The Ultimate Guide to Creating and Selling Custom Merchandise

Custom merchandising is not only about generating revenue or taking your brand to the next level! While you may think of custom merchandising as a new revenue stream, entrepreneurs and creators of all kinds have found that custom merchandising goes beyond revenue.

From brand awareness to word-of-mouth advertising to identifying your fans, the objective behind custom merchandising is manifold. For influencers and creators, creating custom merchandise for free giveaways can help you build a loyal fan base. 

You may be a business owner or an influencer or maybe an average Joe; you can create custom merchandise and sell them online. You can also create numerous designs through the help of hundreds of software available online. Several sites even let you design and sell your merchandise using their platforms.

Zack Honarvar, the co-founder of Fan of a Fan, a company dedicated to formulating merchandising strategies, believes that meaningful merchandising has the potential to cut across from your current fan base or customers to new audiences. He believes that custom merchandising has the power to grow your audience along with establishing a true and long-lasting relationship with them.

What is Custom Merchandise?

Popularly known as a promotional product, custom merchandise is an item that appears tailor-made for a specific group of audiences. Promotional products are items that are redesigned by printing new designs or some abstract illustrations on them. Apart from printing new designs, businesses use their logos and slogans to promote their brands in the market.

In addition to being sold at reasonable costs, custom merch is distributed as freebies to new customers to increase brand awareness. Many companies also giveaway custom merchandise to employees at offices and events to show support and care.

Items that are usually selected as custom merchandise may include the following:

  • T-shirts
  • Bottles
  • Hoodies
  • Hats
  • Caps
  • Phone accessories
  • Grooming products
  • Shoes
  • Coffee mugs

Why Custom Merch is Important

Fact: $24.7 billion of custom merchandise were sold in the U.S. in 2018 alone, according to Statista.

Businesses, small or big, have realized the importance of custom merchandise, which is why promotional products remain an integral part of their marketing strategies. Apart from businesses, YouTubers, podcasters, and content creators use custom merchandise to create loyal followers.

For an average Joe, custom merchandise may come as a blessing because it creates an additional avenue of income. Start-ups and small businesses can take full advantage of the booming promotional products industry to further their reach and establish brand awareness without investing a fortune in conventional forms of advertising such as TV and radio.

Come Up With a Merch Concept that Works for You 

Custom merch is versatile and can be anything you want it to be. However, you must know who your customers are. Devising a concept becomes easier when you know your customers, plus it enables you to decide on the kind of merchandise you are going to sell or distribute as freebies.

Given below is a list of popular items used as promotional products:

  • Clothes: Be it T-shirts or hoodies, clothes are among the most popular choices for custom merch.
  • Accessories: bags, flash drives, phone cases, and stickers are extremely popular with younger customers.
  • Home goods:  Mugs, bed covers, curtains, and wall art can impress anyone.

Once you decide on the kind of merchandise you want as your promotional product, it’s time to work on a strategy that best suits you. You could either choose to sell merchandise under your current brand or a sub-brand. Selling under your existing brand will allow you to take your brand name to new audiences, whereas selling custom merchandise under a sub-brand will enable you to grow your brand beyond your current activities.

While choosing the right merch concept or strategy is important for you to establish brand awareness, choosing the right products is of equal importance. You must choose products that you can use and can be proud of selling or distributing as freebies.

How to design your Custom Merchandise

How to design your Custom Merchandise
Image Source: Freepik
  1. Create a design yourself: Various software such as Photoshop and Illustrator allows you to create great designs. However, it can be a time-consuming affair. If you are a beginner and have the time to learn how different software works, you are in for a treat!

Adobe Illustrator: A high-end vector graphics editor, Adobe Illustrator comes with a wide variety of tools that can be used to design amazing works of art.

Adobe Photoshop: Who doesn’t know of the famous raster-based image editing software, Photoshop? The software is the cornerstone of graphics editing. You can use the software to get some amazing effects for your custom merch.

CorelDraw: The software remains one of the leading image editing and creating platforms. The software also comes loaded with over 150 design templates.

  1. Use a template-based website: Apart from the design software mentioned above, there are plenty of websites and apps that can help you with designing your custom merchandise. Here are a few:

Canva: You can easily download this app on your android or iOS sets. Canva helps you create great designs on the go. From creating logos to designing T-shirts, Canva is a smart choice for the current generation.

Printful: The platform allows you to choose from more than “80 million photos and illustrations from Getty images.” Apart from creating high-resolution designs, the online platform allows you to download print-ready files for free.

Here is a great video on creating great merch “step by step.”

  1. Start a design contest: While creating designs on your own could be a tempting idea, leaving it to specialists can add that professional touch into your custom merchandise.

DesignBro: Our platform is known for creating high-end agency-quality designs at freelance prices. Once you share your creative requirements, top designers from the world will share their design with you. You can then select the best design and award the artist.

Tips for Designing Winning Custom Merch

As a business owner or a graphic designer, you want your promotional product to stand out from the crowd and strike a chord with potential customers. While there are various ways to design your custom merch, the following tips could prove useful with your designing efforts:

  1. Know your potential buyers: The journey of designing effective custom merch begins with discovering your potential customers. Whether it is about building brand awareness for businesses or growing a loyal fanbase for influencers, unless you research who your target audience is, everything will be in vain.  If you already have a fair bit of idea about your target audience, learning more about their interest can help you design winning custom merch.
  1. Pick the right platform: As a business owner or an entrepreneur just starting out, you must pick the right platform to design your merch. Ideally, the right platform is the one that enables you to both create and sell your custom merchandise. A good platform should be loaded with features such as flexibility for designers, ease of use, a simple interface, and a variety of tools.
  1. Choose the right colors and fonts: Whether you want to build your brand identity or want to create an effective marketing strategy, choosing the right fonts and colors can have a lasting impression on the buyers’ minds. In the case of custom merchandising, both colors and fonts can affect the customers’ buying decisions. Once you figure out who your target audience is, it’s time you experiment with various fonts and colors.

How to Launch and Promote your Merch

How to Launch and Promote your Merch

After you’ve designed your custom merchandise, you are ready for the final stage: launching and promoting your product. The final step may be divided into two halves: pre-launch and post-launch stages.

  • Pre-launch stage: The pre-launch stage is all about building anticipation. In this stage, your main focus is to excite your customers about your merch. Apart from using social media, you can use word-of-mouth marketing along with announcing free giveaways. You could also display your merchandise in your content, such as blogs, photos, and videos.
  • Post-launch stage: The post-launch is as exciting as the pre-launch stage. You can excite your customers after creating hype around your custom merch by announcing a live video countdown on various social networking platforms. You can declare holiday discounts and free meals for those who enter contests to win your custom merchandise.

4 Effective Tips to Promote Your Custom Merch

  1. Post attractive visuals: One of the oldest tricks in the book, which is as effective in today’s world, is sharing enticing visuals of your products. With social marketing gaining prominence, sharing visuals has become that much easier. You can attract tens of thousands of followers or potential buyers by sharing engaging photos of your products.
  2. Do not confuse your customers with links: While it is true that brands are always trying to anchor the attention of the customers to their products or services, providing too many link options could backfire. One link that guides the customer to the product’s order page is sufficient, plus your content will look neat. 
  3. Create a variety of content: The idea behind creating varied content is to keep your potential buyers interested in your custom merch without sounding monotonous and pushy. Apart from taking photos and using your friends and family members as models, you can shoot videos and write blogs. You can easily shoot videos using your phone’s camera and edit them using free apps available online.
  4. Use the power of social media: Use various social media platforms to promote your custom merchandise. Apart from Twitter and Facebook, Instagram could be the platform which could help you with your marketing efforts since it is a visual-only platform. You could make Instagram reels and YouTube shorts to attract and engage potential buyers and followers.

Bonus: Why should Custom Merchandising Matter to You?

  • Generates brand awareness: The numero uno reason for choosing custom merchandising as a marketing strategy is to develop brand awareness among new and potential buyers. Businesses can buy various items in bulk at reasonably lower rates to use them as custom merch. Brands, big or small, use custom merch as an integral part of their advertising campaigns to garner brand awareness.
  • Customers love custom merchandise: Customers or people in general love custom merch. People look for newer ways to express themselves; be it a unique T-shirt or a hat, they want to stand apart from the crowd. Custom merch gives people a chance to explore the various designs you’ve created along with connecting to your brand.
  • Provides an additional revenue stream: You don’t have to be an experienced or an expert graphic designer to create great-looking designs for T-shirts and hoodies. If you have a vivid imagination and can use various software and apps, you could use custom merchandising as an additional avenue of income. 

Useful: The Ultimate T-Shirt Design Software, Apps and Online Platforms

In Conclusion,

Now that you know how custom merch works and how to design your own merchandise, it’s time to let your creative juices flow. While custom merchandising can do you a world of good in terms of generating income and building a loyal customer base, it can help you develop and enhance your creative side.

Businesses accross the world have consulted DesignBro to build their brand with logo, website, packaging design and much more.

We can help you too!

The Ultimate Guide to Creating and Selling Custom Merchandise
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