1. Tips and Tricks

How to make money selling t-shirts (with no money down)

t-shirt These are everyday, go-anywhere garments that are cheap to make and endlessly customizable, from color to graphic design. We all probably have at least a dozen of them in our closets, and that’s a conservative estimate! With all these shirts, there has to be a way to make money selling t-shirts online. right?

Absolutely – as long as you’ve got a great idea and the discipline to get it out into the world. And with all the cost-effective options for outsourcing every step, from design to printing to shipping, there’s no excuse not to have a little fun with a t-shirt side business. Here’s how.

1. Design the shirt

First things first: you can’t build a shirt business if you don’t have a shirt idea. It’s that simple. So, spend some time and come up with cute design ideas, clever puns or laugh-out-loud jokes that you think people will enjoy in their daily wear. You can channel popular TV and movies (but make sure you steer clear of copyright infringement), capture cultural moments or movements, or take advantage of local pride with community-specific designs.

If you have artistic talent, creating the actual visual design for the t-shirt is part of the fun. For those of you who are not artists have great ideas, don’t worry! You can still have your dream t-shirt business.

While you’re mainly dealing with typography (various fonts) and color choices, you can learn how to use them Adobe Photoshop To create beautiful graphics for your shirts. You can even learn how to use clipart or word shapes to enhance your images. You can take advantage of some new apps like Over and Wordswag. You can take anything Great design tips on Udemy.

If your shirt idea still requires more artistic skills than you deserve, you can find an artist to work on for a share of the profits. Or, if you have a little money to invest, you can commission an artist through Upwork to create graphics for your shirt.

Whatever you do when designing your shirt, make sure the words, fonts, clipart and other images are free for you to use commercially and don’t infringe on anyone else’s copyright. Once you apply for a merchant account you can download a template from Amazon which we will discuss in the next step.

2. Decide where to sell your t-shirts

You’ve got a great shirt idea, and you’re coming up with graphic designs to really grab customers’ attention and make them money. Now, how are you going to get your shirts out to the public so they can buy them? If you want to be really hands-on, of course, you can either learn to silkscreen shirts yourself or order them from a large vendor, store the shirts in your home, and ship them to each customer yourself while selling your shirts privately. website or Etsy. This is one of the most expensive ways to start a t-shirt business, however, what to do with buying stock you haven’t sold yet. If you’ve got an amazing design, why not let someone else do all the manufacturing and shipping for you?

An incredible number of potential printing and storefront options are open to you that don’t require home warehouses and shipping facilities.


Brought to you by the folks behind SpreadShop Spreadshirts who have been in the online custom print-on-demand merchandise game for over 15 years. You can start your own free SpreadShop quickly and easily – and they offer easy ways to brand your storefront and even integrate your new store with your website.

As with similar print-on-demand sites, you can set your own price for each product. They boast that they offer the highest commission rates in the business, guaranteeing that you get at least 20% off every sale – starting with your first. If you make a large amount of sales, you can also make a higher commission rate – reportedly up to 40%.

They have over 200 products that you can choose from for your store, from big brands to Spreadshop’s own private label, in a variety of quality and price ranges. You can customize apparel (t-shirts, of course!), and other items, such as bags and buttons, aprons and mugs and phone cases and caps, and more. Spreadshop handles everything for you besides design – they buy product inventory, print products, control quality, pack and ship worldwide, and even take care of customer service.

They also offer lots of tools to support you – their site includes tips and tricks for designing and promoting your products, and they offer periodic promotions to help you sell. They make tracking your sales data easy, and even better – it’s as easy for your customers to order from you on their mobile phone as it is on their desktop. Check it out here.

Zazzle and CafePress

Jazz And Cafepress Two of the easiest are with quick signup and quick product setup – and you can even extend beyond shirts to anything from mugs and stickers to postcards and pillow covers.

At Zazzle, the cost of printing t-shirts is predetermined by the site. You then choose your royalty rate which is added to the base price. You can set your royalty from 5-99%. Zazzle recommends sticking to around 12%. A small transaction fee may also be deducted from your royalties depending on the rate.

At the time of writing, the CafePress t-shirt had a base price of $18. Add your markup at the top. Performance bonuses are available to shop owners.

red bubble

The quality isn’t always the best on Zazzle and CafePress, so you can go up the ladder a bit and set up a store with red bubble. Also on this site, they set the base price and you can set your markup.

Amazon March

Better yet, check out Merchandise by Amazon And give your business an automatic boost by making your t-shirts available on Amazon.

March is the crème de la crème of online shopping for those trying to make money selling t-shirts. And for good reason! The traffic volume is unmatched. According to TrafficEstimate.com, Amazon receives approximately 669 million unique visitors per month. Red bubbles? 8 million teaspring? 3.9 million. Jazz? 3.7 million. Cafepress? About 1.7 million. As you enter other t-shirt marketplaces, the traffic tends to decrease.

Another great thing about Amazon is that they often offer additional seller resources and tools. In this case, they offer analytics insights to help you manage your shirt business. And the resources to focus on this platform are awesome! stop Merchandise Informer The available research tools are just for a taste. If only every home business had that resource.


If you want to set up your own store seamlessly integrated into your own website, work with Shopify to find a printer and dropshipper and go from there.

This step is all about finding the best printer and dropshipper for your needs, balancing price economics and availability of options. And I’ve shared a few of your options here! You should do your research and compare each option to determine how much margin you have for profit on top of the printing and shipping costs of your t-shirts. You can even sell your t-shirts on multiple platforms if you want. Diversity is almost always a good thing.

3. Set up the store

Once you have a design, a seller, and a dropshipper, you’re ready to put your store together and start selling. With sites like Zazzle or Redbubble, this means creating an account, personalizing your storefront as allowed (uploading a title on Zazzle, making sure you’ve got a good profile picture on Redbubble), and then uploading the design. Set up your products for sale, position them on the shirt, and then select which colors will be available. The process is similar for Amazon’s merchandise, but there is a waiting period before it can be added to their site.

Creating your own personal website is the most difficult choice, which requires purchasing a domain name, setting up your website, and integrating a secure storefront for your customers. Bluehost is my preferred hosting company for beginners. They have e-commerce shopping cart platforms for you to choose from, or you can install their WordPress and then you can build your store with something like Woocommerce.

While you can start selling your shirts right away, there are a few other things you should consider first. Consider becoming an official small business by filing with the state – you must do this if you’re going to be selling stocked t-shirts from home or locally at festivals and conventions. There are licensing and taxes to consider. You may also consider copyrighting or trademarking your t-shirt phrases and designs so that no one else can steal your ideas and profit from them. Although this can be an expensive and lengthy process. You’ll definitely want to think about a design’s long-term sales potential before diving into this area.

4. Have a marketing plan

For your t-shirt business to be successful, it is essential that you have a marketing plan once everything is set up. not this field of dreams And I’m not whispering with Kevin Costner: you can’t just make it and expect customers to come. You have to let them know you are there.

There are many ways to support your marketing, from using SEO best practices to capitalizing on popular phrases and topics at a given moment in your designs. You also need to figure out the exact type of person you want to sell to – no, it can’t be “everyone”. Not for marketing purposes. You need to be specific, like “women in their 20s and 30s who enjoy TV shows.” outsider“or”Those who live in Toronto and may have passionate feelings for local transit.“Once you figure out who your target customers are, you can more successfully market to them and make some sales.

Reach out to influencers in your target demographic to see if they would be interested in your shirt design and share it with their followers. Reach out to specific blogs – If you’ve created a shirt that’s of interest to locals in a certain city, reach out to big bloggers in that city to share what you’ve created. Use social media and hashtags to connect with current conversations that are somehow related to your t-shirt design and promote your shirt along the way, or spend a little on advertising on social networks like Facebook and Instagram (if you have the budget). You can even use scarcity tactics to increase customer interest in your designs – everyone gets excited about a “limited edition” and “time is running out!” – So create a t-shirt design that you sell for a limited time only. You can also draw sales by paying: advertise (and follow through!) that a portion of every sale goes to a specific charity (then target people who might donate to that charity).

There are many ways to make your t-shirts, sell your t-shirts and market your t-shirts – and my post will give you a leg up to throw yourself into this exciting new venture! Use my starter guide and the resources I’ve linked here to launch your t-shirt business

Published January 2018. Updated March 2019.

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