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So, have you ever thought about making money from home, or making money on the Internet. Have you ever dreamed of being your own boss. Well, I
am here to say that it is possible, you can work from home and make good money too. This article below was originally written a few years back. I do
keep it updated every so often. It is just a friendly little guide telling you how you can make some money selling t-shirts on the Internet, from the
comfort of your home. It probably won't make you rich (although it is possible to earn six figures a year), so don't confuse this with some get rich quick
scam. What it can do is make you some extra cash from home in your spare time. Take it from me, it works. Now it hasn't made me a millionaire, it
hasn't even made enough money for me to go out and buy a new car with cash, but it does make a car payment for me... and hey, that's not too bad for
something that I do in my spare time. Enjoy my article and good luck.
How To Sell T-shirts Online
This article is intended as a guide to those who are looking for answers about selling t-shirts online, as well as CaféPress and it's competitors. This
guide is by no means perfect. It is written by me, based ONLY on my personal experiences of selling tshirts. So, if you are looking to become your
own boss, you want to work from home, then selling t-shirts online is a perfect at home business for you. With the growth of the Internet, customers
from all over the globe are looking for unique t-shirt designs to purchase. The demand for internet shopping and unique t-shirts are at an all time high,
and that demand increases every year. Now is the time for you to get into this wonderful Internet business. Below, you will find a list of some of the
companies that specialize in t-shirt drop shipment fulfillment. Before making any decisions as to which company you choose, please check out
everything you can about these companies. Forums and blogs, as well as, the company in question's home page are great places to start.
What is my experience with selling t-shirts?
In 1999 my first son, Brandon, was born. Long before he could actually talk, he began the "baby talk." Mostly goos and such. He was a perfect baby.
He slept all night. Was NEVER sick. Always happy. Always smiling. Anyway, when he began this baby talk, he would (as most babies do) say, what
sounded like, "I Good." The good was a bit long drawn out. My wife, Laurie, and I would always respond with something like "I know your good." And
that was absolutely the truth, as I said before he was a perfect baby. I soon came up with the idea that it would be cute to have a little t-shirt for him that
said "I good." Laurie agreed. We soon went to Wal-Mart and bought iron-on t-shirt transfers. I made a simple blue phrase using Microsoft Paint,
"Igoood." I added the extra o to make the word more drawn out like he was saying it. By the end of the night he had a t-shirt that said Igoood. My wife
and I made ourselves one with his picture on it. Laurie loved the shirt. She still has it. It's 6+ years later, it's a bit worn, but she still has it. I was hooked
on the idea of making t-shirts. I very soon began thinking, "I wander how I could sell these. They're cute, and every baby says I goood. I know this
would sell, if I could just market it. But how do I market something that only exist in my brain." My wife and I were not wealthy. We had only been
married a couple years. She didn't work, and I was making just enough to pay bills. We had no money or experience. I soon gave up the idea. It was a
Four years later, our lives had changed a little. We were living in a new house. I had a new job. My wife had a new job. She was pregnant with our
second son. We both had returned to school. I had recently bought a new laptop for school. It was late January 2003. One slow Saturday at work, me
and two co-workers were sitting around bored. It was me (I'm a clinic nurse), the receptionist, and the doctor. We 3 have a great time at work. We are
always playing pranks, telling jokes, and generally having a good time. I was flipping through a magazine when I saw an article title that said "Football
takes balls." It was a pun, and I love puns. I was thinking "that's a great line." A lot of things could take balls. I took a sticky note and quickly sketched a
few little pictures, each complete with a little slogan. One had a football and goal post, it said "It takes BALLS." Another had a prisoner with his
stripped cloths, and two balls attached to his ankles with chains. It said "prison takes BALLS." Another had a canon. It said "It takes BALLS." I showed
my pictures to my two co-workers hoping for a mere laugh, after all I drew 5 or 6 of these in a matter of 10 minutes, so I didn't put that much work into
them. Like I said, all I wanted was a little laugh. What I got was unexpected. They both really liked the pictures. They both began telling me who I
should try and sell these ideas or try to get someone to put these on t-shirts. I just blew it off, I already went down that road with "I Good," and it is a
dead end street. I don't have the means or knowhow to do such a thing.
Where do I go to sell t-shirts
When I was thinking about selling t-shirts, I was thinking about selling a design to someone who could make a shirt with the design on it, and then
they could sell the t-shirt. I would make money selling the design to the t-shirt company. I began surfing the net, on my lap top, looking for someone
who would buy my designs. This was almost hopeless. It was nearly impossible to find a trustworthy company who would buy designs. That's when I
stumbled upon CaféPress. They didn't actually buy designs, but they would allow you to upload designs and then sell those designed t-shirts in a
CafeShop absolutely free. That's right, at no cost. At that time, CaféPress offered a few items to sell. White t-shirts, thongs, lunch box, coffee mugs, as
well as a few other items. Although CaféPress may have been the originator of the print-on-deman t-shirt business, they are not the only ones out
there today. They do still have an advantage over the competition in that they are the largest out there on the web and they do have a user friendly site,
but the competition is on their heels.
Too good to be true?
On February 6, 2003 I began selling t-shirts on-line. I started with a few basic shops. Bald Clothing, GoffBALLS, igoood, Horney Devil, Monkey Around, and CHIXWEAR.
So is selling t-shirts on-line too good to be true? Did I get rich quick? Was this a easy way to make money? Well lets just say I didn't quit my day job. I uploaded all my designs, put
them on shirts, and then waited for them to sale. And waited some more. Then I waited a bit longer. After that I waited a little more. Eleven month of waiting had gone past, not one
single sale. My wife said I was wasting my time "playing on the computer." I was starting to think so too. I just didn't want to give up. I thought my ideas and designs could sale if I could
figure out how to market them.
In January 2004, my wife decided she wanted to get one of my "Wanna Monkey Around t-shirts." We ordered one, and I was shocked. The shirt itself was OK, but my designed
sucked. It was very pixilated. It was blurry, and looked very unprofessional. I was glad that none had sold. To my horror, my sister ordered one of these awful shirts before I had the time
to fix it. I spent weeks redoing my images. I ended up profiting $9.49 in 2004. What a great year right? I think it was. It gave me the chance to make mistakes and learn how to make
Time to get serious.
In late 2004 I knew If I wanted to sell tshirts, I need ed to have a way to drive traffic to my CafeShop. But, how? Part of the solution was to get my own domain name. I chose web
hosting through Yahoo. I then registered TshirtManiacs.com. I also began paying for a premium CaféPress shop. Over the next year I made new designs and CaféPress added new
items to put my designs on. Again I didn't get rich, but I did make a $505.17. That is a 53 times increase from the previous year. Every year since then, I have steadily increased my
profits. I only do this part time, and I put NO money into it. If I were to invest in ads, and other forms of advertisement who knows what the profit potential is. For now, I am happy with
where I am at. Who Knew Selling shirts could be so great.
Now if you are going to start selling t-shirts online, I would suggest you do your homework first. I used to recommend CaféPress because It is
very easy to use, Very inexpensive (basic shops are free), offers a large selection of products to sell, and was fairly profitable per item sold. Over
the last couple years, they have made some new business decisions, These business decisions are profitable to them, but has put a strain on
the shopkeeper's wallets. There is allot of web-sites out there that are anti-cafepress and there are more and more added everyday. Over the
last couple years, they did away with their affiliate plan (costing TshirtManiacs approximately 20% of our monthly income), they raised some
prices (not much of an impact on income). They have changed all the rules on how items are shown and sold in their marketplace (that cost us
another 20% of income). Shopekeepers no longer control the selling price of items in the marketplace. This means that they make a better profit
off of all items sold through the marketplace. They no longer provide a link to our stores from our own products that they list in the marketplace;
this is because if they can sell items in the marketplace they make a better profit than if a customer follows a link to our shop and buys it there.
The affect is less traffic to our shops, higher profit for them, less for us, and we now have to compete directly with them. This doesn't help anyone
but them. We make the product, we do the work, they profit. All in all, profits are down about 50% thanks to their business decisions, and you can
bet theres is up about 50%. This is the same for most shopkeepers, thus leading to the great CP exodus of the summer of 2009. There are allot
of other direct print sites out there, don't pick the first one you search for. Do your homework before you decide.
What does print-on demand sites offer?
You can sell:
Merchandise you design including t-shirts, posters, mugs, bumper stickers and much more
Books printed on-demand
Audio and Data CDs
What do they do?
Gives you a FREE online shop to promote your products
Produces each item when ordered using our unique print-on-demand technology
Handles all payment transactions including major credit cards
Ships your products worldwide
Manages all returns/exchanges
Offers customer service via toll-free phone and email
Sends you a monthly check for your earnings on sales!
Can I really make money?
Yes! Some of the shopkeepers earn over $100,000 a year. Premium Shops earn 10X more than Basic shops on average. Plus thousands of
members earn a steady stream of income through their CafePress.com shop.
How it works:
Each product has a Base Price that includes all fees associated with selling. You simply set your retail price above the Base Price. When you
sell an item, we keep the base price and we send you the markup.
Value T-Shirt has a base price of $8.99
You decide to markup the price to $13.99
When you sell one shirt, you generate earnings of $5.00.
They then sends you a commission check for your total markups once per month.
How much does it cost?
With most Basic Shops, you can start selling for free. And, there are no inventory costs associated with selling products through either a Basic or
Each item you sell has a base price. You simply markup the base price by the amount you wish to earn for each product you sell. When you sell
a product, we keep the base price and you earn the markup.
If you are serious about making money selling t-shirts on-line, we suggest you do your homework and choose wisely when picking a service
provider. Premium Shops cost $6.95 at the monthly rate, or as little as $4.99 per month at the yearly rate. There are additional benefits
associated with a Premium Shop to help you sell more.
How much time will it take to get my shop online?
Once your digital content is ready, you can create and launch your online shop in minutes. All you need to do is upload your content, choose the
products you wish to sell and set your prices. If you don't have your images or content prepared. By spending a little time to optimize your
images, you can ensure your products will look their best.
How can people find my products?
There are two ways people will find your products:
1. You will have your own online shop.
For example: http://www.the-print-on-demand-company-u-choose.com/ShopID
When you open your shop, you will choose a Shop ID that will become part of your shop's URL (see above). With your own URL you can:
Promote your shop on your web site
Email your shop link/URL to friends and family
Buy ads on Google and other search engines
2. The Marketplaces
Shopkeepers will be able to purchase your products directly from the Marketplacse, which is visited by millions of people each month.
Now in the mid-summer of 2005 I tried SpreadShirt because they had black t-shirts. At the time SpreadShirt was mediocre compared with CP.
They offered a few items that CP did not. But they just didn't have the same level of search that CP offered. The profits were not as good as with
CP either. Now, don't get me wrong, they were a fine company. Nothing was wrong with the service they offered. It was simply that CP offered a
better service. Now, if you leave in Europe, SpreadShirt is a great choice.
I have continued to keep my SpreadShirt shop running since 2005 and I must say that SpreadShirt has improved alot since then. MORE ON THIS
Now am I dead set on using CP? The answer is absolutely not. I really liked CP back in the day, but like many they started getting greedy. If I can
find a competitor that can match what CP has to offer, I may begin using that. The thing is, unfortunately CP still has the upper hand. Right now
they are the print on demand industry leader. I must say that I am currently looking for a new place to call home, as is many other shopkeepers.
Other online companies that specialize in t-shirt fulfillment.
Printfection is a newer print-on-demand site. They are quickly gaining ground on CP, especially since "the great CP exodus of 2009" They are the
number two site for print on demand t-shirts sells. The site allows you to sell t-shirts online by adding your own designs to products. You create
an online store and make profits over the company set base prices. They have a great marketplace. You can rotate the designs on the shirts.
They do need to make the tools for the user more user-friendly, but it's still ok. Though it is new, it's a great up and comer and shows promise.
Spreadshirt is the 2nd best alternative currently available to those wanting to sell t-shirts online. Spreadshirts is the second largest direct to
print site on the web. One advantage to Spreadshirt is that you can sell your own designs or you can choose to sell stock designs. Once you
upload or choose the designs you wish to sell, just choose your mark up and you are ready to start selling t-shirts. Startup is free with a basic
shop you can choose a premium shop for around $5 a month. You do have larger print areas on your shirts and placing the image is really easy
with many more options than with CP. Currently, they don't have a good marketplace to help you sell your designs. They are improving though.
They are a great site for larger businesses who want to buy in bulk and they are the best CP alternative in Europe.
Zazzle is probably the forth largest site where you can sell t-shirts online. Their site allows you to create products to sell using your own images
or sell items with user contributed images. Zazzle is a community based site, which is very nice. The only big disadvantages to Zazzle that you
can't currently print on black t-shirts and their is a low return on sales.
This is the newest site that allows you to work from home selling t-shirts. They offer a low base price and they also offer a market place to help
you drive in sells. Although they are fairly new they also show promise. They will be a site to keep an eye out for in the future.
What do I need to sell t-shirts online?
First, and foremost, you need creativity and imagination. Hope is another good thing. You also must have determination and a strong will to
succeed. You need to have thick skin and the ability to take an criticism in a constructive way. (Yes, you will have those who criticize you.) Those
are all traits that are needed by the person who are wanting to sell t-shirts online. One trait that is maybe the most important is patience. Selling
t-shirts online is no get rich thing.
Other things needed are a good computer, good Internet access, and the available time to invest in your new business. I would suggest a
domain name of your own and a premium shop also.
That is all the startup you need.
Can you make money selling t-shirts online. Can you work from home? Can you be your own boss. YES! YES! YES! Is it easy? YES! Does it require
a lot of work? YES. Selling t-shirts online is no get rich quick scheme. Heck, you will most likely never get filthy rich doing it. You can, however, make extra
spending money easily and have a good time. You could make a good living at selling t-shirts if you wanted too. It is entirely left up to you, your wants, your
needs, and your dreams.
Robin S. Goff
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2009
Since originally writing this article back in 2006, a few things have changed in the T-shirt Selling Biz. CaféPress has made several moves to which I really don't
- They have started charging extra to put images on both side of a T-shirt, Before, you could put a image on both sides and it cost nothing extra. This left
us shopkeepers with three options. We could either charge more for our shirts in order to make the same profit, charge the same but lose a little in
profit, or do as I did, and only choose a single image on a single side of a t-shirts.
- They did away with their affiliate plan (costing TshirtManiacs approximately 20% of our monthly income).
- They raised some prices (not much of an impact on income).
- They have changed all the rules on how items are shown and sold in their marketplace (that cost us another 20% of income).
- Shopekeepers no longer control the selling price of items in the marketplace. This means that they make a better profit off of all items sold through the
- They no longer provide a link to our stores from our own products that they list in the marketplace; this is because if they can sell items in the
marketplace, they make a better profit than if a customer follows a link to our shop and buys it there. The affect is less traffic to our shops, higher profit
for them, less for us, and we now have to compete directly with them.
All the print-on-demand sites have wonderful tutorials, suggestions, and guidelines on how to make the most of your designs. Such tutorials as "How to design for dark shirts" is a
great place to start learning how to make the best design. Your really want to make the best, most professional looking designs as possible. After all, it is the design that sell your
t-shirts. In other words, the design is what makes you money. To make good designs, you are going to need a good imaging software. Personally, I use Adobe's Photoshop.
Selling Web Space
Selling Web space, or adding advertisement is another wonderful way of making money on the Internet. For some people, selling ad space is where the real money is made. This is
a great way to add extra income to your t-shirt website.
If you are looking to increase your websites revenue, then selling ad space on your site is a perfect way. Personally, I use AdBrite. With AdBrite, you decide on the ad format, then you
name your price, and you can approve or reject all ads. AdBrite is the perfect place to make a little extra money from your site.
In addition to AdBrite, there are many other site that allow you to sell ad space. Most of these sites sell ads on a pay-per-click or pay-per-impression basis. This means you make
money if someone clicks an ad with PPC or each time a new visitor views an ad with PPI.
Besides just selling advertising space, you can place ads for commission. If someone links to that site from your site, and they buy something, you get a commission off of that sale.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2008
There are good times and bad times in all businesses. Selling T-shirts, or any Internet based item for that matter, is no exception. With the down-turn of the
economy in 2008, selling has become difficult. May businesses as well as private citizens have fell victim to the recession. Many have loss jobs or are currently
in threat of loss. These hard times are getting harder and have no signs of letting up anytime soon. Because of this economic collapse, consumers have
slowed down their spending. This is especially evident with private Internet based business. TshirtManiacs is proud to still be surviving during these hard
times, but we are no different than any other business. Our profits for the last half of 2008 are down roughly 50%. So, what this means to the potential new
t-shirt business owner is this; Start-up will be slow...slower than normal, sales will be further in between, frankly the begins will be discouraging. So, all I can
offer at this time is this... Hang in there and don't give up. Things will get better. For now, don't worry or focus on making money or sales. Keep your day job.
Right now, focus on getting your designs perfected. Take the time to search the web to see what's popular. Work on search engine optimization. Work on all
the things that will help drive traffic to your shop or website. If you do this now, when the economy does turn around and traffic starts to convert to sells, your
site will be ready. If you are just starting out, this is the perfect time to experiment and perfect. Even without the slow economy, selling starts slow. So, take
advantage of this time, it will pay off later on.
Other Ways To Make Money With You Site
UPDATE APRIL 2009
Beginning April 22, 2009 CP has implemented some changes to its marketplace. While it's too early to see how these changes will affect t-shirt sells, it is
almost for sure that it will. Searches done on the market place will change in April. These changes may move some of your uploaded designs to the forefront
of the search results, but on the other hand, it may move your designs down. They say that popular designs will be close to the top of the search, while less
popular designs will be lower in the ranks. While this seems fine on the surface, my personal concern is this; How does a design become popular? If the
current popular designs are on the top of the search how does a less popular or new design become popular. Research shows that most people don't look
beyond the first few search page results. These means that the items that are ranked high will most likely stay ranked high and the new or low ranked designs
are likely to stay low ranked. If you have a design on search page 50, what's the likelihood that someone will ever see that design? Therefore, that design will
most like stay that low. If your design is ranked on the first few pages, more people sees it and buys it, thus it will stay high ranked. Now whether or not the new
market search actually works out his way is yet to be seen, but it will need to be monitored. My second concern with CP's recent announced changes are
related to it's change in markup that begins in June. Beginning June 1st, they’ll start setting prices in the Marketplace, and Shopkeepers will receive a 10%
commission off the final retail prices from all Marketplace sales. This 10% is less of a markup than most shopkeepers currently charge. This means less profit
for shopkeepers and more profit for CP. I really am not fond of this idea. Now this price change does not affect products sold directly from your shop, only on
the items sold using a search in the marketplace. Again, this is something to monitor. 10% is less than what most of us charge, but it would be less of a
problem if these new changes actually make us sell more products. We could afford less profit if more products are sold. I am just pessimistic about this
happening. I guess we'll wait and see. I can say that I have again looked into some of Cp's competitors, and to me CP is still in the forefront of direct-to-print t-
shirt sells. Though, the competition is catching up. I'll keep you posted on any changes.
UPDATE AUGUST 2010
Since the last update things have stayed relatively the same on some aspects. Selling is doing better, a sign that perhaps the economy may be picking up.
Also, TshirtManiacs is back to profiting at the level prior to the changes talked about in the November 2009 update. It's difficult to tell for sure if CaféPress'
changes had any lasting affect or if sales are just recovering. I can say, however, that we are selling about the same number of shirts monthly with less page
hits. This means that site visitors are more likely to buy today than before. We'll be watching things closely ans seeing what transpires.