Why Every Streamer Should Sell Swag
One of the most important elements of a successful career as a content creator is developing a sense of “brand identity.” We cover what branding means to a broadcaster, and everything that goes into establishing a unique voice and platform in another course, but once you’ve done the work, you’ll find you have a portfolio of images, icons, and other ephemera representative of your brand. Emotes. Badges. Logos. Banners. Not only are these helping to define you and your community, they also present another opportunity to monetize: selling branded goods.
Viewers love to show off their favorite creators. They share content with their friends, introducing them to new broadcasters, new streams and videos. What’s more, they’re proud to be members of the community. These are often the primary factors that lead to someone buying, for example, a branded shirt, the logo of their favorite creator emblazoned across the chest. Having items like this available extend the reach of the content out away from the computer screen and into the real world. Plus, you spent all this time creating the right look and feel for your stream for a reason. All of your branding, your emotes, your thumbnails, they’re cool. Making them available to your fans just makes sense.
The best part is that, these days, you don’t need to have a huge audience to make this sort of stuff available, and you shouldn’t! An audience of any size is valuable, and giving your fans the chance to show off how much they love your stream, when it doesn’t cost you anything up front, is something you should give them as soon as possible.
It’s Easier Than It’s Ever Been
Not so long ago, selling a bunch of branded merchandise online would have been an enormous endeavor. You’d have had to design the site itself, set up your own payment system, design your own goods, and pay for everything up front. It would be like an entire new job, setting up and running a store, and you’d need a whole bunch of cash on hand just to get started. Now? Technology has come to the rescue.
“Print on Demand” describes a manufacturer of goods, usually things like shirts, coffee mugs, hats, and other easily branded items, that allows you to, instead of paying for a bunch of product up front with the intent to sell, simply buy and sell goods one item at a time. Through sites like Teespring, UberPrints, Spreadshirt, and others, you can upload your graphics, design your items, and put them up for sale without paying a dime. It’s only when someone makes the purchase that the item is created and shipped, and the money is split between the creator and the site.
This business model takes that high barrier of entry and knocks it right down, enabling anyone with a brand and an audience to sell cool stuff to their fans. Without up front costs, the reasons not to sell evaporate.
But, of course, this begs another question: what should you sell? The mainstays are easy enough, things like t-shirts, hoodies, hats, all the classics. But, you’ll find the real potential for earnings might come from logical extensions of your own brand. We’ve covered elsewhere how the best and most unique opportunities, when it comes to sponsorships and brand deals, will be the outside-of-the-box products that have more to do with you than your content. For example, a streamer oriented towards physical fitness would do well to work with athletic companies. The same principle should be applied to your branded products.
What makes your content, your platform, different? What makes you different? What items could you sell that speak to that? You’ll find that the more you’re able to come up with something that continues to tell your story, the more fans will be compelled to make a purchase. In short: anyone could sell a t-shirt. What could only you sell?