I want to create an eCommerce store but was confused and stuck at the point what business to do? Which product, timeline and what budget? What to sell, how much to spend on paid advertising and many more questions was coming in my mind.
But then after a lot of time invested in thinking, I discovered that the most vital part of building any business is the ideation stage. Once the idea is finalized, from here one can begin to move towards the product. But bridging this gap is a very tough task.
From my experience I can say that it is better to sit down with someone and discuss ideas, their pros-cons, etc., to start generating ideas for a product.
I too follow the same process when I was in the discovery phase of starting a new online business. I too wanted to sell something that is easy to catch up in the competition and at the same time, could be an exciting business that would be fun to work and have great future too.
Besides this, I also don’t want to invest more (say not more than a few hundred dollars) before being able to turn on the profits. The reason is simple; I want to spend more money on marketing and less money on inventory.
After all this homework, I decided on selling t-shirts. The reason for choosing selling t-shirts online is that it is a simple, easy and efficient business model. It is the most used casual wear, worn by both men and women. Building and launching a new t-shirt online store is inexpensive and quick.
With various apps and integrations in Shopify App store, your t-shirt store can be functional in few hours. You can also connect your t-shirt store to drop shipper, t-shirt printer quickly.
But as it is a very competitive segment, I must have to take care of designs people love and quality they trust. Let me tell you now the process of how to sell t-shirts online with my personal experience. I am going to share with you a strategy and plan on which I worked and which proved magic for me. Let’s get into the depth of what are the steps involved and what are the key factors to getting success.
First, Ask Yourself
- What kind of t-shirts did you want to sell?
- What sort of business was it going to be?
- How can your t-shirt business come up as a brand in minimum time and investment?
- How can you turn visitors into customers and wins trust?
For this, you need to do some market research.
How To Do The Market Research For Selling T-Shirt Online?
First of all, if you want to setup a store quickly, then search and join a community or trend that already exists. If you don’t want to spend more time in creating content, market it and after that sell the product in the community, then search for a community like Reddit as per your outlook.
Finding out, What Is In Trend?
Take a proven concept, redo it, market it better and repeat. For this, find out what is in trend, what’s going on in the market, which product is selling much. By this redo, your actions, sell the same products but with a different and unique concept.
For example, when you search on search engine “stylish and creative t-shirts with slogans”, you will get certain options. Among this maximum options are average or of no worthwhile very few options are good and up to the mark.
But, as they are coming in search so for sure a community is existing for it and from here your work begins of doing the same thing in a different manner.
Like here, few noticeable things about these t-shirts are:
- Some are inspirational, motivational; some have funny quotes,
- Some are subject specific and consist pictures too.
- Some promote a certain lifestyle.
By keeping this thing in mind, figure out how will you produce and print the t-shirts.
The Key Elements To Success
If you want to become successful t-shirt entrepreneur, there are various elements you need to consider for getting success in your business.
First, you are needed to choose a niche. For being a successful t-shirt entrepreneur, you have to stand different from the crowd and other competitors. The best way of doing this is choosing and catering a specific niche.
For example, a category like t-shirts with funny slogans is very broad in itself. You make it a little concise to attack in the developed market. Go with the most specific niche like t-shirts with funny slogans for doctors and nurses, t-shirts with funny slogans for professional, t-shirts with funny slogans for teenage girls, etc.
This way by being more specific, you will stand out from others without blowing your budget.
People are so choosy these days. They love to experiment and always look for trendy and fashionable t-shirts. The majority of citizens are looking for design, slogans and graphics that suits their personality, connect with them and reflect their opinions. The other thing people want to see is your catalog which has the copy of t-shirt designs.
It is the next most important key element for success. If you want to sustain long in online t-shirt business sell. Don’t fool anyone. Build trust with quality. The t-shirt print and quality should be of top-notch.
The brand is a promise. A promise of maintaining high-quality, design under specifically chosen niche. In the present competitive era, customers have more choices; it is imperative for online stores to make a distinctive presence for attracting the audience and then converting them into consumers.
All t-shirts are different and so as all print jobs too. So, choose the blank t-shirts wisely. Either purchase them directly from the market or first purchase the fabric and get stitched it on your own, is your decision. But quality is the foundation for your success. Quality is going to affect consumer mindset and decision, so never compromise on it for higher profit margins. If you want your former customers, repeatedly purchase from your online store, then always keep in mind the quality factor.
The quality of t-shirt includes various factors in it like fitting, size, softness, material, and weight.
T-Shirt Printing Quality
Currently, there are three popular methods for printing on t-shirts is available. Each method has its positives and negatives. It depends on you that how much time you want to invest in product creation and which method you want to choose for product creation. You also have to choose a printing partner too.
Let’s know about all the three printing methods, their process, positives, negatives, etc., to have a better understanding of each process.
Method 1 -
Screen printing is a traditional and old technique that has stood the test of time. It is one of the most popular methods for printing on t-shirts. The result of screen printing is long lasting and durable too. It is also very cost effective when you are printing in bulk. But when you want to craft any design with more than four or five colors then it will increase the cost and production time. It also has certain issues when the design is complex.
- Volume discounts.
- Cost efficient for bulk production.
- Not very much cost effective for multiple colors.
- Cannot print complex images and designs.
Heat transfer method exists in several forms and for a long time. You must have seen basic heat transfer paper. In basic process, you are capable of printing the design from your home computer and transfer them with an iron. But if you are running a business, the basic method will not work. For selling t-shirts online, you need to use advanced heat transfer method. The advanced form of heat transfers is called plastisol transfers. The transfers are printed by professional printers on special, high-quality heat transfer paper. The advantage of this method is that it is able to order a mass 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 method can produce full-color images onto T-shirts quickly and easily.
- You can “print” t-shirt on demand.
- Lower quality and less durable when compared to the direct-to-garment and screen printing method.
- Large upfront investment into a heat press machine (cost varies as per your requirement and budget).
- The do-it-yourself approach means additional time input from yourself.
The operating process of the direct-to-garment printing method is much like an ink-jet printer you would have at home. DTG prints ink directly onto the t-shirt and can produce full-color images with accuracy.
DTG printing produces quality printing when compared with screen printing and heat transfer method because it operates just like an ink-jet printer. There is no requirement of setup costs. So, if you want to print small orders, this is going to be not only simple but cost effective too for you.
But the lack of volume discount for large orders is the major disadvantage of direct-to-garment printing method. The reason is it requires the same amount of time to print each t-shirt.
- Unlimited color options.
- Great for small orders.
- High detail accuracy in printed design.
- No set-up costs.
- Not cost effective for large production.
- No volume discounts.
Creating Your Designs
Find The Niches And Best Selling Designs: If you are stuck for t-shirt niche design and ideas, start with popular niche and designs and also consider what is selling well currently.
Hire A Designer: Once you are ready with an idea for t-shirt designs, get your ideas designed and executed. If you have Adobe Photoshop like similar programs, you can produce simple designs on your own. However, you can also take help of graphic designer for creating designs. And also, there are a variety of tools available to help you with your design.
Dribble - Dribbble is a fantastic designer community having lots of unique talent. You just need to message the designer for taking your project as freelancing after searching and selecting the style.
Behance - Behance is another great designer community to search and assign work to freelancer t-shirt designer.
Freelance Networks: Freelancer and Elance are some other great options you can try.
In case if you do not want to hire a designer for designers, then you can also purchase pre-made designs. But make your mind, if you are following this route, probable chances are there that other people are already selling the design. So, make this decision after thinking hard. You can also check out some graphic marketplaces like Designious, T-Shirt Factory, Creative Market, and Graphic River, etc. To access these marketplaces you need an accessing license too.
When you have final designs with you, then you can get some mockup images of them on actual t-shirts. This is important because your customers want to see the final design and how will it look on the t-shirt when printed.
There are several ways with the help of which you can get images of your final designs on t-shirts including ordering samples and taking product photography on your own or else with the plenty of t-shirt templates online. This way you can opt to create a 100% digital mockup.
Look the image below, to understand it in the better way.
Adobe Photoshop’s free trial t-shirt templates are the most common types of mockup files. The template allows previewing quickly how your designs will look once get printed on a t-shirt. The majority of the Photoshop templates comes with multiple layers that allow you to change the color of the t-shirt and apply your design that will blend with the creases, folds and contours of the t-shirt.
GraphicRiver T-Shirt Mockups, Design Inspiration Magazine – 40 T-Shirt Mockups, Design Blots – 50 T-Shirt Mockups are some of the resources to help you find the best possible mockup file for your project. You can also search more by yourself. There is various mockup which is available on a certain charge. You can opt for this option too.
Validating Your Designs
No business can be done without money. So, if you are also spending a lot of money on your new t-shirt selling the business, first verify the interest of people and market for your designs.
Now you might be thinking how to validate the market and interest of people?
So don’t worry about this. There are many ways by which you can go about validating the market for your design ideas.
Some of the most common and popular methods for validating your ideas can be below mentioned:
- Personal Social Networks - Post your few designs to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks. Your initial customers exist in your social networking friend list. Take the opinion and advice of your friend.
- Reddit – Reddit is huge, and it is very easy to find a highly targeted niche of potential customers and ask them first hand their thoughts on your designs before launching.
- Kickstarter – Kickstarter is a crowd funding website. You can also search other crowd funding websites like this one and can make it easier to test, validate, and collect money for your new business idea. Launching a crowdfunding campaign although can be time-consuming and also requires a good preparation, when we talk about benefits, they are huge. The benefits include full funding of your project before you have spent a dime.
- 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 free 14-day trial and check out some of the free themes to get started.
Setting Up Shop
Now till here you have your t-shirt designs, made your mockups and validated your idea, this is the time to build your online store for selling T-shirts. And setting an eCommerce store on Shopify eCommerce platform is very easy and quick.
There is few print-on-demand t-shirt drop shippers that directly integrate with your Shopify store. They allow you to get up and to run in no time. These printer/drop shippers will print and ship your t-shirts to your customers on your behalf every time you receive an order, automatically.
Some of the Shopify printer/drop shipper apps are as follows:
- Print Aura
What Is Your Business Name?
You set-up a shop, but what about your business name? After all your business name is the identity of your business. It is a fairly important step in building your business.
So, keep few things in mind while coming up with your business name.
- Business name should be simple, creative and easy to remember
- Emphasis on .com availability.
- All social accounts must be readily available.
- Keep the list of the names combined as per your liking. Get a second opinion on it and finalize the best one.
Sign Up For 14 Day Free Trial Of Shopify
Once the name is finalized, start by signing up for 14 days free trial of Shopify and get down to business. Shopify makes it very easy to buy and set up a custom domain. All the configuration is done for you, and your custom domain setup is completed automatically.
And this way your online store to sell t-shirts is created.
Logo And Storefront Design
This part comes in existence when things start coming together. There’s nothing more exciting than working in a store for a few hours and watching, piece by piece; your store comes to life.
Keep the logo more approachable but it too must be exclusive, classy and of high quality. Include the name of the business in the logo creatively.
Great! You are done with the logo too. Now for what you are waiting for? It’s the time to start setting up the online store.
Setting Up the Store and Picking a Theme
Go with Shopify paid theme. This is good for selling a single product. If you want to minimize the cost you can also opt for a free theme.
There are plenty of options in the Shopify Theme Store (both paid and free options for themes).
After designing the theme for your store. It is the time to start filling up the store with products.
Beginning Of T-Shirt Design Process
What is important here is your resourcefulness. If you are resourceful, you can do anything and can throw winning designs. We already discussed resourcefulness in early paragraphs.
Now it is the time to get working on the product page.
Effective Product Page Essentials
Few things that you must consider on product page are as follows:
- Product Title
- Size options
- Shipping times
- Garment description
- Related products
- Product shot
High-Quality T-Shirt Mockups
The high quality mockup is required to convert the visitors into the prospective customers. We already discussed this in early paragraphs.
Determine an Appropriate Pricing Strategy
Apply psychological pricing tactics to encourage sell. Keep a reasonable, consistent profit margin of about $10 per t-shirt sold. Take a look at a few different resources online to see how to price the t-shirts accordingly. An example is T-Shirt Magazine. This kind of resources makes things easy for you.
When you keep scrolling and researching at these resources you will find that the unofficial average price range for the majority of t-shirt brands is ranging in between “$16 to $24.
If you too are starting in the same way, you can afford huge orders, good enough margin if you place small wholesale orders.
But yes, initially work in a little low cost.
Launch, Social Account Setup And Make Your First Sell
This is something like launching your online store.
At the time of launching the store, keep in mind the quick wins. Start small and grab the low hanging fruits. So for this, validate the work, you had done so far.
Make a checklist of the things you could do quickly that were free like mentioned below:
- Setup social media accounts and invite friends.
- Setup exit intent email popup
- Post on Reddit
Setup social accounts especially at Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. Start inviting all your friends on the Facebook page. Don’t connect your personal Facebook account to the Instagram account, and better don’t add family and friends there. Later setup the Pinterest and Twitter account.
Be careful with your approach. Simply using the Reddit does not guarantee that your t-shirt will get sold. So make sure to only share to specific communities.
On the launch day of your store, you can share on subreddit. Chance of getting a sale through this channel are very high. May be it is not your target audience by any means. The only advantage of sharing here is that every member of the community wants to spend money. It can prove to be the golden ticket to an unexpected blast off, and if you get success in making your first sale, then this validates all the work you had done so far. It will show that someone is interested in your product. And slowly and gradually order starts coming your way.
If your product is funny, quirky, or offbeat, it might just be a good spot to try and validate your product. Even if you don’t get any sales, but you do get traffic – it means there’s something there, and you can start bringing these visitors into your sales funnel.
The Reddit Effect Brings A New Referral Source
One of the great things about the subreddit is that product blogs often take it.
Facebook and Specific Groups
Next, head to Facebook and join specific Facebook groups.
This is the same premise as posting to specific subreddits, but, to a more engaged audience on Facebook.
Your post on Facebook can be turned more effective and converted into sales if you actively participate in the discussions before sharing a link to your online store.
Email Capture and Exit Intent Popups
Use the apps to capture email addresses from potential customers to use as a remarketing method. Using apps is the easiest way to get this setup. So it is advisable to consider using popups on your online store. They work extremely well. They provide a conversion rate from visitor to an email address.
Content Curation and Blog Building
Various store owners overlook the importance of the blog. But in real, building out the blog for your store is very important. It let’s you start building a relationship with visitors, who, after sometime will purchase your product and become your prospective customers.
Only creating a blog is not enough, but the marketing of the content must be done in an effective and efficient way. Blog writing is a long-term process, but if done with patience and consistency, it will give massive benefit in the long term. This way you could get someone to visit the blog, they might click through to the homepage and see the products you are selling.
Once, sell starts and you are the expert of using free advertising methods; you can think of jumping into paid advertising.
Moving into Paid Advertising
T-shirt business is associated with low upfront costs so that you can think of paid advertising. First head towards Instagram. As your first plan and attack through Instagram, find some larger accounts, and see if they had been willing to work with you or not.
The reason behind hitting Instagram first is simply because it is the platform very much familiar. There is an audience that exists there already, and for sure there are massive related Instagram accounts that may be willing to work with you.
This will give you an almost direct sales channel that wouldn’t require much keyword research, demographic research, or anything else. It is the quickest way for you to get started with paid advertising, and the rewards could be huge.
Instagram Marketing Basics and Building an Audience
You can grow your Instagram account quickly effective use of paid sponsored posts.
Here are some things that you make sure that you will cover every time you setup an Instagram account. Consider applying these methods to your business account as well:
- Get a username. Keep your username exactly your business name or something very close to your business name
- Keep your profile picture visually very strong. Keep it like that it will capture everyone’s attention when they’re scrolling through their feed
- Keep your biography funny and cute with the use of emojis
- To track clickthroughs, and sales, of your store, use Google’s UTM parameter generator
- Use a Google URL shortener to send visitors to a specific product or page on your store
After this, you are ready to roll.
Growing an Instagram Account from Zero
The simplest way to grow any Instagram account is to be active, and post content on a regular basis. Try to post news, picture, information, etc. on the regular interval. Likewise, post a picture in the morning or a newsfeed in the evening.
Started by scouring Instagram for different accounts related to your business. You’re your strategy of finding a bunch of different accounts, and repost the images to your account providing credit where you could.
Also, do more research into posting schedules.
The best way to find relevant Instagram followers is to search simply for hashtags related to your demographic, and like, follow, or comment on their accounts.
You can also use the tool “Top Hashtags” to find the popular tags related to your business. Although some of these don’t apply to the users you are trying to reach, that’s fine. You can search for any hashtag that might be relevant to your demographic too.
Finding Popular Accounts in Horizontal Markets
Aim for those massive Instagram accounts that post pictures of something related to your specific t-shirt business.
Try to find someone with an Instagram account that had a few hundred thousand followers and also who is willing to promote our products. The only problem was finding accounts that were willing to do that. But if you could find someone to promote your products, it would be great.
The easiest way to find popular accounts that could potentially be willing to promote the product is through piggybacking off people who are already doing it.
You can also use the service called, Webstagram. This will be the easiest way for you to do that. Simply search for slogans, funny slogans, emotional slogans, motivational slogans, etc. and it will give you more list of accounts that were related to those specific ke