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1. Why sell shirts on Etsy

How to sell shirts on Etsy: 2024 guide

Updated Jan 15 2024

Creative ideas can easily turn into dollar signs with platforms like Etsy. The popular marketplace connects more than 81.9 million buyers globally with unique products from artists and creators like you.

As one of the hottest ecommerce platforms, Etsy is an ideal place to turn your t-shirt design ideas into a profitable business venture. You can create your online store, upload your products, and start selling t-shirts in minutes.

The revenue for t-shirt sales in 2024 is roughly $45.52 billion, and the market is growing by more than 3% each year. Selling on Etsy gives you a chance to have a piece of the pie.

This guide offers the information you need to successfully create your brand, design your shirts, find your print on demand supplier, and set up an Etsy shop. Whether you're seeking a side hustle or a hopeful means of quitting your day job, selling t-shirts on Etsy might help you get there.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Determining your brand identity and target audience is essential to creating a successful Etsy business model.

  • Selling shirts on Etsy can be profitable for small businesses as it offers a vast platform of engaged audiences, customizable shops, and a straightforward setup process. 

  • A print on demand (POD) production partner is an easy and risk-free way to turn your ideas into best-selling t-shirts.

  • Choosing comfortable, stylish printed t-shirts and unique designs will set your brand apart.

  • Selling merchandise on Etsy is an easy and convenient way to profit.

Why sell shirts on Etsy?

If you own a small business, selling shirts on Etsy can be quite rewarding for you. With strategic planning, you can tap into the platform's vast community of 95.1 million active buyers who seek personalized products.

Etsy's user-friendly interface is another factor that makes selling shirts on this platform a preferred choice for many sellers. With customizable shop layouts, product listings, and marketing tools, the platform allows sellers to tailor their storefronts to reflect their brand identity and offer customers a more authentic experience.

Etsy is a growing ecommerce marketplace that attracts millions of high-intent buyers looking for custom products, so it serves as a supportive platform for online sellers willing to showcase, promote, and sell custom t-shirts. Moreover, setting up an Etsy account is simple, with various free resources to refer to. So, as an Etsy shop owner, when you sell shirts on the platform, in partnership with a print on demand platform like Gelato, you can efficiently run and manage your custom t-shirt shop without worrying about spending time and money on managing inventory and marketing as you will have all the tools to support your venture.

How to sell t-shirts on Etsy (step-by-step)

Your dream of creating a successful online t-shirt stop is just a few steps away. Like starting any business, selling t-shirts on Etsy requires market research, building a brand, and creating unique, high-quality products. Learn how to do all of this and more here.

1. Choose a niche for your Etsy store

A niche is a specialized segment of the market. In this case, it's the t-shirt market on Etsy. Choosing the right niche can improve your business's chance of success.

Ideally, your company's niche will combine your interests and skills and what's most popular right now. A niche related to your passions and skills will help maintain your interest in your business, even when inevitable challenges arise.

Google Trends is an invaluable source that helps you identify what potential buyers are searching for online. You can see which t-shirt topics are trending in your city, subregion, country, and worldwide. This can help you choose a popular niche that is also within your range of interest.

A quick search on Etsy for your niche, such as "retro t-shirts" or "trendy animal shirts," can also help you determine which items are most popular on the site right now. Social media trends can also be useful in determining what's popular among specific audiences.

The right niche, creative ideas, and passion for your project can take your Etsy store to the top. The following are a few examples of niches for Etsy t-shirts:

  • Retro t-shirts

  • Unique foods (illustrations, national dishes, etc.)

  • Animals (illustrations, portraits, etc.)

  • Humor (jokes, memes)

  • Travel designs

  • Awareness and social causes

  • Personalized shirts for holidays

2. Understand your target audience

Understand your target audience

Your target audience is the group of buyers that are interested in your company's niche. Different audiences have varying shopping habits, buying patterns, and interests. Your target audience may be defined by their age, gender, location, political views, and various other factors.

The same tool you used to find your niche, Google Trends, can help you determine your target audience. Trends offer data regarding keyword searches, such as the demographics and locations of the searchers.

This can help you determine the types of t-shirts you create, where to advertise your products, and more.

3. Build a brand identity

Your brand identity is your company's personality, mission, and what sets it apart from the competition. It includes your company name, tagline, logo, and voice, conveying your brand's personality and beliefs. The goal is to create a brand identity that sets you apart from other Etsy sellers and is memorable for your customers.

Etsy is a competitive marketplace, so your brand needs to stand out. Choose brand colors that evoke the feelings you want your customer to experience and a memorable logo. The following are a few critical elements of an excellent logo:

  • Timeless (not just trendy): The logo and entire brand identity should be able to stand the test of time.

  • Simple: An uncluttered logo is easier to decipher and remember when coming back to make additional purchases or recommending the brand to a friend.

  • Communicative: The logo should convey the personality of your brand. Is your brand bright and energetic? Edgy? Sophisticated? Let your logo serve as an introduction.

Think about how your brand would communicate if it was a person, and try to convey that through your tagline, logo, and product descriptions. The brand identity and voice should remain consistent across all platforms, especially in your Etsy store.

4. Set up an Etsy storefront

Set up an Etsy storefront

Setting up and customizing your storefront to sell on Etsy is easy. The first step is to create an Etsy account. Then, head over to Etsy.com/sell and select the option to "Get started."

You'll answer a series of questions about your products and business experience and select a currency, language, and home country. Enter your Etsy shop name, then set up your payment and billing information. In a few minutes, your shop can be open for business.

Creating your storefront is the next step in making your Etsy shop unique and drawing in customers. You can choose your shop colors, upload a banner and logo, welcome your customers, and share information about your brand.

The goal is to create a simple yet memorable storefront that attracts customers but doesn't distract them from shopping.

5. Choose a print on demand supplier

A print on demand service is a cost-effective way to sell shirts on Etsy without inventory. However, choosing the right supplier is essential to selling top-quality products.

Select a POD supplier that offers a wide selection of top-quality t-shirts at competitive pricing. You'll also want to factor in the shipping rates, timelines, and locations to reach the most comprehensive customer base possible. Socially conscious buyers also seek companies that offer sustainable products.

Gelato is an unrivaled print on demand company with expertise in t-shirt production. They offer the highest quality products, unbeatable customer service, and local production. That means more sustainable products and making a positive impact on local economies.

6. Select your shirts

Select your shirts

Once you've created your Etsy shop and found a POD provider that checks all the boxes, it's time to select your shirts. You'll want to consider several factors when choosing comfortable, quality shirts for your buyers.

Fabric

The fabric you choose can make or break your t-shirt business. Fabrics may be natural or synthetic. Polyester is a highly popular, petroleum-based t-shirt material that is lightweight, moisture-wicking, durable, and easy to wash.

Cotton is the world's most popular natural fabric. It is known for its comfort, breathability, durability, and sustainability, as it is biodegradable. The ink POD companies use sets into cotton fibers well, making your designs and colors pop.

Organic cotton is an even more eco-conscious material that offers the benefits of traditional cotton and appeals to environmentally-minded consumers. It is naturally grown, non-GMO, and produced in a way that benefits the environment. The result is a superior quality of life for farmers, their communities, and the consumers using the product.

The Gelato Organic Unisex Crewneck T-shirt is a favorite among the company's buyers.

Weight

Consider who will wear your shirts and where they live. The lightweight and moisture-wicking qualities of polyester are preferable activewear. Heavier shirts, like Gelato's Heavyweight Unisex Crewneck T-shirt, are ideal for casual wear and cold environments.

Fit

Choose the fit (or fits) that best suit your brand and its identity. Most POD suppliers will offer relaxed, regular, and slim-fit shirts.

Cut

Gelato offers a wide selection of cuts to suit different audiences and trends. You'll find crewneck shirts, ringers, v-necks, crop tops, and more. Looking for a comfortable and stylish traditional crew neck shirt? The Gelato Premium Unisex Crewneck T-shirt is a classic favorite.

7. Design your shirts

It's finally time for the artist's favorite step in creating an Etsy shop: flexing your artistic muscle to create designs. Gelato makes creating custom t-shirt designs easy, whether you sketch your designs, hire a graphic designer, or use Gelato's Design Editor.

Simplicity is an integral factor in t-shirt design for most niches. Use just one or two fonts and ensure designs are easily read and deciphered. Keep colors and design elements minimal so the shirt doesn't appear cluttered. Of course, always keep your target audience at the forefront of your design process.

A quality POD supplier like Gelato allows you to order shirt samples to tweak the design or fabric before listing the product for sale. Always take high-resolution photos of the samples to post in your Etsy store.

8. Price your shirts

Price your shirts

Pricing may not be the most exciting part of starting your new Etsy t-shirt stop, but it's one of the most essential. Consider all the expenses associated with your product, including the pricing from your print on demand supplier, material costs, shipping fees, and more.

Choose the profit margin you want to achieve and price your items accordingly. Search similar Etsy sellers and products to determine the average price for similar offerings. Prices drastically higher than the competition may turn potential customers away.

Remember that your prices are not locked in, and you can adjust them with fluctuations in customer interest, supplier pricing, shipping costs, and other factors. Consider offering discounts for bundled items or occasional sales to boost profits.

9. Establish and promote your Etsy shop

With your t-shirt samples ready, it's time to set up your Etsy shop. Create product listings with high-definition photos and detailed descriptions, including relevant keywords in titles. Mention important details, such as the t-shirt fabric, design specifics, and sustainability practices.

To promote the shop, use social media platforms and Etsy Ads as cost-effective marketing channels.Etsy SEO

For many Etsy sellers, achieving success with their shops largely depends on attracting a significant customer base through search traffic. Search algorithms can effectively give you visibility, especially when you're just starting to sell t-shirts. Strategically utilizing keywords in your listings' titles, descriptions, tags, categories, and attributes can boost Etsy SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. Understanding popular search queries is crucial to ensure your listings appear at the top of search results. Go through the Etsy search bar suggestions and the related items section to learn about searchers' preferences. You can also leverage keyword research tools for relevant insights.

In addition to optimizing product listings, try enhancing your visibility by obtaining incoming links from high-traffic websites. To do this, promote your listings on popular blogs and social media platforms.

Etsy offsite ads

Besides optimizing product listings to boost your visibility on Etsy, promoting your products beyond the platform to increase traffic to your Etsy shop can also be beneficial. Use paid offsite ads on Google, Facebook, and Instagram to extend your reach, engage new audiences, and expand your customer base. Offsite ads target users who are not part of the Etsy community but could be interested in your offerings.

Many sellers promoting their bestselling shirts have proven organic success on Etsy. This way, they can showcase shirts with high-quality scores and maximum views per ad. In terms of costs, you only pay advertising fees when there's a sale. Etsy charges 12-15% of the sale price from transactions resulting from ads. While all sellers pay a 15% ad fee, those who make over $10,000 pay only 12%.

Social media

When it comes to a brand's digital success, social media is a power to reckon with! Harnessing the extensive reach of social media platforms to promote your Etsy shop can be a game-changer as it can help boost your brand visibility and form a connection with your target audience to drive sales.

Popular platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are the creative outlets fashion entrepreneurs need to showcase their t-shirts and engage potential audiences with compelling posts. Striking product photos and short videos can help capture buyers' interest like a traditional website cannot. And because these platforms have features such as 'Like,' 'Share,' and 'Comment,' you can gauge how your offerings are being received – in real time.

Tips for creating a competitive Etsy t-shirt business

The Etsy marketplace is competitive. You must set your brand apart from the thousands of other Etsy sellers to increase popularity and profits.

Ensure your designs are unique

Create and sell designs that are unique to your brand.

Provide outstanding customer service

Excellent customer service is a key element of every successful business. A few elements of great customer service include:

  • A friendly attitude and positive language

  • Understanding all details of your product

  • Actively listening and problem-solving

  • Empathy and adaptability

  • Honest communication and speedy response times

Sell other products

When you have a great design idea, you can turn it into more than t-shirts. A print on demand supplier like Gelato offers numerous other products consumers who love your design may want. Consider upping your profits by expanding to other best-selling items, like hoodies, phone cases, wall art, or tote bags.

Start selling shirts on Etsy with Gelato

Creating an Etsy account and starting your t-shirt business is as simple as it sounds, especially with Gelato's Etsy integration. Gelato's worldwide network of local production hubs makes turning your designs into a profitable business more convenient than ever.

Forget about maintaining a costly supply inventory by paying only for what you sell. Start selling t-shirts on Etsy with Gelato now.

Selling shirts on Etsy FAQs

Can you really make money selling shirts on Etsy?

The average successful Etsy seller makes between $43,000 and $46,000 annually. With a quality print on demand supplier, you can receive excellent prices on high-quality shirts featuring your custom design.

How much does it cost to sell shirts on Etsy?

Etsy fees include a $0.20 listing fee and a 6.5% transaction fee on all sales.

How to start selling merch on Etsy?

Selling t-shirts and other merchandise on Etsy doesn't require a business degree or a brick-and-mortar storefront. With a unique idea, research into your niche and target market, and a quality print on demand provider, you can easily turn your creative design into a profitable Etsy t-shirt shop.

How to be successful selling shirts on Etsy?

Offering uniquely designed shirts that reflect your brand identity and providing excellent customer support service can help your brand stand out from others in a crowded marketplace like Etsy. Make sure you choose a niche and understand your target market well before setting up an Etsy shop and designing shirts. When you know your audience and their buying patterns, you can price your products accordingly and easily make sales.

What are the rules for selling clothes on Etsy?

You must conform to Etsy's Seller Policy for selling clothes on their platform. Under this policy, you can only sell pre-owned and vintage clothes and personalized clothing. Your shop must have an honest representation (showcasing clothes as they are; no tweaking of pictures) and comply with Etsy's policies. You must offer prompt customer support, handle feedback and reported issues responsibly, and handle all user data securely. For more details, you can refer to the Seller Policy page on Etsy's website.

Is it easy to sell shirts on Etsy?

Not particularly. Selling shirts on Etsy is similar to selling shirts on any other platform. Along with setting up an attractive storefront and marketing your offerings, you need to be proactive about answering customers' questions, optimizing listings, and, most importantly, updating your offerings from time to time. Remember, to stay relevant and generate sales consistently, your collection must reflect the current shirt trends.

How to create t-shirts to sell on Etsy?

To create custom t-shirts that align with your brand and Etsy customers, using a print on demand platform like Gelato can be beneficial. With our cutting-edge customization tools and an easy-to-use design maker, you can tailor your offerings to your target audience's preferences. You can upload your designs, hire a designer to create designs or use the online editor to create your bespoke t-shirt collection. 

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