Whether you have a t-shirt business, or want to start one, you need to be aware of these 10 things.
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Are you longing to start a t-shirt business, but unsure about whether you are totally ready to start?
Are you on the verge of launching your business, but scared you’ll meet obstacles along the way that you aren’t capable of handling?
As with anything in life, you need to prepare well to avoid mistakes, and put yourself on the right path for success.
The same applies to opening your first ever t-shirt business!
That’s why this article will share with you 10 things to do before you open your t-shirt business
1) Research and choose one niche market.
The first step in starting a t-shirt business is knowing the niche you’re appealing to.
The term “niche” refers to a sub-market or category your products appeals to.
A niche can be based around a specific animal like dogs or cats. It can be based around a profession like nurses, doctors or photographers. Or it can be based around something fun and fanatic, like socks or phone cases.
But there’s one thing all niches have in common: they are things people are passionate about. And this is what makes them so profitable.
People buy what they love, and love what they buy. And that is why building your t-shirt business around one niche is the most recommended path to quick and sustainable sales.
When you focus on serving one market, you can build a profitable customer base, and gain the chance to grow a real, long term brand. This helps you understand how customers behave on a deeper level, enabling you to optimize your store around them, and create a powerful shopping experience.
The result? You win over the trust of prospects, earn more sales and boost conversion rates!
Another benefit of building a niche store is that you can gain repeat customers. Remarketing through email, upsells and cross sales opens a floodgate to repeat sales. And the best part is that it doesn’t cost you a penny to earn these sales, which means big profits and low expenses.
This applies a lot to a t-shirt business. Why? Because you aren’t limited to how many designs you create. You (or the designer you end up hiring) are unlimited in your options to create new t-shirt designs.
This benefit makes it easier to upsell and cross-sell to customers to gain extra sales and widen your profit margins.
2) Consider opening a general store on a third party platform.
So a niche store is what we recommended you should build your t-shirt business around.
But this doesn’t rule out the fact that general stores can be just as effective on third party platforms.
It’s because these types of marketplaces already appeal to a general audience. They each sell a range of products in different categories. And each product is targeted towards a different type of audience.
The major benefit here is that you’re placing your items for sale on an already well-known general store. Their huge customer base automatically puts your products in front of millions of regular buyers.
And unlike the tip above, this advantage removes the need to build a brand on a third-party platform.
3) Add simple text-based t-shirts as upsells and cross-sells.
If you aren’t the best designer, then you’ll be glad to hear this: You don’t need the best design to make the most sales.
And like the example below, even the simplest text-based t-shirts can be wildly profitable.
Best of all, simple t-shirts are easier than ever to create with tools like Canva.
This is a free illustration with many useful and creative features. But for text-based images, it’s only black font and a white background you’ll be needing to create your next design!
The real advantage of text-based designs lies in the ability to upsell and cross sell them in your online store.
While not the most eye-catching for a Facebook ad, they sell more effectively to customers who are in buyer mode.
Which is also why these designs convert better with customers who found your online store either through other products you sell or search engines (e.g. Google).
4) Check what t-shirts you are selling to your customers.
Beyond the t-shirt design, customers want a comfortable fit.
Some prefer a tight fit; others prefer a tight slack. Whichever the option, it’s your responsibility to provide high-quality clothing that are up to standards.
The first step here is deciding on what t-shirt quality you’d like to sell. T-shirts vary in quality which determines how they are priced.
The general trend for most POD providers is that cheaper shirts are lower in quality. In the snapshot below of Printify’s product range, you can see two t-shirts priced differently, based on their level of quality.
It’s important to be educated about the quality of your t-shirt brand. This way, you can ensure customers receive a t-shirts that fits comfortably, and well fabricated.
So, how can you decide which t-shirt is right for you?
5) Use Jiffy t-shirts to research reviews for different styles of t-shirts.
The best method for deciding on a t-shirt to sell is to look at reviews.
But when it comes to the quality of a t-shirt, you’ll find there are little to no reviews on platforms, such as Printify or Printful.
So with a number of reviews to analyse, it’s hard to decide on which t-shirts to sell or avoid.
The solution? Use Jiffy Shirts. This is a trustworthy website that shares a number of credible reviews on the quality of a t-shirt brand.
Jiffy simplifies your job to find reviews, helping you cut time on the research process.
This will allow you to make solid decisions backed by credible research. And draw more accurate conclusions about a t-shirt brand you plan to sell. Easy!
“What if I’m just starting out?”
If you’re just starting out, then it’s okay to use low cost t-shirts to keep expenses low. Take this as future advice for when your store has grown.
Because as your brand grows, customers demand more from you. More in terms of products, quality and effort.
Meeting this demand requires you to invest more time and energy into higher quality tees (with softer cotton).
Two well-known brands that balance cost with quality are ‘Bella Canvas’ and ‘Anvil.’ Both are usually available on the majority of Print on Demand websites, including Printify and Printful.
6) Avoid refunds by selling t-shirts that ‘don’t run small.’
When it comes to a Print on Demand business, or any other online business, keeping customers happy is first priority.
So when deciding on a t-shirt style to sell, avoid t-shirts that are described to ‘run smaller than usual.’
Why? Because usually, there are differences in size as you scale up size. So when someone who normally wears a large t-shirt tries this and it doesn’t fit, they go “That’s weird. Guess something is wrong with my t-shirt. Guess I’ll need a refund!”
And even if they didn’t assume this, but normally wear large t-shirts, you still risk offending the customer. And it’s unlikely they’ll return again.
7) Beware that not all Print on Demand providers do large prints.
If you want to create a full print design that occupies most of the space on a t-shirt, then here’s something to keep in mind: Not all Print on Demand providers do large prints. So take care in deciding which supplier to work with, and check to see whether they meet all of your needs before you place an order.
8) Pick product mock-ups to increase conversions.
Pictures are a biggy when selling t-shirts to customers.
In fact, customers account pictures as the number one factor when it comes to making a decision on whether to buy a product or not.
So if you want viral ads that turn into big profits, the key is to grab your audience’s attention with eye-catching, thumb stopping product images — featuring real models.
You might be wondering “But what if it you can’t afford to hire models?” And this is where Placeit comes in!
How does Placeit work? Well, this nifty tool places your personal designs on pre-made model mock-ups, that are designed to create product images that are unique and realistic.
Best of all, you can market these same high-converting images for your paid ad promotions. The result is more engagement, higher conversions and bigger profits!
When choosing which mock-ups to use in your store, keep in mind that if you are selling a t-shirt that features a small print (or can only print onto a small area of your t-shirt), it can look a little awkward.
The problem here is that this diminishes the value of the design. The final result being not-so-appealing.
As always, we’ve got you covered with a simple yet super alternative: Crumpled mock-ups!
These are eye-catching mock-ups that catch the real beauty of a design. They work by diverting focus away from the excess fabric, towards the central design, creating a more eye-popping image.
9) Choose a t-shirt printing company that offers services you need.
There are Print on Demand providers that offer different services.
Some providers only offer the option to print on the back and front of a t-shirt. While others offer extra services, such as printing on sleeves, or custom labelling.
As a beginner, these extra options aren’t necessary. But if want to take your t-shirt business to new heights, then you’ll want to ensure these extra services are available with the supplier you use.
10) Check that your niche isn’t going to die.
If you want to avoid any unexpected, costly surprises down the road, never build a t-shirt business in a niche that will soon die. This is crucial if you want to keep earning profits for the long-term, and a “no-brainer” for keeping any business afloat.
How do you check this?
One of the best ways is to use Google Trends. This tool shows you how much search interest a keyword has received on Google.
You can see where interest rises and dips, helping you detect upward or downward trends, so it’s easier to see how popular your niche is.
Using Google Trends is also effective for checking whether a niche or product is seasonal.
The bottom line
Starting a t-shirt business sure isn’t easy. But these ten tips will help fast-track the process to Print on Demand success.