May 05, 2021

Quick Guide to Starting an Online T-Shirt Business

Starting an online t-shirt business seems like the most straightforward idea when you think of an additional revenue stream.

Since designs can be personalized, t-shirts are more than a piece of clothing.

They represent who you are, which is why people choose customized t-shirts over generic ones.

Quick Guide to Starting an Online T-Shirt Business: eAskme
 Quick Guide to Starting an Online T-Shirt Business: eAskme

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According to Statista, in 2024, the custom t-shirt market was worth 45.52 billion worldwide.

This suggests this is a growing segment, and despite the seemingly over-saturated market, you can always set up a business with little overhead.

1. Decide your business model

There are two ways you can start selling t-shirts online.

One is to source the material, supplier, manufacturer, handle orders, and delivery and shipping by yourself.

This makes sense if you have a huge bandwidth and several employees.

But if you are an individual looking to sell t-shirts, you might want to try print on demand.

A print on demand service essentially allows you to set up a virtual store without actually holding any inventory or paying for the service.

You only pay when your customer places an order.

You can create design mockups and host them on social media, or you can use integrations for your site.

For example, you can take advantage of etsy print on demand integration on your website.

This way, you don’t have to be involved in taking orders or managing the delivery.

2. Find your niche

Americans spent about $353.7 billion shopping online in 2017.

Clearly, there is enough money in the eCommerce business to ensure you see a modicum of success as well.

To stand out, you have to find your niche.

Now, this is advice you might have already heard before.

But if you’re not sure where to start, you can always look up the top-selling products on different e-tailers and go from there.

Subreddits are also a good place to find these quirky ideas.

Then you can use Facebook’s tool that allows you to analyze audiences to see if there is a sizable following in that niche.

You can also experiment with a few design styles to experiment with your brand voice.

If you choose the print on demand model, you can stress test your designs and get your potential customers’ feedback without having to invest financially.

3. Choose quality material and the right printing style

There are different types of materials you can use to print t-shirts.

Depending on the style of the t-shirt, you may have to choose different fabrics.

The same goes for printing styles. Work on shirt design.

There are many different techniques that you choose from - screen printing, direct to garment, or heat transfer - and there are pros and cons to each method that you should consider. There are many different printers on the market, such as the Prestige R2 DTF printer, the JetMaster 3D, and the InkStream Pro 2000, all of which can effectively utilize DTF supplies to produce vibrant and long-lasting prints.
Other factors you should keep in mind are the sizing, fit, and weight of the material.

It all contributes to product quality.

Considering retail giants like Amazon are deploying tech to provide custom t-shirts, you have to elevate your game.
You should test out different suppliers and print on demand services by ordering samples to get a feel for the product yourself.

Keep in mind that you should never sacrifice good quality for profit because, in the long run, you will find it difficult to find returning customers.

4. Create your designs

Now comes the fun part - the actual designs. You can do it yourself or hire a designer to do this for you.

If you plan on doing it yourself, use a simple tool like Canva that allows you to create designs easily.

Create your tshirt designs: eAskme

If you have advanced techniques, you can also use Sketch or Photoshop to produce high-quality designs.
You have to keep in mind that for the t-shirt to have good quality, the design files must be in high resolution.
If designing is completely out of your depth, hire a designer.

You can find them on Dribble or Upwork, or Fiverr and have them design a few mockups.

If you like the designs, you can also establish a long-term engagement.
If hiring a designer is not possible, you can also buy designs from online marketplaces.

5. Produce a mockup

If you use a designer in the previous step, you will already have mockups for your design.

If you don’t, here’s how you can create a mockup.

If you’ve created the design yourself, download it and upload it to the print on demand service’s website.

They have a mockup generator that allows you to get a fair idea of what the actual t-shirt will look like.
If you are not using a print on demand service, you can use online mockup generators to place your design on blank t-shirts.

To conclude

Once you have completed all these five steps, the final step is to have an omnichannel marketing strategy to start promoting your business.

Without the right distribution strategy, you won’t be able to direct attention to your business in an already crowded market.

A good marketing plan should also include competitor research, pricing strategy, and your unique selling point so that you can communicate it to your audience effectively.

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