How to Sell Shirts on Etsy

How to Sell Shirts on Etsy: Step-by-Step Guide to Success

As an artist or designer, selling your unique t-shirt designs online likely sounds appealing. And Etsy just so happens to be a fantastic platform to make that happen. With a proven track record dating back to 2013, Etsy remains a top marketplace for slinging t-shirts and apparel in 2023—it caters well to creative folks, designers, and entrepreneurial spirits alike. As a trusted retail site standing the test of time, Etsy touts over 5.5 million active sellers and 89.1 million active buyers as of 2022, making it a prime choice to peddle tees in any niche.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll spill everything you need to know about successfully selling shirts on Etsy. We’ll walk through designing winning designs, producing quality tees, managing sane inventory, and shipping custom shirts smoothly. Additionally, we’ll explore simplified order sourcing and fulfillment solutions, leaning on handy print-on-demand services. Let’s unpack the steps and strategies for effectively selling shirts on Etsy, offering practical advice and real-world examples to make your journey a breeze.

Step 1: Determine Your T-shirt Audience on Etsy

Before launching your t-shirt shop on Etsy, it’s crucial to identify exactly who you want buying your shirts. Pinpointing your target audience allows you to strategically focus your marketing and craft designs that will appeal to potential customers.

An audience has many defining qualities – gender, age, location, income, family status, beliefs, politics, and more. Each group has unique traits setting them apart.

I recommend targeting a specific niche that has money to spend without insane competition. Use Google Trends to enter relevant search terms like “funny t-shirts” or “gamer tees” and attached keywords about your product angle. Study the resulting location info, demographics, and related searches to understand your shoppers.

Additionally, explore Etsy searches for terms like “quirky graphic tees” or “retro band t-shirts” – whatever fits your brand. Thoroughly researching your audience this way allows you to create designs and listings that will catch their eye and wallet.

The more you understand exactly who you are selling to, the better you can market directly to their interests and make sales. It’s worth taking the time upfront to define your niche!

how to sell shirts on etsy

Use google trend to analyze the shopping needs of the market

Step 2:  Create an Etsy Account

To set up a seller account, you’ll first need a consumer Etsy account. Follow these steps to create your account:

  • Go to and click on “Sign In" in the top right corner
  • If you don’t have an account, click on “Register" and provide the necessary details
  • After registering, check your email for a confirmation message from Etsy
  • Sign in to your new account at by selecting “Sign In"
  • Once logged in, add a profile picture and fill out your bio on your Public Profile page
  • To open a shop, click on the gray circle with a silhouette in the top right corner, and select “Sell on Etsy" from the drop-down menu
  • Navigate to the “Sell on Etsy" page and click the black “Open Your Etsy Shop" button below the banner


  • If you don’t see the email, check your spam or junk mail folder
  • If you’re using Gmail, check your Social and Promotions tabs
  • Add [email protected] to your email contacts and try resending the confirmation email if necessary

Step 3: Set up your shop

After creating your account and deciding to open a shop, follow these steps to set up your Etsy shop:

  • Click on the “Sell on Etsy" button and follow the prompts

Click on the


  • Choose a name for your shop (e.g., “MerchizeTshirtShop") – remember that you can change this later
  • Upload a profile picture and banner for your shop
  • Fill out your shop policies and information
  • Click “Get started" and then “Let’s do this" on the next screen
  • Answer the following questions or skip them, and click “Start your shop"
  • Select the choices you want and then click “Save and continue" on the “Shop Preferences" box.

Now you’re ready for the exciting part – stocking your shop! This is where you’ll create and add your first t-shirt design to your Merchize shop.

Step 4: Create your shirt designs

Creating top-selling t-shirt designs that resonate with your brand and Etsy customers is crucial. Merchize is the perfect platform to help you select the best t-shirts and apply your designs with download the free Mockup Generator.

printify t-shirt mockup generator

Here are some guidelines for creating great shirt designs:

  • Ensure your designs align with your brand and niche, and always strive for originality.
  • Prioritize simplicity in your designs, unless your target audience has different preferences.
  • Avoid using more than two fonts per design, and make sure they are legible, visually appealing, and on-trend.
  • Limit the number of colors per design and product to simplify buyer choices and prevent decision paralysis.
  • Use design tools that suit your needs and budget. There are various options beyond Adobe Photoshop, including free and affordable alternatives such as Canva, PlaceIt, or InkScape. 
  • Submit high-quality files and proof-check before sending out for production to avoid any blurriness and ensure that your shirts look polished. 
  • Test your designs for copyright infringement by using a copyright infringement checker or by hiring a copyright attorney.
  • If you need professional assistance, consider hiring designers through the Merchize Experts program to help you create high-quality designs.

With these tips, you’ll be able to create eye-catching and successful t-shirt designs for your Etsy shop.

You can also refer to our guide on our T-shirt design best practices to a successful T-shirt venture. 

Step 5:  Fill Out the Storefront

As an Etsy seller, you might wonder where to source your shirts and how to fill your store. While there are various methods like wholesaling and manufacturing, using Print on Demand (POD) with Merchize is far more convenient and manageable.

With POD, a t-shirt is printed only after it’s ordered. The Print Providers will prepare the product and ship it directly to the customer, while Merchize ensures quality and fulfillment.

 how to sell shirts on etsy

Here’s how to do it:

  • Prepare Products: Visit Merchize Product Catalog to find the best customizable t-shirts for printing. Browse through the Women’s, Men’s, and Kids’ t-shirt categories. Once you choose the t-shirt, apply your designs using the Mockup Generator, adjust them, save, edit product descriptions, and publish them on Etsy.
  • Optimize Your Listings: After publishing the listings on Etsy, you’ll need to fine-tune the product descriptions and pictures, product categories, tags, shipping settings, and Print Provider. Pay special attention to this step, as it will determine your t-shirt’s searchability. Use relevant keywords associated with your product and brand identity whenever possible, but avoid overstuffing.

By following these steps, you can efficiently fill your storefront with attractive t-shirt listings that appeal to your target audience on Etsy.

Step 6: Price Your Products

Pricing your products effectively is crucial for your Etsy store’s success. Start by conducting market research, taking into account your competitors’ prices, production costs, and Etsy fees. Aim to cover all expenses and maintain a profit margin of 30-40%. Consider these two main pricing strategies:

  • Lower Profit Margin: Keep a smaller profit margin to gain a competitive edge. This approach works well with target audiences like students and young people who prioritize lower prices.
  • Higher Perceived Value: Slightly raise product prices and generate more profit by increasing the perceived value. This strategy is suitable for audiences composed of professionals and people with families who prioritize quality over price.

Remember to adjust your pricing based on changes in your audience and market, and take advantage of sales and holidays.

How to Sell Shirts on Etsy

When using Print-on-Demand, calculate the cost of your t-shirt materials and printing, and figure out a margin you want to make. Add that margin to the cost. For example, if your printed t-shirts cost $9.30 + $4.00 shipping, ensure you make enough margin to cover the $9.30 + Etsy seller fees (You can charge shipping at $4.00 to cancel out the shipping fees).

Suppose your average cost is as described above, and you charge around $22.00 per shirt in your Etsy store (for small through x-large – more for larger sizes). After Etsy fees, you could expect around $10.16 in profit on one t-shirt.

Continually monitor your pricing strategy and make adjustments as needed to maximize your store’s profitability while catering to your target audience’s preferences.

You may also like: Best Selling Items on eBay: Top Trending Product 2024

Step 7: Choosing Print-on-Demand Fulfillment Services

Opting for a Print-on-Demand (POD) service can significantly simplify the process of selling t-shirts on Etsy. A POD service like Merchize takes care of printing, packaging, and shipping, which allows you to focus on creating eye-catching designs and effective marketing strategies.

Fulfillment Services Merchize

Merchize is one of the best Fulfillment Services for Print On Demand

When your Etsy customer places an order, it appears in your POD account. After verifying and submitting the order, Merchize handles the shipping, with your shop name displayed in the “return" address on the package. Although print-on-demand might be slightly more expensive, it saves you from dealing with inventory management and shipping logistics.

Here’s a quick overview of how Merchize’s Print-on-Demand fulfillment services operate:

  • Create a Merchize account: Begin by setting up a Merchize fulfillment store and connecting it to your integrated selling store.
  • Design & Sell Products: Select products from Merchize’s extensive catalog, create your unique designs, and add them to your store. Now, all you need to do is wait for the orders to roll in.
  • Fulfilled by Merchize: Merchize manages the entire fulfillment process, from producing your products to shipping them directly to your customers.

By choosing a reliable print-on-demand service like Merchize, you streamline your business operations and free up valuable time to focus on expanding your Etsy store and boosting your profits 

Start your own Shirts Shop on Etsy With Merchize
Merchize is a print-on-demand platform that allows you to create custom products without investing in inventory upfront. By using Merchize alongside Etsy, you can easily set up and manage your online T-shirt business.

Step 8: Promote Your T-Shirt Shop

To increase your sales and visibility on Etsy, you need to promote your t-shirt shop effectively. While Etsy already provides a built-in audience, there are additional strategies you can employ to attract more customers:

Utilize Etsy Ads

To promote your T-shirt shop on Etsy, investing in Etsy ads is an excellent strategy. By setting a daily budget, Etsy will prioritize your listings in search results for relevant keywords, increasing your shop’s visibility to potential customers. For example, if you sell T-shirts designed for teachers, your listings will appear higher in search results for terms like “shirts for teachers" and “teacher shirts." Using Etsy ads can substantially boost your shop’s exposure, especially for new shops looking to establish their presence.

To maximize the effectiveness of your Etsy ads, monitor your ad performance and adjust your strategy accordingly. Tools like eRank can provide valuable insights into monthly search volumes and keyword trends, helping you optimize your listings and ad targeting. By investing in Etsy ads and fine-tuning your approach, you can significantly increase your T-shirt shop’s visibility and sales potential.

Leverage Instagram

Instagram is an excellent platform for promoting your T-shirt shop, as it allows you to connect with your target audience and showcase your designs visually. To make the most of Instagram, follow these steps:

  1. Create a well-branded Instagram page with an attractive logo or avatar, and write a compelling description that highlights your unique selling points, such as your background or expertise.
  2. Link your Instagram page to your Etsy shop, making it easy for potential customers to browse and purchase your products.
  3. Post engaging content tailored to your target audience’s interests. For example, if you’re targeting teachers, share inspirational quotes, teacher sayings, and stories about exceptional educators. Tools like Canva can help you create visually appealing posts that resonate with your audience.
  4. As your follower count grows, occasionally feature your Etsy T-shirts in your posts. Use tools like Placeit to create professional mockups that showcase your designs in the best possible light.
  5. Once you have at least 20 designs on Etsy and a minimum of 1,000 followers on Instagram, start promoting your posts periodically. Boosted posts with high organic reach and engagement are ideal candidates for paid promotion.
  6. Run T-shirt giveaways to further grow your Instagram following. Select a popular design, announce the giveaway, and establish clear rules for participation, such as following your page, tagging friends in the comments, and liking the post. Giveaways can attract new followers and increase engagement on your account.

How to Sell Shirts on Etsy

By leveraging Instagram effectively, you can attract organic visitors and sales to your Etsy shop, expanding your customer base and driving long-term growth.

Harness the Power of Pinterest

Pinterest is another valuable platform for promoting your T-shirt shop on Etsy, as it offers long-term exposure and can drive consistent traffic to your store. Pins you create today can generate interest and sales for years to come. To make the most of Pinterest, follow these steps:

  1. Create a Pinterest account and optimize your profile by including a compelling description and a link to your Etsy shop.
  2. Set up boards that showcase your T-shirt designs and other content relevant to your target audience. For example, if you’re targeting teachers, you could create boards featuring lesson plan ideas, classroom organization tips, and educational resources.
  3. Use high-quality images and engaging captions to encourage users to save and share your pins. Tools like Canva can help you design visually appealing pins that stand out.
  4. Utilize Pinterest analytics to track your pins’ performance, identify popular content, and refine your strategy based on data-driven insights.
  5. Consider running Pinterest ads to boost the visibility of your top-performing pins and drive even more traffic to your Etsy shop.

Offer Free Shipping and Discount Promotions

Offering free shipping and limited-time discounts can significantly increase your T-shirt shop’s visibility on Etsy and improve your conversion rate. Shops that provide free shipping are often prioritized in search results, helping you stand out from the competition.

Discount promotions can also be an effective strategy for driving sales. By offering a percentage off your products for a limited time, you can create a sense of urgency and encourage potential customers to make a purchase. Experiment with different discount structures and lengths to determine what works best for your shop.

 How to Sell Shirts on Etsy

Employ an Omnichannel Marketing Approach

In addition to running Etsy ads, Instagram, and Pinterest, consider adopting an omnichannel marketing strategy to reach a wider audience and strengthen your brand. This approach involves using multiple marketing channels to create a seamless and consistent customer experience across all touchpoints. Some potential channels to explore include:

  1. A standalone website, which can help you establish a strong online presence and build credibility for your T-shirt shop.
  2. Email marketing, allowing you to communicate directly with your customers and keep them informed about new products, promotions, and updates.
  3. Other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, depending on your target audience’s preferences and demographics.

How to Sell Shirts on Etsy

By incorporating multiple marketing channels into your strategy, you can expand your reach, connect with more potential customers, and grow your T-shirt shop on Etsy.

We had published several print-on-demand marketing best practices, make sure to check them out! 

In conclusion, successfully selling shirts on Etsy takes some strategic moves. Based on my experience, I’d recommend running Etsy ads to get more eyeballs to your shop. Instagram and Pinterest are also perfect for engaging with your target t-shirt audience – share posts and pics that speak to their interests.

Offer promotions like free shipping or 10% off to incentivize buyers and boost conversions. And make sure your shop is visible across channels – not just Etsy, but have a Shopify store, eBay listings, etc. to cast a wide net.

Pulling together these marketing, engagement, incentive, and omnichannel strategies is crucial for standing out among the Etsy t-shirt selling competition. Consistency also matters when making sales – keep fine-tuning your approach with customer feedback and store analytics.

Stick with what works while constantly improving. By tailoring shirts and sales tactics to your niche over time, you can ultimately build a truly successful Etsy t-shirt business.

Benjamin Nguyen is a pivotal Search Engine Optimization Leader at Merchize, he dedicating his efforts to providing valuable resources to those in the Print On Demand industry. Gleaning from years of hard-earned experience in both the publishing and writing industries, Benjamin shares his wealth of knowledge through meticulously crafted marketing tips, insightful selling guides, style & trend advice, and indispensable e-commerce tutorials.