Whether you’re an author, poet, freelance writer, or all the above, merch matters. Brand merchandise provides not only a chance for your readers to show their support and feel a part of a community. It also deepens your brand recognition and increases your income, enabling you to stay creative without taking on one more odd job.
Think back to a t-shirt you bought at a concert or a coffee mug from a school gift shop. You still have the most important merch handy, don’t you? Merchandise creates a lasting connection between your readers and you. Jade and Wilnona, the Ladies of the award-winning group And I Thought, know how to market their skills via blog, book, merch, and more. Here are four easy steps they have tried and tested to help you get started to translate your literary work into merchandise (and spending money).
1. Identify Your Target Audience
Who are your readers? Why do they like your work? You might already have access to these fans through personal relationships, social media, a website, or a blog. Each provides the perfect channel to gather information about your readers and identify what they would want to buy. I asked Jade and Wilnona how they created their merchandise for their target audience: women, ages 25 and older, career driven, and single or in a relationship. Their strategy: “We really just wanted to make what we love and want to buy.”
2. Choose the Right Items
Now that you have an idea of who your target audience is, consider what items would appeal to them. Some common types of merchandise range from bookmarks, buttons, and notebooks, to t-shirts, hoodies, and drinkware. Do you enjoy writing sci-fi stories? Consider designing a series of space themed buttons your readers can sport on a jacket or a backpack.
The Ladies’ website features a Store page that showcases their book-themed clothing line and merchandise for sale, inviting readers to “Be an, And I Thought Lady.” From their clothing line, you can purchase dresses, purses, shoes, and jewelry. You can also find wine glasses, mugs, and flasks. “It’s great to have options. You can sit around, laugh and have a glass of wine while you read one of our books!”
3. Turn Ideas into Designs
You’ve connected with your readers and identified product ideas, now you can start creating! There are several resources you can use to make your designs look attractive and professional without being an expert. Canva is a free, online graphic design tool. From logos and business cards to tote bags and t-shirts, Canva offers an extensive library of high-quality images, graphics, fonts, and templates to choose from or edit. Plus, it’s user friendly for those with little to no design experience. When designing a product, create something that you are proud of and will likely wear or use yourself.
4. Promote Your Merchandise
You’ve done your research and created your designs. Now it’s time to share your inventory. There are many ways you can promote your literary merchandise including word of mouth, social media, and self-promotion. Use the channels your audience frequents/favors. And good luck!