Open Studio #10: Merch on Patreon

Hiya! Mary here, with the 10th Open Studio post. This week, I’m excited to share with you some concepts for a brand new experience within Patreon - merch!

We know that creators of all kinds already offer physical rewards to their patrons, but that the logistics of doing so can be a huge headache. Merch for Membership will help you create high-quality, customized items to offer your patrons AND deal with all the logistical stuff: producing your merch, tracking patrons, shipping their items at the right time, and handling all support. That means you can save time and get back to doing what you do best — creating.

Disclaimer: This concept is a work in progress, and though it might not represent exactly what you see on Patreon, your feedback will be super helpful in how we tackle this project. Any and all feedback is very welcome - so lay it on me, team.

Choose a schedule

First, you’ll choose the schedule at which you’d like to send merch to your patrons.

Choose how to browse

Next, you’ll choose how you want to browse the products that you can customize - by creator type, or content type.

Here we see the creator and content types you can browse by. If you don’t see what you do, you can view all products.

Select and customize a product

Once you select a creator or content type, you’ll see the merch marketplace where you can view all of the products that are available to be customized with your own designs. Here you see what it might look like if you’re browsing by the Musician creator type, where you can see what products are popular with musicians.

Once you’ve chosen an item, you’ll be able to customize it with your own designs . If you need design help, you’ll be able to work with a real human designer to review, revise, and approve your design before it’s produced and shipped.

So there we have it. Again, these are very early concepts, but your feedback will be super helpful as we develop them further.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on:

  • Are you excited by the proposed vision for Merch? We’d love to hear specific pieces that you are intrigued by, or feel need work.
  • Does browsing my creator type or content type feel helpful to you? Are there other ways you’d like to view products?
  • What type of creator are you? Are there specific products you want to offer your patrons that would be unique to your work?
  • Is there anything missing here? Feel free to dream!
5 Likes

I love that you can choose different time frames! (Also yes thank you for giving the option of a “view all” because not all items are really squared off for x type of creators and being able to see all that is available makes it so much easier if you are looking for inspiration or want to check out the options.)

I really don’t think creator type is really all that helpful but content type, possibly. (Maybe a merch type as well would be helpful if someone is looking for something specific. Stationary, clothing, etc.) Lots of creators don’t fit into one creator type box and i honestly don’t know how you’re going to split things up into different creator types when like… everyone could do well with stickers… or tshirts… etc.

I am a varied creator. I’m primarily in the art/illustration “box”, BUT, i also do my own merch, work on zines, make prints, do 3D modeling, clay sculpting, make videos and more. So i don’t personally think creator types really work. Most folks i know do more than one content type but have no choice but to “pick one” for their creator page. Making certain things exclusive to certain types is going to cause problems in that if your database is going by what their creator page is set too, will end up being inaccurate for a good many. (I see that “exclusive box for musicians” thing. I have no idea whats in it but i couldn’t see any one items being realistically musicians only, not even an album/CD, which could also be used as an art archive because its the same thing on a CD, just images instead of music.)

The things that i make for my own content vary but most common are stickers, zines/booklets, pins, art prints including holographic prints, magnets, badges, etc. I’d love to be able to offer special stuff to patrons like their choice between 2-3 designs with a few different merch item options for their 1 year anniversary and having access to bundles, etc.

2 Likes

I don’t understand why the merch is divided by creator and content types? For example, how is a t-shirt that a podcaster would want to send to their patrons different than the one that an artist would send?

Just a simple product listing by category (apparel, art prints, stickers, mugs etc) would make more sense to me, kind of like places like Redbubble and Society6 have. I think most creators know what merch they wanna make so finding that specific product seems more important.

The scheduling feature is great. :slight_smile: Would love to also have a custom option than just those three (like bi-monthly).

I’m an artist and currently I offer bi-monthly postcards as merch. I also make zines sometimes.

5 Likes

I’d love to see body pillow cases offered as an option, that’s a popular request I just don’t have the logistics to handle on my own. Would you eventually consider printing services for books? I realize that a whole other ballgame but might prove to be a pretty valuable service.

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OOoh, yes, printing services for books would be amazing!

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  • Are you excited by the proposed vision for Merch? We’d love to hear specific pieces that you are intrigued by, or feel need work.

One stop shopping to fulfill tiers is an interesting idea, but I would need to check your offers against other book/magazine printers.

  • Does browsing my creator type or content type feel helpful to you? Are there other ways you’d like to view products?

The only reason I would browse by creator type is to see what others in my field are doing. Unless looking specifically for that, I would brose by content type.

  • What type of creator are you? Are there specific products you want to offer your patrons that would be unique to your work?

Cartoonist. Posters, magazines, books.

  • Is there anything missing here? Feel free to dream!

Dream? Okay. Giclée posters, magazines and books with correctly sized A4 and A5 pages, and desk calendars. Also, the ability to use this to fulfill special offers as well as tiers. Assistance with small batch shipping and handling without breaking the bank. And lots and lots of articles and info in Patreon U and the blog.

2 Likes

I agree with the rest that creator/content type makes zero sense. Browsing by item type (mugs, posters, etc) like all the other stores do is fine. No need to reinvent the wheel!

I’m a writer who works with artists for concept art and illustrations. I already have posters, totes, and custom flash drives on sale. I’m looking into sublimation tees, but as of yet haven’t found a printer with the quality I’m looking for. I’m in the early stages of a graphic novel, and want to expand into podcasting.

I would LOVE a way to print small quantities of my out of print covers for my fans.

Thanks!

Patty

3 Likes

I think the option to make the merch a “bonus” tier would be great. That way if the creator doesn’t want to send merch every single month we could have a specific item for the tier that gets sent the first time someone pledges to this “bonus” tier, then they default to their old one.
The options available are great for those that will have new items constantly, but for the rest of us it’s too much to ask of our patrons to keep a pledge in such an expensive tier when merch might not get updated too often.
Of course there’s also the alternative of straight up shops for creators, I know it’s a saturated business and not as profitable than a continuous pledge, but a lot of us have tons of fans that aren’t patrons and lots of them would be interested on buying merch. Having the option to have a shop on patreon itself would be awesome from a convenience standpoint.

Also, is international shipping planned for the next stages of this merch feature? It being US only is my biggest issue with the current system.

2 Likes

Great idea, in theory. The main issue for me would be the quality of the merch. I currently send out pins, stickers and mugs, and I got samples from 4 companies before I found the quality of product I was happy with.
So I’d only be interested in Patreon merch if it was high quality, and if I could check this by ordering samples before I committed.

5 Likes

My views as an outsider, because I don’t see myself using it (unless you let me create hard cards with random codes in them :eyes:

I like the UI, as well as both of the ways to navigate. However, I think that the creator type adds a nice, personal touch, and you can maybe use that info for something else??

1 Like

So long as this isn’t the only option and there is a store that lets me sell and distribute my own merch within patreon. I’m not a fan of these 3rd party fulfillment companies. They take massive cuts of profit for work that is not that hard to do on your own.

3 Likes