How to Make Money

Got a Funny T-Shirt Idea? Turn It into Cash With Teespring

Updated February 17, 2015
by Susan Shain
Senior Writer
Selling T-shirts with Teespring

Do you ever have ideas pop into your head and think to yourself: “That would make a great T-shirt”?

Well, maybe it’s time to stop thinking and start doing. With the advent of online T-shirt design companies, you have no excuse not to design and sell the T-shirts you’ve been imagining for years.

Among these companies, one of the newest and most popular is Teespring. In this post, I’ll explain the process for designing and selling T-shirts with Teespring, share a few insider tips for making money off your T-shirts, and list a few alternative T-shirt websites you also might be interested in trying.

How to Design and Sell a T-Shirt with Teespring

Designing and selling T-shirts with Teespring is a simple and risk-free process. If you already have a vision in your head, you can probably create and launch a campaign in under 10 minutes.

Here’s how it works:

  • Design your shirt: Create your masterpiece with their online tool, either by uploading your own design or using clipart and fonts from their extensive library. Select the type of shirt you want to use, or offer more than one product (for example: basic tees, premium tees and hoodies).
  • Set your price and sales goal: Determine how much each shirt will cost, based on how much profit you want to earn. Then set a sales goal, which is the minimum number you need to sell to have your shirts printed. This number is up to you and can range from five to 1,000; the higher you set your goal, the more money you make per sale. Based on your sales goal, the platform tells you the net profits you can expect to earn.
  • Name your campaign: Give your campaign a compelling title and description, then set the length of your campaign, which can range from three to 21 days. (U.S. orders will arrive 7-10 days after the end of the campaign.)
  • Spread the word: Tell all your friends and family about your design via social media and email. If you’re targeting a niche market (more on that below), set up a few ads. Like with Kickstarter, your customers are only charged if your campaign meets its sales goal.
  • Reach your goal: If you meet your goal by the time the campaign ends, Teespring prints and mails your shirts to your customers. Then comes the best part: they pay you the profits via Paypal.

How to Make Money With Teespring

If you want to make money from your T-shirt ideas, you’ll need to make sure you reach your sales goal. Here’s some expert advice on how to run a successful Teespring campaign:

Get Inspiration From Teeview

Teeview showcases all of the campaigns currently live on Teespring. Lewis Ogden, who made $400 in one week from Teespring, visits Teeview to see which designs are doing well. He suggests you “sort successful campaigns by sales numbers or search for the most profitable.”

As for design, he stresses one thing over everything else: “KEEP IT SIMPLE.”

Sell to a Niche Community

Do you have a blog about cocker spaniels? Are you a member of a local gardening club? Whatever community you know or have access to, create a design that appeals to them.

Larry Deane runs a blog about life in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so he created a shirt targeted at his community — and quickly earned $100.

Capitalize on Trends

If you don’t have a niche community you want to sell to, take advantage of a season or trend. Travis Petelle suggests designing t-shirts around “buzz topics,” which could include popular sporting events, TV shows and celebrity mishaps. As an example of the latter, he explains: “Miley Cirus [sic] made me around $8,000 in t-shirt sales.”

For another example, look at all the people making money off Katy Perry’s Left Shark.

Hire a Designer

Several Teespring users suggest hiring someone from Fiverr or oDesk to create your design. In the past, Ogden has paid an oDesk designer $15 for one hour and received two to three designs.

Offer Several Options

Though you don’t want to overwhelm your customers, it’s a good idea to have a few color and style options so they can purchase a T-shirt that suits them.

Set Low Goals

If you’re just starting out, you don’t really have any idea how your T-shirts will sell. As Petrelle points out: “If you don’t make your goal number of sales, the shirt won’t be printed… and YOU WON’T GET PAID. So, if you have no traffic and little advertising investment, stick with a lower number. 10-20 works fine.”

If your campaign is nearing its end and you haven’t reached your sales goal yet, Deane says you should lower it. This, he says, “will ensure that you at least get some revenue from your effort.”

Buy Facebook Ads

This is one of the most important tips on the list. Though Teespring does run some Facebook and Adwords ads on your behalf (based on keywords you specify during the design process), most successful designers also run their own paid ads.

For this, Facebook is the platform of choice. According to Bank, who made $3,893 in one week with Teespring, that’s because “a specific design of T-shirt needs to be served to a specific audience based on their interests. Facebook is the right traffic source to get this done because it contains a huge amount of people’s information.”

On his site, Ogden also offers a lot of advice for creating and targeting Facebook ads for success.

Join Teespring Groups on Facebook

Whether your first attempt fails or succeeds, there’s always room for improvement. Find out what other Teespring T-shirt designers are doing by connecting with them in a Facebook group like this, this, this or this.

Don’t Give Up

Many of the designers said their first designs weren’t very profitable — so it’s important to keep trying.

“Out of 10, I usually have 4-5 campaigns that are profitable,” says Bank. “Try to test many different ads to see your CTR and conversion rate. Don’t give up if you run only 2-3 campaigns. Everything needs time to learn and be a success.”

Eager for more Teespring tips? Check out Side Hustle Nation’s interview with Benny Hsu, who earned six figures in six months from the site!

4 Alternatives to Teespring

Though most of the success stories I’ve read come from Teespring, there are many other T-shirt design companies you can try.

Here are several popular alternatives:

  • Threadless: If your T-shirt is chosen as winning design of the week, you win $2,000, earn a royalty equal to a minimum of 20% of their net profits and get a few other prizes.
  • Zazzle: Create a free store and design a variety of products — from T-shirts to mugs — and set your own royalty rate. These posts by Layerform and Eclectic Cycle offer tips for making money with the platform.
  • Design by Humans: To sell at this site, you need to first apply and be approved as a DBH artist. For each T-shirt you sell, you earn $3. (We’ve talked about earning money with DBH before.)
  • Spreadshirt: The cool thing about Spreadshirt is that there are no minimum orders, and you can actually embed the products into your own website. You also set your own commissions; Lisa Irby earns between $6 and $9 per shirt and offers tips on her website if you’d like to do the same.

Your Turn: Have you ever sold a T-shirt online? Which company did you use?

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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