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In the digital age, where attention spans are fleeting and visuals reign supreme, one platform has captured the hearts (and wallets) of millions: TikTok. Beyond the catchy dances and viral challenges, TikTok has quickly evolved into a marketing powerhouse, offering businesses and creators a unique opportunity to monetize their audience with branded merch.
If you’re considering using TikTok to sell merchandise but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place. Welcome to our definitive guide on selling merch on TikTok. Dive in to unravel the secrets of effectively promoting and selling your products directly on the platform.
TikTok, with its meteoric rise in global popularity, isn’t just a platform for entertainment—it’s become a hub of immense opportunity for creators. With TikTok Shop, there is now an option to sell products directly on the platform without the need for an external store or website. While this feature is only available in the UK and the US right now, TikTok is working on expanding this feature to other markets.
Here are 9 reasons why you, as a creator or brand, should start selling merch on TikTok:
With over a billion users worldwide, TikTok offers an audience size that you can’t reach almost anywhere else. With the right content, your merch has the potential to be seen by many diverse users, increasing the odds of sales.
With TikTok’s unique, diversified and interest-based recommendations, users can easily discover new and familiar products while they watch, create and share content on TikTok, and at the same time shop directly without leaving the app. This means your merchandise promos can reach a more targeted audience without you having to do the targeting, leading to higher conversion rates.
Relying solely on ad revenue or brand collaborations can be unpredictable, especially with how many users rely on TikTok’s Creator Fund. Merchandise sales offer a more stable and continuous income stream, cushioning potential dry spells.
With TikTok’s short-form format and advanced algorithm, content can quickly go viral, even for smaller creators. If one of your videos promoting your merch goes viral, it can lead to a significant spike in sales.
Merch creates a tangible connection between creators and followers. Fans wearing or using your merch are not just supporting you financially, they’re showcasing their loyalty and becoming walking ambassadors for your brand.
TikTok has rolled out features like TikTok Shop and integrations with ecommerce platforms, including on-demand suppliers like Printful. This makes selling more accessible for TikTok creators and the buying journey seamless for users.
Real-time feedback: Launching a new product? TikTok can serve as a real-time feedback loop. With the platform’s instant nature, engaged followers will react to product designs, colors, or any other aspect, helping you refine your merch.
You don’t need a massive budget to start selling on TikTok. By using print-on-demand services, even a small content creator can begin their merch journey without upfront investments or complex product research.
The ecommerce wave on TikTok is still in its early stages. By jumping in now, you position yourself as a pioneer, capturing audiences before the market becomes oversaturated.
TikTok isn’t merely a platform to showcase talent; it’s a thriving marketplace in a crucial stage of development. By selling merch on TikTok, creators can unlock new levels of engagement, loyalty, and revenue, building a sustainable brand for the future.
Many savvy accounts have already launched their merch shop promos, so let’s take a quick look at a couple of examples and see what we can learn from the successes of other users.
Barstool has had its own merch for a while now, but with the launch of the TikTok Shop feature, they’re making new and engaging TikTok content promoting their merch.
Among other merch-related content, Barstool created a series of skit-like TikTok videos, showing how their interns are struggling to get help from the rest of the team to create merch:
This is a funny and creative way of promoting their merch store, and the videos have gained over a million views combined. Viewers get to see the real people behind the brand while also being entertained, which makes for great promo for their target audience.
This clothing brand from Atlanta blew up with a genuine and sweet video about their first TikTok Shop order. Focused on the behind-the-scenes excitement of preparing the order, the video gained over 11M views, which gave them over a thousand extra orders in the following 2 weeks alone.
The honesty and joy of the video made potential customers happy to support the business, with users congratulating the brand on their new-found success in the comments.
The product category you decide to sell will largely depend on your niche. Some creators make their own merchandise or art and promote their small businesses on TikTok, so the answer for them is very clear. But if you’re not selling TikTok merch you made yourself, your choices should be based on your content and audience.
The most common (and popular) option when creating custom merch is to sell clothing. And while custom t-shirts may seem like a boring or overdone option, they’re at the peak of popularity in the online world. Google searches for the term “t-shirt” reached their highest point in the summer of 2023, compared to the past 5 years.
T-shirts also provide a lot of freedom during the creative process of designing merch. They work great for slogans, logos, art, jokes, and even patterns. It’s a staple part of anyone’s wardrobe and can be made relatively affordable for fans. If your plan is to launch your own clothing line, start with a cool t-shirt.
The next best merch option is a custom hoodie. It’s generally a slightly more expensive option for your audience, but hoodies are more durable and allow you to create special features like sleeve designs.
Hoodies are much more seasonal, but they’re still popular enough to sell throughout the year.
Bags are the most popular accessory category and it gives you a lot of options for styles and designs. While backpacks used to be a clear leader among merch bags, their popularity (in blue) has stagnated, with tote bags (in red) gaining steam over the past few years.
The exact type of bag you offer, from fanny packs to duffle bags, will depend on the needs of your audience. Not sure what they would prefer? Ask them! Followers love seeing the behind-the-scenes process and feeling that their input is valued.
Items like sweatshirts and sweatpants, though seasonal, have become wardrobe staples even outside of the gym. Their popularity has been consistent over the past 5 years, with sweatshirts (in blue) being the more popular option.
Leisurewear is an especially fitting category if your content relates to fitness or cozy hobbies like reading.
People love showcasing their personalities with more than just their clothing. You’ll often see clear phone cases with photos or stickers behind them, so let your fans get a custom phone case from you directly!
Custom tech accessories are more likely to be used for merch than ever before, which also includes things like earphone cases, laptop sleeves, and mouse pads.
If your TikTok profile is focused on tech reviews or tips, this may be the best category for you.
Selling merch may seem daunting, considering how much time, research, investment, and design skills it used to take in the past. But creating and selling merch is now easier than ever. You can make your online store in days with low risk, minimal knowledge, beginner design skills, and almost no investment.
Using services like on-demand production and selling merch on free platforms like TikTok provides a unique advantage: products are only made when they’re ordered, and you can connect your TikTok account directly to your manufacturer. As you sell your merchandise, the orders automatically go to your print-on-demand partner who does the rest of the work for you.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to get you started:
You need to work with a print-on-demand company to avoid having to estimate demand, invest in stock, and manage inventory. This doesn’t mean that your merch will have someone else’s logo on it. There are white-label companies like Printful that will ensure that only your own brand is showcased in your merchandise.
Printful is also the first print-on-demand provider to be directly integrated with TikTok Shop, so you won’t have to do any additional work behind the scenes, like placing the orders yourself. Signing up is completely free and easy, so go to Printful.com first to create your account. It also won’t cost you anything to use Printful to create designs or list your merch—you pay for the products only when you make a sale.
Once you have accounts with both TikTok and Printful, you need to go through the process of connecting them. This will ensure that all the products you sell are fulfilled and shipped to your customers automatically.
There are multiple steps to the process, like verifying your identity and setting up a shipping template. We’ve explained them in detail on our Connect page, so sign up to Printful for free and follow our instructions as you go through the process.
If you get overwhelmed by choice, focus on something simple like printed t-shirts. Pick your favorite one and start there—you’ll be able to expand your product range at any point in the future.
You don’t need to be a design pro to create great merch. As explained by @milostrategy on TikTok, you shouldn’t overthink your designs.
Printful’s Design Maker is also very beginner-friendly, so you don’t need to use any external software. It’s a free built-in design tool with 20K+ pre-made design assets for you to choose from. You can also preview and download free life-like mockups to use in your store listings on the TikTok app.
To make sure that your products look great before you sell them, Printful has the option to order samples at a discounted rate. Once you create a design and are happy with it, place a sample order and use the merch yourself for a while when it arrives. You can also take your own photos of the merchandise and use them for social media posts outside of TikTok to promote your launch.
Wearing your own merchandise in videos is another way to promote and sell merch on social media platforms. Viewers will see it even without you having to mention it, and you’ll reach your target audience more easily since some people are less likely to watch content that feels like an ad.
Once you’ve connected your store and created your merch, it’s time to release it into the world. Make sure to price your products strategically and keep in mind the cost of production, shipping, potential returns, and your profit margin. Ensure that your prices are competitive but also sustainable for your business model. To make sure you’ve factored in everything, check out our pricing guide that covers everything from taxes to product base prices.
When you sell products online, it’s important to post videos that engage your audience and stay consistent with your posting schedule.
Create content that showcases the process of making the merch from start to finish and be honest about what it was like for you. Make the promos the same way you would make your own videos and be genuine. The best way to sell your products is to get your audience invested in them too. If you’re proud of what you create, even if it’s just one t-shirt, the emotion will show up in the way you talk about your TikTok merch.
Remember to promote your launch on other platforms as well, even if you only sell on TikTok. It will help you target a broader audience and sell the merch more effectively.
Even if the process seems scary at first, there are many tools to help you reach success with TikTok merch. Put care into what you make, pay attention to trends, listen to your audience, and your items will sell like hotcakes.
Elizabete is a Content Writer with an affinity for brand building and strategic communication. She's an eager communicator with a mindful approach to adapting content for a diverse range of audiences and platforms.
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