How to start a t-shirt business

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T-shirts… They’re everywhere. They’re a part of every wardrobe around the world. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors. Whatever your style, t-shirts can find a place in your wardrobe essentials. For many people they are a form of self-expression. They reflect the wearer’s interests and personality. This makes the simple t-shirt a great business idea.

Selling t-shirts online has become a popular business venture for many entrepreneurs, artists, and influencers. It is especially popular among beginners who wish to start a business in a relatively inexpensive way. In addition to beginners, experienced e-commerce business owners can use online t-shirt stores to try something different. Many other professionals are using it as a side hustle. And it’s all for good reason. The global custom t-shirt printing industry is set to reach $10 billion by the year 2025.

The popularity of t-shirt e-commerce stores means that it’s also a competitive field. In order to stand out, you have to focus on product quality and what your target customers want.

Let’s look at the steps you need to take to start your very first custom t-shirt online store.

  1.   Find a niche

Your online t-shirt business is much more likely to be successful if you find the right target audience. It will help it stand out without overspending.

As the t-shirt market is quite saturated, the time you spend on identifying a niche or interest group will pay off and help your products get noticed.

You can research other t-shirt stores to get an idea. Think of your own interests and use it to inspire your direction. You are free to choose a niche that interests you and has a viable demand. If you have a unique idea that there is an untapped market for, go for it. You’re more likely to be noticed when there is less competition.


  1.   Design your t-shirts

Your designs matter a lot for the success of your online t-shirt business. Just like good products are foundational for any business success, having great t-shirt designs can put you ahead of your competitors from the start. A great product is also easier to market and sell.

For this step you’ll have to be creative. You can brainstorm your ideas, research other popular stores and put your own unique spin on what’s popular. Just make sure that your designs fit in with your niche audience. Having lots of designs can enable you to experiment and find out what works best for your customer base.

You can either create designs yourself, using Photoshop or any of the free design websites, or you can get help from a professional designer. You may have a great idea but creating a design is an entirely different thing. If you’re not sure of your artistic abilities contacting a designer is the best thing to do. Exploring an online design community like Dribble or a freelance network like Upwork or Fiverr are good points to start.

  1.   Create t-shirts mock ups

When your t-shirt designs are ready, it’s time to create some mock up images. This will help you and your customers see how the design will actually appear printed on the t-shirt. To create mockups you can either make sample t-shirts and photograph models wearing them or you can create it digitally. For beginners a digital mockup is an easier choice. This again can be done yourself or you can hire freelance services for it.

  1.   Validate t-shirt designs

Just like any other business, it’s important that you validate your products and verify that there is interest in your designs. The designs might look ready for printing but you can always get some valuable suggestions from others that will help you make improvements. You can start by posting on social networks. Find niche groups on Facebook, post on Instagram or wherever you feel your potential customers will be. You can post on online forums and discussion platforms like Reddit to get unbiased feedback on your designs.

  1.   Source quality material for your t-shirts

High quality material is very important for your business in the long term. Customers may make buying decisions based on your designs but if you want them to buy again, you must make sure that the t-shirts are of good quality. It’s hard to make resells if your t-shirts start to shrink or the colors fade after washing. So spend some time on sourcing the highest quality material that you can afford. You can order samples for blank t-shirts to help your decision.

  1.   Set up your e-commerce store

The next step is to set up your own online t-shirt store. Print-on-demand (POD) services like Launch Cart make the job super easy. You can set up your store fairly quickly and start taking orders immediately. The benefit of POD is that the supplier takes care of printing and shipping of your orders to your customers. You don’t have to hold an inventory and don’t have to pay until after a sale is made.

  1.   Set up your online presence

You’ve set up your store and now you need to reach out to your target customer and sell your t-shirts. Spend some time on market research and understand your audience, especially if you’re targeting a niche market. Find out whether you need to invest in google ads or influencer marketing to reach your ideal customers. Find the right platforms where your audience hangs out. Then you can build a strong online presence to reach them. 

Ready to start your t-shirt business? Set up a free ecommerce store with Launch Cart today. 

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Launch Cart provides the best eCommerce software on the net. Create your own online store and start selling products the professional way.

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