I can't see selling T-shirts from my house.
November 5, 2008 11:57 AM   Subscribe

T-shirt printing & selling for dummies?

My comment was requested on a T-shirt, so I whipped up three quick designs. Which do you like? How to proceed from here? What is the best outlet for internet T-shirt printing & selling in small batches? Paypal, or other payment method?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've done this kind of thing with Cafepress. Very easy.

For what it's worth, I like the first design (text only) the best.
posted by echo target at 11:59 AM on November 5, 2008

Do you want to upload the design and let a third-party site handle the selling, shipping (and profit)? Or are you wanting a site that lets you profit from the sale, and just does the printing?

For the former, see zazzle.com. No idea for the latter, sorry!
posted by Joh at 12:02 PM on November 5, 2008

Oh, and I prefer the second design.
posted by Joh at 12:03 PM on November 5, 2008

I like designs 1 and 2. 3 seems a little over the top.

I hate cafe press (there's also spreadshirt but I haven't tried them). The shirts are expensive and the quality blows. I much prefer screen printers who can do it for a fraction of the cost.
While cafe press charges $20 + tax + shipping, you can get a much better quality shirt for $6-9 bucks including printing (depending on the number of orders). A white shirt will be cheaper. The downside to this is that you will have to collect money first and then put the order in and mail the shirts to everyone.

This guy did an amazing job for me.
posted by special-k at 12:07 PM on November 5, 2008

Another vote for 2nd design (words with small logo.) Words alone are good but I like the reminder that the logo gives. Third design is too "patriotic" for me. Avoiding color would be less expensive though, so go with design 1 for lowest cost.
But no ideas about internet production. There are several T-shirt printers locally so if you need research just email me.
posted by anadem at 12:11 PM on November 5, 2008

Screen printing is the way to go for quality, but as alluded to above, it depends on quantity. You have get 50 people (for example) to commit to buying a shirt, then place the order, receive the shipment, get payment, and ship the shirts to the buyers. It's pretty far from easy, especially for a novelty shirt. Screen printing would be overkill here.

Cafepress quality is pretty good for what you get, which is the ability to do unique one-off shirts. You can set it up to make a profit if you choose. Looks like you can do something similar on Zazzle, though I've not tried them.
posted by echo target at 12:17 PM on November 5, 2008

Ooh, awesome! I like the first one best, but would get the second one, too.
posted by scody at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2008

Response by poster: I just talked to a local screenprinter who will do a dozen (one color, high quality) for $10 per shirt, with a discount for larger quantities. Maybe that's the way to go. I could put the Obama logo in grayscale or leave it off. I'll sell them to MeFites at cost plus shipping. MeMail me with your size if you want one, so I can get an idea of quantity. I could always try eBay after that, if they catch on.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:32 PM on November 5, 2008

I like the second one but without the rectangular background on the logo.
posted by puke & cry at 1:18 PM on November 5, 2008

This thread could come in handy when I start printing "WTF California?!?" shirts.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:35 PM on November 5, 2008

#1! :)
posted by ntartifex at 1:50 PM on November 5, 2008

Best answer: Design 1 or 2. 2 is maybe slightly more interesting, 1 will be a lot cheaper if you decide to go with screen printing.

Screen printing advantages:
Very crisp clean printing
Cheaper cost per shirt (depending on how many you plan on making)

Screen printing disadvantages:
Cost goes up significantly with how many colors your design has
Must pay money for shirts and printing up front

Digital Printing Advantages:
Cost is the same no matter how many colors you have
Can print as you sell so there is no initial investment

Digital Printing disadvantages:
Not good except on light colors
Not as crisp as screen printing
Expensive per shirt cost.

If you decide to go digital I would also avoid CafePress. Zazzle and Spreadshirt let you set up more of your own website feel if you pay a minimal fee per month. Any of those three websites will handle shipping and selling for you. You just decide how much you want to make per shirt. The base cost of the shirt will be rather high though. It also seems like you get some free advertising from these sites but they have so many products on them I think it becomes overwhelming for consumers. I don't know anyone whose been real successful in selling on any of these sights.

If you decide to sell them on your own. Paypal is definitely the easiest way to accept payments but they do have high fees, but they are my favorite to use.
If you want to sell them on your own and go digital I've used this place. I was actually really impressed with the quality. They can also do it on darkshirts but it has a thick undercoat in those cases.

Selling on your own is harder than it seems. How do you plan to get your product out there? I've had minimal success on ebay or etsy

If you decide to go with a screen printer - just search on the internet there are usually tons of local screen printers. You can use plastisol (cheaper/harder ink) or water based inks (more expensive/better for the environment/ ink washes soft)

I think I covered all your questions. You could also try submitting to places like threadless or designbyhumans .
In those cases you only get money if your shirt wins a design competition.
posted by ChloeMills at 4:39 PM on November 5, 2008

CustomInk is another route to pursue. Earlier this year they started a new program to handle the small orders (less than 20). Their are renowned for their stellar customer service.
posted by nemoorange at 6:28 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

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