I know to be successful selling Teespring T-shirts, I have to get quality artwork done. The issue is quality artwork is expensive, and rightly so. I estimated to get the type of artwork I wanted for the T-shirts I had in mind was going to cost as much as $50 – $100 per design. The problem is spending this much money on artwork would mean I’d only have a few opportunities to make money with the T-shirts before I spent my $1000 budget. This would not be an issue if I knew right away what would and wouldn’t work, but even the college student who made over $80,000 last year failed on 40 out of his 41 campaigns. If I have the same amount of failure, I would be $2,000+ in the hole on just artwork. I needed to figure out a way to get the quality artwork I wanted at a discounted price which still was acceptable to the artist. There had to be a creative way to set things up so there was an upside for everyone involved.
My solution was to offer artists a small set amount for their artwork, but also cut them in on profits if the T-shirts did well. I placed a single ad up on Craigslist offering $10 per design plus possible bonuses. This is the exact Craigslist ad I used:
Clean Logo Designer Needed (remote from home)
compensation: $10 per logo minimum plus bonuses
I’m looking for someone who can create clean, simple logo style artwork. The topics will vary greatly, but none should not be too complicated. This would be a great gig for a graphic arts student or someone with graphic arts knowledge and photoshop skills who wants to make some extra money at home in their spare time. Pay will be a minimum of $10 per piece done with the potential to earn more with no additional work depending on how it sells. If interested, please email me for further information.
I had quite a few responses to the ad (enough to take down the ad in less than 2 days), and replied with the following for those who wanted more information:
Thank you for your email. I’m a professional personal finance writer and do challenges from time to time. For example, I was able to eat well for 100 days spending less $1 a day (I ended up buying about $1500 worth of food for $80 using coupons and other deals, donating most of it to local food banks while also feeding myself) My next challenge is to try and earn a $10,000+ profit selling T-shirt designs in 100 days.
Since I can’t design at all, I need to find a partner in this attempt. For the graphics, I have a $500 budget which means 50 T-shirt attempts. Since this is far less than a decent designer would ever charge, I am also offering $1 per T-shirt sold above 10 (for the shirts to be printed, a minimum of 10 must be sold. If 10 are not sold, you still get $10. If more than 10 get sold, you get $1 for each additional T-shirt sold). Most campaigns won’t sell 10, but the goal is to score with several that sell over 1000 T-shirts (which would mean $1000+ to you).
The designs need to be simple and clean so they show up well on the T-shirts. The main selling point will be the message, but quality artwork to reinforce that message will be important for sales. If this is something you think you would be interested in, please send me a link where I can see some of the “clean” artwork you have done in the past. If not, I wish you the all the best of luck in your artistic work. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
From all the applicants, I picked four which said they would help me with the challenge. Since I’m hoping to do a 50 T-shirt test, I felt the risk was too high for just a single artist. With four different artists, each is only responsible for 12 – 13 pieces of artwork if I fail. If I’m successful, however, there will be plenty of work for all of them creating new images for the T-shirts. If I only picked a single artist and he did 50 pieces of work and things failed, I would feel terrible at all the work they had put in for very little. I want this to be a good experience for all involved, even if it doesn’t work out as I hope.
The huge benefit with this approach is it drastically reduces the upfront costs to me, and if I can be successful, gives the artists a large upside as well. Using a bit of creativity to get good quality artists on board allows me to create five times more campaigns with my initial $1000 budget than I could have done not thinking a bit out of the box. I already have all four working on their first designs, and I should be able to launch my first campaigns in the next couple of days. I consider finding a way to get quality artwork to go with my T-shirt ideas at a workable price to be a huge step to making this $10,000 challenge doable.
(Photo courtesy of Michelle Tribe)