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how to sell t shirts on amazon
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How to Sell T-Shirts on Amazon: From $0 to $1,000 a Month

By on April 8th, 2021 Reading Time: 5 minutes

So you’ve decided to start selling t-shirts on Amazon. Good call! Every month, 200 million people visit Amazon to do their online shopping. And, being a marketplace, Amazon makes it easy for beginners to get started on their ecommerce journey without the technical know-how of building a store from scratch.

So let’s pair that market with an evergreen product—t-shirts. Selling t-shirts is becoming increasingly profitable. There’s a growing demand for custom t-shirts with printed logos, slogans, and quotes.

With this guide, I’m going to help you navigate through building a successful Amazon t-shirt business.

Let’s go over the process of selling t-shirts on Amazon step-by-step!

1. Open an Amazon store

To run a t-shirt business on Amazon, you first need to set up a storefront. Start by creating an Amazon seller account. Then, choose a selling plan that matches your business best. Your options are:

  1. Individual plan—costs $0.99 per item sold. Great for small businesses selling <40 products a month and those just starting out.
  2. Professional plan—costs $39.99 a month. Best for enterprises selling over 40 items a month also interested in product advertising and advanced selling tools.

There’s an exception where you don’t have to pay the selling plan (by selling with Merch by Amazon), we’ll get to that a little later.

Once you’ve set up your seller account, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

2. Pick a t-shirt fulfillment provider

To run a successful Amazon t-shirt business, you’re going to need some t-shirts, in other words, inventory. There are many ways you can source products for your t-shirt store, and here are the three most popular ones amongst Amazon sellers.

Merch by Amazon (MBA)

merch by amazon t-shirts
Source: Amazon

Amazon offers 2 fulfillment options, the first is Merch by Amazon (MBA). To get your designs printed, you first need to request an invitation from MBA by filling out a survey. Tell them a little about yourself, your design ideas, and previous experience with selling/designing products if applicable.

how to get approved to sell t shirts on amazon
Source: Amazon

Once MBA’s reviewed your request and approved it, you create a t-shirt design, upload it, and set your design price. That’s the amount of money you’ll get paid every time Amazon sells a t-shirt with your design. After that Amazon takes care of the rest—selling, printing, packing, and shipping.

With MBA, you also don’t have to pay a selling plan because Amazon sells the t-shirts on your behalf under their brand. While this way is the cheapest for you, it also grants the least control over your products. You don’t get to have your own storefront, interact with your customers, or advertise your products.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

amazon fba
Source: Amazon

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) has a different approach from MBA. You send FBA your t-shirts and other products. FBA then stores your inventory, packs your orders, and ships them to your customers.

When it comes to this fulfillment option, FBA charges you fulfillment and storage fees.

Printful

Printful Amazon t-shirt integration
Source: Printful

Printful is a print-on-demand company that supplies online store owners with custom clothing. With Printful, you can choose to have your designs either printed or embroidered onto t-shirts. Printful will then pack your t-shirt orders and ship them to your customers.

With Printful, all orders are made on demand. That means you don’t need to pay upfront for your inventory. You only pay for the t-shirts you sell.

Interested? Here’s how to connect your Amazon store to Printful.

Once you’ve picked a way to fulfill your t-shirt orders, it’s time to design.

3. Design your t-shirt

It’s time to get creative! This is possibly the most fun part of the process. To find your design idea, use your niche as an inspiration. Do you love exercising and want to sell motivational shirts to other fitness enthusiasts? Maybe you love houseplants and want to sell tees to other indoor gardeners? Whatever it is, you can turn it into a t-shirt design.

A few ideas you can implement in your design:

  • Motivational quotes
  • Inside jokes and niche-related puns
  • Animal-themed designs
  • Photo collages
  • Vintage visuals (from Art Deco to Disco)
  • Holiday-edition designs

In short—there’s A LOT. If you’re still unsure about what your t-shirt should look like, here’s our guide to coming up with t-shirt designs.

Once your design is done, put your t-shirt up for sale on your Amazon store. Now, let’s see how we can get your Amazon t-shirt listings the attention they deserve.

4. Get noticed on Amazon

Amazon’s a huge playing field. With 1.9 million active Amazon sellers, it’s easy to get lost in the marketplace. That’s why you need to take a strategic approach to get noticed by Amazon shoppers. Here are the main things you should do to increase your discoverability.

Do some Amazon SEO

Let’s imagine for a moment you’re an Amazon shopper who’d like to buy a t-shirt that expresses your love for books. You go to the site, type “book t-shirt” in the search bar, and hit enter. You are now presented with thousands of bookworm tees.

rch
Source: Amazon

Sure, you’ll most likely compare some top results. But you won’t go through ALL the product listings. Therefore, it’s important for Amazon sellers to have their listings appear high up in the search results.

That’s where Amazon SEO comes in handy. Amazon SEO involves several strategies that boost your discoverability in the marketplace by nudging your listing higher up in the search results. If you’re interested in learning more about it, here’s an Amazon SEO guide to help you out.

Add compelling product photos

Improve your customers’ shopping experience by adding high-quality product photos. It’ll be easier for them to find what they need and be happy with their purchase.

To catch the eyes of your Amazon customers, make sure your t-shirt photos are:

  1. High-quality (clear, well-lit, not pixelated)
  2. Compliant with Amazon rules (white backgrounds, no additional text, no drawings/illustrations)
  3. Showcasing your t-shirt to the full extent (design close-ups, additional lifestyle photos)

Promote your t-shirt listings

When you set up your seller account, you’ll have access to the Amazon Seller Central—an interface for Amazon merchants. Within the Amazon Seller Central, there are 3 tools you can use to boost your posts: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Display, and Sponsored Brands.

Sponsored Products are product listing ads. With Sponsored Products, your Amazon t-shirt listing will appear on page 1 of search results, page 1 of product category pages, and as related products.

sponsored products amazon example
Source: Amazon

Sponsored Display is similar to the previous promo option. The difference is, this one’s a little more customizable and it places the product ad both on Amazon and elsewhere on the web.

amazon sponsored display example
Source: Amazon

When clicked, this ad will lead them straight to your listing.

Sponsored Brands is a cost-per-click type of promotion. Sponsored Brands ads appear as banners on top of Amazon search results.

Amazon sponsored brands example
Source: Amazon

You can add your logo, a custom headline, and multiple products to your banner.

Create a buzz with social media marketing

One of the best ways you can increase awareness of your products is with social media. Just keep in mind—you need to give every social platform special attention. People have different expectations for each social media platform and what content they want to see there. So copy-pasting the same content on every platform won’t be effective.

Also, remember to check in with your accounts daily and see if customers are coming to you with their questions, reviews, and other messages.

amazon custom t shirts promo
Source: Instagram

Learn the etiquette of each social media channel with our guide to social media best practices.

Final words: Be patient!

For most t-shirt sellers, success on Amazon doesn’t come overnight. It takes patience and time, from one day to a month, and sometimes even longer to make the first sale.

”But what if I’ve tried everything, but my t-shirts just don’t sell?”

Don’t give up!

Lower your price as long as you stay profitable. Test other t-shirt designs, keep your hand on the pulse to jump on any emerging trends. Just because something didn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean it’s over for you and your tees.When you find out what works and what doesn’t work while selling t-shirts on Amazon, come back to this article, and share your experience in the comments!

This article was originally published in August 2018; it has since been updated.

Una is an SEO content marketing specialist with a knack for linkbuilding, SEO-friendly copywriting, and building stunning landing pages. In her spare time she's an avid reader, and keeps close tabs on all things social media and mental health.

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Comments

    1. Murice Miller

      Consider that a good thing that you did not make any sales. Please do not get me wrong. I love printful, but the amazon connection is not so good. P.S. It is not anything to do with Printful. When a customer makes an order, amazon holds the money until the product is shipped(printful will tell them). However, printful has to make the product to ship it, therefore they charge your card or paypal account that you have on file. I usually use woocommerce so when a person makes an order the money goes to my paypal account, so that when printful charges me, the money is already there from the customer. Not like that with amazon. You may have to use a credit card then at the end of the month pay it back once you have the money from amazon after the customer gets notification of shipment.

  1. Merrick

    I have a t-shirt design which the customer would order and choose a birth year to be printed with the slogan on it. Can Printful do this with relative ease? Also, shirt color and logo color would be chosen. Thank you, Merrick

  2. Bunny

    Really appreciate the article and found it quite helpful. However, I’m very suspicious of the section calculating profitability. Now I’m no pro at all this but I’ve been in the entrepreneurial world for 15 years and know that this area is confusing to newbies and easy to misunderstand.

    My first alert was that you are referring to monies left over after paying Printful and Amazon as profit. That’s not profit. Where’s the accounting for business income taxes, self-employment taxes, or additional overhead and expenses (like marketing budget, contracting any design work, Amazon Pro Account monthly fee, or purchasing samples)? Then there’s the owner’s draw (aka salary), which is different from profit. And what about accounting for offering sales or discounts (if applicable)? All of this needs to be factored into the sale price of the item and weighed against what people would pay on Amazon.

    It seems a gross oversimplification (as well as just plain incorrect) to say that your profit is simply what’s left over after paying the base Printful cost and Amazon’s cut. We’re obviously and necessarily paying a higher cost on Printful items to begin with for the benefits that POD offers, so having an $8.45 profit on a $26 shirt is ridiculous – but that’s what this article seems to be saying. I’ve encountered such math many times over the years and it really distorts a newcomers understanding of actual profitability. After you pay your expenses and taxes too you will be left with much less, and that means you’ll have to sell more or figure out something else to hit your personal income goals – because you can’t do anything with the numbers on the production side of the item which is handled by Printful.

    Also, it looks like the referral fees have increased since this article was published. According to this link, https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/200336920, fees for the category of Clothing & Accessories is currently 17%.

    And for anyone interested, I highly recommend the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. It’s easy to read and provides invaluable information regarding smartly managing your business funds to the extent of being profitable from DAY ONE.

    1. Madara Zute

      Hi Bunny,
      Thanks for your input and suggestions!
      We’ll look into updating this post and specifying the part about profit.

  3. Natalie

    Very helpful, bit pricey for me to start with Amazon due to the monthly fee and the charges. I’m a stay at home mom / graphic designer, just created my range on the Printful site and looking at where to integrate i.e. host my e-commerce, but the budget is really importat for me right now as I’m starting from ground zero and funding this is coming out of living money. Any suggestions on a good place to start? Just my own Wix/Shopify site? Or etsy? The idea / goal is to start generating some income to invest back into different platforms etc. just can’t do it all in the beginning. Any tips?

  4. Narmina

    A very helpful, detailed post! But I still have a question: I live in Azerbaijan and did not see my country’s name among the countries whose bank accounts Amazon supports. Does it mean I’d better not to waste my time and quit the idea of earning money this way? I will be very greatful to be answered, thanks!

  5. J Haynes

    Trying to get a store synced and working with Amazon is a fiasco! Beyond that Amazon sucks every bit of your profit out leaving you with change. My suggestion is spend that money in advertising and stay away from them, its just not worth it!

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