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

Hello! Last year I asked myself the question… can I make money selling shirts online? I had set up a storefront, with a few designs and waited for the mass of orders to pour in…. Hahaha, yeah right.

Using a Shopify Shop

Obviously, no one even knew my store was there. I mean there is an estimated 24 million e-commerce sites on the web. It’s super easy to find my little storefront, right?! Not hardly.

Using the Shopify Store I had set up, I have a few shirts available for sale. This was at the peak of some of the civil unrest outside of Minneapolis. This was really close to home for me. I mentioned in my earlier post I felt that we needed to do more, in addition to being non-racist, we needed to stand against racism. I’m also a devoted Metalhead… so I thought we’d rally together as a heavy metal community and I came up with a design for Metal Against Racism.

Using Google Ads

Here we go In my first attempt at Google Ads. Keep in mind, I know nothing about online marketing and Google Ads. I signed up for a google ads account and then stared blindly into the screen… hahaha.

Okay….I set up some search words and phrases and then set a budget of how much money I’d like to spend, with a maximum budget per day and per month.

I have discovered some very interesting things. The number of eyeballs that have seen an ad for, or impressions. The number of interactions or how many clicks an ad had people click on them. And lastly would have been “conversion.” The conversion rate, or how many make a purchase based on the click-through from the ad. We didn’t gather the conversion rate data as it involved adding some other Google tracking data to my Shopify site, that I hadn’t configured and didn’t know if I wanted to include google tracking code to the site.

It is amazing the number of clicks the ad received but yet didn’t follow through with the sale. It would be great if we had data on this. What is because of cost? Was it the design? What prevented them from making a purchase, or why did they change their mind?

I ran ads last fall. You can see some of the data from September and October.

In the month of October, the ad was seen over sixteen thousand times based on Google searches. Within those impressions, I had 116 people click on the ad that brought them to and the Specific product, the Metal Against Racism Tee.

How Many Clicks Does It Take?

Of those 116 clicks…. I didn’t have one sale. Not one person actually clicked on the buy button. I’m not sure if I can, or how to see if there were people that had a product in their shopping cart but failed to follow through.

As you can see from this data, I had spent $106.41 on Google Ads averaging around .60 to .80 per click. The math is simple, folks. If you add the cost of Google Ads, the cost of the domain name, and the cost of the Shopify store/hosting. I did NOT make money…..yet.

I know consistency is king. I also know I need to continue, but I want to build a better strategy. I’m unable to afford to drop over $100 per month without ANY sales. There is also ways to run alternative ad types, photo ads, and others.

Let’s fast forward a few more months. I placed few Print-on-Demand products for a podcast that my friend and I do. We had talked about selling stickers and t-shirts promoting the podcast.

Things start to get a little exciting. We begin to tell people on the podcast, that they can click the merch button on our podcasts site

Believe it our not, we had an order come in. Then another, and another.

Since adding The Thrash Report products to the store, we have had a hand full of sales. Most peeps grab a T-Shirt and a Sticker, and the occasional Coffee Mug.

How Much Can You Make?

Since the name of this series is “Can you Make Money Selling T-Shirts” I’ll be transparent and share my profit margin per product.

The Stickers are typically added to every order. These have a margin of about 25% or about .50 per sticker. The cost of these stickers is CRAZY high and I know we can get them printed in bulk for less. However. I don’t need to maintain inventory or fulfill any of the orders. This works best for now.

The Coffee Mug is a little more profit with a margin of 29% or $3.15 per mug.

The T-Shirts are the best item at just over 50% profit, or $8.50 per shirt for those sizes Small through Large. Extra and XXL Shirts are a bit more, and profit drops to the industry average of 30%.

If we are determining if we can make money with a T-Shirt Store Online, we’ll need to break down any of the profit from the products minus the ad costs, and hosting costs. This is going to be tough without compelling designs that people want, without SEO, or marketing the store via ads continually, and at scale. At what point does the cost of Google Ads start to equate to conversions. This is all dependent on the product you are selling, the attractiveness of the ad, and search word analytics

In The Red

Let’s take a closer look. I’m still in the red and I’m working on a plan to keep this store going, and self-sustaining. One thing that is true, is that this is work. In my opinion, there is a lot of work that goes into SEO, marketing, and advertising.

157.98Sales in the past year
115.19Cost of Goods sold
156.40Google Ads
312.00Annual Shopify Subscription
14.00Domain Name

This entire experiment has been a learning process. We are going to continue to add products to the site that fit the niche and demographic of the site. We have some great ideas for some car decals and a few other shirts. The bottom line is I need to work on the system. I’d like to get the system, and process in place to automate as much as I can, and believe we can turn the corner and into profit.

Thanks for following along in this journey, and we’ll continue to see if you can make money with an online store selling t-shirts and now a few accessories.