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5 Tips on Starting an Etsy T-Shirt Shop (Beginner’s Guide)

Table of Contents

T-Shirts and customized print products are incredibly popular on Etsy.

This is a huge market and is filled with hundreds to thousands of sellers who design, print, and ship custom T-Shirts nearly every day.

Whether you design the logo yourself and get it printed, or whether you buy a design created by the shop owner, getting your custom shirt can feel like an amazing experience!

But what is it like starting an Etsy T-Shirt print shop online?

Well, we’ve outlined everything you need to know to get started as a beginner in the industry here!

How Tough is the Market for T-Shirts on Etsy

Selling T-Shirts online was once a great idea that boomed into the full income of many entrepreneurs.

Now, however, the T-Shirts business has become heavily oversaturated, with many online sellers looking to make a lot of money with very little effort.

Once you have a company that is able to print and ship your T-Shirts for you, you don’t really have to do much other than come up with interesting designs that customers will want to buy!

Because of this, print-on-demand companies are booming in the small-business and online entrepreneur industries – but the T-Shirt industry is already overflowing with shops.

This also means that you will have to make a big splash in a very large ocean if you want to make it big.

Is it Worth it To Start?

While this may seem discouraging for new entrepreneurs looking to get rich quick off of their amazing T-Shirt designs, don’t despair!

It is always worth it to give it a shot if you have the time, a little investing money, and effort to put into it.

Start with a design, post it online, and see if it gets a positive response. If it does, consider adding the design to a T-Shirt mock-up – if it looks good there, test it out yourself and have it shipped to you.

Maybe even wear it around for a while!

If you decide after all this to start selling T-Shirts on Etsy, go for it! Shops that are able to get your T-Shirt selling business off of the ground online will be surprised how lucrative it can be!

What are The Average Prices on T-Shirts?

When you sell T-Shirts online, you need to make sure that after the product buying, printing, and shipping you are still making a profit.

Costs of blank T-Shirts through POD (Print on Demand) sites is pretty cheap, but getting them printed on and shipped to your customers for you can stack up the price of each item – this means that you need to account for those price points when you put together your Etsy shop.

The average price for a T-Shirt on Etsy is roughly $17.50.

Most shops usually include shipping, so it is usually “free” at checkout to ship it. However, that cost for printing, shipping, and handling will be covered by your purchase price!

Blank T-Shirts on sites like Printful.com cost roughly $7 – $9, while hoodies, jackets or long sleeves can cost $18 – $35 before shipping.

After that, shipping can cost from $4+ depending on how much your customer is ordering – for example, if a customer purchases 50 T-Shirts all at once (perhaps for an event or family reunion), you could be seeing $20+ in shipping fees.

This would require you to price your items properly.

The Overall Profit vs. Labor

So, overall for a regular T-Shirt, you’re earning about $5.00 (AFTER Etsy fees and transaction costs) in profits off of your design without having to ship, print, or prepare the product yourself.

This means that the most labor you are doing is designing logos, quotes, patterns, or cartoons to go on T-Shirts and then preparing that product with your printing company.

Once you’ve designed one pattern, logo, etc. you could be earning $5+ per T-Shirts without having to do any work.

For example, if it takes you a day or two to digitally or artistically create a logo for your T-Shirts, you could be selling that design on T-Shirts for the entire remainder of your Etsy shop’s career unless you retire the design later or don’t like it anymore.

So, if in the course of a year you sell 3,000 T-Shirts with one logo at $5.00 in profits, you could earn $15,000 for one day’s work!

Obviously, maintaining your Etsy shop, communicating with customers, paying fees to your printing company, and posting about your designs on social media is going to take up a majority of your time, but you generally don’t have to worry about the shirt once it is designed.

Some would say that this is a wonderful and profitable business venture!

1. What is the Easiest Way to Get Started?

The easiest way to get started selling T-Shirts online is to know what your product is and how to execute it properly.

First, we should talk about Etsy demographics and your style.

Etsy Demographics and Audience

In our article, What’s The Typical Audience on Etsy? (Demographics & Stats) we discuss how the predominant audience and customer base on Etsy are female.

This is highly due to the choices that sellers make in their crafts that tend to gear more toward a stereotypical feminine design.

This could be pastel colors, gemstones, silver and gold charms and trinkets, handbags and purses, etc.

One of the reasons that sellers may choose this path is because shopping as an industry sells more items for women than they do for men as an economic strategy.

While not all products on Etsy are stereotypical feminine, most successful shops that sell clothing are.

If you are thinking about selling T-Shirts on Etsy, consider whether or not your products will be geared toward men, women, children, or all of the above.

This will help you design something that you think that customers will appreciate and buy!

What is Your Product? (Stereotypes & Designs)

Obviously, you’re selling T-Shirts on Etsy, but what kind of designs are you going to sell?

If you have decided to gear your designs toward a more traditionally feminine style, you might consider angling toward the huge bridal party market on Etsy’s site.

T-Shirts with “Bride” and “Maid of Honor” on them or with symbols related to weddings in pastel colors are huge sellers in the T-Shirt category.

Alternatively, you could focus on cartoons or images that are whimsical for younger women who enjoy animals, bright colors, popular quotes, or classic tees that have phrases pertaining to yoga.

If you focus on men, you may create designs that are minimal in earthy colors such as greens, grey, black, white, blues, and dark reds. They may have one or more words on the front or small designs that don’t stand out too much.

While these are obviously stereotypes, they do tend to sell well on the site and are what graphic tees encompass most often on Etsy.

You need to have a firm understanding of the market of men, women, or children that you want to sell to in order to make designs that fit popular styles.

Thinking Outside of the Box

One thing we recommend on Techpenny is to consider thinking outside of the box to stand out from the Etsy crowd.

While you can emulate what other major shops are doing with their designs, having your own signature style is what will keep customers coming back to get the newest edition.

For example, niche markets like D&D, comics, movie quotes, cartoon characters, or podcasts have HUGE fan bases constantly looking for unique and interesting merchandise to wear that represent their favorite shows and games.

Don’t underestimate the “fandom,” a group of people who adore their piece of pop-culture and would be willing to pay top dollar for a brand new design in that niche.

Pick a Production Partner

Once you have your first (or maybe even more) design, you should look into picking your production partner!

Our amazing article on how to sell prints and printed items explains these companies a little more in detail as well as how to be a print shop.

However, as a quick refresher, you should check out these options for your printing needs:

  • Printful
  • Gooten
  • Printify
  • Teelaunch
  • CustomCat
  • T-Pop

Each one will give you a price for products, such as blank T-Shirts, mugs, bags, pillows, or anything else you could hope to sell in your shop!

Furthermore, each shop helps you create a mock-up of your product to see what it will look like before you start to sell it in your Etsy store.

Finally, stores like Printify and Printful will even connect to your Etsy store and be alerted when a sale is made. That way, the print-on-demand service can get your customers’ products out there as fast as possible!

Make sure to do your research and consider which shop will be best for you.

Can I Sell Teespring T-Shirts on Etsy?

Teespring works exactly like all the other print shops that we’ve mentioned before.

As long as the design is 100% your own, does not have any influences or elements from someone else, you can sell T-Shirts using the Teespring website to do so.

Their website also helps new sellers learn how to use their services and shows what products they have available.

(For all print websites, please see our references links below)

2. What Are the Best Selling T-Shirts on Etsy Today?

Etsy clothing is definitely geared toward women or those who identify as women and therefore make up much of the market on the site.

The best selling T-Shirts on Etsy today are those that encompass some form of Bridal theme or wedding theme.

The most popular clothing shops, even without graphic T-Shirts, are usually bridal themed and account for many accessories, jewelry, shirts, jackets, bags, and gifts.

ModParty, an Etsy shop we frequently mention, sells printed T-Shirts with words like “Bride,” “Mrs,” “Mr,” or “Maid of Honor,”

To date, they have had nearly 600,000 sales since 2013!

If you are interested in following this model, consider checking them out (see reference link below).

3. How Many T-Shirts Designs Should I Start Out With?

For Beginners

A shop without a huge fan base when it first starts should consider having one to five options to start with when opening.

If a customer likes your particular style or artistic choices, they may want to complete their collection of yours and watch out for future editions.

Furthermore, if you only post one design and not many people like it, you won’t see many sales.

Instead, having a small, manageable pool to choose from is the right way to go.

For Internet Personalities and Famous Social Media Individuals

If you already have a fan base, consider making many different designs based on your social media hook.

For example, if you host a podcast, you could consider different quotes from different characters to shirts. If you are an animator, you could create cartoon still-life versions of your characters or settings.

If you are a famous internet personality, consider using your own quotes or stylish designs that emulate who you are when you are using an internet persona.

Depending on what your shop is about, you may not need more than five designs, or you need more than ten!

Just make sure you are able to manage the number of designs and images that you need printed and shipped to customers. Don’t overwhelm yourself!

4. What Alternatives to Etsy Should I Check Out?

If you decide that you don’t want to sell directly from Etsy and go somewhere else, consider instead choosing another site:

  • Shopify
  • Wix
  • Squarespace
  • Amazon
  • eBay

These are great options for selling merchandise that you create!

However, sites like Shopify are better built to fill the needs that you would want from an Etsy-style shop. Shopify works directly with you or third-party manufacturers to print your products and ship them out to customers.

While almost all sites will charge you for fees, monthly subscriptions, or added charges, some price points are going to be better than others.

If you are interested in choosing other sites than Etsy, see our reference links below and consider researching what is best for you!

5. How Do I Promote My Etsy T-Shirt Business?

Promoting your new business is easiest if you have an online social media following.

Utilizing your following on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others will allow you to post designs and T-Shirt mock-ups to your friends, family, and followers!

If you don’t already have a huge following online, consider posting your designs to forums in the Etsy community! Make connections, work with people, and learn from other shop owners.

Finally, if you don’t already have a social media presence, consider making one specifically for your shop – even if it isn’t geared toward you personally, your shop should always have its own social media presence.

References:

Printful – Website

Gooten – Website

Printify – Website

Teelaunch – Website

CustomCat – Website

T-Pop – Website

Teespring – Website

Wix.com

Shopify.com

Squarespace.com

Amazon.com

Ebay.com

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