I talk to creative professionals on a daily basis, whether it’s at my day job at Spreadshirt or my work in and around the comic book world. I love talking shop with them and sharing as many resources as I can to help them with their creative endeavors. One big key to being a successful maker is having multiple streams of revenue. For many it’s website ads on their youtube channel, merch and consulting fees and of course freelance contract work. Today I’m talking about the MERCH game. Right off the top, for full disclosure, I work at Spreadshirt, but this is not an official post by them or on their behalf and they’re not paying me to say this. (Although HEY GUYS IF YOU’RE READING THIS, I ENJOY MONEY…and craft beers or coffee). I write about it because I know that it works for many creatives especially those just starting out on youtube or webcomics.Â And stuff that helps creatives always excites me so I wanted to share it with my audience, especially those who have read Cash4Cartoonists. It’s kinda funny because even before I worked at the company I wrote about them in the ebook 6 years ago because I used them then for many things from my webcomic work to jerseys for the local roller derby team.
For the past year when I’m at comic shows and talking with professionals who find out I work at Spreadshirt, they pepper me with questions about the print quality, is it easy to setup? Can they use it too? The answer is YES, you can do it. And YES it’s very easy to setup yourself, go see this link.
Basically as a creative person, whether you’re making content with comics or youtube videos or whatever floats your boat, you can use Spreadshirt in TWO ways to earn more cash. Let me break them down from my perspective and experience as a working cartoonist.
#1 OPEN A “SPREADSHOP”
Basically it’s your online storefront. You upload your designs, put them on products and set the design commissions to adjust your prices on how much you’d like to make. You’re going to make a standard 20% right off the top of the on sale price, BUT you can adjust that to be a bit more if you put a commission number on your design as well. If you work your numbers right even if you sell a shirt for around twenty bucks, you’re gonna make eight bucks. Spreadshop takes care of all the order fulfillment. Pretty rad. What’s even radder? Well if you were semi-popular and think you could upload a design that could sell like 10 or more in two weeks, they now add on a new bonus volume commission.
If you were a real go-getter or had some sort of fan base for your comics or youtube channel then say you’re able to sell a hundred shirts a week or when you put up a new design, suddenly you’re making almost twelve bucks a shirt instead of eight. That’s some coin. Of course it helps if you plug your merchandise and put things out regularly. With this system it’s easy to put up new shirt products quickly. Why not something like a shirt of the week for your fans?
I mean, that’s the DREAM right? Make 3k in two weeks off your merch? Seems far fetched for us little guys, but I know of Spreadshirt partners who are making some serious bank with their youtube channels and creative endeavors. It’s all about your audience and how many TRUE fans you have. But you gotta start somewhere! Hell when I was starting out in webcomics my plan was to have multiple streams of revenue to cover different costs. So looking WAY back my goal for a Spreadshirt shop selling shirts would have been a couple hundred bucks a month to cover my webhosting and internet bill. And heck, maybe you’ll only make enough to afford some coffee or something… BUT DUDE, You just got coffee paid for by something you made. That’s a step in the right direction.
I know as a comic creator and someone who’s dealt with screenprinting in the past. Sure I would make probably a couple bucks more per shirt, BUT I had to do the shipping the storage and maintain stock of sizes. One time I had a neatly organized shelf of Yirmumah shirts in different sizes to fill my own orders…. and then POOF a cat decided to get in there and make it a master bedroom. Cat hair all over my merch. AHHHHHGGGG!!!! So to me the thought of print on demand was always brilliant. I’m thankful that the technology has come a very long way in a very short time to the point where my personal opinion as a creator is that the quality is very up to snuff. I print all of my convention shirts here now, and I always get compliments on the color or the apparel.
That’s another big selling point for me is that I know I can put my art on quality brands like American Apparel (yeah it’s a little more) or trusty old GILDAN brand. Spreadshirt even has it’s own premium shirt we manufacture that has a higher thread count. PRO-TIP: The higher the threadcount the better your print with digital direct printing. So on something like a American Apparel or Spreadshirt brand the colors pop just a LITTLE more. That said I print my shirts on GILDAN to keep my costs down a little.
There ARE some technical aspects to keep in mind like CMYK vs RGB and I’ll maybe touch base on the “how to’s” in future blog posts. But for now this post is to just get this on your radar as a possibility for making more money with your creative hustle, whatever it might be.
#2 PUT YOUR DESIGNS ON THE MARKETPLACE!!!
The second big way to earn some extra dough with your art, ESPECIALLY for cartoonists is to upload your designs to the Spreadshirt Marketplace. Essentially you take a design or design element, let’s say its a picture of a cartoony TANK that you drew. Or a series of cool sugar skulls. You upload it to your account and put a price commission on the design. Let’s say five bucks. Then it goes into the marketplace where normal folks will randomly find it and use it to make a shirt for someone or sell it within their spreadshops and every time it’s sold, you make your commission. BRILLIANT. You can even tag your marketplace entries making it easier to find or send full products already mocked up into the marketplace as well. I taught my girlfriend to do this and she makes about $100 a month passively on average. But imagine if you were a cartoonist that could scale that and add new fresh designs?
This is kinda perfect for creatives like cartoonists. You might decide “TODAY I’m DRAWING SHARKS” and put up a few cool sharks into the marketplace. If you were even more clever, you’d time it to a couple weeks before SHARK WEEK. Or whatever event.
Or what about Tattoo Artists?? I know some with sketchbooks full of awesome designs.Â They could easily scan those, do some photoshop magic and make them into wearable shirt designs. Tattoo friends you could be the next Ed Hardy! (I’m just kidding, Don’t be that guy!) but seriously I wish I had some more shirts from my favorite tattoo artists.
We’re living, in the future man. It’s pretty friggin awesome that there’s no cost to you to use these kinda tools. Not just with this site, but so many online. Yep. It’s just sitting there waiting for you to use. Get started over at the mothership: Spreadshop.com
If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to comment here or shoot me an e-mail. I’m especially down to help other comic publishers or creators use Spreadshirt and I’ll share any tips or tricks to get your designs popping on merch.
Here are just a few cool content creators using Spreadshirt.
https://shop.spreadshirt.com/jaltoid/ (cool animators, great cartoon designs that pop)
https://shop.spreadshirt.com/H2ODELIRIOUS/ (One of the biggest gamers on YOtube, funny guy, great designs)
https://shop.spreadshirt.com/thediamondminecart/ (Another top youtuber over 11million subscribers!)
Here’s a nice little video also showing how much work goes into hand making each of your products. Spreadshirt has a factory in Greensburg, PA (My home turf) and out in Las Vegas area as well. PLUS other production facilities around the world so your product is usually made close to you for faster turnaround.
What are you waiting for? Get your SHIRT together and add this into your multiple streams of revenue.
Hey D.J. this is great! I have sketchbooks filled with concepts that can maybe find a home now. Not sure if they would sell, but it’s worth a shot!
Hell yeah man. DO IT! Don’t just think about it. Start scanning and trimming and sign up. Now is a great time to get in there before the holidays fire up too. So many people come out looking for gifts in the back to school and holiday seasons. GET IT!
Hi there are those designs you sell still your own? Does it have to be copywritten?
Thanks for this article! Great tips 🙂
I started uploading a few designs on the market, no sales for now, but hoping it will catch up. Do you know what is the average number of designs designers have for sale, before the start selling. I only have 2 designs so far, but would love to do more if it looks promising enough.
Did you get any sales to date ?
Great piece, thanks for sharing. I know this was posted a while ago, but if you’re still in action, do you think you could elaborate on the portion of your blog I’ve pasted below?
“You can even tag your marketplace entries making it easier to find or send full products already mocked up into the marketplace as well. I taught my girlfriend to do this and she makes about $100 a month passively on average.”
I sell a few designs here & there but not quite sure where exactly they are selling from.
Hey there, yeah so I know a few things have been upgraded with spreadshirt marketplace. Essentially if youâ€™re seeing sales randomly itâ€™s probably people who searched for a type of shirt as a gift and found your product tags or descriptions. You may also want to try launching a Spreadshop as well of your designs at http://spreadshop.com – if you have any other questions just let me know.
hi pal. ive been uploading my designs in spreadshirt but no sales till now. ive tried ads in google. 150 clicks. still no sales. have any advice?thanks!