The idea of starting a business on the internet is popular these days. The recent pandemic encouraged even more people to pursue financial independence by relying on eCommerce.
Building an online business from scratch is tricky, especially if you have no prior experience. Nevertheless, the potential obstacles should, by no means, be discouraging. Most aspiring entrepreneurs who start from scratch run into similar issues. And without overcoming these problems, you should not expect to turn your idea into reality.
A custom merchandise business is one of the potential online business ideas that you could pursue.
In this article, we will cover the necessary steps to take if you want to try your luck with custom merchandise as an option.
Steps to Start a Custom Merchandise Venture
Pick Your Niche
The first thing you want to focus on is deciding your niche. As expected, the constant growth of eCommerce and custom merchandise is making the market quite competitive. This calls for extra carefulness when picking your niche.
For custom merchandise, the options are not endless, but there are quite a few to consider. The t-shirt market is probably one to avoid as a beginner. It is the most saturated niche for custom merchandise.
Do your thorough research and check other options, such as mugs, stickers, or all-over-print sneakers, to name a few examples.
Other than the product itself, you will also have to figure out which demographic to target. The designs reflect the interests of your audience. For instance, if you target dog owners, instead of generalizing the idea, why not pick a specific dog breed, such as huskies or french bulldogs?
The search volume drops, but it also means having to deal with less competition. The early struggles are more or less inevitable, so make it easier for yourself by eliminating the competition factor. Or, at the very least, minimize it.
Decide Who Is in Charge of Designs
Unless you have impeccable graphic design skills, you will have to find someone who can take care of that aspect of running the business.
Custom merchandise is not really custom without unique designs, and that applies to virtually all niches.
Professional designers can make a significant difference. One good idea can lead to a product becoming viral and attracting just enough shoppers to make a massive step forward with your business.
For someone who is a graphic designer professionally or treats it as a hobby, transitioning to a business approach should not be an issue. However, if you do not have the necessary skills or desire to learn, finding someone who can fill the void is the only option.
Switching to a joint venture is not that bad of an idea anyway. By having someone who takes care of designs, you can switch your focus to marketing.
Create a Promotional Strategy
Focusing entirely on search engine optimization with the hopes of attracting the majority of your new customers via search engines is not the only approach.
Sure, SEO is valuable and should be one of the priorities, but you should not discard other potential marketing channels.
For one, make the most out of social media. Different platforms, including Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, have potential customers if you can figure out a way to attract them.
Running giveaways, engaging with social media users, collaborating with influencers and other brands, as well as creating and publishing valuable content will build your social media presence over time.
Other than SEO and social media, you can also explore PPC marketing, guest posting on established blogs, and other methods. A lot of it comes down to your budget. The more money you can invest, the better results you can expect. On the other hand, even businesses with a small budget should be able to find viable solutions and make small steps to grow.
Look to Scale the Venture
Speaking of growth, you need to consider the fact that your original idea and approach might not cut it for long-term success.
Scaling the venture is tricky, but if you establish your store and gain a decent number of regular customers and customers who are new, it is up to you to move forward.
When it comes to custom merchandise, one of the most obvious scaling approaches is to add new products. Or rather, new product categories to expand the store. You would need to come up with new designs on your choice of merchandise anyway to keep things fresh.
Investing more money in marketing is another way to scale. You could, for instance, partner up with multiple influencers on social media and drive your brand with the help of influencers giving your merchandise shoutout to their audience.
A custom merchandise business is tricky to pull off, but that applies to virtually every other potential method to make money online.
A little bit of luck is involved, but you can overcome potential challenges with hard work even if luck is not on your side. Be methodical and take things slow if you have to.