How to Start a Merch Store in 2021 (Quickly)

You probably came to this page trying to understand all the different options for starting a merch store quickly. If you want to make more money off of streaming platforms like YouTube or Spotify without needing to ask your fans for donations or change your content, a merch store is the way to go. Your fans support you directly, get a keepsake in exchange, and promote your brand. First, we’ll go through your options for getting your merch, then we’ll go over how to setup a store. Thanks to the internet, you can sell anything from traditional merch like t-shirts and hoodies to things like phone cases and mugs.

Producing Your Merch

You have two main options for producing merch, bulk fulfillment or print on demand. We'll compare these options below:

Bulk Fulfillment

Basically, you order a lot of merch ahead of time and manually fulfill orders as they come in. 

Pros:

  • Lowest per unit pricing

  • Reliable fulfillment (well, as reliable as you are since you gotta do it yourself)

  • Can create a brand

Cons:

  • Must predict ahead of time what your fans will want to order, which can significantly limit your ability to experiment

  • Requires somewhere to store the merch

  • Requires a lot of money for the initial purchase

  • Requires keeping track of and fulfilling orders manually.

  • Will require setting up a website (which requires upfront and recurring cost) (checkout this guide).

  • You have to provide print-optimized designs

  • Will have to provide customer support

Who this is for:

You’re a pro at this. You have designs or are willing to pay for them. You know exactly what your fans want to buy and can reasonably predict how many sales you’ll make ahead of time. You probably have some experience packaging and shipping items or can employ someone to do this for you.

My recommendation: 

Shirtsinbulk.com

Great pricing, fast shipping, reliable. What more could you ask for?

Print on Demand

Print on Demand refers to a fulfillment style where the shirt isn’t printed until the shirt is ordered. There are a couple of different ways to do this, which we’ll go through in a moment.

Pros:

  • No need to carry inventory

  • Little-no upfront cost

  • Pay to print only what your customers have already ordered (gives you the ability to be more creative with your merch

  • No practical limit to how many different merch items you can sell

  • No need to manually fulfill or ship anything

Cons:

  • Longer lead time

  • More expensive per unit

  • You rely on someone else for fulfillment (potentially not a con)

Who this is for:

Most people fall into this category. You’re newer to this. You’re not positive what your fans will like and want to experiment. You want to carry a wide variety of items without having to worry about wasting money and carrying inventory. You don’t want to spend time keeping track of and fulfilling orders. 


Your options for Print on Demand:

You have three options for pursuing a print on demand merch store. You could rely on a third party service to host your store and handle fulfillment or you can set up your own website. Or you could use a client-oriented option that provides a blend of both. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Third Party:

Basically, you rely on a service like redbubble to host and fulfill your orders.

Pros:

  • No need to set up your own website

  • Little-no upfront cost

Cons:

  • Difficult to build a brand

  • Completely at the mercy of the third party. Your designs may be removed because someone flags them. If this happens, you might also lose your earnings.

  • Least profitable option (per unit).

  • No control over how your store is presented.

  • You have to provide print-optimized designs.

Who this is for:

You have a small-medium sized fanbase and no technical experience. Your designs are on the simpler side, and you won’t be too offended if you have to get rid of a couple. You have your own designs and you don’t want to spend any money on this.

My recommendation: 

redbubble.com 

They have a better reputation than other services like Teespring with regards to deleting designs. Note that I said better, not good. 

Self Hosted:

You set up your own website and use print-on-demand services to fulfill your orders.

Pros:

  • Everything store oriented is in your control. Pricing, designs, store layout, discounts

  • Can create a brand

  • Most profitable Print on Demand option (per unit)

Cons:

  • Requires setting up your own website (upfront and recurring costs)

  • You have to provide print-optimized designs.

Who this is for:

You have some technical skills or a medium-large sized fanbase. You want to take advantage of the flexibility that print on demand offers with respect to variety and fulfillment without having to worry about being regulated by a third party service. You either have designs or are willing to pay for them. 


My recommendations

Check out this guide for more details:

No technical experience: BlueHost + Shopify/Wix + Printfy/Printful 

Some technical experience (cheaper and more customizable): BlueHost + PythonAnywhere + Printfy/Printful 

Client Oriented:

You work with a team to help you set up a store. You take advantage of their expertise in graphic and web design to skip to the part where you make money.

Pros:

  • Almost everything is in your control: pricing, designs, discounts.

  • No need to provide designs - you can take advantage of the team's graphic designers

  • No technical knowledge required - you can take advantage of the team's web developers 

  • No upfront cost

Cons:

  • Less profitable than self-hosted, more profitable than third-party services.

Who this is for:

You want to take advantage of the flexibility that print on demand offers with respect to variety and fulfillment without having to set up your own store. You don’t want to bother making designs or making sure they’re optimized for printing. You just want to make money without any of the headache. 

My recommendation:

Modern Media Merch

Modern Media Merch provides personalized design services for each of our clients. We promise to never remove or alter your designs without your consent. You can shoot Bassel, the CEO, an email any time with questions or requests and get a prompt response. 

For a limited time only we are offering all content creators 2 free designs and unlimited varieties. We currently offer t-shirts and hoodies. Join the dozens of content creators that we’re already serving. Find out more here.