Looking for employment, writer asks about selling own T-shirts online

Q: I’m a professional writer looking for extra income between writing gigs. What do I need to start a successful print-on-demand T-shirt store?

A: A print-on-demand (POD) T-shirt store is a great way to turn a creative,Looking for employment, writer asks about selling own T-shirts online Articles enjoyable activity into an income. You set up an online store at a POD site and put up your designs as graphics files. When a customer chooses one of your designs for a T-shirt or other product, the product is printed just for their order and you earn a markup over the price the POD company charges. The POD company handles printing, shipping, billing, returns, and bookkeeping. You don’t need to maintain an inventory.

To set up shop, you need an Internet connection, of course, to transfer your designs to a print-on-demand company. You need a computer, so you can edit your designs. You need time to devote, and you need to devote the time.

You need an account at one of the print-on-demand web sites. Printfection and Zazzle don’t charge you anything to set up shop there. At CafePress, you pay $60 for each premium shop you set up. “Premium shop” means the kind of shop you get at either Printfection or Zazzle for free. On he other hand, CafePress advertises a lot. You will probably get more customers through their marketplace.


You need an image editor. You can get one free from gimp.org: the GNU Image Manipulation Program. GIMP is more than powerful enough for anything you will want to do with it.

You need ideas for designs. The ideas don’t have to be brilliant. You only have to express the attitudes, feelings, and beliefs of your customers.

You need feedback on your designs. You could just wait to see how well they sell, but you might have to wait a long time to find out, especially if the designs aren’t particularly popular. You can get good suggestions about them at the at the print-on-demand site’s members’ forum. The more experienced members are usually more than happy to help out newcomers.

To sell T-shirts or anything else on the Internet, you need good key words. The first thing you must ask yourself is, “What would people type into a search engine if they were looking for a product like mine?” It may take a while to explore the various ways they might say it. The next question is, “How many times do people actually search for that keyword phrase in a month?” You can find that using the Google keyword tool. The next question is, “Just how many competing pages or products will they find if they type that keyword?” To get an estimate, type the keyword phrase, in quotes, into the Google search page. If there are too few searches for the keyword phrase, or too many competing pages, it’s not worth trying to use it. If you can’t find good keywords for a design idea, you’ll make more money if you try something else.