There’s plenty of focus on digital aspects when it comes to podcasting. However, one of the best ways to engage your audience and build buzz is with something people can get IRL: merchandise (AKA merch).
Podcast merch refers to physical products that support your show, such as apparel, artwork, and accessories. Whether you just started your podcast or your show’s been around for years, there are some big benefits when it comes to merch.
For starters, selling merch gives your audience an opportunity to uniquely support your content directly. It’s not all about monetization, though. Merch symbolizes the connection between you and your fans and establishes a sense of community.
Looking for podcast merch inspiration? Read on to see three creative examples, plus tips to make your merch line a success.
1. Go beyond your show’s logo for merch designs
When you think of podcast merch, your first idea might be putting your podcast name on a t-shirt or coffee mug. That’s not a bad idea by any means, but there are ways to get more creative with your designs.
“Raiders of the Lost Podcast,” a film and TV podcast hosted by James and Anthony Deveney, is a great example. They have a variety of shirts and hoodies featuring the phrase “Unsubscribed,” which is a little inside joke between them and their fans (James and Anthony use this line to tease the “trolls” of their show).
If you put a lot of work into your podcast logo, it makes sense that you’d want to display it in as many places as possible. That said, leveraging a catchphrase in your merch might resonate more with fans than your logo since they’re “in” on something.
This could be a quote that caught listeners’ attention or a tagline you use during episodes—you know your brand better than anybody else.
Keep in mind that you can add some variety here. For instance, James and Anthony also have products with their podcast logo and different film references in their merch store.
2. Give away merch to incentivize social sharing
Word of mouth is a great way to grow your audience. When someone tells you about an epic podcast, there’s a good chance you’ll give it a listen. So, what’s a unique way to incentivize your fans to help you out?
You guessed it: merch.
“Modern Minorities,” a podcast about work and life told through the lens of race and gender, nailed this strategy. Hosts Sharon Lee Thony and Raman Sehgal asked their listeners for a favor: email 10 friends and tell them why you enjoy the show.In exchange, Sharon and Raman would give away a first-edition “Modern Minorities” sticker set that featured images of historical people who embody the spirit of the podcast.
To make the process as easy as possible, they added suggested email copy on their website for fans to send. They also added a reminder to CC the podcast’s email address to keep track of the folks who participated in the campaign.
Offering free stickers (or any merch, for that matter) in exchange for fan endorsements is a clever alternative to traditional paid promotions. In addition to facilitating word of mouth, it gives your fans something memorable to keep and serves as a type of physical “ad” for your show.
3. Use merch to support causes you care about
If your podcast is mission-driven or you want to advocate for a specific cause, merch can be a great way to spread your message beyond the show. One creator who used this strategy is Patrick Gorton, who hosts “We Live On A Planet.”
In an effort to help grocery shoppers cut back on plastic, Patrick gave away 400 reusable shopping bags in his hometown of Oswego, New York. He added his podcast logo and URL in bold type so people knew exactly who supplied the bags.
This giveaway earned Patrick a spot on the front page of the local newspaper, along with a flattering story about his personal journey, his podcast, and goals for the show. Not a bad return on investment!
Whether you organize a giveaway like Patrick to raise awareness or sell your products and donate the proceeds, you can make an impact regardless of the size of your audience.
Tips to make the most of your podcast merch drop
Your podcast merch has the potential to be as unique as your show itself. The details will depend on factors like your personal style, your show’s genre, and what you want to accomplish. However, we have some merch strategy tips that can apply to almost any podcast.
Ask your audience what they want
Listener insights are helpful for many facets of podcasting, especially when it comes to your merch strategy. Bring your audience into the mix to see what piques their interest, whether it’s a mug, hoodie, poster, or something else (read on for more ideas!)
Podcasting has traditionally been a one-way medium. But with Anchor’s Q&A and Polls feature, you can field comments and questions directly in any episode on Spotify.
You can create a poll where listeners vote for their favorite merch idea, or keep it open-ended and let them suggest their own. Either way, this interactivity can make your audience feel more involved with your merch process. Not to mention, you could see more sales since you’re creating something your audience specifically asked for.
Offer a variety of products
You don’t need to limit your podcast merch to one or two items. Some of your fans might prefer t-shirts, while others are coffee fanatics who want to rep your show while drinking a cup of Joe. It can be beneficial to give your fans a larger catalog to browse.
This might sound like more work, but several print-on-demand services let you easily put your design(s) on all sorts of products. Plus, these services can handle fabrication, shipping, and customer support for all orders. Just keep in mind that they take a percentage of your sales.
Share your merch on every channel you have
When your merch is available for purchase, make sure you announce it across all of your platforms—not just on your podcast episodes.
For example, you can “pin” links to your merch on your social media profiles, add a page to your podcast website, or send an email blast to your fans.
Also, if fans post pictures wearing your merch, repost them on your profiles! This is a great way to show the world that people love or support your work.
Wear your merch during video podcasts
If you’re recording a video podcast, it’s a great opportunity to show off your merch. Looking at static pictures of products is one thing, but when people see you using them during episodes, it creates a more dynamic experience.
We’ve seen lots of creators rocking their own merch during video episodes. Not only does it generate more awareness, but it saves you time when picking an outfit to wear!
Plan your merch drop date strategically
You might be eager to release your merch ASAP, but it’s important to consider timing. For example, you could schedule your drop to align with a specific holiday. Or maybe you could create limited-edition merch for your podcast’s anniversary.
We’ve also seen pop culture podcasts drop merch to coincide with movie releases and album releases. Either way, the “when” of your merch deserves as much consideration as the “what.”
Your podcast isn’t just a show—it’s a brand
Think about your favorite movies, musicians, and TV shows. Chances are it’s more than just content that gets fans excited; it’s the whole brand universe (which often includes merchandise).
The same goes for podcasts. Your content might be the main attraction, but your audience wants more ways to become part of what you’ve created—and merch is a great way to make that happen.
Do you have podcast merch that you’re proud of? Give us a shout on Twitter @anchor—we’d love to see it!