How to Start a Successful Printed T-Shirt Online Business

Written by vanessa cross
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How to Start a Successful Printed T-Shirt Online Business
Designing Custom T-shirts for Online Sales (beautiful brunette against white background 7 image by Kevin Browne from

Starting a printed T-shirt business online is not a get rich quick endeavour. To drive traffic to a T-shirt website store and turn a browser into a customer requires infusing both financial and sweat equity into effective market research and marketing, as well as developing creative designs and delivering quality products and service. A passion for creating trendy T-shirt designs and an entrepreneurial drive is needed to build a web-based T-shirt design company into a successful going concern.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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  1. 1

    Create a business plan. The initial business plan should identify the target market for the T-shirt line and set out some initial business goals. Study the success of competing T-shirt lines. Identify their target market--age, demographics, etc. This will help the new business owner to begin identifying her niche market for new T-shirt designs. Also include business goals such as obtaining a certain number of daily visitors to the website/store or securing a certain number of daily T-shirt orders. Include business activities that can make that goal become a reality.

  2. 2

    Finance the business. Start-up financing for printing the initial T-shirts and designing the website often comes in the form of an equity injection from the business owner's personal finances. A small business loan from a family or friend may also be an option that provides a more favourable interest rate than a conventional bank loan.

  3. 3

    Develop T-shirt ideas. The right design or catchy phrase on a T-shirt makes all the difference. Integrate knowledge about the target market's interests in developing T-shirt design ideas. To create an identifiable brand, however, requires developing a unique style within a T-shirt clothing line. This could include creating a unique logo or character or funny sayings with a designer's T-shirt collection.

  4. 4

    Find a printer and decide on the initial print quantity. Request price quotes from local printers that include various quantities. Generally, the more you buy, the better price you receive. Also, check with online screen-printing companies that process small and large orders. This includes such printing companies as PrintMojo and BlueCotton. Start with a market test run of a couple dozen T-shirts. If these sell well, increase design inventory to 100, 250, 500, or 1,000 for better wholesale prices.

  5. 5

    Establish a workspace for the T-shirt business. As an online business, the workshop can be home-based. This will include space for drafting table, computer, and space for professionally folding and warehousing T-shirts in preparation for shipping.

  6. 6

    Set up an online website for the business. Hire a professional website designer/administrator to insure the website has a professional look and secure functionality. This will include the ability of the website to process credit card orders securely.

  7. 7

    Consider third-party outsourcing. Outsourcing options for this business includes printing T-shirts, website hosting, and drop-shipping. This involves paying the printer or fulfilment company to process each order. Fulfilment costs will include warehousing, processing, and shipping. Remember, this will not only reduce profits, but control over customer information and contact.

  8. 8

    Market the T-shirts. To compete with the huge number of T-shirt websites, consult with an experienced online writer to create website copy that will increase search engine optimisation (SEO) for the website/store. Also, develop targeted e-mail marketing efforts and register with T-shirt ranking sites such as T-shirt Links to direct potential customers to the website. Lastly, do not forget offline advertising, press releases, and professional business cards for the business.

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