Twitch creators know that there’s more to being a successful streamer than playing video games all day. Between attracting subscribers, growing a loyal community, and managing sponsorship and affiliate deals, being a streamer means being an entrepreneur.
And an essential part of that business no streamer should be ignoring is merchandise.
Creating your own branded merchandise is an excellent way to level up your business and take back control of where your revenue comes from. Rather than relying only on third-party donations, subscribers, or brand deals, merch is a way to diversify your revenue with something you own from start to finish.
Unlike income from amassing subscribers, which can take time to build, you can start selling merch as soon as you have a small but loyal following, and long before you apply for the Twitch Partner Program.
Here, we’ll teach you how to make merch for Twitch and walk you through the steps to getting started.
Table of contents
- The time to sell merch on Twitch is now
- How to make merch for Twitch
- Who’s doing it well? Twitch streamer merch to inspire your own
- How to promote your merch on Twitch
- Grow your Twitch fans with merch
The time to sell merch on Twitch is now
You might be thinking it’s not worth starting a merch line until you’re a Twitch Partner, have hundreds of subscribers, or are at least pulling in over 100 viewers per stream. But there’s actually no reason to wait.
TerrestrialPlays is a Twitch streamer who’s made her mark playing games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and The Sims 4. Although she streams full-time with Affiliate status, she’s still smaller than some of the big names you might know from Twitch. She averages 65 to 70 viewers per stream and has just over 450 subscribers.
Terrestrial started selling merch when she was at only around 10 viewers per stream, and it paid off. She said that now a “substantial” part of her monthly income comes from merchandise sales, with the rest coming from subscribers and affiliate deals.
“Honestly I think it’s better to do it just as soon as possible. If you have something to offer, you might as well offer it, because you never know If people are gonna buy it,” says Terrestrial.
She said she wanted to offer her viewers something tangible. Traditionally, streamers get income from donations, paid subscriptions, or even by posting Amazon wishlists with requests for equipment upgrades. These are all great ways to support a Twitch creator, but Terrestrial liked that merch gives fans something to collect and wear. She says it creates a strong bond with her viewers.
Traditionally, another way to make income on Twitch is by gaining Affiliate or Partner status and obtaining the ability to place ads in-stream and collect from subscriptions, which are split 50/50 with Twitch. Both statuses require a minimum threshold of followers, viewers, and minutes streamed. This can be difficult to achieve as a new or part-time streamer, but selling merch doesn’t require any of that. There will be some start-up costs, like setting up your online store or hiring a designer, if you choose, but it’s your decision when it’s time to start.
“I think if you have a cool design, or you have something in mind, and you can somehow get it to your community, you should just go ahead and offer it,” says Terrestrial.
How to make merch for Twitch
With free tools for design and easy tools like print-on-demand services, getting your shop set up is a breeze.
How to design merch
Once you have an aesthetic direction, you need to actually make some designs.
Designing merch yourself doesn't need to be complicated. Terrestrial designed all her merch on her own, using the app Canva (which she is partnered with) to compile her images. The app is free to use but has paid premium options, so it could be a good place to start if you’re new to graphic design.
You can also try Shopify’s free logo maker, which generates customizable designs you can use for anything.
Alternatively, you can use a program like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, a free editor like GIMP or Paint.NET, or even an iPad program like ProCreate.
When designing, think of phrases or images that appear frequently in your stream, as well as about how you’ve designed your channel attributes, like the frames and boxes in your About section. Keeping a consistent look and feel will make your merch feel personal.
If you’re struggling to make designs on your own, there are plenty of designers out there who can help.
To find designers, you can look at:
Hiring a designer means some upfront costs, but the benefit is you’ll get high-quality unique designs.
Set up your merch store
There are a number of companies marketed toward streamers to sell merch, but the problem with these is the options are limited. You’re stuck using that company’s landing page, their shop aesthetic, and their range of customizable products.
By making your own shop with Shopify, you can fully customize the look and feel of your shop, as well as develop other pages so the site truly becomes a landing page for your whole business as a streamer.
Terrestrial was actually using Shopify before she started streaming, selling handmade, organic makeup and skin care items. She’s gradually shifted her business toward supporting her streaming, and she was able to use the website to sell merch as well.
She says she chose Shopify so she could have maximum control and versatility with her shop. “I felt like it was important for me just from a branding aspect to have my own shop and not rely on something else,” she says.
The other advantage of a standalone store is that you can expand beyond apparel and accessories. For Terrestrial, that meant she was able to continue promoting and selling her skin care products while also introducing merch.
Ready to create your merch shop? Start your free trial of Shopify—no credit card required.
Get your merch made
When you’re first starting out with merch, the most straightforward method is to use print-on-demand services.
With print on demand, you upload your design to a service and decide where it will be placed on products like t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, water bottles, phone cases, and a range of other goods. The printer then collects your orders and handles the creation and shipping for you.
This is how Terrestrial creates her merch, including her embroidered beanies. She uses Printify, but there are other popular print on demand companies, like Gelato and Printful. You can also search through the Shopify App Store for more. You should compare the different apps to see which provider offers the types of merch you plan to sell. Also consider the size range you plan on offering and whether you want to include items other than apparel, like home goods. Then order sample products both to ensure the quality and to use yourself for promotion.
If you're not sure where to begin, Shopify has a free guide to help you get up and running with print on demand shirts.
“It’s super awesome because it connects with Shopify, which is also why I really love Shopify. It’s so easy to have everything just seamlessly work,” Terrestrial says.
The advantage of print on demand is that you don’t have to source products or keep an inventory of products on hand. You also don’t have to worry about shipping out products on your own.
Who’s doing it well? Twitch streamer merch to inspire your own
To find examples of Twitch streamers making and selling merch, you can start right at the top.
Pokimane is one of the most successful streamers on Twitch, with more than eight million followers and thousands of subscribers. She’s a variety streamer who also does plenty of Just Chatting streams where she simply chats with her audience. She was named the highest-paid female streamer in 2020.
For her merch line, Poki Merch, she has a curated selection of branded apparel, and uses a slick website built with Shopify.
She’s clearly put care and special details into her designs, like this sweater that includes a custom “P” tag on the bottom.
Or these sweatpants with extra symbols decorating the leg.
Her collection is small but offers premium options with a very gamer-inspired aesthetic that matches her brand.
We can also take a look at Terrestrial’s merch, which she developed to match the cute and cosy feel of her channel, like this self-care kitty.
One of her favourites is this pixel chicken beanie, which you may catch her wearing during streams.
Another cute offering is this “pawsitive vibes” mug.
The important thing to note is that each streamer chose a look that matches the vibe of their stream and the games that they play. Figuring out the style for your merch is an important first step because potential customers are buying a little piece of your personality. You should lean in to what your followers have come to expect and love when choosing your designs.
Think about what makes your stream unique, whether you’re a gamer, musician, crafter, or ASMRtist. Whatever makes you stand out as a streamer can also help your merch stand out.
How to promote your merch on Twitch
Once you have merch ready to sell, you need to let your fans know it’s available. There’s a few strategies you can use to promote merch on Twitch.
Wear your merch and get other streamers to wear it, too
Terrestrial said the simplest way to promote your merch is to simply wear it while streaming. She often wears one of her shirts or beanies while streaming and finds that people will start asking about it.
“They'll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, that's cute,’” she says. “I would say that me wearing the physical product on stream is definitely the way that usually gets people in the door to even go look at it.”
Another good way to promote your merch is to get other streamers to wear it. Terrestrial has fans that wear her merch on their own streams, which gets their fans interested, too. You could set up a merch swap with friends or fans who are also on Twitch, as a way to support each other.
Put your merch in your About section
The About section under each of your streams and videos is where people look to find ways to support you. This is where streamers will include a donation link or links to other social media, and it’s important to include a link to your merch here, too.
Terrestrial created a custom illustrated panel that matches the other panels in the section.
She also links to it again in her “Ways to support” panel.
Don’t be shy with promoting your merch. Twitch fans love to support their favourite streamers, whether through subscriptions or donations. Merch gives them another way to do this.
Create a “!merch” command
Commands are an easy way for viewers to get more info about your channel in the chat box without having to ask the streamer directly.
Twitch apps like Nightbot or Streamlabs allow you to create custom commands styled with an exclamation mark.
Terrestrial has a “!merch” command set up for her streams. When someone types this in chat, a message pops up automatically with a link.
If you have chat moderators, they can also pull up this command so new viewers can see what you’re selling.
Grow your Twitch fans with merch
The secret to building a Twitch following isn’t getting massive numbers—it’s curating a loyal fanbase who will return stream after stream and enjoy hanging out with you, no matter what you’re doing on camera that day. Selling merch is another way to build that loyal following by letting fans invest in your success.
With how easy it is to get started selling merch, there’s no reason to wait and potentially leave a source of revenue on the table.
“I thought that you had to have thousands of people watching to make it, but you can absolutely make it with 100 or less viewers,” says Terrestrial. “I think it’s just a matter of putting your time and resources in the right place.”
Feature image by Gabrielle Merite