How to Make Money Selling T-Shirts Online
You’re scrolling through your social media accounts, and suddenly something catches your eye. This can be a cute dog video, a quote from a famous person, or a beautiful piece of clothing. This is how easy you can be distracted on the Internet.
Yet, more often than not, a good product leaves an impact in your mind that you’d end up searching for it again. Well, why not turn the tables around? What if you can create that one product and make money out of it?
Given all the advantages of online selling, launching an online business is easier than ever. All you need is the right product. A recent survey shows that among the six best-selling products on the Internet, fashion ranked number one. If you’re not yet sure your way around fashion, then why not start with selling t-shirts? They’re comfortable, cheap, and, most of all, they can be worn by anyone.
Before going there, however, let’s learn the basics. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to make money selling T-shirts online.
What are T-shirts?
I know you’ve probably seen a t-shirt before, but just so we’re on the same page, let’s define it. T-shirts are pieces of clothing named after the T shape of its form. It’s usually made from a light, stretchy fabric that is easy to wear.
There are many variations on t-shirts. Some vary on their neckline, their material, and other recent innovations. These variations led to several trends that made a t-shirt selling profitable. At the end of the day, whether it’s short sleeve, long sleeve, cropped, v-neck, cotton or cashmere (a cashmere T-shirt, now that sounds great), the opportunity to cash-in is there.
Why are T-shirts Sellable?
T-shirts are a staple.
Let’s admit it. You can wear T-shirts anytime, anywhere. Whether it’s for a stroll in the mall or a quick trip to the marketplace, a good t-shirt has got you covered. It’s a staple – a basic necessity in your closet.
T-shirts are comfortable.
For some, this can be a huge understatement. People wear t-shirts inside and outside of their homes because they are comfortable wearing them. In fact, this may be one of the top reasons why t-shirts became sellable in the first place. You just slip it on, and you’re good to go. Manufacturers also make it a point to use fabrics that feel comfortable to wear. You can also bet on it that everyone has that one t-shirt they’d always go back to after a long day.
T-shirts never go out of style; it goes with it.
Anyone can wear t-shirts. Regardless of age and gender, t-shirts are for everyone. You can use it to style with your favorite pair of jeans, and they can match any sneakers too. What’s great in the fashion industry is that you are always free to experiment. So go ahead, try mixing and pairing it with your favorite articles of clothing. T-shirts are versatile. At the same time, people are also looking at designer T-shirts. It’s become a staple, but it can also be used as an upgrade in your outfit. Some people actually wear t-shirts because it is already a great fashion statement.
T-shirts are cheap.
Let’s admit it. If you are lucky, you can score a brand new t-shirt for a dollar. You can have them free if you are luckier. If you opt for some expensive brands, a t-shirt could be one of your cheapest finds in their collection.
Note as well that t-shirt prices may vary depending on how it was produced. You can consider looking at the fabric, the technique in printing the design, and even the design itself. A good design can always turn people’s heads, so make sure to invest in the right one.
How to Make Money Sell T-Shirts Online?
People can make it big in t-shirt selling. Just take, for example, Benny Hsu and Glen Zubia, who made hundreds of dollars from their t-shirt business. At 32, they made $120,000 within five months of their operation.
With the right tools and strategy, you can also be like them. Where do you start? Is it really feasible? These may be some of the questions that would pop in your head. Selling t-shirts is profitable.
With the surge of Internet usage, the web opened different avenues for people to transact easier. Vendor-customer relationships are now simpler, and opening your own business can now be at your own reach as well.
Now that you have a better understanding of t-shirts and its advantages, here are the ways to make money by selling T-shirts online:
1. Know your Target Market
In the business world, this is called a ‘niche.’ Basically, it is your specialized market. People who you think would want to buy your t-shirts. Knowing your niche is the most crucial part of starting a business. You need to have a market.
Having a target niche creates a focus on your business activities. Proper attention to your business will guarantee you to stand out among your competitors. Make sure to research their preferences.
You need to listen to your customers to be able to narrow down your niche. It is easy to say that you want to have a t-shirt line that has catchy quotes and cute graphics printed on it. However, that idea is still broad. There are already several businesses that do that. To narrow it down, you can say that you will sell t-shirts that have cute animal graphics targeting pet-owners and animal-lovers alike.
Finding a hard time in determining your niche? These steps can help you:
- Research. The internet will give you an endless inspiration to narrow down your niche. While you’re at it, visit established online shops and observe their sales data and profile engagements.
- Use your social media account. Even with your mobile phone, you can create polls and surveys that can give you insights into business projections. This will let you know what your friends and acquaintances want.
- Know what you want. Why not consider yourself as a customer? What would you like to have? Know your interest and start from there. You will never know the idea you’ll come up with.
2. Choose the Right Materials
The risk of non-returning clients for an online t-shirt shop is high. You don’t want bad publicity for your business. Prevent online reviews that say, “Design fades after one wash” or “T-shirt became smaller after one wash.” Remember, you are aiming at five stars, not one. For a starting business, your reviews are your capital. Make sure to invest in your first production if you want to stay for a long time in the industry.
To help you, here are some of the most used materials for t-shirt production.
Sturdy and soft, this is cotton’s description that makes it perfect for T-shirts. It is also affordable, which makes it cost-efficient. However, you might need to take note that it wrinkles easily.
A material made from the Flax plant, linen is also used in t-shirt production. Textured weave linen is more breathable and lightweight, making it more suitable for summer. It gets stronger when damp and softer after every wash. One downside of linen is that it wrinkles easily – even more than cotton.
Popular in the 70s as it is powerful, polyester dries quickly and cannot mold. That means lesser washing and sturdier fabric. By sturdy, it means that it retains its shape even after repetitive wash. It does not shrink, and it does not stretch. This is good news for people who are lazy to iron their shirts.
3. Determine your Design
It should be love at first sight. Online buyers are visual buyers. If they like what they see, there’s a high probability that they’ll buy it. Your designs don’t have to be complicated. In fact, most of the sellable designs on t-shirts have minimal prints. This line of design can be attributed to minimalism and how a lot of people nowadays, especially young ones, prefer simple designs that can outgrow trends. Less is more, as they say.
Yet no matter what design you decide, you just have to make sure it’s impactful enough that it will leave a mark on your buyers’ minds. They’ll be pondering on it so much that they would end up buying it just to satisfy themselves.
There are many ways to create designs for your shirt.
With a lot of graphic design and illustrator software available on the Internet today, creating your own t-shirt design can now be possible. Try using Adobe Photoshop or even Canva to start your creative process.
Hire a Designer
If you can’t trust the designer in you, then maybe hiring one would suit your liking. You can visit designing communities like Behance and Dribble. You can also hire a graphic design freelancer to do the job for you. Just make sure to communicate your ideas well so that the designs match the mental image in your head.
4. Hype your Merch
Never underestimate the power of social media. You can test the waters of your business without investing cash yet. Post your t-shirt designs and let the netizens judge your merchandise. In this way, you can have an insight into how your business will perform in sales.
What should you do? Make value posts. Let the customers see the t-shirt designs and their mock-up versions. In this way, you can already pick up some feedback that can guide you in fine-tuning your products before the official launch.
5. Produce your Brand
This is it! Once you start production, you are almost there. Now that you have chosen your market, your materials, and design, you can now focus on producing the actual shirts.
Don’t forget about how you’ll print the graphic design unto the t-shirt. In terms of printing machines, you can buy one for yourself or involve a third party. If you choose the latter, you can rely on printing companies that can produce large batches with state-of-the-art equipment. At the end of the day, the decision still falls in your hand.
Several techniques can allow you to print on a t-shirt. Here are some of them:
A method that has been around for a long time, screen printing has been proven to create results that are of good quality. Its advantage involves its cost-effectivity, especially for bulk printing in large batches. However, it’s a downside that it does not perform well when the print requires four or more colors. If you have simple designs to sell, then try this one.
This is one of the most popular ways to print recently. In fact, it’s so popular that you can even distinguish a design that was heat transferred if you’ve already seen one.
The heat transfer technique offers up-to-date designs right out from the computer and straight onto the t-shirt by ironing it. However, its products are of lower quality compared to screen printing.
You read that right, direct-to-garment. Imagine using a printer, but instead of paper, you put a t-shirt to print on. DTG products have a high quality printed designs with unlimited color options. However, it’s not cost-efficient for large productions.
5. Set up your Online Store
After preparing everything, you are now ready to set-up your store. As a startup, you might want to consider starting small. Why not start it in your own social media account then?
In the digital age, you should maximize the advantage of social selling. It’s easy to set up, launch, and track the performance of your brand online. But which platform should you choose? Facebook? Instagram? A whole website? It’s easy to say all of the above, but you need to start somewhere. Properly evaluate the best platform where you think you can grow more.
Facebook is the biggest social media platform on the web today. With 2.32 billion active users in a month, how can you not sell, right? Anyone if not everyone is on Facebook. If you have a brand and you’re just starting your business, Facebook is the easiest way to attract your niche. You can set up a Facebook Business Page to redirect all your operations online.
If you decide on Facebook, consider the following rules:
- You must agree to Facebook’s Merchant Terms.
- Linking of the Facebook shop to a valid bank account is a must.
- Providing a tax ID number is a necessity.
- Remember that you’re selling t-shirts. Make sure to showcase actual photos of your own brand.
An image and video sharing platform, Instagram has over a billion active users. It has the highest audience engagement rate among all the social media platforms, beating Facebook by 58 times, and Twitter by 2000% in terms of engagement. If you are not considering Instagram as the perfect venue for your business and your brand, then read some more.
Instagram has a variety of ways for you to market your brand. You can share short snippets using Instagram Stories, do a review of your products on Instagram Live, and even share a promotional video of your products via IGTV and Instagram Ads.
People are also fond of seeing an aesthetically-pleasing feed, so kick up your design skills and apply them in planning your IG feed too. On Instagram, your feed functions as a catalog of your brand. Make sure to present your brand identity and be consistent.
6. Increase your Reach
Now that you’ve set up the basics, you need to create a demand for your products. Facebook and Instagram have billions of users worldwide. Although that sounds promising, it’s also a double-edged sword. How can you make your brand be heard more amid the competition present?
People are always vying for what’s in right now. You need to create noise for your brand. This is actually easy to do. There are many big companies today that started because of a buzz. You can be one of them.
If you want to start small, then why not talk to your closest friends and family? You can let them borrow some of the first shirts you designed and make them wear it. At the same time, take photos of them so that you can have preliminary “models” to wear your brand.
Let them share your shirts in their own networks. If your design’s outstanding, you’ll probably end up with orders sooner or later. Remember, six degrees of separation. Who knows, your cousin’s network may include famous people who might take notice of your brand then you’ll land yourself a shot for a captive audience.
Selling T-shirts may seem like a simple task. However, it requires a standard process and a lot of hard work if you really want to make money out of it.
These are just some of the steps to kickstart your own t-shirt business. As a business owner, you need to commit to your company and never settle. There are infinite avenues where you can expand your business. Search for more opportunities for growth, go out of the box, take inspiration from anything. Lastly, don’t just make money, enjoy every part of learning and earning.
Check out Liudas Butkus’ How To Start Your T-shirt Selling Business to begin this new endeavor.