Podcast Episode 17 - Supreme Court hears challenges to Section 230. And 2 Steps to Selling Merch in 2023

Let’s begin with the Business for Makers News Desk

As always, we start with lumber pricing

Tradingeconomics.com reports Lumber futures are trading about $400 per 1000 board feet, down from $450 2 weeks ago, due to some profit taking the last two weeks.  Supplies continue to be tight, thanks to producers slowing production in January, and home construction is expected to rebound this summer, so rising lumber prices should be expected during the summer and fall.





President Joe Biden and some of his Republican adversaries in Congress find themselves on the same side of the upcoming Supreme Court case, Gonzalez v. Google on Tuesday, Feb. 21 


Together they are arguing in favor of limits on internet company immunity under Section 230.


Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunizes internet companies from liability over content posted by third parties and allows platforms to remove content considered obscene or objectionable.  It’s essentially the backbone of the internet that allows social media platforms to even exist.


The dispute before the Supreme Court marks the first time the court will consider the scope of the law, and the question before the justices is whether Section 230's protections for platforms extend to targeted recommendations of information.


In other words, the social media platforms are not responsible or liable for everything content creators post.  They of course do have an obligation to remove obscene or objectionable content.

 But does that liability change, when the platform's algorithm intentionally surfaces content that matches your interests.

According to CNBC, The court fight arose after terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, when 129 people were murdered by ISIS members. Among the victims was 23-year-old Nohemi Gonzalez, an American college student studying abroad who was killed at a bistro in the city. 

Gonzalez's parents and other family members filed a civil lawsuit in 2016 against Google, which owns YouTube, alleging that the tech company aided and abetted ISIS in violation of a federal anti-terrorism statute by recommending videos posted by the terror group to users.

Google has won 2 cases in the lower courts, affirming their protection under Section 230, but the Supreme Court agreed to weigh in also

Social Media companies, Dating apps, and content creators of all kinds have warned the court that if it limits the scope of Section 230, it could drastically change how they approach content posted to their sites. 

With a greater risk of costly litigation with fewer protections, companies may be more cautious about letting content appear on their sites that may be problematic, and only allow content that has been vetted and poses little legal risk.

Then the question becomes, what is considered problematic?  And will some platforms simply not have the resources to make that determination, and shut down?


And that’s it for the Business for Makers News Desk.

So,  what are the 2 simple steps you need to sell Merch in 2023?

The last couple years have taught me a few things about selling merch, and selling in general.

Your merch is not a fashion brand.  Nobody is sitting by their computer, waiting for your next release to drop.  And T-shirts are everywhere.  So if you’re selling a t-shirt, best of luck.


But if you are selling an emotional connection, then you have a chance.

Why did you buy your last concert t?  Because you were out of t-shirts, and $40 for a shirt was the best deal you could find?  Or because you were at your favorite band’s show, and you want to remember it… you have an emotional connection to that event and to the band.

Why did you buy a Yeti cup, or the new Stanley cups?  Because you ran out of cups in your pantry?  Or because of the way it makes you feel, to have the newest, the best, the latest. 

Selling merch with your logo is no different.  What you need to ask yourself, is who has an emotional connection to my business, or how can I create one with others.

These might be family, friends, current and past customers, or social media followers who you helped or inspired in some way.  It might be people who have a similar passion as you, or believe in the same set of guiding principles as you, who you’ve made a connection with.

And then there are 2 ways to turn that emotional connection into a sale.

#1 Wear it and use it

You drink coffee every morning… So why not use a thermal tumbler with your logo?

Who knows what kind of conversations that might start with a coworker.

Your jacket, your hoodie, your hat.  All are reminders to everyone else about your business, and your merch.

Your notebook, your mouse pad, your coffee mug.  They discreetly display your brand in the office.

Your tote bag on errands.   Your t-shirt at the gym. 

Seriously there is 0% chance someone will ask you about your maker business, from the Nike t-shirt you are wearing, or your Walmart tote bag.

But the people in your life want to support you, so you need to give them an easy opportunity.  Which brings us to #2

You have to talk about it, to sell it.

  • Post your merch on social media
  • Mention it in your email newsletter
  • Wear it and have it in the background of your videos
  • Add a line in your captions
  • Talk about it on your podcast
  • Add it as a line on your Thank You card  
    • “Here’s another way to support me”
  • Give it away as gifts.
    • Give a hat to a friend
    • A hoodie to your wife
    • A baby gift to a newborn
  • Include your merch in your next online giveaway

Is this going to be another stream of income? Probably not a significant one. 


But does it offer an opportunity to support the first stream of income?  Absolutely yes

Are your friends and family sitting around the house wondering how they can support your business?  No.  They have their own lives.  

But if presented with a friendly reminder, they might click a link and buy a hat.

The last 2 years have shown me that there isn’t a market to purchase your t-shirt, from people that don’t know you.  

But to people you know in person, and online, it's a great way for them to show support.  So they are the ones who will purchase

And when you, or your supporters wear your logo, you’ve increased the opportunity to start a conversation about your business.   And those conversations are the beginning of the sale.

Marketing consultant Mark Schaefer summed it up in his latest book The Marketing Rebellion. “I contend that the brands of the past were created through an accumulation of advertising impressions. The brands of the future will be created through an accumulation of human impressions..”

And that’s how marketing your woodshop merch in 2023 will develop.  Finding every way to start the conversation about your business.  That means using your merch, wearing your merch, and reminding everyone you know, in every way possible, you are open for business.


I’m Scott Chervitz, /   and thank you for listening to the Business for Makers Podcast, brought to you by George Supply Company. //

Thanks to my co-author Brian Chervitz, an Associate Instructional Designer at the University of Wisconsin Extended Campus.

For your convenience, the transcript of this episode is available in our Business for Makers blog. /   I’ll include a link in the show notes. //

Subscribe to our podcast to get regular insights and tips for building your maker business. /   And you can get more information about building your brand, selling merchandise, and maintaining your business operations all at georgesupplyco.com. //

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