What Is The Best Way To Sell Custom T-Shirts?

Sell Custom T-Shirts


Ordering custom shirts with your logo or design is a great way to get your brand out there and grow your business or following. It’s an investment that always pays off, especially when you know how or even where to sell them.
It’s important to know your customer base and what avenue is going to give you the best return on your dollar. Here are common and successful ways to sell your newly ordered custom t-shirts.


Merch Made Easy

Festivals and Events

One of the absolute best places to sell tees is at festivals and music events. Musical festivals, art festivals, live music events and concerts have a great reputation for being a lucrative market to sell merch. Here’s why:

  1. These are events that people want to remember. Buying a t-shirt gives people something to memorialize their experience forever. 
  2. People often have cash or a disposable amount of money they are willing to spend at the event. This often includes a budget for a cool shirt or apparel item. This makes it an easy decision to purchase your custom shirts, because they’ve already planned to.
  3. Often times, people at events want to buy a shirt and wear it right then, at the event. When you have shirts available, with a great design and appeal, customers will buy and even wear them which, in turn, is a walking advertisement for you to sell more shirts. 

Now that we’ve established why its a good idea to sell t-shirts at festivals and events, let’s talk about how:

  1. The most important part of how to sell shirts at festivals/events is choosing the best scenario that appeals to your fanbase. Ask yourself who your customer is and decide to invest on putting yourself in front of the most amount of people that would be interested in the style of t-shirt you’re selling. For example, if you are selling shirts as a musician or with your band name, obviously the best place to sell your shirts is at a music festival. But if you’ve just started a clothing line and have an epic new set of custom shirts that appeal to the artistic crowd, an art show or festival is going to be the best avenue for you to sell.
  2. Setup is everything. The biggest part of selling is getting the consumer to look at your product in the first place. Setup a booth and make sure your brand is obvious and eye-catching. Your table needs to be organized and easy to navigate, and having a wide variety of merch is always a good way to sell more. Make prices easy to find and offer deals if costumers buy more than one item. 
  3. Understand that the first time you sell at a festival or event is probably going to be the most expensive. It takes a lot of money and work to make your first initial setup happen. Just remember, once you’ve invested in your first event, you can keep selling at future events with less cost. You’ll also have a better idea of what sells and what not to re-order after your first few events. 
Sell Custom T-Shirts

 Online Stores

Online stores are an amazing way to sell your custom t-shirts. Allowing your customers to purchase from the comfort of their own home will never not be a great option. 

There are a lot of ways and avenues to sell online and it’s important to choose the right one to sell to your fanbase. Some online stores allow you to control the look and feel of your shop so that you can better brand while others simply allow you to sell your products on their site. Let’s look through the options and talk about the pros of each one:

  1. Big Cartel, Storenvy, and Etsy are all sites that allow you to have a shop within their site. You can list your shirts there and fulfill orders as they come in. Most of the the sites have a low monthly payment while some have listing fees and others don’t. Big Cartel and Storenvy allow you to customize the look of your online shop and fulfill your own orders while Etsy has less customization abilities. One benefit of using Etsy is their vast reach as far as consumers go. You can reach new customers simply by listing and tagging your items with appropriate terms well. 
  2. Zazzle and Society 6 also allow you to have a shop within their sites. But, these sites do the fulfillment of orders as well. You can add your design to various items within their library of products and list them in your shop. When a customer makes a purchase, Zazzle and Society 6 fulfill the order for you. This can be a huge plus for anyone wanting to stay on the design side of merch, however, the profit margin is much lower in scenarios like this. If you’re looking to make more money in selling your custom t-shirts, investing in buying a larger quantity of screen-printed shirts and fulfilling orders on your own will be the key to a higher profit.
  3. Spreadshirt and Printful are similar to all of the other sites listed above. The biggest difference and asset to using Spreadshirt or Printful is that you have a lot more control over pricing and a lot more product choices. Both of these sites are print on demand services which means they fulfill each order as it comes in. Choosing which one is the best fit for your merch selling will come down to preference. Printful does a nice job of intergrating with wordpress, shopify and etsy, while Spreadshirt has it’s own integration of Spreadshop. The great thing about both of these sites is that you have an almost limitless amount of products to choose from and can do a lot more with your designs as far as placement and size. One issue that may arise in using either of these options is a lack of control in quality control, as well as a very low profit margin. Apparel items on these sites can be very pricey and while you can control what price you list your items at, there is always a limit to what customers are willing to pay. Here is a great comparison between Spreadshirt and Printful that goes into great detail. 

Now that you know some of the best places to set up an online store, let’s talk about the best way to sell your custom t-shirts using this avenue:

  1. Customization is key. Make sure that your online shop speaks to who you are as a brand. Make it as visually appealing as possible list your products in a way that’s easy for customers to navigate. 
  2. Choose products that sell. Do your research and list items in your shop that sell quickly. Custom t-shirts are an easy choice because they are a common staple and can be priced affordably. 
  3. Advertise. Once you’ve got your online shop set up, it’s so important to get your name out in front of people. Being consistent in this key step, can make or break your success. 
  4. If you are choosing a method of selling that requires you to fulfill the orders your customers make, be sure to do so in a timely manner. When consumers get their products in a desirable time frame, they are more likely to leave good feedback and this will always benefit your future success. 

Social Media

Social media can be one of the best places to sell your custom t-shirts. Most of the people that follow you on social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok or Twitter, generally care about you and want to support you. 

Using this to your advantage when you decide to sell custom t-shirts is a smart move. Here are a couple of ideas if this is the route your choose to go:

  1. Make a creative TikTok video with your new shirts. Creating content that sells your shirts doesn’t take a lot of time and if it’s done well, you can potentially go viral whether on a small or large scale. 
  2. Creating an Instagram account with your brand username can be an easy way to gain traffic. Posting several times a week creates consistency and the more you put yourself in front of possible customers, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
  3. Facebook is another great way to sell shirts. Create an interactive page by asking questions and telling your story. Join groups and think about using Facebook Marketplace as another avenue to sell. 
  4. Twitter is another platform that lots of people use to sell. Creating conversations around your products is a great way to build up your brand. The possibility of other users retweeting can have a huge impact on your success as well.

It’s important that if you decide to use social media to sell your shirts, you do it well. The point is to make sales and build a brand, so here are a few pointers to be sure you’re successful:

  1. Make sure your brand or cause has personality. Your opportunity to sell increases when you have a unique standpoint and make consumers feel like they’re buying something that’s special. 
  2. Make it fun! Using social media to sell doesn’t mean you only post sales posts. It’s important to have a good mix of content between posts that are simply relevant to your product or brand as well as posts that are a direct product you are selling. Get creative and let people know who you are. You will sell more when you’re not solely focused on pushing your t-shirts, and are less likely to lose followers if you have balanced content. 
  3. Use as many social media platforms as you can. You never know where someone will find you. When you brand across all platforms, you increase your opportunities to sell and reach a new customer. 
  4. Do a presale if you’re a little nervous to get started. This is a wonderful idea for anyone craving to place their first order of custom t-shirts, but isn’t sure what will sell and what sizes or quantities to order. Design your shirts, research prices and quantities from your favorite screen printer and create mock-ups to share on your social media platforms. Put your feelers out there and take pre-orders. Once everyone has ordered, place your order with Merchcult and fulfill the orders once your receive your shipment. Make sure you always order a little extra as there are always a few stragglers that want shirts after the fact. 

Local Shops

Local shops can be a perfect scenario for people looking to sell custom t-shirts. Small town shops love having diverse content to draw in as many customers as possible. This is an ideal for a new brand because it allows you to place your products in front of consumers with very low overhead. The shop owner can decide whether they would like to pay upfront for the tees, or do a consignment setup where they pay the seller per sale made. 

If this is the route you choose to go, be sure to advertise that your products are being sold in this specific shop. It’s a good idea to do this frequently and keep tabs on your products within the shop. Assess what is selling and what isn’t and be willing to remove product that doesn’t mesh with the overall feel of the store. 

Be respectful of the shop that is allowing you to sell and work hard at a good partnership so that you can continue to sell in the location as your grow your brand. If the shop owner allows, have additional information about other items you sell or other avenues that consumers can purchase your products from. This allows for future sales as well as reaching customers that may like your style but weren’t in a place to buy at that particular moment. 

Friends and Family

Of course, friends and family are a wonderful place to start selling your custom t-shirts. They are probably an easy sale and when they wear your products out and about, they are advertising at no cost to you. 

You can combine this method with many of the others listed above. Sell to your friends and family using social media, an online shop or in person. The support of friends and family is unmatched and a great place to start. 

If you are open to honest feedback, ask your family and friends for just that. Ask them questions like “Would you wear this shirt?” and “Which do you prefer?”. Weigh your options as far as whose perspective you value most and move forward accordingly. It’s important to take any feedback as just that and realize that ultimately you are the creator and voice of your brand. 

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