MANY people have made a career for themselves online as YouTube creators or as influencers on other social media platforms, and while having ads and sponsorships may bring in a lot of money, a company specializing in creating branded merchandise said that there’s no better way to strengthen one’s personal brand and create another revenue source than by having your own merchandise, especially for those just starting out.
“If they’re starting their channels now [they should] already be thinking about their branding, and thinking about how they want to be perceived in public… and if they hit 10,000 subscribers, maybe start thinking about things they could offer your fans because you’re unlikely to get a lot of demand from brands and to do a lot of branded posts at that level,” David Nicholls, CEO and founder of Australian merchandise platform Flash Fomo in an interview with BusinessWorld in September over Zoom.
Mr. Nicholls pointed out that having merchandise — shirts, mugs, etc. — featuring your own brand is a great way to earn revenue without having to rely on ads and sponsorships. YouTube’s top creator, PewdiePie (real name: Felix Kjellberg) reportedly earned more than $7 million on merchandise alone in 2019.
Merchandise, he said, is also a way to strengthen your brand and carve your own market.
“There are hundreds of thousands of influencers, all with big audiences, but if you’ve got a real niche audience and it’s working well for you, then you’ll be able to drive sales of your products anyway and you don’t need brands to sponsor you,” he said.
Flash Fomo was launched in 2019 and is currently focused on getting creators on their service, in the Philippines. Among its customers is Jamill (Jayzam Lloyd Manabat and Camille Trinidad). Jamill currently has more than 11 million subscribers and their videos range from prank videos to day-in-the-life videos.
The company functions as a subscription service where, starting at $19 a month, an influencer can create up to nine products, have their own dedicated online store, and have Flash Fomo handle fulfilment and order management. Creators also pay transaction fees of about 5% (lower at higher subscription tiers).
Mr. Nicholls explained that in having a subscription model they put “more profits in the creator’s hands and give them more control of their own brand,” as other merchandise companies, he said, take their earnings from the percentage of merchandise sold.
“They can make their money back with one product sold [with Flash Fomo],” he explained.
While some creators may already have designs for their merchandise in mind, for those that don’t, Flash Fomo also offers design services.
It also offers more than 500 products on its platform, from shirts and mugs to bedsheets, bags, and even jewelry. The products are manufactured in Australia, Vietnam, India, China, and Japan, among others.
Who should think about creating their own merchandise? Well, it’s tied to the kind of content they are producing and the kind of audience they have, according to Mr. Nicholls.
Musicians, he said, sell well because their fans typically buy shirts and other products during live shows. “Informers,” he said, also sell well and he described this category of creators as those who offer something beyond entertainment value like a tech reviewer.
“If that tech expert comes out with a tech product, then I’m more likely to go buy that because they already made a name in that space,” he said, noting that YouTubers and influencers on Instagram sell well.
What does not convert as well, he said, are those who get popular in TikTok, whom he called “Entertainers.”
“They don’t convert at the same levels as YouTube… someone who does a quick dance for 15 seconds might have 20 million followers but they may not necessarily convert because they don’t have a niche,” Mr. Nicholls said.
“If you’re a small creator, size doesn’t really matter in the industry as it’s about having that niche audience and strong followers,” he added. — ZB Chua