Starting your very own t-shirt business is an exciting opportunity. Not only do you get the chance to be your own boss, set your hours, and run your company, but you get to display your creativity on the world stage. You can share your message, your artwork, and your individuality with the world.
So how do you go from 0 to 60 and start your own business? Read on for all the steps you’ll need to take.
Find Your Forte
The t-shirt business can be fierce. There’s plenty of competition vying for people’s attention. The best t-shirt businesses offer a product that is special, unique and something that can’t be found elsewhere.
The type of t-shirt you decide to produce will go a long way in making your business unique and special. It’s important that you don’t copy someone else’s idea but make your own truly unique creation.
Deciding on your forte, your unique niche is the first step in starting your t-shirt printing business. Your niche can be anything that makes your designs “you.”
Is your thing pop culture? Then make t-shirts loaded with amazing graphics that represent the latest in Millennial and Gen Z trends.
Do you love children and all thing kids? Create designs that resonate with the younger population and market your creations to their parents.
Love #momlife? Make t-shirts that grab ahold of the life moms love to live.
No matter what you decide to make your creation, make sure it’s unique, 100% you, and something you’ll enjoy putting out into the world. Look around and make sure your idea isn’t being done already.
T-shirts with quotes and mountain scenes are numerous, as are t-shirts with common catchphrases. Find a unique concept and you’ll find that your business grows as a result.
Make a Few Designs
After you’ve figured out what niche you want your t-shirt designs to fill, the next step is to start sketching out designs.
There are numerous programs online that give you the option of sketching out your design and uploading it onto a variety of t-shirt styles. You’ll be able to see what your designs look like in real-time.
You have the vision but lack the skill or talent to create your design, you’re not without help. Many t-shirt businesses get help from artists who can take their vision and bring it to life.
Should you have a friend or family member with some skill, enlist their help. Otherwise, seek the help of freelance professionals on Upwork or Fiverr. These sites have dozens of talented artists who work within a wide range of budgets.
Test Out Your Concept
Once you have your designs in hand, it’s time to test out your concept. Show the design concepts you’ve created to friends and family. Ask for their honest opinion about what they do and do not like.
This is the time when it’s best to find out if there are issues with your ideas. Let your friends and family help you adjust until you have a product that’s ready to market to strangers.
If you prefer more unbiased feedback, watermark your image and post it to online discussion forums like Facebook Groups or Reddit. This will help you gain feedback from complete strangers and help you further test the market for your concept.
Find a Supplier
Once you have working designs ready to print, you’ll need to figure out the nuts and bolts of your business. This includes finding a supplier for your t-shirts. T-shirt businesses live or die based on the t-shirt itself, in addition to the design.
Find a supplier that offers high-quality, soft material in both men’s and women’s cuts. These types of shirts will appeal to the widest audience possible. Decide whether you want your supplier to stock you with long sleeve in addition to the standard short sleeve variety.
Figure Out Your Business Model
This next part will take some thought.
You can run the entire thing, printing to shipping, or you can contract with a company to do part or all of the process for you. What you choose depends on how much time, overhead, and investment you have available to put into your business.
Doing it all yourself may sound fun, but if you’re short on time and hope to fulfill numerous orders, you won’t have time to wait around all day for a printer to finish one shirt at a time. For you, the best thing might be to use a company that can print them for you, and you can ship them.
If you’re really pressed for time, and you’re running your business strictly as a side hustle, you might even consider using a drop-ship method for shipping out your shirts in addition to using a printer to print them.
Choose a Printing Type
There are four types of printing available for t-shirt businesses. Choose the option that works best for your designs to produce top quality products.
Dye Sublimation: This printing process infuses your design into the fibers of the t-shirt for a lifetime of wear without fading. It works best with white or light-colored shirts.
Direct-to-Garment: This uses an inkjet printer to apply ink onto your t-shirts, one by one. This is best for small-batch orders and highly detailed designs.
Screen Printing: This method uses stencils and screens to apply ink onto shirts. It’s best for bulk orders and designs that are dark or require vibrancy with five or fewer colors.
Heat Transfer: This is a quick method of transferring an image onto t-shirts with the use of a heated press. It’s fast and simple, but transfers are known to crack, fade, and wear over time.
Start Selling Your Shirts
Once you’ve nailed your designs and concepts, found a top-quality supplier, decided on a business model, and have chosen your printing method, you are officially ready to start selling your t-shirts.
Set up a website, use social media, and promote your shirts by word of mouth to expand your marketing reach as far as possible. The sky is the limit when you plan well. Now go forth and sell those t-shirts!