Can I Make Money Selling Tee Shirts? (Part One)

Everyone is doing it

This is going to chronicle the journey through setting up a Tee Shirt store, and selling tee shirts.  There are a million shirt stores online. We’ve all seen it. Scrolling through your social media feeds, you’ll likely come across an ad, with a funny saying or supporting your favorite sports team or musical act. They are everywhere. With printing technologies advancing and POD (Print on Demand) it’s now easier than ever for anyone to start selling shirts online. There no longer is a need to go through laborious, and costly setup, or printing minimum quantities. We don’t have to deal with storing, order taking, and shipping. There are ways to have all the ordering, and fulfillment easily, and cost effectively, handled by a third party!

Amazon will handle all the printing and fulfillment from a production standpoint, you only need worry about the design

First, I attempted to try this a year or so ago. I thought to myself, “Can I make money selling t-shirts?” I’ve always thought of things, and tell myself, ”That would be great if it were on a t-shirt!” I had heard about using a Merch account through Amazon. This is where you have Amazon will handle all the printing and fulfillment from a production standpoint, and you only need to worry about the design.

There is an approval process that takes place after you apply for the Merch account, and after about two weeks my account was approved.  I tossed up a couple designs, that also have to go through approval. They try and ensure you aren’t violate any copyright or trademark laws.  They do encourage you to make sure you aren’t prior uploading any designs. Amazon has templates to download with instructions on how to save or export your artwork. I downloaded the Adobe Illustrator template with samples of T-shirt styles, colors, and artwork image and non-printing zones.  I created a few pieces of artwork, and uploads for approval.  After few days, one of my shirt designs was DENIED!! What the heck! 

Be Flexible, and Try Different Things

I had a shirt years and years ago.  It was a simple shirt with some text on it. I can’t find it anywhere.  So, I’m going to attempt to do this through my current T-Shirt store. But basically Amazon said I couldn’t use the word on a shirt because of trademark. Like just a word.  Ugh!

A couple of my shirt designs were approved.  One was one that I came up with when I heard a friend and colleague in a meeting state that he was “a dial-up survivor”  I thought that was funny so tossed together a design and within a couple days it available for sale at Amazon.  I’ve sold a handful of this design, and its fun and just for kicks. So far,  yeah…i’m not going to make any money selling shirts on Amazon.  Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been marketing, advertising or leveraging any SEO to get these shirts in front of eyeballs. 

Let’s fast forward to just a few weeks ago, I had an idea for a design after the state of current events.  The news had all these stories of civil unrest, and being that I’m just outside the Minneapolis area, it was hitting very close to home when there were riots, buildings burning down, and local stores being looted.   I felt that we needed to do more, in addition to being non-racist, we needed to stand against racism.  I’m also devoted Metalhead… so I thought we’d rally together as a heavy metal community and I came up with a design Metal Against Racism.

The Store is Born Using Shopify

I had attempted to get these up on my Amazon Merch account straight away! However…there was a snag in my plan. Amazon Merch fulfillment was slowly re-opening after the covid-19 Crisis.  This meant that it was still unavailable in the USA! WHHAATT?! Okay… after another several days of wondering what I should do, and Amazon Merch fulfillment still not operating in the states, I decided to review a store front I had parked several years ago, and hadn’t done anything with.  Heavy-shirts.com 

I Started looking and how to operate, and fulfill Print On Demand T-Shirts via Shopify. There are many providers that offer tight integration with Shopify. I chose Printify who prints, and ships my designs with a ton of garment options.  I have the first couple designs, up and running on my Shopify store/site. I’ve had a handful of orders in addition to my own orders. I wanted to not only get sample shirts to checkout the quality, but know the ordering process and experience for me and my customers.  I received the my samples, and was satisfied with the quality.  So now I felt confident in letting the world know I had my shirt store up and running. 

As we move into the next posts – I’ll talk about my experiences and learnings about advertising, marketing and how to increase traffic and sales on my new Shopify store! 

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