Why Are My T-Shirts Not Selling? 5 Tips to Sell More T-Shirts On Etsy or Online
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Hey friends, Dave here with Transfer Express and today I want to talk about a question I get asked often by small apparel decorators just starting out, and that is “Why aren’t my t-shirts selling online?”
Now, while there isn’t a cover-all magic solution to immediately spark sales, today, we’ll cover FIVE troubleshooting tips and tricks so that you can set yourself up for success, regardless of where you’re selling apparel- from marketplaces like Etsy, or even your own online store.
So, are you ready to sell? Let’s get into it.
Getting right into it at #1, you’re not selling t-shirts because no one is seeing your products. It’s the unfortunate truth when a lot of decorators are just starting out… and it all comes down to SEO, or search engine optimization. By SEO we don’t always mean Google or Bing either, but marketplaces like Etsy heavily rely on search traffic to show relevant products.
You can remedy this by ensuring you have keywords or phrases in your product titles and descriptions that are similar to what people will search. Just search Etsy for what you think your customers would type in to search your products, say like “Charleston t-shirt” and take note of what else is in the titles. You’ll see terms that are spot on, like “Charleston t-shirt, Charleston shirt, Charleston tee, crewneck, pocket tee, or others like “bachelorette party” or “Charleston girls trip” or even “retro tee”, trendy tee or even “vacation shirt”.
Be descriptive and take inspiration from the listings at the top of the results. Be specific and direct. With just a couple searches yourself, you’ll start to see some trends.
Another strategy, too, is paying for advertising placement on specific keywords, say for Etsy, or specific interests on social media- but I will caution about spending too much right upfront, because we still have 4 more reasons to cover why your t-shirts aren't selling. You’ll want to ensure you’re giving your products the best chance to sell before you are throwing money behind them. So, only consider this if you watch the rest of the video.
Which brings us to #2 - your product photos aren’t the best. Just clicking around and taking notes on what you see across t-shirt photos, you’ll typically see a main image that's eye catching, maybe a stylized shot with some props to complete the whole vibe. Maybe it's a stack of shirts showing all the colorways, maybe it’s a lifestyle shot showing how it looks on a model - a model that should look like your target audience I might add. Hiking shirts for an outdoor brand? Your model should be outside, and look outdoorsy- you get the idea… and most likely, you identify with your target audience- think what visuals would draw you in!
In addition to the eye catching shots, you’re going to want to support your product with a nice show and tell - a picture is worth a thousand words right? I have a few rules for apparel product photos you should include. You should have one shot on a model to show the fit of the garment. You should have one stylized shot like we mentioned earlier. You should have a flat product shot that shows the entire garment. Is there printing on the back? SHOW IT! Is there a small print on a sleeve or down on a bottom hem? Show it!
Next you should have a detail shot of the art. Try to show the quality of the print. Does the fabric show through it? And finally, showing a measurement chart for exact sizing and fits has become widely popular on Etsy. This is your chance to build confidence and value in your product. Ease any purchase anxiety before your customers even get it.
I want to mention, you don't necessarily need to hire a photographer or invest in expensive cameras and lighting setups. We actually put together a video on how your phone can take some really nice product pictures if you’re on a budget.
Now of course, sometimes photoshoots just don't fit into the plan. We’ve seen tons of successful Etsy stores using just mockups (digital overlays on products). This is best case-scenario, we’ve seen tons.
Next up, for #3, the product description. Fill it out, being as descriptive as you can, while building in those keywords we talked about earlier into it, too. I always say, write it like you are describing it to a family member or friend. Be conversational, and don’t be afraid to throw some personality behind it… this is your chance for your brand voice to shine. BUT, I will stress, you want to be talking about the product. Like for t-shirts, what brand, fabric, fit or style it is? How is it decorated? Is it super soft? Does it shrink? Washing instructions? Maybe even a little blurb about you? What to expect for a shipping timeline? Answer the questions your customers have before they have to ask them.
Now, working in the keywords and those search terms help the search relevancy for your project, but too much can over do it, and if it just sounds like a whole bunch of jargon, you’re not helping yourself or your customers out. You’re just stuffing keywords in there- so again, make it easy to read.
Last tip here for the description: proof read for spelling and grammar. If you don’t have the eye for detail to check it over and get it right, what makes your customers think you’re not going to take the same level of care with their order?
Next, #4 - a cohesive brand look. You’re looking to build trust with every interaction with your customers. This is super important for those stand-alone online stores. You want to ensure you have a consistent aesthetic throughout. Nothing looks more unprofessional than different sized product photos, or a whole bunch of different colors or elements that don’t work well together. It can make a store look cluttered, not thought out and well, not trustworthy. If you look professional, your customers are already going to assume your products are, too!
Etsy customers may click through your store or profile to gain confidence in you as a small business, try to have a consistent look. It looks super pro even if you’re just starting out.
Think of your online store as your own retail shop. Stores that are well organized with displays that match aesthetic or show off seasonal styles together draw customers in.
Finally, we arrive on our last tip today, #5 - don't give up. It’s super discouraging to put in a ton of work to setup your store and not see a single sale. It takes weeks and sometimes even months for the search algorithms to pick up your products once traffic starts flowing. Too many people get discouraged too quickly and shut it all down because of expectations to be selling thousands in the first few weeks.
Setting realistic expectations and goals that you control is by far the best way to keep your head up. Set goals like uploading X number of new product photos per week, or creating content to advertise your brand on social media, or maybe just adding X number of different colorways. Anything other than “I want X number of sales by the end of the month”.
The brands you admire didn’t grow that way, odds are it took months if not years of keeping at it. Each step doesn’t seem far, but little by little when you look back in a couple months you’ll be farther up the mountain than when you first started. And, if you made it this far in this video, I have full belief you’re dedicated enough to have great success in your business, whatever that looks like for you.
I hope this helps you and your new business grow. Here at Transfer Express we’re dedicated to helping apparel businesses of all sizes succeed. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date on all of the helpful educational and inspirational videos we’re posting every week. Until next time, I'm Dave, happy pressing!