Is Teespring worth it?
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Recently a client asked me to advise them on starting up a Teespring store. Now, I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t actually started or run a Teespring store before. For the Radio Stations and Podcasts I’ve worked with, it was far easier to do our own merchandising and hire out the printing work to local printing firms. This provided us a larger profit margin, so I never saw the reason for using Teespring. There are, however, some circumstances in which having a Teespring account may work for you. In this blog, I will talk you through the metrics, my experiences with Teespring, and why it might or might not be right for you and your business.
So, what is Teespring? If you are not already aware, Teespring is an e-commerce site that allows users to sell custom clothing. Teespring allows you to upload or create your designs then set the price of your items. Teespring then handles all production and shipping.
Teespring can be good for small teams as it offers easy tools to create your own designs, removing the cost associated with hiring a freelance graphic designer or, if you are more visually able than I, paying for a design application like Photoshop. From the beginning, all the radio stations I have worked with have had their own graphic designers, meaning that I have had a network that I could call on for any of the podcasts that needed graphics.
When one of my friends was first launching his podcast and working a full-time job, Teespring was a godsend. Teespring handled all the shipping and printing that he did not otherwise have time for, saving time that would have been spent picking up and packaging orders every week. This wouldn’t be beneficial for me, however, as I only keep to a small number of podcasts at a time. Working on fewer podcasts and keeping a larger margin on each item sold proves to be far more effective, especially for smaller podcasts with under 30k listeners per episode.
This is the kicker for me though, costs! I’ve run the numbers for several of my podcasts and the costs can be up to twice as much as printing and shipping the items yourself. For example, for someone selling 1000 t-shirts a year, this would mean making about £5 less per t-shirt, meaning a potential loss of £5,000! For podcasts that struggle to attract consistent advertising, this is a big chunk of money.
Teespring worked for my friend as he had little to invest in starting up the merchandise store for his podcast. The website saved the upfront expenditure of getting the merchandise created. Nowadays, more and more start-up businesses are moving over to ‘drops’ or ‘releases’ in which a product or range is released at a certain date and only on sale for a certain period or until it sells out. These orders can then be manufactured after the order has been placed. Younger consumers are far more familiar with the practice, so it’s worth considering whether this method would work for your audience.
So, whether you do it yourself or not, most printing companies will either stock clothing products from Gildan or Fruit of the Loom. Each brand offers a variety of bases with different thicknesses and arm length etc. Gildan offers a wide range of colours and its t-shirts are usually thicker, offer more generous sizing, and usually last better if washed at the wrong temperature (which is why I prefer them). This is just my personal preference though, so I would encourage you to get different samples done to compare. You can also check out a couple of forums debating the brands that I have linked below.
While researching for this blog, I reached out to several other podcasters to get opinions on the sites they use. Consider this a speed round of opinions I was given!
· Vistaprint is apparently good for fast turnarounds but has limited colours.
· Redbubble is good for drop shipping but as with Teespring, there is a premium for it.
· Teefury is more for artists and designers than for brand merchandise but may work for you if you are a more talented artist.
At this time, none of my podcasts stock non-clothing items in their online stores but this will be a big area I hope to grow in 2021. I had hoped to grow this in 2020 but as with other businesses, I sought to ride out the effects of the pandemic and prioritise expansion into face masks. On the recommendation of others, I’m currently looking at options for badges (Made by Cooper) and stickers (Sticker Mule). I cannot attest to these personally quite yet, but I have heard good things about the quality and pricing. This is, however, another time-consuming matter that you would not face with Teespring’s more streamlined distribution system.
The profit margin on stickers and badges can be particularly low, usually, only about £1 depending on whether you offer free delivery or not. I do not expect to make a ton of money off them. They do, however, make nice add on purchases to bigger orders or freebies at events, crucially helping to get more information about your podcast out there to build organic traction (the best type of PR).
Thank you to everybody who contributed to this blog by sharing their stories and experiences. Your insight on the profit margins of your merchandise and your experience of the product quality for the services you have used have helped me to write this post. I also think they have put me in a better position to advise others on the solutions that are right for them and their business.
I apologise for the lack of content last month. I was very busy with work that you’ll all hopefully see soon but have some time now to forward plan and build up content for the coming months. Make sure to follow me at the usual places to know when I release new blog posts.