Making the Most of Your Merch
Written by Baylor Meche
What are you most known for?
There are countless mediums artists use to not only express themselves but also make a living from their creative energy. From embroidery to paintings to ceramics, people will think of something specific when they see your name. Whether you’re a small business or an artist, it’s very important to consider this when building your online store or getting ready for an event. It may seem like a no-brainer to identify what your signature is, however if you experiment with multiple mediums, try keeping them within a similar aesthetic or vibe. This will be the base of your brand as an artist to build on.
Let’s look at a local Austin creative, @chronic_the_hedgeh0g for example. They’re most known for their handmade rugs that are colorful and often feature vintage video games. When someone sees their instagram or booth at a market, these rugs are the immediate eye-catcher. They also make t-shirts and other forms of merch that all complement their signature rugs.
What low-cost merch complements your signature?
Building up a collection of merch can seem like giant pain at first. Creating art already takes time and energy, and stressing out over an event is the last thing you want to do. Once you’ve figured out your signature thing whether it be art prints, rugs, tattoos, etc. it’s tempting to just stop there and hope for the best. This isn’t taking full advantage of your chance to show off your art to the world.
There are tons of low-cost, low-effort ways to make the most of an event or convention.
- Die-Cut Stickers: Great for offering an extra add-on to purchases or a free gift that makes your customers even more excited about your art
- Enamel Pins: Can seem like a bigger investment than stickers, however they tend to be a great low cost upsell for customers at in-person events
- T-Shirts: Always a big seller at events and in online stores. Doing a run of screen printed shirts will usually pay for itself in the long run and give some residual income to fuel your bigger projects.
- Tote Bags: Another great opportunity to upsell. Giving one away free when customers purchase multiple products will definitely push people over the edge to get an extra item.
- Small Watercolor Prints: Extremely cost effective way to appeal to those customers who don’t want larger prints or Giclees
As an example, let’s say you’re a tattoo artist working a convention. It’s common to get totally booked up quickly. You’ll most likely walk away with a decent profit from tattooing all weekend, but you’re closing yourself off to all of the people who couldn’t get tattooed. Taking one of your flash designs and putting it on a t-shirt or art print opens yourself up to all of those people who like your work but couldn’t get tattooed.
Do you know your audience/market?
Figuring out your audience can be tricky. It’s possible to have a huge online following of people who love your work, but physical markets and events tend to be more niche. Before you book that booth, it’s good practice to look into the event itself. What other vendors will be there? What type of person will you be presenting your art to? How large is the event space? These are all great questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re putting merch out there that sells.
If you’re doing a fancy pants event catered to art collectors, it’s probably best to bring a more selective group of pieces. People going to these would be more encouraged to buy higher priced items that seem extremely unique such as larger fine art prints, sculptures, etc. On the flip side if you’re doing an outside weekend market, you’ll see a higher number of people quick browsing who will be on their feet all day. If your signature medium is higher cost custom items, this is the perfect place to bring stickers, t-shirts, and other promo items. Variety is the key to grabbing the attention of these browsers so they spend more time perusing your merch and actually make a purchase that’s easy to carry around.
Are you ready for your next event?
This all may seem super overwhelming, however preparation can be a huge deciding factor on your success at an event. After putting your heart in soul into all of your merch, you want to make sure that you leave a market feeling successful. There are several small things that may seem like an afterthought or overkill. Based on our experience doing conventions and events for nearly a decade, here are some of the finishing touches to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
1 - How Will Customers Pay?
Good old fashioned cash is always an option, but in the days of cyberspace most people don’t have it on them. If you’re starting out, printing out a QR code to your Venmo or PayPal account is a quick and easy way to capture electronic payments. If you’re more established and doing markets frequently, a card reader could be a great investment.
2 - Set Up and Displays
Some conventions do provide tables and set up tools, but it’s always good to look into the details to make sure you’re prepared. Your merch needs a home to be displayed for everyone to see so finishing touches like table cloths, signage, display racks, etc. are great for elevating your presentation.
3 - Sign Up Sheets
If you do a lot of custom work and commissions, having a sign up sheet for people to fill out can bring in a slew of potential clients that will keep bringing in new profit after the market day has passed.
4 - Post-Sale Supplies
Once you make a sale, customers will most likely have to travel with their purchase to some extent. No one wants to walk around all day awkwardly holding an armful of stuff, so make sure you have bags to hand out. Bonus Points if they’re personalized with your logo or artwork.
At the end of the day, markets are supposed to be a fun way for you to put yourself out there and reap in the benefits of your hard work. There’s always room for improvement, and your first time will be a great learning experience for the future. Our team at Mindzai is here to help get you high quality printed merch and take some of the hassle away. Shoot us an email if you have any questions about our products. Get out there and start showing your art to the world!