Selling shirts on Etsy can be a great side hustle. You can even turn it into your main source of income. But how easy is it? Where do you start? How do you sell shirts on Etsy?
To sell shirts on Etsy:
- Visit the website and set up an Etsy account.
- Follow the platform’s instructions to start an Etsy store.
- Choose a print-on-demand service and start designing shirts.
- Set a price and add the shirt designs to the Etsy store. This will give instant access to Etsy’s worldwide marketplace.
In this article, you’ll learn how to set up an Etsy store to sell shirts. You’ll also find out which print-on-demand sites work best with Etsy.
Why Sell Shirts on Etsy?
Selling shirts on Etsy can be a great way to earn extra cash, either as a sideline business alongside your day job or as your main source of income.
It’s the perfect platform for niche or unique designs. Etsy’s forte is hand-crafted, designer, and vintage items. Founded in 2005, it provides an online marketplace to connect independent craftspeople with interested buyers. By 2021, the site had around 7 million sellers offering approximately 50 million products to an audience of over 90 million potential clients.
That’s a large customer base. One that you have full access to once you start selling your shirts on Etsy. It would take years for a sole partnership selling shirts online to generate that level of customer interaction.
Better still, setting up on Etsy is quick and easy. All you need to do is open an Etsy account. No need to worry about website construction, shop fronts, or online payments. You don’t even need to have your own credit card processing system.
Etsy’s platform provides you with your web presence and its servers supply online payment facilities. This is particularly useful if you’re not tech-savvy. Setting up your own eCommerce website can be expensive and confusing.
Instead of learning web coding, using Etsy allows you to focus on designing your shirts. The question you should be asking yourself isn’t why you should sell shirts on Etsy. It’s why aren’t you doing so already?
What Shirts Can I Sell on Etsy?
You can sell any shirt on Etsy. Although, you do have to keep Etsy’s guidelines in mind. The platform is focused on handmade, artisan, or unique designs and vintage items.
This means you can sell shirts you have sewn yourself from scratch. So if you have a sewing business selling designer button-down shirts, you can use Etsy to promote and sell your products online. Even if you also sell them at a brick-and-mortar store.
Similarly, you can sell your older shirts that are collectible. Things like concert memorabilia, for instance. They have to qualify as vintage, so you may have to state that the garments are 20 years old or older.
One of the popular niches on Etsy at the moment is t-shirts and sweatshirts designed through print-on-demand services. You supply the design and a third-party printing platform provides the t-shirt blank and the printing equipment. All you do is promote the design and they do the rest.
Because print-on-demand shirts are unique designs, they qualify for the Etsy platform. So much so that Etsy allows some print-on-demand providers to be integrated with your Etsy account, thus allowing you to sell print-on-demand shirts on Etsy.
How to Sell Shirts on Etsy
Selling shirts on Etsy is pretty easy. There are a few things you need to set up first, but the process is simple and hassle-free. Let’s take a look at the different stages you need to complete so you can sell shirts on Etsy.
1. Set Up Your Etsy Store
The first thing you need to do is set up your Etsy store. This is essential to selling on Etsy as it gives you a space on the platform to promote your designs. It also lets you input your payment details to get paid for your shirts.
Visit Etsy.com and click on the link for “Selling With Etsy”. The platform has articles and guidelines for setting up a seller’s account. Read the information carefully. It will tell you everything you need to know.
One of the things you need to bear in mind is Etsy isn’t for everyone. The selling fees and transaction costs can mount up. Although you can set an account up for free, selling your shirts will incur selling costs. You need to make sure you can cover those costs with any profit you make from your shirts.
Depending on your designs, your products may fall into a prohibited category. There are things you cannot sell on Etsy. These include drugs, promoting drug usage, and weapons. If you’ve designed a shirt to promote the use of guns, you may find it restricted from the sale.
Then there is the content of your designs. To sell on Etsy, you must meet their selling requirements. Items have to be handmade or vintage. They also have to be unique to you. That means you can’t sell a t-shirt you designed using an image of Winnie the Pooh. While the design might be yours, the image of Pooh Bear isn’t.
Selling a knock-off of any Disney character is a definite no-no. Not only will you get into hot water with Disney, but you’ll also fall foul of Etsy’s stringent rules on intellectual property. The same goes for Nintendo, Coke-a-Cola, or any other well-known brand.
As with any online selling platform, make sure you take the time to learn the rules. Become familiar with all aspects of Etsy before you commit to selling your shirts on it.
2. Market Research
Setting up a business selling shirts on Etsy is easy. The hard part is finding out what kind of shirts people want to buy. There’s no point designing a shirt with a puffer fish on it if no one wants to wear it.
To stand for any kind of success, you have to do your research. Find out what shirts sell on Etsy. You can do this by tapping into the listings of your competitors. Not so you can copy them; that’s frowned upon. But so you can see the type of designs that do well.
Browse the existing listings to get a feel for the designs. Note the best shirt styles. Are classic t-shirts popular, or do people favor a more modern fit? What colors are most attractive? Do slogans work best or proverbs? All of this information will help you gauge if there will be any interest in your designs.
You should also check out the stores for individual sellers. Pay particular attention to how they showcase their products. Imagery and descriptions go a long way to making shirts attractive to buyers. But that’s not all. How a seller puts their store together can also install buying confidence. Quality pictures with clear backdrops give a professional, trustworthy edge.
Another key factor you should focus on is the price shirts sell for on Etsy. To be competitive, your shirts will need to be either in the same price range or lower. This research will help you figure out if you can price your shirts to sell and still make a profit.
It’s not just your competitors you should be researching. Part of this market research is to discover as much as you can about Etsy buyers. This is your target audience. You want to make shirts people using Etsy want to buy. Reading the reviews is a good way to understand their likes and needs.
3. Establish Your Brand
Branding is important because it lets your clients know they are buying from you. It’s your business identity. Selling shirts on Etsy isn’t a one-off thing. You want your clients to keep coming back for more. Better still, you want them to tell their friends about you. To help them do that, you need a brand.
The first step in branding is deciding on your seller’s name. You can use your own if you want to, but you can also make up a catchy, memorable title. Something that identifies you but also shows you sell custom-designed shirts.
From there, you can design a logo. Not only can you use this to personalize your Etsy store, but you can also use it across social media. That way, your brand can be identified anywhere you promote it. Instantly recognizable as you, it will entice people to follow the links you advertise back to your Etsy store.
Once your clients have made a purchase, you can use your branding to help them remember you for their next shopping trip. Thank you cards, promotional inserts, and even stickers can be put in their package. All with your brand logo on it. This is how you establish a brand and build client loyalty.
4. Promote Using Social Media
Following on neatly from the last point, promoting your Etsy store and brand on social media is essential to success in shirt-selling. Although Etsy has a huge following, you shouldn’t rely on the platform to promote your merchandise.
Sitting back and letting Etsy bring customers to you will likely take a long time. To speed things up, you have to work on getting your name known. Marketing is an integral part of any business and selling on Etsy is no different. So get out there and do some of your own marketing activities.
If you don’t already have social media accounts, set some up. You can use them as advertising platforms to push your new Etsy store. It doesn’t matter which ones you choose but make sure you use the same branding throughout.
However, it’s not all about posting images of your shirts and then moving on. You have to interact with your clients. Set polls for them to respond to. Offer giveaways. But more than anything else, respond to them when they get in touch.
By answering their comments, you are building a rapport with them. This, in turn, creates trust and helps you build a loyal customer base. One that will purchase your shirts on Etsy.
5. Integrate Print-On-Demand With Etsy
One of the easiest ways to set up a shirt-selling business is by using a print-on-demand service (POD). This third-party provider can supply shirt blanks and the printing equipment to produce shirts. All you have to do is provide the design.
At the moment, there are two print-on-demand services that can be linked to your Etsy account. The first is Printify. An online network of POD providers that are based around the globe. You can choose the best provider for your needs based on their prices, location, and ability to fulfill your orders.
The second is Printful. It has a slightly different set-up to Printify in that it has its own production houses. These are based in Mexico, Europe, and the USA.
Usually, when you sell through Etsy, you get a notification of a sale. You then mail the purchase to the client. Using Printify or Printful changes that structure a little. Etsy is still acting as the storefront, but it will be the POD provider, not you, who fulfills the order. They’ll handle both the printing and shipping for you.
There are a few things you need to consider. Using a print-on-demand service will increase your overhead. Not only will you have to pay Etsy fees, but you’ll also have printing costs through your chosen provider.
However, these costs should be lower than buying printing equipment to print the shirts yourself. But you should check the full cost of using print-on-demand through Etsy before committing to this option.
6. Buy Samples
This is particularly important if you go down the print-on-demand route. The only way to know the quality of an item produced by a third-party provider is to buy a sample.
Buying a sample shirt will let you see your design in person. You’ll be able to tell if it needs tweaking. If you’ve only ever seen your shirt on your computer screen, you might not be able to see if it’s central on the shirt or even if the colors go together.
Monitors are a pain when it comes to checking colors. Computers don’t always use the same shades as printing companies do. This can lead to a mismatch. Giving you a reputation for poorly designed shirts.
The good news is that buying a sample shirt can be utilized for more than quality control. You can also wear it for publicity shots, marketing, and promotion.
Is Etsy a Good Place to Sell Print-On-Demand Shirts?
Yes, Etsy is a good outlet for selling print-on-demand shirts. As a global online marketplace, Etsy has thousands of users. This gives you access to an almost limitless supply of potential customers.
Although the choice of print-on-demand services is limited to Printify and Printful, both can be fully integrated with your Etsy account. They will work seamlessly with Etsy to automatically fulfill orders, allowing you to focus on promoting your designs rather than shipping them out.
Utilizing the sheer volume of Etsy’s popularity across the globe is a selling tool you should be tapping into. You’ll have access to a much larger marketplace than the individual print-on-demand platforms can offer.
However, just because you can sell print-on-demand shirts on Etsy doesn’t mean you should lower your standards. Etsy is still the go-to marketplace for high-quality, unique items. Things that are handmade or designed by artisan craftspeople. Your shirts still need to have that custom-design feel.
Print-on-demand can reduce your shirts to be more mass-produced than one-of-a-kind. As long as you can keep your designs fresh and individual, then Etsy and POD are a match made in heaven.
Is It Worth Selling Shirts on Etsy?
Selling shirts on Etsy is worth a try. But be warned. It’s not a quick fix or a get-rich-quick option. If you’re willing to do some hard work to get your Etsy shop off the ground, the returns can be lucrative.
However, there is a downside to using Etsy. One which has seen a lot of sellers leave the platform in recent years. Although you can sign up for an Etsy account for free, the site isn’t free. Etsy charges different fees, from listing your shirt to a percentage of its sale price.
Although the transaction fee is only payable when you sell a shirt, listing fees are payable regardless of whether you make any sales. At the moment, Etsy’s website show listing fees to be $0.20 per item. The transaction fee chargeable on your final sales price is 6.5%. Unfortunately, your final sales price includes any charges you made to the buyer for shipping.
Etsy also has a fee for off-platform adverts and for using their payments and deposit system. Then you have the separate costs of using any print-on-demand services. When you add them all together, the costs of selling on Etsy can mount up.
Currently, the average price for a t-shirt on Etsy is around $18. Bearing that in mind, you need to do the math before venturing onto the Etsy path. You have to make sure you can sell a shirt for that amount and still make a profit. Otherwise, it isn’t worth doing. The point of selling shirts is to make you money, not Etsy.
Picking the right price to make a profit is a key part of successful selling on any platform. Price your shirt too low and you’ll struggle to make ends meet. Go too high, and your customers will be driven away. It’s a very fine line between the two.
Having said all that, though, even with all the Etsy overheads, you can still set up a shirt-selling business with very little outlay. When you weigh up all the costs involved with keeping stock, having a physical store and the overheads connected to running a shirt business, you might be pleasantly surprised.
In the long run, Etsy can work out cheaper, especially if you use print-on-demand for your shirts. Without the need for a brick-and-mortar store and the associated rent, you’ve already reduced your overheads significantly. When all is said and done, selling shirts on Etsy can be a great way to make a profit.
What Are the Best Selling Shirts on Etsy?
The best-selling shirts on Etsy are t-shirts. Affordable and a classic wardrobe staple, t-shirts are the perfect medium for cutesy images and meaningful slogans. You can even use them to demonstrate your taste in popular music or TV.
They’re great for seasonal imagery too. Whether it’s a Christmas gnome, an Easter bunny, or even a spooky Halloween pumpkin, t-shirts are the timeless answer for promoting an idea or making a statement.
Currently, the most popular style of t-shirt with Etsy sellers is the Bella Canvas 3001, made from pre-shrunk airlume ringspun cotton, the shirt feels soft and high-quality, but it has a low price for a t-shirt blank making profit margins greater.
Where Do Etsy Sellers Buy Their Shirts?
Etsy sellers use several suppliers for their shirts. Some popular places include wholesale outlets like T-shirtwholesaler.com, Bulkapparel.com, Jiffy.com, and SSActivewear.com.
These sites are for sellers who design and print their own shirts. The shirts are blanks, meaning you can screen print them or add vinyl.
Etsy sellers who use print-on-demand services tend to use the t-shirts supplied by the printers. For Etsy, these providers are Printify and Printful.
Selling shirts on Etsy is simple. All you need to do is set up an Etsy account. Go to the Etsy website and follow the online instructions. The hardest part of the process is deciding if you want to use a print-on-demand service or print your own.
Both options have their merits. But print-on-demand removes the need for keeping large amounts of stock. It also allows you to concentrate on designing. While the printers take care of printing and shipping.