represents you. Use online design tools that make it free and easy to upload images or build your own from available fonts and other design elements.
And don’t feel rushed.
Take your time seeing what’s right. Maybe you thought purple and grey were your colors, but now you’re realizing that they don’t look good in certain fonts or with the photos you wanted to use. When you put out something, you want to be proud of it. So, take your time and flesh out your designs and any themes before you go onto the next step.
Using A Print House
The easiest way to sell merchandise is to use a print house that specializes in merch creation. Don’t throw yourself in at the deep end and try to make everything yourself; it will become complex and costly. It’s more convenient to use an on demand service that will handle everything on your behalf.
Easily upload designs and choose what styles and what colors you want your merch to be. Elements like placement and sizing are all up to you, and new products can be created at any time.
Outsourcing your merch through a specialized service will also allow you to spend more time actually working on your podcast and creating better content. You don’t have to deal with fulfilling orders and providing customer support – they’ve got that covered. If you already have a website, you can easily link your shop to your site or vice versa. And you know that the quality will be better than what you could’ve done with a cotton t-shirt from your local retail store.
Peoples’ expectations are high these days, and if they’re not satisfied with the quality, they’ll stop supporting your podcast and your merch.
Advertising Your Merch
Once you take the leap and decide to make merch for your audience, it’s now time to get the word out. The easiest and most obvious way to promote your merch is to mention it in your podcast.
A simple mention at the end of your podcast advising your listeners to check out your merch might be enough to get the ball rolling. Social media is also a great place for you to start advertising your merchandise. Consider creating social posts linking to your shop. Make a video of yourself wearing your merch to show it off. Even create some sort of banner advertisement to go in your cover photo.
As a podcaster, merchandise is a great option for providing extra income, and strengthening your brand. You’ll be able to carry your passion for what you talk about on your podcast into tangible merch people can wear to support YOU. It sounds like just a podcast investment, but it’s also a personal one.
What are the top selling merch items for Podcasts?
With hundreds of products out there to choose from, you might want to know what actually sells the best for real podcasts. Nobody wants to be stuck with a bunch of custom all-over-print socks or silly keychain bottle openers. And that’s one of the greatest things about print-on-demand. You won’t have to worry about getting stuck with products, and you can test the waters by offering one or two items and switching it up as you see fit.
It might seem surprising to you, but the #1 selling product for creators of any kind on our platform is the basic t-shirt. That also goes for podcasters.
Based on our own internal data, and talking with our shop owners who run podcasts, there are a few other items your listeners may want more than others. Stickers and the contrast coffee mug!
The Same Brain podcast does an amazing job of offering up a cute design that their listeners want to put on laptops. And instead of offering TONS of products, they stick to just those two offerings.
What’s the best merch strategy for Podcasts?
For podcasts that are just launching their merch line, we suggest you focus on one or two items as well to start and roll out new merch over upcoming episodes. Not only does it allow you plug your merch in an organic way during your shows, but you can also create scarcity by disabling designs and letting listeners know there’s only one more week to get the old design before you release the new line.
So, what’s your podcast about?
We love podcasts. Do you have one? Drop us a link in the comments and pick up a few new listeners.