How I made money with TeeSpring

Disclaimer: I’m not paid by TeeSpring, I’m just a huge fan.

Sometime earlier this year, I was sitting at my desk looking at my Facebook page (ModernSherlock) and I pondered the question, “How can I monetize this?”.

At first I started a small blog-website that I posted anything to do with the “modern” adaption of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock), slapped some advertisements on it and linked people to it.

I made about $4 from Google Ads and about $200 from the Amazon Affiliates programme in the entire four week trial.

Determined, I wanted to keep trying — but posting to an external website all the time was pretty lame, and it didn’t really “give” anything to the fans / audience. I can’t say it any nicer than this, but it was pretty much spam at a minimum. Yuck.

With that out of the way, I realised I needed to actually give these people something. What would they like? Naturally, I thought about t-shirts. At first I email a bunch of different online stores that print t-shirts. Nobody emailed me back.

After a few days, someone from IRC linked me to a sort of crowd-source community whose members can come up with a design, and when it gets enough points, it is then printed and people can buy the shirt. I emailed these fellas, and I asked in exchange for posting the links to some of the Sherlock tees, if they’d give me a percentage. The reply was a swift “no” but they’d give me a couple of free shirts if I advertised their t-shirts on Facebook.

I did that a few times (amassing an armada of Sherlock-related tees), and it worked pretty well unfortunately, something was still missing. It still felt pretty baseless, but I was on the right track — people were happy with it.

Eventually, after countless hours of whinging in #startups on Freenode someone linked me to a young startup called TeeSpring, which turned out to be the exact service I’ve been looking for all this time.

TeeSpring allows you to make a t-shirt (and hoodies as of late) and price it at whatever you want, but there’s a twist: it’s like Kickstarter.

If enough people buy the t-shirt then they are charged, and the tees are promptly shipped. It’s all limited-time, which is excellent for me, and the audience of my Facebook page. Each shirt would cost something like $9 USD and it was up to me to provide the markup, which I happily did.

My first TeeSpring campaign got me $462.12 USD. You can have a look at the shirt here: http://teespring.com/SherlockBored

Since then I’ve done another four campaigns, and they’ve all paid out more than that first one. By a lot.

According to the fellas at TeesSpring, my first campaign had the worst conversion rate that they had seen thus far, and from there each campaign progressively got way better. I put that down to the fact that with each new campaign, I knew what the audience wanted, and that TeeSpring was no longer something “new” in which they should “be cautious”, as previous purchases had gone off without a hitch.

You can view my most successful campaign so far here http://teespring.com/IAmSherlocked3

To top off this whole experience with TeeSpring, the icing was definitely after I started off my first campaign, and somehow the co-founder got in touch with me and subsequently provided the most awesome service I’ve head in a while. Not only would he personally go around ringing up DHL (a courier company) to find out where peoples t-shirts were and why they were late – he’d go above and beyond to make sure that I was happy and that people on my Facebook page were too – even going as far as to provide some support on my page. That’s incredible!

The coolest thing about it all is the absolute lack of service that I need to provide. I can keep on creating, sharing and selling without any hassle as to the logistics of it all.

No, that’s not the coolest thing. I lied. The coolest thing was all that extra money I got for little to no work at all. Anyone with a popular Facebook page, Twitter account or forum can do exactly this, providing you know what your target audience wants. If you do it right, you get money and happy people which is probably the best thing ever.

It might even work on your subreddit, but lets not get ahead of ourselves here. #

UPDATE:
TeeSpring founder, Walker blogged about the success of TeeSpring thus far: http://wiwillia.com/post/41810471731/our-path-to-1m-in-sales

20 thoughts on “How I made money with TeeSpring

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  3. Shireen Louw

    Hi, thank you for sharing your results. A big part of online marketing is knowing what your audience want and providing them with the right content at the right time. Once you doing that it’s about analysing your results and optimizing your campaigns.

    Reply
  4. Jane

    Hi Mike, I saw this post and got me excited. Looking at your facebook page, it seems like it is the official page for Modern Sherlock? Also I guess the hardwork is building up the fan base – can you do another post on getting facebook fans?

    Many thanks. Love the blog:)

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      It’s not the official page, it’s a community page for the show. :)

      edit: sure I could do another post! might be a neat idea!

      Reply
  5. Soba

    I don’t think selling merchandise for a TV series is legal without license from the copyright holder. Although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works are most certainly public domain by now, the modern adaption is not. Don’t be surprised if the BBC sues your ass off – commercial copyright infringement costs tons of money in compensation, and you might even face jail time.

    If you just made small time money off it, no one would bother probably. I’m not sure, though, at which sum the fun stops.

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      I am not selling it on behalf of a TV show at all. My page is “Fans of Sherlock” so it’s definitely aimed at the fandom. Using a phrase from the thousands they use in the show is not copyright infringement, but I could be wrong.

      Secondly, have a wee search on the Internet, and you’ll see many examples of people using the phrase for all sorts of merchandise. I was not the first one by a long shot.

      As far as I am aware, a smiley face or “I am sher locked” is not trademarked, or under copyright.

      Reply
      1. Soba

        Sorry for being a little dramatic. You’ll be fine, probably. I’m just saying that people got in trouble for smaller , even less comprehensible copyright claims. You can’t be careful enough in an age where the copyright mafia gets away with sending the police to raid a 9-year-old. The agencies filing the lawsuits on behalf of copyright holders aren’t always reasonable.

        Reply
  6. Art Andrews

    Unless the OP has been granted the apparel license for Sherlock, this is most definitely a case of IP infringement, but it is something that happens all the time online. Look at Woot or Teefury to see it happening on a daily basis. Whether it will garner you a C&D is a roll of the die. However, that isn’t what this post is about.

    My question is, what is your profit per shirt. I have found that with most places like this, the profit is about $5-$6 a shirt. Based on your first campaign, it looks like you earned a little more than $3 a shirt. Has profit per shirt remained the same for all of your campaigns or have you seen the per shirt profit increase as the number of shirts sold increased?

    Reply
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  13. Misti

    I too have had HUGE success with teespring and my blog and merchandise. I am ending my first campaigns today at over $4000 profit. Can I ask how you went about filing taxes on this ? I NEVER expected it to blow up like I did and now I’m left wondering what I should do on the revenue and Uncle Sam side. I know he’ll be knocking :/ could you email me any insight or guidance you have to mizti7@gmail.com. Thank you !

    Reply
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  15. sinej

    i am highly interested in teepspring but being a newbie i do not know how to use fb as a marketing site… can you please help me? thanks in advance…

    Reply
  16. Jean

    Hi,
    I have been using Teezily.com for my Facebook Page tshirt campaigns in Europe.
    It has been working really well so far. Their shipping cost is really low and the customer support is top of the range.
    You should give it a try ;)

    Reply

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