You may have noticed that I have my Melanin Magic store where I sell merchandise like shirts, notebooks, jewelry and travel mugs. I've had that for a couple of months, and although I haven't been promoting it as much as I should, it does provide me with a couple of coins here and there. Thus, a lot of people have been asking me how I sell products, where do I get mugs printed, where do I get shirts printed and all of that stuff. You'll be happy to know that I do not have the time, energy, or space to keep all these items in my house. I keep a small stash for vendor events and photos, but that's about it. This is one common misconception about selling merchandise: you need a ton of money and a ton of space to get started. Well, that's fake news.
You do not need to get your t-shirts or products printed, and then torture yourself trying to mail them out every day. I will tell you that mailing out my books can become inconvenient. While I don't mind it, because I like to touch each and every book, I do realize how I may drop the ball for time to time. I'm busy and I might not get to the post office on time, or I run out of padded envelopes or inventory. I might be out of town for a while and have orders that don't ship out for a few days. Those are the types of things that you need to take into consideration when you're running a product-based business operation.
In addition to my books, I've always wanted to sell merchandise. I feel like a lot of the sarcastic and sassy things I say belong on a shirt or phone case. But investing money to get them printed and then having them not sell was a risk I wasn't willing to take. Then the thought of having inventory was a headache in itself. How many smalls, mediums and larges do I order? Where will I keep them? What about shipping? There were too many questions that I didn't feel like answering, and I let the dream die for a while. Then I did some research on fulfillment services that held and shipped the inventory for you. I went through quite a few different options and finally settled on the tools that I use today.Because I already knew the undertaking that it was to ship books, I decided to make most of my Melanin Magic shop on-demand printing and shipping. While does suck that the profit margins are less, I rather make a few dollars per item than turn my apartment into a warehouse.
I've noticed that my blog readers love to overcomplicate their whole entire life. So I'm here today to tell you exactly how to start selling merchandise by tomorrow. You'll be surprised at how fast and how cheap it can be. This is exactly how you start to sell merchandise and physical products without holding any inventory.
Selling merchandise and physical products without holding inventory
First, you will come up with whatever idea you have for your merchandise. Whether it's a shirt, socks, a hat, or an iPhone case - decide on whatever. Then, you're not going to try to become a graphic designer overnight. If that is not your ministry, you need to stay in your lane and do what it is that you're good at. Since I've been on ya'll Instagrams, I know design isn't a skill for most of you. You need to go on Fiverr.com and hire a graphic designer. For five dollars you can get your T-shirt, your mug, or whatever items you plan on selling designed. You can have the designs that you need done in 24 hours for the price of a Starbucks latte. If you want to explore other designers, you can find a freelancer on Dribbble as well.
After you have gotten your item designed, you are now going to experience the mecca of merchandise: dropshipping. You can set up an online store to automatically print and fulfill the orders for you, making it a source of passive income with minimal investment.
How dropshipping works
Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn't keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, a store purchases the item through a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the seller (you) never sees or handles the product. You don't need put up any money upfront, just provide the design, which allows you to take risks with items and not lose money if it doesn't sell.
Here's how it works. You choose the item you want to sell and create the design. You upload the PNG or JPEG of the design to one of the third-party sites I've listed below. Now you have something that's called an auto-fulfillment store. This means that whenever somebody orders the product from you, your dropshipper will process the order, print the item, and mail it to your customer with your branding on it. You literally have to do zero work put place the orders as they come in and get people to your site. Make sure you take advantage of the sample orders, so you can have something on hand to wear and use. You have to be a walking billboard for your brand after all. You can use the sample order to not only see the quality of your product, but also have products to shoot for promotional materials. It's a win-win.
Tools for Creating and Dropshipping Merchandise
- Open up a Shopify store and use the Oberlo plugin to dropship your products. This is a totally automated and hands-off system. Oberlo gives you access to all products that you would find in a marketplace like Amazon.
- Get your custom merchandise dropshipped by using a service like Printful, Print Aura, or Zazzle. You can use this tool to create realistic mockups, even if you don't have the products in your hands.
I know this post probably blew your mind and made you realize how simple it is to get started. All I ask is that you sign up for tools using the links in this blog post, so that I may get a small commission from your newfound discovery. As you know, I don't teach expensive masterclasses or workshops. I share what I know with you, for free. So if you got to discover something cool or started using a new tool that you found on my blog, I would greatly appreciate it if you use the affiliate links so I can get the credit for being the plug. You're the best!
Can't wait to see what you create!
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