How to Set up a Swag Store for Your NonProfit

Man and woman pack items in brown cardboard boxes.
Photo by Kampus Production

If you run a nonprofit organization, chances are you are always trying to discover new ways to fund your mission. Asking for donations is a tried and true method. But when donor fatigue sets in, you want to have options. What better way to offer options than with a swag store?

In a previous post, we reviewed why setting up a swag store is a great idea. A store brings more revenue and brand awareness to your organization. And merchandise is a great way to thank donors and volunteers. Our previous post on swag stores can help you plan everything out.

Once you have these basic concepts nailed down, it’s to build your store! This part of the process may give you pause. It can be daunting if you’ve never built a website or online store before. Luckily, you can use WordPress, WooCommerce, and Printful to build a store quickly with minimal know-how and zero coding knowledge!

Keep on reading, because in this post we are going to walk step by step through how to set up a swag store for your nonprofit with WordPress.

What programs and software do you need to set up a swag store?

You can begin building out your swag store with three simple tools: WordPress, WooCommerce, and Printful. With these three tools, you don’t need to worry about handling the merch at any point in time. There are zero up-front costs and Printful handles all the shipping for you! 

If your nonprofit’s website is already built with WordPress, you’ve already got that step covered! 

You’ll need to install WooCommerce on your WordPress website

WooCommerce is the tool that sits on top of your WordPress site. It allows you to build a store, product pages, and similar features directly on the site. It also connects to the payment processor so you can accept money for goods!

  1. Go to your WordPress Plugins page and click Add New. 
  2. Search for WooCommerce.
  3. Click Install, then Activate

The Setup Wizard will begin and you’ll be asked to answer a series of questions. This is for establishing important information right away. Answer all questions as best you can. If you currently don’t know an answer, don’t worry! You can always edit this information later.

When you’re done, go to WooCommerce, then Settings in your WordPress dashboard and ensure that your address, currency, and similar options are correctly set on the general tab. Make sure that you follow the WooCommerce documentation in order to connect to your payment gateway.

Now, create an account with Printful and connect it

Printful is the company that you can use to design and ship your merch. They connect to your site and when a product is purchased, they physically create it and ship it to the buyer. Printful is fantastic because you don’t have to buy inventory; you just pay a fee for each item sold!

  1. Go to Printful.com and click Sign Up
  2. Choose your method from the given options. As a nonprofit organization, it’s probably best to sign up using your nonprofits email.
  3. Answer all the following questions in order to build your account.

Where do you find designs for your merchandise? 

It’s not enough to just sell a t-shirt or hat through your store. It has to be branded and specific to your nonprofit. 

You can use your logo for the merch. That is the simplest option, since you should already have that image file on hand. Just make sure it’s the highest quality version of the image possible.

You can also use a custom design for your merch. This will be more expensive and time intensive, since you will need to hire a designer to do this. However, it can be unique to a special cause or fundraiser, making that merch limited edition!

It is incredibly important that you use original artwork or artwork that you already own. Never ever pull an image from Google Images to use on your merchandise!

How to set up your store using WordPress, WooCommerce and Printful 

Let’s walk step by step how to connect your WordPress site, WooCommerce plugin, and Printful account. 

When logged in to Printful, go to Stores. Choose the “choose platform” button.

Setup Printful start screen.

Choose WooCommerce from the options provided. 

Setup Printful and WooCommerce

Choose the “set up for an existing store” tab. Printful has a handy video right there on the page for you to follow! Follow the steps as they lay them out. It’s a good idea to follow the steps directly from their website so you know the process is always up to date! 

Once you’ve finished following all the steps, you should get a confirmation screen that looks something like this:

Add products to Printful

Now you’re ready to add your first product. 

Let’s do this together now so you can see how the software connects. Start by choosing Add Product from the confirmation page.

You’ll be met with a ton of options! Browse through until you’ve found the item that you want to use for your first piece of merch. I’ll go with a classic t-shirt in a women’s style.

Take your time and explore all of the customization options that Printful offers. You can drag and drop your design onto the merch, choose colors and sizes, and more.

I added a flower design, selected some sizes, and chose 2 color options:

Add design to product in Printful.

Click Proceed to Mockups to choose some display options that will show on your WooCommerce store. This is great for items that will be used; you want to show them in context so buyers can get a good idea what it would be like to use that item themselves. WHen you’re done, click Proceed to Details.

Here is where you can add a title and description. You can also just use the default text that Printful provides. When you’re done, click Proceed to Pricing.

Adjust your pricing on the next screen:

Edit product prices on Printful.
  • The Printful Price is how much Printful will take in order to produce and sell the item. 
  • The Retail Price is how much it will cost the person who buys the item. 
  • And the profit is how much you will get at the end of the sale. 

If you want to make more of a profit, you can increase the retail price and Printful will do the math for you.

When you are done setting your pricing, choose Submit to Store.

Now, we can go back to our WordPress site and choose the Products navigation item.

Add products to WooCommerce

Amazing! The Printful item has been added to our list of items with all the information we set.

How do you edit and remove items? 

Now that your store is set up and has it’s first item, we need to learn how to edit items. Maybe your cost changed. Or maybe you want to update a description. The process for editing your item is simple. 

From the Products page in your WordPress dashboard, hover over the item and choose Edit.

On this page, we can edit the title, description, and category. Add a category if you don’t already have one. Categories are useful for letting buyers search your store. Examples of categories might be “clothing” “accessories” “bags” “stationary” etc.

Edit products

If you want to edit the product’s price or features, go back to Printful and go to the Stores page. Find your product and choose Edit.

Add more products to Printful.

Here you can edit the price, description, and more. 

Don’t want to offer an item in the store anymore? Here’s how you can remove it from the store. 

In WordPress, go to the Products page. Hover over the item and choose Trash. Super simple!

WooCommerce Products

What takes a product from good to great? 

Listing a product for sale in your swag store isn’t just about adding it in. You’ll want to pay attention to how it’s listed!

A good product title will describe what the item is, but also what makes someone want it. For example, in my example, the shirt was called “Short Sleeve Unisex T-shirt.” While this is an accurate description, it doesn’t describe the shirt in its entirety. A much more engaging title might be “Rainforest Flower Painted T-Shirt”

If you’re struggling with product names, go to an online store you shop from and look at how they name their products! 

The same can be said for the product description. A good product description gives the buyer all the information they would want about that item. Things like size and weight are good to include here. But also try to describe the feel of the product and maybe what inspired the design. If someone is on the fence about buying this item, the description is your chance to convince them!

You can also check out helpful posts like this one on how to write product descriptions that convert!

Make sure to utilize tagging and categorization to make your products easier to find in the store. Think about how you shop online. What kinds of keywords can you use to sort your items? If you’re unsure, visit an online store that sells similar items and use that as inspiration.

Use engaging photography. Printful will give you helpful mockups. But if you have any images of people wearing or using the items in real life, include those! 

How to pull sales reports from WordPress 

At certain intervals, you need to pull reports to see how much you’ve sold and how much you’ve made. With WordPress, this is very easy to accomplish.

To grab sales reports, go to WordPress > WooCommerce > Reports. 

WooCommerce sales reporting.

Parse the information however you need to use the options along the left and top. When you have what you need, click “Export CSV” in the top right.

And there you have it! You are ready to start selling amazing merch through your WordPress website. If you run into a problem, don’t forget that WooCommerce and Printful both have excellent customer service teams!

Do you already have a swag store? Link it in the comments below or tweet it at us: @cloud22com

Remember that your store needs to always be active, fast, and secure. A slow or sketchy store will turn off buyers pretty quickly. If using WordPress, the hosting you choose can ensure that your store is always up, looks great, and performs fast. We definitely count good hosting as a top priority within your software stack.

Cloud22 Managed WordPress Hosting checks every box. We manage your updates – making sure that when your theme developer releases an update or patch, you get it right away. We back up your site, just in case you make a wrong move in your theme settings.  Our servers are integrated with LiteSpeed cache and Cloudflare CDN, so the beautiful design you used your theme to build is served to visitors quickly.

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