Are you familiar with Philip DeFranco? Yea, who isn't? Philip is one of the most famous YouTubers on the internet, with over 6.3 million followers as of August 2022. He's as big of a creator as you can be.
Phil, like other creators, sells merchandise to finance his media empire. Specifically, you can buy merch from Philip's store: Beautiful Bastard. Ignoring the funky name, as that's probably a reference to something in his channel, Philip probably makes a sizable amount of revenue from selling merch to his 6 million subscribers.
What platform is Philip using to run his e-commerce store? Fourthwall.
As more and more people become creators full-time, they're looking for new ways to earn money. Selling merch might be a great start if you have a large following. Likewise, offering a paid membership might also be a great idea if your content is very focused on a particular niche. But, launching either of these products isn't easy.
Fourthwall is an e-commerce platform that makes it easy to sell merch and memberships. You can create a beautiful website in minutes without any coding required. Plus, it integrates with all the major social media platforms, so you can start selling to your followers immediately. If you're looking for a way to monetize your content and grow your following, it's a solution worth checking out.
Here we'll outline the vital, relevant things to know and learn about about Fourthwall to decide if it's a good fit for you. Hopefully, by the end, you'll understand why a top-notch creator like Philip DeFranco is working with Fourthwall. (Hint: It's a solid platform built explicitly for creators, so it makes sense).
Updated Section: Philip DeFranco is actually the Chief Creator Officer at Fourthwall
Philip DeFranco is actually not only a prominent creator using Fourthwall, but he actually serves as the company's Chief Creator Officer. The company made an announcement about it on their home page: We’re on a mission to make creators’ lives easier. It's pretty neat for Fourthwall to have such a prominent YouTuber as part of their company's executive leadership team. Even if Philip is lightly involved, his input means that product will at least serve creators similar to him well.
Fourthwall's Founding Story and Funding Background
Fourthwall is a relatively new platform, having been founded in January 2019. However, the team behind Fourthwall is far from unique to the e-commerce space. The company was founded by Walker Williams, who also co-founded Teespring – an online T-shirt selling platform that did over $1 billion in sales in just three years. Will Baumann, another co-founder, is CEO.
Given Walker's experience building successful e-commerce businesses, it's no surprise to learn that Fourthwall has quickly become a leading platform for creators looking to monetize their content. In just over two years, Fourthwall has raised $17 million from top investors like Lightspeed Venture Partners (who also backed Snapchat), Initialized Capital (backed by Gary Tan, who co-founded Coinbase), and Seven Seven Six (started by the founder of Reddit).
"We just make the business side of being a creator easy, so they can focus on the build the content and build the community and build the engagement piece,” says Baumann, Fourthwall’s CEO. “Whoever ends up helping the most in this space will be all-in-one—that’s just what is fundamentally easiest for creators rather than having to learn and figure out all these different tools and stitch them together. We genuinely believe that’s where the market will end up.”
Fourthwall has both the team and the funding to be a significant player in the e-commerce space for creators. But what exactly does Fourthwall offer? Let's take a closer look.
Ideal Customer: Built for Creators with a Sizable Following
Fourthwall is an excellent platform for creators with a sizable following who want to sell products or memberships to their fans. You can connect your store with multiple social media platforms. For example, if you're a YouTuber with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, you can sell merch directly from your YouTube channel using Fourthwall.
Likewise, if you're a podcaster with a large audience, you can use Fourthwall to launch a paid membership program where fans can get exclusive content and access to your community.
In short, Fourthwall is perfect for creators who want the power to monetize their content and grow their following by selling products that their fans will love. The converse is probably true as well: if you don't have a large following, Fourthwall isn't a great fit since you won't have the power or the distribution to drive sales or memberships. It's clear Fourthwall knows this since you effectively have to apply to fourth wall to join the platform, and they're likely only approving creators with a large following.
What does a creator get on Fourthwall? Creators get a beautiful website that is easy to use, an integrated e-commerce platform, and the ability to sell products and memberships.
Fourthwall's Top 8 Defining Features
The core of Fourthwall's platform is helping creators monetize. Some of the features worth highlighting are noted below.
Customizable Website (E-Commerce Store and Membership Sites)
Fourthwall allows creators to monetize by setting up their e-commerce shop or membership site. Creators can earn money from their following by getting set up easily on Fourthwall instead of fumbling around with tech and product logistics to sell one product. With Fourthwall, you get a beautiful, easy-to-use website with tons of customizability designed to look great and drive sales. You can easily add your branding, photos, and videos to create a website that reflects your brand.
The types of sites you can build and launch with Fourthwall include E-Commerce and Membership Site.
Fourthwall's integrated e-commerce platform makes it easy to list and sell products. You can add products in minutes, set up shipping and payment options, and start selling to your fans.
Fourthwall also allows creators to launch a paid membership program where fans and supporters can get exclusive content and access to your community. Launching a membership program is a great way to monetize your following and give your most dedicated fans access to exclusive content.
Valuable, Intuitive Product Integrations
With Fourthwall, you and businesses don't need to worry about setting up a separate e-commerce platform to sell your products. Everything is seamlessly integrated into the Fourthwall website builder, making it easy for businesses to start selling products without any tech headaches.
Fourthwall also integrates with several other platforms creators, businesses and companies your clients will likely use, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Integrating makes promoting your clients' products and website easy across all channels without extra work.
Specifically, their integration with YouTube means creators can get their merch store items to show up below their YouTube videos. That's what someone like Philip DeFranco does. Take a look at this in real-time on one of Philip's most recent videos below. You can see that the products have the word Fourthwall written in the product description, taking subscribers to Fourthwall's site to make the purchase.
Quickly and Seamlessly Setting Up an Entire E-Commerce Store
Fourthwall allows you to pick from a catalog of products, so you don't have to wait or worry about sourcing products, designing them professionally, or worrying about logistics and payments. All this makes it easy for you to launch your e-commerce store quickly. In our deep dive, we'll talk a bit more about this product catalog below. Still, this ability to be up and running with a beautiful customized e-commerce site and not worry about product logistics, design or fulfillment is a tremendous value add to already-busy creators.
Also, it's worth noting that you can sell physical products sourced through Fourthwall's catalog and digital products. (The pricing for these differs, as we'll discuss later).
Selling Memberships as an Add On
While we know Fourthwall allows you to build a membership site, there's more to appreciate here. Namely, as a creator, you can sell memberships in addition to your physical and digital products. Or, if you preferred only to build a membership site, you could do that as well. The platform is robust enough to be able to accommodate both use cases.
Lots of creators use memberships to support and finance their work. While using Fourthwall for e-commerce support and building a site is a solid choice, when it comes to memberships support, creators do have other prominent options - sites like Patreon and Memberful, for instance. However, Fourthwall is a highly seamless and integrated solution allowing support for both e-commerce and memberships, which the other platforms do not offer.
Ability to Accept Donations
While the phrasing on their site and message does not talk much about donations beyond this one message, if you play around on the Fourthwall home page, you'll notice they have an interactive creator page that highlights donations and the ability to set up donations on your home page.
Not all creators utilize donations from supporters to fund their work, but it may make sense for supporters of select creators or channels, especially if you're a social good-oriented channel where followers are more likely to donate.
Top Notch Customer Service
Fourthwall prides itself on reliable quality customer service. Their focus on quality customer services means getting help when you're stuck will be easier than dealing with a faceless giant corporate entity. While everyone company has some form of quality customer service, it's a safe bet to assume that Fourthwall cares about quality customer service since they highlight it on their home page.
Likewise, the message on their pricing page highlights it again: "24/7 customer support for your supporters and community. When your supporters or community have a message or a question, we'll be there to help around the clock and forward it to you if there's ever anything we can't answer."
It makes sense when you realize that to get accepted onto Fourthwall, you have to be a big enough creator because there isn't a base monthly fee. As such, these more significant creators with over 100K followers at least usually have many options of how they could go about creating their merch stores. Fourthwall recognizes this and is clever in offering top-tier customer service to its creators.
High-Quality Personalization Tools for Your Followers
Fourthwall offers neat features focused on personalizing and improving your followers' experience when they are buying through fourth wall on your site. Specifically, through the power of fourth wall you can provide followers custom promos and even send personalized thank you notes.
As a creator, you care about your following and want to keep them engaged. Fourthwall has considered that as they've built their product and give you features to stay close with your following in unique ways. The difference between using Fourthwall and Shopify becomes more evident here.
While we've touched upon this, it's worth calling out that Fourthwall gives businesses and content creators access to many customization options. You can customize the look and feel of your site and the domain and control the user experience to your liking.
All this is likely in addition to the standard e-commerce customization you would get with any platform. The key here is that Fourthwall is for creators, and as such, they put extra emphasis on design, giving creators more control over how their site appears and how to increase conversions.
The examples the Fourthwall highlights on the company's home page are pretty diverse and show the various types of sites creators can make. You won't feel like your site is a cookie-cutter, boring site.
Pricing: How much does Fourthwall cost for Creators?
If a creator sold a physical product for $100, they would pay Fourthwall $2.90 per transaction fee and a $0.30 fee for a total of $3.20 in fees. Since this is a physical product, there is no charge here. However, for a digital product, there would be a 3% fee on top of the transaction fee.
Only 1 Pricing Tier
There is only one pricing tier for Fourthwall. However, the pricing is segmented by product type or category. Physical products have just the transaction fees, whereas digital products have an additional $3 fee. Meanwhile, memberships cost 5% plus the transaction fee.
While these could seem high, it's worth remembering that creators are not paying any upfront fees and only pay when a transaction occurs. Namely, unlike Shopify, where creators would have to pay a monthly fee to use the platform, Fourthwall is free unless someone buys something from your store.
Likewise, all creators on Fourthwall can access their entire suite of product features. That means that all creators, big and small, get access to features like a custom domain, YouTube integration, and follower engagement personalization.
Fourthwall's approach to pricing is quite rare as most companies like to charge a base monthly fee. However, Fourthwall isn't doing this out of the goodness of their heart. Instead, their business focus is to serve prominent creators. Namely, they aren't helping smaller creators who might be okay without a custom domain or some of the premium features.
Deeper Dive in Fourthwall: Business Model and Product Catalog
Fourthwall's home page has a Frequently Asked Questions section. Digging into the top questions is a great way to learn about the business and how creators currently use the platform. There are questions about how much a creator can make vs. how much a product costs. Likewise, there are questions about inventory risks. These questions are linked and reveal a significant detail about understanding what Fourthwall is and how it operates.
Understanding How Fourthwall Works
Fourthwall offers creators a massive catalog of products they can sell as part of the creator's own e-commerce store experience. For instance, a creator can pick a T-shirt or hoodie, customize it, and have it sold on the creator's website. For a creator, this avoids the cumbersome process of finding a manufacturer, designing products, picking materials, buying, storing, and shipping inventory. Instead, Fourthwall handles all of this for the creator.
However, you must be left wondering: since the company does not charge a monthly flat fee to creators, how are they making money since the 2.9% and $0.30 is a transaction fee?
The above example of a creator taking this effort on by themselves without Fourthwall would need to buy 100 shirts to sell to their followers. The $100 shirts might cost $10 each. Instead of buying 100 shirts at $10 each from a random producer, Fourthwall is effectively the producer. They could be working with manufacturing partners in the backend, or they may own their production capabilities. However, for a creator, Fourthwall is the supplier.
While we can't be sure, Fourthwall probably has a markup when creators purchase these products from Fourthwall. If you sell a shirt for $40 to a follower, and the shirt costs $20 to you from Fourthwall, it may have cost them $8 to make. Fourthwall likely makes most of its revenue and fees on memberships and digital products.
Understanding this makes the rest of the business's decisions much more sense. For instance, Fourthwall is not charging creators a fee for physical products (minus the transaction fee, which goes directly to the payment companies) because they are already making money from the markup on selling you the physical product in the first place.
Meanwhile, since the digital products and memberships they and companies create are not products you are buying from Fourthwall, they and companies don't make money on that. So they charge companies and creators for those transactions. It all makes sense.
Access Products Without Holding Inventory
Likewise, we can now understand how there is no inventory risk for Fourthwall creators, who only pay for the product once they learn that someone has purchased it through the creator account's store. While there are some additional design nuances here around things like pre-ordered campaigns, we will ignore that for now. Namely, you can pre-purchase inventory, but it seems to be something the Fourthwall design team isn't pushing on creators to reduce a creator ending up with stock they cannot sell.
Fourthwall's Product Catalog
The Fourthwall product catalog includes T-shirts, hoodies, drinkware, plushies, pins, and journals. Once you click on a specific category, you can go deeper and find products by color, price, and even size availability.
As you start going deeper into the product catalog, you realize it's even more extensive than it seems. For instance, creators can customize products like mugs, pillows, towels, robes, and wallets. Someone might be out there with a Philip DeFranco robe and towel they bought on Fourthwall.
The mug page on Fourthwall's product catalog.
Getting Started with Fourthwall
You can sign up through the Get Started button on the home page. Clicking on the Get Started Button takes you to a signup form to apply to join as a creator.
It's worth noting that if you go to the signup page, the form asks you to create and link your own account and social profile. Once you click submit, someone from the Fourthwall team will reach out to you. If you aren't a prominent content creator with a sizable following already, you likely will be told by Fourthwall that you are not a good fit at this time, and you should wait to reach out once you have a larger following.
To understand this, you must remember that Fourthwall doesn't cost a creator anything upfront, and there is no monthly fee. That means the company only makes money when one of our followers purchases and only a tiny percentage of your followers may buy your merchandise.
If you have 100,000 followers and 0.5% make a purchase, that's about 500 customers. Fourthwall is taking a small cut of these transactions from their fees or the markups. For it to make sense for Fourthwall to work with a creator, the creator must have a specific size.
Competitors include the obvious e-commerce platform solutions like Shopify and BigCommerce. However, these solutions are not truly optimized for creators, so Fourthwall beats them hands down in terms of a specific creator experience and the ease for a creator to get started.
Fourthwall vs. Sellfy
However, there is a little more competition when it comes to more targeted competitors. For instance, Sellfy is a viable competitor, and both products offer very similar features. However, Fourthwall seems to focus on more prominent creators like Philip DeFranco and costs $0 upfront, whereas Sellfy is a traditional subscription product for which creators must pay monthly.
What should you think about these two competing platforms? If you're a creator with an account with over 100K followers, you should apply to Fourthwall and wait to see if you get your account accepted. If so, great. If not, if you're ready to start your store and don't want to wait to be approved by Fourthwall, it might make sense to wait and try Sellfy.
Comparing Fourthwall to Pure Membership Sites
Membership platforms are a competitor to Fourthwall as well. For instance, Patreon or Memberful fall into this category, and more niche versions of this can include Substack.
If your goal is to create a membership site, Fourthwall is not the best fit probably. If you want to make an e-commerce store or do both, Fourthwall is worth considering.
So, Why Do Top Creators like Philip DeFranco use Fourthwall?
Having read our entire review, you should be able to understand why creators like Philip DeFranco use Fourthwall over other options. For a creator, the obvious choice might be to launch one's own Shopify store, and Shopify has the largest, most robust ecosystem for launching an e-commerce store. So, wouldn't creators want to launch there?
However, if you're a big-time creator with a large following who wants to launch their merch store, Fourthwall makes it simpler than any competitors. We see this through:
- $0 Upfront Pricing: You pay nothing if you drive no sales instead of paying a monthly fee even if you don't drive any sales that month. It's very low for creators who want to add a little extra revenue to their existing revenue stream.
- Focus on customer service: The company's focus on customer service means you can rest assured someone will be there to help you and focus on what you're best at engaging with your audience.
- Ease of Use: Fourthwall has made it easy to create custom sites quickly and easily. For creators, this is important.
- Top Creator Focus: Considering the branding for Fourthwall, it's clear they want to make it a sort of exclusive community for top creators. Not everyone will get accepted into Fourthwall's platform.
That concludes our deep dive into what if Fourthwall and if you should explore it for yourself. In sum, if you're a big enough creator and want an easy way to launch your store, Fourthwall is a great place to start.