Being a geek was once an insult but, now, people who are passionate about a television show, a movie franchise, a video game, or a book series can proudly wear their fandom on their sleeve. With the popularity of online media outlets like Etsy and Shopify, it’s become easier for fans to express themselves with cool t-shirts, hoodies, posters, bracelets, bookmarks — you name it.
There are several ways you can make money producing products for fans of your favorite fandom.
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What Can You Do?
Since the rise of geek culture, several types of fandom-based businesses have emerged.
The first is an online retailer, where fans can buy just about any type of fandom-related product imaginable. These stores typically use mass production to lower costs and offer free shipping to their customers.
Another option is a service where fans pay for custom pieces, like t-shirts, sweatshirts, bookmarks, and more. These services typically employ artists to make their designs come alive.
The last option is a print-on-demand service, where fans can upload images they find on the web or create them themselves.
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These sites then let customers choose from several types of products, sizes, and other options.
All three of these options work well, but the first two are the most popular. What you need to do is figure out what type of merchandise you want to sell, and how you will incorporate your favorite pop culture themes into the look of your business.
Niche is Key
One thing you need to keep in mind when starting a fandom business is that there are already plenty of people selling the same types of products you are, so it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Find a theme that is unique and with which you can create a large variety of products. And, it should go without saying but do your research — try to find out what types of fandom-themed products have been successful in the past before deciding on a niche.
The best way to do this is by looking at other fans’ websites, Etsy’s best-selling items, Instagram and Twitter hashtags, and other similar listings for inspiration.
Use Your Creativity
Once you’ve decided on a specific type of product, it’s time to decide how you will make your products stand out from everyone else. The first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the software necessary to make whatever kind of fandom-themed merchandise it is you want to make.
If you are selling t-shirts, for example, then you will likely need to know how to use a software package like Photoshop or GIMP. Other products, like jewelry or wooden bookmarks, require less specialized software to make.
You will also need to procure materials to create your own merchandise. For t-shirts, you will need to either learn how to do screen printing or use heat-transfer vinyl. You can get whichever type of heat-transfer vinyl supply in bulk from a supplier. Keep in mind that you can also get cheap t-shirts wholesale, which are perfect for screen printing, too.
Choose Your Platform Wisely
The final thing you need to do is decide where to sell your products. While it might be tempting to open a a custom website, these platforms can be costly to run and maintain. In fact, for many types of fandom-themed businesses, a custom website is not necessary.
In most cases, it works best to use a service that allows you to create your own storefront and lets buyers browse through the products available. There are several reputable services that offer this capability, including Shopify and Etsy.
You can also use Instagram or Pinterest to sell fandom-themed products, although there are fewer protections for both sellers and buyers on these platforms. If you want to use these platforms, make sure you vet your customers before allowing them to purchase your merchandise so you know who you are dealing with.
Promote Your Merchandise to Your Fandom Community
Once you have a product and a platform for selling it, the next step is promotion. Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and Tumblr are great ways to promote your products because they allow people who enjoy your products to repost or share them with their friends. This is a great way to get your products in front of people who might not have even known you created and sell them.
So, what are you waiting for? Start your fandom merchandise business today and make some money while making other people happy with the cool things you create.