How to Sell Shirts on Etsy | 2023 Ultimate Guide

Selling Shirts on Etsy

If you’re an artist or designer looking to learn how to sell shirts on Etsy, this is THE GUIDE FOR YOU. Etsy can be a great platform to start with, especially for beginners. 

There is no better time to get ready to make big sales on Etsy than right now.

My first proven results with Etsy came back in 2013. Fast forward to 2023, and Etsy is still the best place to start selling t-shirts and apparel online, in my opinion.

Etsy is a trusted retail marketplace that has stood the test of time and is still a popular place for creatives, designers, and entrepreneurs to sell their goods. As someone who has sold on the Etsy platform for many years, I highly recommend Etsy as the best marketplace for selling t-shirts in any niche market.

If you are looking into how to make money selling shirts on Etsy, this guide is for you!

Why use Etsy to Sell T-shirts? 

Start with the market research…

With over 81 million active users and a focus on handmade and unique items, it’s a popular marketplace for buyers and sellers alike. 

Another great thing about leveraging Etsy to sell your t-shirts is that you can create an online store quickly, launch your products, and determine how they will be received by your audience in record time.

However, standing out among the competition can be challenging. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on how to sell t-shirts on Etsy, covering everything from setting up your shop to optimizing your listings.

Determine Your T-shirt Audience on Etsy

As you look into how to sell shirts on Etsy, the first step is to know your t-shirt audience. Who do you want to reach? What does the current Etsy audience look like right now without your idea?

What’s The Etsy T-Shirt Market Like?

According to Statista, approximately 81% of the buyers on Etsy are women. This means you need to consider that your target market is mostly women from day one. But this isn’t bad news for men’s t-shirt designs. In fact, I’ve had a ton of success selling men’s t-shirts during Father’s day and Christmas because women are always looking for gifts for their husbands and fathers. 

“Approximately 81% of the buyers on Etsy are women.”


And gifts are something that people buy all year long, so there’s always a market for men’s merch. But if your t-shirt brand targets women, you have an even larger instant target market.

Sell T-shirts the Best-Selling Shops are Selling

Know what the bestsellers are. Find shirts on Etsy and take a look at who is selling them. Then don’t follow the crowd. Don’t copy and paste basic designs to create your brand. You can take the best-selling shirts you see and make your own unique designs. A great design can yield a higher price than other shops. Customers will pay more for products that are high quality, and have a unique brand identity.

Sell T-shirts You Would Wear

What kind of hobbies do you personally enjoy? Sewing, hunting, lifting weights, hiking, yoga, working on cars, etc. Single in on your target by thinking about the things you like most. Write these down.

What kind of designs can you create around these ideas? Go to Etsy and search for some of these. See what different products show up in the search results. For example, if you like deer hunting, then type “deer hunting t-shirts” in the search bar and see which ones are selling. 

Check each Etsy storefront and get an idea of how much traffic and sales they get by the number of reviews they have, as well as the age of their store.

If you are a Veteran or a Police Officer, maybe creating a military or tactical brand is how you want to go.

Veterans tshirts etsy


If you decide on a target market that looks like you, you’ve done two important things. 

First, you will thoroughly enjoy developing new ideas for your brand. This will be fun, not work. And second, since you know yourself well, you can figure you probably know your target audience. It’s much easier to create t-shirts for an audience you can relate to.

Niche Down

The number one mistake I see Etsy sellers make is making their store too general. Create a store focused on one niche, and one niche only! Key in on your target audience. Once they visit your store, they will see everything that relates to what they initially found you for.

Let me give you an example of one of my Etsy stores, focused entirely on baptism shirts. I am focusing entirely on the baptism niche. Why? Because buyers are looking for either baptism gifts to give to others, or are looking to wear a fun baptism shirt while they are getting baptized or attending a baptism. The bonus is that they like to buy a few of these at once.


Instead of focusing on religious shirts, or Christian shirts, I narrow it down even further for a specific event. Whoever finds my shirt through a search, will visit my store and see a big selection of baptism shirts, and no other distracting shirts that vary from what they came for.

You may think that is limiting yourself too much as there are only so many baptism shirt designs you can create. After you run out of design ideas, think outside the box. Besides shirts, what else can I offer? You already have the designs, why not add some hoodies and sweatshirts too?

What do people usually gift for baptisms? How about a custom candle with a phrase and the person’s name on it? Don’t want to spend the time at home making that? No problem, there are plenty of companies that will do it for you! We will touch on this point later on in this guide.

Getting Started: Creating an Etsy Shop

The first step to selling t-shirts on Etsy is to create an account and set up your shop. Here’s what you need to do:

Create an Etsy Account

If you don’t already have an Etsy account, you’ll need to create one. You can sign up with your email address or use your Facebook or Google account to make the process faster. Go to the Etsy account signup here

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Set Up Your Shop

Once you have an account, click the “Sell on Etsy” button and follow the prompts to set up your shop. You’ll need to choose a name for your shop, upload a profile picture and banner, and fill out your shop policies and information.

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On the next screen, click “Get started”:

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On the next screen, click the “Let’s do this” button:

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Answer the next few questions or skip them, then click “Start your shop”:

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On the “Shop Preferences” screen, select your preferences then click “save and continue”:


This is where it starts to get fun. Name your shop. You can change this later. For now, I am going to name my store “TshirtGrowthShop”:

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The next step is where it gets fun. It’s called “Stock your shop”. Here you will create your first t-shirt design.

Add Your T-Shirt Designs

The next step is where it gets fun. It’s called “Stock your shop”. Here you will create your first t-shirt design. 

You can create a single design here, then add more designs to the shop later. Also, if you plan to add designs directly from print-on-demand platforms like Printful or Printify, you can set up the one product now, and add the print-on-demand designs once you’ve made that connection (we’ll discuss how later in this post). Use this first listing to just get your store live and up and running.

After setting up your shop, you can start adding your t-shirt designs. Make sure to use high-quality images and include detailed descriptions of each design.

To create your first t-shirt product directly from Etsy, there are a few items you must fill out to go live.

Some of these items are:

  1. Upload at least one product image (several images are best)
  2. Create a Title for your t-shirt
  3. Create a Description for your t-shirt (describe what type of shirt you are printing on)
  4. Sizing (create the sizes and prices per size using a new Variation)
  5. Shipping cost (It is best to do free shipping as Etsy will favor you in their search results)
  6. Processing time (I selected 3-5 days. Select the option that works for your process)
  7. Tags (not required, but tags are like keywords that will help your SEO)

Once you do this, you can Save your first product and go to the next step.

Keep in mind if you are going to use Print-on-demand like Printify or Printful, then we will set up that connection (later in this article), and you will be able to create these products directly from the Print-on-demand platform. 

In the example below, I created a simple design using I saved the mockup image directly from Canva to use as my first product image. 


The last 3 steps are to set up “How you’ll get paid”, “Set up billing”, and “Your shop security”.

The How you’ll get paid step is where you will set up the bank account where your payments will go. Set up billing is where you set up a credit card to take care of any fees. For example, you will be charged $.20 for your first t-shirt listing. 

How to Make Shirts to Sell on Etsy: Printing Options

If you are wondering how to sell shirts on etsy without inventory, Print on Demand is the answer! There are several options for sourcing t-shirts and printing your designs. Since I’ve sold t-shirts on Etsy via three different printing methods over the last 10 years, I wanted to show several options for sourcing and printing your Etsy t-shirts. Here are some of the most common:

Print-on-Demand (POD)

With the POD model, you can create 100+ designs on Etsy if you want. All you have to do is create the designs and import them into your Etsy store. As orders come in, the POD shop ships them out (like drop shipping). 

This also allows you to test all kinds of new designs and POD products. You can see what shirt designs sell. Then if you do decide to eventually scale your business, you can do it at your own pace.

POD companies like Printful and Printify allow you to upload your designs and sell t-shirts without having to hold inventory or handle fulfillment. They handle the printing, shipping, and customer service for you.


Printful Vs Printify

Printful and Printify are two popular print-on-demand platforms commonly used to print your designs and ship them out to the customer. Both of these services offer a wide range of products, including t-shirts, on which users can print their custom designs. However, they each have their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

Printful stands out for its high-quality printing and customer service. They have a wider range of products and apparel styles, which can be beneficial for store owners looking to offer more variety. Additionally, Printful handles all aspects of order fulfillment, including packaging and shipping, leaving store owners free to focus on their core business.

The big advantage of Printful is that you can build a real brand. With printed neck tags, sleeve prints, and “pack-ins,” you can provide your customers on Etsy with a next-level experience.

Not only will customers love the custom pack-ins and the brand, but you can also sell your Printful shirts for a much higher price because of the quality and because “logo-tagged” shirts come from a real brand that customers can get behind.

However, this comprehensive service tends to be more expensive compared to other platforms, which could potentially eat into your profit margins.

I am currently using Printful for my Etsy stores as the integration was quick and easy. Their UI allows me to quickly create templates and push them to my stores in a few clicks.

On the other hand, Printify is known for its cost-effectiveness. Their competitive pricing can result in higher profit margins for store owners. They also offer a large network of printing partners, which allows for a wide range of printing options and potentially faster shipping times depending on the locations of the printing partners.

However, because Printify acts as a middleman between the store owner and various print providers, there can sometimes be inconsistencies in print quality.

I used Printify since April 2020, and while Etsy is a small part of our business, we have sold a lot of shirts on Etsy. All the POD platforms have their own great features. But Printify has the lowest price for a front print t-shirt.

Both Printful and Printify have their merits and drawbacks, so the choice between the two will largely depend on a store owner’s specific needs and budget. Find the shirt style that you want to sell, and see if there is a big cost difference. If not, I would suggest going with Printful.

Etsy Integration Using Printify and Printful

Printify, Printful, and several other POD platforms are connected to Etsy, making it extremely easy to send your new products to Etsy directly from the platforms.

With Printful or Printify, you simply need to “sync” or connect your accounts to your Etsy account.

From there, once you create a new product on the POD platforms, you can publish them directly to Etsy.

For example, in my Printify store, I create the description and create the title:

veteran camo printify description

On this same page, I select the shipping profile, which is always my default “first class shipping” option. I also set the pricing for each “size variant”. This is where I make sure that there is enough margin based on my prices:

shipping profile printify etsy

The last steps are to set my “publishing settings” and then either “save draft” or “publish”. Once I click publish here, the listing will go directly to my Etsy store. From there, I open the product in “edit” mode and add tags and any other details to my listing. I also adjust the “product photo” to be zoomed in so the design is easily viewed in the storefront view.

publishing settings

Heat Transfer Vinyl

My very first Etsy t-shirts were Heat Transfer vinyl designs. In 2013 and 2014, I sold many of my creations, using my vinyl cutter and a heat press. I bought the vinyl cutter on eBay. It came with designing software that sends the design to the cutter.

I created a lot of very simple custom shirts. Like “Grandpa since 1971”. All I had to do is change the year depending on what the customer ordered.


Custom t-shirts like this are easy to sell on Etsy because you can buy rolls of White heat transfer vinyl to fulfill dozens of different designs that are white (design) on black, navy, red, royal, and dark gray, which are the most popular dark t-shirt colors to print on.

Besides white vinyl, consider glitter and metallic transfer vinyls to create some awesome designs that women will love!


Screen Printing

Screen printing is the most popular method for printing t-shirts in bulk. Many Etsy T-shirt brands create designs and screen print them in their shop (or a wholesale screen printing shop) and keep inventory that is sold on the platform. 

When I was vetting some of my screen-printed designs on Etsy a few years ago, I created several designs. I got wholesale printing rates at a local screen print shop. I uploaded product images, created the t-shirt product descriptions, then entered the “inventory” for each size. Manual inventory needs to be tracked for each product when you stock inventory.

screenprinted shirts for etsy

This method means you need to pack and ship your shirts. By using USPS through Etsy, the shipping rates are low. If you can get the shirts printed at a good cost, this can be a great method. 

A challenge of screen printing on Etsy is potentially running out of stock on certain sizes. 

In my opinion, screenprinting t-shirts to sell on Etsy works best when you’ve already got a steady market for your brand and you have a steady demand for your products.

Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing

DTG printing involves using a specialized printer to print the design directly onto the t-shirt. It’s a good option for printing small quantities or designs with many colors.

DTG is the primary method that Print-on-demand platforms use to print their shirts. 


While DTG is a great way to print one-off orders and doesn’t require you to keep an inventory, I wouldn’t recommend this method for an Etsy t-shirt brand unless you already have DTG equipment. Take this from someone who invested $8,500 on a good starter DTG machine and sold it 4 months later. 

DTG printers are great if you are running them all day, every day, and keeping up the daily maintenance. But if you are printing a shirt here and there (if you’re just starting, for example), owning your own DTG machine is not worth the investment.

Creating High-Quality Product Photos

Having high-quality mockups for shirts you’re selling on Etsy is crucial for a few key reasons.

First, it provides your customers with a clear and accurate visual representation of the product, allowing them to make informed purchase decisions. This can help reduce returns and increase customer satisfaction.

Second, mockups can also be used to showcase different color and design options, allowing customers to see all available variations.

Third, a professional-looking mockup can help to increase the perceived value of your product, making it more appealing to potential buyers.

Lastly, since Etsy is a highly competitive marketplace, high-quality mockups can help your products stand out from the competition, attracting more views and ultimately leading to more sales.


Take a look at how one of my Etsy stores looks like above. I have a unique primary mock-up for every shirt design. The biggest mistake I see sellers do is to have the same exact mockup for every shirt and just swap out the design. That does not look professional to anyone who visits your Etsy Store!


Besides the main photo, it is important to have additional photos that show your shirt design. You need to show how your shirt will look like while being worn by an actual person! When people are buying shirts, they imagine how they will look like wearing them.

Here are some tips for how to create these great product photos for your Etsy store.

Mockup Photos

My #1 choice for product photos for Etsy and other sites is mock photos. A mock photo is a simulated or staged photograph that showcases the design or print of the t-shirt on a model.

If you are using a POD platform, they will provide you with mock-ups to use. The problem with that is that other people are already using those photos! Make yourself stand out in the listing!

Here is a mockup of one of my newest designs…


I use to create all of my mock photos. There are three main reasons you would use a mock photo instead of a real photo.

  1. Time – Mock photos take a few minutes to set up and get your products online (Real photos on a person take staging, lighting, and scheduling time for the photo shoot)
  2. Availability – If you use print-on-demand to sell shirts on Etsy, you won’t have the shirts on hand until you send some to yourself. 
  3. Quality – You can create some high-quality images with low effort or investment with mock photos, and this only helps your Etsy apparel brand.
  4. Selection – There are a huge variety of mock-ups to choose from. They have different genders, age groups, nationalities, and scenes that help sell your design to your targeted audience. They also have video mock-ups, that you can use in your Etsy listing to make it stand out!
  5. Cheap – As of writing this, it is currently costing me $89.69 per year for unlimited photo and video mockups. That is only $7.47 a month!

Real Photos


You can use an iPhone to capture product photos. You can also use a professional photographer (this is a good option if you have a brand launch and you need a large number of images to launch the brand). Either way, you want to use natural or bright, even artificial lighting to capture your t-shirts in the best light possible. Think of the quality of fashion photos in a magazine. That’s your goal.


Choose a simple, neutral background that won’t distract from your t-shirt designs. A white or light-colored backdrop is a popular choice. These are great for the main product photos. These are perfect for your Etsy or eCommerce main photos.

You should also use outdoor backgrounds and scenes to give more “life” to your images that can be used as secondary images on Etsy.

In addition, these are the photos you want to use on your Instagram and Pinterest accounts. These are the “natural” images of people wearing your apparel. If you have “scenic” areas nearby, or you are traveling to scenic areas, this is a great time to capture some stunning product photos for your Etsy products and your Instagram account.


Writing Effective Product Descriptions in Etsy

In addition to high-quality photos, effective product descriptions are important for selling your t-shirts on Etsy. The product description should contain everything a customer needs to know before purchasing. When selling shirts on Etsy, it’s important that you supply your customers with as much information as you can, such as feel and fit, so the customer is well-informed when they make a purchase.


Include all relevant details about your t-shirts, such as the materials, sizing, and care instructions. Your product description should also be easy to read. Having a couple of sentences about the benefits of your product with a few bullet points allows customers to scan the description but gives them enough information to decide.

Don’t overthink the details. Here is one of my best-selling tees on Etsy…



When learning how to sell shirts on Etsy, it is important to know a little about SEO and the use of keywords. Use relevant keywords in your product descriptions to help buyers find your t-shirt listings in Etsy search results. To help you rank higher on search engines, you need to optimize your title, product descriptions, and tags. This will help you amplify your reach by driving more traffic from Google and other search engines.

How to find Keywords in Etsy

There are many tools out there that can help you find relevant keywords for your listing. If you are just starting out, the best tool is free. What is it? It is the Etsy search box itself! Just search shirts on Etsy.

Let’s take an example of a shirt design that I have that has a design that says “Made New” and is targeting the baptism niche.

In the search box, type in what the design says:


You will be given a list of recommended searches. This is what people are actually searching for! By doing this, I now know that my main keyword is “Made new Shirt”. Seems pretty obvious? Not so much. You may think that all your designs now should have the words shirt after them. However, some phrases vary. Sometimes you will see them use “t-shirt” or “tshirt” or even “shirts”. These are all different keywords in the eyes of Etsy. You should put those variations into your listing as well if possible.

Now do the same for your specific niche. For this example, if I start typing in “Baptism” it will recommend “Baptism gift” and much more.

Now take those keywords and put them into your title, description, and tags.

Be Human

Use conversational language. Don’t be so concerned about SEO optimizing the product descriptions that you forget you are a human offering products to humans. Be personal. Let your personality come out in your product descriptions. This is one way to differentiate your apparel products from others. The key to Etsy is connecting real people to real people.

Sourcing Your T-shirts 


As mentioned earlier in the article, many Etsy sellers use print-on-demand fulfillment like Printify or Printful. Those sellers buy their shirts directly from the POD platforms. With print-on-demand, you decide which shirts you want to print on, and the cost of the print includes the cost of the shirt.

Screen Printing & Heat Transfer Vinyl

Where do Etsy sellers buy their shirts? Sellers who create their shirts using screen printing or vinyl buy their shirts from Wholesale T-shirt distributors and discount t-shirt outlets online. Some wholesale distributors have physical locations (like SSActivewear), and you can save the cost of shipping by picking up the shirts if there’s a location near you. Here are a few t-shirt distributors that Etsy sellers use:


What Is the Most Popular T-shirt Etsy Sellers Print On?

The Bella Canvas 3001 is the most popular t-shirt used by Etsy sellers. This shirt is made with pre-shrunk 100% airlume combed and ringspun cotton.

This is also the type of t-shirt that we sell the most, and customers rave about the quality of the Bella t-shirts in the reviews. This shirt is much softer than less expensive brands like Gildan but is still at a good price to give sellers a nice profit margin.


I sold more Bella Canvas 3001 t-shirts than any other shirt. My customers loved the fit and quality of the Bella 3001. This is my favorite go-to shirt for printing.

Pricing Your T-Shirts

Pricing your t-shirts can be tricky, as you want to profit while remaining competitive. Here are some things to consider when setting your prices:

Cost of Materials and Printing | Print-on-Demand

Calculate the cost of your t-shirt materials and printing, figure out a margin you want to make, and add that margin to the cost.

If you are using Print-on-demand and your printed t-shirts cost $9.30 + $4.00 shipping, you need to make enough margin to cover the $9.30 + Etsy seller fees (You can charge shipping at $4.00 to cancel out the shipping fees, but free shipping is recommended). 

This was my average cost, and I charged around $22.00 per shirt in my Etsy store (for small through x-large – more for larger sizes).

After Etsy fees, you could expect around $10.16 in profit on 1 t-shirt. I have included a cost breakdown below:


Cost of Materials and Printing | Self-fulfillment

Heat Transfer Vinyl Pricing

If you print your shirts with heat transfer vinyl, the math works the same. But you need to figure out your cost to print and ship before you can know what your margins are. 

Remember that if you get a great deal on wholesale t-shirts, you can get good margins. But with vinyl, you need to calculate your cost of vinyl, shipping bags, and your time to cut, heat transfer, and ship your shirts. 

I’ve done this, and I can tell you that the best way to make good money on Etsy using heat transfer vinyl is if you sell customized designs, and you sell them at a premium price. Customers will pay more for customizations.

Another way you can make good money with heat transfer vinyl is to get good prices on baseball or football jerseys (blanks) and print team or fan jerseys for customers. 

Don’t forget your time spent. Time is money. One hard thing to do with heat transfer vinyl is “scale” your business.

Screenprinting Pricing

Screenprinting pricing for Etsy is a bit different depending on your process. If you own your equipment and you are already screenprinting, then you can get super-low margins on Etsy. Some screenprinting companies I know are printing shirts for $4.00 each, including the cost of the shirt. 

Another option is to get good pricing with a local printer. That way, you can order the shirts and pick them up locally. You control the inventory. The more you order, the cheaper your cost per shirt. I’ve also done this and got my “printed prices” at around $6-7 per t-shirt (for 1-2 colors). 

In this case, if your total cost out the door is $7.50 per shirt, and you price your shirts at $22, you would have a 54% profit margin or $11.96 per shirt. 


Can you make money selling shirts on Etsy? Yes! As long as you know your costs and are happy with the profit, why not!

Competitors’ Prices

Research your competitors’ prices and make sure your pricing is competitive but also allows for a profit margin.

Whatever you do, do not set your prices too low because the competition is setting theirs low. If you see Etsy sellers pricing their shirts at $9, you can assume they have no profit margins. Oftentimes shops will sell at no margin to grow their reviews and total sales. For shops that keep their prices low, they may sell low-quality t-shirts. 

Remember, low prices cheapen your products. They cheapen your brand. If you want to sell at a low price (temporarily) to build your sales and reviews, do it with “discount pricing.” This way, you can keep your retail price at a premium while offering a discount price that is low but temporary. 

Shipping and Fulfillment

Regarding shipping and fulfillment, there are several options to choose from. Here are some of the most common:

In-House Fulfillment

If you’re printing and shipping your t-shirts and apparel, you’ll need to manage your inventory carefully to ensure that you have enough t-shirts on hand to fulfill orders. This will involve keeping track of your stock levels and ordering new supplies when necessary.

To keep costs down, use a poly mailer and USPS First Class Shipping.

Print-on-Demand Fulfillment

If you use a POD service, they’ll handle the printing, packaging, and shipping for you. Printify and Printful have similar fulfillment services. Your Etsy customer places the order on your Etsy shop. The order shows up in your POD account. You verify it and submit it. Then Printify or Printful ship the t-shirt order to your customer. 

Your shop name is in the “return” address on the packaging. Print-on-demand is a little more expensive, but you don’t have to keep inventory or worry about printing or shipping the orders.

Promoting Your Etsy Shop

First off, the great thing about Etsy is there is already an audience waiting for you there. But to get your products to customers faster, you can do a few things to help you:

Etsy ads

Want to know how to sell tshirts on Etsy fast? Use ETSY ADS! Etsy ads are the easiest way to promote your Etsy shop. With Etsy ads, you simply enter the daily amount you want to budget, and Etsy does the rest. The way it works is that Etsy will place your listing at the top of the results for keywords that people would use to search for your product. 

If you sell T-shirts with designs for teachers, people will find your T-shirts by typing search terms like “shirts for teachers” and “teacher shirts.” A certain number will see your listing without ads. But once you invest a few dollars a day in Etsy ads, your listing will be seen by many more people. This is a great way to get a brand-new shop going.

As you can see in the below screenshot from eRank (an Etsy SEO tool) there are over 22k monthly Etsy searches for “teacher shirts” that you have a chance to get your t-shirts in front of.

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Etsy ads are a great way to boost sales, but make sure to calculate if it is profitable to advertise.


Instagram was the best social media channel for my t-shirt brand. I would advise creating an Instagram page as soon as you can. You want to go out and follow as many teachers as you can. Ensure your Instagram page has a nice “logo” or avatar. Be sure to write a few sentences about who you are. If you are a teacher who sells teacher merch, then make sure and include your credentials in your description. 

Link out to your Etsy shop.

Depending on your targeted audience, you want to post content your audience would like. Using teachers as an example, you want to go out and follow as many teachers as possible. You can post inspirational quotes for teachers, teacher sayings, posts highlighting great stories about teachers, and more. I use Canva to create great posts on Instagram.

Once you start building your follower count, start posting an occasional post featuring your Etsy Teacher shirts. 

I use Placeit to create awesome mockups for my Instagram posts. 

With Instagram being one of the most popular social media networks and with the platform geared towards the use of photographs, it’s easy for your t-shirts to be seen. 


This can be done without paying to promote your shop on Etsy. You will get “organic” visitors and sales to your shop if you build your Instagram account right. 

Once you get at least 20 designs on Etsy and your Instagram account has at least 1000 followers, I would start promoting your posts on Instagram periodically. If you have great organic reach and engagement on a post, this is a great candidate for a boosted post. 

I also had huge success building my account by running t-shirt giveaways. To do this, use one of your most popular shirts. Then announce that you are giving the T-shirt away. Then in the post description, write a list of rules.

Here are “rules” I have used before:


  1. Follow our IG page @ 
  2. Tag at least one person in the comments
  3. LIKE this post
  4. Winner(s) decided on X date.

Here is one of my posts when I was building up my own account:


Pinterest is one of the better long-term platforms to showcase your Etsy t-shirt shop. It’s long-term because any of the links and pins that you build now end up staying on the platform for years to come. If you get a t-shirt trending on Pinterest, you can expect to see resulting sales on Etsy.

When you think about using Pinterest to promote your Etsy apparel brand, consider what some of the top apparel brands are doing with Pinterest. 

For example, let’s look at a brand called G2OH. This athletic apparel brand has created a nice following on Pinterest by sharing inspiring and engaging content that goes beyond its products. They use boards to showcase workout routines, healthy recipes, and motivational quotes, thus positioning themselves as a lifestyle brand and building a strong connection with their target audience.

They also do a great job at promoting their content with Pinterest ads…


When you prepare to create posts on Pinterest, think about all of the things that your audience cares about. Like the G2OH example, they created workout routines and motivational quotes that were relevant to their products and their audience. 

Free Shipping & Discount Promos

Etsy displays shops that offer free shipping by showing them in the results when someone is specifically looking for items with free shipping. This means you can show up in the results where top stores aren’t listed.

Discounts are a great way for your products to show up with “discounted prices” which tend to increase the conversion rate of your products and drive more people to your shop. 

You can set the length of the discount, set the % of the discount, and drive more sales with every promotion.

SEO Optimizing Your T-shirt Listings

You can optimize your Etsy t-shirt listings for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to improve their visibility in both Etsy’s internal and external search engines. Here are some key strategies to help optimize your Etsy listings for SEO:

  1. Keyword research: Identify relevant keywords that potential buyers might use to search for your t-shirts. Use tools like eRank and Etsy’s search bar suggestions to find popular keywords related to your apparel products.
  1. Listing titles: Include the most important keywords at the beginning of your listing title. Be specific and descriptive, but avoid keyword stuffing. Ideally, your title should be easy to read and understand.
  1. Tags: Use all 13 available tags for each listing, and ensure they include the relevant keywords you’ve researched. Use a mix of long-tail and short-tail keywords to improve your chances of being discovered by different types of searches. Use variations like tees, t-shirts, tshirts, shirts, with your main keywords. For example, teacher tees, teacher shirts, teacher t-shirts, shirts for teachers, and more.
  1. Descriptions: Incorporate your target keywords naturally throughout your product description. Start with your main keyword at the beginning. Then focus on providing helpful and detailed information about your t-shirt, including sizing information, t-shirt materials, etc. This will not only help with SEO but also improve the user experience for potential buyers. For example, if the t-shirt has a slim fit, make sure you include that information in your description, so your customer knows what to expect.
  1. Categories and attributes: Select the most appropriate category and subcategory for your product. Fill out all relevant attributes (such as color, size, material) as they also play a role in Etsy’s search algorithm. This includes short-sleeve vs. long-sleeve and “themes” like patriotic, seasonal, etc.
  1. Photos: Use high-quality, well-lit images of your t-shirts to showcase your apparel brand. While this might not directly impact SEO, visually appealing photos can improve click-through rates and overall engagement, which can indirectly influence your search ranking. Creating high-quality mockups with or Photoshop can help you have lifestyle t-shirt photos that sell.
  1. Listing variations: Most t-shirts are available in multiple variations (such as sizes or colors), so include the sizes and colors within a single listing instead of creating separate listings. This can help consolidate your SEO efforts and make it easier for potential buyers to find and purchase your product. 
  1. Recency: Keep your shop active by regularly adding new t-shirt listings, renewing old ones, or making updates. Etsy’s search algorithm favors active shops, so staying active can help improve your search rankings.
  1. Reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews for your products. Positive reviews can help build trust with potential buyers and play a role in Etsy’s search algorithm. This is one of the biggest growth factors for my store over the years.
  1. Shop policies: Fill out your shop policies, including shipping, returns, and payment information. Having complete and transparent shop policies can improve your shop’s credibility and have a positive impact on your search rankings.

Managing Your Etsy Shop

You had a great t-shirt design idea, and you want to get it out there. It probably is the best idea for you and a lot of other people. But you don’t want to stop there.

With Etsy, the more t-shirts you have in your store, the more visibility you will have. It’s like content for Google. So stay ahead on designs. Keep thinking about new ones and create designs as you can. That is how you will be able to grow your Etsy store. 

If you have great reviews but only a few designs, you are short-changing yourself. Remember, with Etsy, the more products you have in your store, the better.

Inventory Management

Keep track of your apparel inventory and restock when necessary to avoid running out of popular designs. I always set my designs on “Auto-renew”; otherwise, your designs will expire after a few months.

Customer Communication

Respond to customer inquiries and messages promptly and professionally to provide good customer service. This is a huge part of Etsy’s “star seller” algorithm. You must respond to messages within 24 hours to ensure you have a great chance of getting the star seller badge, which shows up on your store, inclining more customers to make a purchase in your store.

Advertising Analytics

Monitor the analytics that are provided, showing the Etsy ad performance for your apparel listings. You can easily see which listings perform the best, and determine which listings you may want to remove from Etsy ads. This way, you ensure that your budget is focused on your best-performing t-shirts.

Customer Service and Feedback

Providing great customer service and receiving positive reviews and feedback will help boost your Etsy shop’s reputation and attract more buyers. Here are some tips for providing great customer service:


Prompt Communication

As we mentioned earlier in this post, responding to customer inquiries and messages within 24 hours not only promotes great customer service, but it also helps you to earn the “star seller” badge each month.

Handling Issues and Returns

Handle any issues or returns professionally and courteously to maintain a positive reputation. In my t-shirt shop, I often allowed customers to keep their t-shirts if they were unhappy with their order. I would still send them a replacement, but the fact that I did not ask them to ship the t-shirt back caused them to want to post positive feedback for my shop.

Requesting Feedback

Encourage buyers to leave feedback after their purchase, as positive reviews can help attract more buyers to your shop. You can do this with the auto-emails that customers receive after they place their orders. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoiding common mistakes can help improve your chances of success on Etsy. Here are some things to avoid:

Copying Others’ Designs

Copying other sellers’ designs is unethical and can result in legal issues or damage to your shop’s reputation. There’s nothing wrong with getting ideas from other designs to create your designs. But copying designs is unethical. Use other seller shops to get ideas for your products. Make unique changes and edits to those ideas so that your designs are different. 

Poor Quality Photos or Descriptions

Low-quality photos or vague descriptions can turn off potential buyers and hurt your shop’s sales. We discussed this earlier in the post. High-quality product photos and great descriptions sell t-shirts. I know this well.


Overpricing or Underpricing

Overpricing or underpricing your t-shirts can make them less appealing to buyers or result in a loss of profit for your shop. Don’t be pressured by other shops to price your t-shirts too low to make a profit. Set a good, fair retail price, and stick to it. This will set the stage for your brand early.

Launch & Grow Your Etsy T-shirt Shop Now!

Is it worth selling shirts on Etsy? Of course! Selling t shirts on Etsy can be a rewarding and profitable venture with the right approach. Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can set up your shop, create high-quality t-shirt designs, SEO optimize your listings, and provide great customer service. Stay up-to-date on the latest trends and always strive to provide the best possible experience for your buyers.

The road to success in selling t-shirts on Etsy may be paved with challenges, but with passion, perseverance, and the right strategies, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an Etsy powerhouse.

You can always take your business to the next level by building an eCommerce store and owning your website. But remember, you can be up and making sales in a few weeks with an Etsy store.

The key is to keep learning, stay on top of industry trends, and continually build new products and designs. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive headfirst into the world of t-shirt selling on Etsy.


Is it worth selling shirts on Etsy?

Yes, it is worth selling shirts on Etsy. I get over $10 profit per shirt sold, typically. You should be using Etsy as one of your many channels to sell your shirts on.

Where do Etsy sellers buy their shirts?

Etsy sellers that print their own shirts buy blank t-shirts from wholesale t-shirt distributors like SSActivewear. If they are doing the POD method, they are not sourcing blank shirts. These shirts come from the print on demand company, all you have to do is supply the design.

Can you make money selling shirts on Etsy?

Yes, you can make money on Etsy by selling your own shirts. Know your cost and fees to make sure the profit margin works in your favor. The more customization you can provide, the more money you can make!

Do shirts sell well on Etsy?

Shirts sell extremely well on Etsy, especially designs that can be customized to the buyer’s request.

Does Etsy make shirts for you?

Etsy does not make shirts for you. They are simply a marketplace where you can list your shirts for sale. You either have to print your own shirts, or use a print on demand supplier.

Does Etsy allow print on demand?

Etsy does allow print on demand fulfillment. As long as you have the right to sell the design, there is no issue in using print on demand.