3. Announce your merchandise
You could have the best merch in the world, but what will that do you if nobody knows about it? Once you have made all the creative decisions as to the merchandise you want to sell, it’s really important to announce it in as many places as possible. Post it on your website, on every social media channel, and possibly even include it in the liner notes for your album releases.
What about the shows? Yes! Announce from the stage that you're selling merchandise! This seems obvious, but a lot of artists actually forget to announce that they've got merch for sale. Many people don’t buy anything simply because they didn't know your band had any to begin with. So don't forget to announce at every performance that you've got a merch table with some awesome swag.
4. Have your own folding table
Not all venues will have a table or a designated space available for you to sell your merchandise at, which is why it's essential for you to have your own table. Even if the place you're performing at actually will be providing you a table, you never know if it will be big enough for your entire set up. To avoid problems, just plan to bring your own as backup.
5. Make your merch stand accessible and visible
Other than announcing it, you should always make sure that your merch stand is easily visible to your fans and they have easy access to it. This is particularly important for those latecomers who missed your announcement. The easier it is to access, the higher chance people will not only find it but walk up to purchase something.
Visibility is just as important. You can put your merch stand right in front of the stage, but if the venue is dark, nobody will see that you've got merch there. So do whatever it takes to make sure people see your merch stand very clearly. Add the necessary lights to make it visible. As a general rule of thumb here, think "Ooh, shiny!" You want to attract people to come up and check out what you've got to sell.
6. Make the deals clear and offer combos
The prices of each item should be clearly marked, that way you can spend less time explaining the basics and more time interacting with your fans in more meaningful ways. Offering deals and combos is an amazing way to effectively increase your sales. Offers like:
Buy 2, Get 1 Free
1 CD $15, 2 CD's $20
T-Shirt & CD $40 $30
People love an awesome bargain, so offer them at your merch table. Your fans will be willing to purchase more items if it means they get to save some money cause they're buying them as a combo.
7. Fixed Price or PWYW?
Since we're talking about sales, let's talk about the tricky one: how much should you sell your music for? Many people see your music as being a product like any other, which is why they sell it for a fixed price, like a T-shirt or a cap. And that totally makes sense. The great news is that after a show if people loved your performance, they’re more likely to make an impulse buy, which is why you can get away with selling your music for more than you would elsewhere. Having said that, what should you do if you've lowered the album cost to $10 and your album sales are still doing poorly? Try the PWYW technique.
PWYW, which stands for “pay what you want,” essentially puts the fan in the driver's seat and lets them decide how much they want to pay you for the music. Although it seems like a radical idea, I know plenty of great independent artists who tremendously increased their sales by switching to the PWYW model. Sure, some people may pay you less, but most of them will end up paying you more than you expected for the album. Whether it's guilt, pride, being star-struck, I don't know—I'm no psychologist—but it seems to work very effectively, so give it a whirl and see what happens!