How to start a T-shirt business online
Do you want to start your own online t-shirt company? A simple t-shirt can tell a lot about the wearer’s style, personality and interests. You have an idea for a tee-shirt design that others will love.
Globally, Wix eCommerce stores saw a 151% increase in clothing and accessories sales between 2019 and 2020. In 2020, the global custom-t-shirt market was estimated to be worth almost $4 billion. This is why it’s becoming a popular choice for clothing entrepreneurs to sell this wardrobe staple.
Start an online t-shirt company
An online t-shirt shop might be the fastest and most effective way to get into the fashion industry. It is now easier than ever to find an eCommerce site builder that offers designer-made tee-shirt store templates, full integration with print on demand services like Printful and Printify, as well as multichannel marketplace integrations to increase your brand’s reach.
Starting a business does not necessarily require a large investment. It’s easy for eCommerce entrepreneurs to launch custom tees and begin selling them quickly.
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This guide will walk you through the steps of starting a t-shirt company online.
01. Create your online store
Your customers will feel confident in their purchases when they shop on a professional eCommerce platform. It is also a reflection of your brand’s identity. Create and customize an eCommerce site to start your online t-shirt company. If you have a print-on-demand business model, make sure that your platform allows you to integrate your store with these services. Integration with other sales channels, such as Amazon and eBay, and social media channels like Facebook or Instagram, is a must.
These are just a few other things to keep in mind:
Budget your expenses and start small. You should find an eCommerce platform that will allow you to start your own business for a minimal investment. Some platforms even let you start for free. A tip: Select a platform that is able to support your business at any scale. To help you grow your business, check if the platforms provide advanced marketing tools and customer management tools .
A platform with a lot of customization and design flexibility is important. You can create a website that is unique to your brand by using this platform. Tip: Make sure you choose a platform that provides ready-to-go, store templates which can be easily customized to your brand.
Mobile is the primary platform for more than half of all online orders. Your store should be mobile-friendly to allow customers to make purchases while on the move. The online store, which is optimized for mobile, allows OwlKitty fans to purchase branded t-shirts. OwlKitty allows customers to connect their Instagram account to their online store to access fully-optimized product pages.
Tip: Choose a website builder who will optimize your site for mobile.
After you have chosen your platform, it’s time to start building your online shop.
These are some things you should be aware of:
- Name your company. Create a word bank with concepts that are related to your t-shirt business plan. You can also use a business or clothing name generator to help you. You can choose a name that is representative of your business, but doesn’t restrict you from growing.
- Select your domain. Match the domain name with your brand name. This will make it easier for your customers to find you online.
- Create your own store. Modify any store template to reflect you brand and appeal to your target market.
- Provide payment options. Make payments easy for your customers. Multiple payment options are available to ensure that you don’t lose any potential customers.
Need more help? This checklist will help you make sure that you do not miss any important steps while building your store.
02. Integrate with a print-on-demand service
What’s print on demand?
Print on Demand is a type of dropshipping which allows you to sell custom t-shirts online and not have to manage inventory, fulfillment, or shipping. Dropshipping integrations at Wix stores launch 15% faster than other online retailers.
Wix Stores that use print on demand increased their sales by 529.39% in the first quarter 2021.
An online store is the first step in achieving successful print on demand. If this is your preferred business model then connect your store with print on demand services such as Printify, and you can start designing your tees.
Many of these services also offer mockup generators which allow you to place your design on tees, and then see how it looks on models. These product images can be used on your website to let your customers know exactly what you’re selling.
Integrating your website with a print-on-demand platform allows you to sell graphic tees from your online shop. After an order has been placed, the service will print the product and send it to your customers anywhere in the world. This business model reduces your initial investment and makes it easier to start.
This video will show you how to add Printful into your Wix Store.
If your website was built with another platform, you can follow their instructions to connect your store with print-on-demand services.
Although a print-on-demand service is the most efficient way to sell t-shirts online, there are many other options available. These include sourcing and manufacturing. The key is to find the best one.
You can source your own t-shirts from local or international suppliers. However, it is important to do some research and find out what it takes to start a clothing company.
03. Find your niche and reach out to it
There are billions of tees on the market, so why should customers buy yours? Your product was created specifically for them.
You might draw inspiration from your passions and interests to find your niche. Are you a fan of a particular group? Are you a diehard supporter of a particular celebrity, a TV series, or a show on the small screen? Are you an activist or a member of a certain political party?
You can also research what’s hot to find your niche. What topics are people most interested in? Google Trends can help you find the most popular search terms in your country and around the world. This information can be used to validate or inspire your chosen niche.
After you have chosen your niche and identified your target audience, it is time to get to know them.
Reddit allows users to create posts which are voted upon by the community. There are subreddits that break down the site into sections. Each section has a different topic. To see the posts, users subscribe to subreddits they are interested in. Find out what your target audience is reading. To see what content is gaining the most attention and subscribers, explore feeds. This information can be used to create designs and messaging for your T-shirts.
Search Facebook Groups.
Find niche communities that are similar to your interests. Get to know these people and get their feedback. Ask for their ideas and then test your designs.
Compare your competitors.
Find out what works for other businesses, and what doesn’t. Keep track of ideas for how to create a better product that attracts your target audience.
Locate a market that isn’t being used and tap it. Find a niche market that isn’t being reached yet. Create unique t-shirts that resonate with them.
Define buyer personas to help you determine your target audience. Next, create a business plan that outlines your vision for your tee-shirt brand. You should include details about your target audience, niche, marketing strategy, financial projections, and sales goals.
Little Tail Farms, a family-owned Hobby Farm, is located in Dunlap, TN and offers farmstays and tours. You can view a variety of animals from miniature horses to alpacas to Nigerian dwarf goats. Little Tail Farms can sell farm-inspired merchandise by integrating their website with dropshipping platforms like Modalyst and Printful. This can help increase revenue.
04. Create stunning designs
With original designs, make your t-shirts stand apart from the rest.
Your t-shirt can be used to communicate a message, tell an story, or show off a part of your personality. You don’t need to make complicated designs. Customers will be attracted to a simple and trendy design.
Modern Magnolia Co offers handprinted t-shirts featuring illustrations and slogans that are appealing to a wide range of female customers. The t-shirts are American-inspired with a hint of humor and appeal to a niche audience like parents, music lovers, and animal lovers.
To create a great design, you don’t need to be an artist. If you are an artist, this is your chance.
Sketch out a message or idea that you are excited about and then come up with a design. Next, use a design software to create your image. Your hand-drawn letters or images can be turned into vectors, and you can even modify them on your computer. Canva is another option. You can also create a logo with a Logo Maker.
If you don’t want the background to be part of your design, create an image with a transparent background (PNG) file. Each manufacturer and print on demand service has different requirements. These guidelines should be carefully read to ensure that your design prints properly and in the best quality.
- Images should not exceed 150 DPI (dots/inch). You may need a higher DPI for certain brands of t-shirts. Double-check your upload before you submit.
- You can upload your design in JPG or PNG formats.
- Print files should not be saved in CMYK but sRGB.
You don’t have to design a graphic design. A professional graphic designer can do it for your benefit.
- Fiverr: Get connected with a freelancer for a single design. You can filter your search by type of designer or how much you are willing and able to pay.
- – This platform allows you to search for long-term freelancers who can help with ongoing or multiple projects.
- Visit Behance to explore this social media platform for designers. Behance is a platform for graphic artists to showcase their work, get inspiration, and find jobs.
- This is another place where designers meet. To find the designs you like, scroll through displayed art or filter by style. You can then reach out to the artist for more information.
05. Select quality products
A graphic t-shirt that is low quality and poorly fitting is not something anyone likes.
Sample your products, regardless of whether you are using print-on-demand services or sourcing your own T-shirts. It is important to make sure that your product sells well and that customers return.
Test the t-shirts that you are interested in selling and buy them. You can try a variety of options. Are they comfortable to wear? Are the colors vivid? What happens to the color after washing? Is it shrinking? Is the pattern cracked?
Many suppliers offer tees made from cotton or ringspun cotton. Some suppliers use organic cotton that is grown without pesticides or herbicides. Consider these things when selecting your material.
It’s worth looking for tee-shirt companies or print-on-demand services that offer t-shirts made of organic cotton and recycled fabrics if your tshirt business is committed to sustainability. These options are likely to have a higher price per unit, but customers will often pay more for eco-friendly options.
Also, think about the size options that you will offer your customers. Are you looking to create a t-shirt brand that caters to all sizes? Perhaps you are looking to restrict your stock and focus on t-shirts for a specific size range.
Treat your customers as you would want to be treated. Your customers will return to your brand and be ambassadors by recommending that you make sure they are satisfied with your product.
06. Select a printing method
Learn about the various printing options for inking your tees. The right printing method is as important as the material.
If you’re looking to print your own images, this is an excellent option.
Plastisol transfers are the most common type of heat transfer. This method involves printing your design on high-quality release papers with a professional printer. Next, heat press the image onto your t-shirt.
This printing method is great for large quantities of tee-shirts that have the same design.
Layer by layer, stencil-like mesh screens are used to paint designs onto t-shirts. Each layer can only be one color. You can add layers and different colors to your design, but this will increase the cost.
This method is ideal for large quantities of tees of the same design, as it is labor-intensive.
This is the current most popular way to print designs on t-shirts.
Your design can be applied to garments using an inkjet printer. This is a great option for intricate, detailed designs. The same process is used for both small and large quantities of print.
All-over Print (Sublimated).
You can print outside of the seams to make a unique t-shirt. You can do this with all-over printing.
Make a design that can be printed on your tee. This is not possible for all print on demand companies.
Stitch a unique embroidered design on your tees for a more delicate look. Although you will be limited in the colors and sizes available, well-designed embroidery is still a great way to make a statement.
Consider these things when selecting a printing method.
You will need to manage your inventory if you don’t use a print-on-demand service. To build a successful business, it is important to keep control of your inventory.
You can start with a few t-shirts in different sizes. To limit risk and overhead costs, stick to one or two colors for t-shirts. You can save money by purchasing small quantities of t-shirts in order to keep your initial investment low. Find a local printer who can ink your t-shirts using the best technique for you.
Find out where to find a manufacturer. Once you are ready to purchase more stock, ensure that you source your t-shirts only from trusted suppliers. So that you can provide the best products to your customers at an affordable price, find a wholesaler.
Next, choose a printing company that offers the quality and fulfillment services that you require. To have greater control over the process, and if it is within your budget, you might consider purchasing printing equipment.
You can use a print-on-demand service to manage your inventory, shipping, and fulfillment. It’s still a good idea keep some stock in reserve to sell at pop-up shops or to local businesses. This can be useful for marketing offers or showing potential investors and customers your product.
08. Get feedback on your designs
After you have chosen your design and picked your tee you will want to ensure that everything looks great together.
To visualize the effect your design will have on products, you can use a mockup generator. Upload your image to view mockups of your shirt and how it will look on real models.
Many print-on-demand services provide mockup generators for free. Depending on which eCommerce platform you use, product images might automatically sync with your online store. You can also download images for your website, social media channels, and digital marketing.
After you are done, create engaging product descriptions that explain everything your customers need about your tees. Include product specifications and a size chart to tell a story about the t-shirt. You can edit product descriptions provided by print-on-demand services.
You love your new tees. But what about potential buyers?
Your mockup can be shared on your social media pages to see how your friends react. Post them to Facebook Groups and see what your community thinks.
Do you remember the subreddits that you discovered? You can revisit them and ask for feedback from fellow Redditors. Be sure to not make your post sound like a marketing stunt. Ask people directly what they think of your tee. This is a great way for you to draw attention to your product and learn more about your target market.
Your design can be shared on designer blogs, Dribbble, and Behance. You can upload your project to a crowdfunding website to get investors for your t-shirt company if it is innovative. To prevent your designs being copied, you can add a watermark wherever you share them.
Your investments will be very low if you use print on demand services. Although you won’t have to test your designs before selling them online, it’s still a good idea to reach out to your target audience and get feedback to validate your designs.
09. Calculate your cost
You will need to calculate your expenses before you price your products. This list will help you estimate the cost of each service. This will help you to estimate how much per tee you need to make a profit.
- Hosting a website
- Business email account
- Website designer
- T-shirt designer
- Equipment for printing
- Additional charges may apply for special print-on-demand services
- T-shirts cost
- You can offset the shipping costs by getting free shipping
- Domestic shipping
- Shipping internationally
Marketing and Branding:
- Promotional materials
- Marketing via social media
- Digital advertising
- Packaging with branding
If you are making the t-shirts in-house, consider your labor costs: time spent on making the tees, packing, shipping and managing inventory.
Although you may not be able to take a salary from your startup, it is important to understand the potential costs of growing and hiring staff.
10. Set your price
Is it possible to make a t-shirt company online that is profitable? You will need to do extensive research to identify the right niche, find a market and design tees that appeal to your target market.
Take these three things into consideration before you begin:
- There is a lot to choose from.
- Your profit margins with low-cost products will be smaller.
- To grow your business, it takes time.
You must be strategic to make a profit with your eCommerce business idea. You will need to be innovative, cost-conscious, and well-marketed in order to avoid common pitfalls.
Below is a rough estimate of the cost for graphic tees.
$5 – $15
You may not be able to sell a lot of t-shirts unless you have a large inventory.
- Printing large quantities of the same design in one batch
- Print your own t-shirts
$16 – $29
This is the average price range of graphic t-shirts. This price range is ideal if you want to make a good profit and not scare away customers.
- Scaling up your business starting at the beginning
- Profitable up to 50% on every tee
- Print on Demand Service for Selling
$30 – $40
These T-shirts are often special or unique.
- Tees with a variety of printing techniques
- High-quality t-shirts
- Limited release Tees with specialty or detailed designs
Comparing your t-shirts to similar brands that sell shirts online is a good idea. What price will a t-shirt made from organic cotton with a hand-drawn illustration cost? Are you charging more or less than your competition? Why do you think that people will pay more fortees if they are more? You should not undervalue your product if you have less. Strategically underpricing your product can help you stand out in a competitive market and bring in new customers.
You will need to set your prices if you want to add print-on-demand products to your store. Either a fixed dollar markup, or a percentage markup can be used.
The majority of businesses want to make around 50% profit per item. This simple formula will help you determine the retail price.
(Cost per Product) x 2 = Retail Price of Your Graphic Tee
Simply put, you should charge twice the amount that you spend on each tee for your customers.
11. Your brand is what you should be building
It’s time to get your t-shirts on sale and promote your brand. Here are some tips to help you brand your t-shirt company.
- Make a memorable logo for your company. You can use a logo maker or hire a graphic artist to make one.
- Join the right social media networks. Find out who your target audience is and where they are online. Create promotional campaigns to spread word about your products. Influencer marketing is a great way to connect with your target audience. You don’t have the budget to pay for social media influencers who have hundreds of thousands of followers. Instead, look for relevant nano influencers who have a loyal but small following. Reach out to them to see if you are interested in having your t-shirts featured on their platform.
- To help customers find your website organically on Google, use advanced SEO tools Your site pages should include keywords that are relevant to your brand or products. You might consider investing in digital advertising to reach shoppers who are highly intent on finding unique t-shirts online.
- Unify your brand – from your products and packaging to online stores and advertisements. Consider what appeals to your target audience. A common look across all sales channels will help you build buyer confidence and set yourself apart from the rest.
12. Scale your business
Regular reviews of your spending are essential for scaling your business. Pay attention to these things when reviewing your finances:
- What is your net profit? How many t-shirts do you sell per month? How much are your total expenses? What is your total monthly cost?
- What investments aren’t paying off? How can you reduce your production costs?
Think about the cost of expanding your business. Do you need to hire a graphic designer? Are you going to need more inventory? Are you going to need more equipment or storage space? Are you able to scale up on your own or do you need to borrow money from investors or take out a loan?
Are you ready to grow? Here are some ways you can grow your t-shirt company.
- Make a business plan. Your brand’s mission, niche, target audience, budget and financial projections should all be included.
- Design more. Keep your focus on your niche. Find out which t-shirts are the most popular and then create similar designs.
- Increase your marketing efforts. Retarget customers from the past with email marketing. To target new customers via social media, use Instagram and Facebook Ads. You can narrow down your audience by selecting specific demographics such as gender, age and interests.
- Set up a pop-up store and promote your products at local markets, fairs, or businesses.
- Hire a Wix Partner to increase your sales, market your products and grow your company.