So, you're an internet personality who has a modicum of loyal followers looking to expand their income stream. How does one do this? Well, the first way would be to diversify. Merch is a grand way to both grow a Brand while increasing one's income stream. How does one create a demand for one's merch? One way is to have it tied to your Brand. A sustainable way to do this is to have merch that is relevant to the current trends of said Brand. Don't have any? Easy. MAKE them! How does one do this? They do this by having their audience engaged enough to WANT this current merch. Let's take PewDiePie's Minecraft merch campaign as an example: Having played Minecraft for less than a month, a line of Minecraft merch was launched based off of viewer favorite NPC characters ( horse and dog )/memes that viewers have become connected to. First, however, one must generate things viewers will wish to take an interest in. A creative and imaginative person can do this in short order either via in-game roleplay and/or paying attention to memes being latched onto by their fans. I will at this time point out that a sense of 'community' within the Brand needs to fostered in order to accomplish this. For example I offer the Yogscast, who grew a community of WoW followers into a Minecraft phenomena ( Shadow of Israphel
into a 'Variety stream/YT' MCN of a literal cast of Yogs whereby members of their growing MCN place 'Yog' before their channel name thus making them a part of the Yog community...but I digress...
Fostering a sense of 'community' will encourage folks to buy additional merch ....a piece from the CURRENT thing that is taking place. Merch sales ride on the crest of the wave. The wave is DRIVEN by the viewers. Realize and capitalize on this leads to a successful merch income stream. Ooo0ooooh, I'm not good at art....( you winge ) ....my above example show that one need NOT be able draw anything to design and make merch that SELLS....to the fanbase of one's BRAND....What one needs is the COMMUNITY you wants to buy such things.
Yeah, YogCon* is streaming a bit I want to watch or I'd add more to this........
Outside stage of Yogcon feed:
*Yogcon is sponsored by Twitch.
I'm Dave Yognaut and I have the Balls!
Woot they launched the rocket....but I digress...
How do old channels like this keep growing? Well, these two guys were forward thinking and continue to be by taking in New (younger ) talent . Your Brand doesn't have folks clamoring to join your team...or refuses to take the chance to allow them to? Well....your answer is being being creative enough on your own to do these things or monitoring your chat closely enough to see where the opportunity resides. [Pro Tip: Try not to BAN folks for doing things like spamming things you may not understand as this could become a 'community' adhesive element you later embrace. Additional Pro Tip: UnBan folks banned for doing that which you now embrace...if it isn't to late to do so. Better Pro Tip is to NOT ban folks for emotes/memes. These can be your bread and butter. Sticks and Stones one may say if one isn't silly enough to alienate those in their base who might wish to poke fun. Dry humor can on this matter can grow a base even more ( as by example I offer https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCudlnfkmb1LgK4tSgctPNOQ who berates his fans while not banning anyone. A "King of Hate" should should be embracing this 'negativity'. I will at this point take the time to mention that the OG fame was as a 'shock jock' much akin to Howard Stern that is referenced and in hindsight one cannot fail to understand this being the driving force behing ones numbers. Embrace it to keep the train rolling.
Understanding your audience is key to success. Audience's tastes change. Seeing the change defines those who grow and who do not. One can grow by embracing and using everything at their command ( positive and negative). The Big man shrugs off the slings and arrows while using them to his advantage. The smaller man takes them all to heart and lashes out at everyone. One needs only decide to be the bigger man. Shock-Jocks exist on every local radio station. It's the ones who embrace their 'haters' who go Big Time ( Glenn Beck was a small time nobody on my local radio station before his local following got big enough to garner national recognition due to his even greater 'hate' I may add) Missed opportunities cannot be capitalized on. The Brand you once could have capitalized upon is watered down each and every 'pre-stream' to the point that 'detractor' channels are no longer hosting your info as a daily output opting to make vids of others who are more relevant....but I digress...
If one doesn't have a niche ( as with with https://www.youtube.com/user/Airforceproud95 ( flight sims ) or https://www.youtube.com/user/AGamingBeaver ( dino games ) or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCudlnfkmb1LgK4tSgctPNOQ ( the Stardew Valley guy who has moved on to other games ).....one must rely on being quick enough to see what their audience is latching on and bright enough to realize it is a thing one can capitalize off of in the short time it exists as popular culture.
Failing this, one has little hope.
Best of luck.