As of you may know, t-shirt market is one of the biggest market all over the world with billions of customers. And one customer may buy not only one shirt but also maybe ten. These days people don’t buy shirts only for covering their body, they also want to spread their thoughts, opinions and raise awareness.
They may buy shirts to support their team, to show love to their family, to speak their voice etc… So you will never run out of ideas in this business.
There are many ways for you to start t-shirt business. You may own your company which do printing and shipping. You may do drop-shipping from China. But today, in this article, I will only talk about selling t-shirt on platforms. They are print-on-demand companies which allow you to upload your own design, then they will do the rest, from printing and shipping to your customer. And yes you also have to do the marketing (almost companies now help you to boost your marketing to increase your profit). Some people call this affiliate marketing but I don’t agree with them. Because you create your own design, so you are not only an affiliate marketer but also a product creator.
Why I only focus on working with platforms?
Because of the time. With your own company or drop-shipping you have to care for a lot of things. You have to find and test your suppliers, buy a good printer, hire a lot of employees, work with shipping carrier, support your customers…… It’s time consuming and that might cause you headache over and over again. While working with platforms you only care about designing and marketing. Use all of your time and energy to create an unique and attractive design to bring the most of sales and bank hard. And with this kind of business, you can work alone from home or anywhere at anytime you want.
OK so let’s get started.
How To Start Selling T-Shirt
- Which platform/company to work with?
- How to get paid?
- Which niche you should choose to start?
- How to spy your competitors and generate t-shirt idea?
- How to design your first t-shirt using Photoshop?
- How to upload your design to platform and get link to promote?
- How to drive traffic to your product using Facebook Ads?
- How to scale your winning campaign?
1. Which platform to work with?
Nowadays there are so many platforms which are really good. They are big companies with hundreds of thousands of customers. They do not scam, always pay on time. It’s easy to become their seller with no requirement. You don’t have to pay anything or waiting for months for approval. Some of my favorite platforms are Teespring, Viralstyle and Gearbubble.
Each of them has unique products, like Teespring has doormat, Gearbubble has color changing mug, Viralstyle has wall clock.
Click here to know more about each platform then make your decision. You can use only one to track your sale easily or use mix of them for dynamic stragies.
2. How to get paid?
Luckily, all of platforms allow you to get paid via Paypal and Payoneer. Some of them also even have Bank Wire payment method if you generate a lot of money. Because of the popular of Paypal and Payoneer, it’s easy for you to receive your money from selling t-shirt. As soon as your t-shirt campaigns ended, your profit will be funded to your Paypal or Payoneer account. Then you withdraw that money to your local bank to pay for ads or personal spending. Sound good right?
3. Which niche you should choose to start?
“Stay away from broad and popular niche because it’s too competitive, go for smaller and more specific niche to start” – many people said that to me when I first jumped into this business. But after 3 years of experience, I could say all niches work. No need to hunt down for some kind of niches which have almost zero competitors. Because those niches seem to be not existed. Don’t waste your time to find something like this. You can be succeeded even in the big niches like nurse, science or gun.
So, I repeat, don’t waste your time to find a small niche which is less competitive, just go for a niche which you are passionate about or have knowledge of. Like if you are a young boy you could go for gamer niche or if you love pet you could try dog niche. There are so many niches to choose. They are maybe:
and so many more.
You see? Tons of niches. But I suggest you should go for a big niche which has big audience. Why? because a big niche has more potential to make big money. And the bigger audience, the more ideas you can generate.
So what niche can be called big? It’s a niche which has more than 100,000 audience. It’s a niche which you hear everyday on TV, internet. You can check how big is a niche with Facebook Ads. I will show you how to. Just login to your Facebook account. Go to the Ad Management page (even you don’t have Facebook account you still can access this feature). Click the Menu button on the top left, a drop down menu will be show appeared. Choose Audience –> Create Audience –> Saved Audience. Because in this article I will only focus on United State market so choose United States as location and fill in your niche in the Interest box. Then look at the Estimated Audience on the right, you will see the number of people who are interested in that niche. So filter them out, only go for big niche. That’s it.
There are two styles of choosing niche:
- Choose a super big niche which has millions of audience. Like native American, Fishing, Guns… The pros of this style is that you can earn big with only a small amount of designs. Because the audience is huge. No need to generate a lot of idea, just focus on one and try to reach all of the audience. Another thing is that you can build a large Facebook page as fan base, then you don’t need to run ads, just post your shirt on your page and you still can sell something. But sometimes you will run out of ideas, that makes me not interested in this style.
- I prefer this second style. That is I will choose some big niche which is similar to other niches. Like a dog breed (Pug, Dachshund, Bulldog….) or job (Nurse, Teacher……). Why? Because when I found a winning design, I can easily scale out by creating tons of different versions for other niches. It’s easy because I just need to change some text in the quote or the image so I will have a new design for new niche. Like I keep the quote for Pug and then change Pug to Dachshund then I will sell that design to Dachshund owner. Got it? Good
It’s all up to you. Just choose what ever you like. Try to test. If fail then change your niche. It’s simple
4. How to spy your competitors and generate t-shirt idea?
I consider this is the most important step in the whole process. If your idea is good you go big and if it is bad you go home. So today I will show you how to spy your competitors to see what they are selling and use their idea to generate your own & unique idea.
First of all, you may aware of some software which help you to spy all over the platforms or even Shopify. They were great in the past because some platforms displayed the number of sold within the campaign. But now 99% sellers will hide that information to avoid spying. So I think it’s not necessary to buy those software. But if you have money to invest then go ahead and try.
There is a method which require zero investment and I’m using it effectively. That is using Facebook. Yes, because almost sellers are using Facebook to promote their shirts so we will use Facebook to see what they are selling. No doubt. What you need is only your Facebook account. And it has to be logged in with US or EU IP. Why? Because there are 2 big markets in the world and almost shirts will be shown there. If you live out side the United State and Europe you can use Zenmate Chrome extension to change your IP.
How to spy:
- Go to Facebook
- Type “need this shirt” in the search bar.
- On the left column, scroll down you will see the Date posted section. Choose the nearest time (in this example I choose March, 2018)
- Then look at the feed Facebook show you, there are tons of t-shirt posts which you can see how many engagements they have.
Why do we have to choose the nearest time?Because we want to see only the shirts which has e lot of engagements in a short period. They may sell like candies.
You can replace “need this shirt” with “want this shirt” or “love this shirt”, whatever you may think of people will say when they see the shirts. Each phrase will get you new results. Keep scrolling until nothing to show or you’re tired. Click every single image to go to the original post to see how many engagements does the post have. Then you will decide which is worth spying. Save them to your computer to generate idea later.
Or you can use Facebook Graph Search to see what are selling. Take this link below:
How to generate idea:
How to generate idea for your niche from other niche’s idea
After saving a lot of design/idea at the spy step, now it’s time to use them to make unique idea for your niche. And with your creativity I bet no one will have the same idea with you.
Let’s have a look at this shirt below:
This shirt is a legend. At the time I found this on Facebook, it had nearly 1 million like and so many shares & comments I don’t remember exactly. Let’s imagine how many sales could it bring. It was hot because it shows love from daddy to his daughter. So meaningful.
This is family niche, daddy and daughter niche in details. The simplest way to use this quote for another niche like you can change daughter to son, nephew, niece, grandson, granddaughter, son in law, daughter in law etc….. Or you could change the image with the hand of a woman so you could sell this shirt for women (niche mom-son, mom-daughter…….)
Husband and wife is also a huge niche and it’s easily targeting on Facebook. But if you use this quote for husband and wife niche you have to change the image like this:
It’s better, isn’t it?
Or you can even change to a completely different niche like animal/pets. Like this below:
You see? Just change some text and an image then you have a brand new design for your niche. Use your creativity, you will never run out of idea. But one thing you have to know is that not all of you idea works. You have to test them to be sure it’s winning or not. I will talk about how to test later in the Drive Traffic section.
Another very popular quote that I saw is below:
With a small change on this quote I will have some new designs for my niche like these belows:
This is for nurse (jobs) niche
Or something like this below (for old man niche)
There are tons of quotes you can find and do the same. I can generate hundreds of designs and niches with every quote I found. Just use your imagination.
How to combine 2-3 niches into one new niche
It is very normal if one person like more than one thing. You can either like cat or pizza. I can even like more than 2 things such as: dog, game and beer… You can also use personality or whatever you can imagine to combine instead of hobbies.
Let’s have a look at these examples below and you will understand.
Nurse and cat niche
Coffee, Pizza and Cat niche
I suggest that only maximum 3 niches and at least 1 niche is very popular like coffee or beer because if you combine many niches then your audience is very small. If your audience is very small you may not selling anything. To target to people which have more than 1 interest is super simple with Narrow Audience on Facebook. I will show you how at Traffic section.
OK so you have your own ideas right?Let’s go to turn them to designs
5. How to design your first t-shirt using Photoshop?
Do you have to use Photoshop? No. You can use GIMP instead. It’s free. But I recommend you to get Photoshop and Illustrator from Adobe. Because Photoshop and Illustrator are powerful. They have so many features which help you create your design in minutes. Of course they are not free. I know you can get them from anywhere else on the internet but buying software from official website would make you avoid any harmful to your computer.
OK let’s get started
First create a blank page with configuration like this below
Your design should be 300 dpi resolution for the best quality when printing. You can change the dimension if you want but I suggest like above.
I also suggest you grab some fonts, vector related to your niche. There are a lot of them on the internet with free license. But you should check carefully before using them.
You don’t need to be expert in designing, because from my experience, almost my winning campaigns are super simple design with only white text and a clip art of my niche. So you just need to learn some basic skills. To do that you could go for Youtube and search for some basic tutorial then learn from them. Beside, you can join some courses on Udemy too. It has some good courses.
If you’re lazy and have money you can hire someone to design for you. For cheap you could go for Fiverr or Upwork. For professional you could go for 99designs. It’s all up to you
Finally, you have to turn off the background layer in Photoshop then save your design as .PNG transparently then you’re good to go.
6. How to upload your design to platform and get link to promote?
So you have your design ready right? OK now let’s upload it to platform and get link to promote. This part is very easy to I don’t dig deep. All platforms are the same. Choose style, upload PNG design, choose more styles and colors, fill in information then finish the process.
This is Teespring upload page
After finishing the whole process, an URL of the shirt will be generated. Take that URL then go to next step.
7. How to drive traffic to your product using Facebook Ads?
There are so many ways to drive traffic to your shirt and make sales. But why I only talk about using Facebook Ads. Because I’ve used this traffic source since the beginning I started my t-shirt business (more than 3 years). So I have a lot of experiences about this and Facebook Ads is the most suitable traffic source for t-shirt sellers. You will see why below:
- Facebook is a giant social network where they gather a lot of data from user. So you can target to the right audience for your shirt.
- Facebook Ads doesn’t require you a website, just a destination URL and you’re good to go.
- People come to Facebook to see videos, images not come for searching keywords so Facebook is better than Google to advertise.
- It’s easy to create a campaign to each shirt and you only need a few dollars for testing. So I think this is low risk.
- There are so many courses & tutorials about Facebooks Ads from targeting to scaling. So you can learn it very fast.
The only thing you need is a Facebook account (everyone has) and a credit card (from your local bank). Use your main Facebook account, go to Ad Management page then add your card to your Billing and it’s all set.
You can use Facebook Ads as Personal Account. But I highly recommend you to setup your account as a business account. This is way more powerful than Personal Account.
And you also need a pixel for your account
How to create your first campaign
First you need a fan page for your niche. It’s very simple. Go to your Facebook and click the Page link on the left column or visit here to create a page.
Choose Cause or Community, fill in your page name then set up normally. You should upload an avatar, a cover, fill in description and post some images or video or posts to make your page look more natural. That’s it. No need to be complex. Just simple as that.
Next, you need to prepare your ad post. Please have a look at some post which you find at the spying step. Your ad post will be similar to those posts. It contains an ad image and a description which has your shirt URL. It should look like this below:
The description can’t be simpler. Just a call-to-action and then the link next to. You can use “Get shirt here”, “Buy shirt here” or whatever you want because it isn’t much important. But you have to make your ad image look more natural to attract your audience. To do that you should use mock-ups. They are prepared PSD file which you can replace your own designs and make a good image. You can download them here.
After successfully post to your page, now it’s time to create your first campaign.
Go to Ad Manager –> Click Create button.
Fill in your campaign, ad set and ad title. Choose Conversion as Campaign Objective. Click Save to Draft
You can choose anything you want as Campaign Objective. If you choose Conversion, Facebook will optimize your ad to people who are mostly willing to buy product. Or if you choose Engagement, Facebook will optimize your ad to people who are mostly like, share and comment.
Choose Ad Set
Set your targeting included:
Budget: I suggest 5-10$ per day
Targeting: You should use broad targeting.
Broad targeting is the target which you just type your niche in to the Detail Targeting box. Like: Fishing, Hunting (with the first letter capitalized).
Or you can use specific targeting like big fanpage in your niche. They could be a shop, a magazine or a community. If the audience is big enough so you can use specific targeting.
Ad Placement: I only choose Facebook Feed for my placement. You can split testing because I see some people get successful with Instagram.
Choose Ad: Set your ad by choosing your page and your post.
If you cannot find your post, you can find the post ID then click the “Enter Post ID” then paste your post ID to that box. Sometimes Facebook Ads can’t load all the posts.
Finally click the Publish button.
It’s all done. Now you need to take a cup of coffee while waiting for your ad to be approved and running. It may take a few minutes. Sometimes it may take longer than usual but don’t worry, they will be approved.
OK so now your ad is up and running. What to do next? Keep creating more and more ads for testing your new design or new niches. And for the ad which is running, I suggest you should wait for 1-2 days to see how it is going. Then you can decide which ad to be killed or keep running. You may ask when to kill an ad? Let’s see below
When to kill an ad?
This is the most popular question I see in some groups which I joined in. So many people don’t know when and why to kill an ad. There is no common rules for this. It’s all up to you. Each person will have their own rule. For me, because of I have a lot of new ideas everyday so my rule for killing an ad is very strict. If after 1 day there is no sale I would kill it. Yes, after only 1 day, no mercy. Even if that ad has good engagements, many likes, shares, comments or link clicks I still decide to turn it off.
From my experience, the winning campaign will get sale at the first day of running and then get sale everyday later. So if one of my campaign doesn’t get sale at the first day, I will kill it then make more ads. I keep doing this until I found one campaign which get at least 1 sale on the first 24 hours.
Absolutely you don’t have to follow my rule, you can make your own rule. I see a lot of people looking at the link clicks metrics when they decide to keep or kill ad. They won’t allow any ad which cost more than 0.5$ per link click. And they have more patience than me, they usually wait for more than 1 day. That’s fine because some campaign will skyrocket after a few days, no one know. So make your own rule and follow it with all your heart.
That’s it. Easy right? It may take you a little time when you create your first campaign. But when you get familiar with this, it will be faster. It only takes me 5-10 minutes to create a campaign so I can make 5-10 campaigns on a single day. A lot of ideas need testing.
8. How to scale your winning campaign?
Some people I see are very lucky, they have succeeded at their first campaign. But some people aren’t. They have to test a lot of campaigns before finding the winning one. So if you found one winning campaign, don’t waste it. Treat it as gold. Make more money from it.
There are some ways I know that you can make more profit from one winning campaign. Because it is the winning campaign, people love your design and your saying. So you can put that design to other products like mug, hoodie, pillow, canvas, poster or even legging. Not only limited to shirt.
Or you can make a brand new ad image with different mock up or just change the color of the shirt then make ads for them.
Or you can duplicates your adset into 10 of them to get a chance to reach all your audience in a short time.
But the most powerful method to make more profit from winning campaign is to use Retargeting technique. What is Retargeting? It means there are some people who click your t-shirt link but they haven’t buy yet. There are so many reasons. Maybe they run out of money at that time and they were waiting for their paycheck to buy later. Or they may had their card issues or they were hesitated.
No matter what reasons, they are still potential customers and you have to remind them about your t-shirt. This can be done through Retargeting system which Facebook provides. While running your campaign, Facebook also save people who click your link into a group. You need to make an audience file for these people and use it to retarget them.
Here is how you make the retarget audience:
Go to Audience –> Custom Audience —> Website Traffic
Fill in the name for your Custom Audience and choose “People who visited specific web pages”. Then fill in your shirt URL there.
Don’t forget to exclude people who already bought your shirt because they don’t want to see your shirt again.
Here is how to exclude them:
You have to find the last page which your customer lead to after finish purchasing. They are called thank you page. You need to ask platform’s support to get the URL of that page. Then fill it in the box.
After you created that audience, you can use it for retargeting purpose. So only someone who clicks your link but haven’t buy yet will see your ad. Give them a discount offer or FREE SHIPPING they will turn into real customers.
With Retargeting Ad you should use Click Link type of campaign instead of pointing to a post. Here is an example:
That’s the reason why I love Facebook ads when promoting my shirt. Because it has all thing you need. Sometimes it has bad performance and make you annoyed but still the best for now.
Okay this is the fundamental knowledge about t-shirt marketing and how to make money from selling t-shirt online. Now it’s time for you to jump in and make your own fortune. I hope you will be successful soon.
More tips & tricks and methods are coming. So stay tune and keep reading my blog.