Etsy is ranked the top 5 marketplaces as of Dec 2022 by Simiarweb after Amazon, Ebay and Rakuten. It is one of the very popular eCommerce marketplaces with over 5.5M active sellers and 89.1M buyers in 2022. And the number is still growing. You can also tap into this market and sell custom t-shirts on Etsy.
Etsy is a platform that focuses on handmade, vintage, custom and unique gifts. This creates a unique space for small businesses or artists to create and sell their work online.
One of the very famous products sold on the platform is t-shirts. Before you freak out about creating your t-shirt, designing or sourcing and fulfilling your order for a t-shirt, I would like to assure you that you can do it all on your own.
You don’t need experience to start. And you can get your supplier that handle the product printing, stock management and order shipping all in one place. And you as a seller will focus on setting up the storefront, marketing and getting sales.
Sounds good right? This is what we will share entirely in this post. And make sure you can start to sell t-shirts on Etsy successfully online with minimal hassle.
What is Print-on-Demand
Print-on-demand is the business model where you work with a POD (print-on-demand) supplier that white-labels products for you. You will be responsible for providing the product design that you want to customize and publishing it on the platform that you want to sell it. Then, after you sell the product, you will notify the POD supplier to produce it and ship it out to your customer.
The benefit of the print-on-demand business model is that you don’t need to pay upfront for the inventory. You only pay for the product after you sell it and collect the money from the buyers. No bulk purchase or inventory is holding for you. Hence, you are starting with a lower startup cost. At the same time, you can test more different designs to find the winning design that is going to sell well.
Not only that, if your process is created well, where the integration with your eCommerce store with your POD supplier is done well, you will not need to manually order from your supplier each time. All orders will be synchronized to them automatically, and they will fulfil the order for you.
However, there is a drawback here where normally you are not able to negotiate for a lower cost as you are not buying in bulk. Fortunately, some POD suppliers offer premium subscription discounts or bulk order discounts where you get some discounts if your monthly orders exceed a certain amount.
How to Sell T-Shirts on Etsy: Step-By-Step Guide
Starting a t-shirt business on Etsy is simple. I can guarantee that after you finish our guide, you can have your Etsy shop launch in no time. However, building a successful business and earning a good income from Etsy will take dedication and commitment.
It’s not like you publish the product on Etsy and sit there waiting for people to come and buy from you. Your products need to be in front of your potential buyers for them to buy from you.
Let’s go on for the steps required to build a successful Print-on-demand t-shirt Etsy shop.
1. Define the Target Audience – Sell T-shirts on Etsy
Before starting anything, you should define your target customers. Who do you want to sell to or what design niche do you want to focus on? You must choose a specific niche as you will be using the same language and message in your designs and marketing so that these customers will be more likely to buy from you.
You can start with the demographics, then their interest, work, hobby, etc. Build and visualize your target customers, understand them completely and know their language.
You don’t want to compete with everyone out there. By niching out, you can focus on a particular niche and be the top in the niche rather than working with several niches at the same time and being average in most of it.
The real money is in the niche if you are in the right niche. You need to be careful to pick your niche. It needs to be big enough that there is enough money in the niche for you. At the same time, less competition. To research the niche, you can start with an Etsy search or Google Keyword Tool to see what people are looking for and then match it with your interest that you feel comfortable working with.
You would want to get something that you are interested in so that you can prepare better design and marketing content for the products that you are selling.
2. Create Your Etsy Shop – Sell T-Shirts on Etsy
To sell on Etsy, you need to sign up for an Etsy account. If you don’t have one, you can go to Etsy.com and sign up for a seller account. It’s free to sign up and will not cost you anything unless you add listings or have ordered. Then will charge a small number of listing fees and processing fees.
Follow the guide and fill in the information required. Basic information like your Etsy shop name, shop description and other business information is required for this. Then you can upload your business banners and logos to add branding personality to your Etsy shop. Ideally, you want to give as much information as possible in your Etsy shop so people will be able to know more about your business and trust you more.
When you are new and don’t have reviews, these are important to add credibility to your shop.
Finally, the most important part is to integrate your Etsy shop with a print-on-demand supplier. There are different POD suppliers like Printful, Printify, Teespring and others. They are all similar but when you are selecting one, you need to make sure their product cost, product quality, shipping and handling time, shipping cost and fulfilment centre. If you are selling worldwide, but they only have a production house in the US, then you need to be careful as the shipping to other countries may take weeks.
3. Design Your T-Shirt – Sell T-Shirts on Etsy
When you are selling online, don’t think and assume something. The market reaction is always the most accurate data you can have. Just go to different marketplaces and have a look at the best-selling t-shirt. Look at their design and see how you can create something similar. Don’t copy from them, but learn from how they design.
If you have the budget, you can outsource it to a designer at a very low cost on Fiverr. And if you want to do it yourself, you can use a tool like Canva to start your design. Canva provides different t-shirt design templates that you can use to customize the design for your niche.
Complexity may not always be the best. Simplicity is usually the best t-shirt design for most people. Avoid using too many font designs and colours in one t-shirt. Make sure they are clean and readable.
If you don’t know what you can design, just start with quotes. You can see many quoted Tee selling well on Etsy.
4. Publish Your Design – Sell T-Shirts on Etsy
Now that you have your product and design ready, it’s time to get a POD supplier to fulfil your order. For this guide, we will be using the POD supplier Printify. You are free to use other POD suppliers like Printful, TeeSpring or others as long as it fit your needs.
To start, you need to sign up for a Printify account. And that’s free also. Printify does not charge anything for you to have an account with them. You only pay them when you order the item from them.
However, Printify does offer a premium subscription for a 20% discount on your product cost. You don’t need to subscribe first at this point. But as your business grows, this is a good discount that you should take.
After signing up for your account, you can start looking for the product that you want to customize and sell. For now, we will be using the T-shirt.
There are many different t-shirt variations on Printify, and you can choose the one you want and then start customizing it. You can do this by uploading the design you created earlier to the mockup generator, adjusting the size and place of the design and then editing your product descriptions and price before publishing it.
Since your Etsy shop is integrated with Printify, the product is synchronized to your Etsy shop as well. However, you will need to amend the product descriptions on Etsy as well. This is because only basic information is being sent from Printify to Etsy. Other important information like tags, product categories, shipping settings and print providers are not there yet. This is very important as it will affect your SEO ranking.
5. Etsy SEO – Sell T-Shirts on Etsy
For your product listing to get more visibility, you need to be shown on the first page of the Etsy search results. You can do this by paying for Etsy ads, or you can do it by optimizing your product listing to increase searchability. We call it Etsy SEO.
Simple SEO optimization will be your product title, tags, categories and attributes. You need to include your focus keywords in these elements so it will be easier for Etsy to search and show your products to potential buyers.
How to Price Your Products
The goal to start a business is to make money. And therefore, you need to be very careful when pricing your products. Make sure you include all the required product costs and fees when calculating your product pricing. Also, you need to make sure that your price is relevant to the market. Not too high from your competitors. You are selling on a huge marketplace, and the prices for all similar products are transparent.
When you are setting the price for your product, you should aim for at least a 30-40% profit margin to cover all your costs and make a good profit.
At times, if the competition is fierce, you can consider to lower down the margin a bit and then, sign up for the Printify Premium plan to cover the cost. However, make sure your product is selling before you sign up to avoid further loss.
Another way is to price your products higher to differentiate yourself from other buyers. You need to come out with your unique selling proposition for this so people will still buy from you although your price is high.
How To Market Your Etsy T-shirt Shop
Although you will be getting traffic from Etsy search results, you want to have a solid marketing strategy in place so people can see your Etsy Shop. You need to be in front of different potential buyers so that they know you are there and will buy from you.
1. Competitor Analysis
First of all, you need to know who you are competing with and how your competitors are doing. What are they selling or launching, how do they market their product and are they making a good profit?
Take a look at their shop page and see which products are selling best and which are not. Are they running Etsy ads or are they getting traffic from other places?
You can learn how they price the products, the discounts they have and also the shipping rates they use.
2. Use Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the highest ROI marketing strategies nowadays. You can easily reach the people on your list anytime. And they will have the choice to read your email when they want. This makes email marketing less intrusive and disturbing.
For people who visit your shop or buy from you, you can give them the link to your landing page and sign them up from there. You need to offer them some very good incentive for them to give you their email.
Once you have them on your list, you need to start sending out newsletters and promotional emails to provide value and updates for them about upcoming product launches and sales in your store.
3. Be Omnipresent
Now, your Etsy shop will not be known outside of Etsy if you don’t promote it. The goal here is to be omnipresent. You need to be everywhere on different social media platforms so that people will get to see you.
This is important because people need to see or engage with you several times before they buy from you.
Social media is also good for building huge followers for your business. You should post regularly and consistently on your products and related content. It should be fun and informative. If you are focusing on selling only, people will not like your posts.
4. Run Etsy Ads
Etsy advertising is one of the easiest paid advertising you can have. If your business is established, with few sales and good reviews, you can benefit from Etsy ads. But if you are running a new store, you might not be that successful in the ad results.
For Etsy ads, there are two types: onsite and offsite. Onsite ads are also referred to as promoted listings.
Setting up Etsy Ads is simple. You set the daily budget and choose which listings you want to promote. By default, all your new listings will be advertised as soon as they are published if you have the Etsy ads campaign turned on. You can select the countries you want your ads to show to.
Offsite Ads are the ads Etsy run for their business. And by default, all Etsy sellers are automatically enrolled in Offsite Ads. If you are making less than $10k last year, you can choose to opt-out. But it’s good if you stay and use it. Etsy will charge 12% of the sales amount.
It is advisable to join the offsite Ads as it’s a great opportunity to leverage Etsy ad placement to get more visibility and sales without any upfront cost. You only paid for successful sales.
Etsy ads will have more social proof than your ads if you are just starting.
Time to Action to Sell T-shirts on Etsy
Now you already know step by step how to start an Etsy shop and where to get the POD supplier for your t-shirt, it’s time to start working.
If you need more information, we also have a post on step-by-step how to start an Etsy shop to get you started in no time. There is no technical knowledge required.
All you need is to take action.