Your channel might not be approved for YouTube Partner Program monetization yet, or maybe it is monetized, but not eligible for selling merchandise.
Which is why you might need to learn how to sell merch on YouTube with an alternative to the YouTube merch shelf partners.
Don’t worry, you can do that, and it doesn’t cost a lot to start with, and without having any inventory in advance.
And if you already have a good number of fans that are subscribed to your channel, then you maybe you can create your first merchandise product and make a sale today!
How to Sell Merch on YouTube without The YPP
1 – Create an Independent Merch Store for Your YouTube Channel
In order to use alternatives to the YouTube merch shelf if your channel was not eligible, you need to have a virtual online store for your merch.
And that works even if you still don’t have any merch product produced yet.
And you have two options here:
- Create a merch store on a marketplace like Amazon or eBay, where there’s a lot of distraction and competition, which usually drives people away from your merch products to other products for other merchants on the marketplace.
- Create a merch store on a domain name that you own where you can sell many merch products to your YouTube fans, increase your revenue with upsells and bundles, and where you can acquire your customers emails for later promotions.
If you want to make more revenue from selling your merchandise on YouTube, then my recommendation is that you go with the second option by creating a store on a domain name that you own as this allows you to offer upsells and cross-sells, and gives you the ability to remarket to the same customers again and again and again.
It is also more sustainable this way, as you own your store and no one can take from you.
While at Amazon and other marketplaces, they can decide to close down your merch store for any reason, and you can’t get it up again.
Also, starting a store on these marketplaces requires some time for reviewing your application, from days to weeks, and they might not approve it.
While when starting a merch store on your domain name, you can get your store up and running within an hour from now, and without any technical knowledge or experience.
There are many platforms that allow you to start a merch store for your YouTube channel on a domain name that you own, but the easiest, fastest, and most reliable one by far is Shopify, which costs a low monthly fee, and it offers a 14-day free trial.
I created a complete guide on how to sell your merchandise on Shopify for you.
2 – Choose a Merch Printing & Fulfillment Company
Now that you have started your merch store, you need to add products to it.
And you can do that even if you don’t have any inventory.
In order to do so, you need to choose a fulfillment company that can create your merch products with the custom designs you create.
The great news is that there are many print on demand companies that you can hire in order to print your design on the product and ship it directly to the customer without you doing any of the physical work by yourself.
Two of the best companies out there are Printify and Printful that you can join for free now.
And whether you have started your merch store on a marketplace such as Amazon or Etsy, or on your own domain name using Shopify, you can integrate these two print on demand companies with your store in few clicks.
However, it is easier to do it with Shopify.
My recommendation is to use Shopify to build your store, and Printful to fulfill the orders as they both are easy to integrate and work with.
And you don’t have to pay anything to the print on demand company in advance.
You just add merch products like mugs, t-shirts, hoodies, phone cases, …etc. to your store, upload your design to each product and set up the prices you want to sell it at, and promote it to your YouTube audience.
Once you get an order and the customer pays you, you then pay the POD company their cost and forward the customer’s shipping details to them, and they will print your design on the product and send it directly to the customer.
And you keep the difference in price as your profit.
How cool is that!
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3 – Create Designs for Your Merch
Now you need to create the custom designs that you want to be put on your merch products.
If you have some design skills, then you can use advanced tools like photoshop (paid), or GIMP (free).
And if you don’t have design skills, then you can use a beginner-friendly tool like Canva, which offers a free membership and lots of design templates that you can easily edit.
Or you can hire a freelance designer from 99designs or Fiverr but that costs some money.
Alternatively, you can buy designs in bulk for a low price, and there are many websites like Gifturself.com and POD-Designs.com, with a license to use them on your products.
A very easy way to come up with design idea is to research some popular quotes related to your YouTube channel’s niche or audience, and create a meme using a simple template on Canva, and download the design in PNG format.
Make sure that any design you use does not include any copyrighted material, which includes some phrases such as “Just Do it!”
4 – List Products and Upload Your Designs
Now you need to start listing products with your designs on your Merch store so that you can market them to your YouTube audience.
Depending on which platform and POD service you used to build your merch store, you can go add products from the dedicated tap.
Assuming that you have used Shopify and Printful and integrated them successfully, from your Shopify admin dashboard, you can go to the Printful tab, and then click the “Add Product” button.
From there, you can choose what product you want to add to your store, upload your design to it, select the variants you want to offer, add a name and a description, define the price and the shipping fee, and launch the product.
Now your merch product is ready to promote on YouTube.
5 – Link to Your Merch Store from Your YouTube Channel & Videos
Now you can promote your merch on your YouTube channel in three main ways:
- By linking to your merch store in the description of your channel in the “About” tab.
- By linking to your merch store in the description of any/all videos on your channel.
Note that for adding your store in the “About” tab of your channel as a clickable link, you need your channel to be in the YouTube Partner Program, and your store to be associated with it.
If your channel is not in the YPP, then you can just place a text link in the description area under the “About” tab, like this example from JP Sear’s channel.
And for videos, whenever you create a new YouTube video from now on, ask your audience, at the start or at the end of the video, to go and check your merchandise through the link in the description of the video, and maybe, show the link in the video itself.
6 – Sell More Merch on YouTube
Focusing on getting your YouTube audience to buy one of your merchandise items can make you some money, but you don’t want to leave any money on the table.
That’s why, you might need to use some tactics on your merch store that would increase the average order value and the lifetime value of your customers.
You can do that by:
- Offering upsells and related items when someone wants to buy a specific product.
- Offering discounts when someone buys more than one piece of the same product.
- Finding out what products sell more like a t-shirt with a certain design, and using the same, or similar, design on other products like mugs, phone covers, and hoodies.
- Offering lower shipping fees for orders that exceed a certain value.
- Collecting your customers emails and sending promotions for other merch products to them later on without having to link to these products on YouTube.
And these tactics can mainly be done if you have your own independent store using a platform like Shopify or WordPress, which is why I recommended using them instead of using marketplaces to sell your YouTube merch.
YouTubers who sell merch this way have chances to make more money on the long run than those who use marketplaces or even YouTube Merch Shelf Partners.
Bonus Tip to Increase Your YouTube Merch Sales
Another tip to increase your merchandise sales through your YouTube channel is to offer limited-time promotions and discounts related to occasions, events, and trends.
You can do two things here:
- Create merch products with designs related to the current events or the occasion itself, like st. Patrick’s day or Independence day for example.
- Offer discount codes for a limited period of time around the occasion.
The benefit of these promotions is that they invoke scarcity and the fear of missing out, and encourage your subscribers to buy your merch products, especially if the design was related to the occasion.
Also, these make your YouTube followers feel affinity to your channel and that you understand them and you are similar to them.
Conclusion – Can Your Merchandise Succeed with YouTube?
Sure. With the above mentioned steps, you can start selling your merchandise on your YouTube channel and videos even if your channel is not eligible for the YouTube merch shelf or if it was not monetized through the YouTube Partner Program.
My recommendation is that you start your merch store with a platform like Shopify with a POD service like Printful, which is very easy to use, and allows you to use tactics that can increase your YouTube merch sales as mentioned in step number six above.
If you still have any question about anything in this guide, or if you need any help, please, ask me in the comments’ section below, and I will be happy to help you out 🙂
And if you know someone with a YouTube channel, and might be interested in monetizing it with their own merchandise, then feel free to share this guide with them.