How to make money selling shirts on etsy

How To Make Money Selling Shirts On Etsy in 2024!

Have you ever thought about how to make money selling shirts on Etsy?

Why would you want to open a shirt shop? Well, for starters, about 2 billion T-shirts are sold each year! O_O 

So it’s safe to say that there is a huge market and demand for shirts. I LOVE a good t-shirt!

Secondly, if you love creating and have many ideas for shirt designs, you can use this passion of yours and turn it into a profitable business. 

Many small Etsy shop owners initially started making things as a hobby and selling them as a side project.

With the right strategy, your Etsy store can be a successful money-making machine.

I helped my sister set up her Etsy shop and we are soon going to test selling t-shirts and other products. You can check out her Etsy shop here!

So I can sell my organic tye-dye shirts made from beets, avocado skin, and other natural plant dye material on Etsy? Yes, you can! 

This complete guide shows how to make money selling shirts on Etsy. 

Etsy is the best marketplace to sell shirts, especially for beginners. 

This online marketplace has been a trusted platform for creatives to sell their art and merchandise, and it is easy to open and manage an account.

Can you make money selling shirts on Etsy?

Absolutely! The platform has 95.1 million active buyers. So you best believe that with the proper steps, you can sell that one-of-a-kind “cat resting by the window” Etsy shirt.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to make money selling shirts on Etsy.

In this article, I will be setting out details on:

  • Steps On How To Sell Shirts On Etsy
  • How To Use SEO To Optimize Your Shirt Listings
  • Tips On How To Sell Shirts On Etsy Successfully
  • FAQs On How To Sell Shirts On Etsy

Affiliate Link Disclosure

Some of the links here are affiliate links, and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. I hope you find the information here useful! Thanks!

Note: If you are super busy and you want to start making money selling on Etsy fast, you can check out this Etsy course. It will help to step up your Etsy game and start earning within 3 months!

Alternatively, you can also check out this free Etsy Ebook that will share a list of best-selling products by month and teach you how to capitalize on seasonal trends to make sales.

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

How To Make Money Selling Shirts On Etsy

Steps On How To Sell Shirts On Etsy

1. Know Your Audience

The first thing you need to figure out when you want to sell t shirts on Etsy is knowing who you want to sell it to.

Sure, you want to make shirts of your favorite indie band, but you must research if there is a market for Admiral Cats Sound Machine shirts (a totally made-up band name).

Ask questions like: 

Can this audience be reached on Etsy? 

What is the shirt-selling market like on Etsy? 

Is this target audience over-saturated? 

And is there enough demand in this audience to generate profit? These questions can help you narrow down your target market.

According to Etsy’s annual report, the platform has 95.1 million active buyers, and 51% of its site visitors are female. 

So don’t limit your merch to just the female market and branch out to include male products. 

Sell something you would like to wear. In many cases, creating shirts for an audience you can relate to is much easier. 

Let’s say you love K-pop (who doesn’t these days!) Search for K-pop shirts on Etsy and see what pops up and what kind of shirts are the best sellers.

Make your unique designs for these searches and make a good quality shirt. People will pay for great designs and superb quality.

Knowing who your target market is will give you a better focus on what you want to sell. 

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

2. Pick A Niche For Your Etsy Store

Choosing the right niche can improve the success of your store. You need to make sure your niche caters to your market audience. 

Let’s stick with our K-pop example and narrow it down to BTS. 

So, if your store is entirely focused on BTS-related products, your potential customers can find everything they want, making purchasing multiple items more likely. 

Need a black-and-white Jungkook shirt? Your store has it. Oh wait, there’s also a Smooth Like Butter shirt! Add to the cart! Get where I’m going here? 

People will tend to purchase more items in a niche store as they find what they are looking for and more.

Your customers can get what they were searching for and pick an extra item because you have curated this niche Esty shop with all of your target audience’s favorite things. 

Over time, you can expand your store to sell more than shirts. You can offer other items like hoodies, sweatshirts, caps, and more. 

3. Have A Brand Identity

A unique brand identity can set you apart from other Etsy sellers and make you more recognizable. Brand identity is how a brand presents itself to the world. 

All successful companies have a brand identity that immediately grabs the attention of their customers. 

Take Apple, for example. Their selling point is their sleek design, innovation, and providing good user experience. 

This brand identity makes them stand out against all other electronic companies.

You can build a brand identity by putting thought into your Etsy store and creating a tone that reflects your brand. 

You can do this by having these elements to influence your brand perception:

  • Color
  • Logo
  • Imagery 
  • Typography
How to make money selling shirts on etsy

4. Set Up Your Etsy Shop

So, before you can start selling shirts on Etsy, you need to set up your Etsy shop first.

You can skip this step if you already have an Etsy store. If you don’t have it yet, don’t worry. Let’s go through the steps together.

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

Step 1: Create An Account

First, you need to create an account with a valid email address. Go to the Etsy seller page and click on ”Get Started.”

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

Step 2: Shop Preferences

Select your default shop language for describing your listings on Etsy. You also set your shop’s country and currency for pricing your listings. 

Save your preferences and continue.

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

Step 3: Name Your Etsy Store

Here is the fun part, deciding the name of your store. It’s best to choose a name that describes your store’s product and niche.

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

Step 4: Stock Your Shop

In this section, you can start listing your products. 

Make the most of this section, as you want to optimize every aspect of your listing to give it the best chance to rank up in the Etsy search.

The next three steps are for How you’ll get paid, Set up billing, and Your shop security.

  • How You’ll Get Paid: You can set how you will get paid by Etsy Payment, Paypal, money order, or cheque.
  • Set Up Billing: Set up a credit card for billing sellers’ fees and authorization purposes.
  • Your Shop Security: In this step, you will need to choose any two-step authentication method for sign-in purposes. 

You can select from SMS, Phone, or App Authenticator. 

5. Picking And Designing Your Shirts 

Now for the fun part! Selecting what kind of shirt you want to sell and the design process is where you can let your creativity run wild. But remember, quality is key! 

No one wants to buy a shirt from Etsy that feels like a crumpled old newspaper. So here are a few things to consider to sell quality shirts.

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

1. Fabric

With so many options, here is what you need to know about all the best shirt materials.

  • 100% Cotton: This material is cost-effective and excellent for color payout. Although cotton is not the softest option out there, it is still relatively comfortable.
  • Poly-cotton blends: This petroleum-based material is a versatile fabric much softer than cotton but costs slightly more.
  • Tri-blend: This material is a cotton, polyester, and rayon mix. With rayon in the combination, a tri-blend shirt is one of the softest options. 

Depending on how it is manufactured, rayon can feel like silk, linen, wool, or cotton. It can be expensive but well worth the price.

  • Alternative Materials

Bamboo: It has anti-bacterial and moisture-wicking properties, suitable for when the temperature is hot or even for sportswear.

Viscose: Made from wool pulp, it has the same properties as rayon and has moisture-wicking qualities.

Hemp: This is a more sustainable and eco-friendly material when compared to cotton, and it is also just as comfortable—a great option if your brand is about sustainability.

2. Type Of Fit

When choosing the right shirt fit, remember to tie it back to your brand identity, target audience, and the shirt materials. 

Some of the most popular fits are the regular fit, slim fit, and relaxed fit.

3. Shirt Cut

There are many variations, styles, and cuts for your shirt. Choose one that suits your target audience and fits your brand. 

You could also offer your customers a few styles in your Etsy shop. Here is a list of the many different types of shirts.

  • Basic half sleeve
  • Long sleeve Crew neck
  • V-neck 
  • Scoop neck 
  • Polo collar 
  • Cap sleeve shirt
  • Boyfriend shirt
  • Raglan sleeve
  • Ringer shirt
  • Pocket  shirt
How to make money selling shirts on etsy

6. Making Your Shirts

Let’s talk inventory. Ask yourself if you want to make your shirts in the basement of your house or pass that on to a reliable supplier. 

I’m not great at creating things with my hands, unlike my very talented sister, who has a sustainable shop where she makes her products from scratch by hand! 

I would happily pass the shirt-making task to the professionals. Here are some options you can consider to make your shirt inventory for your Etsy shop.

  • Print-on-Demand (POD)

If you are wondering how to sell shirts on Etsy without inventory, you can definitely look into POD. 

POD is like dropshipping; you can send your designs to companies like Printful or Printify, which will handle all the order fulfillment, including printing and delivery logistics. 

In other words, POD is how to sell print on demand t-shirts on Etsy. This way, you can focus more on your designs and the growth of your Etsy shop.

  • Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)

If you want to make the shirts yourself, a beginner-friendly way to personalize your shirt is by HTV. 

All you need to start are some shirts, a vinyl cutter, and a heat press (a handy iron works just fine).

You can easily customize HTV shirts with different designs. The basic steps are preparing the design, cutting the vinyl, and applying it to the shirt.

  • Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing

If your Etsy shirts have intricate designs with many colors, then DTG is a good option. 

This method creates higher-quality print designs because it can print the exact resolution and sharpness of your digital design on your shirt. 

If you don’t plan to buy a DTG printer, which can cost a couple of thousands for one machine, you can find a print-on-demand supplier offering DTG printing services.

  • Screen Printing

Screen printing is the process of transferring a stenciled design onto a shirt. 

This method allows you to produce intricate multicolored designs on shirts, and you can even layer the ink to have a touchable quality to the shirt.

With this method, I suggest approaching a screen printing shop due to the complexity of the process. 

It is also a huge investment, as you will need professional equipment for the screen printing process.

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

7. Pricing Your Shirt On Etsy

Is selling shirts on Etsy profitable? Is selling t-shirts online profitable? And is it worth selling shirts on Etsy? Well, it all comes down to how you price your products.

When it comes to pricing, look at what other sellers are charging for their shirts. 

It would be best to ensure that your expenses are covered and that you can at least get a 30-40% profit margin.

How much money can you make selling shirts on Etsy depends on your pricing strategy. 

One approach is to target volume, which means you have a lower profit margin but higher sales due to a more competitive price.

Another is to increase profit to increase the perceived value. People associate expensive stuff with better quality and will be okay with paying the higher price.

But you can always adjust your price based on the market, your audience, and any fluctuation in the cost. 

You should also consider offering deals and discounts to your customers to boost sales, especially during the holiday season.

8. Order Fulfillment and Shipping

If you have opted for Print-on-Demand fulfillment services, you do not have to worry about this, as they will take care of the entire printing, packaging, and shipping process.

This service might be slightly more expensive, but you can save yourself from the hassle of managing inventory and shipping logistics. 

This allows you to focus on the creative process of designing your shirts and how to optimize and grow your Etsy store.

9. Promoting Your Etsy Shop

A big part of selling on Etsy is how you market your shop. The key to increasing sales is to increase your store’s visibility. 

You can have an amazing store with many unique shirt designs, but you can only sell products if people can see them. 

Here are some strategies you can adopt to increase your visibility and attract more customers to your shop.

  • Etsy Ads

Start learning how to make money selling shirts on Etsy with Etsy ads. Etsy ads are great for boosting your shop’s visibility. 

Turning on Etsy ads will prioritize your listing, allowing more people to see your shop.

Your listing will be visible on Etsy Search, Category Pages, and Market Pages on both the website and the app. It is very easy to turn this option on. 

Just follow these steps:

1. Select Shop Manager On Etsy

2. Click on Marketing 

3. Choose Etsy Ads

4. Set a daily budget

5. Start advertising

The minimum daily budget for Etsy ads is $1.00. However, you can constantly monitor the performance of your ads and adjust your budget accordingly.

A great way to drive traffic to your Etsy shop is through Pinterest. Pinterest is an effective channel to promote your Etsy shirts visually. 

Just link up your Etsy store to Pinterest, and you can start to pin a listing on Pinterest directly. 

By clicking the Pin It button on Etsy, Pinterest will automatically grab the description from your store into the created Pin.

To further boost traffic to your shop, you can run ads on your Pinterest to increase the visibility of your pins.

Instagram is a great platform for showcasing your Etsy shirt store. I use Instagram for my brand and have created a solid community of my own. 

Since Instagram is a visual platform, you can connect with your audience in many ways. 

Include a link to your shop in your Instagram bio so your audience knows where to find your shirts.

Try to curate an Instagram account that appeals to your target audience by creating engaging and helpful content within the theme of your store niche. 

This way, the audience will be more compelled to click on your Etsy store.

As your audience grows, you can celebrate milestones by having giveaways. 

Giveaways are a great way to increase engagement and attract new followers. Make sure you establish rules so that the participants follow, like, and tag your post.

When used effectively, Instagram is a mighty tool that can expand the reach of your Etsy store and bring in organic visitors and sales.

  • Offers And Promotions

Did you know that Etsy will prioritize listing that offers free shipping in the search results? Etsy knows customers will usually go for shops providing free shipping.

Offering your customers free shipping and occasional discounts can increase your shop’s visibility and improve your conversion rate. 

You can be strategic when offering deals, like having a discount for a limited time or having a percentage off the second item purchased. 

Both of these strategies can be effective in driving sales.

10. Managing Your Etsy Shop

Now that your store is up and running, Etsy store management comes into play. Your store analytics, inventory, and customer service are three essential things to note.

  • Analytics

After the first month, you should reassess your store’s performance using Etsy Stats. 

You can see everything from the shop’s performance to the traffic source and your listing’s engagement here.

Look over your Etsy ad performance and see which listings are performing well and which are not. 

Then, you can optimize your ad budget and channel it to the performing shirts.

  • Inventory

With the data that you have, adjust your inventory accordingly. It’s good to remove any non-performing listings and add new shirt designs regularly. 

Keep an eye on your best sellers and ensure you have sufficient stock. The more shirts you have in your Etsy store, the more visibility you will get.

  • Customer Service

Another goal for your Etsy shop is to earn a Star Seller badge, which is usually granted to Etsy stores with stellar customer service. 

Customers are generally more drawn to Star Seller stores as it shows quality service and products.

One criterion for getting this badge is responding to customers within 24 hours

Etsy will also evaluate your on-time shipping and excellent reviews before granting the Star Seller badge.

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How To Use SEO To Optimize Your Shirt Listings

Etsy is a search engine-based website, and you can use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to attract more visitors to your store.

According to Esty, the ranking factors used for listing are relevancy, listing quality score, recency, customer score, shipping price, language, and personalized search.

Here are some strategies and tips you can apply to optimize your Etsy store and listing:

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

1. Keyword Research

Keywords are used to describe your listing. They should be in the title, tags, categories, and description of your listing. 

Using the right keywords can improve your Etsy SEO and boost your listings in search results. 

You can use several tools, such as Sale Samurai, KeySearch, and Marmalead, to search for keywords for your shirt listings.

When improving existing listings for SEO, have a look at Etsy analytics. You can then observe which title and tags drive the most traffic and sales and make changes from there.

2. Product Titles and Descriptions

When learning how to make money selling shirts on Etsy online, knowing how to name your listing can improve your visibility on Etsy Search.

To optimize the SEO of your listing, place the keyword at the beginning of the title. For Etsy to distinguish your products, titles should be unique, concise, and informative enough to describe your shirt.

Use language that customers would understand, like what the buyer would type when searching for a specific shirt. 

For example, “Pink Ballerina Embroidered Girl’s Ruffle Shirt, Birthday Gift, Toodler Shirt.” 

3. Product Tags

To improve your SEO, fill out all 13 tags for your listing. The tags can be long keywords and phrases. The longer the tag, the more likely your listing will appear in searches. 

Avoid repeating the same keyword, and try to write a variety of things to describe your listing. 

If you are unsure what to include in the tags, you can click explore related searches and see what keywords come up or peek at what the competitors are writing for similar listings.

4. Product Categories

Use your product’s most accurate category and subcategory for your product to make your listing more visible. 

Categories act like tags on Etsy, so the more specific, the better, as it will provide more opportunities for your listing to appear on Etsy Search.

How to make money selling shirts on etsy

5. High-Quality Product Photos

Having a high-quality photo is very important to get the initial click from buyers. Humans are visual in nature, so we like to click on things that we find attractive.

You can include ten photos in your listing. Most Star Sellers on Etsy will use all ten to display their products. 

The best picture should be placed first, as this is the picture that will appear in Etsy search results.

You can include a short video in your listing to give your customers a more accurate image of your product. 

You can model the shirt you sell; it may take more effort, but your customers can have a better view of what they are purchasing.

6. Listing Variation

Having a variation of your listing can help with your SEO as you can include this variation in your tags. 

You can have shirts in different colors and sizes or even short or long sleeves within one listing.

7. Language

Write your title and tags in the chosen language of your Etsy store. 

Using a different language will not give any SEO advantage, as Etsy will automatically translate it back to your default language.

8. Etsy Shop “About” Section

A well-written “About” section can improve your customer & market experience score, which in turn can improve your search ranking on Etsy. 

In this section, you can share the backstory of why you opened your Etsy store or your passion for making unique shirts. 

This will create a connection and trust with your customers.

9. Listing Relevancy

Etsy prefers to rank active stores, so you should regularly add new shirt listings and update old ones. 

Do this especially on busy holiday periods so your store can get a boost in rankings during peak buying season.

10. Store Policy

Credibility is important for your customer & market experience score, so be transparent and set clear shop policies on things such as your return policy, shipping time, and payment information.

Buyers filter stores with free shipping, so if you want to further boost your ranking, try to offer free shipping. 

11. Customer Reviews

Having 5-star reviews can help your rankings on Etsy. Encourage your customers to leave reviews after their purchases. Etsy’s algorithm rewards stores with good reviews. 

So, early on, you can incentivize your customers to leave reviews by giving coupon codes. The more trust you gain, the more visibility you will get.

Tips On How To Sell Shirts On Etsy Successfully

Growing a shirt store on Etsy has its challenges, so here are some quick tips to sell your shirts successfully on Etsy.

  • Go With POD: Go with a trusted POD supplier to fulfill your Etsy orders so more time and effort can be put into shirt design and marketing your store.
  • The More Inventory, The Better: Having multiple designs is one factor in having a successful Etsy shop. 

The algorithm rewards stores with more visibility when they have more listings, so it is crucial to develop new designs for your store.

  • Promote Your Store With Social Media:  Publicize your products on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or even Pinterest. 

Have a designated account for your store on these platforms. An excellent social media strategy can drive traffic to your Etsy shops.

FAQs On How To Sell Shirts On Etsy

Why Etsy Is The Best Place To Sell Shirts?

If you want to know Why Etsy Is The Best Place To Sell Shirts? It is because you no longer need a physical store or a business degree to start selling.

All you need to do is have a unique idea, research into your niche and target market, and find a quality print-on-demand provider.

What Is The Profit Margin For Selling Shirts On Etsy?

Need to know what is the profit margin for selling shirts on Etsy? For shirts selling on Etsy, sellers usually price their products to include a  20–30% profit margin.

This price is calculated to cover all the necessary costs and Etsy fees with a percentage of the profit margin. 

What Is The Average Price Of A T-shirt On Etsy?

If you are wondering what is the average price of a T-shirt on Etsy, prices may vary between sellers. 

A simple plain T-shirt is usually priced at $10, while a customized T-shirt can go upwards of $30 or more.

Prices also depend on the quality and the material of the shirt.

How Many T-Shirt Designs Should I Start With?

If you are just beginning your Etsy shop and wondering how many t-shirt designs I should start with, then a good rule is to have between five to 10 designs.

This also depends on your target market and your starting budget. You can always add more designs as your Etsy shop grows.

Is it Hard To Sell Clothes On Etsy?

Are you just starting and wondering if it is hard to sell clothes on Etsy? Since there are a lot of sellers on Etsy, getting noticed amongst the competition can be challenging. 

However, you can apply SEO methods on Etsy to help your listing rank higher on the site.

So that’s everything you need to know about how to make money selling shirts on Etsy. I hope you found the article helpful.

It might be intimidating initially, but when you find the right niche, it will make the process of selling shirts on Etsy easier. 

Just stick to it, be consistent with your store, and focus on your target audience.

Once you get into the groove and create a solid community around your store, you will definitely see recurring sales and even run the store passively, especially with a POD business model.

Wishing you the best of luck with your Etsy journey!

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