How to Make Money Selling T-Shirts Online

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Selling t-shirts online has become a popular choice, especially for entrepreneurs and artists looking for a relatively inexpensive way to start a business.

T-shirts are hip, cool, and who doesn’t want to wear a fly t-shirt on the daily?

Because of this, selling clothes online has grown to become a popular way for aspiring entrepreneurs and artists like to start an online business.

It doesn’t hurt that the global market for the custom t-shirt printing industry is expected to eclipse $10 billion by 2025.

While the market is growing, that just means that there is more competition to sell your t-shirts.

In this guide, we’ll go through the basic steps that’ll teach your how to start a t-shirt company online. I’ll also share my personal story on how I started an online t-shirt business that initially failed and what I’ve learned along the way.


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Can You Make Money Selling T-Shirts Online?

TLDR: Yes, it is possible.

All you need is to create a Facebook ad budget for traffic and an online store like Shopify that gives you access to print-on-demand companies.

You don’t need a website or any of those other things and you don’t need months to learn how to set up campaigns. You can turn the traffic on and off instantly. If your campaign is profitable let it run, if not turn it off. No waiting weeks or months for the traffic.

You can do this type of business part-time, full-time or even occasionally whenever you need some extra cash. I do this business part-time and make hundreds of dollars to over $1,000 per week whenever I have time to launch campaigns.

If you want to see the type of money that it’s possible to make selling t-shirts then be sure to check out the free preview videos in the course below.

After completing this course you will also be able to do affiliate marketing the easy way. And that is selling t-shirts as an affiliate with Teespring and Facebook.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COURSE INFO

How Does the Course Work?

Learn how to use Teespring to sell and deliver the t-shirts. Simply set up a short, 7-10 day, campaign in Teespring.

Then drive traffic to those campaigns with inexpensive Facebook ads. Don’t worry, this course will show you how to get cheap clicks and you can get started with just $5 to $10 per day in ad spend.

The whole business is simply setting up t-shirt campaigns and driving traffic to them.

sell t shirts online

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COURSE INFO

How To Start Selling T-Shirts Online

Want to learn for yourself? I don’t blame you. Here is a guide on how to start selling t-shirts online.

1. Choose a niche

Picking a profitable niche for your online shirt business will help you pick the right audience you want to sell to.

Usually, you will want to stick to something that you like. For example, if you like to dress stylish then you can cater to creating higher-end shirts for the modern man.

However, if your favorite animal is a cat, then you can choose cat lovers as your specific target audience.

Generally, you’ll want to niche down so it could be funny slogans that relate to cats, for example.

There are a lot of ways to find niches and it usually just begins with what your passionate about and niching down to make it more specific. If you need more help, you can learn more about how to find a profitable niche.

Usually this step will take the longest because the right niche can help your online t-shirt business really stand out.

If you are already having trouble finding out a particular niche for your aspiring t-shirt business then you can see what’s already popular and selling off the shelves.

Take a look at some of the best sellers on the following sites and gain some inspiration:

2. Source the best quality shirts you can find

You obviously know that not all t-shirt clothing material will be the same. Some will be higher quality, and others can feel cheap.

Let’s stick to sourcing from the better quality shirts as in the end, your main focus is always making sure the end customer is happy.

You won’t have many repeat customers or build an actual business if your product is low-quality (read: crap).

So educate yourself and choose high quality shirts, which usually cost more. A higher quality shirt will fit better and will rely on the following factors: size, material, weight, and softness.

Once you find material you are interested in — order some samples to see what you think. Would you wear it? It’s a pretty easy decision once you receive the samples, which any reputable printing company will offer.

3. Create your own t-shirt designs

Once you have an idea for what you want your designs to be and niche — it’s time to actually design them.

Unless you are a t-shirt designer already — you’ll likely want to outsource this step. You can take to Upwork and find qualified t-shirt artists who will do all the work designing the shirt for you.

All you have to do is provide some inspiration and tell the freelance artist what direction you want to go in and what you want. Usually they will give you a few samples and you can work with them to get the designs just right.

upwork t-shirt designers
Upwork has the largest pool of proven, remote T-Shirt designers.

The highest-rated t-shirt designer on Upwork only charges $40/hour. So you can get a talented designer for much less. Sometimes only $15 an hour.

It would likely only take 3 hours for them to get the job done, meaning it’ll be less than $100 out of your pocket and you can move on to the next step.

You can also source from design communities such as Dribble and Behance to source some designs.

4. Mock up your t-shirts

Get a your final designs and then mock them up on t-shirts to see what the final product would look like.

You can use t-shirt templates online to create free digital mockups. You can also use Photoshop t-shirt templates to preview what your shirt would look like. These templates allow you to alter the colors, and even blend creases, contours and folds.

You can also hire the same designer you hired earlier to mock up the shirts which they would likely do.

5. Validate your designs

Before you go and start buying a ton of inventory you should see if people like your designs.

You can easily do this by taking to Reddit and as it is probably the best platform to get honest feedback on your design.

You can also use crowdfunding sites such as Indielogo or Kickstarter to gauge consumer interests and see how many people would actually commit to buying one of your shirts.

Another option is posting your idea on your social media platforms to have your friends and family give you free advice.

6. Create your online store

If you want to make things easier you can simply print on demand. eCommerce platforms like Amazon Merch or Shopify, make it easy to set up an online store and help you print them on demand according to orders.

shopify logo

So you can validate your idea as they even offer a 14-day free trial which includes a domain name and full online e-commerce store.

shopify

If you have a Shopify store, you can easily import your designs and services will print and send your t-shirts to fulfill all your orders.

This is pretty seamless since you won’t have to hold any inventory and lessens your risk. They can also print on more than just t-shirts such as bags or hats.

There are a variety of t-shirts available through the following print-on-demand companies on Shopify:

Once your store is set up, you’ll be ready to start selling t-shirts online. I personally went through TeeSpring by using Amazon Merch.

My Experience Selling T-Shirts Online

Let me start from the beginning, learn about my mistakes so that you won’t make it.

Being the least artistic person on the planet and having never used a single piece of graphic design software other than MS Paint, I decided to give Fiverr and Upwork a try (so much for the ‘no risk’ part) to find t-shirt designs to use to sell. My plan was to get a cool design then sell it on Amazon Merch.

I wrote up descriptions for 3 design ideas, drew some really terrible mockups in MS Paint, picked out some existing T-shirt examples to show the style I was looking for, and made sure to include all the technical details so there was no room for misunderstandings (I’d heard communication on Fiverr was a big issue).

I decided I’d spend $50 on each platform to see which one was a better value. The designs were pretty simple and should’ve been doable in less than 15 minutes even for a novice designer.

1. Buying designs on Fiverr

On Fiverr, I put up 2 jobs for $15 and 1 for $20. I figured the higher prices would help me stand out from all the cheapskates trying to get $5 designs.

Instead, I was inundated with offers from people who hadn’t bothered to look at my design specs and were clearly sending the same copy/pasted, broken-English spam to every job listing in the category.

I spent an hour looking through their profiles to figure out who had the best portfolio and the best English skills. To make a long story short, everything I got back was either complete crap or clearly stolen from existing t-shirts.

One of them even ripped off everything from an example t-shirt I’d included (for style guidance), all they did was move the text and change the color.

I asked the one designer who showed some promise to make a couple revisions, but what I got back was worse every time. None of the designs I got back from Fiverr were usable.

I closed the jobs just to get them to leave me alone, but then the designers kept spamming me for positive feedback. I deactivated the Fiverr account and never looked back. The thought of using that website again still makes me shudder.

Total profit: -$50.00

2. Trying Upwork for t-shirt designs

Upwork was a much better experience even though it didn’t really work out in the end (more on that later).

The average job price is much higher so I only put up 2 jobs for $25 each.

The majority of people on Upwork seem to be native English speakers, so it was easy to find people who understood what I was looking for and to have revisions done.

There were still a few people who were obviously spamming their copy/paste offer to everyone, but they were a small minority.

Both the designs I requested came out better than I expected, although my expectations were pretty low after Fiverr.

It was clear the person I hired actually had some degree of creativity/originality and knew how to use design software. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate into sales.

3. Submitting designs

I submitted both shirts to Amazon and one of them was almost immediately rejected because it was related to Harambe (Harambe for President).

Oops.

I thought I’d done my research — there were tonss of other Merch by Amazon Harambe shirts at the time — but it turns out that shirts related to any tragedy are banned.

how not to start a t-shirt company

The content policy lists it as “Human Tragedy”, so that plus the massive number of existing Harambe merch shirts led me to believe they literally meant human.

Apparently not…

Oh well. I submitted it to RedBubble and TeePublic instead.

I promoted it a little bit but it was a pretty overused meme already, so nothing got much traction.

In the end, it sold 1 unit on RedBubble, netting me $4.13.

Total profit: -$20.87

The other one was much easier to promote because it was related to a Reddit gaming niche that only has a few existing t-shirts, all of which are pretty plain. My shirt was at the top of a 12,000 user subreddit for a full day.

I also linked the picture (but not the Amazon link, so it wasn’t obvious) in any related thread I could find on gaming subreddits and forums, which got a decent amount of upvotes and universally positive reactions.

In the end, that earned me a whopping 2 sales on RedBubble ($7.45 return) and 1 sale on Amazon ($7.68).

Total profit: -$9.87

In the end, the only t-shirt I had that sold more than 3 units was the piece of crap that I made myself and put zero effort into. It was nothing but a stupid, overused meme in black text on a white shirt.

Amazingly, no one was selling it on Amazon. It averages 4 per month, which is far more than any of the designs I’d paid for and put a lot of thought into. So far it’s made me about $75.

Total cost of “professionally” designed T-Shirts: $100
Total return on “professionally” designed T-Shirts: $19.26

Profit: -$80.74

Total cost of crappy, self-made meme T-Shirt: $0
Total return on crappy, self-made meme T-Shirt: $75

Profit: $75

How to Make Money Selling T-Shirts

I guess technically I’m only out $5.74, but I still consider the overall t-shirts venture to be an $80 loss since my efforts to create quality designs were a complete failure.

If you have more time, patience, and creativity than me, you could probably get some profitable shirts out of Upwork, but that level of micro management is more than I’m willing to deal with when the potential rewards are relatively low.

Maybe once my crappy meme shirt sells a few hundred units I’ll invest that into Upwork, but for now… well… actually my Merch account is paused.

Lessons learned, so for now, a friend recommended this Udemy class on how to make money by selling t-shirts online. You can check it out here if you want, it’s only 12 bucks so I signed up for it.

Back to the drawing board!

Can You Make Money Selling T-Shirts Online?

Yes, it is possible.

All you need is Facebook for traffic and Teespring as the t-shirt selling platform.

You don’t need to start your own website or any of those other things and you don’t need months to learn how to set up campaigns.

You can turn the traffic on and off instantly. If your campaign is profitable let it run, if not turn it off. No waiting weeks or months for the traffic.

You can do this type of business part-time, full-time or even occasionally whenever you need some extra cash.

I do this business part-time and make hundreds of dollars to over $1,000 per week whenever I have time to launch campaigns.

If you want to see the type of money that it’s possible to make selling t-shirts then be sure to check out the free preview videos in the course below.

After completing this course you will also be able to do affiliate marketing the easy way. And that is selling t-shirts as an affiliate with Teespring and Facebook.


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About the author

John Noels
John Noels loves creating new revenue streams by trying out new side hustles. He regularly writes about them and shares his tips on what to avoid and new money-making ideas.

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