How to Make Money Selling T-Shirts Online

Selling t-shirts online is an industry not a lot of people think about when starting their online ventures. Many people think that they have to be a designer, illustrator, or pay a lot of money to get a winning design. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. As I stated in my first article about starting BoodleBuzz, I started selling t-shirts immediately after leaving my 9 to 5 job as a marketing manager.

Why T-Shirts?

When I quit my job on a whim I did tons of research on how to make the most money as quickly as possible. I found it in selling t-shirts. I started with Redbubble and Teepublic. After some research I realized that these two sites had the most organic traffic. I didn’t have to do any marketing to get my shirts in front of people who already wanted to buy t-shirts. This made it easy to start putting designs out there and watch the money come in the first month.

Starting Out

I didn’t have any savings, a job, or assets after leaving my job. I quit on an impulse and I wasn’t happy with the way my life was going. Working a job where I was stuck in the same place all day 5 days a week, I knew, wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I was literally starting from scratch.

After my initial research I found that t-shirts were a booming business. This is because of two main things.

  1. Everyone needs clothes
  2. T-Shirts fall into the “impulse buy” category

I was reading article after article that said the best way to make money online was to sell a product that doesn’t require a lot of thought for the customer. T-Shirts are anywhere between $10-$25 dollars and people don’t have to consult their spouse or families before making the purchase. This translates into more sales in a shorter amount of time.

Where I Began

I had a background in graphic design; that’s the degree I got from college. So I knew that I could come up with good designs in a relatively short amount of time. I started designing hundreds of designs. I wanted my Redbubble and Teepublic accounts to look established so I uploaded about 200 designs on each. After a week I had no sales, I was discouraged, and I thought about the possibility of giving up.

That’s when I started to research the designs I was putting up. I decided to give market research a try. I was looking at other successful t-shirt designers and what they were doing. I started to mimic what I saw. The trend was text only shirts. Shirts that have words on them and nothing else. These shirts sell really well so I started designing shirts with words on them. After I put up my new designs I made sales right away and in my first month I made $80 in sales.

Where I Am Now

I am now about six months in selling t-shirts and uploading new designs weekly. I now make about $2,000 a month just in t-shirt sales. I’m pretty happy with my progress and only want to grow it more. It’s absolutely possible.

When you’re starting your own t-shirt business I suggest going to sites like Redbubble, Teepublic, or Society6. These sites have a lot of organic traffic which means you won’t have to work getting people to view your designs. You do make less money on these sites than if you had your own brand or ran your own website (which I’ll talk about in a later post) but you don’t have to do any of the marketing. You’re paying them to bring customers to your shirts so it has it’s perks. Especially when you are learning what sells and what attracts buyers to buy your designs. Starting out on sites like this gives you the ability to refine your designs before you start your own brand.

What You Can Do to Make Money Selling T-Shirts

Avoid making some of the same mistakes I made while starting and you can make money as soon as today.

  1. Research – Don’t waste your time creating designs that you don’t know will sell. Look at what is popular and don’t reinvent the wheel. Look at other successful designers, follow their Redbubbles and keep an eye on what type of shirts they are designing.
  2. Target an Audience – Don’t just throw any designs up like I did. You’ll find more success selling to a specific niche group of people.
  3. Don’t Get Discouraged – Just in the short 6 months that I’ve sold t-shirts I’ve thought about quitting more than a few times. Think about the kind of life you want and the freedom you’ll have if you do have success selling online.
  4. Less is More – Make sure that all of your designs are ones that you are proud of. You’ll find that the more bad designs you have the less sales you’ll get even if you have some winning designs. There’s a general rule of thumb I stick to and it’s quality over quantity. Strive for a few great designs instead of a lot of mediocre designs.

If you stick to these steps you’ll start making money online fast. It’s not instant but out of all the online businesses you can start it’s pretty fast. Plus once you have your designs up it’s all passive income.

Have any of you had success selling t-shirts online? What are some must have tips you can share with those starting out?

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2 Thoughts to “How to Make Money Selling T-Shirts Online”

  1. Emily

    I sell shirts too! It takes time and effort but it’s totally worth it!

    1. Miranda Kirk Miranda Kirk

      I couldn’t agree more Emily. Thanks for the comment!

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