The t-shirt is more than just the default casual wear. Most of the time, it also reflects personality, interest, advocacy, and even identity. The t-shirt is so versatile and diverse that its rise in popularity has been unstoppable since the first ones were made in the 19th century.
The t-shirt is also never out of style. There may be some design variations, but you can always rely on a t-shirt to complete a perfect casual outfit.
For these reasons, starting a t-shirt business is always a good idea. In fact, according to Markets Insider, the global t-shirt printing industry is pegged to go over the $10 billion mark by 2025. Now that businesses are increasingly moving their wares online, selling t-shirts has never been easier.
If you’re interested in this extra stream of income with a lot of lucrative potentials, here are the steps you need to take to start your own online t-shirt business.
Finding Your Niche
Much like thinking of a name or a brand for your business, a niche is something you should iron out at the very beginning of your plans. Although there is merit in marketing for a wider audience, a more targeted approach will increase the chances of getting quality leads — but more on that later.
T-shirts are very personal. Since there are a ton of options out there, buyers tend to choose the ones that resonate most with their personalities. Appealing to a particular niche will help whittle down the broad market. The people who search for and visit your website are likely already very interested in your products.
In choosing your niche, you should consider the kinds of designs you are interested in. Do you want artworks on your shirt? Do you want statements? What about pop culture references? But it’s also vital that you consider the type of t-shirt you want to use. Here’s Bewakoof with the different types of t-shirts for you to look at.
Working with Reliable Partners
Even if you have the best-printed designs on the best t-shirt styles, your customers still won’t be happy with your products without quality materials and processes. It’s essential to find the best partners available to you.
First, look for businesses that provide quality t-shirts. Consider the quality of the cloth — Here’s Champu with an informative article about cloth materials for t-shirts. Try to find the perfect balance between cost and quality here. You should also consider the climate of your target audience. Cotton is generally a safe choice, but if you want to maximize your profits, look into other options as well.
The actual printing process is another animal entirely. There are a lot of options to choose from; the top three choices are heat transfer, screen printing, and direct-to-garment or DTG printing. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s Shopify with detailed descriptions for each of these options and their best uses.
Again, it’s all about creating the right balance here. The more you spend on your materials and your printing, the higher you’ll have to price your t-shirts to turn a profit. Consider your target market when making cost and price decisions.
Designing Your Prints
Based on your niche, now you have to create t-shirt designs. If you have graphic designing skills, you can take this one on your own. If you don’t, you may want to hire a designer. Even if your designs are inspired by artworks or other prominent designs, you still have to make it your own. Be careful of using patented designs that may end up becoming a lawsuit.
You can consult designer communities like Dribbble or Behance to look for talented partners to work with you. You can also visit freelance networks to see who you can hire.
Once you’ve created your designs, you can share them on your personal channels to get feedback and see where you can improve them further. You can also post these designs on platforms like Reddit to get feedback.
Setting Up Your Online T-shirt Store
There are a lot of considerations still when you’re setting up your store. Thankfully, some platforms now, like Square Space and Wix, allow you to create websites with integrated e-commerce features. The addition of these transactional features will make your operations much simpler. But even if you don’t use these platforms, you can still sell your wares using the old-fashioned call-and-order technique. Just make sure you have a system of keeping track of all the orders. The last thing you want is missing an order.
Of course, you still need to get your t-shirts for your customers. That means packaging and shipping.
Colored poly bags are a popular choice for packaging clothing items. They’re durable and cost-effective. They’re also very trendy, adding flair to your products.
Choosing a reliable shipping partner is also crucial in achieving online retail success. Make sure your couriers get your wares to your customers on time and in one piece.
Once you have everything set up, try doing some mock orders before actually going live to make extra sure that everything is working well.