Merch or not to merch? Should every beauty influencer launch their own product?

“It looks so easy but it feels so complicated” That’s what many beauty bloggers and Instagram models say when I encourage them to launch their own product. And they are mostly right. It looks temptingly easy to just get a product and slap your logo on it. Make a video and a few posts, and sell truckloads of them. Earn thousands. Pay the student loan and go to Costa Rica for the rest of the year. Right?

It may work for some, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Read on to understand better what merchandising means in the world of beauty and fashion.

You’ve probably looked at Zoella with a tiny bit of envy — not only because of her popularity, but also because of the way she has been able to make money with her own brand by launching a bunch of pretty products. But why would you not do the same? Maybe you don’t have her follower count, but you do have people online that like you more than your real friends do. And those people trust your product choices, because you do have a good taste. So why not? Why would you not put your name on an eyeshadow palette or a perfume? It is definitely possible, but you should use the right people to help you, because it is not really that easy. Let’s start with the reasons why you definitely should go for it and then move to the part why it is so complicated (but stay with me to the end, and I’ll tell you few tips how to launch your first product easily!)

1) You’ll earn money

This is a no-brainer. Instead of promoting big brands for a few bucks they give you, why not take all of the money home yourself? Why would you let others ride on your hard work, and take advantage of the followers you gathered over all these years with video after video, post after post? Paid promotion is rather easy way to make a few bucks, but it is a one-time fee. If you make your own product, you can start earning a monthly salary with it. Getting a continuous, steady income from your blog or vlog gives you a bit more freedom economically to work less and concentrate on your channel more!

2) You’re building your brand

The problem with the paid promotions is always the fact that it makes your channel look like a paid marketplace for brands. And your followers don’t like that. They want YOU, not the brands. But if you promote your OWN product that truly represents you, that will interest your people.

Also, keep in mind that launching your own product makes you look a bit more serious influencer than the others. So that might help you in the future when you’re negotiating your collaborations with the brands. You can set your price a bit higher and say no to jobs you truly don’t believe in. After all, you’ll be regarded as someone who can make money on your own, and does not need that many paid collabs to sustain her business.

3) You’ll get more experience

What ever your current or future line of career is, dealing with product business will look good on your CV. Especially if you’re aspiring a job in fashion world or in a cosmetics company; it will be really valuable experience for you to manage a product of your own. You will learn a lot of stuff you probably did not explore yet in the field of marketing, you’ll get to make decisions on distribution and design, and most of all, you will grow as a person as you go through the experience.

Now here’s the catch…

Merchandising is such an amazing opportunity for influencers that you might wonder why everyone’s not doing it. There’s many things you have to take into consideration when you launch your own beauty product. You might see your product in the shelves of big department stores, but ignore the fact that manufacturing is very costly, there’s regulations and laws for cosmetics, and you might not be ready to take care of all the shipping, customer service, returns and refunds, and all the operations it might take to run your product business. You might also be left with a lot of unsold products if your followers don’t react the way you expected.

Luckily there are a few ways to go around these pitfalls. There are a few companies (really, only a few. You will have to dig really deep to find them) that help smaller influencers to merchandise with reasonable costs and conditions. If you’re interested launching a perfume, I can personally recommend this company. You can mix an amazing scent and decide on your bottle and packaging with them, and the cost is reasonable. They also help you with e-commerce, logistics and customer service. If you’re interested in clothing or apparel, you should take a look at this one. I will follow up with another post next time more ideas and companies that can work for you! After all, the opportunity is great if your followers really like you. You’ll make a good side income and grow your brand.

Hope this article was of any help for those who are pondering over launching a beauty product of their own! Leave a comment if you already have experience on your own products and want to share your experience!

P.S. I wrote another, more detailed post about why merchandising is complicated for influencers. You can read it here!