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How To Start An Online T-Shirt Business: The Ultimate Guide – Shopify in tshirt business startup

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The t-shirt is a staple in casual wear and has been universally accepted by both men and women the last few decades. Not only are they a classic piece of casual wear, but t-shirts are a blank canvas for artists and entrepreneurs alike. Because of this, selling t-shirts online has become a popular business choice. For many entrepreneurs, starting an online t-shirt brand is a great and inexpensive way to start an online business, whether it’s your first, second, or tenth business.

With the growth in popularity of t-shirts businesses, there’s no doubt you’ll be facing some stiff competition. To break through, you’ll need to have designs people love, a brand people cherish and quality people trust. In this guide we will go through the creation process for starting your own t-shirt line and online store. We will look at each of the steps involved and the keys to success to help you get started as a t-shirt entrepreneur.

Let’s dive in.

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Setting Up An Online T-Shirt Store Is Easy…

Here’s the good news. Building and launching a new t-shirt brand is relatively inexpensive and quick. If you already have ideas for the types of designs you want to sell, you can be up and running in as little as a few hours. With the abundance of apps and integrations in the Shopify App store, you can also connect your store to a t-shirt printer/dropshipper in minutes and have a fully functioning store, ready to print and ship to your customers.

But It’s Also Really Hard Work

Although the tools and technology available nowadays for designing, printing and shipping your own t-shirts makes getting going extremely simple, the difficult part is building a brand to stand out from the competition. Combine competition with slim margins and building an online t-shirt company becomes a little harder than it might first appear.

To be successful with your new t-shirt brand, you have to make the right decisions from the get-go.

The Keys To Success

In the online t-shirt industry, there are several critical elements to being successful as a t-shirt entrepreneur. Each of these elements need to be considered closely before moving forward:

Niche

You hear this term get tossed around a lot, but nowhere is it more important to choose a niche than in the graphic t-shirt industry. One of the most important factors in building a successful t-shirt business is the ability to stand out from the many competitors and one of the best ways to do that is by choosing and catering to a specific niche.

In general, categories like t-shirts with funny slogans are going to be too broad to attack in a very developed market. You’re going to want to tighten it up a little more. An example of a more specific niche would be t-shirts with funny slogans that relate to doctors and nurses.

Being more specific will help you stand out as well as better attract and market to the right audience without blowing your budget.

Design

The majority of people that are purchasing graphic tees are looking for design, graphics and slogans that connect with them and reflect their opinions and personality.

The last thing a visitor would want is to see in your catalogue is a copy of t-shirt design found elsewhere. Your designs don’t necessarily need to be complex, in fact many of the best selling graphic tees and very simple, however, they do need to connect with your audience and stand out.

Recommended Course on T-Shirt Design: Hey, Cool Shirt: Designing Effective T-shirt Graphics by Chris Delorenzo, Lead Designer for Johnny Cupcakes.

Quality

The next most important factor in the success and sustainability of an online t-shirt business is quality. You can fool someone once, but you can’t fool them twice. The quality of the shirts you use and the prints needs to be top notch. A pattern that fades and cracks or a t-shirt that shrinks and rips won’t create raving fans that come back and repurchase.

Brand

A strong, interesting brand is vital in the t-shirt industry. Your brand is a promise that will tie together all your choices including your niche, designs and quality. Building a unique and likeable brand is important for businesses in a high competition industry. When customers have more choices, it becomes extremely important for an ecommerce business to have a distinctive presence to capture customers’ attention.

Recommended Course on Clothing and Apparel Branding: A Staple of Branding: How to Start Your Fashion Company by Jeff Staple, Founder, Staple Design.

T-Shirt Quality

Not all t-shirts are the same and not all print jobs are the same. As we mentioned above, quality is paramount to your brand and its success, so it’s important to educate yourself and choose your blank shirts wisely.

It will always be tempting to sacrifice on quality for higher profit margins but you need to consider how the quality will affect customer’s decisions to share your brand and repurchase in the long run.

Quality t-shirts encompass several factors, including fit, sizing, material, softness, and weight. A great start point for determining which blank t-shirt to use is to check out T-Shirt Magazine Online’s review of some of the most popular blank t-shirts for printing.

Once you narrow down your choices, it’s strongly encouraged to order each of the t-shirts yourself to make an informed final decision.

Drop everything, and start your t-shirt business
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T-Shirt Printing Quality

In this day in age, there are three popular methods for printing onto t-shirts. Each method has its pros and cons, and will partially depend on how much time you want to invest into the product creation, as well as the printing partner you choose.

Below, we have outlined all three print methods to give you a better understanding of each process.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is an old technique that has stood the test of time. As one of the most popular methods for printing onto t-shirts, screen printing can produce durable and long lasting result. However, a labor intensive initial setup means screen printing is most cost effective when printing in bulk. Screen printing also poses issues when it comes to complex designs or designs with more than four to five colors as each color increases costs and production time.

Pros Cons

  • Not cost effective for multiple colors.
  • Can only print simple images and designs.

Heat Transfer

Heat transfers have also been around for a long time and exist in several form. You may have seen basic heat transfer paper at your local office supply store. Although these make it easy to print your designs from your home computer and transfer them with an iron, these won’t cut it when it comes to running a business. The more advanced form of heat transfers are called plastisol transfers and are printed by professional printers on special, high quality heat transfer paper. The advantage of this is being able to order a stack of prints from your local printer and transfer them to your t-shirts as you receive orders with a commercial heat press machine.

Heat transfers can produce full-colour images onto t-shirts relatively easily and quickly.

Pros

    You can ‘print’ each shirt on demand.

Cons

  • Lower quality and less durable than direct-to-garment and screen printing.
  • Large upfront investment into a heat press machine (Few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars).
  • Do-it-yourself approach means additional time input from yourself.

Direct-To-Garment (DTG)

The direct-to-garment printing process operates much like a ink-jet printer you would have at home. DTG prints ink directly onto the t-shirt and can produce full color images with accuracy.

Direct-to-garment printing produces quality printing on par with screen printing and better than heat transfers. Because it operates just like an ink-jet printer, there are no setup costs, unlike screen printing. This means that it’s easy and cost effective to print small orders.

The major disadvantage of direct-to-garment printing is the lack of volume discount for large orders, as it takes the same amount of time to print each shirt.

Pros

  • Unlimited color options.
  • High detail accuracy in printed design.
  • Great for small orders or one-offs.
  • No set-up costs.

Cons

  • Not cost effective for large production runs.
  • Generally no volume discounts.

Creating Your Designs

Find The Best Selling Designs And Niches

If you’re stuck for t-shirt niche ideas and designs, a great start is to look at what else is popular and currently selling well.

Below is a list of several popular and bestseller pages for some of the top graphic t-shirt marketplaces that just might help you get a better idea of your next niche or t-shirt design.

You may also want to consider checking out Google Trends and Google Hot Searches to get a sense of the topics people are currently interested in.

Hire A Designer

Once you have an idea for some t-shirt designs. You’re going to have to get your ideas actually designed. If you have Adobe Photoshop or similar programs you can likely produce some simple designs by yourself. However, if you’re like most people, you will likely need to enlist some help.

There are a wide variety of tools and market places you can use to find a suitable graphic designer to help you with your designs.

Design Communities

Dribbble – Dribbble is a great designer community with lots of unique talent. Search for the style you’re looking for and message the designers you like to see if they’re available for freelance projects.

Behance – Behance is another great designer community to check out for your next t-shirt designer.

Freelance Networks

Some other great options you may also want to try are the more popular freelance networks like Freelancer and Upwork.

Buy Designs

If you’re stuck for a designer, there are also options to purchase pre-made designs. You’ll want to keep in mind that if you choose to go this route, there’s high likelihood that other people are already selling the design, making it harder for you and your brand to stand out.

Check out t-shirt graphic marketplaces like:

You may also want to check out general graphic design marketplaces but keep in mind if you plan to sell your t-shirts, you’ll need to purchase a commercial license.

Mocking Up Your Designs

Once you have some final designs, your next step will be to get some mockup images of them on actual t-shirts. Your customers are going to want to actually see what the final design will look like printed on a shirt.

There are a few ways you can get images of your final designs on t-shirts including ordering samples and taking product photography yourself, or with the abundance of t-shirt templates online, you can opt to create a 100% digital mockup like the one below.

Adobe Photoshop ( Free Trial) t-shirt templates are the most common types of mockup files. They allow you to quickly preview how your designs will look printed on a t-shirt. Most Photoshop templates comes with multiple layers that allow you to change the colour of the shirt and apply your own design that will blend with the creases, folds and contours of the shirt.

Below, we have compiled several resources to help you find the best possible mockup file for your next project:

If Adobe Photoshop isn’t right for you, you can also use web-based mockup software that will allow you to do the same thing without having to download and figure out Photoshop.

Another great options for tasks like this is to enlist help from someone on Fiverr for $5. Just search for t-shirt mockups.

Validating Your Designs

Before you spend a lot of money on your new business idea, you should first verify that there is a market and interest for your designs. There are many ways you can go about validating the market for your design ideas.

Some of the popular and more common methods for validating your ideas include:

Personal Social Networks – Post some of your designs to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks your friends and potential customers are a part of. Be careful asking friends however, their opinions will usually be tainted with an over-positive tint.

RedditReddit is huge and we have discussed it thoroughly in past posts. With the massive number of subreddits it’s possible to easily find a highly targeted niche of potential customers and ask them first hand their thoughts on your designs before launching.

Example: Bitcoin T-Shirt Validation

KickstarterKickstarter and other crowd-funding websites have made it much easier to test, validate, and collect money upfront for your new business idea. Launching a crowdfunding campaign can be time consuming and requires a good deal of preparation, however, the benefits can be huge, which include fully funding your project before you have spent a dime.

Example: Dev Tee’s and Starstuff Clothing

Open Test Store – Finally, with ecommerce platforms like Shopify, it’s never been easier to set up a fully functional online store in the matter of few hours to validate your business idea. Sign up for a free 14-day trial and check out some of the free themes to get started.

Setting Up Shop

Now that you have your t-shirt designs, made your mockups and validated your idea, it’s time to build your store. As mentioned in the validation section, getting set up on Shopify is quick and easy.

There are a handful of t-shirt print-on-demand dropshippers that directly integrate with your Shopify store, allowing you to get up and running in no time. These printer/dropshippers will print and ship your t-shirts to your customers on your behalf every time you receive an order, automatically.

Check out the following Shopify printer/dropshipper apps:

Why Wait?

It’s never been easier to express your creativity and start your own online t-shirt business. Follow along with the video below and you can have your online t-shirt business up and running with an on-demand printing and fulfillment service in just 20 minutes. No design or coding experience required.

Bonus: For marketing tactics to market your new t-shirt business, check out the ‘ How to Sell Online ‘ section of the Shopify blog.

About The Author

Richard Lazazzera is an ecommerce entrepreneur and Content Strategist at Shopify. Get more from Richard on Twitter.

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How To Start A T-Shirt Business In 24 Hours Subject of tshirt business startup

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As an entrepreneur, I find it hard to do nothing. I always want to be building something. I need to be building something. That’s why, during the process of documenting #TheGreatBuild project I became frustrated so many times.

One evening while I was waiting and I really couldn’t move forward on the project. I was frustrated. I made a decision to build another ecommerce business

The Background Story

For those that are maybe just reading my blog for the first time and don’t know, my new ecommerce business which I have been documenting through a blog series called #TheGreatBuild is called Finch Goods Co. Many people have asked me where the name Finch came from and why I choose Finch Goods for the name of my new business. Truth be told, it was the name of the street I grew up on. It was the place I lived, the place I played, and it was the place of my first dozen entrepreneurial endeavors, mostly in the form of lemonade stands, vegetable stands, a makeshift hockey card pawnshop and garage sales. The name Finch Goods Co. is a tribute to my early entrepreneur days.

Finch is also the name of the closest subway/bus station, and up until I had a car, it was my access point to the rest of the world. If I wanted to go anywhere I passed through Finch Station.

Because of my sentimental attachment to Finch I designed a t-shirt based on the typography, colors and tile pattern of that station in late February.


Fast Forward

Fast forward a few weeks to a night in April. I was working on #TheGreatBuild project ( Finch Goods Co.) and getting close to launching. However, I was stuck. Everything was ready to go except I was waiting on some inventory I intended to launch with from a supplier. I had nothing to do.

As an entrepreneur, nothing to do is a terrible feeling. It feels it exact opposite of progress, probably because it is. Growing anxious to launch Finch Goods Co. and not being able to, I stared blankly at my computer for a few minutes, my screened darkened and went to sleep. In the reflection of my black screen, I saw my shirt, Finch.

Remembering the few compliments I got on the shirt I wondered if people actually were interested in hyper-local t-shirts that represented their local community, right down to their local subway station.

Validation

The idea of hyper-local t-shirts was one I was sure people were interested in. Our city definitely has a lot of pride and after some cursory Google searches, I found nothing similar. The closest was a series of vinyl wall decals with the various stations typography. Searching for that companies name on Google I found several online news articles about them. They had been running their business for 5+ years so in theory they were doing well.

The thought of getting wrapped up in a new business while still trying to launch Finch Goods Co. was a little intimidating. My time was very limited at this point. Because of this, I came to the decision. If I were to build a new business there would be several rules:

  • I had 24 hours to build it – No more, no less.
  • It had to be fully automated once live.

Under these rules, building the entire business would essentially act in-itself as the validation.

It’s Go Time… 23:59

With these rules in mind there were several things to figure out:

  1. Which ecommerce platform was I going to use?
  2. How would I print the t-shirts and ship them in a automated way?

For me, number one was easy. Unless number two forced my hand another direction, I would use Shopify. It’s the platform I know and love, it’s the easiest to use in my opinion and it offered the most amount of app integrations, which I knew is likely where I would find a dropshipping company to print and ship custom shirts for me.

I immediately headed to the Shopify App Store and searched for ‘ t-shirts‘. The search returned approximately six t-shirt printers/ dropshippers. After scanning through all of them, their integrations, their t-shirt options and pricing, I decided on Printful. Printful it seemed had the most seamless integration, best selection of shirts and reasonable pricing. They also had the ability to print other products like canvas prints and bags should I ever decide to expand my product offering.

With my ecommerce platform and printer/dropshipper decided upon, it was time to work on the designs. Now, Toronto has over 60 stations and I completely underestimated how grueling and exhausting it would be to design all 60, luckily, many of the designs had a similar style. Over the next 6 hours I cranked out all 60 designs for almost all of the stations.

With all 60 designs complete, I thought I was done. However, I quickly realized that very few people would buy a design without knowing how it looked on a t-shirt. With that in mind, I headed over to my favorite graphic design marketplace, Creative Market. I searched for ‘t-shirt template‘ and quickly found a really slick template for $8.

Now that I had the t-shirt template and all my files, it was once again a manual process of applying all 60 of my designs to the t-shirt template and saving each file.

With all my t-shirt designs completed, it was time to build the website. I signed up for Shopify’s 14-day trial and got to work. I already had a theme I had purchased for Finch Goods Co. so I might as well use it for this project as well. When it came naming a business, I know it can sometimes take weeks. I didn’t have that long. I decided to allocate 3 minutes to naming this business. As confusing as this was (mostly for my friends and family) I decided to call this business, Finch’s. Again, this was named after the street I grew up on, the subway station closes to my childhood home and, it just so happens that Finch Station is the first station on the subway line.

I designed the website to be as simple as possible, even keeping the same colors scheme from Finch Goods Co. The most time consuming part was creating each of the 60 products and uploading the right photos for each. Organization was key.

Finally, after 5 coffee’s and close to 14 hours straight, Finch’s was born:

The last step before I launch and market my new online store was to integrate my store with Printful. This was an easy enough process. I installed the Printful Shopify App, and from there it automatically pulled in all my products. All I had to do at that point was upload the design file to each product and select the type/style of shirt I was going to use.


Marketing

At this point, I was pretty tired and really had no idea what I was going to do for my marketing. However, I did remember that just the previous week, the subway celebrated its 60th anniversary. Could I use this to my advantage? I did some searches on Google to see who covered this event. One stuck out immediately. It was a pretty popular local online blog and they just wrote an article about the subway systems 60th anniversary. I figured the author of that post might want to hear about to my newly released shirts.

I found the author on Twitter and asked for his email address. Later that evening, I emailed him the following:

Within the hour he replied asking a few more questions. It was late and I was exhausted. I decided to leave the response until the morning. Besides, I still had a few things left to set up in my Shopify account before launch.

The next day, I woke up to the dinging sound of emails coming into my phone, *ding*… *ding*… *ding*. After ignoring the first few, I finally rolled over and checked my phone. To my surprise it was a bunch of emails from customers asking about my shirts, shipping and pricing… customers? I haven’t even officially launched yet!

I quickly opened my laptop and discovered a big spike in traffic to my site. Although I had not ‘officially’ launched, my site was live, however, I still had not turned on checkout, so no one could actually checkout.

First priority was to turn checkout on and complete a test order to make sure everything was no working. After I did that, I checked to see where the traffic was coming from. Turns out, the writer went ahead without my email responses and published a post about my store.

Here was his post, click through to read:

I also received a handful of other emails from people interested in collaborations and promotions with my line of tee’s.

Furthermore,that day I also received some favorable social media mentions from BlogTO as well as a local Hip Hop radio station and a handful of other locals.


Costs & Sales

I have broken down my total costs below for this 24 hour business. My fixed costs amounted to a staggering $24. My variable costs were $13 per shirt to print each. My revenues for the first 24 hours of business were $347.71 for a total profit (in the first 24 hours) of $210.71

Total Costs:
$16 – Font for Typography (Fixed Cost)
$8 – T-Shirt Mockup Template (Fixed Cost)
$104 – 8 x $13 for t-shirts and printing (Variable costs)
____________________________
$137 Total Costs

Total Revenue In The First 24 Hours:
$347.71

Admittedly, after the spike in sales from the initial media coverage, sales dropped. In fact, since that first 24 hour sales period, I’ve only made a few hundred more dollars, however, I have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and everything is 100% automated. I have not, and I have no need to login to anything for sales and orders to be taken care of.

Going Forward

Since my initial email that sparked my initial sales I haven’t done anything else for marketing. That one blog post continues to deliver a small trickle of sales each week. Most of my time now is spent on my new project, Finch Goods Co. so I have almost no time left for this project. However, when I do get some time, I am going to focus on SEO around some keywords I uncovered that I believe have potential to deliver a steady stream of high quality traffic for people looking for localized Toronto t-shirts. Again, I want to keep this project as automated as possible so SEO is going to be the biggest opportunity to achieving that.

Why You Should Start An Online T-Shirt Business Right Now

T-Shirt entrepreneurs get a bad rep (I’m looking at you reddit) however, I believe t-shirt businesses play an important part of the online entrepreneurship ecosystem. They are in many respects, a modern day lemonade stand (no pun intended), they are can be started quickly and with no money.

The biggest problem I find among online entrepreneurs is:

  1. They don’t know what to sell online – They spend months and months looking for a product, before giving up.
  2. If they do find a great product and start their first business, they have no idea how properly market their product and business to drive traffic and convert that traffic to sales thus a great product or idea is squandered.

Starting a t-shirt business helps with both of those factors. First, if you’re struggling to find a product to sell, you will automatically have a product, t-shirts (these printer/dropshippers also usually offer other products as well, like canvas prints, mugs etc.). Second, an online t-shirt business gives you a way to start understanding online marketing, before you sink some real time and money into a more serious business.

Remember, and never forget, you’ll learn 100x more from actually starting a business, than you ever will from just consuming articles, blogs, books and podcasts. There is no substitution for real world experience of building traffic and learning to convert it.

How To Start An Online T-Shirt Business Right Now

The 3 Pillars of Success

Before starting your own online dropship t-shirt business, there are three important things to consider:

  • Niche: Choosing a niche is absolutely vital for success in the over-saturated t-shirt industry.
  • Design: No one will buy your shirts if the designs don’t look good. This doesn’t mean you need to have complex images though and it doesn’t mean it has to cost a lot.
  • Quality: This includes the quality of the t-shirts themselves as well as the printing.

Choosing Your Ecommerce Platform

There are plenty of options available for your actual selling platform. Platforms like Teespring have become popular lately, however, options like this aren’t good if you’re trying to learn more about digital marketing and branding. Going with a platform like Teespring means your product ideas live on the Teespring platform and doesn’t give you the option for your own branding, deep analytics or conversion optimization.

If you’re serious about building a brand or learning more about digital marketing & optimization and strategy, you need to go with a more customizable option. I can’t recommend Shopify enough. Not only is Shopify one of the easiest platforms to get started with but it’s app store is the most robust and has a host of integrated t-shirt printers and dropshippers.

The Ecommerce Startup Bundle
Purchase The Ecommerce Startup Bundle and get any Shopify plan for 20% off for the life of your business as well as discounts totaling nearly $1,000 to other tools, apps and service that help you build your online business. Don’t start your business without buying this package!

Choosing a Printers/Dropshipper

There are a few considerations when choosing a printer/dropshipping partner for your new online t-shirt business. These considerations include the t-shirts they have available to print on, t-shirt/print pricing, shipping pricing and quality of t-shirt prints.

Check out the following Shopify printer/dropshipper apps:

The Ecommerce Startup Bundle
Purchase The Ecommerce Startup Bundle and get up to 5 sample orders per month from Printful at 20% off and free shipping as well as discounts totaling nearly $1,000 to other tools, apps and service that help you build your online business. Don’t start your business without buying this package!

Choosing A T-Shirt

If using a printer/dropshipping like I did, you t-shirt selection (type/style/quality) will partially depend on what you printing/shipping partner have chosen to stock. Most will provide a range of shirts to cover several levels of quality and price points.

USA made American Apparel is largely considered the best quality however if comes with a much steeper price point which will significantly cut into your margins. For my 24 hours business, I went with a medium quality/price t-shirt style/brand.

You can choose to order a few samples before deciding on your t-shirt but I would recommend you check out this review guide on the most popular t-shirts for printing to get started.

Mocking Up Your Designs

There are literally hundreds of t-shirt mock-up templates available online, both free and paid. Here’s a list of 50 free templates, or if you want to use the same one I did, just go to Creative Market and search for ‘Realistic-T-Shirt-Templates’. It should be the first one.

Step-By-Step Video

Followup Learnings And Resource Roundup:

If you are too lazy to read everything above, I have rounded up all the resources below that you can use to build your own online t-shirt store, fast!

Start by reading this (I wrote it):

Take these courses. They are cheap and should help:

Build your store with:

Choose a t-shirt printer/dropshipper:

To choose a t-shirt blank, check out this T-Shirt quality reviews guide:

Inspiration for t-shirt designs can be found here:

If you need to hire a designer, try these services:

Or, be lazy and buy some designs from here:

You may also want to check out general graphic design marketplaces but keep in mind if you plan to sell your t-shirts, you’ll need to purchase a commercial license.

Mock up templates for your shirt designs can be found here:

Another great options for tasks like this is to enlist help from someone on Fiverr for $5. Just search for t-shirt mockups.

Conclusion

There you have it. A new business born in 24 hours with only $24. All in all, I had fun building it. The challenge of building a fully automated business in 24 hours was pretty exciting and the fact I was able to generate over $300 in sales in the first day was well beyond my expectations.

Granted, this business will never make me rich and margins are generally slim however, as I pointed out before, I firmly believe a t-shirt business has it’s purpose, even if that purpose is just practicing for something bigger.

Now it’s your turn. If you’ve been thinking of starting an online business but have been stuck in the ‘I don’t know what to sell’ stage for more than a few months, I am challenging you to build a a t-shirt business, for no reason other than to start. Start building something, start marketing something, start converting something. Start.

Go!


About The Author

Richard Lazazzera is an ecommerce entrepreneur, author and speaker. Learn more about Richard or get more from him on Twitter.

Note: To read my affiliate and income disclosure statement here, click here.

How to start a tshirt business by Story tshirt business startup

tshirt business startup with

You came here because you want to know how to start a tshirt business and you’re passionate about it. Starting a tshirt business is an amazing experience and you are going to have lot of personal growth as well as business and financial growth if you stay with it. The following are 10 tips to help you succeed in starting a tshirt business.

1. How to start a tshirt business: Passion

Without passion you aren’t going to get through the tough times and continue on. There is an awesome video done by Ben of Fright Rags and he talks a lot about how passion is necessary for your success, click here to check out that video. It’ going to be hard in the beginning. This isn’t like a 9 to 5 where you get paid for the time you put in. You are going to put in hours upon hours of work without seeing any return in the beginning. You are going to do this because you are passionate and you’re following your dream and you will do anything to make your tshirt business a success.

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.

In the beginning of my first tshirt business I didn’t know anything. I made a tshirt press out of wood and figured out how to screen print. Screen printing is hard, especially if you don’t have all the right equipment. I was making screens in my shower, bought a pressure washer to wash out the design, and made tons of errors in the process. I got better and have printed hundreds of my first design called Missing Turtle. If I could do it again I would just pay a professional to print my shirts. I didn’t start a tshirt business so I could print shirts. I just wanted to design them and sell them. Check out this article written by Jimmy of Heartcore clothing about his story and why you should hire a professional instead of printing your own shirts.

So I finally figured out how to make the tshirts, I put them online, and nothing happens. No sales for a while. What is going on! I thought if I built it they would come. This is completely untrue on the internet. I spent hours researching on t-shirt forums for advice. Most of the information was terrible. I slowly figured out how to market my clothing line by getting my shirts on some of the biggest t-shirt blogs. Read the articles how I became a top clothing company by being a nice guy and how to get your cool shirt on tshirt blogs.

I started getting on these t-shirt blogs and started seeing orders come in. Yippee!! I printed my second shirt live every week like it’s shark week and the print was terrible. Nothing like the design I sent them. I had spent hundreds of dollars on tshirts that were awful. I talked to the company and they agreed to reprint the tshirts. It was better and I felt comfortable to sell the product now but it wasn’t perfect. I went through two other printers before I found the one that I loved ( you read more about my recommended printer by clicking here)

The moral of this whole story is giving up was never an option for me because I was so passionate about what I was doing. I couldn’t screen print so I figured out how. I didn’t get any sales so I figured it out. I had problems with screen printers so I kept on looking for better ones. It’s your passion that is going to carry you through everything and if you are just in it for the money you won’t last.

2. Have a professional website

Your website is very important to your long term success. You need to have a professional website or else no one will take you seriously. No one wants to buy from a website that they don’t trust.

Luckily for you there are some great options to get a professional e-commerce website up and running and not break the bank. With as little as $30 a month you can get a professional site up and start selling your products. Read my article here about the best e-commerce website for clothing companies and check out shopify.

3. How to start a tshirt business: Find an awesome screen printer

Lucky for you you don’t have to go through what I did and try multiple screen printers before finding a great one. Check out our recommended printer and they will help you make some awesome shirts. I started using them on my second clothing company Shred and they blew me away. I had 8 colors on some designs and they printed them so you could barely feel the ink. For me this was huge and the shirts I was getting made were just as good if not better then any of the shirts I saw in big retail stores. When your confident about your product you are going to be able to sell them better. If you have a product that is just okay your salesmanship is going to suffer. You really need to believe in your product. Also this company does an awesome job of sending you a mockup of the final product so there isn’t any grey area on what to expect.

4. How to start a tshirt business: Plan everything and do your research

Your doing that right now! Planning and researching is such a crucial part to starting a clothing company. Check out your competitors, see if anyone is doing what you want to do.

  • Is there enough of a market to sell your shirts?
  • What shirts are you going to print on?
  • What is your demographic?
  • How are going going to get traffic?
  • Are you going to sell at craft shows or events?

There are a lot of questions that need answered and planning and researching your tshirt company is necessary for success. Also if you don’t make plans and goals it’s like leaving on a trip without a map. It’s going to be very hard to get to the destination if you don’t know how to get there.

5. How to start a tshirt business: Know your market and customer

Knowing your market and your customer is a must. I feel like a lot of people believe they have a brilliant idea but they don’t connect with their market. No matter how much you want to go and do your own thing you need to remember you need a customer to sell to. You can’t be a walmart. What I mean is you can’t sell products to everyone. There already is a walmart and they are going to beat you on prices every time and you need to compete on something different. You need to define your market and go after your niche in the market place. You need to produce products that are unique. If you know your customer and can reach them and get them what they want you will be successful, simple as that.

6. How to start a tshirt business: Know your finances

Taxes and keeping my books for my tshirt business wasn’t my strongest area. When tax season came I felt helpless because I was unprepared. Keep all of your business expenses on the same bank account and credit card. Use Quick Books to help manage your books. Quick books online is great because it automatically updates your books with the data from your bank accounts. If you are already running Mint it will import all of those accounts to.

You need to stay on top of this or else it is going to be a huge source of stress in your life.

7. How to start a tshirt business: Follow the Golden Rule

One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. A really simple rule that everyone starting a tshirt business should follow. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were in the customers shoes. If you follow this rule you will have a lot more happy customers and your tshirt business will thrive because of that.

8. How to start a tshirt business: Stop Trying to do it all and Delegate

I wrote an article about delegating and its a real important part in making your tshirt business be more professional. I’m not an amazing screen printer, or even an amazing artist. I’m good at making websites managing people and marketing. Everything else I find people that are the best at that field. I use the best designers, the best screen printers, and find people that are better then me to help me out. In the end I look a lot more professional and I end up not spending as much time doing the things I am not that great at.

9. How to start a tshirt business: Never give up

I hit on this a little bit in the beginning but it needs to be said again. Don’t give up! Your failures aren’t just there to humble you, they are learning opportunities. Everyone who has succeeded with a tshirt business has taken their mistakes, learned from them, and fixed the problems. I wrote an article called Fail Fast that hits on this more.

10. How to start a tshirt business: Advertise and Market your tshirt business

My best successes have come from word of mouth advertising. The best part about this advertising is it’s free. I would get in touch with the t-shirt blogs, these are the talkers on the internet. You connect to them and they will let all of their followers know. I’ve gotten on some big blogs, and websites, and gotten thousands of orders this way. Read the articles how I became a top clothing company by being a nice guy and how to get your cool shirt on tshirt blogs.

You can also connect diretly with your customer through facebook, pinterest, twitter, instagram, and email lists.

Create a blog and write about what your customers are interested in. Fine tune your website with search engine optimization and get some google traffic to your site.

With all of this free advertising where you can spend no money and build your audience it just makes sense to focus on it.

11. How to start a tshirt business: Have Fun!

Yeah it might be stressful sometimes but you decided to start a tshirt business because you wanted to make a living off doing something fun. Be passionate about your work and remember to have fun. Have fun on your journey, it’s not about the destination.

Leave a comment if you have any more advice.

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