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Entrepreneurs face enormous challenges in running and growing a startup – be it raising capital, hiring a team, or acquiring customers. An effective way to overcome these challenges lies in finding motivated and compatible mentors who can provide you the critical skills, knowledge and motivation that you need.

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Custom Printed T-Shirts Business Plan Subject of t shirt business startup cost

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Company Summary

Your T-Shirt! is a start-up organization. It has been formed as a Washington registered L.L.C. by David Inkler. The L.L.C. formation was chosen as a way to minimize personal liability issues for the owner and avoiding the double taxation found in traditional corporations.

2.1 Company Ownership

David Inkler is the Founder and President of Your T-Shirt!

2.2 Start-up Summary

Your T-Shirt! will incur the following expenses for start up:

  • Two Apple Macintosh computers — These will be high end models and utilize the following software: Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Macromedia FreeHand, and QuickBooks Pro.
  • HP XX Laser Printer — This is a prototype printer not available to the public.
  • In-store computer kiosk — This allows customers to view options for shirts and existing imagery.
  • Website — This will be used for information disbursement as well as ordering.
  • Shelving display unit — To display assorted graphic images on paper for easier viewing.
  • Broadband Internet connection.
  • Two desk/chair/office supplies sets.
  • Small shirt inventory — Inventory will be kept small to lower overhead. This will be accomplished by using a shirt vendor who is one shipping day away, effectively using a just-in-time (JIT) system for managing inventory.
  • Heat application unit — To make the sublimation transfer.

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The Ultimate Guide to Startup Marketing by Story t-shirt business startup kit

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Starting a business is exhilarating. Unfortunately, the ‘build it and they will come’ theory doesn’t hold much weight and those overnight success stories you hear about are often the result of behind the scenes years of hard work. Simply put, startup marketing is a unique challenge often times because of the limited resources, whether it’s time, money or talent.

You have to be sure every effort, no matter how small, is well-planned and flawlessly executed. And to make it even more difficult, the traditional marketing strategies don’t always work.

Startup marketing is a whole different science. How so? The secret is properly combining the right channels: Content Marketing and PR.

So, starting from the beginning, here’s the complete Startup Marketing Manual.


Before you start laying bricks, you need a solid foundation. A successful startup marketing strategy follows that same principle. Before you jump into marketing your startup, make sure you have the following bases covered.

1. Choosing a Market

It’s easy for startup founders to believe the whole world will love their products. After all, founders eat, sleep and breathe their products. The reality is that only a small portion of the population is interested in your product.

If you try to market your startup to everyone, you waste both time and money. The key is to identify a niche target market and go after market share aggressively.

How do you choose a market? There are four main factors to consider:

  1. Market Size – Are you targeting a regional demographic? Male? Children? Know exactly how many potential customers are in your target market.
  2. Market Wealth – Does this market have the money to spend on your product?
  3. Market Competition – Is the market saturated? As in, are their many competitors?
  4. Value Proposition – Is your value proposition unique enough to cut thru the noise?

2. Defining Keywords

With a clearly defined market, you can begin building a keyword list. You’ll use the keyword list primarily for blogging, social media and your main marketing site. Essentially, you want to build a list of words or phrases that are highly relevant to your brand. Ask yourself this: What would someone type into Google to find your startup’s website?

Start with a core keyword list. This is a list of three to five keywords that completely summarize what your startup does. For example, Onboardly ‘s core keyword list is: customer acquisition, content marketing and startup PR. Your core keyword list should be based on your value proposition. What is it that you’re offering customers?

Tip: Your core keywords make excellent blog categories.

Now you’ll want to expand your core keyword list to include secondary keywords. Secondary keywords are more specific. Take ‘content marketing’, the core keyword from earlier, for example. Secondary keywords might include: corporate blogging, blogging best practices, email marketing how to, etc.

Use free tools to find the keywords already sending traffic to your website. Then run your core keywords through Google’s Keyword Tool and Uber Suggest. The best keywords found through those tools will be identified by low competition and high traffic. In other words, a lot of people are searching for them, but few results are displayed.

3. Defining Success

Success is different for every startup. Maybe success is 500 new signups per month for Startup A while Startup B thinks success is $50,000 in revenue per month. Whatever your idea of success may be, define it early and define it rigidly. Write it down or send it to the entire team. Just make sure everyone you’re working with knows your definition of success and is prepared to work towards it.

Be sure to stay consistent. It doesn’t matter if you’re defining success by signups, revenue, profit or anything else you can think of. What does matter is that it’s tied to real growth ( no vanity successes) and that it’s measured the same way each month. For example, don’t define success as 500 new signups one month and then $50,000 in revenue the next. Pick one definition and commit to it.

4. Setting Core Metrics

Just as you shouldn’t indulge vanity success, you shouldn’t indulge vanity metrics. Eric Ries refers to working with vanity metrics as ‘playing in success theatre’. While vanity metrics are appealing, if only to your ego, they are useless. They are not tied to real growth, meaning you won’t know if your startup is a roaring success or total flop until it’s far too late.

Be sure your core metrics are accurately measurable and specific. For example, let’s assume you’ve defined success as 500 new signups per month. You might measure the conversion rate of three calls to sign up. The idea is to have a few highly valuable metrics based on actions taken throughout the customer acquisition funnel (e.g. signups, newsletter subscriptions, eBook downloads). Don’t try to measure everything. Focus on the key indicators of success.

Tip: Record baseline metrics right away so you can easily determine your growth.

5. Estimating a Conversion Rate

The next step is to assign conversion rates and values. Consider newsletter signups, for example. 100 new newsletter signups per month could be incredible growth if your conversion rate is 20%. That is, if 20% of your newsletter subscribers become paying customers. If your conversion rate is closer to 1%, those 100 newsletter signups might be insignificant.

Estimate (based on historical data) your lead conversion rate. Now do the same to estimate the lifetime value of a customer. If you know how many of your leads convert and how much those conversions generate for your startup, you can assign values to goal completions like newsletter signups. $2,500 per month from your newsletter is a lot more indicative of success than 100 new newsletter signups.

6. Setting a Budget

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the money. How much can you afford to spend on your startup marketing strategy? Remember that while inbound marketing leads cost 61% less than outbound marketing leads, they are not free. Set a budget early in the game and accept that limitation.

‘57% of startup marketing managers are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis.’

More importantly, carefully plan how you intend to divide that budget. Maybe your blog has been your most powerful tool to date and you want to invest 40% of the budget on it. Or maybe you want to spend 35% of the budget to develop a new eBook or online course. Just be sure you have the logistics settled before you start spending (or you might just lose your hat).

Social Media

Social media is one of the most popular ways to promote your content and reach influencers. Since a great content promotion plan brings potential customers to your website and influencing the influencer can generate thousands of new leads, social media is invaluable to startups. Of course, there are a few tricks to get the most out of it.

1. Choosing the Right Social Media Networks

Startups tend to choose the social media networks they engage on without much strategy. The two most common mistakes are trying to master every network and trying to master certain networks just because the competition is doing it. If all of your competitors are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you should be too, right? Maybe, but maybe not.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest and now Instagram, are some of the most popular social networks today. All of them can be great content promotion and community building tools, but they all have unique characteristics. Facebook, for example, is typically powered by your existing customers who enjoy visual posts like pictures and video. Twitter, on the other hand, is often powered by potential customers who respond well to links (e.g. blog links).

Each social network ‘works’ differently, as in, how the community takes, interprets and digests your sharing and content varies. Reddit is often referred to as a very guarded network and detests spammers. Unlike twitter, here you can’t just schedule various messages every day. The content you share in Reddit has to be specific and unique to the categories you choose. Reddit, like other networks, requires a slower approach. You can’t just jump on, run some ads and expect people to upvote all your content. Be mindful of the network and community you are trying to reach, it may not be in the social space you first thought.

Tip: Consider the demographic of the social network itself. Take Tumblr, for example. Tumblr caters to a young, laid-back audience that loves sharing inspiring quotes and funny pictures. If you’re targeting this audience, don’t spend your time on LinkedIn.

2. Defining the Best Times to Post

The idea that there is a perfect time to post a tweet or Facebook update is a myth. If you’re targeting teenagers, mornings and nights might be the best times to post during the school year. During the summer? That’s a whole other story. There simply is no universal ‘perfect time to post’. There are, however, some best practices (according to Dan Zarella).

  • Saturdays are best.
  • 12 p.m. EST is the best time to share.
  • 0.5 posts per day is the best frequency.
  • 5 p.m. EST is the best time to get a retweet.
  • 1 to 4 link tweets per hour is the best frequency.
  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays are best.
  • 6 a.m. EST, 12 p.m. EST and 6 p.m. EST are the best times to tweet in terms of clicks.

3. Using a Keyword List

Now it’s time to put that keyword list you created earlier to good use. When it comes to social media, you’ll use your keyword list to maximize your engagement efforts. If you’re marketing an online shopping club for families like MarilynJean, you’ll want to ensure you’re having family and shopping focused discussions on social media.

The easiest way to do this is to use a social networking management tool like HootSuite. That way you can setup search streams of your core keywords. Using MarilynJean as an example, one of their streams might be for the keyword ‘online shopping club’. They’ll be able to monitor all of the conversations happening around that keyword and join in. More importantly, MarilynJean will solidify a reputation in the space.

Tip: Use your keyword list to help target any online ads you may be running.

4. Creating and Using an Influencer List

As mentioned above, one of the best marketing techniques online is to influence the influencer. It will take a long time for your startup to develop a highly influential relationship with thousands of people. Instead, focus on connecting with the people who already have that influence.

‘78% of social media users said posts by brands influenced their purchase behavior moderately or highly.’

For example, MarilynJean might look to connect with a famous celebrity mother via Twitter. If that mom loves what they’re doing for families and tweets about them to thousands (if not millions) of loyal followers, MarilynJean will see a huge surge in both followers and traffic.

Tip: Journalists and community leaders are great influencers as well. Don’t limit yourself to celebrities, who can be very tricky to connect with.

Build your influencer list with a bit of market research. Start by finding popular blogs in the space. Who writes for those blogs? Who owns them? Search for your core keywords on Twitter. Who appears in the results? Who are they following?

Remember that a high follower count is not always a good indication of influence. Look for how engaged their followers are and their follower to following ratio.

5. Setting Up a Blog

Setting up a blog can be quite simple. It’s a matter of downloading the software, uploading it to your server and following the setup instructions. WordPress, for example, is free and offers many amazing plugins. One for example, is Yoast SEO. Start by installing Yoast, a SEO plugin that will help Google and other search engines locate and rank your content. (Other great plugins include Akismet, Calendar, and featured posts) Then, setup the basics like blog categories and tags.

Once the back-end of your blog is ready to go, think about the curb appeal. How does your design look? Ask a professional designer to help you design your blog or give it a small revamp. Then invite ten friends to check out the design and offer feedback. You’ll get a feel for the aesthetic appeal. Remember, design is important as it relates to user experience, but it shouldn’t be all consuming. Your blog is about publishing really great content, at the right time to the right people. Your design should simply enhance that experience.

Be sure your design is also functional. Ask yourself these questions:

  • If I stand back and squint my eyes, does my call to action still pop?
  • Do I have search functionality?
  • Do I have social media information and sharing functions (e.g. Twitter feed, Facebook plugin)?
  • Do I have a blog subscription and RSS feed option?
  • Do I have featured images on my blog’s homepage?
  • Do I have social sharing buttons on each blog post?

Note: While WordPress is not the only blogging platform, it is one of the most widely used.

Startup PR

PR remains a mystery in many startup circles.

When’s the right time to tell people about your startup? Is there value in getting early coverage on industry blogs? What message is going to resonate with writers? How can you maximize the press coverage you do get and translate it into sales? Should I hire a PR firm to help me out?

The good news is it doesn’t need to be such a mystery. Fundamentally, it all boils down to this:

1. Craft Meaningful Positioning Statements

Much like a great elevator pitch should lie in the mind of any entrepreneur, a series of engaging positioning statements is vital. And while constructing two sentences may seem easy, crafting effective statements is quite the challenge.

Start by identifying what the product is and how it will affect others. Think of the product as the solution created to solve a worldwide problem. This is an important measure to remember when marketing and selling the product. Don’t think of it as selling a product. Think of it as solving a problem. Lastly, who will care about your product?

  • What is your product?
  • How will it affect others?
  • Who will care?

Positioning statements combine these three key factors into two sentences that are used to market the product and pitch it to the media. To ensure success, it is important that these statements not only articulate what the product is capable of, but that they clearly describe its value proposition as well.

2. Define Your Startup Sensitivities

‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ – Sun-tzu

By identifying competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, one can better understand how to market one’s product as better. Why is their solution to the universal problem their product solves better than those before it?

Be creative. Use spreadsheets, visual imagery or lists. Harness all of the information available on the product and its competitors, and study it. Look at each closely and determine strengths and weaknesses. If there are others who have an edge, then look at an angle where they are lacking.

Creating ‘the next social network for penguins’ might be your ultimate passion, but be conscious of the fact that you’ve got a remarkably short span of time to engage writers when pitching them. Focus on the one (or two) strongest aspects of your value proposition (what your customers love about you most) and lean heavily on those hooks to gauge media interest.

3. Identifying the Right Writers for a Media List

The importance of identifying who will care about the product is not only relevant in terms of crafting positioning statements, but in identifying the right writers for a media list as well. Any media outlet employs a number of qualified writers capable of telling the story, but you should be careful to pitch only writers who will be the best fit for your product. Though time-consuming, this simple step should never be overlooked.

Determine key media outlets of interest then search for stories with similar themes or relevance to your own. Look at the writers who’ve covered those stories.

Always pitch the right writer for your story. For example, if your product is exclusively for iPhone, don’t pitch a journalist who only reports on Android products.

‘Build your network before you need them.’ ~ Jeremiah Owyang, Partner and Industry Analyst at Altimeter Group

Once you have identified the writers to connect with, utilize social media to engage with them. Build relationships and ask of nothing. Set up private Twitter lists of the writers of interest, and actively respond to them and retweet their posts. Make friends with them!

Relationships with writers are not always easy to build, but the effort to achieve them can mean great story coverage and the opportunity to be covered again in the future. Even if you are not in a position to leverage journalists or writers, you should still be connecting and making those relationships. In due time, they will always benefit you and your startup.

4. Creating a Press Kit

The key to a successful media launch is rooted deep within a killer media kit. Begin by identifying the items needed:

  • Media Advisory
  • Logos & Screenshots
  • Founder Bios & Photos

A media advisory should include all major points that are important to the product, the company and its success. It should include how the product is changing the world and why it is important. More importantly, it should be written and directed towards who will care. The ‘pitch’ should be included in the headline and/or the first paragraph of the release. This is an excellent opportunity to use your positioning statements from earlier.

Include brief and necessary background information on the company and its founders. Enough to offer a taste of the team behind the product. By offering quick stats at the end of the media advisory, writers are given a brief snapshot of the company. Include:

  • Company Name
  • Website
  • Twitter Handle(s)
  • CEO & Co-Founders
  • Launch Date (if applicable)
  • Fees (if applicable)

Be conscious of time restrictions or sensitivities. Is there an embargo present or a set launch date and time?

Remember, most writers will merely skim a media advisory. By ensuring that a media advisory is tight and effective, you’ll increase the chances of story coverage.

Always offer the media options to use as supplementary visuals to accompany the story. Include company logo(s) and relevant screenshots of the product. Anything that offers a glimpse of features and capabilities is appreciated.

Provide a brief biography of each founder and respective photos. What is the driving force behind the company and how have their beliefs shaped it to become the success it is now? Include any tidbits of information that writers could use.

An important takeaway is that your press kit can be your ultimate weapon in securing great coverage. We recommend using a personalized Dropbox folder or Google Drive for each journalist you approach so that you can easily share by inviting them to the folder. It’ll also confirm when they join or view the folder – confirming interest – and hopefully that a story is about to be written.

5. Reaching Out to Journalists

Engagement with journalists prior to reaching out is key. When interacting with writers beforehand, you should request to send information on a story that may interest them. As previously mentioned, by building a relationship first, this request doesn’t come off as insincere. Writers may still decline, but by continuing to build on the relationship created, you could potentially convince them to accept in the future.

Content Creation

With a blog setup and your PR in full swing, it’s time to kick content creation into high-gear. Managing a blog and other forms of content can seem daunting, especially to not-so-great writers. Fortunately, four little steps will give startups the information they need to get serious.

1. Creating a Topic List

You’ve got a good looking blog designed and a great content promotion strategy, but something’s missing. Oh right! The content.

Before you dive right in and start writing, create a topic list. The perfect topic list is based on your core keywords for SEO purposes. Using your core keywords on your blog builds your startup’s credibility with search engines. Start by brainstorming ten topic ideas around each of your core keywords. Where possible, use your keywords in the titles, but not where it feels unnatural.

With between thirty and fifty topics, you can start thinking about writing. But first, put all of these ideas into a calendar. When will each be published? Who will write them? Are any of them in progress? A blog calendar helps you track your topics from conception to completion. Gantt charts are often shrugged off, but for the purpose of properly managing an editorial schedule, they are extremely helpful. Check out the multitude of templates and spreadsheets available for free online like: 90-day calendar, a Google Doc template, or these free guides from Bob Angus.

Tip: Be sure to add descriptions to your topic ideas. You might not remember your main points when you go to write the post three months from now.

2. Knowing What Types of Content to Publish

There are four main types of content to be published (excluding blog content). Like social networks, each one has unique advantages and disadvantages. Consider your options carefully, always keeping your target market in mind. And remember: don’t try to do a little bit of everything right away.

    eBook/Guides: Information products are huge. Offer a free eBook in exchange for a name and email address. Just like that, you have a new lead. You know they’re interested in your product because they were interested in the eBook and now you have their contact information. Now, follow up. Ask their opinion of the eBook and open the door for conversation.

‘Information products have the best margins. If you can get them into a subscription, then you’ll have monthly reoccurring revenue.’ ~ Dan Martell, Founder of Clarity

  • Webinar: Hearing your voice and engaging with you live gives your customers (and potential customers) a sense of ease. Webinars capitalize on this! Cross promote your webinar on your blog. Also, have someone on your team live tweet during the webinar using a custom #hashtag. At the end of the webinar, after providing real value to the attendees, post your contact information. It’s a simple, interactive way to generate new leads.
  • Newsletter: Email marketing is far from dead, despite what you might have read. Make subscribing to your newsletter quick and easy. Don’t go overboard with your email blasts though because if you overuse the connection, you’ll lose it. For the same reason, you’ll want to ensure every newsletter offers real value and is not just an excuse to push a new product. Try offering a discount, a promotion, industry news, or a contest – whatever!
  • Video: If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much a video is worth. Keep it simple by having an explainer video created or by shooting an introduction video. Put the video on your startup’s homepage and/or blog. You might be camera shy, but statistics show that most people would rather watch than read.

3. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is vital for startups. First of all, guest posting on a popular blog is a great way to build your reputation in the space. Second, having someone influential guest blog on your startup’s blog is an easy way to drive traffic.

Start by looking for outgoing guest blogging opportunities on the top blogs that are writing for your target market. Most blogs will accept guest posts openly, so look for a writers’ page or contributors’ page. If you’re having trouble, track down the blog owner or editor on social media. Ask to email him a first draft of your blog post idea. Just make sure it’s high-quality and 100% original.

Once you’ve built a reputation, it will be easier to find influencers willing to contribute to your startup’s blog. Create a writers’ page of your own or reach out to select influencers individually via social media or email. When the guest post is published, be sure to ping the contributor so she can promote the post to her whole network.

4. Capturing Emails

Email subscription has been mentioned a few times already. Capturing emails can be divided into three categories: email submits, newsletter subscriptions and blog subscriptions. Email submits could come from eBook downloads or similar offers. Newsletter subscriptions are just that: people interested in reading regular updates and content from your startup. Blog subscriptions are straightforward as well.

Email submits and newsletter subscriptions are best managed by tools like MailChimp, which allows you to easily send well-designed custom emails to leads. Blog subscriptions, on the other hand, are best managed by tools like Feedburner, which allows you to automatically notify leads when you published new blog content.

Test and Iterate

By now, your marketing strategy is in full motion. Of course, no one gets it perfect on the first try and there’s always room for improvement. That’s where testing and iteration comes into play. Remember back to the core metrics and definition of success from earlier. Keep those two things in mind here.

1. Setting Up Analytics Tools

The key to measuring success is a great analytics tool. If you need a no-frills solution, check out Google Analytics. It’ll give you the basics and, over time, you will learn to master the somewhat complicated behind-the-scenes mechanics of it. If you want something more user-friendly and advanced, tools like KISSmetrics are always available.

Your experience setting up your analytics tool will be different depending on the solution you choose. However, all analytics tools will have you insert a snippet of code on your webpages, which allows them to track visits and events. Be sure to look for analytics tools that are committed to preserving fast load times, like Measurely. Some codes leave visitors waiting for the website to load, which can increase bounce rate dramatically.

2. Measuring Against Benchmarks

Earlier, you recorded your baseline metrics, which you’ll use as benchmarks going forward. Ideally, you’re measuring week over week and month over month growth. If you make the mistake of waiting for solely month over month data, you could be too late. Each week, compare your core metrics to the week before. Some give and take is normal. Each month, do the same. Here, you should look for consistent growth.

‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.’ ~Peter Drucker, Management Consultant

When you see significant growth or decline, be sure to attribute it to some event(s). For example, a tweet that went viral or a newsletter that was a huge disaster. Isolate what you did differently and either replicate it or avoid it going forward. Don’t just measure your data – act on it!

3. Brainstorming Creative New Ideas

While tweaking what you’re already doing is great, coming up with brand new ideas is even better. It’s not enough to only iterate and optimize what you’ve been doing. The most successful startups are always trying creative new things. Maybe a social contest, a funny video, a new online course, a clever PR angle – the list is endless.

Many of your new and innovative ideas can easily fail, but the few that succeed will be well worth it. Never get complacent! As a startup, the name of the game is agility, flexibility and thinking forward.

Best Practices

What are the industry experts saying? What are the top startups doing? Here are three startup marketing best practices.

1. Sell the Solution

Too many startups focus on the problem instead of the solution. It makes sense, of course. Founders design a solution for the problem, which makes the problem a founder’s first love. Unfortunately, it’s the solution that appeals to potential customers. Realistically, there are hundreds of products that could solve the problem of, for example, low productivity. What makes your solution the perfect choice?

2. Have a Compelling Story

Storytelling is a powerful sales tool. Just ask Seth Godin! If you have a compelling story, use it. How did you come up with your solution? Did you struggle in the beginning? Are you still struggling? Use your story to differentiate yourself from the competition. Startup marketing is all about the customer and establishing an authentic relationship. Having a relatable story to tell is a fast-track.

3. Use All Your Resources

Your team is arguably one of your biggest marketing tools. Their passion for what your startup is doing is called evangelism. Use it to your advantage. Send them out into the world excited to tell your startup’s story to anyone they meet. But don’t stop there. Ride the buzz from a trending topic by writing a blog post on it or creating a video about it. Run a contest around a major holiday to drum up some hype. Be sure you’re not overlooking any marketing resources, big or small.


Startup marketing is a complex science. Some great ideas have failed due to a lack of media attention and customer awareness. Others have gone under thanks to a poor strategy. Still, other great ideas have spiraled to billion dollar fame! Well, founders everywhere can stop searching for that elusive secret to startup marketing success. It’s simply the sweet spot between content marketing and PR.

About the Author: Renée Warren is the Co-Founder of Onboardly, a company focused on helping funded technology startups be more visible and acquire more customers. They do this through Content Marketing, startup PR and Social Media. Subscribe to their blog here!

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

tshirt business startup related

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.

Free email course: The Ultimate Guide to Building an Online T-Shirt Store

Discover the proven steps and strategies needed to launch a fully automated and inventory-free t-shirt store – without any coding, business, or design experience.

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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:


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.


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.


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.


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
with a 14-day trial

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.


    You can ‘print’ each shirt on demand.


  • 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.


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


  • 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 – 10 Tips | T-Shirt Magazine with t shirt business startup

t shirt business startup begin

It seems nowadays everybody’s selling t-shirts and, if you haven’t started already, you might be next. Before you jump into the t-shirt business you might wanna take a few pointers, and we’ve got you covered.

Here’s a guide on how to start a t-shirt business, divided into the 10 most important aspects.

How to Start a T-Shirt Business

1. Do your research

Make sure you’re knowledgeable about the clothing industry before you dive in. Get an understanding of how the business works. Read about how other brands became successful, and model a similar strategy.

Get some insider info from our past brand owner interviews.

2. Plan everything

Before you get started, get all the info you can on how to start a t-shirt business and have a clear idea of what you plan on doing. Try to decide things like what kind of t-shirts you plan on selling, who your target market is, whether your t-shirts will be available online only or if you’ll eventually be aiming to sell in stores.

Plan a marketing strategy that involves both free and paid advertising methods of getting your brand in front of your target market. Compose a practical business plan to use as a guideline for operating. For starters, identify your brand’s values, mission, objectives, strategies, goals, and long term vision.

For a good way to organize your planning, try Google Drive.

3. Know your competition

You should always know what other clothing labels you’ll be competing with. If you’re starting a label based on humorous t-shirts you should watch what all the other funny t-shirt labels are doing. Keep track of things like their design variety, pricing, and promotion, because it may spur some new ideas for your own business strategy.

This can be done easily nowadays by reading the blogs of competitor brands and signing up to their newsletters to keep tabs on what they’re up to. This knowledge can help you keep up.

Keep track of your competitors activity by following indie clothing blogs like Hypebeast.

4. Create products you believe your audience would buy

It seems this step should be obvious, but you’d be surprised at some of the t-shirts you can find these days. Test the quality of your t-shirts by getting honest opinions from others, preferably people who are within your target audience.

To get real feedback from your potential audience, experiment with polls via Facebook.

5. Know the finances of starting a business

Once you know what you plan on doing, get an idea of how much everything is gonna cost you. When you start producing and selling t-shirts, keep track of all of your expenses. Get screen printing quotes from several printers and compare prices to get the best deal, without sacrificing quality.

Add in the cost for labeling, hang tagging, bagging, or whatever other finishing options you might use. Don’t forget the shipping envelopes, boxes, and product storage. Don’t be fooled by the hundreds of new t-shirt start-ups you see these days; starting a t-shirt business isn’t cheap. A lot of this should also help you decide how much you should charge for your clothing.


6. Come up with a solid promotion strategy

Figure out a way to spread the word in a manner that those who discover your brand go on to spread the word to others. For starters, your strategy can include PPC ads, press releases to blogs, and social networking. You can even give away t-shirts with your logo for free. Using guerrilla tactics and promotional items like this can have a tremendous impact on your business growth.

However, don’t be a Cheapo. Sooner or later you’ll realize that you’re gonna have to spend money to market your t-shirt business, so you should be willing to pay for things like online ads, event sponsorships, and other paid marketing methods. Understandably not everyone is rollin’ in the dough, so find smart ways to balance paid promotion with free promotion to create an excellent strategy.

Paid promotion options: Consider a Google Adwords campaign or get social network visibility through a PopularPays.

Free promotion options: Actively engage your Instagram audience every single day. Follow hundreds of potential fans, comment on and like thousands of photos, and consistently post to your account. Replicate the same strategy through other channels.

7. Find partners

You might start out on your own but you should find partners to help maximize your brand’s potential and help you reach your goals more efficiently. Aim to have partners within your company while also collaborating with other businesses that may be of some help to you.

Start with your good friends, skilled associates or trustworthy family members. Still no luck? Try browsing potential candidates through Founder2Be.

8. Set business goals

Once you’ve educated yourself on how to start a t-shirt business it’s time to set some real goals. How many t-shirts do you plan on selling this year? How about this month or this week? Alot of people new to the business have no idea, or just don’t care. Then there’s the group of people who are too scared to set a goal out of fear that they won’t reach it.

A successful business sets goals for success in order to have a solid idea of what it’s working towards. Set a goal and believe in your ability to reach it. As the law of attraction goes: if you know you’re gonna reach it, you’re gonna reach it. If you decide from this day forward that you will sell 10 t-shirts every week, and strongly believe in your business, you’ll do everything you can to figure out a way to get those tees moving. If you don’t set a goal you may end up stuck with a box of t-shirts you were too scared to sell.

Keep track of your goals through Google Drive.

9. Don’t quit because you’re not seeing sales the first day

That’s a good way to get you nowhere. Try to figure out ways of improving your designs, your strategy or your work habits. When you’re just getting started you’re still learning so keep at it. Winners never quit and quitters never win. Read informative, motivational books, to keep your spirits up.

Frequently visit other brand’s websites and blogs, and see how much fun they’re having, to remind yourself of where you wanna be in a few years and how bad you really want it. Reanalyze your business plan, promotional efforts, and branding strategy. Consider how you compare to the competition and emphasize your competitive edge.

Continually expand your knowledge on the business by checking out some of our past t-shirt business articles.

10. Have fun

If you’re in it just to make a quick buck you’re not gonna succeed-and that goes for ANY business. Love what you do and do what you love. Your passion will definitely show in your brand image. The more fun it is, the more productive you’ll be. Just don’t get too carried away. On second thought, go ahead!


Read LAUNCH A KICK-ASS T-SHIRT BRAND for in depth advice and more tips on how to start a t-shirt business. Tons of useful information you can’t afford to miss!



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

tshirt business startup begin

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.


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.


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:

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.


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.


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

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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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