Creating merch for your podcast can feel overwhelming at first. There’s a lot to consider—from understanding your audience and designing items they’ll love, to finding a manufacturer and creating an online store. But don’t worry, we’re here to guide you through each step of the process.
Step #1: Understand Your Audience
Before you dive headfirst into the world of merchandise, it’s crucial to understand who exactly will be wearing, using, or displaying your merch. Understanding your audience isn’t just a good practice, it’s the bedrock of successful merchandising.
You can start to understand your audience by creating an audience avatar. To create an audience avatar, you need to know their age, profession, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. The more information you can include in your avatar, the better you can tailor your show and merchandise to their tastes and lifestyles.
Step #2: Design Your Merch
Once you know your audience, you can start the fun part of the process: designing your merch. But, before you start creating your design, first figure out what type of merch you want to offer.
Choosing Your Merch
T-shirts, hoodies, and hats are classic popular choices that offer a large canvas for your designs. With that said, don’t let the popularity of these options make you shy away from options like mugs, stickers, tote bags, or phone cases that might fit your audience better.
Designing Your Merch
With your merch chosen, you can get started on the actual design. If you want to design your merch yourself, you can use professional tools like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, or use free tools like Canva that offer templates and an easy-to-use interface. You can also hire a professional graphic designer to ensure high-quality results.
When creating your design, remember to keep it simple. Your designs need to be clear, appealing, and representative of your podcast. So, stick with the colors you already use for your brand and make sure any text in the design is easy to read on the merch you choose.
Step #3: Find a Manufacturer
You’ve tapped into your audience’s needs and wants, and you’ve created killer designs. The next step? Turning those designs into tangible merchandise.
Choosing a Manufacturer
For most podcasts, you can choose to work with a local or online manufacturer. Overseas factories typically require too high of a minimum order size for it to be cost-effective unless you already have experience coordinating overseas manufacturing.
Local manufacturers have the advantage of proximity. You can visit, see their production process, and sometimes even expedite delivery. But, their costs and product range can sometimes limit their ability to fulfill your needs.
Online manufacturers, or print-on-demand services, are another great choice. They usually cost significantly less than local manufacturers and they handle everything from manufacturing the merchandise to shipping to your customers. A few popular print-on-demand services include Printful, Teespring, and Zazzle.
Communicating Your Designs
Once you decide on a manufacturer, you need to share your designs with them. Most manufacturers specify a format for design files. When working with any new manufacturer, make sure to make a test order first to work out any issues and test the quality of their products. After all, you only want to ship your audience products you’d want to purchase.
Understanding the Costs
Different manufacturers use different cost structures. So, you need to make sure you understand your manufacturer’s costs and price your merch accordingly. Most manufacturers will provide a base price for each product, which includes the cost of the item and the printing. You then set your retail price by adding your desired profit margin on top of the base price.
But, local manufacturers might price for an entire lot based on your order size. In these cases, you need to break down the cost per unit including all associated shipping and handling fees.
Step #4: Set Up an Online Store
With your merch tested and ready to go, you can set up your online store and start selling. You should already have a website for your podcast, so we’ll go through how to add an eCommerce storefront to your existing website.
Choose an eCommerce Platform
First things first, you’ll want to select an e-commerce platform that can integrate with your existing website. Shopify, WooCommerce (for WordPress users), and BigCommerce are all reliable options with robust features. If you’ve used print-on-demand services like Printful or Teespring, they offer integrations directly into your site.
Any platform you choose should have comprehensive guides or professional support for integrating their platform into your website.
Add Products to Your Store
Using your integrated eCommerce platform, you can start adding your merch to your store. If you ordered a test batch of products, take photos of you or your friends and family using it. These lifestyle shots help show the quality of your merch. You can also hire models and a photographer to take professional photos if you want to take your quality up a notch.
Step #5: Promote Your Merch
Promoting your products effectively can boost your sales and turn your listeners into walking billboards for your podcast.
Announce on Your Podcast
The best place to start promoting your merch is your podcast itself. After all, your listeners are your core audience. Talk about your merch during your episodes—describe the designs, explain the inspiration behind them, and express your excitement. If you also release a video podcast, use and wear your merch on every episode as well.
Leverage Social Media
To promote your merch on social media, start showing off your products in posts, stories, or even live videos. If your merch includes apparel or accessories, nothing beats a picture or video of it being worn or used. You can start getting engagement on your promotions by running contests or giveaways to get your audience excited. This can also be a great way to build your community.
Remember, making merch for your podcast isn’t just about getting some extra money. It’s about extending your podcast’s brand and creating a tangible connection with your listeners. You’re giving your listeners a way to show their support for your work. So, don’t be intimidated by the process. Just take it one step at a time and before you know it, you’ll be launching your first line of merch!