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How to Start a Successful T-Shirt Business

4 minute read
how to start a successful tshirt business

Take a look around.

Whether at the mall, in a coffee shop, or strolling down the street, there are probably people everywhere wearing T-shirts. As a basic clothing item, it’s safe to say that nearly every person on the planet owns at least one t-shirt. In developed countries, it’s probably more like 30.

Regardless, the point is that tshirts are a popular item. People love them, they are easy to source, and they are highly customizable. All of this makes them a great item to sell in an ecommerce store.

However, because of this, there is a lot of competition. So for people who want to learn how to start an online t-shirt business, here’s a tip. You have to do more than just open a Shopify store and wait for customers.

Check out these effective tips for starting a t-shirt business, and making it successful.

Use an Ecommerce Platform For Your Online T-Shirt Business

Your online website is very important to your long term success.

You need to have a nicely designed, professional website to attract customers. No one wants to buy from a website that they don’t trust.

Fortunately, there are many great ecommerce platforms to choose from.

With $30 a month you can get a site up and start making money. Shopify has tons of free themes that will make you look professional without spending a ton of cash. It’s also easy enough to use that you can customize the site to your brand, manage inventory, and run your website without expensive designers and webmasters.

Read our article here about the best e-commerce website for clothing companies.

Source High Quality Products

People regularly get cheapy T-shirts for free that they don’t really want to wear.

For example, companies looking to promote themselves will often give out low-quality, inexpensive T-shirts with their name plastered all over them.

These are the shirts that people use for doing yard work or when they want to repaint their house.

An ecommerce store is selling clothing with unique t-shirt designs on them that people actually want to buy and wear out in public. This means that the shirts need to be made of quality materials.

Look for fabrics that won’t fade or have their colors run after a couple of washes, comfortable material that breathes well and isn’t itchy, and a shape that comfortably fits and flatters the body. Yes, that means investing in flattering fits for women as well unless the chosen niche largely appeals to men only.

Choosing the right product goes a long way towards building the brand’s reputation, fostering brand loyalty, and driving sales from repeat customers.

Design Your Own T-Shirt

What makes people buy a T-shirt?

Typically they’re not making a fashion statement. They’re either looking for a comfortable piece of basic clothing or they love the design on it.

Perhaps it makes a statement they want to promote, depicts a video game character they love, or simply has an eye-catching design that they love.

Regardless, while quality and comfort are important for repeat customers, the design is what will make people buy the first time. If a store sells the same designs as everyone else, it will be much harder to stand out from the pack.

So…create unique designs!

There are many websites that will help you bring your t shirt design ideas to life. Both Shopify and Wix have apps for this purpose.

There are also inexpensive Photoshop templates entrepreneurs can use to put their designs on a model and improve the overall quality of their product photos. This is a hugely important part of the sale funnel as 75% of online shoppers rely on the product photo when making their buying choices.

The templates are easy to use. Some basic Photoshop skills are necessary but don’t worry about being a Photoshop guru.

Of course, many people don’t feel confident in their design skills. Entrepreneurs can try collaborating with a graphic designer who can help translate your shirt mockup into a fleshed out design. Alternatively, consider contacting freelance designers on sites like Upwork or Fiverrr to help create designs inexpensively.

Test Your Designs

Armed with a handful of designs, many people might think they’re ready.

We highly recommend seeking feedback before printing up a bunch of T-shirts.

Watermark the images so they can’t be stolen and post them on online forums or an online discussion platform like Reddit. There are plenty of people who will be happy to give their opinion on the designs.

We recommend that entrepreneurs put on their rhino skin before reading them and be open to constructive criticism. A benefit of this approach is the potential to gain a few interested customers before the store even opens.

Don’t forget to reach out to professional design consultants as well. Professionals can give unbiased feedback on how the designs will print and the look of the final product. This is particularly important for entrepreneurs who’ve never printed T-shirts before.

Choose a Niche

A helpful strategy for success is to focus on a niche store for your online t-shirt business.

Selling T-shirts online with any and all types of designs to appeal to a wide range of people can work. However, it will be more work and the business will require a lot more time and effort going into marketing.

Choosing a niche for the t-shirt business brings things down to a manageable space, especially when the store is just starting out. The sky is the limit here. Try to find a niche that few other companies are selling, as that would be ideal. Less competition means easier sales and the marketing bill will be much cheaper.

Don’t be afraid to carefully research this part before opening the store. The right niche could literally make or break a business. So, spend some time browsing other stores to see what’s available and shape ideas.

Finding a gap in the available products is a gold mine for entrepreneurs. All they have to do is position their store to fill it.

Build a Strong Brand Image

Lastly, it is vital that entrepreneurs focus on building a strong brand image. Customers these days love getting to know a brand and are more likely to buy items from a company that resonates with them.

Building a brand and presenting it uniformly across all platforms increases revenue by about 23%. An eCommerce T-shirt store might never get to be as recognizable as Coca-Cola or Nike, but that doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs shouldn’t focus on creating that recognition.

Use consistent imaging, colors, wording, fonts, etc across all marketing channels. This presents the brand uniformly and begins to foster recognition among loyal customers. Who knows? Done right, an eCommerce store could become the next Amazon for T-shirts.

Being active on social media also helps with this. Millennials, in particular, love to be able to interact with the companies they buy from. It’s also a great way for entrepreneurs to learn what their customers love and get feedback on what they can improve.

Additionally, customize the content as much as possible. A whopping 82% of customers feel more positive about a brand after reading this type of content.

Strong branding also fosters a sense of loyalty. Businesses with strong brands enjoy more brand loyalty and repeat customers. This is important as 65% of a company’s business comes from its current customers. 

A well-thought-out brand image also helps to show the store’s cohesiveness and professionalism. A chaotic brand image can make customers doubt they will receive their packages on time or even that they’ll receive the right product. This can scare off customers before the store ever has a chance to impress them with their actual products and services.

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