Band merchandise is a pretty hot commodity, especially for popular bands. But did you know that there is a way to make band merch as a side hustle even if you aren't in a band? This is an idea that I've been researching, and in this article, we're going to talk about it. Can you really make money designing band merch?
Here's what you need to know!
Making Money Designing Band Merch
First of all, let's talk about exactly what we mean by ‘band merch.' Obvious examples of this include items like…
- Anything else a band may produce to sell to their fans to make a bit of extra money
Bands nowadays really rely on merchandise to help them earn money. With most music going online nowadays, CDs and other physical music media just isn't selling like it used to. To be really honest, CDs are old-school. And yes, bands are still selling them, as well as vinyl and even cassette tapes sometimes… but nowadays, these are mostly novelty items.
When people want to listen to music from their favorite band nowadays, it is just so easy to get online and listen for free that there is really very little reason to try to compete with that. And since most of this ‘streaming' is being done on free sites, like YouTube and Spotify, bands are being required to find different ways of earning revenue.
And that is where merchandise comes in.
And that is where YOU come in!
If you love designing band merchandise, there is a very good chance that you can earn some sweet extra cash designing some for local bands. Of course, this will require you to take on a little bit of risk. It will also require some elbow grease and networking.
But if you're already experienced in the scene and know a lot of people who are playing in bands, this could be an awesome way to earn some money!
This is how you do it.
Step One: Choose A Band
You can actually either just start with some cool designs, or start with a band in mind. But either way, you just need to get started… and choosing a band can be a great way to figure out exactly what kind of merch you want to design. It can also help you to figure out what style of design you are going to start working on.
You would probably not, for example, draw a field full of daisies as a T-shirt for a metal band… and you probably wouldn't have a robot being crucified on a T-shirt for a gospel quartet!
So choose the general direction first, to get a grasp on exactly what kinds of things you are going to be designing.
Step Two: Choose The Items
What kinds of things are you going to try to design? Are you going to make T-shirts? Are you going to design some buttons? Are you going to make stickers?
Make a plan for the types of merchandise you want to create. Remember that you will usually want to incorporate the name of the band into your designs in some way.
Step Three: Figure Out Your Style
How are you going to design these items? Are you going to paint? Are you going to draw with pencils? Are you going to spray-paint? Are you going to design the graphics in a computer program?
There are a lot of ways to design images, graphics, pictures, and comics… so take stock of your skills and figure out what you have to work with.
Step Four: Start Designing
Next, start designing! Once you have your images/graphics in place, you can start scanning them, uploading them, or converting them to files that you can use to design merch. There are a lot of websites that will let you upload your own artwork to make stickers, T-shirts, bags, leggings, and more. Printify.com will let you print out a bunch of stuff, as will teespring.com/shop. But there are a lot of websites that will let you do this, and you can often order stuff from them at a very inexpensive price.
At any rate, start designing, print some stuff, and take it to the band to see if they would be interested. This is where the risk comes in, because there is no guarantee that they will like your work or want you to keep designing things for them.
But… if they do like your work, you may be able to work out a deal.
And that leads us to how you make money with this side-hustle.
How To Earn Money With This Side Hustle
There are two basic ways to earn money with this side hustle.
- Sell bands the designs that you have created, allowing them to use your designs to print their own merch
- Or, you can manage their merch for them by taking orders, providing the merch they want, and marking the products up so that you make a profit on every order
If it feels like either one of these may be a hard sell, consider this…
Many bands are made up of working people who do not have time on the side to create merch. But even if these people do have that kind of extra time, the odds of them having the skills to do it are pretty limited.
At the same time, these bands need merch if they want their group to move on to the next level of success. So, in a sense, if they don't have awesome merch to sell, they are going to be severely disadvantaged.
If you present a business-minded band with some awesome merch, there is a good chance that if they like what they see, they are going to want to do some business with you!
How Much Can You Make Designing Merch For Local Bands?
The amount of money that you can earn designing merch for local bands is really dependent upon four things.
- The competitiveness of your local band scene
- The amount of money local bands are earning
- Your skill as a designer
- Your ability to network and sell products to bands
I have seen artists sell drawings for $20 to bands that they're friends with. I've also seen artists sell designs for $150! I have never personally known a designer who also managed merch for bands though… and I almost feel like that would be worth even more. But at the same time, the bands in your local area would have to be motivated enough to spend some money… so that means that the overall quality of your local scene could really have an impact on your business.
If you live in a larger metropolitan area with a thriving music scene… you could make some pretty awesome money like this!
What Do You Need To Make This Side Hustle Work?
To make this hustle work, you are going to need at least a few pieces of gear. You are going to need artwork supplies (whatever you need to create designs in your chosen medium). But you are also going to need a computer, some design software, and the skills necessary to move the process from start to finish. Designing band merchandise, or any kind of merchandise, for that matter… is actually pretty technical stuff.
It may take a bit of trial and error to find your ‘zone,' and to figure out what equipment works the best for you. But once you get it figured out, you should be able to buckle down and start making money with your designs.
There are also other design side hustles that you could use your skills for. Designing eBook covers and menus for local restaurants are two examples. I'm sure you can think of other places where your creative skills could be put to good use.
My Personal Feelings About Designing Band Merchandise As A Side Hustle
I really like the idea behind this side hustle. It's creative, it is pretty inexpensive to get started, and it packs in a lot of potential for people who are willing to work hard and hustle.
Granted, there is no guarantee that you will make any money at it. But if you hit it hard and get your thumb onto the pulse of your local music scene… you may just be able to figure out how to earn some pretty sweet cash with it.
One thing that you can count on is that bands are going to be needing a lot of merch in the years to come. And along with that, it is also true that many band members just don't have the time and/or the talent to design it themselves.
This really opens you up to the possibility of making waves if you're passionate about art and graphic design.
Of course, I think that you would have to really love this kind of business to be successful at it, because it would take a lot of work to get it up and off the ground.
But at the end of the day, that's what makes it rewarding!
If it were easy, everyone else would be doing it!
Our Final Opinion Of Making Money Designing Band Merch
Should you put your artistic and graphic-design skills to the test to start making band merch for extra money?
There are a lot of ways to make money online. Some are good, some not, but ALL of them are still just trading hours for dollars.
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