How To Sell T-Shirts Online – Teespring Step-By-Step Tutorial
There has been a lot of buzz about selling t-shirts online. Yep, even though selling tees online has been dated back to the days where internet was booming.
It’s now easier than ever!
Back then, you had to be a shop or ecommerce to be able to sell these merchandises. Now, it’s just a matter of designing the shirt, sharing the word online and cashing in.
How hard can selling a t-shirt online be?
People are always buying clothing online, there is an unlimited amount of niches you can tap into and people love sharing what they love (free advertising).
There are many platforms blooming as of late that are very similar in nature but the one where we’ll be focusing our tee selling journey will be Teespring.
What You Will Discover
- What is Teespring and How it works
- How to simply get started in this business
- Knowing your target market to the “T”
- How to come up with awesome designs
- Best practices for setting up campaigns
- Marketing the shirts on the biggest social platform
- How to maximize your profits
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In a nutshell, Teespring is a platform where you can create and customize a shirt design and sell the custom apparel. The sales you make will earn you a commission based on the amount of shirts sold, the price and how big of a goal you set minus the production cost.
You will only get paid if you “tip” (make the minimum sales) a campaign and only after the set date. This is when the shirt gets printed and shipped to the consumers.
By using Teespring, you never have to pay any upfront fees, store the goods, shipping it out or even customer service. You do the design and selling. They do all the heavy lifting.
So how on earth are they making money?
Quite ingenious actually, a goal would have to be reached before anything happens. Once it’s tipped and the campaign ends, the shipping is paid by the customer, the production/printing cost is covered by taking a cut.
By buying the shirts in bulk, they save a heck a lot of money off of production anyway. On top of that, they take a bit of a share of the commission.
So yes, they make quite a bit by offsetting the sales you make.
In saying that, if you wanted to start up a tee business online, you’ll have to find a supplier, printer and deal with merchants and customer support.
With Teespring, you don’t have to worry about all of that and focus on what we’re good at, which is marketing!
Getting Started in the Tee Selling Business
The t-shirt selling business is a great place to be in, especially how online shopping has grown to be so big now. More and more people are buying their clothing online that it is silly to think that it could ever be saturated.
So how do we get started with Teespring and leverage off their platform to build our very own t-shirt business?
Easy, just follow these 5 steps without overly complicating it.
- Campaign Setup
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As I mentioned earlier, there are other new and upcoming platforms that are similar to Teespring but if you could tip your goals successfully in Teespring, the same could be applied to other platforms.
Before I jump into the strategies, understand that NOT all shirts will work. Every niche will react differently to each design, it’s just a matter of testing and finding out what they would go crazy after.
So let’s just dive straight into the first step which is…
Step 1: Getting to know your Niche
Just like any marketing campaign, you’ll have to research your audience. The more you know your target audience, the easier it is to create a design that they like.
It’s important to understand why people would buy certain T-shirts. What will make a person want to buy it as soon as they see it.
This is key.
If you could find a group of people that will react this way towards a t-shirt, you have found yourself a winner.
So what makes a person buy a shirt?
I find that people who have a good sense of identity, an identity like certain job titles. People who are proud to be working where they are working and are not shy to display it.
This is why nurse shirts do so well, they take pride in what they do – which is to save lives.
Although, the same couldn’t be said to a doctor as there is a level of “professionalism” they have to withhold. Of course, it doesn’t mean you can’t design a shirt that caters for them. Just a lot harder to find a winning one.
Another reason why someone would go crazy over a shirt is passion. There are plenty of passionate groups of people – people who wouldn’t be afraid to tell you how much they love this, love that.
I’m sure you could already think of a few topics already… *cough* sport fans.
What are fans short for again? Oh, that’s right fanatics!
I find passionate groups the easiest to target and there are plenty out there.
Here’s a handful – pet owners, hobbies, gym, cars, guns, music, dancing, T.V shows, games and the list goes on…
The last reason would be humour. Humour on its own is very hard shirt to target an audience but humour with the combination of passion or identity makes it extremely easy to sell.
There are other big categories like holidays, events and controversy but I’ll leave that for another day.
So where do we go about finding these type of niches?
Since we’ll be doing most of our advertising on Facebook, let’s start there.
What if there was a site where it tells you the most popular fan pages? Would that assist you in your decision?
Well, Fanpagelist.com is exactly that!
As you can see from the home page, it’s a directory for all of your favourite brands, celebrities, movies, TV shows and sport teams.
It’s really easy to navigate too, just pick a topic of your interest at the very top.
In this case, I hovered over TV shows and it showed me a list of different channels.
This is what it looks like if I click on FOX:
It will display the ranks (most fans) of all the fan pages within Facebook that is a TV show from the Fox channel. The Simpsons have a whopping 77,207, 522 fans!
You could also sort it by what is trending by clicking Fans Today and Talking about.
This site alone should get your mind rolling with plenty of ideas with a good range of categories to check out.
A very handy tool to help us with researching our niche is Facebook itself. Facebook has a feature where you could find out more about your audience before placing any ads. This tool is called Audience Insights and it has a wealth of information.
The tool is hidden within your ads manager. On the left hand side under campaigns, you’ll see “Audience Insights”
Once you’re in, it should look something similar to this:
It’s pretty straight forward, on the left is where you want to add the information you want to research. You can filter it by Location, Age, Gender, Interests for the most part. There is another section under advanced but let’s take it 1 step at a time.
Location, age and gender is pretty basic so I won’t touch on it, the main box is the Interests part. Interests can be treated like a keyword or categories. Just type in a niche of “interest” and let’s see what kind of data Facebook will pull.
I’m going to use The Simpsons (default location, age and gender) as my example to break down what kind of data could be used for our niche research.
Straight away, you could see that this niche is a very big niche with 15-20million active users. Mainly male orientated than females, 23% more to be exact. It’s definitely more towards the younger crowd with 50% of them between the age 18-24.
You’ll also notice that the data is divided into 6 tabs.
- Page Likes
Besides showing the age and gender, at the very bottom of demographics, you’ll also see a box called job title. You could see a good chunk of users that are interested in the Simpsons are in the Food and services occupation. Coming up with any ideas yet?
Heading over to the “Page Likes” tab, you’ll find 2 boxes – Top Categories and Page Likes.
Top categories is based on the interests liked by the users. As expected, majority of them like the entertainment sector.
What I really like about this tab is the Page Likes and it tells you which of these fan pages are more likely than not to get a “Like” compared to the average Facebook user. That’s what affinity really means anyway. But it also shows related niches that you might of missed.
In the “Location” Tab, you’ll be able to see the Top Cities in the selected location. So if you filtered it by United States on the left hand side, it will only show Cities within US.
Under “Activity”, you’ll find 2 sets of data. First one is Frequency of Activities and the other is Device Users.
Facebook has 6 actions that could be taken within. This data shows what action the selected audience has taken in the last 30 days.
It also shows which devices the selected audience are most likely to use.
Facebook is also able to track the “Household” value of the users through external data parties.
Here you’ll find 5 sets of data – Household income, Home Ownership, Household Size, Home Market Value and Spending Methods.
Important note: Be sure to check the estimated percentage of audience matched at the bottom of the chart. It will show how accurate the data could really be.
The last tab is “Purchase” with 4 data sets. Again, these are collected by third party data companies that sell information to Facebook.
This section could be exactly what we need for your audience within your niche. It will display the retail spending, whether they are big spenders or not. It also shows whether your selected audience shops online. Just remember to check the estimates below.
There is heaps of valuable data to be collected to assist us in the research of shirt buyers. All it takes is a bit of digging and making a list. This will get more important when it comes to targeting.
As we’ll get to the marketing side of things, you’ll see that not everything could be targeted.
Any topic or phrase that could be found in audience insights will be targetable. So that will help us in the research process too.
Step 2: Design that works
So now that you know your audience, the next step is to actually find a design to suit their needs.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Don’t reinvent the wheel“. Well the same is applied here.
Sure, coming up with an awesome out of this world design MIGHT get you a lot of sales. But a lot of times, you’ll have to test different designs over and over before you hit that jackpot.
This may result in a lot of time and resources wasted before you find that winning shirt.
Of course, you could always just pay a “t-shirt designer” to make one for you but in most cases, you’ll still find it might be hit or miss.
Keep in mind, they are just designers and they design according to what they deem cool. Not your audience.
Not to mention the level of skill and experience the designer might have. If you expect to pay $5 for a shirt design, just be prepared to not be shocked about what your fans have to say about it.
But I’ll leave outsourcing for a shirt design for another post.
By modeling off already successful campaigns, you already know that it is a proven design that are known to have buyers.
Only thing to beware of is the copyright issues but as long as you are changing it up and adding your own twist, all will be fine.
So let’s focus on…
Finding that winning design
There are many different platforms to use and get great ideas for your shirt design.
All you need to do is to tweak it, add your own twist to it and apply it to your niche.
One of the places is to use Teespring itself.
Teespring has a section where it showcases its high performing shirts and it displays it at Teespring.com/discover.
Sometimes, you’ll look at some of these designs and wonder how the heck did it sell so many!
The shirts you’ll find here are occasionally for charity, brands or events.
But hey, you can still draw some pretty neat design ideas from these alone.
Just browse through it and see which of these designs can you apply to your audience in mind.
This section alone is limited to only about 40 designs but it’s a good starting point.
Another website that scrapes a lot of campaigns from teespring is called Teescover.com
You will find all sorts of shirts on this platform from highly successful campaigns to downright bombs.
What I really like about teescover is the ability to filter out your search.
You could type in your niche in the search bar at the top and see if anyone else is doing well in your niche.
Or you could filter it just by the number of tees sold and see which t-shirt designs are selling like hotcakes.
A good chunk of these designs will be hard to make it relevant to your niche but there are so many out there, that you’ll eventually find one.
You just have to use a bit of imagination and you’re good to go!
These two platforms are great for reverse engineering other successful campaigns but what if you wanted to come up with an idea that hasn’t been done on Teespring?
This is where you’ll want to head over to websites that already sells t-shirts or sells graphic tee designs.
Wanelo.com – A somewhat type of social media platform where people comment about “how much they want, need and love” certain merchandises. The popular designs will have a lot of “saves” which is equivalent to a Facebook “like”. Although it’s not dedicated to shirts, it’s still a good place to find some great ideas.
Bustedtees.com – An online store that focuses on selling shirts that are quirky and funny. You’ll get a ton of great ideas here but one thing to keep in mind is the trademarks and copyrights. Draw inspiration from these tees and don’t just copy it.
Snorgtees.com – Another online store that specializes in pop-culture and funny tees.
There are plenty of other t-shirt ecommerce sites out there, it’s just a matter of looking and finding them. Just remember to only use it as a reference and not the actual design itself.
If you want to find different ideas that haven’t been seen on a shirt yet…
You could always head over to your handy mate – Google.
More specifically, Google Images.
Seriously, there is a goldmine of design inspirations that could be found here. All it takes is to come up with the right keywords then start digging.
These are a few keywords that I’ve been using to really get my juices flowing.
Something like, Niche + funny – what better way than to find a funny quote or meme that would look awesome on a shirt.
Another one I really like using is, Niche + sticker – Stickers are generally used for gags and usually goes really well on a shirt too.
As you could see, there is an endless amount of resources to pull in some incredible ideas from. If you’re not keen on using Photoshop yourself, you could always send the images over to a freelancer and get them to come up with the design based on them.
Just make sure that they do change it substantially.
Of course, not all of these shirts will sell well. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration but the best way to find out is just a matter of testing it.
Step 3: The perfect set up
Now, it’s time to dive into Teespring to really get to know the user interface and how to set up a campaign.
First things first, you’ll need to create an account over at Teespring. You can create one over here.
I won’t walk you through the process here since it’s quite self-explanatory.
Once you’re in, let’s start setting up a campaign with your winning tee design you have just created.
Head over to “Launch A Campaign” or “New Campaign” which is found at the top.
It will then bring you to a graphic creating platform to Create your Tee
Where you will have the ability to create a design using a selection of fonts, colour and clipart that are provided by Teespring.
Or upload a pre-made design, resize it and see what it looks like on a shirt. Think of it as a preview for your shirt, what you see here, is what your customers will get.
This is where you’ll also have the option of choosing the type of shirt, hoodie, tanks and long sleeve. The colour of the tees you want it on and the base cost.
Note: The number of colours you use, will result in a higher base cost. It’s best to keep the design to a minimum but if adding more colour will increase conversions, by all means.
The next section is to set a goal for your campaign.
Here is where the confusing part most often occurs but let me try and explain it the best I can.
The goal you set is the minimum number of shirts you’ll have to sell before it gets printed, shipped out and get paid.
If you don’t make your goals, you won’t get paid.
So why would we want to set such a high goal? It only makes sense to keep it low as possible, right?
Well, the higher the goal you set, the bigger the profit margin. Putting goals aside, if you manage to sell 1000 shirts oppose to 10 shirts, this will save Teespring a lot of money because they are buying it in bulk.
Any time, anything is bought in bulk, there will be a reduced price.
So by setting a higher goal, Teespring will be more than happy to give you a higher profit margin knowing that they will be able to print these shirts at a lower price.
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But what happens if you set a low goal and manage to sell a lot of shirts?
In this case, you won’t get as much as you would if you set a high goal but you will still get paid a bonus for selling so many.
The bonus is calculated by paying you 75% of the profit you would of made if you set it to that specific goal.
So essentially, if you set a goal of 10 but manage to sell 100 shirts. You will lose out on 25% of the profit you would of made if you set the campaign goal to 100.
Of course, the profit you make will vary on the price of the shirt. You get the option to price your shirt however you please.
You can also add other products (hoodie, long sleeve, etc) to the mix, giving more options for the customer to choose from. Keep in mind that the number of products is dependent on the number of goal you set. The higher the goal, the more colours and product types you can add.
Each product you add has an individual price point that you could set also.
Now that I’ve covered goals and pricing, here is an example to get a better understanding.
As you can see in the image above, if you set a price point of $19 with a sales goal of 10. The profit margin per shirt is $9.
The estimated profit is the profit you earn if you meet your minimum goal, so if you sell 10 shirts.
Just by simply scaling up the goal to 100, you could see that the profit for each shirt is now $11.25. Giving you an estimated profit of $1,125 if you manage to meet your minimum goal.
That’s a difference of $2.25 per shirt by setting up different goals.
Now, let’s say you had it set for a goal of 10 and sold 100 shirts. The profit you will make per shirt will be 75% of $1.6875 which is $10.6875. In this case, the estimated profit for 100 shirts will now be $1,068.75 and you will lose out $56.25.
I hope it’s starting to make sense.
Of course, each campaign will vary in profit because of base cost (number of colours used, quality of shirt chosen), price point and goal.
My best advice would be to stick to a low goal, test the different price points to each of your audience and see which one converts the highest. Only until you build up a confidence, then set higher goals for your campaigns.
The last section is to add a description to your campaign.
Everything that is filled in here, will be in the public eye. This is where you will do most of your selling.
This is fundamentally your sales page for your shirt campaign.
Campaign Title speaks for itself really, just name it exactly what it is.
In the past, a strategy for campaign titles was to write that a discount has been applied but Teespring has now upgraded to have a pop up that says exactly that. That’s why it’s best to keep it simple and just write the title of the campaign.
Next is the description.
The description has many uses and there are many different methods to go about it. Some like using GIFs (moving images), arrows and a timer around the body copy. While others like to keep it plain and simple.
For me, personally, I like to keep it simple but I always keep an open mind and split test where I can. You never know how your target audience will react to it.
The cool thing about Teespring is, if your campaign is doing really well, they will help you out by running ads to your campaign. This is where the tags will come in handy, it will tell Teespring exactly what your shirt is about so they can start advertising.
Campaign length can be a tricky one as it is a set time for how long your campaign will last. No campaigns can go on forever but you could always re-launch.
You will have to decide how many days to run your campaign and there are a few things to keep in mind.
The risk of setting a low campaign length is that you might not have enough time to reach your goal. But on the other hand, having too long of a date will result in many unhappy customers having to wait for their shirt to be shipped.
You will have to choose what best suits you and your ability to drive traffic.
As for the URL, you create the permalink for the shirt’s sales page. Generally, it’s just the name of the campaign title but just bear in mind that what you write here, people will be able to see it.
All that’s left is to choose whether you want to display the front or back of the shirt, choose whether your customers can pick it up and tick the box for the TOS.
Once you’re good to go, it’s time to make your campaign go live.
This is the page you’ll want to send your visitors to and this is the page that will do the selling.
All that’s left is to drive traffic and how we’ll be doing that is by using the biggest social platform.
Step 4: The Power of Facebook Marketing
Alrighty then, where to start…
Facebook should really be on a post of its own but let’s walkthrough on how we would go about it to promote a teespring campaign.
Facebook and Teespring work so well together.
There are so many users on Facebook, it’s hard to find an audience that you can’t target. Not only that, people on Facebook really like to voice out what they like and don’t like and share amongst friends.
This is how a simple T-shirt design can go viral on Facebook as people tag away their friends/partners prompting them that they “must have it”.
On top of that, it is also quite visual which is perfect for showcasing our awesome tee design.
This is the process we’ll be following to build a profitable campaign on Facebook:
- Fan page Creation/Management
- Ad placements
- Analyzing the data
- The decider
Before we get into it, it’s critically important that you read FB’s guidelines. They are very strict and a lot of marketers are known to get their account banned.
A good place to start is its help section: Facebook.com/help > heading over to “Facebook ads”.
Let’s begin with Fan pages
So we had a chance earlier in this post to check out all kinds of different fan pages using fanpagelist but now it’s time to build one of our own.
Fan pages are pages that are designed to represent a company, organization, celebrities on Facebook. Instead of using a personal Facebook account – where it’s private, a fan page is open to the public and anyone could see it.
Of course, it could also be used as a community page, where like minded people with similar interests get their information from and share their thoughts.
To follow a page, a user will need to “like” a page so that they will be kept update.
How we’ll be using a fan page is to build and engage with an audience already interested in the topic at hand, build up trust and target them through ads.
Some pointers – name the fan page appropriately, this will also be shown when placing ads. Always use a profile picture and cover photo so that it looks trustworthy and not just a dead page.
There are 2 ways to build up your fan page. You could either do a “like campaign” or place ads using your Fan page and getting residual fans.
By building a like campaign, all you are doing is paying for the “like” itself. You’ll want to target specific audiences within your niche and pay for every like that you get. If you target correctly and split test, you could end up paying as little as a penny per like.
Let’s dive more deeply into the other option and getting residual likes.
The Placement of Ads
There are many different types of Facebook ads, all of which have different objectives like Clicks to website, Website Conversions, Page Post Engagement and Like Campaigns.
The one that I found that works really well for me is the “boost your post” which is also known as “page post engagement”. One thing about Facebook is that they are constantly changing their ad names.
The idea behind these ads is to fuel engagement to 1 particular post within your fan page. By engagement, I mean Likes, Shares and Comments.
The post you’ll want to boost is the one that has a link to the t-shirts’s sales page.
First, you’ll need to choose the fan page that has the post you want to boost.
Once you’ve selected the fan page and post, it’s time to set up your ad.
The first step is to choose your target audience.
You’ll have the option to target Locations, Age, Gender, Languages, Interests and Behaviours. All of this data could be found in Audience insights which I showed you earlier.
Generally, I like to go as specific as I can and break it up into different ad set groups. This is how I set up my split testing campaigns.
After you’re done with the targeting, it’s time to move on to the budgeting of your ad campaign. Here you could set the daily budget of the campaign, scheduling, what to optimize for and pricing.
As for daily budget, I personally set it to $10 per ad set, per day. So if I have 3 ad sets, I’ll have a daily budget of $30. This will definitely vary depending on your own budget but this works for me.
This is just the initial budgeting and I treat as a test.
As for what to optimize for, I let Facebook work its magic and use their algorithms. So I leave it as is, which is Post engagement and get the most for best price.
Lastly, is your ad creative.
This is where you could choose to place your ad on the News feed, right hand column and/or Mobile news feed. The title and description is automatically populated because your boost one of your post and not writing up an ad.
It’s also important to place a conversion pixel to get a better grasp of the data.
All that’s left is to place your order and Facebook will get to work.
Analyzing the data
An extremely important skill to master is being able to tell how well or bad an ad is doing. If you don’t kill an ad quick enough, it will eat into your ROI. If you kill the ad too soon, you might miss out on a winning and scalable ad.
So how do you know when to kill it or scale it?
As I said earlier, I give my campaigns a set budget as a test. If it doesn’t work out, I’m fine with that because it’s data I bought.
To be completely honest, if you are too afraid of losing $50 just to test, this is probably not for you.
There are so many variables involved, it is almost impossible to just be able to know straight away if you have a winning teespring campaign.
Are you targeting the right audience?
Do they buy shirts online?
Is your design right for them?
Is the ad creative good enough?
There are just too many unknowns that the best way to know is to test.
So this is my formula on how I go about it.
Firstly, I would let my ad run 24 hours.
I will check how well my ad ran throughout the day – how many impressions did I receive. How much of the budget did it eat up, if not all? Which ad sets performed better and did I get any sales.
This could all be found in the dash board of your ads manager in Facebook but it could be broken down even further in the reporting section.
Once I get a hold of the data, this is where I’ll decide what to do from here.
After having a good look at the data, now it’s time to decide what to do with it from here.
Do I scale it?
I’ll generally scale my campaigns if I either break even with my ad or sell more than I spent. So if I spent $30 and it manages to sell 3 shirts, I know for sure that it’s a winner.
Sometimes, it’s not as easy as that. I might get a whole bunch of engagement that sends my CTRs to the roof but no sales. I’ll just check out what people are saying about the shirt and if there’s a lot of buying intention, I might also scale it.
How I like to scale is slow and steady. I’ll just gradually increase the budget each day and see if it affects the overall engagement.
Do I kill it?
The most obvious fail campaign is when your shirt design doesn’t suit your audience’s taste. If you start getting comments critiquing your design, you know its back to the drawing board and can the campaign.
Another reason to kill it is the results the ad brings in. Low CTR’s, no sales and spending way too much. If it’s like this on all my split testing campaigns, then it’s a definite kill.
Sometimes, it might underperform but I see some great potential in the campaign so rather than killing it, I might leave it as it is for another day. This way, I don’t kill the campaign too soon and give it another shot.
As soon as you find a winning combination of both design and targeting…
It’s just a matter of scaling the campaign and retargeting.
Retargeting will bring in a lot of interested users who were thinking of buying but didn’t. Just place an ad that takes them straight to the sales page and give them another shot of buying.
The name of the game is ROI.
It doesn’t matter how low you are paying for your clicks, if no one is buying, it’s pointless.
Don’t fall for the same trap that a lot of marketers fall into.
The idea is to spend less than what you earn. Period.
If I spent $1,000 but earnt $1,200, I’m cool with that.
Step 5: Re-launch or not to Re-launch
Re-launching a winning campaign is a wonderful thing!
Although, some might say to give it a break before launching it again, I say to do it ASAP.
It’s just a matter of time before someone else will rip off your design and profit from it. And sadly, that’s the truth.
So why not reap as much of the rewards as you can, before that happens.
Sure, you might lose out on the fact that it isn’t exclusive anymore and people might call you out on the scarcity. But there are still heaps of money to be made and more people to put it in front of.
You could be doing the exact same thing and it still won’t matter.
Even if your campaign was average, you could work on it, optimize, improve and launch again.
The main point is, just because it did well once, doesn’t mean it won’t the next time.
Don’t forget, you now have an asset of fans on your page. Fans that you know are willing to buy if the design is right.
So another way to go about it is to create another design for the same audience. You’d be surprised how many times a customer will buy from you if you have what they want.
You could also attempt to promote your winning campaigns using a different traffic source found on this blog.
The potential for earning big on Teespring is massive. The same could be applied for other similar platforms too.
Just follow the 5 steps on this blog and you’ll be on the right path.
- Campaign Setup
Remember, not all campaigns will be successful and it will take a lot of testing and spending. But once you find that sweet spot, it literally starts to rain!
Hope you enjoyed the in-depth guide on selling Teespring T-shirts online.
Leave a comment below and let me know what think.