/CHECK THE SPREADSHEET: DIY Merch Making

CHECK THE SPREADSHEET: DIY Merch Making

Do you have too many band t-shirts? I have so many that I recently I gave my college bestie, favorite neighbor and Gustaf front woman, Lydia Gammill, about 30 of them to send to her cousin to make into a queen size blanket for me. I still have at least 15 band shirts remaining in my closet, and even with this surplus, I’m sure I’ll accumulate more on my next tour. I’m not complaining; t-shirts remain a classic and one of the best sellers on any band’s merch table. But there are so many other products you can cheaply and easily slap your band’s logo onto!

Lydia Gammill is about to venture on her first tour with Gustaf this March and is creating her band’s product line cheaply and efficiently so that they make enough funds to reach their next destination as well as leave a lasting and clear aesthetic impression on newfound fans.

How is she doing it?

“Selling merch is all about being creative and having variety! It’s important to sell smaller $2 or $5 items in addition to higher priced vinyl and t-shirts. You want it to be easy for people to support you and you want to sell them something that they will enjoy. Things like postcards have a high profit margin (you can make 50-10 for under $10) and they’re a great way to write some friends from the road! I also like to offer services like tarot card readings or hand massages because they cost nothing (except your time) and are a great way of connecting with your fans.

 

When I am in between shirts on the road I like to make merch from stuff that I thrift at Goodwill. You can score unique pieces that look cool and promote your band. Band shirts go to t-shirt purgatory if they aren’t fun to wear!

Branding is a great tool as well! Having a strong visual concept or logo takes all the hard work out of making merch. Gustaf fell into the orange motif and now we use it on most of our stuff. Our motto? “Just throw a couple oranges on there!” ​- Lydia Gammill

Don’t want your band’s t-shirt to end up at the Goodwill?

Here are more DIY merch making tips…

  1. Basics
    • Stickers & Buttons
    • Tour Posters / Zines
    • Physical copies of music
      • Download Cards: cheapest option
        • Print your own via Bandcamp.
        • Give it away or sell DL cards with:
          • Taco Bell hot sauce packets (Ex-Girlfriends Special)
          • Fuck Boy repellant (essential oils in glitter roll-on container)
          • A comic book or lyrics book (Lost Kingdoms)
        • CDs: burn them yourselves or order some at BandsonaBudget.com or CDbaby.com.
        • Cassettes: for broke people who drive old cars, cheap dublication here!
        • Flexi-Disc Records/Post-cards: “a phonograph record made of a thin, flexible vinyl (or paper) sheet with a molded-in spiral stylus groove, designed to be playable on a normal phonograph turntable,” pressed by Pirates Press.
        • Vinyl: most expensive
          • Takes about 6 months lead time if pressing yourself
    • T-shirts, Sweatshirts & other wearable items
      • Silk Screening: order a screen + buy paint or learn to make one yourself!
      • Stencils & fabric paint
      • One-of-a-kind vintage store finds that you customize yourself
  1. Extras
    • You can slap your logo on anything, but be sure to keep your band’s visual palate in mind.
      • Sunglasses
      • Lighters/Matches/Eye-Drops (if your band name is The Big Drops)
      • Condoms
      • Coffee Mugs/Pint Glasses /Can Coolers/Shot Glasses
      • Guitar Picks
      • Underwear
      • Tote Bags
      • Bookmarks (if you’re a smart band)
      • Fanny Packs
  2. Get Creative
    • Gum Ball Machine with goodies in it
    • Empty Gasoline Container for Donations
    • Food Items (like Sharkmuffins!)
    • Temporary Tattoos: they take a few days to wash off so anyone who buys one will totally remember your name!
  3. Presentation
    • Vintage Suitcase
    • Clothing Rack with Hangers
    • Lighting
      • Christmas Lights
      • Clamp Lights
    • Clear, fun sign with prices
  4. Organization
    • Wrap t-shirts and label their sizes for easy grabbing
    • Storage containers for breakable items like CDs/Cassettes
    • Inventory Spreadsheet
By |2018-08-09T17:04:46+00:00February 19th, 2018|Check The Spreadsheet, COLUMNS, Monthly Mondays|

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About the Author:

Touring musician, writer & hot sauce lover.
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