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How To Make Merch For TikTok (And Sell It) In 2023


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

Young woman in skater gear wearing a pink bucket hatMonetization 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.

Connect with shoppers on TikTok

Shopify comes with powerful tools to help you tell your brand story and create TikTok in-feed ads in minutes. Make sales on TikTok and manage all your orders, returns, and payments from Shopify.

Start selling on TikTok

6 merch ideas for TikTok creators

  1. Branded t-shirts and other apparel
  2. Mugs, water bottles, and housewares
  3. Stickers, pins, tattoos, and patches
  4. Art prints
  5. Phone cases and tech accessories
  6. 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

Woman tips down a mesh trucker cap over her face
Start selling merch like print-on-demand hats to test your designs and find out what your audience prefers. LaurDIY/FanJoy

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.

Creators like Kelsey Impicciche and LaurDIY also found success with apparel merch. They work with Fanjoy to produce merch for their TikTok fans.

Woman wearing a white tee makes a silly face for the camera
Your fans wearing your merchandise is great exposure for your brand. Kelsey Impicciche/FanJoy

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

A hand holds an oversized mug
Merrell Twins/FanJoy

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.

A hand holds up a car air freshener in a ghost design
Dev’s Doodles Co.

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

Woman with blue braids wears emoji stickers on her faceYou 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. 

An illustrated sticker resembling a soda can
Linh Truong/FanJoy

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

A graphic art print rests in a frame on a chair
Sara & Misc/Etsy

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). 

@sara.and.misc Prints are avaiIable in my b!0 ? #fyp #foryou #prints #digitalart #graphicdesign #illustration ♬ SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE (feat. Brent Faiyaz & Fana Hues)

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.

A hand holds a transparent plastic phone case emblazoned with illustrated designs
Dev’s Doodles Co.

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

A lab breed dog wears a blue bandana
Nathaly Cuevas

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.

A product page on the printify website

How it works:

  1. Install the print-on-demand app in your Shopify store.
  2. Submit your designs to the POD company per the instructions they provide.
  3. Add your new designs using mockup photos to your store as products and set prices.
  4. 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

A person makes a merch tote bag using a stencil and blue paintJulia 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. 

In a triple-threat collab, artist and TikTok creator Shema Love teamed up with basketball star Britney Griner and sports brand round21 to create custom merch.

Artist bio page on the round21 website

@theshemalove unboxing my merch collab for Brittney Griner ?? #brittneygriner #round21 #pheonixmercury #wnba #fyp@round21 ♬ Chill Vibes

Influencer Nick Cho, better known as @YourKoreanDad, partnered with Korean streetwear brand Joseon to produce a collab garment collection.

Product page depicting a merch collab with Nick Cho an Joseon

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.

A stack of smiley face pinback buttons

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 either by creating them manually or 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:

@emmykinneymusic Go snag a new hoodie! Limited run of this color! #emilykinney #swimteam #newmerch ♬ original sound – Emily Kinney

HELLO LOVERS! New merch out now

♬ original sound – Mr Barbar

@juliaroblin Link in bio, and theres tattoo tickets !!! #fyp #foryou #smallartist #fairy #mushroom #tattooideas #witchy #shopsmall #stickershop ♬ original sound – Alec Townsend

? Tips: 

  • 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

ColorMeCourtney poses in merch she produced for her personal brand
TikTok personalities like ColorMeCourtney diversify their revenue streams by creating products designed for their target demographic. ColorMeCourtney

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.

This originally appeared on Shopify and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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