How Not To Sell T-Shirts on Teespring

in teespring •  3 years ago  (edited)

Compilation of 10 mistakes I have made and many beginners make when trying to sell t-shirts in campaign business model like Teespring.

Mistake 1: Expecting instant cash

Most of Teespring courses online feed on our greed, so they delude us into thinking it’s so easy to sell t-shirts online you can make thousands of bucks in no time at all. I have found that this might be true, but only in two cases:

  1. You are really lucky with your first designs and they not only are appealing to customers, but also get some viral traction by themselves
  2. You have big existing audience (like a blog, FB fan page or something) you can sell to with one post or e-mail

In other cases, selling with Teespring is just as hard as selling anything. Actually, even harder, because people don’t really need and passionately seek for your designs most of the time.

Of course, you have some advantage over traditional retail, because you have no inventory costs, but this also means that everyone has the same low barrier of entry.

The lesson here is not to expect riches, at least not until you understand the game Teespring is.

Mistake 2: Expecting no effort

Hire a designer for $5, set up your FB ads and then just observe how money is flowing in. Awesome plan, right? Here is how it works in real life:

  1. Research is hard, time-consuming and doesn’t guarantee anything
  2. Monitoring your ads’ efficiency takes some time and effort, also requires some skill you need to learn while doing it
  3. Most of the designs you try to sell don’t resonate with people, so you need to test everything, cut your losses and repeat with different designs constantly. All of that consumes time and money.

On the other hand: putting an effort, 100% of commitment and having patience will eventually result in profits. But it’s not “get rich quickly while sipping whiskey and smoking cigars” for sure.

Mistake 3: Ignoring research

What is research in a context of Teespring? It’s exclusively finding an audience before making any designs, audience that:

  1. Is passionate about something (even if shortly)
  2. Has spare money to buy stuff online
  3. Is reachable.

If you ignore this step, you are doomed from the beginning. And while passion is something t-shirt selling people understand, many just are not aware that:

  1. Sometimes the only people that appreciate your clever design are the people without money they can spend on unnecessary things
  2. People below some age, while easily reachable and many very passionate, don’t have spare money at all
  3. Some audiences are hard to reach, because they don’t fit into standard demographics descriptions.

So, generally speaking, you need to understand your audience very well. If you don’t, you won’t know who to target with your ads. Copying other people’s designs may sometimes work, but only if you know a niche they don’t.

Mistake 4: Misinterpreting Facebook Ad statistics

This one can cost you big money. Most of Teespring beginners are also online marketing beginners, which means they need to learn FB advertising while selling t-shirts.

Here is a problem. When you begin, you don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what CTR is ok, what engagement is not good at all, how many dollars spent on ad without sales is too much, and so on.

Also, often you are just too impatient to collect enough data. You run an ad for an hour and don’t see any results, so you kill it and move on. That’s wrong.

The truth is it is hard to specify one system that works well for everyone. Personally, I don’t believe you can just omit learning all of this by yourself, but that unfortunately will cost you some money.

So, how to approach this?

You need a system to improve your understanding of how to build a system for running ads.
Does it make sense? What I mean is that you need to have some plan on how to make educated guesses and intelligent changes to your ads and how to draw conclusions.

Instead of copying a system from some other book, which says things like “cut an ad with < 0.05$ CPE after 100 people reached”, develop a method for testing what works and what doesn’t by yourself.

Of course other people’s systems are good place to start, but they won’t work out of the box. That’s because they are made for people with other personalities or take into account some factors that even their author is unaware of.

Mistake 5: Ignoring delay between exposure and buy decision

This is connected to previous one, but rarely covered in Teespring guides. They teach that selling t-shirts is based on generating a sense of urgency.

But ask yourself, would you really put everything you are doing aside just to buy a t-shirt? If you can think of one that can lead you to such action, well, launch it immediately.

What I have found is that sales are often delayed. People will comment “I need one right now”, but - if they actually buy - they buy at some other time next day, for example. That’s why you need to run your campaigns for at least 2 - 3 days if they generate positive comments, but no sales in the first day.

Mistake 6: Ignoring efficiency

It’s all about ROI game, so you really need to cut your costs down while maximizing revenue. If you sell 1000 t-shirts for 10$, but to sell one you spend 9.90$, that’s not very efficient, right? There is some inertia when thinking about exact math behind sales, but if you ignore it, you will struggle and eventually abandon Teespring.

Mistake 7: Too much attachment to your own viewpoint

Probably the most common and income hurting error of all. It can be simply put as YOU THINK YOU KNOW BETTER.

When you are attached to your ideas (like, “this design is awesome, why are those idiots not buying”), you are totally missing the point of any business. Which is not to make you rich at all, that’s secondary.

The point is to offer something of value.

In the case of t-shirts, that means you want to find an audience, learn what makes them happy, or feeling cool, or having sense of community, only then make a design and sell it.

If you look through the best selling t-shirts you will see what I mean. You won’t understand why some of them could have even one sale, let alone thousands. That’s ok, it means that you just don’t understand their audience, which you can fix.

Mistake 8: Lack of strategy

Strategy is a goal and a plan. To be successful with Teespring, you need to know what are you aiming for and how to get there. And I feel the only goal that is worth having in context of Teespring is to:

Develop a process of finding rich and passionate niches;
Automate and delegate it as much as possible;
Sell other things to those audiences

By selling t-shirts, you validate the audience’s willingness to pay.

Now, having a plan is as important as having a goal. What you need is not a detailed list of actions to take, though.
You need just to regularly check how is your progress toward a goal going. Which means:
What was working, what was not working, what to change and how to measure effectiveness of actions
you take.
Be regular, i.e. don’t act haphazardly. For example, don’t adjust FB ads more often than once per a day. Don’t change a niche more often than once per month, etc. Stick to your plan by any means.

Mistake 9: Lack of commitment

Similar to lack of strategy. If you think “yes, I will try this and see what this Teespring is all about”, you are doing it wrong, you are lacking the commitment.

Instead, think “how to make it work given my own constraints”. Everyone has limited resources. Your commitment is measured in how much of them you are willing to sacrifice to make your idea happen. Half-assed effort will not work with Teespring, it requires your full attention and 100% focus on becoming successful. And if you are not sure what I’m talking about, just skim through active campaigns on Teespring to see designs people launch and expect to earn them money. Half-assed isn’t even good word to describe it, it should be more like no-assed.

Mistake 10: Thinking backwards

Here is how it looks:

  1. You imagine yourself on a beach sipping some cocktail
  2. You see Teespring has sweet margins
  3. You “design” a t-shirt consisting of some “clever” text lines
  4. You launch it and feel the same thing gamblers feel
  5. After few hours, you are annoyed with those people who don’t understand cleverness of your design
  6. After one day, you are just frustrated, because not even one sale happened and you just whine “why they don’t want to make you rich, those bastards”.

This is backward thinking and something you must learn to avoid at all cost. Here is a winning process:

  1. You understand a niche, people who share some passion or something and have money to buy t-shirts
  2. You genuinely care about their happiness when they wear your design
  3. So you design it in a way that makes them happy
  4. Then you sell
  5. And still, it may not work, for some reasons, but instead of whining and complaining and feeling angry
  6. You do more research, perfect your design, engage into conversations, try to understand them more
  7. You test another and better design
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I agree with this post and like your ideas

Great post. My wife did her first campaign last month on teespring that failed. I wish I read your post before she did it. Advertising and promotion are the key. She did not do enough of that. Funny a 100 minimum for teesring does not seem like a large number but with let says a 1% conversion rate you would need to have 10,000 people see you design to get that number.

Great original post. I love the tips thanks

Thank you!

Probably the best (and most honest) article I have ever read about Teespring. Thanks !!

Nailed it :) Do you sell t-shirts? Would love to see your designs. Cheers

If you are still doing shirts and doing steemit shirts, please check in on this post! https://steemit.com/steemit/@tkkinney/calling-all-steemians-who-are-doing-merch

WOW! you rarely find an article like this online, really honest and full of value, I used to spend too much money and less time on the most important things and eventually I failed, I couldn't sell one shirt!! so yeah most people miss those basics or concepts, this article: https://successfulcampaignsblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/successful-teespring-campaigns-how-to-create-them/ explains how to launch a successful Teespring campaign for beginners, people also should read more inspiring stories about successful sellers on teespring but not forget that it's not that easy to succeed at all.

thank you. how-NOT-to is often more useful advice than how-to ;-)