How to Start an Online T-shirt Business And Make a Full-Time Income
Are you at the point of doing a revision of your closet? We bet you got a whole stash of T-shirts piled up on the closet’s shelves. Sure thing, you’re not the only person in the world who loves T-shirts and keeps them sometimes even for no reason.
T-shirts have been a favorite merch of many people for a long time now and consumers just keep on buying them. Why do people need lots of T-shirts? Because they are comfy to wear and cute. T-shirts are so universal that some wear it with formal attire for meetings. T-shirts are kept and admired for sentimental reasons because they can bring back memories. If you are one of the activists or just a person with a strong opinion about something, a T-shirt can make a strong statement and express your views to others. Some people use T-shirts as a motivational tool for losing weight and getting back into better shape, which they’ve been years ago. Need more reasons why T-shirts are great?
According to Statista, one of the leading and reputable databases of consumer surveys, the fashion apparel & accessories industry has already reached over $500 billion in total revenues in 2018. This number is expected to exceed $730 by 2023. These statistics prove once more that fashion and apparel make good sales online and it is a profitable business.
Thinking about launching your own business venture? Then setting up an online T-shirt business is one of the most stable and safest business moves in 2020.
Let’s talk about why you should start an online T-shirt business and how to start it for free. In this blog post, you’ll also get some tips on how to market an online T-shirt business.
Table of Contents
- How to Start an Online T-shirt Business And Make a Full-Time Income
- Step 1. How to start an online T-shirt business at zero cost
- Step 2. How to create the best marketing plans for an online T-shirt business
- Step 3. How to create a design for your online T-shirt business that sells
- Step 4. How to start printing designs for your T-shirt online business
- Step 5. How to start technically test designs for your T-shirt online business
- Step 6. How to how to start an online T-shirt business
Step 1. How to start an online T-shirt business at zero cost
If you ever wondered how to start your own T-shirt business online at zero cost, we have good news – online platforms BigCommerce and Shopify will make your dream come true. These kinds of platforms are easy to deal with because they can take care of such important things, such as inventory management, handling orders, and you won’t be dealing with a whole bunch of calculations for shipping costs and taxes, etc.
Similar eCommerce platforms you can use for building a presence online: WooCommerce(WP), Prestashop, Magento, ShopBase.
Don’t forget about such important things like picking a service for web hosting, choosing the right gateway for accepting payments, and, of course, providing security for your web store with automated backups. Consider such options like print-on-demand services and applications. These services can integrate into your business and automate certain business processes, such as customer support, handling returns from customers, managing inventories, etc. You can find this type of print-on-demand services online on such platforms as WooCommerce and Shopify.
Before we move on and talk about how to set up the actual online store, let’s do some homework and make an overview of some essential steps that you need to think about before building an online store for selling T-shirts.
Step 2. How to create the best marketing plans for an online T-shirt business
Marketing is a huge part of success in business, so think about the best marketing strategies that will work for you. Perhaps, finding the most effective ones sounds like not an easy task. Roll up your sleeves and work hard to succeed. Where would be a starting point in this adventurous journey?
Start by evaluating a potential audience and specific groups of people you want to sell to. Then think of designs that this audience might find the most appealing. Basically, what it really means is finding a niche for filling in. Finding a unique face for your brand and making sure that it will stand out somehow amongst hundreds of other similar online stores – these are your goals. While brainstorming about the brand’s identity, be specific and narrow it down to a sparkling design that would connect it to your target audience. Make it look ideal to your buyers and make them think they want to buy this particular design.
Here is what you need to do while researching a market and trying to find a niche for your online store:
- Do some scouting to get a better understanding of groups of people or communities you’re going to sell to. Just pick a group that you want to target and join online forums that were specifically set up for communication between members of this group. Use Facebook or Reddit to read through posts of members to see what they talk about and what kind of information they share with each other. Once you notice some popular jokes or memes that they share often on – use them. This can become your goldmine for boosting sales.
- Try to research by keywords with such research tools like Semrush and ahrefs to find out what’s on people’s minds. Determine what keywords are most popular by checking out the top 10 results and see what type of things people care about the most. Use popular terms for creating slogans on T-shirts and incorporate them into your design.
- Get some inspiration from looking through products made by your competitors. If you’d sort products by popularity, you’ll be able to find out what sells more and what less.
Read reviews on websites of your competitors’ and don’t forget to check out their designs which are most in-demand. There are two big eCommerce online stores that are worth looking at – Redbubble and Teespring. By checking them out, you’ll get a better idea of what online stores look like and what popular designs in this industry are.
Step 3. How to create a design for your online T-shirt business that sells
Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. Finding a distinct and unique design for your T-shirt brand is extremely important. The whole trick here is to make a statement and connect your brand with an audience because this is something that builds a solid foundation in business. It should resonate with potential buyers.
Finding a distinct design is definitely not an easy process. No matter whether you are already on the creative side and consider yourself an artsy person, don’t think it’s a piece of cake.
Having good skills in art is a big plus, but sometimes it doesn’t work the way you thought it would. So, think about the option of collaborating with other designers in order to have designs created for you. Look into some handy professional services like Dribble and Upwork. You can find designers with professional graphic design skills on these platforms and take your ideas to them to customize them. Professional designers will create nice outstanding graphics that will drive your T-shirt business to success. Of course, you’ll spend some money but the end result will pay off.
If collaborating with professional designers seems a bit pricey to you, consider using some pre-made designs for your T-shirt business. Some marketplaces which sell pre-made designs – T-shirt Factory, GraphicRiver, Designious, and Creative Market. You will be provided with commercial licenses and vector formats for PNG images, so you’ll modify and adjust them to your own preferences. Some marketplaces require you to pay $50 for a commercial license.
Just a tip: After receiving a file with designs, make sure images are in 300 DPI or PPI (digital pixels per inch). Images should be on a transparent background. The designs should display the actual area on the T-shirt where it will be printed on. All these requirements are needed to be sure that the design will look right once it has been printed.
Step 4. How to start printing designs for your T-shirt online business
Have you got all your designs on hand? Time to start printing! A good way to go with this is to find a local print shop and a space to set it up for warehousing of your products. Collaborating with local print shops is a good way to go. You’ll be in control of all processes like testing designs and making improvements or changes whenever is needed. The only problem – you will be the one who is handling all the logistics. Besides, some print shops work with just certain volumes of products, so this is something you need to specify before dealing with them.
Another option available for starters (while launching the T-shirt business) is outsourcing business processes to dropshipping companies. Here are two popular ones – Gooten and Printful. They promise to handle anything in terms of logistics and printing. Going with this option might save you a big buck along the run. Also, you’ll get more chances for better optimization of all other processes. Once you set up an account, order some samples of designs, test them, and establish preferences for fulfillment.
Another alternative option for dipping your toe into an online business is a collaboration with online platforms like Teespring and Redbubble. They might not let you build a long-term business, but still, you’ll make around 20% in profit. Again, if you want to start testing your ideas to see which work the best, these platforms will do a good job. Besides, it’s one of the great ways to find out whether you want to dive into an eCommerce business 100% or not. Once you decide to stick to it, you might need to go free float.
Step 5. How to start technically test designs for your T-shirt online business
A process of testing new designs is one of the most essential steps to take if you want to start building an online T-shirt business. Test designs to confirm that your ideas work well and that you’re on the right track. How to start testing? Use an online platform Cafepress or go for Facebook Ads to spread the word to shoppers. Facebook Ads will not only advertise effectively but also will provide you with the option of setting up targeted marketing campaigns to reach out to specific groups.
It takes time to gain actual results from Facebook ads campaigns, so give it some time and be patient. Eventually, these campaigns will scale your business, which will boost your sales up.
Tips for promotion:
- Personalization of the website’s homepage – use a homepage as a gateway where your online visitors find recommendations and links to your merch. Use Personalized Recommendation which automatically displays products you want to recommend and have displayed on the homepage.
- Use social media to promote your online store – for instance, Instagram adds hashtags to profiles, and that way makes online stores searchable. Use hashtags like #tshirts or #tshirtstore – odds are when buyers search for stuff, they’ll hit your store and find it more easily.
Just a tip: While displaying prices, keep them lower than 100% markup. Online business is highly competitive, so you’ll always be under the pressure of lowering markup prices and keeping them under 100%.
Step 6. How to how to start an online T-shirt business
Now, we’ve got to the point where we can start talking about how to start building an online T-shirt business manually.
Some basic steps to take for putting your store online:
- Choose and register a domain
- Pick an eCommerce platform that will work for your business
- Register a personal account on this platform
- Link an account you’ve opened to the T-shirt manufacturers you work with
- Create product pages and add product galleries
- Go ahead and offer products
If after reading this blog post you feel like you need more in-depth information or some actual examples for a better understanding of how to start an online T-shirt business, take an online course – “Start A T-shirt Business – Teespring, Merch by Amazon & More” created by one of the best-selling instructors Jason Gandy.
During this course, you’ll get all information about how to purchase T-shirt designs or create ones of your own, how to download the free software, and all the necessary tools needed to run your successful T-shirt business.
You will learn how to upload designs to Teespring, Redbubble, and other marketplaces. You will be also provided with plenty of free and paid marketing strategies used for boosting traffic and sales, and with many more tips. This course offers to watch videos for every process you learn about with step-by-step instructions.
Start building your T-shirts business today and make it grow!