Where To Sell T-Shirts Online for Profit – The Candid Cashflow Podcast – Episode 16

Last Updated on June 20, 2021 by Ava

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Hello out there. I hope you’re having a super day! In this episode, I’m going to talk about selling t-shirts online.

This is certainly not a new topic or concept, but I hope to provide some extra value in a bit of research I’ve conducted on popular t-shirt sites.

Back in December of 2017, I researched the global and U.S. ranks of several t-shirt sites geared toward designing and selling custom shirts, as well as other merchandise.

Today, we’ll take a second look at the ranks for those websites to help us determine where we should focus our time and efforts when selling shirts.

I’m also going to talk briefly about how to design t-shirts, what kind of designs sell the best, and a strategy to get your business off the ground.

Here we go…

How To Design T-Shirts

Can’t draw a stick figure? Don’t worry, you can still sell shirts. That is the beauty of the Internet. design t-shirtsWherever you are lacking in ability or knowledge, there is always someone out there that you can hire to help. If you’d prefer to invest time rather than money, there are a million ways to learn to do things yourself.

So, how do you design shirts? You can use any graphics program like Photoshop or GIMP. You can even use Canva. If you’re been listening to this podcast for any length of time, then you’ve probably heard me mention Canva before. It’s an online drag and drop graphics platform that makes creating images easy.

If you’re not picking up anything else that I’m laying down, keep this mind…the shirts that sell the best are simple sayings on a plain background like my I Know Things About Stuff shirt pictured above.

So, you have several options for designing shirts. You can do it yourself or hire a freelance designer on a freelance platform like Upwork. A basic design shouldn’t cost you much. If your design is just text, you can probably get it done on Fiverr.

Be sure to grab the show notes for this episode at http://HeyYoAva.com/Episode16. I will include a short video tutorial on how to create text-based shirts using Canva which is free.

There is a lot of information out there in the form of courses, software, and products to help you find shirts that are turning a profit so you can basically duplicate the idea and cash in on it. Don’t.

The best way to cash in on the t-shirt market is to come up with your own original designs. 

To see if your idea is already out there, use the Merch Research search engine from MerchInformer.com.

further your brankUsing T-Shirts to Further Your Brand

T-shirts are a great way to put your brand on display. My friend, Dale, over at Self-Publishing with Dale wears his own shirts in all of his videos.

What he’s done is create t-shirts around his brand, upload the design to Merch by Amazon, and buy his own shirts.

This is a great way to create an additional passive income stream for your business.candid tshirt

I figured it was high time that I created a shirt for The Candid Cashflow Podcast, so that’s just what I did. You can watch me do it in the aforementioned Canva tutorial available in the show notes. You can see the end result on my website in the corresponding blog post for this episode.

If you’d like to grab one, you can do so at https://heyyoava.com/candidtshirt/

If you decide to create your own, I’d love to see them. Leave me a comment below! Free advertising!

8 Websites for Selling T-Shirts Online

The only website in this list that I didn’t analyze for traffic data was Amazon because we know that Amazon gets tons of traffic.

In Episode 12 of The Candid Cashflow Podcast, we discussed 5 Amazon business models, and sell t-shirts onlineAmazon Merch was one of them. Merch is Amazon’s t-shirt design and selling arm.

I fully expect them to expand into other products besides just t-shirts, and they’ve already started by offering longsleeved shirts and sweatshirts.

Merch is available to anyone, but you have to apply and there is a bit of a waiting period. However, there is a lot of money to be made in shirts because everyone wears them. T-shirts are never out of style.

That being said, let’s take a look at the 7 other sites:

  1. ArtsAdd
  2. CafePress
  3. CustomInk
  4. RedBubble
  5. Spreadshirt
  6. TeeSpring
  7. Threadless

Some of these sites have some real longevity like CafePress which has been online since 1999. I have included ArtsAdd here not because it’s popular, but because of the amount of products they will print your design on. If you list your products on your own website, this could be a good way to expand your inventory.

It’s worthy to note here that these sites all allow you to have a shop on their platform to sell your shirts, so they all draw buyer traffic as well. Other popular t-shirt sites allow you to design and print shirts, but you must sell them from your own platform. Printful.com is an example of one such website.

Global and U.S. Rankings from December 2017 global rankingsAccording to Alexa.com

So, what were the rankings like for these sites in December 2017 during the height of Quarter 4?

The ranks are expressed using a number which signifies where the website ranks in a list with 1 being the highest rank.

For example, ArtsAdd ranked at 204,846 globally in December. That means it is the 204,846th most popular website in the world. In the United States, it ranked at 75,779.

When you compare that to RedBubble, the most popular of the 7, you begin to understand that ranking is not that great. RedBubble was ranked 1,393 globally and 518 in the United States in December.

I hope that makes sense to you. If you’d like to view this data in an easy-to-read table format, be sure to visit the blog or grab the show notes.

WebsiteGlobal RankUnited States Rank
ArtsAdd204,89675,779
CafePress8,2851,760
CustomInk7,1421,767
RedBubble1,393518
Spreadshirt7,4302,848
TeeSpring3,8001,410
Threadless14,0214,134

Global and U.S. Rankings from March 2018 According to Alexa.com

Now, we can gain further insight by gathering the same data from the present where we are nearing the end of Quarter 1 in 2018. Then we can compare the rankings and see where our time is best spent to get the most benefit from the buyer traffic on these sites.

WebsiteGlobal RankUnited States RankGlobal March 2018U.S. March 2018
ArtsAdd204,89675,779191,375104,998
CafePress8,2851,7609,4612,865
CustomInk7,1421,7679,0871,828
RedBubble1,3935181,323569
Spreadshirt7,4302,8489,6023,670
TeeSpring3,8001,4104,0171,437
Threadless14,0214,13417,6276,528

From this data, we can see which of these 7 top t-shirt websites have the most traffic. Alexa.com also provides a lot of additional data such as:

  • Ranking in the top 5 countries for each website
  • Bounce rate
  • Average pageviews per visitor
  • Top 5 keywords the website ranks for
  • Top 5 referring websites
  • Number of backlinks
  • Top 5 backlinks
  • Site speed
  • A few basic demographics about visitors

    alexa traffic graph
    Example of Alexa traffic graph showing traffic over time.

Be sure to visit the website at https://heyyoava.com/shirtdata/ to grab screen shots of Alexa showing all the data for the websites discussed in this Episode. This will give you a better understanding of the traffic for each website as there are graphs that show the traffic data over time up to nearly one year.

A Simple Strategy to Sell T-Shirts Online for Profit

I would suggest that you begin with Merch by Amazon simply because you get that Amazon traffic. When you create your shirt listing, include keywords in your title and bullet points. You can find great information on how to do that from the Merch Pursuits blog at MerchPursuits.com. In fact, if you’re going for max profits on Merch, that whole blog will help you out.

Merch is a tiered platform. Starting off, you’ll only be allowed to upload 10 designs at a rate of probably 2 per day.

You must sell at least one shirt in each design within the first 90 days of publishing it to ensure the product doesn’t get removed from Amazon.

You can buy your own shirt to prevent removal.

Once you sell a few shirts, you will be tiered up to 25 designs, then to 100, and all the way up to 500. You may be invited to to upload more designs by Amazon, but I’m not sure what the criteria for that might be.

You will also be able to see which of your designs sell the best.

Here comes the strategy part…

Using the data from the list of sites, you can list your best sellers on additional platforms because there’s nothing that says your design must be exclusive to Amazon.

Actually, you might want to list all of your designs on these additional platforms since each site has a different audience. You don’t really know how your shirt will sell to that audience until you list it.

I would suggest concentrating on 1 or 2 of the more popular sites from the list. From our data, that would be RedBubble and TeeSpring.

Each website takes a bit of set up that can be tedious and time-consuming, so I would only concentrate on the sites with the most traffic.

If you want to sell your designs in additional places, I would suggest creating your own website, and optimizing it for your brand or add a shop to an existing site that represents your brand.

By using your own website, you can capture email addresses and build a customer base, or use your existing customer base to build your t-shirt business.

You can use a service like Printful.com, which I also mentioned before, to dropship printed shirts or other products to your customers.

If you’re interested in creating your own site, and you’d like to see what your options are, shoot me an email at http://HeyYoAva.com/contact-ava/. I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have and give you some guidance to get you up to speed in the game.

Passive Income From Selling Shirts Online

Since you’re doing the work once to design and list your t-shirts, the income you make from them is passive.

This is actually a great passive income stream since t-shirts don’t go out of style, it’s evergreen. You can sell indefinitely for the life of the platform you choose to sell upon. That can possibly mean a passive income stream for life.

It doesn’t get much better than that. Do you see why the Internet is so amazing?

That’s a Wrap!

Why are you still sitting here? Go make shirts!

Thanks for taking the time to listen to The Candid Cashflow Podcast. If you enjoyed this broadcast, I hope you will consider subscribing. You can do just that in your favorite app at http://HeyYoAva.com/CandidCashflow.

Sign up for the newsletter in the right sidebar while you’re there.

I publish a new episode each Wednesday.

Until next time, turning your passion into cashflow!

4 thoughts on “Where To Sell T-Shirts Online for Profit – The Candid Cashflow Podcast – Episode 16”

  1. James Aydelott

    Don’t have a website right now, but I have someone working on it as I speak. I’ve been trying to get my tshirt designs in different streams of income. This was very informative.I have about 20 designs right now what way do you think I should take.I have hundreds of ideas but I first need income flow b4 I mive foward.

    1. Hey James, thanks for your comment. If I were you, I’d upload all of my designs to RedBubble to start because they don’t have limitations like Amazon Merch does. In order to get and keep your designs on Merch, you have to tier up at least once to get them all on. Then you have to sell one of each to keep them up past 60 days I think it is. You can buy your shirts to prevent that Amazon from removing them due to non-sale. Merch is like the holy grail I guess because Amazon’s traffic is unmatched. If you can succeed on their platform, you can succeed big, and that’s why I say try to get on as you are able.

      I would stick to just these two platforms. You can upload the same designs to both with no problem. I’ve had sales on both. Best of luck! I’d love to hear back and see some of your shirts!

  2. This is good information Ava. Thanks for such a thorough review of the platforms. It’s interesting how cafe press kept showing up in the top rankings. I wonder if that’s because they’ve been around a long time or because they’ve done unique marketing. Their name is catchy. That’s for sure.

    If you can or have extra time, can you do a podcast or article about teeshirt quality for the best companies. I once purchased a couple from teespring and the quality was much better than cafepress. That made me wonder if these platforms are sourcing tee shirts from the same manufacturers?

    1. Sure thing, Sandy. As for doing an episode on the quality of merchandise from these different platforms, I will consider it. Thanks for the great suggestion!

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