Writing is the dream job for all of us lazy slugs. Where else can you work in your underwear, chain smoke all day, and basically get paid to surf the Web? That sounds nice, but it might surprise you to learn that writing entire books can often be hard work! That’s why the true slacker looks for an easier writing outlet, something brief, like submitting slogans for T-Shirt manufacturers. As a freelance writer myself, I’ve got to say that the only time I’ve gotten paid $100 per word was from a T-Shirt design that I sold the rights to!
Over the course of the past two years, I've managed to sell my T-shirt concepts to several different websites. I haven’t been able to quit the day job yet, but I have brought in enough beer money to last me for at least a year. If you've got the same sort of motivation for your own writing career, why not follow these instructions tips to get the most money for your T-Shirt slogans!
Most importantly, you should know that writing for online t-shirt manufacturers isn’t really very different than writing for any other market. Your first step should be to come up with some actual content, or you’re never going to make any money. Remember, trying to market just one good idea probably won’t be worth the time and effort involved. I recommend saving your ideas up until you have at least ten or twenty quality one-liners. Like any other writer you should carry around a little notebook so you can track these gems as inspiration hits you.
Your next step should be to write Al Gore a letter and thank him for inventing the Internet. Using your computer will make the submission process a whole lot more streamlined, and will allow you to quickly distribute your ideas to a wide audience. I usually keep a monthly spreadsheet of all of my ideas, with a note on where I plan on sending each one. Be sure to make a note whenever you successfully sell one idea to keep you from submitting the same slogan elsewhere. Almost all off the major T-Shirt websites (except Threadless) will demand the exclusive use of your slogan, so don’t count on being able to sell the same slogan twice.
Next, you need to spend a good amount of time researching the websites you plan to pitch to. Finding T-Shirt companies on the Internet isn’t hard, but determining exactly how much volume they sell will be a little more difficult. As a rule, the bigger sites will pay more for each concept. Take notes about each company’s submission requirements on your submission spreadsheet. Normally the small to mid-size companies like Snorgtees or Fusilly will accept email submissions from your personal account, but some of the bigger outfitters like T-Shirt Hell have their own online submission forms that you'll need to use. Using an online form will take a little more time each month, but the rewards will be worth it if you score a $500 sale!
Now that you've got some reputable targets in your sights, start firing away with those well-crafted pitch emails! Remember that any kind of writing is a numbers game, and your chances of acceptance increase greatly as you send out more submissions. You don’t need to wait for a response from one website before sending the same idea out somewhere else because a lot of the time, you'll only get an email response back if they loved your idea and want to buy it. To prepare for that day, you might want to get an online payment system set up with either PayPal or Google checkout.
Finally, it’s important to remember that once you sell your slogan, you’re almost always going to lose all of your rights to it, including the right to any future royalties. If you want to keep those rights and potentially increase your future profits, you should consider starting your own T-Shirt business. These days it’s fairly easy to get a website up and running, and any local screenprinter can work with you to bring your concept to life. If start-up funds are in short supply, or you just don’t want to have to handle any inventory, consider teaming up with a Print-On-Demand (POD) service like CafePress. All you’ll have to do is upload an initial design. They handle the orders and product distribution (for a small fee of course!) so you’ll be free to focus on marketing and coming up with new slogans.