TikTok marketing is sometimes a mystery—anything can go viral at any moment. That’s why it’s important to stay atop TikTok trends and experiment with content formats to see what sticks. But what happens when you strike gold?
Once your account has amassed an engaged following, you likely have opportunities to monetize your TikTok success. While some monetization options are limited to accounts with minimum follower counts or to creators in certain countries, there’s one way that anyone can make money on TikTok: branded merch.
Selling merch is a great way to transform your personal brand on TikTok into a thriving business. And it’s easier than you think to get started. Ahead, learn how to make merch for TikTok, find creative ideas for what to sell, and discover how you can sell merch to your fans directly from the app.
Why you should make merch for TikTok
Monetization options on TikTok vary depending on the size of your account and your location. TikTok’s Creativity Program (formerly known as the Creator Fund), for example, is currently only available to US TikTok accounts with more than 10,000 followers. Other ways to make money on the platform include collecting “tips,” offering subscriptions using Patreon, and partnering with brands to do sponsored content.
But the best way to monetize your audience is by starting your own business. Selling merch on an owned channel like an ecommerce website means you control the creative look and feel and aren’t at the mercy of platform and algorithm changes.
Selling branded merch on TikTok is an easy way for fans to support you, especially if you offer items across multiple price points. You also benefit from word-of-mouth marketing and brand awareness, as fans proudly wear your branded merch.
When you sell your own merchandise, you can do so easily with options like customizable white label products, print-on-demand companies, and integrations that link your TikTok and Shopify online store.
6 merch ideas for TikTok creators
- Branded t-shirts and other apparel
- Mugs, water bottles, and housewares
- Stickers, pins, tattoos, and patches
- Art prints
- Phone cases and tech accessories
- Niche products for a niche audience
There are a number of products you can customize to sell as merch to your TikTok fans. These range from the most obvious items like t-shirts and mugs to niche products that are a fit for your specific account theme or follower interests. Let’s dive into a few options.
1. Branded t-shirts and other apparel
Apparel is the bread and butter of creator merch. You can print your logo, likeness, catch phrase, or designs on a number of apparel items easily either using print on demand (more on that later) or crafting them yourself.
TikTok creator and illustrator Julia Roblin started selling merch by creating stickers with her artwork but quickly added apparel due to audience demand. “I’ve done a lot of polls on my Instagram and even on my TikTok asking what people want to see,” says Julia.
If you’re just getting started, t-shirts, hoodies, hats, socks, and tote bags are popular items to test with your audience. You can start a print-on-demand t-shirt business with little upfront investment and no on-hand inventory.
2. Mugs, water bottles, and housewares
Many print-on-demand companies offer printing on housewares and décor items like mugs, pillows, beach towels, and blankets. These are perfect options for TikTok designers, illustrators, and photographers looking to offer affordable versions of their art printed on home goods.
Devin Kane is the creator behind Dev’s Doodles. She uses TikTok to take her audience inside her life and creative process, selling her “good vibes” merchandise to fans through her Shopify store. Among these items, she sells housewares like mug sleeves, hanging air fresheners, and candles.
If you’re a maker, consider a DIY approach to creating home goods. You can make your own branded candles from scratch or stitch your catchphrase onto a pillow sham.
3. Stickers, pins, tattoos, and patches
You can make and sell stickers, sew-on patches, temporary tattoos, and pinback buttons as low-cost items that fans can buy to support you. These also work as free merch giveaways at in-person events and gift-with-purchase items to accompany other merch sales.
Creator Linh Truong prints her designs on stickers to sell to her fans across TikTok and YouTube.
Consider other small items that you can make and sell as merch for TikTok. Keychains, enamel pins, earrings, and pencils are all inexpensive items that can be printed, handmade, or hand-customized.
4. Art prints
This is another ideal merch option for artists, illustrators, and designers. Many of your fans will be unable to afford original work, but you can sell art online through reproductions (or prints).
5. Phone cases and tech accessories
Making your own phone cases is easy with print-on-demand companies that do the work for you. This is a common merch item used to showcase artwork and branding that fans carry with them everywhere. The only downside is the number of phone models on the market. If you’re looking to make and sell phone cases, research the top phone models to keep your offering focused.
Consider other tech accessories like watch bands, luggage tags, laptop cases, keyboard covers, iPad skins, and gaming console stickers.
5. Niche products for a niche audience
The sky’s the limit when it comes to selling merch on TikTok. Your merch store should be a reflection of your account’s content and your own interests. If you do magic tricks on TikTok, consider selling branded playing cards. If you manage a petfluencer (the true star), try making and selling pet accessories like leashes and bandanas.
How to make merch for TikTok
You can approach making merch for TikTok in a number of ways, with varying levels of effort and cost. Here, we’ll outline three ways to turn your persona into TikTok merch for your fans.
1. Use a print-on-demand (POD) company
The easiest way to get started is to find a print-on-demand provider that can turn your designs into physical products like hoodies, water bottles, pillows, stickers, and hats. There are plenty of these companies, all offering slightly different products and services. The Shopify App Store has several options that integrate directly with your store.
How it works:
- Install the print-on-demand app in your Shopify store.
- Submit your designs to the POD company per the instructions they provide.
- Add your new designs using mockup photos to your store as products and set prices.
- When a customer places an order in your merch store, the POD company prints and ships that product directly.
💡 Tip: If you aren’t a designer or artist or don’t already have branding, hire a professional to help you develop a branding package along with some designs specifically for merch. You can find design pros like a freelance graphic designer through sites like Shopify Experts, Fiverr, Dribbble, and Creative Market.
2. Create your own merch by hand
Julia Roblin took a different approach for her merch: making it herself. While print on demand is available for stickers, Julia chose to create merch at home using a specialized printer and ship the items herself. You can also work with local printers to print your own merchandise like stickers and art prints and order them in bulk. In this case, the onus is on you to manage inventory and shipping.
The advantage of making your own merch is you have more control over the creative process and the quality of the final product. On the other hand, there are more upfront costs and this process requires more of your time.
3. Collaborate with existing brands
Another way to create unique merch for your TikTok followers is to team up with a complementary brand already making great products. If you have influence (a larger engaged following), it will be easier to approach brands for a partnership—especially if your audience aligns with the brand’s target audience.
Selling merch on TikTok
Now that you’ve created branded products, it’s time to sell merchandise! Since you’ve already built a loyal following, you know how important it is to engage them. The same is true with getting your merch in front of your target audience. Success in selling on TikTok relies on actively promoting your merch store to fans. Follow these steps to start selling your merchandise on TikTok.
Step 1: Set up your TikTok shop
TikTok’s shopping features allow you to sell directly on the platform. But the best way to get full ecommerce features is to set up a Shopify store, then add the TikTok sales channel. This will allow you to sell places other than on the TikTok app—and sync sales and inventory too. An owned website means you’ll be able to build a mailing list that you own.
Step 2: Add your merchandise
Add products to your Shopify and TikTok stores manually or by importing them from your print-on-demand app.
Step 3: Promote your merch
Letting your followers know you’ve added products for sale is an important step in selling merch on TikTok. The best way to do this is by creating TikTok videos to announce the launch of your merch store and more videos for subsequent merch drops. These videos from Emily Kinney, Niall Horan, and Julia Roblin are great examples of how to promote your merch:
- Hype the launch of your merch shop before it’s live. Start promoting your merch in advance to get your audience excited for the launch.
- Add a link to your bio. Link your store in your bio or use a link-consolidation tool so TikTok users can easily find your custom merch.
- Try limited-time and limited-quantity drops to create a sense of scarcity and urgency, creating demand for your TikTok merch. Or try exclusive drops only for loyal followers who have subscribed to paid content.
- Consider livestreaming an unboxing after you order samples or when you have physical inventory in hand.
- Promote your branded merchandise on other social media platforms, too.
Monetize your TikTok account with merch
Julia Roblin now sees a direct link between her views and her sales. “It didn’t take me long to start getting orders every day,” she says. For creators looking to make a living on their art or personal brands, adding ecommerce for TikTok is a no-brainer. Selling branded merchandise like tote bags or t-shirts is a great way to have ownership over your brand and revenue streams.
TikTok merch FAQ
Can I sell products on TikTok?
Yes, you can sell products on TikTok. You can link TikTok to your online store or create shoppable content that can be purchased directly on the platform. Set up an artist shop or sell clothing with your own designs. There are many more ideas of products you can sell to your engaged followers.
How many followers do you need to sell merch on TikTok?
There is no minimum number of followers needed to sell merch on TikTok. However, having a large audience will make it easier to promote your merch and make sales. This is a great option for smaller accounts with engaged audiences who may be ineligible for TikTok’s Creativity Program (formerly Creator Fund).
Is it legal to sell merch on TikTok?
Yes, it is legal to sell on TikTok. However, you must comply with TikTok’s terms of service and any applicable laws and regulations that apply to the products you sell in the markets you sell to.
Is selling merch on tiktok profitable?
Short answer: yes. You can turn merchandise into a profitable business if you build your own brand, find the right marketing strategy, and nail your pricing. Profitability depends on several factors, including keeping costs low and actively driving traffic. Selling your own branded merchandise is a low-risk way to test products and make money on TikTok.