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If you’re looking for a quick, easy and free way to set up and sell YouTube merch with or without the YouTube merch shelf, you’re in the right place!
And if you don’t have access to the YouTube merch shelf yet, then I’ll still give you an option for how you can create and sell your merch.
Let’s get started so you can start selling your merch. First, let’s start with why merch is even important and why you should use the merch shelf.
Why the YouTube Merch Shelf?
Selling merch is a great way to create another stream of income for any business. Especially for personal brands like Influencers, YouTubers and TikTokers.
A few years ago YouTube launched a feature called the YouTube Merchandise Shelf, which allows its creators to sell their merch directly from their channel and under their videos.
That means your viewers don’t have to leave your video and go to another website to buy your merch. They can purchase your exclusive hoodies while binging your videos, undistracted.
But are you even eligible to set up a merch shelf?
How to Gain Access to Your YouTube Merch Shelf
Before we dive into setting up your YouTube merch shelf, you might discover you don’t have access to it yet.
Why is that? How can you get access to it? What should you do if you don’t have access to it?
To get access to this monetization feature you have to meet this criterion:
- Your channel has to already be approved for “monetization” and not marked as a “for kids” channel
- Your channel has more than 10,000 subscribers
- Your videos have to reach a playback time of 4,000 hours per year
- The YouTube partner program is available in your region
If you check all those boxes, then you should be good to set up your merch shelf, in which case, keep reading on.
However, if you don’t, fear not. You can jump down to my section on other options for selling your merch.
Alright, let’s jump into how to set this up.
How to Set Up Your YouTube Merch Shelf
If you prefer, you can watch my screen-recording, walking through how to set up your merch shelf. Otherwise, I’ll briefly sum up the step-by-step below the video.
Step 1: While in your Channel Dashboard, click on “Monetization”
Step 2: Click on “See More” under “Merchandise”
Step 3: In that new tab, click on “Get Started”
Step 4: In the pop-up, it will give you two options. For this tutorial, we’re going to choose Spreadshop and click “Continue”
Step 5: Go through the Terms & Conditions (or scroll through them if we’re being honest), check “I agree” and click “Accept”
Step 6: Click on “Go to Spreadshop”
I have my merch set up using Spreadshop, which is only one of two companies that have direct integration with the YouTube merch shelf.
Why You Should Use Spreadshop For Selling Your Merchandise
Now I will say that Spreadshop does sponsor some of my YouTube videos from time to time, but I would still use and recommend them regardless.
The fact they have direct integration with YouTube is amazing and makes it incredibly efficient.
Not only that, but you can also integrate it into your own website! You can sell merch there if you don’t have the YouTube merch shelf yet.
You get to set up your account with your designs and get your shop up and live… for free.
Once you start making sales, you’ll get a percentage of the sale, while Spreadshop does all the hard work: they provide the products, make them, track the orders, package and ship them, payment processing, customer communication… EVERYTHING.
And you do… umm… nothing. Whatever you want. Sleep!
See? What did I say? Amazing and efficient.
Okay, now go set up your own shop with Spreadshop so we can move on and talk about connecting your shop to your YouTube channel!
Set up Your Spreadshop and Connect to YouTube
There are two ways to connect Spreadshop to your YouTube merch shelf:
- By connecting your channel with an existing Spreadshop account (which is what I’ll be walking you through, since I already have my Spreadshop account set up)
- If you don’t already have a Spreadshop account, there is a way to connect the two with a brand new account (here’s a step-by-step walkthrough for how you can link the two if you don’t have a Spreadshop account yet)
4 Steps to Connect Your Merch to YouTube
Step 1: Click “Get Started” if you don’t have a Spreadshop yet, or click “Log in” if you do.
Step 3: Log in with your Google account that’s associated with your YouTube channel
Step 4: This last page is basically just letting you know your shop is officially set up on your YouTube channel. From here you can either click on “Back to YouTube” to see your setting on your channel or you can click on “Edit Shop Settings” to do just that: edit your shop setting.
How to View Shop Settings Through Your YouTube Account
If you chose to go straight to your YouTube, here’s how to access your shop settings:
Step 1: Similar to how you initially set up your shop, you will first click on “Monetization” on the left of your Channel Dashboard
Step 2: Click on “Merchandise”
Step 3: Here, it should say “Everything’s ready,” so from there, you’ll click on “Finish Setup”
- If it doesn’t say “Everything’s ready,” you may have missed a step during your initial setup, so go back to the steps to set up your merch shop
Step 4: Make sure the toggle on the top right that says “Display merchandise on YouTube” is on
- If it’s not, switch it on
Step 5: Check the “Status” of your shop integration
- Likely, it will say “You don’t have any merchandise for sale,” and that’s totally fine. That’s because there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on to sync each individual merch item with your account, which understandably takes some time.
Step 6: If it shows your merch items are there, then CONGRATS! You got it connected! From there you can organize your shop. If it doesn’t show your merch, then go back to the Spreadshop tag and click “Edit Shop Settings” just to make sure your shop is correctly set up with your merchandise
How to Edit Your Shop on Spreadshop
When you click on “Edit Shop Settings,” you will be directed to your Spreadshop account. While you’re here, let’s make sure we have everything set up correctly:
Step 1: Click on the name of your shop on the left-hand side
Step 2: Under Shop Settings, click on “YouTube Merchandise” since you have it integrated now
Step 3: Here, you can now check the status of all of the products you offer in your shop. Each item should have a colored circle indicating the status.
- If you’re not sure what each color means, look at the status description on the left.
Step 4: Make sure each item you wish to show on your YouTube channel has a green circle, meaning it has “transferred”
- If it’s grey, you will need to select that product and manually select “transfer” for it to show up in your YouTube merch settings
- If it’s green and it’s still not showing up in your YouTube settings, you just need to give it a bit more time
Once you’ve waited a little bit, refresh your YouTube page and check the merchandise status again. You should be good to go now and ready to organize your shop!
How to Organize Your Merch Shelf on YouTube
This is pretty easy and probably the most fun part. All the integration and back-end settings have been dealt with, so you can finally customize how your products are presented to your audience.
Step 1: While under the “Status” section under “Merchandise” in your Monetization settings, click on “Organize”
Step 2: From here, drag all the items you want your viewers to see (up to 10), in the order you wish for them to see it
Step 3: Click “Save” and you’re done!
You should now be able to see your selection under the “Status” section.
To be sure that your shop reflects your customizations, go to the “Store” section while on your channel. If that looks good, then go to any of your videos and make sure you can see your merch under the video description.
Doesn’t it look amazing? Give yourself a pat on the back.
It’s literally that easy. Not only that, but it’s now even easier for your audience to support you by buying your merch.
If you wish you had more merch designs for your viewers, check out my video here that shows you step-by-step how I created my own merch designs and set up my shop account FOR FREE.
How to Sell Your Merch Without Access to YouTube’s Merch Shelf
In this section, I’m gonna answer the question you’re probably asking yourself right now: what should you do if you don’t meet the YouTube monetization requirements yet? What if you can’t access the merch shelf yet?
Well first and most importantly, keep posting videos and don’t give up! You will get there. Keep growing your channel.
Now, when it comes to selling merch, I recommend still selling it!
What’s great about Spreadshop is that it’s 100% free, no strings attached.
You can set up your shop and link it in every YouTube video description. (A very similar strategy you would use for affiliate marketing.)
You can integrate it into your website or link to it in your blog posts. (Like this, see?)
I know that may not be as ideal as having a merch shelf, but it will help you tremendously while you work your way to gaining access to it.
There are also other ways to make money as an Influencer you can work on while you wait for your YouTube channel to grow. You can work on brand collaborations, affiliate marketing, or you can make money as an Influencer on Instagram.
Whatever you decide to you, don’t give up and don’t be afraid to get creative.
And, as always, follow your joy!