Shows aren’t the only place to sell your band merch. While it’s important to have a merch table set up at every gig you play, you need to make the most out of every avenue you have to making money for your band.
Your band website presents a huge opportunity for engaging with and selling to your fans. As a band who is serious about their music and wants to have a successful career, you need to have a professional website and a way for fans to buy merch from you.
Having the option to sell merch on your website opens up the door to driving sales in other parts of the world where you may have fans and gives you another income source, which is another step in the right direction to building a successful and profitable music career.
So with that said, in the post I’m going to cover how to get started selling merch on your band website. I’ll cover why you need a website and ways to build one, merch ideas, how to take high-quality photos of your merch, and more.
Let’s get started:
Create a Band Website
First, you need a website to actually sell your music and band merch on. This is, of course, easier said than done. Most bands and musicians don’t have the experience or know-how to build their own website. Which is completely fine.
However, many turn to only having a Facebook page, Reverbnation account, Bandcamp page, etc. But, if you’re serious about music and moving your music career forward, you need to have your own professional website.
While options like Wix and Shopify are nice in that they are easy to use and you can choose from pre-built themes, you can also do this by building a site using WordPress.
WordPress is still very easy to use, and unlike Shopify, you won’t need to pay a monthly fee to build your website. You’ll also have full control over your website and you can always add additional functionality to your site using a free or paid plugin.
I know most musicians don’t have experience in web design, so building a site using WordPress may seem like a daunting task. However, I can tell you from personal experience, it’s not as hard as it may seem. But, if you do need some help, this step-by-step guide will show you exactly how to build a band website with WordPress and set up a store page on your site.
Come Up With Merch Ideas
There are a ton of things you can sell to fans with your band name and image on them. Obviously, you want to have your albums available for sale and apparel such t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, etc. are all popular choices for go-to band merch.
However, there are plenty of more options that your fans may want to purchase. Get creative and think about how certain merch items fit with your band’s sound and image.
Here are just a few creative ideas to think about:
- Autographed copies of CDs
- Vinyl records of your music
- Matchbooks or Matchboxes
- Phone Cases
- Pins and Patches
- Beer Cozies
- Beach Towels
- Temporary Tattoos
- Water Bottles
- Guitar Picks
Take High-Quality Photos
Now that you have your website built and your merch ideas picked out (and hopefully designed and created), it’s time to take some pics.
When it comes to selling online, the quality of a product’s image can make or break the sale. Image quality is often one of the top factors in making a buying decision. Website visitors want to be able to accurately see what they are buying and be able to judge if the item is something they really want.
Therefore, you need to take high-quality pictures of your merch. This is not hard to do today with nearly everyone having an extremely powerful camera on hand (ie. their smartphone).
One of the biggest pitfalls of poor product images is bad lighting. Poor lighting can ruin an image by making the item really hard to make out and likely misrepresent the quality and color of the product.
So pay special attention to lighting when taking pictures of your merch. You may even consider buying a daylight balanced lighting kit. These can be purchased for under a hundred dollars and will help illuminate your items without giving them an orange hue (as would be the case with most standard lighting in your home).
But, if you can’t or don’t want to purchase a lighting kit, there a few things you can do.
First, shoot during the day (ideally, during a bright, partly cloudy day) and turn off all the standard lighting in the room (most lighting has an orange hue to it that will color your product image in an inaccurate way).
Next, shoot in a room that has the most windows and natural lighting in your home. Open up all of the blinds so that the sun is shining through and as much light is coming through as possible.
From there, you can take your pictures. This setup will give you enough lighting and give an accurate representation of your merch.
Another culprit of bad pictures is a cluttered, messy background. When shooting your product images, make sure to do so against a flat, solid colored background.
Lastly, while these tips will help you get better pictures, you may even consider hiring a professional photographer to take pictures if you are really serious about your music and want your site to look as professional as possible.
List & Price Your Merch
Finally, it’s time to list your merch on your website. If you built your site with WordPress, you can use WooCommerce for selling your merch. This is an added plugin for WordPress that allows you to set up a shop and list items for sale online.
The plugin is fairly robust but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too hard to use. It will give you plenty of flexibility in pricing you merch, creating sales, keeping track of inventory, and more.
I won’t go into full detail here on how to setup WooCommerce, but step 8 of this guide will show you exactly how to do this and actually list your items for sale.
When pricing your merch, think about the costs involved in designing the item such as having it creating (printing your artwork), the cost of materials, and shipping. You obviously need to make money from your merch so you need to have a high enough profit margin to make it worth selling.
Each item will have a different profit margin. Apparel such as t-shirts and sweatshirts will likely have the highest profit margins. For example, if it costs $10 to make a t-shirt and you sell it for $20, your profit margin is $10 per t-shirt.
While smaller items like pins, bandanas, and lighters will have a lower profit margin. A lighter might only take a $1 to make but you can probably sell it for $5 at most. Giving you a $4 profit margin.
So when thinking about pricing your merch, think about how you can optimize your profit margin but also make sure your items aren’t overly priced. This is where buying your merch from an affordable distributor really comes important in maximizing your profit margin.
That’s how to get started selling merch on your website. Remember, your band is a business and you need to take careful consideration into each move you make when it comes to making money for your band. When it comes to merch, you need to consider the costs and options of each decision so that you can maximize your profits and create a successful business.
Article courtesy of Cody Slingerland – Home Musician, Guitarist, Pianist, Drummer, Vocalist, Home Recording Enthusiast, Do It Yourself-er… www.InfamousMusician.com