Design and Sell T-shirts Online
Designing and selling t-shirts online is something that anyone can do without having to spend a lot. It is a simple and affordable online business idea for beginners, and it has a tremendous capacity to scale-up as you grow.
If you have;
- a computer,
- an internet connection,
- a couple of hours a day, and
- around $100 at hand,
you can follow these steps to build your very own online t-shirt business. Let’s get started.
How to sell t-shirts online?
Here is your step-by-step guide to learn how to sell t-shirts online. In this guide, we will go through all of these steps in detail to teach you the best way to start a t-shirt business on your own.
- Select a niche to start an online t-shirt business
- Design t-shirts for your target market (you do not need any design skills)
- Use a print-on-demand service or dropshipping to sell t-shirts
- Build an online store to sell t-shirts online (you do not need any technical skills)
- Create product listings in online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon
- Plan and launch a strong marketing strategy to sell t-shirts online
Selling t-shirts online is one of the best online business ideas for beginners ever! And, it is one of the greatest ways to make money online from an audience that you already own. For example, if you are an Instagram influencer, YouTuber, or a Facebook Page owner who wants to monetize your audience, selling t-shirts is the best way to do so.
Select a niche to start an online t-shirt business
Why would you need a niche to sell t-shirts online? A niche product is a type of product or product design that has a specific target market. For example, t-shirts for welders, nurses, and militants are some of the popular niches in the online t-shirt business.
There are some special marketing benefits of selling a product range that has a specific target market. Also, it helps with your designs as well. For example, if you targeting a niche market, you can create meaningful t-shirt designs like, inside jokes, calendar events, trends, and ideas related to that niche. Let’s see.
Selecting a niche helps with advertising and audience building
It is not easy to sell t-shirts online. There is a cut-throat competition out there. And, needless to say, you have to compete with some juggernaut brands and eCommerce stores, who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single ad campaign.
So, if you think that the amazing t-shirt design idea in your mind is the only thing that you need to make profits, you are wrong. Guess what, there are some brands who hires professional t-shirt designers by spending thousands of dollars for a single t-shirt design. So, how individuals with small business budgets can survive? The answer is “selling t-shirts to a niche market”.
When you sell t-shirts to a niche market, you can do proper targeting for your Facebook ads. So, the ad budget will not get wasted for some unwanted clicks. Also, if you are selling to a niche market, you can create the ad copy to intrigue the interests of your target market. And, also, it is a lot easier to get Facebook likes and YouTube subscribers for your audience building strategies if you have a target market. We’ll talk about how audience building helps you to sell t-shirts online a little later.
If you are an Instagram influencer, YouTuber, or a Facebook page owner, you already have a niche market to sell t-shirts online
If you are planning to sell t-shirts to your fans, you are basically selling to a niche market. For example, the followers of you on Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook are their just you because they enjoy the content you create. So, if you sell t-shirts to them, you can easily design your t-shirt business to cater to your follower’s interests.
Have a look at this Simon’s Cat (the popular cartoon series) t-shirt store on TeeSpring. As you can see, they basically catering only to the people who are interested in their content.
What are the popular niches to sell t-shirts online
According to statistics, below professions and audience categories are the best niches to sell t-shirts online.
- Cat lovers
- Music niches
- Dog lovers
- Coffee lovers
Those only the most popular niches to sell t-shirts online. However, there are more untapped niche markets that you can try and explore. Check this guide about selecting the best niche for online stores.
Design t-shirts to please your target market
Well, we are not going to go into details about t-shirt designs. There are plenty of t-shirt design guides and tutorials to learn how to design t-shirts to sell online. So, in this section, we are going to give you some important tips that you should consider with your t-shirt designs. And, these tips will help you to create t-shirt designs that lure your potential customers to buy from you.
By the way, if you don’t have the right design skills, don’t get upset. You can easily hire a t-shirt designer who would work within your budget. Try using freelancing marketplaces like Fiverr to find freelancing t-shirt designers.
Follow the t-shirt design best practices
Make sure to follow the t-shirt design best practices. Sometimes out of the box designs would work, and sometimes it will not. So, if you just starting out, perhaps it is better to follow the standard design guidelines to reduce the risk of rolling out a design failure. Of course, once you have gained some popularity selling t-shirts online, you can start trying different design directions. Check this video about t-shirt design practices from Jazza.
Use humor with your t-shirt designs
Humor plays an important part of marketing and audience building. Also, when it comes to a business like selling t-shirts online, it is vital to use humor in your t-shirt designs. Remember, 99% of the time, your target market will not be anyone who is looking for luxury designs and premium clothing. And, most of the time, you will be finding customers through Facebook ads. Then, you need t-shirt designs that can quickly grab the attention of your potential customers. Therefore, humor is the best way to achieve these business targets of your online t-shirt sales. Read more about how to use humor in marketing.
Create meaningful messages
Well, this doesn’t mean about using messages like “Don’t do drugs” on the t-shirts that you are planning to sell online. But, make sure to use meaningful messages to grab the interest of your target market. For example, you can use inside jokes, calendar events, and trends to create meaningful t-shirt designs.
Design, research, and refine
There are no hard and fast rules to create designs to sell t-shirts online. Sometimes even the most controversial design ideas would be your bestsellers. So, the best way to finalize a design trend is to research and refine your t-shirt design process. Use websites like Pinterest to find design inspirations. For example, a search for “biker tank tops” on Google and Pinterest will get you some amazing design inspirations. Then, create a t-shirt design and test it out.
Use a print-on-demand service or dropshipping to sell t-shirts online
There are basically four ways to find t-shirts to sell online.
- Selling t-shirts from dropshipping suppliers
- Using print-on-demand services
- Selling affiliate products (t-shirts) from other marketplaces.
- Making your own t-shirts (In-house production)
In this guide, we are going to talk about the first two methods. Of course, you can find more information about affiliate marketing and in-house production as well. However, dropshipping and print-on-demand services are the fastest, easiest, cheapest ways to start an online t-shirt business.
Edit: For the sake of the completeness of this guide, we are also going to talk about the other two methods as well.
How to use dropshipping to sell t-shirts online
Dropshipping is a great way to sell t-shirts online. Unlike the traditional business models, in dropshipping, you don’t need to maintain an inventory to sell t-shirts online. Also, if you use dropshipping, you do not have to worry about delivering the products you sell as well. Dropshipping is all about using third-party services for product sourcing and fulfillment.
Related: How to Start Dropshipping in 2020
There are advantages and disadvantages of using dropshipping to find t-shirts to sell online
If you use dropshipping, you will not get unique designs. But, on the other hand, your costs will be lower, and the process will be much easier. So, it will be easier for you to get things started with dropshipping.
How to use Print-on-demand service to sell t-shirts online
Most of the online sellers choose to use print-on-demand services to create custom t-shirt designs and dropshipping for order fulfillment. This particular business model to sell t-shirts online has some added benefits. For example, when you use print-on-demand services, you can sell your own t-shirt designs. So, you can make your products unique. And, almost all the print-on-demand services offer dropshipping to fulfill your orders too. In this way, you don’t have to purchase a large inventory to start your business. Also, you don’t have to invest in tailoring t-shirts. All these benefits lower the risks of your new business venture.
Here is the whole process in a nutshell.
There are many different print-on-demand services for t-shirts. Depending on your product and design, you can pick one or many of these services for your convenience.
Popular print-on-demand services
- Printful is a popular print-on-demand service for t-shirts. It is a Shopify tool, so if you have a Shopify e-commerce store, you can directly integrate your online store with their service. Also, you can use their mock-up generator to get images for your product listings.
- Merchify, Print Aura, Printify are other popular solutions that offer print-on-demand services for t-shirts.
- Teespring and bonfire are another type of print-on-demand service. With those services, you can even build your store on their platform.
The above services are just some examples, and you can search and find other popular services too.
Print-on-demand services are usually best for those who are planning to sell t-shirts to an existing audience like YouTubers, Social media influencers, bloggers, and communities. Also, if you are planning to sell t-shirts for a fundraiser, using a print-on-demand service would be the ideal option for you as well.
How to use affiliate marketing to sell t-shirts online
If you have a successful blog, a YouTube channel, or a large number of social media followers, you can simply use affiliate marketing to sell t-shirts online and make a commission.
There are different affiliate marketplaces. For example, Amazon associates are the most popular affiliate program out there. With Amazon associates, you can sell the t-shirts, which are listed on Amazon, and make a commission up to 7% for each sale you make. Also, if you have a large number of followers, you can directly join with an affiliate program of a top tier t-shirt brand.
Selling t-shirts online with affiliate marketing has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, here, you will only make a commission. So, your income will not be as high as starting your own t-shirt business. But, on the other hand, with affiliate marketing, you don’t have to worry about handing an online store or customer care.
In-house manufacturing for an online t-shirt business
There is nothing like manufacturing your own t-shirts to sell online. Of course, in-house manufacturing requires a significant investment, space, and time. So, it has a more considerable risk; but you can get the best profit margins with this method.
Screen printing can be the best way to make custom design t-shirts in-house. A semi-automatic screen-printing machine can cost a few thousand dollars. But, it can be a valuable asset for your business. If you have the machinery, you can have a lot more flexibility in having custom designs and orders.
If you go for in-house manufacturing, you will have to handle the shipping process too. If you are only planning to sell locally, you can simply find a local courier company. Most of such companies offer cash-on-delivery services too.
But, if you are planning to sell overseas, the process can be a bit more complicated. Depending on where you live, there can be different laws and regulations. So, the best thing is to contact a local shipping company or an international fulfillment service and get their assistance and advice. For example, if you are planning to sell t-shirts on Amazon; you can use Amazon fulfillment service to handle the fulfillment service.
Build an online store to sell t-shirts online
Starting an online store is a lot cheaper and easier now. And, Shopify is the best way to build an online store without any technical knowledge. Their basic plan starts from $29 a month, and you just give it a try for free.
Apart from being the easiest way to start an online store, Shopify also offers cross platform selling features. For example, you can sync the products on your Shopify store with Facebook shops, Amazon, and Etsy without any hassles.
Also, you can use our complete blueprint to start an online store to sell t-shirts. It contains step-by-step instructions to teach you how to create an amazing online eCommerce store on WordPress and Shopify.
Sell t-shirts on online marketplaces and t-shirt sales sites
This can reduce the burden of building an e-commerce store to sell t-shirts online. They are easy to use, and you can piggyback their marketing campaigns to sell your t-shirts. Online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, or Etsy are popular online marketplaces to sell t-shirts online. Then Teespring, Teechip, Redbubble, Teepublic, etc. are the popular t-shirt sales sites where you can create a custom design and let them produce and fulfill the order. If you like to start selling on eBay, read this article to learn the whole process – How to start selling on eBay
Plan and launch a strong marketing strategy to sell t-shirts online
After setting up your online t-shirt business, now you need to focus on marketing. To be honest, this is the hardest step in selling t-shirts online. After years of selling things online, still, I spend hours, every day, to learn new marketing trends.
Online marketing is getting more and more competitive. Most of the online marketing techniques that worked beautifully are not working anymore. Selling t-shirts is a competitive market. There are so many other players. So, if you want to sell t-shirts online, you need an amazing marketing strategy.
Test your t-shirt designs before selling
This is an important step that can help you to avoid loses. Before you start selling t-shirts online, you can simply share your design idea among friends and interest groups to see the feedback. Use Facebook or Instagram to test your t-shirt design with mockups. If it is not getting enough wows, it might not get enough sales in the future. Once you get a good design, print to check the first piece physically. So, you know what your future customers are actually getting. It is much easy to correct your process during the initial stages.
Selecting a marketing channel for your online t-shirt business
T-shirts can provide visual triggers for impulse buyers. With a great photo or video content marketing strategy, you can create a fantastic audience for your products. Also, Facebook and Instagram can offer an unparalleled marketing platform to sell t-shirts online. Social media holds a vast potential to build brand awareness, bring website visitors, and to make sales. By understanding how to build a strong Facebook marketing strategy, you can get the maximum use out of these platforms to sell t-shirts online.
I extensively use social media marketing and content marketing to sell t-shirts online. For me, those are the best ways to sell t-shirts online. Online marketing is more of a trial-and-error process. So, try different marketing strategies and find the best way to sell t-shirts online.
Designing a brand identity for your t-shirt business
Wherever or however you sell t-shirts online, you must build your own brand identity from the start. This helps you to set your brand apart from the crappy competitors, and sell more for a better price. Especially when it comes to an e-commerce niche like t-shirts, a brand identity can play a significant role in pricing and customer retention. Check this article about creating a proper brand identity for your business.
Focus on customer retention strategies
For any business, there are two types of customers; the returning customers and the new customers. The returning customers help you to create baseline revenue. And, the new customers create revenue growth. So, both of these types of customers are essential for any business. For e-commerce niches like selling t-shirts online, you have better opportunities to play with your customer retention strategies. Therefore, work on the customer retention strategies for your online t-shirt business too.
The best way to sell t-shirts online – The final tips
Be strategic from the very beginning – Start with a good business plan to sell t-shirts online. Clearly outline your target audience and your niche.
Create mockups – Mockups with bright (White) and Warm (Yellow) mockups tend to sell more on e-commerce. Once you get your design, you can use free online mockup templates to create mockups.
70% marketing – This is a thumb rule that I am using for my e-commerce stores. Be bold and pump more money for marketing. It pays off itself. So, focus and learn about marketing before you start to sell t-shirts online.
Start small and grow – At the beginning, focus on a small niche to sell t-shirts online. Once you can understand the market, widen your niche, and grow. That is the best way to sell t-shirts online.
Create a brand identity from the beginning – Niches like t-shirts and fashion items require a good brand identity design to thrive. Understand how the brand identity design works and create a proper plan to have a consistent brand identity from the beginning.
Starting a business to sell t-shirts online is comparatively easier than many other online business ventures. Selling t-shirts online is a highly competitive business. But, that competition confirms the demand. All you need is to pick a small niche to penetrate the online t-shirt market and to grow your business from there.