Yes, selling T-shirts online can be loads of fun, particularly when you don’t have to deal with inventory or manage payment for the goods. But with any type of business, nothing is always a bed of roses.
While you can design and create T-shirts with various messages for free in platforms such as Teespring, Fabrily or Zazzle, I wouldn’t be too quick to say that to sell T-shirts online free, without investing a dime, would be a breeze.
Design and Sell T-shirts Online
I started dabbling in selling T-shirts online as I thought it was fun creating something without having to have any design skills or background (trust me – I don’t have a streak of designing skill in me).
Teespring was the first I discovered, and with most online money-generating opportunities, I got excited and brainstormed on ideas as to the kind of T-shirts I wanted to promote.
These were some of my ‘pioneer’ creations …
How to Start?
Teespring, the largest platform for selling T-shirts online, manufactures and ships T-shirts from the United States. It allows for T-shirts with messages in English only.
Fabrily, on the other hand, allows for T-shirts with French, German and Italian messages, apart from English.
Zazzle is another platform that also provides opportunities to sell items such as cards, mugs, pens, besides T-shirts.
Signing up to these platforms is free. In fact, you can start designing your T-shirts and promote them as soon as you finish your sign-up. It would certainly help if you have some artistic skills as you can then design the T-shirts yourself. If not, you can always hire designers from places like Upwork to have them design the T-shirts for you. Some designers in Upwork specialise in T-shirt design and hence, are familiar with the specifications (set by Teespring, Fabrily, Zazzle) such as the number of colours allowed or the size of the design.
However, just like starting other forms of online business, going into selling T-shirts online also require that you determine the niche you want to go into. This is the first you need to look into before going into the other steps :
- Identifying the niche(s)
- Designing the T-shirts(s)
- Determining the best marketing platform to promote the T-shirts
- Testing and tweaking your designs or marketing strategies
1. Identifying Your Niche
This is the stage where you determine ‘who’ would be interested in buying your T-shirts. Some T-shirt marketers target various professions, the most popular being firefighters, nurses, accountants, engineers, dentists, teachers. Some T-shirts don’t specifically target the people working in these vocations but rather their spouses, mothers, fathers. Below is an example from Teeepring :
Apart from profession, other areas that can are commonly targeted as niches are hobbies and pets (targeting pet owners).
2. T-Shirt Design
I notice that designs that get positive response are those which are witty and done on black or dark-colored T-shirts. Below is an example of a top-selling T-shirt :
With any design, you have to be conscientious in checking that the graphics or words used in the design are free of copyright issues.
My Teespring account was temporarily suspended once as I got into trouble with one of my T-shirts related to Zumba. Silly me didn’t know then that Zumba is a trademark and I had happily used the word on a T-shirt design.
3. Selling The T-shirts
In my opinion, the best way to sell T-shirts online is by using Facebook ads. This is why I stated earlier that while designing your T-shirt can be done free if you have design software skills, marketing your T-shirts may require some investment.
I believe there are not many people who would specifically go to search engines looking to buy a particular type of T-shirt online. Therefore, using SEO to market your T-shirts may not make much sense as compared to placing ads in Facebook.
The reason why successful online T-shirt sellers often recommend Facebook as a marketing tool is that it allows you to get as targeted as possible with your audience. For instance, if you are promoting some T-shirt for teachers, you might want to target just Math teachers, instead of being too general.
In the above example, there are a number of ‘Math Teachers’ groups. If all shown above are selected, the potential reach would be too high. Having too high a number defeats the purpose of having targeted audience. To get round this, you can just select some of the groups shown so you can bring down the potential reach to beween 50,000 to 100,000.
You should also set your daily budget so that the ad will stop running once the budget is reached. For a start, you might want to set it at $5 per day. This is to allow you to monitor and determine if the campaign you are running is worth the effort, without spending too much.
Most marketers would run several campaigns at a time and then monitor which are the ones worth continuing and stop those which don’t show much promise.
It’s always so much easier to receive ‘Likes’ or ‘Comments’ in your campaigns. But we all know that Likes and Comments don’t necesaarily translate to sales.
It’s how relatable your T-shirt is to the audience that would push them to buy. T-shirt selling platforms like Teespring would print only if you have at least five orders.
4. Testing and Tweaking
It’s recommended that you run your campaigns for at least 24 hours before you decide the winners or losers. Some campaigns may have a lot of engagement but not real sales. This might show audience’s interest so you might want to run it for 2-3 days before deciding if it’s worth pursuing.
Selling T-shirts online, I would say, is a ‘straightforward’ business, in the sense that it is relatively easy to execute. However, it does require some investment, particularly if you are using FB as a marketing tool. Like any other business, success hardly comes overnight and it takes patience with trials and errors on the niches and designs.
You might want to run campaigns with few different niches or have different designs on the same niche.
Some T-shirt marketers may boast profits of thousands of dollars on just one design. But don’t be fooled because hardly are they ever forthright about the amount of money that they put into their ads!
If you have any experience or thoughts on selling T-shirts as an online business, feel free to leave your comments below. Who knows, somewhere, someone would benefit from what you have to say. Thank you!