One of the best and easiest ways to monetize your website or social following is to create merchandise like t-shirts and other items that you can sell on your own online store.
The print-on-demand revolution has been in full swing for a few years now and as such you have probably found a long list of different websites that can provide such services but you are finding it hard to decide who to use.
In this guide, I am going to break down the best and easiest way to start selling merch or “swag” (as the cool kids say).
TLDR: Visit Printful and get your products such as t-shirts, iPhone cases, and other items designed and on sale in under an hour.
Did you know more than two billion t-shirts are sold every year? Want in on some of that action? Then read on and I will show you the best ways to sell t-shirts and other merchandise online.
Find a Google Merchandise Supplier
To find a good provider so you can create and sell merchandise online we are going to look at the following criteria.
- Range of products
- Quality of Print & Products
- Delivery/Fulfillment times
- Customer Service
Signing up for a print-on-demand supplier is pretty much always free, so there are no start-up costs which is great. Another money-saving you will make by using print-on-demand vs ordering quantity is that you have zero inventory costs and don’t have to manage the fulfillment of your products.
When you are a small business or individual having to stock your own t-shirts and other products and waste time posting one item at a time can be the difference between failure and success.
Range of Products
Many print on demand providers only offer a small range of items, usually, this includes t-shirts, hoodies, a few other clothing items and maybe some accessories.
But if you look around there are some suppliers that offer a much wider range of items.
Some cool examples of brandable items I have seen include baby grows, swimwear, leggings, all-over printed t-shirts, sublimated towels to name just a few.
Quality of Print & Products
Of course, there is no point in designing and selling your own merchandise if the quality is going to be substandard and result in returns and complaints.
It always pays to order yourself a test product after designing it for two reasons.
Firstly so you can assess the quality of the print and materials and secondly so you can take more high-quality photos of your product in a cool environment with different backgrounds.
One complaint with print on demand companies in the early days was the sheer amount of time it used to take to get your product from the website to your customer’s hands.
While this is still an issue with many providers there are several companies I am aware of that run a very tight ship and have blown me away with how quickly they can produce your items and get them to the final destination.
It should go without saying as customer service is one of the key indicators of quality when you deal with just about any business both online and offline and print-on-demand merchandisers are no exception.
There is a big difference between good and bad customer support and when you are finding a partner to help you with your business idea it’s of paramount importance to find someone that lives up to your expectations.
Design your own merch
Some of the services provide the ability to design your own merch directly within the platform itself. That has its advantages and disadvantages but is a nice option to have if you lack design skills and don’t have access to any good graphic design tools.
I recommend getting familiar with tools like Photoshop, GIMP, and Canva and spending some time learning how to create t-shirt and other merchandise ideas with these tools and then uploading them to the platform when ready.
The Best Merchandise Service
Over the years I have helped dozens of bloggers, website owners, YouTubers and social influencers with setting up their merchandise store so they can sell their branded t-shirts and other clothing and accessories online.
During that time I have used several different fulfillment companies with varying degrees of success.
Some were good, some were bad. Though it’s not always easy to tell until it’s too late.
Unfortunately many of the t-shirt printing and merchandise websites available fall short of delivering a high-quality product.
Either the print quality is poor, the t-shirt options and materials are cheap, the service is overpriced or they let themselves down on customer service and delivery times.
Printful is one merchandise company that from my experience won’t let you or your customers down!
They offer a very professional and user-friendly service and feature a wide range of different merch options including clothing for men, women, and kids.
Printful’s range of product options is far greater than most competitors as they also have options for you to print your logo or slogans on mugs, pillows, wall art, posters, beach towels, canvases and even baby grows.
Their accessories include snapbacks, trucker caps, beanies, bucket hats, visors, tote bags, drawstring bags, iPhone cases, Samsung cases, and even socks.
One of the other advantages of using Printful is that they include custom labels and embroidery options for your items.
For those who have had printed t-shirts with a “Fruit of the Loom” label in the back, you will understand how this takes away from the experience of owning a branded product when you know it’s just been printed on a standard T-shirt.
With Printful you can put your own brand on the labels to ensure your customer receives a polished final product.
White label shipping means you can also custom brand your packaging, the perfect finishing touch to complete the sales experience.
My favorite feature of Printful that makes it the winner by far is that they have easy to use integrations for all of the popular eCommerce store platforms.
What does that mean?
It means you can import the merchandise you create on Printful into your own website or store where you have more control over the customer’s details, the design of the store and don’t have to send customers off to a third party website which doesn’t look as professional.
Printful has integrations for the following popular eCommerce platforms:
- Amazon – Should need no introduction but suffice to say it’s as easy as a few clicks to sell your Printful items on the Amazon marketplace.
- Shopify – Shopify is one of the easiest online stores to get started with.
- WooCommerce – Easily sell your merchandise on your WordPress website or blog.
- Etsy – Import your products to the popular crafts marketplace.
- eBay – Import and sell your products as buy now or for auction on eBay.
- Squarespace – A popular website builder.
- BigCommerce – Another popular eCommerce platform though I have no experience with it.
- BigCartel – A website that has been helping influencers to sell their products online for years.
Want to give it a try and start designing your own merch? Check out Printful here.
Alternative Print on Demand Merchandise Options
As mentioned there’s no shortage of suppliers to choose from, my preferred option from years of testing is currently Printful, however, other services that are popular are as follows. While Printful is my personal favorite there are other good options out there and the best option for you will depend on your own unique requirements.
Merch by Amazon
It should come as no surprise that a major retailer has also got in on the action.
Merch by Amazon is an invite-only platform due to the overwhelming amount of interest Amazon has received since launching the platform in 2015 that have made sure to qualify new store owners to ensure quality control and the best possible experience for their customers.
If you want to sell on Amazon it shouldn’t be too difficult to get accepted and opens you up to the largest online marketplace.
The platform is extremely easy to use, after signing up you simply upload your artwork file, choose the product type and color, set your price and then craft a catchy description and you are pretty much ready to rock!
When that is done Amazon create you your own store page on the Amazon.com website and each time you sell an item Amazon will take care of the production, shipping and customer service with no upfront costs to you.
There have been many case studies of people making generous incomes from launching their swag on Amazon. Even big companies like Disney, Marvel and Adult Swim are using Amazons merchandising and fulfillment service.
Visit Merch by Amazon.
Zazzle is another really simple website for selling your own t-shirts and other merch and allows you to setup your own store on their site, so you don’t need your own website if you don’t have one.
Zazzle has one of the largest and most unique ranges of products available that you can design including craft items like wrapping paper, bunting, fabrics, stickers, and buttons, most of which aren’t available elsewhere.
Have you ever wanted to design your own custom kitchen utensils? Zazzle can help you do that!
Other cool products available include mason jars, rubber stamps, branded stationery, electronics accessories, or even golf balls!
If you need t-shirts for an event to sell offline you can also place bulk orders of 250 units and over and benefit from additional discounts to increase your potential profit margins.
While Zazzle offers an API there doesn’t appear to be any native integrations for popular eCommerce tools like Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce which is a bit disappointing.
Spreadshirt is another popular print-on-demand service and one that has been around for a number of years.
It was one of the first merchandise services I used to create quirky t-shirt designs for a website and offers a reliable service.
Benefits of Spreadshirt include the range of products which include some unique items like lanyards, bandanas, boxer shorts and duffel bags.
Spreadshirt is very easy to get started with and even a complete beginner won’t have problems creating their own items.
If you need inspiration their homepage features some of the best designers work which is sure to get your creative juices flowing.
Spreadshirt offers a bulk order option for orders of 100 items and over for those who want to keep some inventory on hand for events and to sell to offline.
How to Create Merchandise Online
It is extremely easy to create and sell your own branded products online in this day and age. We are going to use Printful as our example but the process is relatively similar for other merchandise services.
Visit the Printful website and create an account.
Your design can be something you have entirely composed in Photoshop, Illustrator or your favorite graphic design program or it can be a your existing logo or a series of different images
Your design file should be 300DPI and in PNG format for optimal quality.
Also consider the size of the actual image as small images just won’t work, fortunately, Printful will warn you if your image quality is too low.
Select a product from the wide range of options, this will take you into the product personalizer where you can decide where you want your graphic or graphics to be placed, the size, colors and other options that are available for your chosen product.
When you select a category like T-shirts you will then find there is a range of different T-shirts to start from made by different manufacturers with varying quality and different cuts/shapes.
Select the option that you think is best for your customer and then you can start designing.
Let’s say you decided to design a T-shirt, you have the option to upload your design and place it on the front, back or both sides.
You can also add graphics to both sleeves and personalize the label tag or space on the inside of the t-shirt to add your brand and other information like your web address or a QR code.
The Printful mock-up generator pictured above also has an option for allowing you to add typography to your items and soon they will also be adding a feature that unlocks a large library of pre-designed graphics and clip art.
Once your design is ready you can then complete the design and price your product.
The pricing will show you the base price that Printful charge for the production and delivery of your product, you then set a % or dollar amount you want to make on top.
Now you can sell the product you have created.
How to Sell Merchandise Online
With Printful you need your own store to import your products to so you can actually sell online.
There are many eCommerce stores you can import your products to, but my favorites are Shopify or WooCommerce, the latter of which lets you sell your products directly to WordPress.
you want to import the item into your store if you use Shopify install the Printful app and it will guide you through the process. For WooCommerce you will need to download and install the Printful WooCommerce Integration plugin before you can import your new product.
Then you can rinse and repeat adding more products and designs to your store organizing them by category to make the shopping experience user-friendly for your customers.
Creating your own branded merchandise is one of the best ways to monetize your website, brand or authority and it’s easy to get started in a matter of hours.
Do you have an audience but no design skills? Why not look on Fiverr and find yourself a designer to collaborate with. That said it’s never been easier to design your own merch using the websites mentioned in this article and the different graphic design software at your disposal.
What are you waiting for?
Do you have a large following on Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube or a large Facebook Group?
If so you could be missing out on a great way to generate additional revenue from your followers.
Try Printful for yourself today.