How to make and sell merch on TikTok

By Susanna read
How to make and sell merch on TikTok

TikTok is currently one of the most downloaded social media platforms in the world, surpassing even Instagram and Facebook. Needless to say, it’s the golden age of TikTok right now and, for a creator like you, this presents a wonderful opportunity for making money online.

Thanks to TikTok’s amazing algorithm, thousands of creators have been able to monetize their audience and turn it into a full-time business. Many of these TikTok creators sell branded merch on the app and get paid with the Creator Fund. Are you ready to give it a go and do the same? Then, read on to learn more about how to create and sell merch on TikTok!

Can you sell stuff on TikTok?

Yes, you can sell just about any type of stuff on TikTok: digital products, print-on-demand merchandise, subscriptions, and even physical products.

Here are some of the benefits of selling stuff on TikTok:

  • Increased traffic and engagement—selling your own products to TikTok users creates buzz around you and drives more traffic to your TikTok profile, or website.
  • A sense of community and belonging—engaged followers will be able to feel more connected to you through your products.
  • More exposure and visibility—selling stuff on TikTok is a valuable way to engage with your target audience as well as gain recognition on the app.
  • A new way for followers to show support—followers are usually more than willing to support their favorite creator by purchasing their products.

Out of all the things that can be sold on TikTok, merch stands out as the go-to option for most Tiktokers. For instance, when Canadian TikTok comedian Kall Me Kris started reaching millions of followers, she came out with her own merch line. The launch of her merch was so successful that it turned into her primary revenue stream.

kallmekris on tiktok
Kall Me Kris promoting her merch on TikTok.

How profitable is selling your own merch?

Selling custom merchandise is a great way to monetize your TikTok audience. And, to make a profit, you don’t even need to have a large audience—according to behavioral economics, profit depends entirely on getting to the heart of your customer. So, as long as you have followers who love your content, your chances of making a profit are pretty high.

Another factor that affects profit is the algorithm of the social media platform you’re using. Luckily, TikTok has a very beginner-friendly algorithm that makes it easy to get exposure and attract sales.

Other smaller factors that affect profit are product pricing and the investment to start your own merch business. But, the good news is that there’s a low-risk way to sell merch without any investment at all. And, that’s print on demand (POD).

sell merch with Sellfy

With print on demand, there’s no physical inventory, so it’s very cost-effective. That’s why there are so many TikTokers selling merch.

Some of the best-selling merch categories in order of popularity:

  1. Custom clothing (t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, hoodies, leggings, socks, etc.)
  2. Accessories (stickers, phone cases, etc.)
  3. Home goods and decor (wall art, mugs, etc.)
Sellfy Tip
Use this simple formula to calculate a final product price that covers all merch expenses: production cost + profit margin (e.g. 20%) + expenses = retail price.

How to make merch for TikTok

The easiest way to get started making your own merch is to first come up with a concept and design. The key is to offer merch that potential customers can relate to—ideally, your designs should align with your brand vision and audience. So, let’s get right into it!

Come up with a concept

When it comes to coming up with a concept, there are two things you need to consider: what type of content creator are you and why do people love your content?

Here are a few concept ideas for different types of TikTokers:

  • Musician—lyrics from a catchy song of yours on clothing or framed posters.
  • Artist—your most popular designs on stickers, posters, canvas, mugs, or clothing.
  • Comedian—your funniest slogans and catchphrases on mugs or clothing.
  • Photographer—your most stunning photos on posters and canvas.
  • Fitness coach—branded athleisure and fitness merch like leggings, hoodies, water bottles, etc.
  • Food vlogger—kitchen aprons, mugs with foodie quotes, recipe notebooks, or t-shirts with your recipes.
  • Travel vlogger—comfy travel gear like backpacks, fanny packs, laptop sleeves, etc.
  • Eco-conscious influencer—eco tote bags, biodegradable iPhone cases, or organic cotton and eco clothing.

bonberimart (1)

It’s important to build your concept around your target audience. For example, most TikTokers will look at their TikTok Analytics to see what’s popular, or take the concept directly from their pinned (most liked and viewed) videos. But, above all, the concept should represent you and your own brand.

Create designs for your merch

Once you’ve figured out the concept, you can start with the fun part—design! Unless you’re an artist, you can use paid or free tools and resources to create your merch designs.

sellfy store merchandise

Here’s a list of the best online resources for finding graphics, fonts, and photos:

  • Vexels—vector graphics for t-shirts and other types of merch.
  • Shutterstock—thousands of free high-quality photos and vectors.
  • Flaticon—1,720,000 icons in every category.
  • Freepik—similar to Flaticon, but requires a license for commercial selling.
  • Creative Market—a marketplace with over 880,000 pre-designed graphics.
  • Etsy—another marketplace like Creative Market.

In addition to the resources mentioned above, many TikTokers also use the free and highly popular design tool Canva. Not only is Canva free, but there’s also a separate section dedicated to t-shirt design with thousands of premade templates.

Canva t-shirt templates
T-shirt templates on Canva.

Depending on your budget, you can also hire a freelance graphic designer if you’d rather have unique designs. While you probably won’t need a designer for creating something as simple as an image with a catchphrase, you may need some extra help for designs that require more complexity.

Here’s a list of the best websites for finding a freelance graphic designer:

  • 99designs—the go-to graphic design service where you can launch a t-shirt design contest to find your perfect design match.
  • Upwork—the biggest freelance marketplace for finding outstanding talent.
  • Fiverr—a beginner’s space where some artists list their skills for as little as $5.
  • Dribble—a great platform with established designers for hire.

crme-exploring-watercolor

As far as color palettes go, it’s good to stick to what generally works well together. It’s also worth keeping an eye on Canva’s design trends and Pantone’s Color of the Year (plus, their seasonal color trends). The latter has even influenced product development and purchasing decisions!

But, if you want to stay original, you can play around with color palette generators:

  • Coolors—for randomizing colors and exploring trending palettes.
  • Colormind—for generating color palettes that can be applied to existing products.
  • Colorhunt—for staying up-to-date with the most popular color palettes.
  • ColorSpace—for generating thousands of schemes based on one color.

Merch ideas for TikTokers

To give you some inspiration, I’ll provide specific examples of famous TikTokers that have merch as their main income stream.

1. Sell clothing and notebooks with your logo or characters

According to Statista, clothing is the most popular online shopping category. And, it isn’t surprising—most creators sell t-shirts and hoodies on TikTok. For example, famous TikTok star Kall Me Kris sells clothing and notebooks with her own logo and graphics of her comedy skit characters.

kall me kris merch
Kall Me Kris (KMK) merchandise.

2. Sell organic bags to promote sustainability

Then, there’s Love of Earth Co., a sustainability influencer who sells merch items like organic tote bags on TikTok. Her eco-conscious content has amassed a large fan base of 205,0K and it keeps growing. Her TikTok videos have attracted so much attention that she’s now a full-time business owner of her zero-waste shop.

loveofearthco
Love of Earth Co. merchandise.

3. Sell clothing with catchphrases or cute graphics

Another TikTok comedian, Leenda Dong, blew up shortly after she started posting iconic comedy videos that defy Asian stereotypes. Her catchphrases became so popular with her followers that she created a merch line for them. Now, she sells clothing and hats with her meme-worthy catchphrases and cute graphics that reflect her culture.

yoleendadong merch
Leenda Dong merchandise.

How to sell custom merchandise on TikTok

Now, that you have a concept and a design, your next step is to figure out how to sell merch on TikTok. To start making money on the app, you need to create an online store and add the store link bio so people can buy your products.

Open a merch shop with Sellfy

What if I told you that you can sell your print-on-demand merch entirely for free? No hidden costs or transaction fees? Because that’s exactly what you can do with a Free Sellfy plan. So, if you’ve been looking for an easy-to-use online store to sell custom merch, then here it is!

I’ll show you how to build a beautiful Sellfy store in less than 5 minutes. The best part? It’s fully customizable and comes with several premade store themes such as the merch theme (called Mode).

highlifesamples store

With a free Sellfy store, you’ll get:

  • Mobile-first design
  • Instant payouts
  • Built-in marketing tools
  • Advanced VAT & tax settings
  • Multiple payment options
  • Excellent customer support

And, what’s more, you can even sell physical products alongside your own merchandise!

Here’s how to open your own merchandise shop with Sellfy:

  1. Choose a subscription plan and set up an account with a valid email address, or start a free trial (you can always upgrade at any time to gain access to more features).
  2. Customize the look with the Store Customizer tool, or use Sellfy’s premade themes to get a beautiful design.
  3. Next, go to your dashboard’s Products section, choose Print on demand, click Add new product, and then choose a product category (men’s, women’s or kids’ clothing, hats, bags, home & living, or phone cases).
  4. Pick the print-on-demand product you want to sell and add your own graphics or text. Be sure to follow Sellfy’s print-on-demand tips and best practices to prepare the perfect design file and get the best print quality.
  5. Then, add some info in the Product description, hit Save product, and your custom merch will be live in your shop!
  6. Lastly, copy your store link and add it to your TikTok profile bio.

Once you’ve created your custom merch with Sellfy, you can go ahead and order samples to showcase your quality products in TikTok videos. But, if you don’t want to spend money on ordering samples, you can use other options such as Sellfy’s existing products photos or a mockup generator like Placeit.

Placeit has thousands of free mockups and design templates. In addition to their templates, you can also create and purchase t-shirt designs for just $2.95. Alternatively, take a look at Clint English, a Sellfy store that sells awesome merch mockups and high-quality graphic design resources.

clint english

Set up a TikTok Pro Account to sell merch

To be able to sell merch to your followers on TikTok and make money, you need to switch to a TikTok Pro Account (it’s free).

TikTok Pro will give you access to the following features:

  • Options to add more business information (website, contact info, etc.).
  • Creator tools (Analytics, Q&A, Gifts, and Ad settings).
  • Creator Portal (getting started, creation essentials, foundations for success, content strategy, community guidelines and safety, getting paid to create, and featured articles).

And, last but not least, you’ll also get access to the Creator Fund, which is TikTok’s way of rewarding creators for making awesome content.

tiktok creator portal

To participate in the Creator Fund, you need to meet these eligibility requirements:

  • 18 years or older
  • Legal resident in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, France, or Spain
  • A minimum threshold of 10K followers
  • 100K video views in the last 30 days
  • Original videos in line with TikTok’s Community Guidelines

If you meet the above criteria, you can apply within TikTok. After getting accepted, your funds will appear in about three days after your video views have been accrued. Funds can generally be withdrawn 30 days after the end of the month, and then you can transfer the money to PayPal or Zelle.

But, if you aren’t eligible, can you still make money on TikTok without the Creator Fund? The good news is that yes, you can! As long as you showcase your merch in videos and have your store link in your TikTok bio, you can easily drive sales.

kelly-prince-wright
Sellfy store link in bio example.

If you already have a Pro Account, you can skip this part. But, if you don’t, just follow these steps to set it up:

  1. Open the TikTok app, go to your profile, and tap Settings and privacy on the top right of the screen.
  2. Tap Manage account and then Switch to Pro Account.
  3. Select an account type: Creator (best for content creators, public figures, artists, and influencers) or Business (best for brands, retailers, organizations, and service providers).
  4. Choose a Category (Art, Beauty/Fashion, Consultant/Service, Sports/Fitness, etc.).
  5. And, finally, create TikTok content to promote your merch!
Sellfy Tip
To make sure other users can find your TikTok account, disable “Private account” and turn on “Suggest your account to others” in your privacy settings. Then, enable the Duet, Stitch, Comments, and Downloads features on your videos so that TikTokers can collaborate with you.

Can you start selling on TikTok without any upfront costs?

The short answer is yes! While it’s possible to use targeted ads on TikTok, the truth is that you don’t have to—you can just as easily promote and sell your merch for free without any upfront investment. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, TikTok’s unique algorithm makes sure that your videos will keep showing up on people’s feeds. In other words, you don’t even need to post videos every time—your old videos will do the job for you!

What’s more, Sellfy’s print-on-demand service costs next to nothing:

  • The production cost is already included in the final price of the product.
  • Order fulfillment, printing, and worldwide shipping are handled by Sellfy’s print-on-demand partner and paid for by the customer.
  • There’s no need for a physical inventory as products are stored at Sellfy’s POD service provider’s warehouse.
  • There are no minimums with print-on-demand merch.

As you can see, there are practically zero upfront costs! It’s all free. Your only potential expenses would be design services (unless you’re an artist). However, you can always add your design expenses to the product cost.

Ready to create merch and become a TikTok star?

I hope this article has given you the motivation you need to create free merch for TikTok. Now, with all the tools in your hand, you can start working on your merch business and make money! All it takes is a TikTok Pro Account and launching your store with Sellfy. Keep checking back for more inspirational articles in our blog, and I wish you the best of luck with selling merch!

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Susanna is Sellfy's Content Guru and Editor with a genuine passion for copywriting, storytelling, and eCommerce. With years of content marketing experience behind her, she helps to create the best possible landing pages, blog posts, emails, and other types of copy. She also keeps close tabs on social media trends and enjoys digging deep into marketing psychology.