The following post was written by Christopher Bianchi. This post was republished with his permission.
Every band has been in the position. Most- more often than not, this being the case. "We are out of merchandise but have NO MONEY to order more" seems to be the phrase. I've been down this exact road on MANY occasions in previous bands out cutting teeth…The small profit made on some of those last shirts went towards food and gas playing the new club out of town. However being smart with upcoming profits this can change.
With the modern of times around, luckily there are a few really solid options on how you can Fund Merch With Zero Dollars and even walk away with some profitat the end of the day.
It does require being creative, being a salesman and believing in what you have to offer someone. A MAJOR thing is ORGANIZATION to pull it all off.
The routes (a few of MANY)
1. Start a Pre-Order on your band store. Put this together with a nice photo of the design(s). Gives the fans a reason to want to order this and especially in advance. Perhaps a "LIMITED EDITION PRINT" pitch would be a great idea. Also giving the fans aka purchaser a brief story on HOW ORDERING will be helping THEM and YOURSELF at the same time. "Proceeds will go towards merch, touring and new music!"
Find a common middle ground in your marketing. You can run the campaign for a set start and end date to collect up all orders within that timeframe. Utilize your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube platforms to promote! By collecting all of these sales in advance it should help not only fund the order's but also leave some extra cash for ordering more shirts and or profit for the brand.
Say a Black 2-3 color front print design.
Preorders Sell: 25 shirts at $15.00- Gross: $375.00 (estimated numbers for example)
Order: 50 shirts for $265.00 from MYTOURMERCH or a similar company (estimated numbers for example)
You have $110.00 Net PROFIT from the initial order of 25 shirts from the pre-order. You are also left with 25 MORE SHIRTS to sell for $15.00 each= an additional $375.00 therefore, bringing your total net profit potential to $485.00 AFTER the fans get the 25 Pre-Orders.
2. PRINT ON DEMAND: Open a store with a place like Spreadshirt.com. A hub where you can offer HUNDREDS of custom items for fans. The amazing thing about this and other sites would be the obvious: NO NEED FOR STOCKING PRODUCT! They print and handle all shipping on demand- You simply get paid.
-The negative to this and many of the sites would be the pricing based on single orders. You might find yourself paying $13.50 for a black 1-2 color shirt on there BEFORE any profit. Therefore, it up's the cost to the fan and consumer which can be tricky based on the size of the brand.
I believe if done well and creatively this can be a VERY successful route for a band or artist who is still growing and might not need to keep a big stock of merch with them. After each sale, you get paid.
3. Sponsorships: This is one I feel that goes potentially untouched on many instances. It might not ALWAYS make sense…but COULD. Finding sponsors in printing, entertainment, music, instruments and things of the like could be a PERFECT opportunity to twist their arm for some merchandise. Work out a deal to either feature the sponsor on the shirts somewhere OR even have them provide you with TONS of marketing materials for upcoming events and tours. In exchange for the shirts they would fund- You go out and hands on market them all across the City, States or Countries you tour and perform at. This can be a great conversation starter with fans as well offering any kind of FREE swag item from the sponsor to "break the ice" at your merch table!
Keep in mind as your progress there are always the incredible major players out there such as: MERCHNOW, INDIEMERCHSTORE who can help you design, sell, print and ship items to the fans. This would be a route I'd recommend progressing into again over time when it makes sense.
Anyone else have ideas?Share them below