What Are YOU Selling?
Most everyone who makes original music and plays live sells CDs and other merchandise at their shows. It’s a really good idea to do so, especially if the gigs are small and/or don’t have a guarantee (a gig where you are playing for tips, for example) because the sale of merchandise can help you make up the difference between what you need to make and what you actually get at a gig like that. Did you know that you can make all kinds of cool merchandise available to your listeners online, too? Well, you can…and in many cases it won’t cost you anything to design the stuff and make it available for sale.
How can this be true? It’s called on demand production. Book publishers that offered self publishing were some of the first to take advantage of this type of service where a copy of a book doesn’t get manufactured until someone orders it. This prevents the publisher and/or writer from having to maintain an inventory of the book (fronting money for actual hard copies) and prevents the stress of having to sell those books in order to make the money back.
Merchandise companies like Café Press and Zazzle offer similar services for T-shirts, stickers, pins…etc…etc. You make an account, create designs and make the item(s) available for sale. Then you can create links on your website/blog so your fans can easily buy your cool merch. Many book publishers and merchandise companies that offer on demand production don’t charge set up fees in order for you to get started. This means it’s completely free for you to use. In this case the on demand company makes money by taking a percentage of the item markup.
Since the per item prices for online on demand merchandise tend to be closer to retail AND most of the companies don’t offer cost pricing for the designers, on demand services are not meant to take the place of local manufacturers when you want a bunch of shirts to sell at your shows. The online services are meant to be used as a supplement to that merchandise. There are also many different online companies out there, so do your research. Talk to people, find out if the company you’re interested in using is trustworthy, staffed by real people…etc…etc. I have direct experience with both Café Press and Zazzle. They each have been around for several years and both are good. Check it out and see. Knowledge is power, y’all.