- Merch sales only account for 7% of creator earnings, but for some, they can be very lucrative.
- Creator Matt Meagher sold over $40,000 in merch in a single day.
- Here’s how Meagher and another creator have used Instagram and Spring to power their merch sales.
Dropping a merch line is a rite of passage for many content creators.
Often, a merch drop is accompanied by hitting career milestones like going massively viral, or is planned around a certain time of the year (like the holiday shopping season). Some of social media’s biggest stars — from the D’Amelio sisters to MrBeast — have launched merchandise products in hopes of growing their businesses as creators.
But according to a 2021 survey of about 500 influencers by The Influencer Marketing Factory, selling merch accounted for only 7% of influencers’ overall revenue. Still, selling merch can be highly lucrative for some creators who have built a specialty in the market.
Take Connor DeWolfe, a content creator with 4.9 million TikTok followers who makes videos about mental health, as an example.
Selling merchandise accounts for about 85% of his income as a full-time creator, DeWolfe told Insider in an interview.
“With my beautiful ADHD brain, I have an issue with emailing,” DeWolfe said. He’s worked with a few brands on sponsored content, as well as making money through TikTok’s Creator Fund and YouTube’s Partner Program, but selling merch made the most sense for his brand, he said.
“I enjoy and love focusing on merch because I talk about mental health in general,” DeWolfe said. “I think having a physical object expresses the fact, like, ‘Hey, I’m not alone.'” DeWolfe also has experience in graphic design and creates art for the merch himself.
Then there’s Matt Meagher, the gaming content creator behind the MMG account with 2.3 million YouTube subscribers, who dropped his second merch collection in October 2021. In less than three months, Meagher made a profit of over $250,000 by selling approximately 10,800 units, according to Spring, the company he and DeWolfe use to create and sell the items.
Meagher said his merch’s success comes from its connection to his fans. For instance, Meagher sells hoodies with his channel’s slogan “Dialed In” written across the chest.
“I never thought that I would do well selling merch, but when there’s a big inside joke on the channel and everybody loves it, they’re like, ‘You have to put that on a hoodie, we need merch,'” Meagher said.
Spring, one of the industry’s most prominent merch companies, is free for creators to use but the company gets a part of the sale of each unit. For example, the base price for a high-quality hoodie is $36.50, which includes a service fee for Spring on each piece. Creators can decide their own retail price (Meagher sold his “Dialed In” hoodie for $54.99) and keep the difference between that and the base price as profit. The Information estimated in September that Spring would generate $165 million in revenue for 2021.
DeWolfe and Meagher promoted their merch across Instagram (on their account with a “shop,” tagged in photos, and linked to in stories). They also separately promoted their Spring merch across their other platforms; Meagher linked his Spring merch under his YouTube videos, and DeWolfe shared his merch through a LinkTree in his TikTok bio.
DeWolfe, Meagher, and some other creators have also taken advantage of an Instagram incentive program to boost their merch profits in recent months.
As part of Meta’s $1 billion investment into paying content creators through 2022, Instagram said in June that it would partner with merch companies like Spring, Bravado/UMG, Fanjoy, and Represent to enable creators to set up their own shop and launch merch directly from Instagram. And in November, the company announced a partnership with Spring that would let creators keep 100% of their revenues (up to $50,000) from all sales, with Instagram covering Spring’s cut.
On a single day, Meagher made about $40,000 in profit selling merch through Instagram, according to Spring. While the Instagram bonus incentivizing Spring’s creators to sell through the platform initially came as a surprise to Meagher, it helped him drive record sales for his business.
Here’s how much money the two creators made selling merch on Instagram: