The 5 Most Common Merch Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Merch can sometimes be the difference between struggling to make ends meet, and making a good living from music. Our own research suggests that under 5% of musicians make a living from their music alone!) .So why not take a little time to limit the amount of mistakes you make with one of your best revenue streams from your music career. Don’t make these common merch mistakes!

Cool guy sitting at merch desk, next to ATM.

1. Online is not offline

The world has changed just a little bit recently and so most sales are now online. And that’s very different to selling at the merch table. At the table you can chat to fans, they can try on items and there’s a chance they’ll be more likely to buy after having just seen you rock that show. But online is a bit trickier – it’s all about the details. Make sure you have a clear link to the size tables, product examples and a good checkout. Also think about designs. Generally a design linked to a tour will sell on that tour, and not at all to people who couldn’t physically attend. Online designs should be a bit more general (band/album logo) OR linked to an online event such as a streaming show.

2. Not thinking about your fans

What do they actually like? There’s no point making caps if your fans just aren’t the type of audience who will wear caps. Maybe they’d like a mug? Or a bag? Or a sweatshirt? Why not ask – do a social media poll, send a mailout. Sure, with Dizzyjam you can just make all the options available, but sometimes less is more, as long as you get the right thing for your fans. Top tip – around 70% of band merch that sells are t-shirts. While they’re not the most innovative, it’s the one thing that people will always need, and therefore often want.

3. Ignoring the boring stuff

Just thinking about the creative side of merch is one of the most common mistakes that we see. Merch design is creative, and a lot of fun. Worldwide postage rates, missing items and customer support is boring and expensive. But unfortunately essential. So don’t skimp on the prep for this if you’re planning on printing and shipping items yourselves. Make sure you’ve researched postage costs and materials as well as customs rules. Also ensure your fans can contact you if there are any problems and have a plan to deal with missing items. Here at Dizzyjam we take care of all of this for you, including reprints if items are lost in the post. But if you’re handling this all yourself then you need to make sure you build in plenty of profit margin. It’s difficult to predict what extra costs will inevitably crop up.

Merch table for Weird Al Yankovich

4. Too many merch designs in one store

If you’re going the print-on-demand route for selling t-shirts to your fans it can be tempting to make dozens of designs available. But this can cause confusion for your fans. Stick to a few good options, switch them up every few months to see what works or test an item out on social media first. By only creating a few designs, it’s easy for you to see which one is most popular with your fans. Then you can then easily double down on that style of design, or screenprint a batch or the bestsellers for sale on tour.

5. Doing merch at the wrong time

This last one might sound weird, but it might not be time for you to do merch yet. If you’re still new and working on your music it might be a good idea to wait until after a couple of releases or a few shows. Get fans engaged and make them ask YOU for merch, That way you’ll find out what kind of thing they want. Make sure to keep a list of people interested in you (get their email addresses!). Then you can launch with a bang!

Hopefully this helps and you can get making great merch. Have we missed anything? Any other common merch mistakes that we should have included?

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