Fan Merch 101: How To Create and Sell POD Products That Appeal to Fandoms

Valerie Alcantar

7 mins read

, <strong>Fan Merch 101: How To Create and Sell POD Products That Appeal to Fandoms</strong>, Awkward Styles Blog

Whether you’re a fan of a popular band group or you’re a known TikTok creator yourself with a large following, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about creating and selling your own merch at some point. After all, what could be better than getting paid to do something you love?

And with print on demand, doing this can become 10x easier since you won’t have to stress about inventory, order minimums, and all the other logistics that come with selling physical products. All you’ll need is a design and a platform to sell your merch on.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean selling fan merch is going to be a cakewalk. Just because you’ve got tons of followers, doesn’t mean they’ll all want to buy your merch. That’s why in this guide, we’ll show you how to create and sell print on demand items that will appeal to your target fandoms, or your very own supporters.

6 Reasons Why You Should Start Selling Fan Merch

Before we get into the tips, let’s do a quick run-through of why you should start selling fan merch in the first place!

It Can Help You Better Connect With Your Audience or Like-Minded People

If you’re selling merch for your own fans or followers, it can be a great way to connect with them on a deeper level. Not only will they appreciate your merchandise but it’ll also help show that you’re invested in your fans and that you care about them.

On the other hand, if you’re selling merch for a fandom that you’re a part of, it can help you connect with other people with the same interests and passions as you. This is especially true if you’re selling merch for a less mainstream fandom since it can be difficult to find others who share your interests.

It Lets You Express Your Creativity

Because the whole subject of the designs and campaigns you’ll be making is based around things you like or are passionate about, it can be a great way to express your creativity. You’ll be able to design whatever you want without much pressure as your target market is already interested in the product.

This can be a great outlet for you to explore different design styles and see what works best for you and your brand.

It Can Be Lucrative

Loyal fans are willing to spend money on the things they love which means there’s a good chance you can make some serious profits from selling fan merch. In fact, popular YouTubers like PewDiePie and Collins Key have been selling millions of dollars worth of their own product lines.

It Can Help You Raise Awareness for a Good Cause

If you’re selling merch for a fandom or following that’s dedicated to supporting a good cause, then you can use your platform to help raise awareness and funds for that particular initiative. For example, the band Linkin Park sold shirts with the proceeds going to Music for Relief, an organization that provides aid to victims of natural disasters and supports eco-friendly initiatives.

There’s a Low Barrier to Entry

As mentioned, print on demand makes selling fan merch a lot easier since you don’t have to worry about the logistics and inventory of selling physical products. Hence, you can get started with only an account on your chosen selling platform, a printing and fulfillment partner, and some creative designs and gimmicks that represent your brand.

It’s Can Be a Fulfilling Experience

Since you’ll get to express your creativity while also connecting with people who share the same interests as you, selling fan merch can be a very fulfilling experience. Not to mention, it can also be a fun and rewarding way to make some extra money on the side.

How To Create and Sell Print-on-demand Fan Merch

Can’t wait to get started on your own merch line? We don’t blame you! But before you start designing and selling your own products, there are a few things you should take into consideration to make sure your merch is a success. Here are some tips to get you started:

Know Your Target Market on a Deeper Level

One of the common mistakes businesses make when trying to appeal to a certain niche or fandom is only considering the superficial or surface-level interests of their target market. To create merch that will truly resonate with your audience or fellow fans, you need to take the time to understand them on a deeper level.

Think about the things that your target market enjoys, their passions and interests, the everyday hashtags and inside jokes that get shared within the community, and anything else that would give you insights into their lives. The better you understand your target market, the easier it will be to come up with designs and campaigns that will resonate with them on a personal level.

Be Involved in the Community

There’s no better way to do the first step than by actually being involved in the community yourself. If you’re not already a part of the fandom or niche you want to sell to, now is the time to start engaging with them.

This involves more than just following a few popular accounts or hashtags related to your niche. You need to actually participate in the conversation, share your own thoughts and experiences, and make an effort to connect with other people in the community.

However, keep in mind that this is something you shouldn’t force or do only for the sake of selling your merch. If you’re not genuinely interested in the community, your lack of authenticity will be very apparent and it will be difficult to build trust with your target market.

Understand What They Value

When it comes to fan merch businesses, selling goes beyond just offering products that your target market will enjoy. You also need to make sure that your brand’s values align with the things that they care about.

For example, if the artist being supported by your target fandom is a known advocate of women empowerment, your merch should also reflect those values. On the other hand, if your target market is passionate about environmental issues, consider selling eco-friendly merch or donating a portion of your proceeds to organizations that support eco-friendly initiatives.

Choose the Right Products

Another important factor to consider when selling fan merch is the type of product you’re going to sell. There are a wide variety of options to choose from, so it’s important to select the products that will best appeal to your target market.

Some of the most popular types of fan merch include t-shirts, hoodies, phone cases, pins, and stickers. Nonetheless, you can only be sure of what products will be a hit with your target market by testing out different options and seeing which ones resonate the most with them.

Be Cautious of Trademarks and Copyright Laws

If you won’t be creating merch for your own followers and you’ll instead be selling merch for people who support a certain artist, content creator, show, or any other type of intellectual property, it’s important to be cautious of trademarks and copyright laws.

Generally, selling fan art that features copyrighted elements or characters without the permission of the copyright holder is not allowed. The same goes for selling products that feature trademarked logos or names. However, you can get your way around this by either getting permission from the copyright holder or selling parody products which are, of course, subject to the standards of fair use.

If you’ve been a part of the community for quite some time now and you’ve already got inside jokes, memes, and other relatable content which are not directly associated with the intellectual property, you can also use these elements for your merch. Just make sure that they’re not too close to the copyrighted material to avoid any legal issues.

Create Designs That Resonate With the Fandom

Of course, the success of your merch also depends on the designs you’ll be using. As much as possible, avoid using generic designs and instead, come up with ones that will resonate with the fandom.

There are a few ways to do this. One is by using inside jokes that only people within the fandom will understand. Another is by describing how the fandom members are like with a single design. For example, if you’re part of a K-pop fandom who loves to stream whenever a new music video is released, you can create a design that says “Sleep, Share, Stream, Repeat.”

You can also use designs that feature the colors or symbols that are associated with the fandom. For instance, if you’re selling merch for a particular gaming team, you can use their colors along with your own design templates or motivational phrases.

Build Hype for Your Products Before You Launch Them

Once you’ve finalized your designs, it’s time to start building hype for your products. This is especially important if you’re selling merch for a particularly popular fandom since there’s a good chance that other people are also selling similar products.

One of the best ways to build hype is by, of course, using social media. Post sneak peeks of your designs, hold giveaways, or do anything that will get people talking about your products. You can also work with influencers in the same community or if possible, even the artist or creators themselves to help promote your merch.

Use High-Quality Printing Services

Your awesome designs and clever marketing won’t mean anything if you’re using subpar printing services. As much as possible, work with a print on demand partner who can ensure that your products will be made with high-quality materials and printing methods.

This is important since fans are usually willing to spend money on merch that they know are made with care and attention to detail. Plus, using high-quality printing services will also help you avoid any issues with the designs, such as fading or peeling ink.

Before launching your merch line, you can order samples for yourself and have a closer look at the printing quality and the material used. You can also ask for feedback from people who are in the same fandom as you to get an idea of whether or not they’ll be happy with the final product.

Sell Your Merch at Fandom Events and Conventions

If you want to reach out to more people within the fandom, one of the best things you can do is to sell your merch at events and conventions that cater to them. Not only will this help you get your products in front of more potential customers, but it will also allow you to build stronger relationships with the people in the community.

And That’s a Wrap!

With print on demand, it’s now possible for every content creator or fan to have their own line of merch without going through the hassle and expense of traditional manufacturing. So if you’re thinking of starting your own merch line, make sure to keep these tips in mind to help you get started on the right foot!

For more print on demand business tips and tricks, check out the Awkward Styles blog or sign up for an account with us today!

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