A big question for comic creators that are interested in pursuing the potentially lucrative alternative source of revenue that merchandise offers is this; what do you put on merchandise?
This article will definitely not be going too much into detail. This would be an endless article if I were to do that. Instead, this article will focus on some general ideas that can help you generate your own concepts based on your own works.
One added benefit this article offers is that it’ll also suggest just how you can help increase the chances that your new merch will be a hit.
For now, let’s start with some of these ideas, shall we?
So What Do You Put On Merchandise?
Directly Reference Your Own Work
If you create comics you should realize that you are producing both a visual and literary work… most of the time.
You can definitely take full advantage of that when you’re designing merchandise.
You can do a number of different things to profit from your work directly. Some of those ideas being…
1) Copy and paste your panels
Usually done with comic strips but don’t limit yourself try it out if you’re up for it.
2) Parody your own characters or story
Wanna see what your characters would look like if you put them in a different setting? Maybe give you non-steam punk themed comic a themed punk look? Either ways, feel free to have fun with this one.
3) Reference your story (dialogue or scenes)
This sometimes takes a little more creativity. You can use plain text or accompanying designs to accomplish this idea.
4) Apply designs across merchandise types
Have you made a poster already? Slap it on a t-shirt or a hoodie.
5) Brand that $&#!
Does your comic have an identifying symbol like Superman’s ‘S’ or Captain America’s Shield? Put it on that merchandise!
Sometimes your merch doesn’t have to have any relationship with your comics. You can get creative and offer just about anything.
Do you think your sense of humor is shared among your fans? Why not make merchandise that reflects who you are? You’d be surprised how much original goods like this can help!
Use What’s Already Out There!… BUT…
Ok, before we all go a little crazy and start thinking that I just suggested that you go and make a carbon copy of someone else’s merch for your own benefit just wait…
I am suggesting two things.
1) Look for inspiration
Take a look throughout the internet and see what kind of merch your peers are offering.
Maybe their designs are interesting? Maybe their font looks cool enough that maybe you should use it?
Maybe, just maybe, they’re doing something a little like everyone else. Maybe they’re…
2) Play With Memes
Don’t be afraid to look into this avenue. A lot of people are using similar designs, jokes, quotes, or templates collected from the internet to create their own merchandise.
Just what do you put on your merchandise? Who knows. Maybe you’d like to make a play on the whole “Keep Calm and [Insert Reference Here]” shtick or the “Welcome to the Internet, I’ll be Your Guide!” bit.
There is something important to remember throughout all of this:
- Do your homework and…
- Please, PLEASE look around to MAKE SURE IT’S LEGAL! (I can’t stress this enough!)
Some designs are not yours to use. Just because it’s on the internet does not mean it’s a free for all. Taking some design you found somewhere and using it for your merchandise can lead to serious legal problems.
Now, to a more pleasant topic.
How To Increase Potential Sales of New Merchandise
A major deterrent for a lot of comic creators that are looking to design merchandise is self-doubt. A lot of people just aren’t sure that they know what people will want to buy.
There are two things that you can do with this self-doubt
- Ignore it and go with what you want to do.
- Test your ideas out (recommended)
Now, how you go about the second options is this.
2) Don’t be Afraid to Make Changes
What you want to do here is simple. Get a bunch of people to look at your merchandise idea. This can take the shape of a photograph, a sample (free ones leads to a bias response most times), or a presentation (you show up with your sample merchandise and present it to your people).
Ideally, you want to get a group of people that meet your target market (people you think will buy) for your merchandise.
Ask them all sorts of questions, some suggestions are:
- What do they think of the design?
- What colors do they like best for the design to be displayed on? (i.e. Do they like the design on a red t-shirt or a white one)
- How much would they be willing to pay for merchandise like this?
- Who do they expect to wear this stuff?
- Where could they expect to see this type of merchandise displayed (on which social media platforms, what stores, etc)?
- If they could, what would they change about it?
You can also ask them anything you think will help with any self-doubt you may have.
1) Ask for Feedback
We aren’t done yet. In case people respond negatively to your ideas you have a new course of action. You can take the input offered to you and you can put it into your redesigning efforts. Polish up those ideas and then…
3) Rinse, Wash, Repeat
Do it again until you’re sufficiently satisfied with the feedback.
Well folks, there you have it. A good little guide for figuring out what you can put on merchandise and, more importantly, a few suggestions for how to make sure that that merch will sell!
Now I have a question for you; what do you put on merchandise?