Threadless is a popular online marketplace for selling your custom-made art. You can put your designs on shirts, pillows, shower curtains, mugs, and a whole host of different items. Just provide the art, and Threadless does everything else, including printing, payment processing, and shipping.
Like many similar sites, Threadless allows you to create your own unique shop with custom branding. The shop is provided at no additional cost, and it's apparently really easy to set everything up.
There are a lot of possible reasons for creating a Threadless shop as a secondary part of some other business venture. For example, if you had a band or a popular Youtube channel, you could create a shop to sell merchandise to push your brand name. For the purposes of this article, however, we're focusing on professional artists and logo designers who want to use Threadless as a primary marketplace for selling their creations.
There are plenty of artists who make enough money on sites like Threadless to quit their day jobs, devoting all their free time to building a successful online graphics design business. It can take a lot of work to get to that level, but if you have enough talent and dedication, it might be worth your effort to give it a try and see how far your creativity can take you.
Making Money With Threadless
When you set up your Threadless shop, you'll upload a bunch of graphics designs, and people can choose the type of item they want the image printed on. All the item types – shirts, skateboards, mugs and etc – have a base cost, and that money goes to Threadless. You are free to set the price wherever you like as long as it covers the base cost, and all the extra money goes directly to you.
For example: the base cost of a Threadless T-shirt is $15, so if you charge $25, you'll net $10 in profit.
Payments are sent out via Paypal around the beginning of each month for the previous month's earnings.
It's possible to make a great deal of money with a Threadless shop, but it usually takes a lot of work. Some people earn a full time living selling designs, others just earn a few dollars a month.
What Skills Are Needed to Become a Successful Threadless Designer?
Other than the obvious stuff (being creative and having some talent as an artist) the most important skill you need to succeed on Threadless is marketing.
When you first open your shop, you probably won't get many browsers. There are a huge number of stores on the Threadless platform, and many have been around for a long time. Those older shops will have way more content available than you will at first, which means that most buyers won't even be able to find your designs. It's the basic “needle in the haystack” problem. You have to get eyes on your creations before you can start making any money.
There are many ways to market a shop like this, including setting up a blog to attract interest from search engines, and opening social media accounts where you can put your art front and center to entice customers. Marketing is a vast and complicated subject, and there are dozens of really great books on it. You'll want to buy a few of those books and start learning everything you can.
Also, it really helps if you can produce a large amount of high-quality art in a hurry. The more you have to sell, the more likely you are to catch someone's interest. Volume matters.
At the end of the day, the goal is to build a strong base of customers who are fans of your style. These people will start following your shop, telling other people about it, and giving you repeat business. A devoted fan-base is the ultimate weapon in an enterprise like this.
Threadless gets middling marks from most sellers with regards to the quality of their shirts. While browsing forums and blogs for graphics designers, I saw a few minor complaints about issues with durability after washing the shirts several times. It should be noted that this might not be a constant problem – there were plenty of happy Threadless artists who never brought the subject up at all – but I thought it was probably worth mentioning.
Other than this one persistent issue, Threadless tends to get fairly high marks in the design community. I looked at a number of ranking lists on various blogs for graphics professionals, and Threadless consistently shows up among the top five or six best sites for selling your art on merchandise, which puts it right up there with services like Spreadshirt and Redbubble.
How to Get Started With Threadless
If the information above has sparked your interest, and you're chomping at the bit to open up your own Threadless shop, go here to read more about the company and create a seller's account.