selling merch Tag

1500 in sales= 30% discount from my shop


Juiced-My shop just crossed the #1500 mark in sales and I want to offer a thank you to all of you who have supported me. Along with many hustles, I survive with sales from this shop so I appreciate you if you’ve purchased anything from me in the past. If you’ve never gotten anything but wanted to, now’s your chance. From now until this Friday (January 20th) use the code “GREATEST3” to get 30% off from my shop. 
Here’s my shop link: GO 
Dig this post? Check out this one where I talk about how I made it to 1000 sales. When I get to 2000 sales I’m going to make a video about elaborating on how I got this far.

1400 sales = 20% off for you


This is me in Seattle at the Seattle Urban Book Expo and I’m writing to say thanks for supporting my books, art, merch, and shop. I just crossed the 1400 sales mark on Etsy and to show my. appreciation I’m sharing a special discount code FOR 20% off everything using “GREATESTSALE” as a thanks to you dear reader. You’ve got until Sunday night to use it or lose it. Peace!!


Dig this? Check out my most recent interview on the podcast Rightnowish and please share it w/ a friend.

Freelance chronicles 7- 1000 Sales on Etsy

Me vending, photo by Imelda Jimenez-LaMar

Yo yo yo yo (Stretch Armstrong voice), I just crossed the 1000 sales mark on Etsy which I’m very proud of. I know sellers who have less than 100 sales and folks with upwards of 20k. But, I plan to make more. Here’s some tips and things I did to make it this far. If you’re new to selling on Etsy, Shopify, Big Cartel, We Buy Black, or any online commerce site these might be helpful. Got suggestions? Questions? Leave a comment! Shout out to my wife who gave me so much energy, ideas, and feedback on how to make my work pop! If you have ever purchased a book or a sticker from me, THANK YOU.

via GIPHY (Fresh prince of Bel Air)

1. Get Specific

I like when I see sellers on Etsy create a niche. It doesn’t mean you sell something that no one has ever seen or made before only. It means you and your products have focus. If shoppers can see your story not only from your bio and product descriptions, but your over all store; it will help. Why? You want to get to specific people who like what you like. Not every single person. There are going to be a lot of people who don’t rock w/you because its not their thing and that’s ok. Trust me, if you LOVE it there are others out there who will. And your passion, expertise, and knowledge is infectious! So nail it down, and pivot if necessary.

Reverie performing, photo via 


2. Flow/ Rhythm

I’ve found that if there’s a regularity to my posts about my merch (merchandise) people not only come to expect whats new from me, the awareness that I make products grows. When I wasn’t making very many sales it was because I posted a product once here and there. Once I sat down and made a schedule each year including multiple series of products I began to see much more traction. Create a rhythm of when you release products. Could be 4 times a year, or 12. Create a schedule and try to stick to it.

Doc OG Lowrider painter (RIP)

3. Customize 

One way to set yourself apart from the crowd in terms of sales is to make custom items. The challenge with these is that they are time consuming and require skill to make them. As a result they will cost more, but if folks get to know you and they think what you make is unique and special they will buy them because they mean something. So, how can you flip what you’re making now to have a flair, color, tone, or message that is custom (your style) or customized for the individual. This way, folks can’t get it anywhere else but from you.

via GIPHY (In the heights)

4. Build Community

A great way to gain more knowledge and eventually more sales is to build community. How do you do that? Join an Etsy team if you’re on the platform. Make friends with other sellers like you. Reach out to people and ask for help, offer help, etc. By building friendships in this area of life you not only earn more money, but you can help your community of sellers by sharing what you know and you all grow together. This community can be virtual or in person. The point is to get out there and make genuine friendships, give, and receive. Support other sellers by buying stuff from them that you like, and they will do the same. Shout out to SF Etsy (Etsy Team), The Black Owned Etsy Shops, and my local community for having my back!

Vendor at Unique Markets via Forbes

5. Do events

Before Covid and after events in person will always be a great way to market your work, meet new people, to product test, and to drive future traffic to your shop. Events are not just for selling your stuff that day, sometimes retailers or shoppers will take note of your stuff and hit you up at a later date. If your immediate family already has everything you make its good to go to the other side of town and show em what you got. If you can talk about and share your products with people who stop by your table/booth you’ll be able to see real quick what people gravitate to and what they don’t. Test! If folks buy from you once make sure to leave them with a way to follow you, see more, or to share what they got with their friends. Business or postcards are great for this and you can also ask them to sign up for an email newsletter….

Tony Leung/ In the mood for love

6. Email newsletter 

I started doing email newsletters seriously over 3 years ago and it has done wonders for my regular sales and for connecting to my folks! Why? I can reach people at their personal emails and the majority of them actually see it and open my message. With social media it can be difficult to reach people because of algorithms, or the latest features a platform is highlighting. I started with one email a month, thats it. I do not spam people because that gets annoying. I make the newsletter short, to the point, and balanced with image, text, and sometimes video. If you have one consider making a website of your work with a pop up and having an actual paper form that people can fill out at events to get new sign ups. I use Mail Chimp but there are many such as Mad Mini, Constant Contact, Substack, etc.

via GIPHY (Marshawn Lynch)

7. Press 

Both paid and earned press is key. You sell at events, you post on social media, you email everyone. You tell all your family and friends. Folks support and then the sales slow down or stop. Don’t quit. It just means folks have bought all you have or they’re financially tapped out. You gotta reach new folks. How do you do that? Get eyes on your products who don’t know you at all. Maybe they support Black owned businesses, maybe they’re Queer friendly, maybe they’re a teacher, entertainer. Whatever it is, they’re looking for folks like you. Which blogs do they follow? What podcast do they listen to? Do they read newspapers? Make a note of these places (especially the ones you know your audience would love) and reach out. Sometimes you will have to pay, but I’ve heard its best to reach folks who write about work like yours and get it for free. You’re helping journalists and they’re helping you. This takes a lot of time, years even. But the more you prepare your information, links, and photos so it is easy to share with journalists the easier it will be to cover you and your work. You can see some press I’ve gotten for books or merch here. Shout out Papalodown who helped me tremendously with this.

Aaliyah / Romeo must die

8. Trial & Error

Some shit will pop and some will not get any traction at all. That is just how it is. Sometimes it takes awhile for things to gain traction too. There have been times where I made something and got it reproduced. It never really sold, and I was left with tons of products. A few times I just followed my gut and made something that sold really well! This to me means making what you want and thinking of what would best serve your audience and or supporters. There have been times where customers have told me what they liked, didn’t like, or what they wish I would make. If it made sense, I’d try it out. Sometimes they were right, sometimes not. Try new things related to your core passion. And take your time, because it takes time.

via GIPHY (Maitreyi/ Never have I ever)

9. Extras

Here are a few extra things I would highly suggest. 
-Get good photos of your merch. Either your study YouTube tutorials and figure it out or you hire someone like Sunset Shutterbug. A product photographer can help make your work shine! 
Brand your stuff and your social media. Meaning, use the same font, colors Key Words, logo, bio, typography, etc. That way when they look at your card, site, merch, social media it is all consistent and says something about you. I should note that a logo and an illustration are NOT the same thing. If they seem too similar or you don’t understand the difference, hire a graphic designer! 
-Search your app or selling service for help. Many of these platforms will have helpful articles, blogs, or videos to guide you. Take advantage!

Me and my youngest

Peace fam, my name is Robert Liu-Trujillo. I’m an artist from the Bay Area and I work in several fields (Kids books, Murals, Merchandise, Licensing, Illustration, Creative writing, etc). If you’re new to my blog, welcome. I share my personal and professional work here. Freelance chronicles is a series of blog posts about what has helped me succeed and the many experiences I’ve had along the way. I’ve been working as a freelance artist since 2006 officially. I have not worked a “day job” since 2014.  If you found this helpful you can support me by copping something from my shop or subscribing to my email newsletter! Feel free to share.

Previous Posts: 

Improve your merch table LINK

Business podcasts LINK

LAST NOTE: I started my Etsy shop in 2009/ 2010. I didn’t really start making full use of it until the past 5 years (I’m writing this in 2021). It takes time, be patient with yourself. Wherever you are in the process be open to growing.

Shop shutting down- Get it now!


Fam, it’s been a long year. I will be taking a short break from selling merch (prints, books, stickers, packs, etc) in my shop tomorrow (December 22nd at 10 am pst). If you’d like to get something from me I’d suggest you get it now. 
Here’s the LINK

Throwback Photo


Here’s a throwback to November of 2019 when there were still events indoors and outside. And you could be in the same proximity as hella people without worrying about a virus. The big SF Etsy Holiday Emporium!
Photographer and maker Imelda Jimenez-LaMar took this photo for a blog post she wrote about sharing visuals as a seller. 
here’s a photo of my table from the Vallejo California Juneteenth event last year as well. 

Freelance Chronicles 4- Improve your merch table

My merch table 2011 vs 2019
Recently, I’ve seen people post 10 year comparisons and it inspired me to post about my merch (merchandise)  table in the past 7-8 years. Ok so I have been selling artwork at events for well over 15 years. But it hasn’t been until the past five years that I really started to understand how to make money and make something I like. A few points of contrast below.

And while you’re here: Did you see the previous post about the tech I use? CLICK HERE

1. Original Art?
Ok so let’s talk about art collecting. If you are like most people you like art but you don’t typically buy a piece that is over $40-50 unless it is for a very special occasion like a commissioned portrait. The majority of my table 10 years ago was original artwork that would be considered too expensive for regular working class folks. For art collectors, it would appear too cheap. Point is, its been tough for me to sell original pieces. If you want to sell original artwork over $100 you should try presenting it in a gallery that regularly sells artwork. How do you know? Ask! Do your research. I’ll do a post about making your own gallery show one day.
Oh So Lovely Vintage
2. Focus
I really got into kids books because I was inspired by my son and I wanted to service the little child in me. Through that I found that I was providing a service to lots of other kids. So a lot more of my artwork has been literacy or narrative focused. I think its important to figure out how to make your set up cohesive. Make it look like it all belongs together. Like a collection, an album, or a curated wardrobe.
3. Presentation

Another important aspect of my merch table has been working on presentation. A flat table is boring to me. And I started to notice who was buying from me (women). What do they like? So I asked my wife and she gave some great advice about having varying levels on my table. Not all flat. It looks more interesting to me. And I started to look at craft people, jewelry artists, candle makers, etc to take notes on how they set up their tables. I make sure to have a nice large table cloth that is pleasing color wise, but also covers the majority of my table. And I try to make the display interesting. If it’s not working , I move things and experiment.

4. Salesperson
It is not too hard to sell when you really like what you do. But, one of the key things I’ve learned about selling is that if you work on your presentation people will come to you. They want to see what you got and they want to be engaged. So, I usually turn off my phone, make eye contact, smile, and I ask them about their day, complement their cool scarf, etc. 
I have found that going into a story about me, my prices, or what I make can turn people off. So I try to engage them in conversation about them. It doesn’t always lead to a sale, but it definitely helps me get to know more about the people who stop at my table. At some point, people intentionally started seeking my table out telling me they came to see me :). But I think making it about your customer or supporter is key at first. When they’re interested, they’ll ask you questions.
Hawaii record fair
5. The location
You might sell a bunch of wu-tang clan pins at a knitting conference or get a lot of signatures for the police academy at a Black Panther Party reunion. But, if you don’t do research about where an event takes place and who will be there you’re doing a disservice to your business. For me, this has meant going to that event to see how many attendees are there, if the crowd is diverse, if my stuff fits in, if there are 20 people selling there that do exactly what I do, etc before I sell there. This means really thinking intentionally about what you’re going to present that caters to that specific crowd. Location is also paying attention to the weather report, how far you have to lug your stuff, if you’ve over saturated that event (ie-they already bought all your stuff), or if this is a new event hungry for what you do. 
Melody Ehsani

6. Art that can be sold 1000x times
I have been making artwork for a very long time. I have sold tiny things, big framed pieces, books, all kinds of things. And if it was thing I’ve learned recently with having Furqan’s First, it is that you can make some really great artwork and also figure out how to reproduce it so you can sell it hundreds maybe even a thousand times. This can be a shirt, print, or piece of jewelry. The point is, make something you love, figure out how to serve your customer/supporters needs, make it affordable, quality, and make it easily accessible through in person events and online sales. 
Beat Junkies

7. Branding
Branding might sound corny or corporate. But to me it means making your stuff easy to find, readable, and consistent. There are certain items like soft drinks, bed’s, or tires that make you think about an image or story when you think about them. Why? They made sure their name was on it. and they told you their story many times. This does not require thousands of dollars. It just requires spreading the word about your stuff. For my art prints, book, business card, postcard, website, I use the same type, symbols, color, and illustrations. And through seeing this in different places people  say “you’re work is everywhere” when really I have just worked on trying to make it all feel consistent. And if I get tired of an image or style, I change it. And don’t worry, you’re not bragging. You’re taking pride in your appearance and letting people know you’re a working artist who is passionate about what they do.
Dance Africa at Bam

8. Capture Info / Stay in contact
Ok, you’ve finished an event, made a little bit of money and saw a bunch of cool people. Some of them are homies but many you just met. How do you keep in touch with them? Sure, social media is an option but most platforms now use algorithms. As a result, only 20-25% who follow you actually see your stuff. And there are homies that have left social media all together. Your friends would love to hear what’s new with you. The new folks definitely need to get to know you. Both might buy your new work IF they know about the new (insert merch). How? Good old addresses and email newsletters. I know, it sounds old school but everyone is posting on-line. Not everyone is using tools like Constant contact/Mailchimp or the good ole postcard. Get people’s info at your next event with a sign up sheet or your phone. Follow up with them in the new year and compare your sales and engagement with folks at the end of the year. Just a thought.

Busy Bee by Joe Conzo

9. Shout outs
I want to give a big a shout out to Nidhi Chanani who I learned so much from on how to make my work more presentable. Go check out her work here and follow her Instagram to see some of her past set ups at events.

Big shout out to the following events who helped shape who  I am as an artist and vendor: The Berkeley Flea Market, Malcom X Jazz Fest, Life is Living, Carnival in SF, Dia de los Muertos in the Fruitvale, SF Etsy, Renegade Craft Fair, Patchwork, Unique Markets, Zine Fests, Dance Africa at BAM, Afro Punk, and the Alternative Press Expo.

If you’ve read this far, thanks! I’m still learning and growing as an artist and business owner. I’m asking questions, reading this, listening to that, and failing a lot. Hopefully some of this will help you fail less. Leave a comment if this helped or if you have a tip to share.

Here’s the previous post about the tech that enables me to be a working artist and vendor!