Has YouTuber “Merch” Taken the Industry by Storm?

Nina Ottesen

Unless you live under a rock, you know that YouTube is one of the most popular video platforms known to man. According to a website called Oberlo, it has amassed over 1.9 billion monthly users. Another site, tubics, states that it has 23 million active channels. It’s safe to say that it’s a very well-known. It’s pretty amazing that a site whose first video was about a guy at a zoo has gained such popularity. You may ask, how does one platform gain such notoriety? The answer would obviously be the people who post there. But what is it about these people that gives the site life? Their personalities? Their creativity? Perhaps it is a mix of both, but there is no doubt that the site has changed people’s lives-for better or for worse.

 YouTube has a variety of people on its site. From beauty gurus to gamers, these channels thrive on “views” and “likes.” Some, however, are more popular than others. The more well-known YouTubers, such as PewDiePie and Markiplier, get more views and have more subscribers. Other smaller YouTubers, like TheOdd1sOut and JaidenAnimations, get less views and have less subscribers. So how do the bigger YouTubers keep their spot? And how do the smaller ones rise to the top? 

One of the most widespread ways that YouTubers make money and become more well-known is merchandise. What type of merchandise? Everything from backpacks, shirts, and pants to even plushies. The type of products that are made vary from YouTuber to YouTuber. The real question is, how much of an impact has this merchandise had on these channels? 

The process of making merchandise is a long and painful one, as YouTuber NerdCity has explored in his three-part series, in which he dives into the merch making process in order to discover the best way to start his own line of merchandise. The first episode discusses what he perceives to be who makes the best and worst merch, and the type of ways these products are sold. NerdCity firstly talks about the biggest decision in this process: whether your merch will be a merch line or a fashion line. A fashion line is separate from the YouTuber, and would look like a normal clothing brand to the unknowing person. As an example, NerdCity uses his fellow YouTuber John Douglass, better known as Jacksfilms who has two separate lines of merch, his own line of products and his fashion line, “Klondike.”Another example of a YouTuber with a fashion line is Logan Paul. Logan does not sell his own line of merch, rather, he has his own fashion line called “Maverick.” After this, NerdCity then goes into how YouTuber merchandise is sold. Some YouTubers sell products as Print-On-Demand, where the item will only be printed after they have been ordered by the customer. Other YouTubers sell Limited-Time merch, where the item is sold for a limited amount of time and never sold again. NerdCity’s video is well put together and well thought out. It gives an extremely good explanation of the merch making process.

YouTuber merchandise is a way that YouTubers can connect with their fans; It’s also a smart way for them to make money without monetization on their videos. But why has this become so popular, and will it turn into their primary way to make money? A news site called tubefilter reported on an app that can supposedly calculate a Yotuber’s income based off of their monthly views. They’ve estimated that a YouTuber who gets 5,000 views per month will make between $1 and $20 with AdSense, but they would make between $170 and $870 selling merch. Even more surprising, a YouTuber who gets 50,000 views will make between $13 and $200 with AdSense, yet make between $730 and $3,480 with merch. And a YouTuber with one million views? $250-$4,000 with AdSense, and $4,100-$21,460 with merch. It seems the more logical decision would be to sell merch. A YouTuber who is more popular would sell out their merch in an instant. Why has it become so popular with consumers? Because the fans get something tangible in return for their money, and they feel like part of a group.