Starting a t-shirt business might sound like the most cliché idea for online business, yet the worth of this market is in billion dollars. In 2019, it amounts to generate a revenue of $154 billion and grows at an annual rate of 5.4%.
Many entrepreneurs consider this model as easy access to enter the ecommerce industry; nonetheless, many fail in running a successful t-shirt business.
While, other ecommerce entrepreneurs are still searching for how to start a tshirt business.
So, to answer all the issues about how do I start my own t-shirt business, I have prepared a 9 steps guide that would do the work.
How to Start a T-Shirt Business in 9 Steps
Here are some steps that you need to follow to a profitable online t-shirt business
By the end of this guide, I can assure that you will have every answer related to the t-shirt business plan and will have every guidance to earn profits from your t-shirt business.
So, let’s start it
1. Brainstorming for Ideas
Before getting into anything, I would recommend doing some brainstorming to get prolific business ideas about your t-shirt business.
To explore the ideas, I am mentioning three proven methods to get ideas for your online business.
Method 1 – Google Images
Google images are a great source to brainstorm and explore ideas for your niche.
Let’s say, my niche is the “Superhero niche.”
You can get many ideas by typing different keywords in image searches such as superhero memes, superhero quotes, funny superhero quotes, superhero t-shirts, etc.
Like here, I search Superhero quotes to get ideas.
I got plenty of ideas from this query in Google image search.
Here I get a fantastic quote of Hercules to print on t-shirts.
Similarly, there are multiple other quotes and ideas that I got from scrolling on Google search images.
Also, I get so many ideas to leverage events such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Teacher’s day.
By just surfing on Google images with a particular keyword, I get tons of ideas for my t-shirt designs. Try it out!
Method # 2 Amazon
Amazon is the largest ecommerce marketplace, so you can quickly get the ideas on how well your niche’s product is selling here.
Type the keyword in the Amazon search bar, here I write ‘Superhero T-shirt.’
Amazon showed me all the relevant results for my keyword.
To get the best idea, I decided to look through the products based on customer reviews.
Here, I found this Wonder woman t-shirt with a cape that has received 4-star ratings with 2500+ customer reviews so far.
So, whatever your niche is, go to Amazon and sort the product by customer reviews to get a fantastic bestselling product idea.
Method # 3 Etsy
Etsy is famous for selling unique and handmade products.
Type your niche keyword in the search bar. As in this case, I go with Superhero T-shirt.
It shows all the relevant results for my search term.
As I have mentioned earlier, look through the searches based on customer reviews.
The 5-star rating and over 13000 customer reviews give me enough confidence to adopt a similar kind of designs for my t-shirt business.
I am sure to get incredible ideas with these methods to perform a productive brainstorming for your t-shirt business.
2. Select a Niche
In the ecommerce business, finding a successful niche is one of the most significant tasks to perform in the initial stage. The competition is fierce than ever in the t-shirt business, and if your foundation is weak, you cannot build your ecommerce empire on that.
Finding a profitable niche can really help you to kick-start a successful t-shirt business.
Here are specific steps that you need to perform to the research of your niche.
Analyze your Target audience – who are your potential customers
To analyze the audience, you’d better use Facebook Audience Insights.
In audience insights, Just write the queries related to t-shirts in the ‘interest’ section, and you can see the demographics, jobs, relationship status, and the pages liked by your potential audience.
Like here, I write ‘ Zazzle ‘ in the interest section.
Zazzle is an American online marketplace that allows designers and customers to create their own products.
So, there are higher chances that the audience like this page might be interested in my printed t-shirts.
So, I found out that the potential size of my audience is 150k to 200k in the USA, and the targeted age group is between 25-64.
The audience is of good size, and the age group defines that the targeted audience has purchasing power.
Then, go to a page like section, and you can analyze the pages that are most likely to be liked by your targeted audience.
You can narrow down your audience even more by adding more additional interest. I will go in-depth on Facebook Audience Insights in the 9th step (Marketing).
Watch out Trends – A niche must have a consistent demand
Whatever niche you select, make sure that it must have a stable demand; it should not be seasonal or fad.
The trends should be on an upward spiral and expected to go up soon.
Find a Profitable T-shirt Niche Formula
I have a quick and proven formula that can help you find a profitable t-shirt niche in no time.
It only has two steps
Step # 1 Amazon Best Seller
Amazon bestseller page list down the products that are selling best in the current time.
Here is what you need to do
Go to Amazon bestseller > Categories > Clothing Shoes & Jewelry
You will have a complete list of bestselling items in this category. Your focus should be on a t-shirt on the list.
I found two t-shirt niche ideas, “Stripe T-shirt” and “Workwear pocket T-shirt.”
Step # 2 Google Trends
After searching on Amazon, it is the time to search for the products worldwide trend.
First, I search for “stipe t-shirt.”
Worldwide trends are showing a fantastic sign for stripe t-shirts.
Here I am taking ‘workwear t-shirt‘ and ‘pocket t-shirt‘ (as it is a long query)
Google trends are showing a fantastic demand for these niches. That gives me a lot of confidence to make my designs that go with these t-shirts.
By this time, I hope you would get some idea about how to start a t-shirt business.
3. Generate T-Shirt Design Ideas
The feeling of the online buyer of a t-shirt is that the design that you are selling is one of the most exceptional designs that no one could find anywhere else.
That does not mean to make the most intricate t-shirt designs – simple is elegant. With the right color combination and simple graphic can be a killing combination for tees. All you need is to make an emotional connection between your design and the audience.
Think outside of the box and try to mix different text with different designs.
Here is an example of our business, my niche was nursing, and I want a funky design to print on t-shirts to sell in our niche.
To get ideas, I surf on Pinterest and search for the ‘Nursing funny quotes.’
Here, I found this a wallpaper for nursing that I instantly loved
Without doing any further work, I just took this wallpaper design and put on my t-shirt.
That’s it, I have found a perfect design and text for t-shirt printing.
Here are some websites you can use to generate some t-shirt design ideas:
By doing this exercise, you can quickly deliver the idea to the graphic designer about your t-shirt designs.
4. Validate the T-Shirt Designs
T-shirt business is hugely competitive; it must be amongst one of the most common startup plans. So, to stand out in this competition, you must validate your t-shirt designs before the final go-ahead.
You need some unbiased feedbacks on the t-shirt design. To do so, you can upload your design on various forums and ask people to provide constructive criticism. You can get much better ideas and inspiration to add in your design that you would have probably overlooked.
Facebook groups and subreddits are ideal for getting valuable feedback for free.
In case, if you are having trouble in finding any groups to validate your design, you are welcome to join our 4500+ Facebook community.
The members ask for feedback freely, and everyone is very agile to provide their constructive feedback.
P.S make sure to add watermark in your design to avoid copyrights.
5. Get a mockup design
Once you get the whole idea about what design you are going to print on your t-shirt, then you should get some mockup images to know what will it look like on the t-shirt after printing.
You can use online mockup generators, where you only need to add a design on the t-shirt, select the t-shirt color and upload design or image to get a mockup.
Here I am listing some online t-shirt mockup generator that you can use,
You can check a list of 17 different t-shirts mockup generators for your business.
6. Choose a Platform to Make your T-shirt
Now, this is the exciting part. Generally, there are two options to choose from
Print on your own and ship
This method allows you to have 100% control over your product, price, branding, and profits. However, it is very costly and could not be easier to do everything, such as getting clothing material, printing, stock inventory, and shipment.
This method could take a lot of time and effort as well as take a lot of money to do it.
Print on demand
The next option you get is the Print on Demand dropshipping. If you are not aware of that here is the brief review of how does POD work,
- You go to a print on demand service and sign up. Then provide the customize design to the POD company.
- You upload the images of the product (with design) on your online store.
- You receive an order and collect money from your customers.
- The customer’s order will automatically be transmitted to the POD company via your shopping cart.
- POD companies will charge their fees for the service for its services at the wholesale rates and then ships it to your customer.
- You get the profit after paying the fees to the POD company.
In the POD, you have the option to start selling directly from the POD websites, or you can sync it with your online store such as Shopify and start your t-shirt dropshipping business. These options also answer questions such as how to print t shirts and selling t-shirts online without inventory.
Here is a quick overview of one of the best POD service Printify
1. Sign up to Printify and provide all your store information
2. Go to the product catalog and select the product you want to put your design on
3. Go to the Product and Click Start Designing
4. You just need to add the design here
5. Check the preview of the design
You start selling your t-shirt on different platform such as Etsy and eBay. These POD platforms also offer complete guides to sell on these platforms.
Why you should go for print on demand
- It is cost-effective
- Time effective
- No need to carry inventory
- No shipping worries
- Can focus on marketing
Print on demand is one of the easiest ways to start an online t-shirt store quickly. Here are some of the top recommended POD service, which we have already reviewed in detail.
Printify | 4.5 stars
Printful | 4.5 stars
Custom Cat | 4 stars
Zazzle | 4 stars
Spread Shirt | 3.5 stars
It is up to you whichever platform you choose as your t-shirt supplier, but make sure to get a sample product of your t-shirt to have satisfaction on product quality and design.
7. Create a Business Name
There are multiple ways to start selling a t-shirt in a matter of minutes. However, to make your t-shirt company a brand, you need an official name. Naming the company is a more difficult task as it seems.
The business should reflect your niche & product, but it should not be limited to it in case you want o increase your product line. You have to select a name that allows you to expand your t-shirt to expand in the future.
To get the idea, you can use our business name generator. You only need to enter the primary keyword in the name in just 3 seconds you will have hundreds of name suggestions for your t-shirt store.
I would recommend taking 2 to 3 names from the suggestion and starting brainstorming on them to come up with a unique brand name. Once you select a name, you’d better hurry and buy a domain of that name.
8. Choose a Platform to Sell T-Shirt
Now you have a niche, design name, and product for your t-shirt business to sell everything. It’s time to select an ideal platform to sell your online.
To select an ecommerce platform, I have a significant inclination on Shopify and here are some reasons why,
It offers a 14-day free trial to get familiar with this platform.
It is super easy to start an ecommerce store without getting into the trouble of coding. Learn to set up a Shopify store here.
It offers a lot of free themes to choose for your store.
Almost all POD app (mentioned above) integrates with Shopify.
Shopify integrates with Amazon, which means you can sell a t-shirt on Shopify and Amazon simultaneously.
So, I guess these are some pretty valid reasons to choose Shopify as a platform to start a t-shirt business.
Finally, here comes the most awaited answer of how to sell t-shirts.
Finding the potential audience could be very task unless you know the right tools of marketing.
PPC is a good option here, but t-shirt related keywords are very competitive, which increases the price of the keyword.
If you are selling on Amazon, then you also run ads on Amazon to show your store on the top of the search results on some particular keywords.
Social media marketing is ideal here for you. The best way to do drive traffic from Facebook & Instagram would be by building a community of your specific.
Marketing Strategy for T-Shirt Branding
Make a community and then drop your product.
Like, if you are in the nursing niche, then you have to build a community of nurses first share memes and quotes to engage the audience, then drop your product in the community.
However, it is a lengthy process that takes months or even a year to build a relevant customer base for your niche.
Well, making a brand is a long-term strategy that you would require you build a community first.
Marketing Strategy to Make Initial T-Shirt Sales
You need to take the help of social media ads to sell your T-shirts.
All you need is the right set of audiences, and for that Facebook audience insight is the best here.
Let’s say, your niche is Gothic, and you sell t-shirts with gothic designs.
I have a trick to use Facebook insights to get the most potential audience in your first ad campaign.
Just go to Google and write ‘ Your Niche + Facebook Pages.‘
Then just click on the first-page result and check if the page has enough engagements.
Yes, the page is good enough to get a potential audience.
Now, go to Facebook insights and write this page’s name in the interest section.
The targeting size is 200k-250k, which is perfect to target.
Now, check the top categories to see if it’s showing relevant results.
Almost all the top categories pages are showing relevant results.
Now check the affinity score; it should be huge!
It is showing all the positive signs that you can target this audience to generate instant sales of your t-shirts. You can create the ad right away by just clicking the button on the top right.
Well, it was one trick to use Facebook Audience Insight, to learn 10 more tricks do check out this Guide.
By using this tool, you can narrow down your target market and reach a potential audience in no time. Once you run an ad, then you can create your custom and lookalike audience to spread the circle of your targeting.
That’s all, if you understand all the steps in-depth, then I guess you are good to go and launch your t-shirt business right away.
A t-shirt business is undoubtedly a successful business model, but it needs some planning and hacks to generates profits from this model as the competition is very high.
These steps will surely help you to make some great bucks and run a successful t-shirt business. If the concept is still blurred or you have any queries, feel free to tell us in the comments.
In case you want to share some ideas or want to do brainstorming with like-minded people, join our Facebook community of 4500+ aspiring entrepreneurs.