How to Start an Online T-Shirt Business: Guide for Beginners
There is a surge of excitement when you start your own T-shirt business. Everybody wishes to be a successful business owner. If you’ve already started or you would like to know how to start a T-shirt business, there are several main things to be considered.
Let’s begin with some pleasant things as your dreams, ideas, and passion. After you’ve come up with the concept and goals in mind, you need to create a business plan, develop strategy, and marketing activities. To start a T-shirt business, you need some tips and live examples.
In this article, we will provide some guidelines to help you go through all stages from defining your niche to choosing an eCommerce solution that fits to ground your online T-shirt business.
To find out your niche, you need to answer the question: What is my specific target group?
Before you start your online T-shirt business, choose a niche as a base of your future business growth.
A niche refers to a specific product line which you can sell to a particular range of customers that have specific interests and needs in your product.
To select the right niche, you should be particular. If men are your target group, define their personas and age (for example, young trendsetters 20-26). So your online store will only appeal to a specific group of young men. Your branding will take direction when you shun being broad to focus on the niche for your online store.
Also, defining a niche means that you specify the type of T-shirts to be sold. For example, you can decide that your product will be a typical shirt with short sleeves for a skateboarder or classic polo shirt for a young and ambitious manager. This will help you to deliver a sample that fits your target audience.
However, to succeed in a T-shirt business, you can have some unique designs or tell an exciting story about your brand and gain your place in the market and customers’ minds.
Since you have your target audience and t-shirt styles, you can work with a creative part. Designing your T-shirts with some awesome pictures or other creative elements will make a difference.
Starting a T-shirt business requires trial and error methods. Also, avoiding copyrighted designs will help you to stand out from other ideas and get fans among your customers.
How to Create T-Shirt Design
Creating a T-shirt design can be done in different ways.
- Make custom hand made designs. This means to draw some pictures, letters, phrases by hand with special textile ink.
- Use tools like Adobe Photoshop. You don’t need a guru prowess to do it. However, to get great design without spending much time, you need to know how to use the program or hire a designer.
- Edit and upload the design to a print-on-demand shop. These websites will print your designs on demand. You can choose any of the dropship suppliers for your T-shirt business. Among them are:
Choosing how to print your model is a crucial decision when starting your online T-shirt business. We will outline three primary printing methods but remember, it all depends on your budget and customer demand.
Screen printing has been tried and tested over time now. Many business people have given it license due to its long-lasting results. In this technology, ink is transferred through a mesh (screen) onto the T-shirt. The screen is pressed gently using a blade to allow the ink wet the attire for printing. Although it’s tedious, many beginners prefer it because it’s cost-effective.
However, it may take a lot of time to create t-shirts on your own using such technique. You can either go with some custom designs and hire a designer, then print what you’ve got.
Look at private designers and their portfolio. (Rose Blake)
To make a screen printing you either need to create or buy your own equipment or find a company who can print your designs to order.
Let’s take a look at another printing method.
Vinyl Graphics is an old printing method, like screen printing. Local office supply stores and homes prefer this method. Plastisol transfers are advanced forms of Vinyl Graphics and used by the skilled workforce on a special heat transfer paper. Vinyl Graphics is an easy way of producing full color-images onto your T-shirt designs.
Print-on-demand functions the same way as the ink-jet printer found in many homes. In print-on-demand, you choose a company that will give you ready-to-use t-shirts, selection of colors and styles.
Then, you choose to upload your designs and place them in your online store. Once, a t-shirt is ordered by your customers, you will get a printed T-shirt. It is better than both Vinyl graphics and screen printing because it doesn’t have setup costs for the equipment and supplies. If you have small orders, this is the way to go. Look at the step-by-step guide from the Wholesale Ted, how to download your Shopify store and integrate it with Printful.
After you figure out which type of t-shirt model, designs and printing options will suit your business, you need to choose a workable business model. This will help you to successfully run your business and build all business processes.
You need to choose your business model to help you select actions that you should do to reach the set goal. For the beginners, you need a tool to manage your online shop. Outline tactics and specific activities that will help you to test your online T-shirt business. Here are a few business models to choose for running your T-shirt business.
Having established a T-shirt business (dropship supplier), you need to link with a retailer who will market your brands online. Drop shipping helps run your store from anywhere in the world; you will never be tired into a specific location. It doesn’t need a lot of cash to start selling online. In fact; the retailer does more than the drop shipper.
Let’s say, for example; you need to showcase new designs of T-shirts. The dropship supplier (you) would link with the retailer, who in turn would market your T-shirt brands to customers. When a customer places an order, the retailer will send the request to the drop shipper (you) who will, in turn, submit the order to the customer. Remember, it’s upon you to check the companies before you settle on the right drop shipper. You can also produce some designs upon request.
Vice versa, you can be a middleman, who sells a supplier’s t-shirts on your own website or a marketplace. This is less risky than to produce, store and sell products in one place. You can use Aliexpress, Amazon or similar marketplaces to sell your t-shirts.
Print-on-demand is also a part of the drop shipping model that allows you to advertise your T-shirt online then print it when the customer pays. In this case, a customer will buy a T-shirt brand on an eCommerce shop, and the order will be sent on you for printing. To achieve such, you need to connect your online store with a company such as Printful, and your product will get shipped to your customer. This can be done, if you have your store, for example on Shopify.
Having found a niche, you need to build your store. With your store, you can sell various T-shirts that reflect your brand’s vision. The online store will help you to attract different customers. You can partition your online store based on the target customers. The target customers could be men, women, or babies. Not only this, now to promote your brand, and make it visible on the web, you need to have a store or platform.
Own store can be simple; however, it gives you more options to grow, establishes a design, tells a story, interacts with your customers and manages all processes freely. Let’s look at the simplest options to create your online store.
Having established an online store, it becomes almost impossible to evade an eCommerce platform. There a several eCommerce platforms to select from. But before you can select, take your time to test them. Luckily, most of the platforms have free 7-30 days trial, explanation of features and set up process.
WooCommerce and Shopify are the green light for small businesses.
With Shopify, you will create your t-shirt store quickly. It has 10+ themes, basic features and easy-to-use admin panel for the administrator of the store. There are lots of apps available to complement your store with the necessary features.
WooCommerce is also a great plugin for running eCommerce store on WordPress. It is free to download, SEO-optimized, simple to use, and has all the range of features to create a fully-fledged eCommerce store.
However, if you need a reliable team for your store development at the stage of expanding your business to implement unique features or customizations, we are ready to help you with eCommerce store development.
If you have your store ready and run it for some period of time, you may wonder how to expand your web presence and how effectively sell more of your custom bits. We’ve got you covered.
Starting a T-shirt business is a simple thing, and anybody can do it. But you need to stand out. You may have creative designs, but you want to get customers that like your T-shirts.
How to reach customers?
You can take into account all the channels: social media, advertisement, some additional platforms, and forums or your own blog.
Let’s look closer at the most workable options.
Begin by identifying where your clients hang out. Engage in social networks to reach them. Many T-shirt businesses have exploded due to social media. Social media increases traffic in your online store. Aim at offering great value in any chat you engage in, on social networks, avoid being too promotional.
Instagram, for example, is a visual marketing channel because many people browse the app daily.
- You can start with growing your page organically and through advertising campaigns. An Instagram business account allows you to check activity reports on your page.
- You can start engaging your clients by following the hashtags and posting your T-shirt designs and creating engaging content.
- The second important thing is to be real. You can tell the story behind your brand, and follow the main statements of your vision in all posts that you create.
- Don’t forget to use stories, highlighting your customers that ordered your products, and promote some new products.
- Influencers still have the loyalty of most Instagram users, so involve them to reach more people.
- Create some instant welcome replies and monitor your DMs.
- You can also integrate your Instagram account into your eCommerce store, and engage with your audience through their pictures with your products.
Facebook is a great place for advertisement and the involvement of news influencers.
- Create a page or community and run advertising campaigns.
- Post some new designs, and involve your customers to the creation of the new collection.
- Give your customers an opportunity to express their opinion by creating a secret Facebook group for them. Testing your products make the whole difference. Tell them more about quality, designs, fabric that you use.
Overall, ensure that your T-shirt business is out on the right social platforms.
Crowdfunding is an easy way of starting your T-shirt business. There are so many sites that can help you get funds for your business. You should join crowdfunding sites to source for funds and promote your T-shirts. RocketHub is an excellent Crowdfunding site where people share their business and artworks. It is divided into different categories. With RocketHub You can promote your T-shirt business.
Many beginners prefer Reddit website because it has large engaging niche communities. It has the highest number of subscribers as compared to Facebook. Did you know that a lot of viral content have early traction here? It is in Reddit that you will get a niche market for your T-shirt business.
Reddit consists of tons of discussions about entrepreneurship, where people share their wins and challenges running eCommerce business. T-shirt business is not an exception. Community members share their products, websites and opinions to get an inspiration and exchange ideas for their stores.
Google Advertising is a great promotion tool. Since you have an online store, Google Ads will help market your T-shirt to people who search for them. Start a campaign there, test it, and analyze your results. You can learn how to use Google analytics with their course, or you can find a specialist to set up campaigns for you.
Blogging is a quick and effective way of marketing your T-shirt business to your niche. You can tell about your products, or you can tell your story of the product creation and testimonials of your customers. Also, you can place useful information on how to wash t-shirts, and how to style them. The blog information creates awareness, and customers get to buy your T-shirt.
Look how Threadless company is successfully running blog, telling about their designs and stories of people who work in art and design sphere.
If the above options don’t impress you, you can still try different options to grow your T-shirt business. Here are some.
T-Shirt Subscription Service
T-shirt subscription service will help to present different T-shirt designs to your customers. After paying for the subscription, your new T-shirt designs will be displayed to your customers according to your terms of the agreement. You can display up to five different models of T-shirts. T-shirt subscription offers good deals because a customer can opt out the subscription if they are not satisfied with their services.
Additional T-Shirt Sales Channel
Choosing the right T-shirt sales channel is one of the best decisions that you can ever make for your business. The online marketplace can be useful for your T-shirt business. If you are a beginner, platforms like Amazon or Etsy will allow you to access t-shirt customers in your immediate vicinity. Any famous marketplace helps you reach a wider net of potential clients.
Having engaged in the marketing of your product, you now need to grow your T-shirt brand. Here are some ways that can help you boost your T-shirt brand presence and increase sales.
Work on Logo, Brand Colors and Typography
The power of your T-shirt brand is equal to the uniqueness of your brand visuals. You don’t need a cool plain logo but one that communicates about your products. The brand color and typography must mix amicably.
Involving influencers in your T-shirt business will determine how fast your business will grow. Influencer marketing combines referrals and reviews to help expose your brands on social media.
Consider hiring a blogger or socialist rather than a sports star. Influencers are experts in social media and can produce the right content and engage with their fans effectively for them and for brands’ profit.
Collaborate with Other Brands
Collaborating with other brands will help you reach new clients to promote your T-shirts. But before that, you have to be sure of your collaboration goals. You need a strong brand name which can easily be acquired through collaboration with other brands. A reliable brand name helps your T-shirt brand increase the customer base.
Advisory Board Crystals, a streetwear brand collaborated with Wikipedia to raise some funds for this well-known free online encyclopedia. For sure, this type of partnership gives you not only increased presence and customers’ awareness but helps you to support a brand’s mission and be involved in social projects. This can be helpful due to the interest in sustainability and social responsibility of brands from their customers’ perspective.
Do you want to promote your brand or increase sales and traffic on your site? You can achieve either of them through collaboration. Think of your goals for collaboration. Make a list of potential collaborators and approach them.
Open Pop-Up Store
Open a pop-up store to help you spark a surge of excitement around your retail shop. It is an excellent way of introducing your products. Remember pop-up store is mostly associated with youth and fashion. This concept can work very well with the T-shirt business.
Use the Power of Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great tool to help grow your small T-shirt business. New marketing channels come and go, but email marketing has stood the test of time. Try it!
Unlike other channels, email marketing connects you directly to your clients. Instead of paying the subscription fee for your content to be aired, email put the content straight into your clients’ inbox. It’s an affordable tool for your small T-shirt business. If you are looking for a responsive, user-friendly, and well-designed email templates, you can check WEB4PRO products.