Friday, April 11th, 2014

How to Get the Most Merch for your Money

All it takes to get the most merchandise for your money is a bit of knowledge. Did you know that your 5 color design could look just as good in half-tones, paying for a 1 color shirt instead? Ordering in packages, printing one design on different products to reach price breaks, and asking about our specials are just a few ways to save big. We know that you're on a budget but still need to stock up on merch, so here are some tips to get the most bang for your buck!


1. Order your merchandise in bulk.
Have you ever wondered how prices are calculated for ordering shirts? Once you've determined what product you want to print on, the part of the price that fluxuates is the printing. The cost per shirt depends not on how many shirts you order, but how many pieces you're printing of each design. If your band needs 100 shirts and sends us 4 designs, you're paying the max price (for 25 shirts each) instead of getting a price break for ordering 100 shirts. To get the most merch for your money, we recommend ordering one design at a time; you'll have a lower price per shirt, allowing you to order a higher quantity. The price breaks are at 24, 48, 84, 144, 288.... Don't worry about having too many of the same shirt; you can print the same design on different products and still get the price break. Mix and match sweatshirts, t-shirts, tank tops, in all different colors and sizes.

The order in bulk rule doesn't apply only to apparel. You'll notice that getting twice as many stickers, postcards, postcards, etc. never equals twice the price. In many cases with printing, the expense is in setting up all the equipment to print your order, so ordering a higher quantity won't cost you too much more. This is especially true with CDs, where you'll find that it costs pennies more to press 1,000 CDs instead of 500. Why is this, you may be wondering? Any quantity of CDs under 1,000 are considered short run, instead of standard. Short run are always more expensive per unit because they are assembled more or less by hand, as opposed to a standard run, which goes to our printing facility that specializes in bulk orders. We know sometimes it's harder to get more money upfront, but you'll certainly get more merch for your money if you're able to place one large order instead of several small ones.


2. Print your t-shirt designs on white shirts
As a general rule, white shirts are always cheaper than any other color. If you're set on a design with lots of ink colors, or several locations, you can keep the cost per shirt down by ordering white shirts. Why is this? For one reason, the shirts themselves are just cheaper. The second reason has to do with printing. When a light color ink is printed on a colorful shirt, it needs a flash, which is a base layer of ink to be able to see the ligher color ink. This process takes longer and involves more labor and equipment, justifying a higher price.


3. Use fewer ink colors
Sometimes less is more, but other times we want super colorful designs! This can lead to expensive merch, but it doesn't have to. The first tip is to make sure you utilize the color of the shirt itself, or the white vinyl background of the sticker. When screen printing a design, consider the color of the shirt or vinyl as an ink color in itself and save on one color. Secondly, if you have shading in your design, you can often convert it to half tones, which are little dots that vary in size to create an image. The best part of this is that you can print a pretty intricate design with shading in only one color! Consider these shortcuts before printing a full color design!

4. Print in less locations by utilizing your screens
One other factor that heavily influences the cost per shirt is the number of print locations. We understand that sometimes you can't avoid needing a 2 or 3 location shirt, but sometimes you can! The size of a screen is 14x18. What does this mean? Depending on your design, you may be able to print in 2 locations with the same screen, resulting in much lower prices. For example, you want to put your band logo and website on a shirt, but not next to each other. Try putting the logo on the top of the shirt, with the website at the bottom corner. Or try doing a design that wraps around the side of the shirt. You have 13.75” x 17.75” of space to print for each location, so use it!


5. Order your merch in packages (our pre-designed packages or create your own)
A general rule of thumb for placing merch orders is: the more you buy upfront, the less you pay for each item. We know there's an array of merchandise that you need so we've created pre-made packages covering everything from t-shirts to stickers, IndieCards and more. The packages are created specifically for bands starting up, bands who have been around for a while, and bands who need lots of merch (great for touring). Alternatively, you can create your own packages and expect that we'll give you a nice discount for ordering your items in bulk!

6. Have your artwork print-ready
One aspect of ordering merch that often holds up the order and adds additional expenses, is artwork. Bands are asked to send us their artwork print-ready, which means 300dpi in photoshop (.psd) or illustrator (.asi) format. When artwork is sent to us that's not print-ready, our designer has to recreate the art, leading to extra charges and more time before the order is complete. Make sure if you have a multi-color design that it's color separated and the layers are not flattened. Here is some additional information for preparing your artwork:


7. Ask about sales/specials
Every month we create a new special to give bands a chance to try new products at an affordable price. These specials are announced in our monthly newsletter. Not on our mailing list? You can find all of them in the news section of our site: Whether you get an extra 10% off all stickers, or can try a new soft shirt product, you'll always save big with our monthly specials! How do we determine what becomes a special? One factor is that our suppliers occasionally have sales, which allows us to lower our prices even more on specific products for a limited time. Other times we think of products that bands would like for a certain time of year; such as doing a beanie special in the winter, and soft t-shirt special in the spring. Take advantage of the specials we set up to allow you to try different products at a bargain price, all year round.


8. Order what's on the site for our lowest priced products
We take pride in being able to custom order any item you can think of. However, when we're talking about getting the most merch for your money, the best way to go about it is to shop on our site. Out of countless items we could list, we choose standard products which have the best prices. So remember, what you see on the site is the best deal you'll find; custom orders will cost you a bit more!


9. Re-order the same design
With certain products such as t-shirts, it'll cost you less money the second time around. Remember the first time you ordered t-shirts and you had to pay screen charges for every color and location? Well, never again (for that design at least). We keep your old screens, so anytime you want to re-order a specific design, you'll only be charged for the shirts and printing, no set up/screen charges.


10. Don't wait til the last minute to order
Believe it or not, waiting til the last minute to order merch can be a costly gamble!  If you know you need your merch by a certain day, get in touch with us at least 2 weeks prior.  This way, we can make sure your artwork looks the best it possibly can and that everything is done right.  When doing a rush order, you may need to pay rush fees or ship the order overnight, which can cost significantly more than ground shipping.  Plan ahead to avoid unneccesarily spending extra money!