If you’re a YouTube influencer, you’ve probably thought about selling merch. Or, maybe you already have merch on offer but it’s not moving the way you want. Never fear! No matter if you’re just starting out with merch for your YouTube channel or you’re looking for ways to create merch that will actually sell, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we cover creative merch ideas for YouTubers and streamers so you can create the merch your subscribers want and start earning on your creative efforts. We’ll be talking about seven of the design ideas we’re loving right now, complete with real-life examples from popular YouTube influencers.
Before we get into our favorite design ideas and creative merch ideas for YouTubers and streamers, here’s something important to remember: Your number of subscribers doesn’t matter if your merch is boring.
That means you really need to think about your subscribers and what they’re interested in when creating your merch. While branded merch is a good start, you’re probably going to need to get a lot more creative if you want to make real money from merch sales. The creative merch ideas we include here go well beyond a simple logo (though that’s in here, too) and will give you more than enough inspiration for your own YouTube or streamer merch that your subscribers will love.
PS* Just How Much Can you Make Selling Merch?
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Creative Merch Design Ideas for YouTubers and Streamers
If you want to create awesome merch that whips your subscribers into a frenzy, these design ideas will help. Put these ideas to use to create merch that your subscribers will want to show off and add an income stream to your YouTube influencer earnings to boot!
1. Causes and Beliefs
What are you passionate about? Creating a special merch design to promote a cause or charity is a terrific way to engage followers, sell merch, and support something important to you. You can donate a portion of the profits or all of them, depending on how you’re feeling.
Pixelated Apollo launched a Defenders Never Win design to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders and it’s been a great success. Pixelated Apollo’s community loves this and 100% of the proceeds are going to a great cause.
YouTube influencer Thataylaa is a beauty influencer who creates content that features makeup tutorials and beauty tips. She created a video series called #15DaysofFoundation to support Project Beauty Share, selling specialized merch for the event and donating 100% of profits. She’s done this fundraiser for years and her followers love it:
In addition to using special merch to fundraise for a cause, you can use it to show your personal beliefs. This can be beneficial for both you and your subscribers since many people want to follow and support people who share their beliefs.
Knorpp and South designed custom merch that represents their beliefs as a family. The merch includes colorful patterns, their logo, and inspirational quotes that resonate with their 250K subscribers.
2. Current Events
Current events and holidays provide a super-easy chance for you to create new and timely merch for your subscribers. Ashley James launched an entire shirt collection following the Women’s March in 2017.
Illustrator Mei Yu created a limited-edition Mother’s Day merch run for her YouTube subscribers. She created the designs during a video art lesson and then sold the design at the end.
3. Milestones and Virality
If you’ve hit a goal or milestone with your channel, or your content has gone viral and you’ve found yourself turned into a meme, capitalize on it! Even if you’ve just hit your first 1,000 subscribers, you can create a limited merch run for those who were there from the beginning. If you’re leveraging virality, you can tap into that with exclusive merch, as well.
Ed Bassmaster created exclusive merch for his viral PSH!, Look At This Car, and other popular videos that his true fans will clamor for.
For inspiration on documenting milestones with merch, check out Mr. Fruit’s Teespring shop:
4. Inside Jokes
If you have a tagline, phrases, or images that are specific to your community, you have one of the best creative merch ideas for YouTubers and streamers ready to go. Subscribers follow you because they value your content and creating merch from shared inside jokes will go a long way towards making them feel more engaged and valued as a subscriber.
Creating content that your subscribers can relate to is vital to having a successful YouTube channel as well as merch that sells. Your merch designs and phrases need to match your brand—that’s what your subscribers want. Otherwise, they wouldn’t subscribe. If your merch doesn’t match your brand and style, it’s not going to sell.
YouTuber Karleigh Klostermann launched her “happy lifeツ” merch in line with her messaging to subscribers encouraging them to move through the struggles they deal with in their daily lives and find the happy.
ShadyPenguinn, known for using the phrase “it’s a crit!” every time they score a critical hit on Pokémon, used that phrase to create high-selling merch that resonates with their subscribers as well as others in the gaming community. This is a clever way to use an in-joke to get more YouTube subscribers.
The Food Ranger is another YouTuber that knows how to work their audience. They use their merch to encourage subscribers to view and use food as a means of connection between people across cultures. And the merch reflects that. A great example is their “Spicy” merch that has the word “spicy” printed in several languages.
5. Limited Editions
Exclusivity is a big motivator. Create a special design and offer if up for a limited amount of time or in a limited quantity. This is another situation where virality can be beneficial. If you have content that’s gone viral or something coming out that you know is going to really excite your subscribers, create a piece of merch for that content. You could even offer limited runs for “first edition” versions of your merch designs so the followers who jump in first can have bragging rights.
The Real AK is a creator who really made the “first edition” idea work for him. He sold hundreds of first edition items in the week following the launch of the line and even ended the campaign early because of the sales. Then, he relaunched the same design without the “first edition” distinction so followers could still buy the design, but only a select few could claim to be an owner of the first edition of the design.
YouTube influencer MeatCanyon had great success with a line timed to be released along with new content. The merch includes characters from MeanCanyon’s videos and is a big hit with their subscribers.
Your merch doesn’t always need to have complex, colorful designs for your subscribers to bite. Minimalism and simplicity are great options if you know that your audience appreciates that sort of thing. This could mean creating branded merch that just includes your logo or a simple line drawing with just one or two colors.
YouTuber and travel influencer Nicole Eddy created an exclusive “It’s Summer Somewhere” line that perfectly reflects her personal brand and love of surf and travel while still maintaining a simple design and incorporating her logo on the merch.
YouTubers Jess and Mclane also went with simplicity for their MESS and 7 Tattoo merch and their followers loved it.
7. Unique to You
One of our favorite ways to find creative merch ideas for YouTubers and streamers is right in the comments section. Scroll through the comments that your subscribers and viewers are leaving on your videos and take note of any trends that pop up. If you use characters or mascots in your content, for example, pay particular attention to the ones that get the most attention. You can get excellent merch ideas from both loved and hated characters (some people love to hate things).
The most important thing to remember is that you are unique and your approach to content is unique. People follow you on social media because they enjoy that special something you bring to the table, so your merch should reflect your unique personality.
YouTuber Safiya Nygaard is a great example of an influencer who knows how to work her personality for her subscribers. Her niche is being a consumer tester of sorts, showcasing both common and uncommon products in her videos that her subscribers are probably curious about but would never actually buy. Her merch plays on her personality well—fun, silly, and full of the slogans her subscribers have come to expect of her.
Another strong example of a brand that creates merch that is unmistakeably theirs is F.B.E. They’re an award-winning digital media agency that produces content across platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook. They boast more than 44 million subscribers across platforms and 1+ billion minutes watched monthly. They’re a pretty big deal, in other words. The content they produce targets younger viewers and includes everything from reaction videos to fully-produced shows.
As you would expect from such an enormous operation, F.B.E. has a huge selection of merch. The merch is bright, light, and fun, and includes titles, characters, and themes that have made an appearance in their content. They have a huge following and they are dialed into exactly why their audience loves them.
YouTuber Roman Atwood, of the channel Smile More, runs a family-friendly channel about Roman’s life in Ohio. He regularly features family and friends in his videos where they participate in pranks and test videos. The Smile More channel is full of harmless fun and family, all focused on happiness.
As you’d expect, this focus on happiness extends to Smile More’s merch offering. Most of the merch includes the Smile More logo and gives customers several options for color and placement. The purpose of the merch is, of course, to bring in money, but it also leverages the idea that happiness is available to everyone. Even the store’s name, The Smile More Store, is fun to say.
Most Popular YouTube Merch
There are so many different influencer merch ideas out there. We recommend seeking out feedback from your subscribers to find the most creative merch ideas for YouTubers and streamers. However, there are also some tried and true products that the best influencer merch stores carry. The best part is that you can get started with these for free if you use a print-on-demand influencer merch company!
When considering the merch you want to sell, your audience is your best friend. What will they actually wear and use? What will they be proud to show off in public? That’s the merch you want to sell.
There are three very popular categories of merch that you’ll likely be offering for sale:
Clothing like t-shirts, hoodies, and even socks are huge merch sellers. Selling these items is a surefire way to get more exposure for your brand, too, since customers will likely wear your merch when they’re hanging out with friends in public.
In a survey of merch retailers, 90% of them sell t-shirts as a staple product, meaning they always sell t-shirts, no matter what. Those retailers also sell hoodies (66%), sweaters (33%), and socks (26%).
Totes are another great merch offer. They have tons of real estate to plaster your brand or design (and customers are more forgiving of large logos on totes than they are, say, on t-shirts) and as more and more places ban plastic bags, people will have increasing use for reusable bags. They also tend to be cost-effective.
Among those merch retailers we talked about earlier, 40% of them sell embroidered hats. No matter what kind of hat you sell, though—beanies, baseball caps, trucker hats—they’re going to sell. People love hats.
Merch is the perfect way to capitalize on your popularity as an influencer and earn some extra income at the same time. Plus, merch is a great addition to your advertising and marketing strategy and can help boost brand awareness and get you more followers (who will then buy your merch… and the cycle continues). With the creative merch ideas for YouTubers and streamers we’ve shared here, you have everything you need to start selling!