How To Outsource T-Shirt Designs

How To Outsource T-Shirt Designs The Right Way (+ Mistakes To Avoid)

Last Updated: March 22, 2017

With the increasing growth in the Print-On-Demand T-Shirt industry – and platforms like Merch By Amazon – demand has increased for cheap and easy T-Shirt designs.

This has flooded the market with designers offering T-Shirt artwork at very low prices (eg. from $5 per design through sites like Fiverr) – which can appear very tempting for newcomers looking to get a lot of designs for as low a price as possible.

And although what constitutes a ‘quality’ design is subjective, there are a lot of ways in which cheap designs can be a liability, rather than an asset.

In this article I’m going to give a few tips on finding a good designer, what to beware of, and how to approach the outsourcing of your designs to help build a long-term and sustainable business.

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Increasing T-Shirt Design Output

5 Lessons From Increasing Design Output (And Why It Matters)

Last Updated: March 9, 2017

December 2016 was my best month ever for T-Shirt sales and income.

It blew everything up to that point out of the water.

But – if I’m honest – I was somehow a little disappointed, and felt it could have been better.

Why?

Because the total number of design available on my single biggest sales channel (Merch By Amazon) was significantly diminished throughout November and December (through a combination of Amazon’s introduction of the new 60-day-rule, plus a crackdown on designs that violated Amazon’s design policies).

(I explain a little more about that in my 2016 T-Shirt Income Review article.)

In other words, a lot of potential sales were lost because the number of designs I had available (on Amazon at least) dropped significantly.

Now, there’s little I could have done to protect myself against the 60-day-rule (any design that doesn’t sell in the first 60 days gets removed). Some designs sell, others don’t – and it’s very hard to predict this accurately ahead of time.

And there’s somewhat more I could have done to protect myself from the clean-up on potentially policy-violating designs – for example: staying away from controversial topics and potentially offensive jokes.

But the single biggest reason that I didn’t make more in December is this:

I didn’t have enough designs!

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Selling T-Shirts on Amazon Seller Central With Shopify

Selling T-Shirts on Seller Central with Shopify: Part 2 (Overcoming Headaches)

Last Updated: February 10, 2017

Last week we took a look at how to sell T-Shirts on Amazon Seller Central.

If you aren’t familiar with Seller Central – or the difference between Seller Central and a platform like Merch By Amazon – then go back and read last week’s blog for a detailed run through.

In short though: Seller Central has some distinct advantages over a platform like Merch – and thanks to the new Shopify integration with Amazon, we can effectively sell T-Shirts on auto-pilot.

But – the whole Shopify -> Amazon integration is still pretty buggy, and we ran into some annoying obstacles.

The good news is that I’ve (pretty much) figured out the issues, and now have a system in place that works as intended.

Read on for the nitty gritty…

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Selling T-Shirts On Amazon Merch vs. Seller Central – Pros & Cons (& Headaches)

Last Updated: February 10, 2017

Update! A lot of the issues discussed in this post have since been resolved, please see this blog post for an updated version.

Let’s talk about Amazon!

When it comes to selling T-Shirts on Amazon, you have a couple of options.

1) Merch By Amazon. You upload artwork – and Amazon prints and ships the T-Shirts for you – paying you a percentage of each sale made.

2) Amazon Seller Central. You sell Shirts directly to customers via Amazon, and are responsible for the printing and shipping. You can use a T-Shirt Fulfillment company to handle this for you, and you simply manage the process. You receive the gross value of each sale (minus fees), so your profit is the difference between your sale price (plus shipping) and the cost of printing and shipping that shirt to the customer.

Selling T-Shirts Merch Amazon vs Seller Central

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Selling T-Shirts On Instagram: 3 Marketing Tips

Last Updated: January 31, 2017

If you’ve been reading my blog for anytime at all, then you’ll know my main source of income – and what I write about most often – is selling T-Shirts through print-on-demand platforms like Merch By Amazon and Redbubble.

Almost all of those sales come organically.

That means I don’t do much ‘direct’ marketing of my own, and I do almost no paid-marketing (i.e. Advertising).

Well, that is beginning to change.

I’ve been playing around with Shopify for a few months now, and am beginning to see some success using paid traffic via Instagram – specifically by reaching out to popular, relevant accounts and paying them for sponsored posts.

The income from my Shopify store is not about to replace that from my print-on-demand sites (it’s only brought in about $2k/month for the past 3 months), but it’s been a nice additional income stream, and it comes with the added bonus of a direct relationship with my customers, and the chance to re-market to them over and over again in the future.

This post is by no means comprehensive – and I’m no expert in this area – but I have picked up few tips that I think will help anyone who is looking to take things in a similar direction (ie. – your own brand store + paid traffic or direct marketing).

But beware – you will need to drop some cash to make this work.

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Branding T-Shirts online

Brands and Branding while Selling T-Shirts Online: Your Questions Answered

Last Updated: January 20, 2017

When it comes to selling T-Shirt online, branding is one of the things you’ll wrestle with sooner or later.

  • Should you have one T-Shirt ‘brand’ for all your designs – or several?
  • Should you keep your brand identity specific to a single niche, or broad and general to appeal to as many people as possible?
  • Should you brand yourself as an individual artist / designer, or as a business / company?

These are questions I get asked a lot, so I thought I’d delve into some of the various considerations here…

(and that way I don’t have to personally reply to a bunch of emails individually in the future – I can just send people this link 🙂 )

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T-Shirt Income Review 2016

2016 Year In Review [$100k Profit, Channel Breakdown and 2017 Plans]

Last Updated: February 8, 2017

2016 is over – so it’s time for a review post.

This isn’t going to be a particularly long or exhaustive article – more of a brain dump. I just want to share my raw numbers and pull out some major headlines, plus explain my thinking and plans for 2017.

2016 was a big year for me.

In 2016 I…

  • left my full-time job to go full-time on T-Shirts
  • started this blog, alongside an email newsletter and a Facebook group (secret, message me if you want in 😛 )
  • wrote a book called How To Sell More Shirts! and released it for free (updated, non-free version is coming soon)
  • designed at least 300 T-Shirts
  • made a lot of new friends 🙂
  • was interviewed for two podcasts (here and here)
  • and the big one…brought in over $100k in T-Shirt profits (not just revenue).

How did I do it?

Read on my fellow T-Shirt traveller…

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5 Mistakes To Avoid When Selling T-Shirts Online

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Selling T-Shirts Online

Last Updated: December 22, 2016

I’ve been selling T-Shirts online for 3+ years, and have made a lot of mistakes along the way.

Thankfully I’ve learnt from those mistakes, and now I make a decent living from my T-Shirt designs.

If you want to make a good income from selling T-Shirts online (and believe me, it is possible to do so – and has never been easier) – then you’ll want to avoid these mistakes.


But first I want to get a few things straight:

  • I am not talking here about how to make money from starting your own T-Shirt ‘brand’ – for example setting up your own T-Shirt store on Shopify or similar. (I do have a shopify site, but the majority of my income comes in the form of royalties from print-on-demand sites such as Merch By Amazon, Redbubble, Teepublic and others). If you want to start your own site and deal with customers directly – then you will still get something from these tips, but that is not the type of T-Shirt income I’m discussing primarily.
  • I’m talking here about how to make money from T-Shirt designs – not about how to design them, or how to make the best T-shirt design the world has ever seen. Design is obviously important when you want to design T-Shirts that will sell – but I’m not giving photoshop tips and tricks in this article. Rather I’m telling you the principles you need to make decent money from your work.

So with that out of the way, let’s get into the 5 mistakes you should avoid…

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Why You Should Start Building Your Own T-Shirt Brand Today

Last Updated: December 15, 2016

Merch By Amazon started a serious crackdown on policy-violating designs and sellers in the past few weeks, and it’s made everyone a little bit jumpy (me included).

I love Merch By Amazon – it’s responsible for about 70% of my current income, and the system Amazon has put together is slick and easy to use. It’s a god-send for independent designers like myself, and for all it’s issues (it’s still only a year old remember) it is still an incredible platform and opportunity for those who can, and will, use it right.

But Merch is ultimately just another vehicle for taking the ideas from my head, and putting it into the hands of a customer, in the form of a T-Shirt.

And it isn’t the only vehicle available for doing this.

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Copycats Merch By Amazon

Stolen Designs? How To Deal With Copycats On Merch By Amazon

Last Updated: December 7, 2016

Copycats are a part of life for creative individuals, and this is especially true in the online T-Shirt market.

What is a copycat? Put simply it is anyone who steals your design and uses it without your permission – where no income from the sales would ever make its way to you. 🙁

The same technology and developments that have made it easy for individuals like myself to make money from T-Shirts online (Print-on-demand sites, easy to use graphic design software etc.) – have also made it easy for those who don’t know – or don’t care – about the concepts of Copyright or Intellectual Property.

I have been dealing with Copycats of my work for the past 3 years, across various sites (Etsy, Redbubble, Teepublic) – but the platform with the biggest copycat problem right now is Merch By Amazon.

This is no surprise, given the size and lucrative nature of Amazon and in particular Merch to generate sales. And Amazon is beginning to deal with this problem – making advances against the copycat scourge daily.

Having said that, it’s not a problem that is likely to go away anytime soon. And when copycats have a real-world impact on your sales and income, it’s hard to just ignore them.

Copycats on the internet may be a ‘fact of life’ – but it helps to have techniques and tactics with which we can mitigate their impact on our sales.

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