Lessons Learned from My First Teespring Publishing Project

In this post a few weeks ago I revealed that I had tried publishing a tee-shirt design on the popular Teespring platform.

The campaign is over, so I thought I would take this opportunity to reveal how it went and some of the lessons I learned from it.

Of course, the main aim of the campaign was to make some sort of profit. Unfortunately, the profit I made barely covered the money I spent advertising the shirt on Facebook. Still, at least I didn’t make an overall loss!

So one thing I learned straightaway is that making money on Teespring isn’t as easy as you might think. I thought I had a witty, topical idea and a snazzy design, but the great British online public (whom I targeted) thought otherwise.

Here are a few more lessons I learned along the way as well, in the hope they might help anyone else who is considering trying their hand at this…

1. In many ways Teespring is a great platform for designing tee-shirts, but some aspects of the way it works aren’t especially intuitive. For example, initially I assumed that with any design potential customers would be able to choose from the whole range of shirt colours. That is not actually the case. You have to specify what colours you want your shirt to be made available in, and there is a maximum to the number you can choose.

2. Just because your design generates interest and “likes”, it doesn’t automatically mean people will want to buy it. As you will see from the image above, my shirt had a political message, on a topic that in the UK is still generating a lot of controversy. One comment I received was that even people who sympathized with the message might feel uncomfortable going out wearing a shirt that others could find provocative.

3. You must expect and be prepared for some negative comments and even trolling. I got my fair share of this on Facebook from people on the other side of the Brexit argument. There were also some people who appeared outraged that I was attempting to make money in this way.

4. If you advertise your tee-shirt on Facebook, bear in mind that people will comment in ways you can’t control. Neither can you delete negative comments made in response to the ads. Of course I am not against freedom of speech, but it is somewhat frustrating when your carefully prepared Facebook ad on which you have spent good money is effectively defaced by abuse and obscenities.

5. if you hope to make money selling tee-shirts on Teespring, you need to have a way of targeting potential buyers as precisely as possible. Facebook can be your friend here, as you can select by interest, age-group, geographical location, and so forth. In my case I selected an audience of young people (age 20 to 30) in the UK. It quickly became apparent that this was far too broad, and my advertisement was being shown to a lot of people who disagreed with the message, to whom it came across as a red rag to a bull (see points 3 and 4, above).

So would I try tee-shirt marketing on Teespring again? The answer is yes, absolutely, but I would probably steer clear of political slogans! A lot of people who have succeeded in this field target a very precise niche market, e.g. dachshund owners. Come up with something that appeals to these people and you should have a much better chance of making a profit while avoiding a torrent of personal abuse.

I also realise that to succeed in this field you need to hone your skills in targeting people who are likely to buy your design. With my anti-Brexit shirt, I realise now that my targeting was hopelessly broad. While I could have narrowed it down a bit by targeting people interested in Europe (for example), precision targeting buyers for this shirt would still have been difficult – at any rate using Facebook advertising.

So that was my experience of setting up a tee-shirt marketing campaign on Teespring. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them below. I would also be interested to hear from anyone who has tried out this sideline moneymaking method for themselves.

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