How to make t-shirts & merchandise for YouTube: 2021 guide

It’s hardly a secret to anyone that YouTube rules the world of video content, leaving other platforms and regular TV far behind to gather virtual dust.

I’m sure that, as a YouTuber, you’re really passionate about what you do. But let’s be honest:  earning money remains an important part of the process. 

Contrary to popular opinion, YouTubers’ income doesn’t always come through direct advertising (given that the money that YouTube pays for playing ads on videos is hardly ever enough). So, if you’re considering other ways to monetize your YouTube channel, I’ve got just the one you might be looking for:

Selling your own merch!

Let me explain:

Just like a Patreon or Kickstarter campaign, merch can help you monetize your channel, as well as help you elevate your brand. You’d be surprised to see how many of your followers would want to wear your merch just because they love you and your channel.

In fact, with our YouTube money calculator, you can discover your true estimated revenue from ads or selling merchandise.

Image source: Sellfy’s YouTube money calculator

Ready to start your own merch line? In this article we’ll discuss how to:

  • Choose the right products
  • Come up with a concept for your merch line
  • Design your merch
  • Start selling it with Sellfy

Decide what kind of merch you want to sell

The first step is deciding which types of custom products you want to include in your merch collection. 

Why is it important?

The answer is simple:

You’ll only be able to sell pieces that your audience is ready to buy from you. 

There only three things that’ll help your merch line to stand out are:

  • quality
  • creativity
  • practicality

The key is to offer products that your customers will actually use, and, in the best-case scenario, show them off to friends and social media followers.

According to the research that analyzed the top 30 Youtuber merchandise designs, t-shirts, hoodies, and caps are (and most likely will remain) the top picks for YouTubers that sell their merch. Of the group analyzed, 90% sell t-shirts as a mainstay product, which isn’t surprising. In the group, 66% also sold hoodies. Embroidered hats come in at 40%, and sweaters at 33%, followed by socks at 26%.

In general, there are four types of custom merch that have proven to be the champions in promoting YouTube channels:

  • Custom apparel (t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, etc.). Who doesn’t like a nice t-shirt or a cozy hoodie? Out of all the custom clothing items, t-shirts are an all-time favorite for most people. Besides, anyone wearing a t-shirt or sweatshirt (or better yet posting a selfie) with your logo is a walking billboard for your brand.
  • Accessories (bags, phone cases, hats). Similar to promotional apparel, custom accessories are also a great way to promote your brand to anyone who sees it.
  • Promotional artwork (posters, stickers, canvas, etc). Posters offer vast marketing possibilities, especially if they’re creative and unique enough to stand out among competitors. For example,  you can hang posters in your filming locations so that they attract the attention of your audience.
  • Home and living products (mugs, pillows, aprons, etc.). Mugs are an eternal promo classic. Even they don’t seem to be an obvious choice if compared to apparel and accessories, they serve as an excellent reminder of your brand to your audience. With a cool design, they can become a bestseller in your merchandise store.

Pro tip: Get direct feedback. Ask your audience exactly what they want on merch and then deliver. Engaged fans will appreciate this and be even more willing to buy your merchandise.

Come up with a concept

Coming up with a design idea for your merch collection can be a challenging task, especially with no design experience. 

But, before you decide on anything, let’s take a look at different approaches you can take when coming up with the design concept.

Here are a few examples of successful YouTubers who decided to take different paths when they were creating their merch collection.

Simplicity is the key

Simpler is always better.

Of course, it’s not a rule that works for everything, but sometimes it may work wonders.

For instance, take Zach. He became immensely famous for his magic tricks. In fact, he calls his videos “digital sleight of hand”. I’m sure you’ve seen at least one of his videos on YouTube or Instagram. 

His entire merch collection consists of t-shirts, hoodies, and stickers with a simple but eye-catching embroidered logo. And what’s a magician’s merch without a deck of cards? As you can see, he has also thought about it.

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Make a bold move

If you’re a creator with a big and expressive personality, you could make your merch selection centered around your persona.

Emma Chamberlain has set an excellent example of developing a merch collection that goes along with her bold personality!

Her designs are not only fun and ironic, but they are also really inspiring. But most importantly, they are clearly understood by her audience.

Her products feature her famous quotes and all sorts of funny things she’s said while streaming. In other words, she’s successfully managed to translate her personality into her merch design. 

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Send a message

Emily is a 6-year-old influencer.

That’s rightshe’s a child-influencer who really knows not just how to entertain, but also how to educate. In her videos, she covers everything from fun ways to learn new stuff and going on shopping trips to staged sketches of her having fun with her dolls. And, of course, the channel is managed by her parents.

Emily’s merch store is perfectly in line with the message she gives in her videos. It’s a complete girls’ queendom where “girls rule”, of course. The whole merch line is perfectly adapted to the recent “little girl” trends, like princesses, unicorns, rainbows, etc.

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Express your style

MrBeast is a wildly popular channel that features outrageous experiments, challenges, or donations that usually involve incredible amounts of money.

The merch collection will immediately grab your attention with its bursting colors. Just like the content they create, they’ve managed to make almost every product unique by designing different versions of their logos for each piece of merch. And the product variety makes it harder to pick your favorite products. Clever!

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Pro tip: Create designs that your audience can relate to. For example, if your channel is about comedy or you’re well-known for your humor, you could use your own jokes and catchphrases. Take a look at these 37 creative YouTuber merch examples for more inspiration.

Bring your design idea to life

Essentially, to make your merch stand out and sell well, you have just two options: create the design yourself or leave this job to someone else. 

Of course, you could also consider looking for ready-made designs online. There is plenty of royalty-free photo and graphic resources like Vexels, Shutterstock, and Flaticon. But you must make sure there’s no copyright infringement. There’s hardly any royalty-free stock that’ll lt you resell their images.

But, there’s no need to worry, as there are plenty of tools that can help you bring your ideas to life, whether you have any design background or not. 

Here’s a short selection of the top design software (both paid and free) that can help you create designs for your merch:

Best free tool for design amateurs: 

Canva. It’s a free platform with a rich list of features that make designing easy. They even have a special tool dedicated to t-shirt design with thousands of ready-made templates you can use either as inspiration or as a base for your future designs.

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DesygnerSimilar to Canva, Desygner is a platform that makes designing posters and social media graphics easy. It’s free and has a desktop app as well as a separate mobile app for more specific design needs.

PIXLR is very easy to learn, so it’s a safe choice for beginners. The tool’s performance is incredible—it’s one of the fastest free image editors out there.

Best for those with a design background: 

While Adobe Illustrator is one of the most commonly used programs amongst graphic designers, there are plenty of free Photoshop alternatives.

Photopea. This might be the Swiss army knife of free Photoshop alternatives. Not only does it look similar to Photoshop, but it also has many of the same features.

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Inkspace. It’s an open-source vector graphic design tool with many of the same features as Illustrator. The only difference is that it’s absolutely free.

Gimp. It’s the perfect software for editing small files and creating simple designs.

Perfect for mockups: 

Placeit. They’ve got thousands of templates available for purchase—everything from kawaii styles and 8-bit video game images to gothic and meme-worthy images. All templates are super easy to use for those with limited design experience. 

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As you can see you don’t have to look for a designer to throw together a simple logo or a graphic image with a catchphrase. However, more complex designs may probably require a search for some help. 

Good, reliable designers aren’t easy to find nowadays. That’s why more and more people are turning to online marketplaces to hire skilled digital workers.

Luckily, with services like UpWork, Fiverr, and 99designs, it’s now much easier to connect with a freelance designer. 

How to sell your custom merch with Sellfy?

Step 1: Set up an account. 

When you start using Sellfy, all you need is a valid email address. Just choose a subscription plan or start with a 14-day free trial to give it a try and see if it’s a fit for you. The best part is that you won’t have to pay extra for using Sellfy’s print on demand feature, as it’s available on all plans

Step 2: Create your custom products

Sellfy’s print on demand feature comes with a wide range of high-quality products (from t-shirts and tote bags to phone cases and stickers).

Image source: Sellfy’s store dashboard

The best part is that you can fill your store with as many products as you like, without keeping inventory or worrying about unsold leftovers.

Sellfy’s POD has an easy-to-use product editor that’ll help you bring your design ideas to life. 

All you have to do is:

  • Choose product color
  • Upload your logo or any other type of custom graphics
  • Edit and position your graphics on the product
  • Preview your products on high-quality images

But if you have a simpler design idea in mind, like a t-shirt with a signature phrase or a tote bag with a catchy quote, you can easily create it in just a few clicks:

  1. Click on Add text
  2. Type in a word or a phrase
  3. Customize the text appearance and its position

 

Step 3: Customize your store.

Naturally, since you’re creating your own store you’ll also want to make its appearance to match your brand. With Sellfy’s advanced store editor looks exactly the way YOU want it to.

Image source: Sellfy’s store dashboard

You can customize just about every aspect of your store—choose the layout style of your store page, the number of products per page, and even the smallest details like text color, or the shape of Buy now button.

Step 4: Add links to YouTube

While you can’t exactly sell anything directly from your YouTube channel. But, what you can do is get people interested in your merch by heavily promoting it in your videos and driving traffic to your store.

Just take a look at the way Zach drives traffic to his store by placing:

  1. Links in description
  2. Custom link on profile banners
  3. YouTube end screen
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Step 5: Start selling

After you’ve created your product and receive an order you’ll have to… sit back and relax!

The best part? You’ll only be charged after your customer orders something from you.

Once you make a sale, the order will be automatically sent to production and then shipped worldwide directly to your customer. 

Over to you

Now when you’ve got your YouTube audience, a plan to create a store, and some great design ideas in mind, I’ve only one last thing to say:

Remember not to become too invested in your designs, and to listen to audience feedback. Give them what they want!

 

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