Like any good millennial, I love things that make me nostalgic for my youth. So it’s no surprise that my most worn t-shirt is band merch from one of my favorite pop-punk bands in high school, Relient K.
In 2014, Relient K went on tour to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their album “Mmhmm.” I sang every word of every song at their show in Portland, and I picked up this whimsical t-shirt on my way out the door. I was, of course, drawn to the design. Who wouldn’t be? A long-legged turtle chasing a slice of pizza. What more do you need?
These days, I’m more than willing to shell out a little cash for cool band t-shirts that support an independent artist I love.
Are you an artist or a member of a band? Want to give music fans like me the merch they want and earn some money too? Keep reading to learn how.
If you’re not quite convinced and still wondering why you should sell band tees and other merch online, here’s the quick answer: you can make money. It doesn’t take much time to design merchandise and run your online store. Alongside creating and performing music, your store can become an extra stream of income.
Learn More: How to Sell Merch on Spotify With Shopify
The best way to sell band merch is by partnering with a print-on-demand (POD) company. POD is an order fulfillment method where items are printed and shipped to your customers as soon as an order is made. With POD, there are no order minimums and you can create customized designs for a variety of products and sell them under your brand.
When you work with a POD company like Printful, your art and your music always come first. Plus, you’ll save time, space, and money. Store setup is simple, and we offer resources to guide you through the process. Your fans can order your merchandise online. The products will be printed and fulfilled by Printful when you get an order. Or, if you’re heading out on the road, you can get discounts when you buy products in bulk and take your inventory with you.
LA-based pop artist Laura Rizzotto started her online merch store in 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Laura wasn’t able to travel or perform, so instead, she put her creative energy into recording a new Friends-inspired single called “Ross & Rach” and filming a music video with her sister and close friends.
Laura celebrated releasing her new single by creating her first line of merch with Printful and Shopify.
“We didn’t want to create merch that was going to be just like . . . my face,” Laura says. “I wanted to create designs that were cool and take the opportunity to be creative.”
The idea of running her own store felt overwhelming at first, but once Laura decided to partner with Printful, she was able to work step by step and get her store ready in no time.
“Once you’ve created your designs, you don’t have to worry about getting your items shipped, so it’s pretty simple,” says Laura, “I was excited to create my shop and have all the products organized.”
In order to sell custom band merch online like Laura, you’ll need to follow these steps.
With Printful, you can connect to just about any of the most popular ecommerce platforms, and your fans will be able to shop your store from your website. When you’re choosing which platform to use, there are many factors to consider, including price. Some platforms charge a monthly subscription fee or a percentage fee for each order placed through your store.
Each platform offers different features when it comes to user experience and mobile optimization. Check out our ecommerce platform and marketplace comparison to make an educated decision.
If you’ve built your website using Bandzoogle, you can easily connect it to Printful too, and list your new merchandise for sale.
Once you decide where to sell, create an account on your chosen ecommerce platform and connect it to Printful. Then, you’ll start setting up your store.
While you’re making sure your store looks and feels welcoming to your fans, you’ll also need to deal with a few behind-the-scenes details like choosing how to process payments. Your ecommerce platform or marketplace will offer you instructions on how to set up a payment processor.
Then, you’ll decide how much each product will cost and how much profit you’ll make.
Shipping is another important factor to consider during store setup. Will you ship your products worldwide? How much will you charge for shipping?
Keep in mind that you’ll pay Printful for shipping for each of your orders, and we’ve got the best shipping rates of any POD company out there. In order to make a profit, you’ll need to charge your customers for shipping, but high shipping costs can discourage customers from buying from you. We recommend pricing your products a bit higher in order to keep shipping prices low. Learn more about how shipping works here.
Finally, you’ll need to write store policies with information about returns and exchanges and other common issues.
When I think of band merch, I think of t-shirts and posters first. You can find these products blank and ready for your designs here at Printful.
We offer a variety of high-quality matte and luster posters with and without frames as well as canvasses. Customize these with album art or photography from one of your shows. Imagine the satisfaction your fans will feel hanging up their new band posters in their bedrooms while jamming to your tunes.
When it comes to t-shirts, there are crew-necks, v-necks, long sleeves, short sleeves . . . the list goes on and on, and there’s something for everyone. Customize apparel with your logo, album art, or, like Laura Rizzotto, art that feels specific to one of your songs or music videos.
Consider selling other trending items like hoodies, tote bags, and mugs. With POD, it’s easy to add your designs to a variety of products, and we’ll talk more about that in the next section of this post.
When you select which items to sell in your store, keep in mind that high-quality products often mean better profit margins and happier customers. At Printful, we take pride in the high quality of our products. Each product goes through a three-step quality check before it’s shipped to your fans.
66% of customers shopping online say they’d pay more for sustainable products, and this may be the case for many of your customers and fans. You can let them know that on-demand production like POD is a more sustainable fulfillment model than buying in bulk because items are only printed after a product is ordered. This cuts down on fabric waste, especially compared to conventional manufacturing methods.
Plus, Printful offers a whole collection of eco-friendly products that are made of at least 30% sustainable, recycled, or biodegradable materials.
No matter which products you choose to sell, they’ll be completely white-label, which means they won’t have any Printful branding at all—just your amazing designs.
Speaking of your amazing designs, you might already have a cool band logo or album cover that would be the perfect addition to band hoodies or t-shirts. Just make sure your existing design files follow our guidelines. You can find the instructions along with useful print file templates in the File Guidelines tab under each product in our catalog.
If you don’t have the designs ready to go, you can use Printful’s free Design Maker to create your own, unique designs. The Design Maker is loaded with a ton of amazing clipart, fonts, and more.
You can also use the Design Maker to create all-over patterned prints for products like leggings and bags.
Certain apparel products have more than one spot where you can add designs. For example, you can create a cool design for the front of a shirt and add your band logo to the sleeve. You’ll see where you can add designs as you use the Design Maker.
Once you’ve connected your store to Printful, you can make a sample order to test out your merch for yourself.
Rizzotto remembers testing as an important part of getting her own store ready for her fans.
“It’s really important to order samples,” Rizzotto says. “Most of the samples we ordered, we loved, but everything prints differently, so it’s important to see the products for yourself and make sure they’re good.”
You can order samples from your Printful Dashboard. Just choose your store, and in the pop-up choose Create your order under Sample order.
If you’re happy with your sample orders, you can add them to your store for your customers to buy! Head to your Printful Dashboard > Stores and add your products to your store with just a few clicks. Then, it’s time to make a test order through your own storefront. Go through the checkout process just like your future customers will. Placing a test order will give you a chance to see what’s working and what’s not, so you can fix any issues.
Once you’re confident in the quality of your products and the user experience in your store, you’ll be ready to share your store with the world.
As a musician, your fans are dedicated to supporting your music, and they’ll be the first ones lining up to make a purchase on your new store, so make sure you keep them in the loop about your merchandise launch.
Email is one of the most popular ways to drive traffic to ecommerce stores, so collect your fans’ email addresses and make your way into their inboxes to let them know about your store.
If you have a presence on social media, you can also look into boosting posts about your store or creating advertisements to target fans who’ll be most likely to buy your merch.
Once you’ve made a few sales, you can ask your fans to review your merch and feature the reviews on your website or social media platforms. Positive reviews will help new customers make decisions about what to buy from you.
Incentives on your store can help you make sales as well. Consider:
If you’re already selling CDs, vinyl, or other products online, check out Printful’s Warehousing & Fulfillment Services. You can ship us your inventory, and we’ll store it and ship the products under your brand when you get an order.
You can surprise your fans with branded pack-ins, which are special extras you can add to each of your POD orders. These little extras will surprise and delight your fans and leave them with a positive impression of your store.
My old Relient K t-shirt means a lot to me. It’s more than just a t-shirt, really. It’s a physical representation of hours spent listening to their music as well as a memory of a really fun night at their show.
I hope that after reading this post, you feel ready and inspired to make a similar heartfelt connection with your fans by starting your custom band merch store.
I’d love to hear about your favorite band tees in the comments. Will you use those designs as inspiration for your own?
Caroline is a former journalist turned marketer. She is a content marketing specialist at Printful and is becoming increasingly obsessed with social proof.