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Looking to add sustainability and increased revenue to your podcast game? Here are some tips on how you can create exciting podcast merch...

Build Your Profitable Podcast Merchandise Empire

The podcast industry is booming. In fact, according to Statista, there were over 2 million podcasts in 2020 alone. As a podcaster, the need to stay relevant and top-of-mind for your listeners is an ongoing challenge. Creating a cult following for your podcast is where things like endorsements, big-time sponsorships, and dream guests are born.

Ultimately having a swag store for your podcast brings more revenue without adding additional ads to your show (want a complete guide to creating 20% more revenue through merch? Get it here!).   That merch can pay you back twice as it doubles as free advertising. If you're willing to design your merchandise well, your fans will be happy to showcase it for you as a walking billboard of their favorite podcast which can attract new listeners. Now we're thinking like smart podcasters!

We'll show you how to navigate the endless options of merch production, help you create designs that sell the best, and the easy way to start selling that new line!  All in a way that's headache free and profitable for you as the podcaster.

Build Your Profitable Podcast Merchandise Empire

Secret #1. Create Podcast Merch That Resonates With Your Audience

Okay, okay so it isn't much of a "secret" but it is the difference between product flying off the shelves, and merchandise that ends up as a Goodwill drop-off.

You need podcast merch ideas that will that resonate with your tribe. This means ensuring that the artwork, colors, materials, and messaging are consistent with your podcasting brand. Creating your own podcast swag that is much more recognizable with unique designs is the sure-fire way to help you monetize your podcast.

Here's a breakdown of some soft-good merch ideas to create that won't end up in a landfill or a junk drawer as many mugs, phone cases, and keychains often do.

  • Custom Podcast T-Shirts - This is the quintessential proof that your fans are absolutely as die-hard as they seem. Having your podcast brand displayed front and center in their wardrobe is a way for fans to advertise for you, and show their devotion to each and every episode. This is also the opportunity to do more than just display your podcast logo, it will allow your podcast personality to shine because there's space for it. Fans want something that fits and makes a great impression. Nothing says that quite like a soft cotton, water-based, screen-printed, and hand-illustrated T-Shirt that screams to the world "I love my favorite podcast and the earth too."
  • Tote-Bag/ Duffel Bag - Another soft-good item that helps you monetize your podcast without breaking the bank. And because this is custom merch, it's worth the investment of going with a high-quality approach that your podcast fans will use again and again. These are also great to feature a simpler design.
  • Hats - A repeat wearable without the daily wash, hats are a great way for your podcast fans to make a statement even more often than with a T-shirt. Beanies, and Trucker caps and a great way to start. But if you want to go the extra mile for hat design, try embroidery! You'll find embroidery will make any design, no matter how simple, really POP.
  • Hoodies - T-shirts comfy cousin, also super wearable, and allows for design ideas that are endless with a lot of space to showcase your brand. Since hoodies are often seen as a more valuable purchase, it's a great way to add in additional profit. Hoodies are also great for water-based ink and can be built with sustainable fabrics that give your podcast listeners what they want.
  • Let them browse your products and bundle! If one item makes them feel like a super fan, imagine what your podcast store will do for them!

Insiders Tip: Leverage "inside jokes" or references that only your listeners will resonate with. Think of your podcast as a close-knit group of friends that have all watched the same shows or movies, and love to see the references out in the wild. Example: A Friends T-Shirt, with a picture of a couch and the word "Pivot". If you get get it.

Stuck on this step because it feels overwhelming to know what design people want on their t-shirts? Fill out our 3-minute design form, and let us do the heavy lifting.

Secret #2. Use Social Media to Promote Your Podcast and Merchandise

Social media is a powerful tool for all content creators who want to use a platform to promote their favorite shows. Use your podcast's social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, YouTube, Instagram...I'm pretty sure you know what social media is) to promote your merch before, during, and after the initial launch, along with each podcast episode after.

Share pictures of your merch, create promotional videos, and post about any discounts, offers, or giveaways (caution: do not get stuck in the trap of giving away your goods, instead we are focused on using it as a tool to add to your advertising budget, not take from it).

Also, don't forget to ask your listeners to share photos of themselves wearing or using your merch. Encourage engagement around your soft goods by starting the conversations with easy CTAs such as: Show us what's in your "Awesome Podcast Tote Bag Today".

It's also a huge opportunity for your listeners to connect with each other through social media, making your cult following even more community-based.

Remember that you share a special connection with your listeners, you are a voice in their heads with each episode they listen to, social media can be a more tangible way for them to connect back with you.

Use Social Media to Promote Your Podcast and Merchandise

Secret #3. Design High-quality Merchandise

You need high-quality podcast merchandise designs, after all, you have a high-quality podcast! It should look good and be something that fans will be proud to wear or use. Anything from a comedy podcast to a true crime investigative series needs to have official merchandise that fortifies the brand.

Another huge component of this is making sure the merch you produce is in line with your listener's values. More and more consumers are looking for high-quality, earth-friendly, and sustainable garments. Your listeners deserve to be proud of their apparel and their taste in podcasts. Why not give them both?

Insiders Tip: Using a print shop partner who is transparent about their print practices is an important step. Remember, you are going to be putting your brand on this apparel, and actively promoting it to your subscribers. The last thing you want is negative comments about how the cheap, earth-destroying fabrics didn't last a cycle in the wash. Yep...not quite the reputation I think either of us had in mind. An easy way to do this is to fill out a quick contact us form here at Superior Ink to start the process.

It is so much easier to sell anything when it's not destroying the planet. And with so many different options for custom merchandise to produce, we need products that can help the planet, not end it.

Design High-quality Merchandise

Secret #4. Make Your Own Podcast Merchandise

Before you ask...the answer is not that you should start screen-printing in your garage. It's tempting to come to this point and feel so excited about producing merch that after a quick Google search, you order from the first print-on-demand store that you find, or scramble to pick up a DIY screenprinting kit (it takes time to learn this art form!). However, a huge caution here as you actually bring your podcast merchandise ideas to life, is that not all printers are the right printers for your podcast.

Most podcasters make the mistake of using a print-on-demand service to produce and sell merchandise through a third party, but if you design your custom podcast merch right, and use it to make money, then investing in working with a screen printer you know and trust will make sure that your customer has a great experience start to finish. It also will generally cost less per shirt when you start ordering in bulk, vs. DTG garments that will cut deep into your margins. Your podcast merchandise store needs quality, the ability to handle the volume, and a great customer experience, a screen printer is a perfect fit for all three.

Secret #5. Promote The Merchandise on Your Podcast

Finally, don't forget to talk about the merch on your podcast. This is often a less intrusive way to make money from your podcast, without having to take on another advertising sponsor. Most listeners would agree that running more ads can be tacky and even stop them from listening altogether.

At this point, you may even think about using links to sell your podcast merch through an online store. It can be easy to set up and is a non-friction way to promote far after your last podcast episode of the season has aired.

Selling podcast merchandise really is the best of both worlds. It's free advertising every time your listeners wear or uses your apparel, and talking about it on your podcast is a great way to get your listeners more involved and save them the frustration of another commercial break. Many listeners want to promote your podcast as a way to show appreciation, so don't forget to ask for your listeners' feedback about their experience with your merch. This way you'll know exactly what your people want next!

Overall, creating podcast merchandise is an excellent way to build your brand, increase revenue, and engage with your audience. When done right, it can turn into the one of the most profitable parts of your business. Keep in mind the importance of well-designed merchandise that aligns with your brand and connects well with your listeners, effective marketing strategies, and most importantly... create merch that's worth wearing, both now and for generations of listeners to come!

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