A couple of years ago, I started making t-shirts out of my favorite sayings, from my glossary. Stuff like UNABLE TO CAN and GIVER OF NO DAMBS. Graphic tees are huge now, and people love rocking cheeky and clever things on their chests. The more clever, the better.

I’ve made over 5-figures selling tshirts, first on Spreadshirt, then Teespring, and now in partnership with Tees in the Trap.

Awe Luv Tees Slideshow copy

No matter what platform you use to sell t-shirts, some things hold true for how to sell the most units. I’ve picked up these tips from people who worked in these platforms and from seeing the analytics of the types of shirts people have bought from me over the years. I’ve tested it out too.

Sell black tshirts.

Black shirts make the most money, hands-down. People love wearing black because it goes with everything, it does not get dirty and it is the most neutral color for anyone’s closet. Most people wear black. Light-colored shirts do not sell well, and white shirts sell the least. I shy away from them too, as a buyer because I don’t trust myself in white. I am one drink away from making a mess of my ensemble always.

A Teespring rep confirmed this to me and I’ve proven it right in campaigns that I did where I offered light t-shirts. They fell flat and sold way less than the black shirts, even if the design was the same.

Keep women in mind.

We use our spending power, and we love to shop. Keep us in mind when you’re creating t-shirts. This doesn’t mean have everything be pink. I mean think about sizing. For the petite ladies, we usually want fitted tees, because the unisex ones can be too big. For the plus-size women, they often want the unisex tee, and in sizes up to 3XL to handle the boobage. So have a variety of sizes so folks who want to order can find what fits them best.

Do not give people too many color choices.

We think that having our shirts available in 10 colors is good because someone will definitely find what they want. FALSE. There is a point when having too many choices gives an adverse effect. People can be crippled from picking one because they cannot decide. Help them decide and stick to 4 colors or less for each t-shirt design. Choice fatigue is real.

Stay away from clashing t-shirt colors.

As in don’t put yellow text on a pink shirt, and the likes. Some people will think it’s cute, but not enough to make you lots of money. Make sure there’s enough contrast on your t-shirt between color of the shirt itself and the ink you use. If you stick to the rule of light on dark, and dark on light, you’ll be good.

Price t-shirts at around $20-30.

Long-sleeves at $30+. Hoodies and $35+. People will pay these prices without much deliberation. At this point, what will make people decide on yes or no is your t-shirt design. I’ve seen some folks price their tshirts at $15. Too low. Or $45. Too high. Unless the material is premium and can justify that price.

Keep designs simple.

You don’t need some elaborate font or layout or complicated picture. Simple will always win out against overly complicated. The BEST designs are balanced and bold. Let the shirt be loud. Use large font always so people do not have to walk up on the person wearing it to read what it says. Unless that’s the point of the shirt. All I know is I don’t take too kindly for people to walk up and stare at what’s on my chest. They should be able to see it from a decent distance.

If you’re saying something direct, use block font. Something cute? Then you can try a script. Something girly, a font that has round edges. And NEVER USE COMIC SANS. EVER EVER. NEVER.

This is my top selling shirt design. Simple. All text. 2 fonts. Comes in 4 colors (black, red, purple, blue). Dassit.

UNABLE TO CAN tshirt | Awesomely Luvvie

Create a t-shirt that YOU would like to rock.

Start there if you have no ideas what your shirt could be about. What do YOU wanna rock on your chest? What are your favorite sayings that aren’t the intellectual property of someone else? Always do your research.

That’s all I can think of for now. I sold over 1,100 shirts in the first 5 months of me offering them and it brought me more money than I anticipated. Yes, I might have an audience but I also gave them good stuff to want to buy. Don’t take it for granted that people are willing to spend their money with you. Put some thought into what you’re asking them to buy.

If you do a tee with an image on it, make sure it’s compelling in some way. Like this t-shirt by artist Patrick Campbell.

New Age of Slavery t-shirt by Patrick Campbell

The tshirt is available for purchase here.

All in all, I see too many t-shirt campaigns where the design is poorly thought of, colors are bad, font choice is terrible and even though I want to support, I am not inclined to.

You do not have to partner with a small business to get your tshirts up and running. Teespring is pretty good for this, and I used them for a year before heading to Tees in the Trap, who was the perfect partner for me for so many reasons. Heads up, that is a referral link so I get commission if you sign up. Just wanted you to know.

Anywho, if you dug this piece, Pin the image below!

How To Sell T-Shirts That People Will Want to Buy | Awesomely Techie

About the author

Luvvie Ajayi is a writer and digital strategist who believes in using the power of technology for social change. She's the 13-year blogging veteran behind AwesomelyLuvvie.com (an award-winning pop culture and humor blog) and co-founder of The Red Pump Project (a national nonprofit that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls).

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  • jasminepowers

    This is awesome, Luvvie!!! Thanks for sharing these insights.

  • Saundra Davis

    Put a check mark in the “I pay it forward to other entrepreneurs” in the 7,042 reason Luvvie is so dope.

  • Hadiya Inu

    This was so awesome. I wonder if my current design is a no and fail… if you can, please check out Blackisabsolute.com and feedback 🙁

  • Kristin Kimble

    I absolutely needed this! Thank you!!

  • Kristin Kimble

    Question…..how are people’s response to the delay in TeeSpring shipment (i.e. when the campaign is over), Was that ever an issue? How long would you normally run your campaigns for each product? Do you just re-campaign the same products constantly? Sorry…..I’m new to this but really trying to get this t-shirt biz going! Thank you for any help you can provide!

  • Chantelle

    Hey Luvvie …. thanks for the info. Do you do dropship? Or are you carrying inventory and shipping it yourself?

  • Joval Webbe

    There’s a typo in the Price t-shirts at around $20-30. section. The first error correction is on me, but when you need an editor you’ll know who to call! ☺

  • This was SUPER helpful and couldn’t have come at a better time. Just re-launched a t-shirt shop last month. Going back to make some adjustments. 😉

  • Twilla Amin Tanyi

    Question. My teespring campaign is on the struggle bus! Do you have any quick tips on marketing tees?

    https://teespring.com/won-t-he#pid=87&cid=2340&sid=front

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  • Lupe Williams

    Really informative and helpful article about selling t-shirts .Everybody related with this profession will get a lot of suggestions from this post. http://www.signsmanchester.com/ thanks for sharing worked perfectly

  • Pingback: 3 Steps to Starting a T-Shirt Business From Scratch | Awesomely Techie()

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  • LeaVee Jordan-Patterson

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cdd47c9337f4a097ee3fc1ddd022ef6c94538d6f5dd24f12c775c426e8460c25.jpg
    Thank you for this info! Could you critique my designs at BuyBlackByU.com? I would really value your comments!!!!