How To Start An Online T-Shirt Business (or other products) using Print on Demand Services
Hi, Boss....doesn't that sound good to hear? 😍
First off, CONGRATS!
If there's one thing that people love to wear, that will be t-shirts. T-shirts are a staple part of wardrobes across the globe. The global market for custom t-shirt printing industry is expected to cross 10 billion by 2025. Starting an online T-shirt business is a great choice for both beginner or experienced eCommerce entrepreneurs. The T-shirt business is competitive; however you just need to make sure your store stands out, you choose a great niche and offer high-quality products. I know it can seem daunting, but don't worry - I created this page to provide you with the necessary information to create a successful online
Starting Your Online T-shirt Business
There is no doubt that selling t-shirts are a popular online venture these days. And if you are a young entrepreneur or an artist who wants to have a business with low investment, then you should consider this little startup.
Focus on a certain niche where you can sell your t-shirts. You'd be surprised how many people start an online shop without assessing product profitability first.
A print on demand (POD) business can be set up in two ways – either focusing on a product niche or a subject niche.
1. A product-niche
A product-niche POD business requires you to decide early on what type of product you will be selling (or a selection of several similar
products) and stick to that.
For instance, you might decide to sell movie-inspired pillowcases or t-shirts featuring humorous quotes. In this case, you will sell only
pillowcases or only t-shirts, but many different designs.
2. A subject-niche
A subject-niche POD business, on the other hand, requires you to uncover a trendy subject, such as ‘dream meaning’, for example, and create
a range of products carrying designs that reflect this subject niche. This could include everything from pillowcases to tote bags to wall tapestries.
You should do some research once you have your idea. You can search Amazon's Bestselling Products - check every department individually for more ideas. You can search eBay's Trending products as well as Etsy's Bestselling items. All three of these will give you a good start on if your niche will be profitable.
Option No. 1 - Use Google Trends and compare niche-products - Google trends is a very useful tool to quickly assess the popularity of any topic, as it visualizes search queries across different regions and languages, year on year.
As an example below, I compared leggings, t-shirts & hoodies
You have many free research tools, so take advantage and do your homework once you think of the idea you want to sell.
Build your website with WIX
Wix is a website builder with an intuitive drag-and-drop editor that lets entrepreneurs create a professional website without any technical knowledge. The platform also offers free tools like Wix Logo Maker, Wix SEO Wiz, and Wix Video Maker. You can add a blog or a membership site, accept payments and it has many marketing apps. It’s basically a business owner’s wonderland.
Wix has more than 500 free, ready-to-use website templates that check all the boxes. They are:
Pretty to look at. Their designer-made templates are created in keeping with the latest design trends. Your business will look up-to-date and professional.
Easy to navigate. The sophisticated templates come with user-friendly elements that will make it easy for customers to browse your store and place orders.
Responsive. All Wix store templates are responsive, which means your website will scale to fit any device your customer is using to browse your store.
Fully customizable. Experiment with advanced web design elements like animation hover boxes, scroll effects, and video backgrounds to create a unique website that represents your brand.
Now let’s create a Wix account. You can register for free by entering the Wix signup page. Or click the blue Get Started button on Wix’s homepage. During signup, you’ll be guided through an onboarding survey. Choose to create an online store and you’ll get a professional template with the Wix Stores app built-in. You need the app in order to sell your products and online accept payments. Wix does off two options when choosing which website editor to build your online store. If you have limited web design experience and want your store created for you, choose WIX ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence).
Keep in mind that if you do choose that option then you will not be able to add meta tags to your site for any outside apps. However, if you want to create a store on your own, go for the Wix Editor. You will still be able to pick from 500+ designer-made templates to help you. There are also plenty of tutorials and videos on helping you should you need assistance. This is one of the easiest drag-and-drop website builders that still has all the extras without charging crazy fees. I have been using the WIX platform for the last 15 years and once you get used to it and watch a few training videos; it is a very easy but professional website builder.
Example: Shopify to get the main Shopify plan costs $79 per month, with 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction. Advanced Shopify costs $299 per month, with 2.4% + 30¢ per transaction. Amazon offers the option to sell on their platform, but you will need to sign up for an Amazon Professional Seller Plan, which cost $39.99/month. They require you to have a professional seller plan to use their API, which you'll need for the integration of the print on demand companies. You will also pay referral fees depending on the product category and listed retail price; they can be up to 15%. Amazon has strict seller regulations; so the setup and maintenance will be more time-consuming than with other integrations. I love Amazon; but not the best choice for the integrations of Print on Demand services. Wix has monthly options or paying annual at a discount. With the plans, you will receive a FREE domain (so don't buy it before). Once you choose your niche and name you will only search to see if it is available and then once you buy your website plan you can register and connect it. You can also build one logo and $300 ad credit for advertising.
Design your T-shirts (or other products) & Validate the Designs
You can either do this first then choose a niche or the other way around. Either way, it doesn't matter. But one factor to a successful and thriving online t-shirt venture is the design ideas of your shirts. This is where you use the artistic and creative skills that can help you create great designs. If you already have the ideas, then you are one step closer to your goal. But of course, don't limit yourself to your ideas alone. You can try other brand-related t-shirt designs and find out which ones can resonate well with your target market. There is a wide range of designs you can see online, so make sure to use them at your advantage.
Not everyone is gifted with creative hands. So if feel that your artistic skills are not enough to create outstanding designs, you can ask for help from professional artists. For sure, there are local t-shirt designers you can contact for their services. There are also online design platforms where you can use design templates or create mockup designs for your shirts. I like using Canva.com & Placeit.net since they provide free templates for trial designs. You can practice on them. They also offer other design services at reasonable prices.
After choosing your top t-shirt designs, don't print them just yet. Instead, ask someone or other persons to validate your creations. They may be able to see some errors or provide improvements, which you can apply to your future projects. But the comments or feedback should be free from bias, which means they should not come from people who know you.
Some of the best venues for validating your designs are online forums and discussion venues like Reddit. You can post your mockups for free. And the best part is that you won't only receive free professional consultations and opinions, but you also have the chance to get in touch with local artists or designers from around the world. Just make sure that you have watermarked your designs to prevent anyone from stealing them.
You have your t-shirts, and they are ready for printing. Now, keep in mind that a high-quality product is something that can last a long time. Taking that into consideration, one of the most important aspects of t-shirts is their prints. It is important that the t-shirt print doesn't crack or fade after washing a few times. You can prevent that from happening if you can check the print quality before the t-shirts are shipped to the customers. Unfortunately, that's going to cost you a fortune. What I recommend is to select a printing company with very good reviews. I usually go to Printful & Printify as my print-on-demand companies. They are tried and tested. They offer various printing techniques, and they have been servicing on various eCommerce websites such as Amazon, eBay Etsy, Shopify, among others. The good news is both of these top companies integrate with WIX. I have put the integration process below for both. Depending on your niche and products you will sell will determine if you choose to use Printful or Printify as pricing, shipping, products are different.
Connect WIX to Printful
OR Connect WIX to Printify
Build your presence...Establish your brand
It seems like everything is set. But hey! Not yet. There is one more thing left to do, and that is to build an online presence for your t-shirt business. You have to find the right platforms where you can easily sell your products. Think about your chosen niche. Ask yourself what online platforms your target market is most active on, then tap on those venues for your marketing campaigns.
You can start by tapping on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat where millions of users are active every day. Create an account for your online venture on each platform to connect with your audience and potential customers. Once you have those laid out, you are officially ready to start your online selling.
The importance of establishing your brand is to make people notice and remember you. It speaks of who you are and what your business is all about. It is also one thing that sets you apart from your competition. These are the reasons why you need to establish the right branding of your business. It's your unique identity. Aside from that, your brand is crucial to the success of your marketing campaigns.
To establish your business brand, think about how your target market views you. From there, you can build the tone of voice and style of your business. Oftentimes, the first thing that your customers see is your business logo and website, so you have to make sure that their designs give a good impression on your audience. When it comes to the tone of voice, carefully choose the logo's writing style as well as it's color and background design.
Product reviews are the opinions of customers after buying the product. Good reviews can increase sales growth, while bad reviews can result in a bad reputation. If your business has many product reviews, whether good or bad, people will believe that you're doing legit business. With that said, every time there is a successful sale, encourage the customer or customers to leave a product review.
Many people rely on reviews before buying the products because they don't want to be scammed, considering that it is an online business. They also want to know what other customers think about the items you are selling. If for instance, no customer has left any reviews or feedback, you can always ask your family and friends to write one. The important thing is to have product reviews to maintain the legitimacy of your business.
I have already mentioned the importance of social media presence as you start your online t-shirt business. However, you can also use these venues to help you sell your products and have stronger brand awareness. Most of these platforms can be accessed for free, so use them to your advantage. In addition to that, many potential customers give importance to the existence of social media in every business, so make sure that you have active accounts on every popular social networking platform.
That's not the only importance of social media presence in your online business. As a new online entrepreneur, you need to think of using them as more than just a marketing tool. You can utilize them to connect and engage with your target market. You can even participate in online forums, respond to their questions, follow product trends, get news updates, and gather news ideas for your business. But as you become active on social media, don't forget to be consistent on your brand and to your tone of voice. You will be recognized by your products and beliefs. Tell the story of your brand by engaging with your audience using social media platforms.
Reach out to Influencers & Create an email list
Sometimes, you can't do business alone. At some point, you need help from others. From the designs, suppliers, and printing, you need all the help you can get. And that goes the same with selling your products. Yes, you do have different social media sites, but it will be much more significant if real people are promoting your items. This is where social media influencers come into play.
Influencers can be your bridge to connect with new markets, which may have potential customers. They can also influence or encourage their followers who may be part of your target market to purchase your products. It is also easy to find influencers because they are everywhere, especially on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube.
But hey! Don't try to get the influencers with millions of followers because you will be obliged to pay them for their partnership. What you can do is to reach out to influencers who have 100 to 1000 followers but with a highly influential following. You offer them free t-shirts, and in return, you can ask them to post images of them wearing your products. It's a simple social proof, but it's powerful enough to increase brand awareness for your online t-shirt venture.
Another way to sell your t-shirts online is to create an email list of subscribers. This is what you call email marketing, and it is an effective way to gain a return on investment (ROI). This works if people who visit your website become subscribers. They are automatically included in your email list, and you will know that they are interested in your business if they verify their identities by clicking a confirmation link. These subscribers are likely to become customers who will buy your products once you send them your monthly offers, promos, and discounts. The email lists will also help get connected to your target market. To help you create an email list, I recommend that you use Mailchimp or Constant Contact. They can help you generate a comprehensive list for your email marketing campaigns.
Reach out to Influencers & Create an email list
An online t-shirt business is a good way to make money, but its success lies in the product's uniqueness and creativity. Many entrepreneurs have launched their respective t-shirt ventures, and they have remained in the industry because of their loyal customers and great online presence.
If you're a first-timer, the easiest way to stay in the competitive business is to create outstanding designs that you and your potential customers can relate to. You don't only get to know them, but they will also know you. Lastly, don't be discouraged if your first niche or idea doesn't take off; just try another idea. Trends change constantly; so your business needs to adjust with them.
Set Goals & Crush Them