For both aspiring and established creators, T-shirts and hoodies are so passé — the new wave of merchandise is all digital.
Teespring, one of the biggest platforms for creator and influencer merchandising and an official commerce partner for YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, is rolling out the ability to sell digital merchandise. These include photo filters, e-books, premium content, zines, and other items that creators can sell directly to fans instead of relying on physical merchandise.
Teespring decided to move into the digital merchandise space after a few influencers asked if it was something they could offer their fans, CEO Chris Lamontagne and vice president of marketing, Les Green, told The Verge on Wednesday. While Lamonatagne and the team had worked for a while on developing digital products, it was the pandemic that accelerated their plan to roll it out to creators who use Teespring. That includes people on YouTube, Instagram and, most recently, TikTok.
“The future isn’t just physical or digital — it’s gonna be digital and physical,” Lamontagne said. “We’re already seeing people who are doing bundles where it’s like, ‘Hey buy my shirt, download my filter.’”
Digital merchandise, which Lamontagne and Green refer to as digital commerce for creators, has been popular in other territories for years. Influencers abroad have created digital, personalized keyboards that are popular, for example. Creators who partook in Teespring’s digital merchandise beta were interested in working with Teespring on personalized digital products specifically for their audience, including a YouTuber who specializes in financial advice and wanted to create a digital financial planner for fans to use.
“For most of these creators, that’s the world that they live in — they create and distribute their content digitally,” Green said. “I think to be able to use that platform and leverage it to some more of their creative products out is a natural fit in many ways.”
Digital merchandise might sound a little more complicated than physical merch. Printing a T-shirt and mailing it out is one thing; designing a filter that works for every phone’s specifications is slightly trickier. Green said keeping up with how hardware and software changes — like different iPhone sizes or big Instagram software updates — are affecting people’s technology usage is “critical for us to adopt,” adding that Teespring will “sure that the products are compatible and appropriate for their fans.”
Neither Green nor Lamontagne said just how involved Teespring’s design team will be with creators who want to offer digital products that might require some extra technical skills, but Green mentioned they’re “going to be listening to the creators more often, and have a deeper relationship” with them to ensure their technical needs are met.
More than 450,000 verified creators are eligible to create digital products with Teespring. Creating a listing doesn’t cost anything, the company added in a press release, and there are no additional monthly charges or hosting fees.