Advertisements aren’t the only way that YouTubers can make money from their channels. If you brand your YouTube channel right and make a few smart marketing choices, you could promote brand recognition while, at the same time, bring in new forms of income for your channel by selling branded merchandise.
Think of the coffee mugs in your kitchen cabinets. A lot of them have branded slogans on them, right? What about the tote bags you take to the grocery store with you to save on plastic bags? How about the T-shirts and hoodies in your closet? Branding is everywhere around you, and people spend money for hot designs on branded merchandise all the time. Why not sell your own?
What Is Branded Merchandise?
First, though, let’s talk a little bit about what we mean by branded merchandise. Branded merchandise is anything that you sell that’s specifically branded for your company. It doesn’t necessarily have to have your name or your logo on it, but it does have to be recognizably branded for your business (in this case, your YouTube channel).
For example, a T-shirt with a Swoosh™ on it is obviously a Nike-branded shirt, whether or not it says Nike or has any other identifying images or words on it. A sticker of a white silhouette of an apple with a bite out of it is recognizably a sticker for Apple products. People all over the world recognize the blue and white BMW logo.
When you see mugs, T-shirts, stickers, hats, toys, phone cases, jewelry, and other items branded with a logo, a saying, or any other decoration associated with a particular brand, you’re looking at branded merchandise.
By creating a certain brand voice, a certain style, and treating audience members and customers a certain way, each brand builds a rapport with its target audience. People want to be a part of the brand. They identify with it and thus want others to identify them with it, too. They can do this by purchasing and using branded merchandise.
Making Money by Selling Branded Merchandise
In the old days, if you wanted to sell merchandise for your brand – whether you were a musician, an artist, or a business owner – you had to make a pretty big investment to start out. You had to find a company that would fabricate and/or print your items, and then you had to buy a certain minimum order. If you miscalculated the demand for your products, you could end up with cases upon cases of mugs, stickers, hats, and more, all representing a bunch of wasted money as they sat gathering dust in your basement.
With the age of the Internet and the birth of print-on-demand (POD) services, you don’t have to invest any money at all. The way that POD sites work is pretty brilliant, actually. Most of them won’t require a minimum order from you because they won’t print any of your items until someone makes an order. You can use this kind of service to make money with your YouTube channel.
Creating Branded Merchandise
First, let’s talk about your designs. If you don’t already have a great logo that’s vectorized so that you can scale it up and down for everything from stickers to posters, T-shirts to mugs, then it’s time to do this.
Branding your YouTube channel and your videos is absolutely essential to creating brand recognition and building awareness of your channel so that you can expand your audience. So, first things first, if you haven’t already, hire a graphic designer or use a service to create an awesome logo for your video brand. Also make sure that the file they give you for the finished product is high-definition and scalable, as we mentioned a moment ago.
Once you have a great logo, look at the videos you’ve already posted. Is your tone consistent? Do your videos follow a cohesive theme? If so, you’re on your way. Now, watch them again with an eye toward creating branded merchandise.
Do you have a catchphrase or tagline that you use a lot? Is your intro or outro very memorable? Is there a particular joke or topic that went over really well with your audience and that they keep mentioning in the comments? Read the comments on your channel, as well as the comments and posts on your social media platforms, too. Look for the things that your viewers really liked that you can turn into branded merchandise.
The key is to tie the product into the subject matter and further build the bond you have with your viewers. You can do that by offering them products that they’ll love and use often that will also remind them to check back in with your YouTube channel and stay up to date on your YouTube videos.
Also, when they use your branded merchandise in public, others will see it and begin to recognize your logo. It’s an effective way to help you earn more money and get more of an audience for your channel.
There are a lot of ways to earn revenue from branded merchandise. Just remember to keep the products relevant to your audience’s interest and to create quality, attractive designs, too. Make it recognizable for all of the right reasons.
Promoting Your Super Cool Merchandise
Now, you’ll have to do a little bit more than just design and create quality branded merchandise if you want to make money from it. After all, if no one knows about it, it could be the most attractive merchandise on the planet, and it still wouldn’t sell at all.
You have to let your audience know that they have the option to support you and your channel and to really become a part of a community by purchasing your branded merchandise.
How can you let them know? You can promote your branded merchandise in a lot of different ways, actually. To start off, use some good old-fashioned product placement in your YouTube videos. If you drink from a coffee mug while you talk to your guests in your videos, make sure it’s one of your signature branded mugs. Wear one of your branded T-shirts and/or hang one in the background. Hang a poster up in the background, as well, to give your setting a more cohesive, branded feel.
Since you’re already monetizing your YouTube channel through the YouTube Partner Program, take advantage of the opportunity to integrate annotation links into your videos. If you’re showing off a new piece of branded merchandise but you don’t want to take the time out of your video to talk about it, you can have an annotation link pop up that points to the item and links to your online store. It can say something like, “Have you noticed my cool new mug? Betcha want one, right? Find mugs and more here!”
Don’t just promote your products in your videos, though. Whenever you roll out new branded merchandise, be sure to post about it and highlight it on all of your social media pages. Post pictures and links on Facebook and Instagram. Retweet users on Twitter that are mentioning and enjoying your brand’s merchandise. The more you let people know that they can buy your branded merchandise, the higher the sales potential.
You can also promote this merchandise just by using it on a daily basis. Get yourself a cell phone case with your logo on it. Wear your own T-shirts. Carry stickers with you. Drink your coffee from your branded travel mug. Be a walking, talking billboard for your YouTube channel. When people see your cool merchandise, they’ll ask you about it, and then you can tell them about your YouTube channel and get them to check your videos out.
How to Sell It and Earn Money
Now that you have some good tips for promoting your merchandise, you’re probably wondering how and where you’ll get and sell it, right? Well, as we mentioned earlier, if you use a POD service for your branded merchandise, you can create an online store with a selection of awesome designs and products at no cost, with no minimum order.
Check out sites like District Lines, SpreadShirt, and CafePress. Each of these sites lets you upload your own designs and use them on hundreds of different products. You can create one-off products for yourself and your friends or for special contests and giveaways, but that’s not all. Each of these services allows you to set up an online store that you can use to sell your branded merchandise through their site.
A lot of these sites also allow you to decide whether or not you want them to send your merchandise directly to your customers or whether you want more control over orders. This latter option is usually a little bit more work and a little bit more cumbersome, but it will allow you to do things like send personalized packaging, include a special note and/or sell limited edition autographed gear, posters, and other merchandise. You can also do that by purchasing these items yourself and then selling them or giving them away in a special forum or on a special part of your site.
As you create, promote, and sell your branded merchandise, though, be sure to focus on quality. If your viewers know that they’re going to get quality materials, they’ll be more than willing to spend a couple of extra dollars on your merchandise. If they think you just have cheap low quality stuff that will fall apart in no time, they won’t waste their time or money on it at all. So, be sure to focus on quality!
Have fun designing your very own vlog channel merch!
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