We all know and love Teespring. They’ve been around for a few years now, revolutionising the t-shirt business and raising over $55 Million in VC funding while at it.
They pretty much single handedly rejuvenated the t-shirt business, allowing anyone to sell tees without the hassle of printing or shipping themselves.
With this new interest in selling t-shirts online, we thought it would be good to put together a comprehensive list of all the best places to sell your T-Shirt designs, some of which you might not have considered. They’ve been grouped by type, and include crowdfunding platforms like Teespring as well as fulfilment houses and marketplaces.
Direct Alternatives to Teespring
In no particular order, here are some alternatives to Teespring, each of which has it’s own advantages and disadvantages.
GearBubble is a crowdfunding platform similar to Teespring. The biggest difference is that GearBubble allows you to sell your designs on a bigger variety of products, such as Phone Cases/Covers, Hats, Beanies, Mugs, Necklaces and Bracelets, which could be a great way of boosting sales if you’re already in a profitable niche and have an engaged audience.
As of writing this, Teespring only allows you to sell your designs on T-Shirts/Hoodies, Tote Bags and Stickers.
The main criticism we have with GearBubble is that their software doesn’t allow you to upload your designs as EPS files, only PNGs are allowed. For those unfamiliar with design technicalities, EPS files are much better quality and look that bit sharper when printed. This might not matter in most cases, PNGs still look great, but for Design Geeks like us, we’d prefer to use EPS files.
The other advantage GearBubble has over Teespring is that it lets you profit from just a single sale. This is probably because they print digitally rather than screenprint. Teespring’s minimum of 3 isn’t exactly a massive obstacle to overcome (they too digitally print low volumes from what I understand), but if you launch hundreds of campaigns over a long period of time those missed sales can really add up!
BEST FOR: Expanding your product range if you already have an engaged audience OR for beginners looking to start out since you can bank single sales.
2. Fabrily (Teespring Europe)
Fabrily was bought by Teespring earlier this year and as of a couple weeks ago it became Teespring Europe. You guessed it, Teespring Europe allows you to sell to Europe! So that’s pretty self explanatory, I’ll move on.
BEST FOR: Selling T-Shirts to the European Market
I love the look and feel of the Represent website and dashboard. Everything feels very refined, they’ve definitely taken their time over the UI. You can sell your designs on clothing and iPhone Cases at the moment, with more options coming soon according to the website.
Represent’s look and feel definitely appeals to designers and artists, and having a scan of the website, that’s clearly where they’re trying to differentiate from the rest of the pack. Represent also have an A-List following, having worked with the likes of Seth Rogen, Will Ferrel, George R. R. Martin and James Franco to name few.
BEST FOR: Artists and designers looking to sell their work
Teechip, another crowdfunding based platform, has been getting a lot of attention lately. Like GearBubble, they offer a wider variety of products to sell your designs on. Products in their portfolio include; Phone Cases and Mugs as well as T-Shirts and Hoodies.
Just like Teespring, Teechip also own their own production facilities which means a better and more integrated service than some of the other alternatives. They also claim to offer better profit margins than Teespring on larger sales volumes, in some cases up to 50% more. Just like GearBubble, Teechip also offer no minimum sales, so you can bank from single sales. As well as this they also offer $5.99 international shipping and advanced features such as Two-Stage Upsells and Subaccounts.
BEST FOR: Scaling your sales
Teezily looks and feels remarkably like Teespring (if it ain’t broke..). We know Teespring is massive, with growth comes scale and with it improved service etc. It’s hard to tell how far some of the other alternatives have come in comparison, but Teezily does disclose some numbers – an impressive 107k campaigns at the time of writing this.
They also offer multiple currencies and a multilingual service, particularly aimed at the huge European market, which many of the others don’t.
BEST FOR: Selling to the European market if you want to try something other than Fabrily/Teespring Europe.
Running you own store
6. Printful + Shopify
A lot of the time, selling on one of the crowdfunding based platforms above means sending a lot of traffic to someone else’s website, without the ability to capture some of it for yourself. Most of the people that see your Facebook advert aren’t always ready to buy from you there and then, even if they want to.
By having your own website, you have much more control in being able to capture these people’s emails, amongst other information, and selling to them later, at a time more convenient to them. It’s really easy to setup and run your own e-commerce store these days – you can be up and running for less than a few hundred bucks.
This, combined with a fulfilment partner, means you can be up and running in no time, dropshipping print-on-demand tees and other merch to your customers with no fuss.
Printful are one such fulfilment company; they don’t offer any kind of e-commerce platform or ability to sell online like some of the others. But they do have integrations with some of the biggest platforms out there; including Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce (WordPress), OpenCart, BigCommerce and Gumroad with further integrations with Etsy, Squarespace and BigCartel on the horizon.
They let you sell your designs on Apparel, Art Posters, Framed Prints, Cushions, Mugs and Tote Bags and have a great dashboard for managing everything. You simply upload your designs, and they do the rest, even taking care of returns for you.
We’ve heard great things about their Shopify integration, so this is definitely one for those of you who are thinking about setting up your own t-shirt store.
BEST FOR: Selling through your own e-commerce store
Selling on marketplaces with existing customer bases, is another great option for boosting your sales. Since you’ve already gone to the trouble of getting your design made, it’s a no brainer to get them out there on as many platforms as possible.
Pro Tip: why not hire a freelancer to upload your designs on as many platforms as possible, for you?
Everyone knows about Amazon. The e-commerce behemoth is on this list because we think it is an untapped goldmine for selling niche interest tees and other merch. We’re going to be doing an in-depth post on selling t-shirts on Amazon – make sure you look out for that soon. In the meantime, I’ll give you a brief overview of why we think Teespringers will be turning to Amazon en masse very soon.
Firstly, Amazon’s 3rd party marketplace has been blowing up in recent years. This is the part of their business that allows anyone to sell on Amazon. At the end of 2014, 3rd party marketplace sales accounted for a whopping 40% of Amazon’s total sales! They’re growing at something like 60-70% YOY, and guess what the fastest growing category is? You guessed it; apparel. Amazon are pushing apparel hard and will continue to do so in the coming years.
Secondly, newcomers can establish themselves relatively quickly on Amazon. Ranking on Amazon organically is an extremely straight forward and formulaic process and much simpler than ranking on say Google. Their ranking algorithm is incredibly simple and depends on just 3 things; reviews, sales and keywords. And according to this report, Amazon now accounts for almost half of all product searches!
Let that just sink in for a moment. Almost half of all product searches conducted online, now happen on Amazon. So if you want to get the kind of traffic you only thought was possible by going through the very difficult and prolonged process of ranking on top of Google, well now there’s a much easier way.
Furthermore, a lot of Amazon sellers are reporting ROI positive sales using Sponsored Products, Amazon’s ad product that allows anyone to rank on page 1 for your chosen keywords on a CPC basis.
UPDATE: Amazon have just announced the launch of their Teespring competitor Merch by Amazon. Expect a full post on this very soon! This could be huge. Rather than advertise your t-shirts on Facebook, Amazon will allow you to promote your designs to their own customers.
Spreadshirt do things a little different. They’re not a crowdfunding platform but more of an online fulfilment service allowing you to upload existing designs, as well as create your own using their design tool. They have an e-commerce platform from where you can sell you designs on over 150 products! Everything from Cases to Apparel to Art and Aprons.
Spreadshirt are huge. From a sales perspective they’re bigger than Teespring which is not surprising since they’ve been around longer (since 2001). They also work with big brands such as Dr Pepper and Nissan as well as a plethora of You Tube stars selling merchandise to their audience.
Spreadsheet have their own e-commerce store, allowing anyone to submit and sell their designs on their marketplace.
It’s hard to categorise Spreadshirt since they do so much. They’re active in 19 markets worldwide and have a huge array of products. Given their track record with big brands and You Tubers, I’d give them a go if you already have an established audience.
This is our favourite of all the design marketplaces. RedBubble have been around since 2008 and were one of the first companies to offer print-on-demand merchandise. You simply upload your designs, choose which products to sell and they handle production and fulfilment on your behalf. They have a huge community of designers and a marketplace that’s doing in the region of $80-100 Million in sales.
The great thing about RedBubble is you can set the sales price and therefore control the profit margin. It’s another platform that’s being used more and more by YouTubers and Twitch casters so might be worth considering if you already have an engaged audience.
Pro Tip: On their homepage RB showcase artistic designs, and at first glance you might think they’re not for you. But the real secret to their success is their ability to sell niche interest t-shirts, just like the ones you’re selling on Facebook. You see RedBubble have exemplary SEO, so when looking for very specific, niche interest designs on search engines, you’re very likely to come across a RB design at the top of Google search results. Use this to your advantage; look for niches ideas for which RedBubble ranks highly on Google, then look at the designs being offered for sale. If the designs on offer are just “meh”, get a better design made (we can help) and by having the best designed t-shirt on that landing page, you’re likely to take most of the sales!
10. Zazzle and Cafe Press
Zazzle and Cafe Press are very similar to RedBubble. They’ve both been around for a long time and are pioneers in the POD game. The main thing that really differentiates them and RedBubble is RedBubble’s community. Just like RB they both also have fantastic SEO built into their website, so find a niche they rank well for, get the best design made that beats the rest, and chances are people will buy your tees over your competitors for those niche keywords.
Society6 have been around since 2010. They’re also a print-on-demand marketplace similar to Redbubble, but where they differ is their focus on art and artistic products.
It’s really hard to get noticed on Society6 though. Plus they only offer a couple bucks for each t-shirt sold, so it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
There are still opportunities to make money on Ebay. Ebay have been somewhat left behind by the outrageous growth of Amazon’s marketplace. But expect eBay to come out fighting.
They’ve just offloaded Paypal as a separate company – clearly so they can focus on their core service, and I expect them to start catching up with Amazon soon, with new features and ad products. Ebay is one to watch for the future.
In the meantime one thing you can do is partner up with existing eBay sellers, and offer to sell your Tees through their store on a revenue split basis. Try it out!
If you have a great t-shirt design, and think it can do well on third party stores (or in-store brick and mortar), then wholesaling might be right for you. It’s actually not as hard you think, especially if you approach indie retailers (of which there are thousands online).
We’ll be going through how we sold via third party retailers in an in-depth post soon.
The beauty of these products is that they can be digitally printed on demand and drop shipped on a made to order basis. This is a huge draw for e-commerce stores looking to stock cool designs but without forking out on stock up front. Partner up with Printful (or one of the other fulfilment houses) and let them print and dropship for you.
The great thing about Wholesaling is it allows you to tap into existing audiences and start generating sales right away. You can think about it as receiving a fixed income each week or month, almost like a subscription service, as sales will generally be steady and predictable (apart from Christmas when they rocket up!). Each design is going to generate a certain amount of revenue for you, and you’ll know if you add more designs and more retail partners, approximately how much money that’s going to generate for you.
But you definitely need to have great designs for this to work. We can definitely help there!
A lot of you are reading this having sold or at least tried selling on Teespring. Although Teespring has definitely opened up everyone’s eyes to the power of selling niche interest clothing, particularly through Facebook, it might not necessarily be the best way forward for you.
A lot of people start out on Teespring, learn the ropes, figure out their niche, grow an audience on Facebook, and then move on to building their own brand or e-commerce store. Others might prefer one of Teespring’s direct competitors for their lower minimums or bigger product range. Some of you might like to give Amazon a go.
There are a lot of things to you can try. T-shirts are evergreen – meaning they’ll always sell. Pretty much everyone on the planet owns at least one tee. You just got to figure out who to sell to and where. Hopefully this post will help you with the latter.
Have any of you tried selling on one of the other platforms, or plan to after reading this?
Are there any platforms I’ve missed out?
I’d love to hear about your direct experiences, let me know in the comments below. Ciao!