Looking to blow some cash on your next order of tour merch?
Here are 7 things you can do to waste your money:
1. Shitty Tees
WHY? Everyone hates shitty tees. You know the ones — oversized square cut, big baggy sleeves, tiny neck, the ones that shrink two sizes in the wash yet never lose their sandpaper finish. Ick. Just stop it already! You (yes, YOU!) can break the cycle of cheap band logo tees.
INSTEAD: Upgrade. Fans are smart, they want cool artist merch they’ll actually wear over and over again. A nicer, mid-level blank tee can sometimes be as little as $1 more, and a really nice (super-soft, preshrunk, retail fit) blank tee is typically only about $3 more. Nicer tees sell-through faster (so you won’t be sitting on inventory for too long), sell for a higher price point (so you make more money), and often become your fan’s favorite tee — they’ll wear it til it disintegrates (great promo for you.)
How Woodshed can help: There are hundreds of options out there for blank tees alone – we can simplify the process for you with our Good/Better/Best blanks.
2. Shitty Designs
WHY? Ugly designs kill sales. Good designs sell product. (We won’t even bother mentioning Apple, Tesla, etc.) Let’s face it – the boring logo tee will only sell so well, and won’t appeal to everyone. Unless you’re a pro, designing yourself will cost you more money in clean-up and set-up fees to get the design print-ready than hiring a pro in the first place (not to mention the money you’re leaving on the table without cool stuff to sell.)
INSTEAD: A good, professional band merch designer will pay for herself exponentially. Provided they’re experienced in merch design, they’ll know some ways to make your design ideas cool while limiting colors to cut down on print costs and save you cash on set-up costs. An experienced pro can offer you some cool colorways that will look great (there’s more to life than white logos on black tees, after all!), create realistic product mockups to boost online sales, and give you some ideas on accessories that might sell well with your logo. In the long run, your band branding will be much better off, you’ll look cooler and more professional, your fans will buy more merch, and you’ll make more money to fund what you truly enjoy – playing music.
How Woodshed can help: Lean on our in-house design team for anything from simple band tee designs to custom illustrations. We’ll give you an upfront merch design quote so there are no surprises.
3. Too Many Colors
WHY? Sure, 1-color logo tees might be a little boring, but it can get really expensive to screen print a full-color photo from your album cover onto a tee (unless you’re ordering a crap-ton). Sure, we do offer Print on Demand (POD) with Direct to Garment (DTG)…but more on that below.
INSTEAD: Limit your designs to 6 colors and 1-2 print locations. (3-4 colors per side is a happy medium.) This will easily save you that extra $3 you paid to upgrade to the nicer tee, and the savings will also help pay for the professional designer and/or a larger-quantity order. (We also let you combine colorways for a bigger quantity discount – another great way to offer your fans more while saving money.) It’s a balancing act.
How Woodshed can help: When we discuss your merch order, we’ll have a look at your artwork, send you some mockups, and suggest some ways to keep your costs in line and maximize the impact of the screen printing.
4. Print On Demand (POD)
WHY? Sure, being able to list your merch online and print just one at a time after you get an order sounds sexy, but the reality is quite different. The digital print quality offered by POD via DTG (Direct to Garment printing) is not as great as traditional screen printing. What’s worse? The higher cost per item (usually $15+ per shirt) can quickly shrink your profit margin. NOTE: While we do offer full-color DTG, we feel it’s really best for samples order, not production.
INSTEAD: Stick with traditional screen printing, but save some cash in other ways by hiring a professional designer, increasing your order quantities, limiting the number of colors per design, and even farming out fulfillment services.
How Woodshed can help: Utilize our POD service for quick samples if you need to check out a specific design on a physical tee. Let us help you compare all-in pricing with POD vs traditional screen printing.
5. Not Ordering Enough
WHY? For traditional screen printing, set-up costs are the same for 25 shirts and 2,500. Ordering 25-50 tees is fine for a test run if you have to, but you’ll make a lot more profit by increasing the order quantity.
INSTEAD: Order more. At least consider the next-higher quantity tier’s price break – you might be surprised how much you’ll save. The cost per item can come way down since the set-up is already factored in, and it’s also generally cheaper to print more in the initial order rather than a smaller reprint order to fill stock later.
How Woodshed can help: When discussing your order, we’d be happy to quote a few quantity levels so you can decide what’s best for your tour budget. If you don’t have the space to carry a larger order from city to city, our fulfillment team can drop-ship batches to different venues just before you arrive.
6. Hidden Fees & Other Costs
WHY? Hidden fees and other costs can quickly drive up your costs. A quote or add may show a good cost per tee, but when you factor in costs like art set-up, screen set-up, custom color matching, even shipping and tax, your costs can be much higher.
INSTEAD: Check with vendor to make sure all costs are included in the quote. Ask questions and do the math!
How Woodshed can help: We give you an “all-in” cost per item so there are no surprises. We don’t charge extra for art set-up (as long as your art is already designed and print-quality, of course), we don’t charge extra for screen set-up or even for most ink upgrades (like vintage discharge, metallic and even glow-in-the-dark inks), and your order may even qualify for free shipping.
7. Ignoring Your Fans
WHY? Knowing your audience is key – who they are, what they like, where the shop, what the wear, what they buy. Too many artists put out merch they would personally wear instead of considering what their fans wear. This is a great way to feed your ego and waste money on merch that won’t sell.
INSTEAD: Look at what’s selling best and what’s not. Take a close look at your fans at your shows. Do some mild stalking on their socials — click on a fan’s comment and go to their page and see what they’re wearing in pics, who they are, what their friends are wearing. This is a good start if for some reason you don’t have true fan demographics.
How Woodshed can help: We can help you make a fan (customer) avatar to help streamline merch buying decisions. Lean on our 20+ years of music industry knowledge – we can consult you on profitable tour merch strategies, create eye-catching merch designs, and print tour merch your fans will love.
What do you think?
Comment below – we’d love to hear your thoughts on all this!