How to Start a Profitable T-Shirt Business

Technology and low startup costs are advantages to entrepreneurs

Startups
(Image: iStock.com/Susan Chiang)

T-shirts are contemporary wardrobe staples for men, women, and children today. Building an online T-shirt business can be profitable with relatively low startup costs. If you’re looking to become an entrepreneur, this may be an effective way to add an additional income stream in the next 30-60 days.

Know Your Audience

Who’s your target audience? Churches? Fraternities? Moms? Teams? Companies? Before you launch a business, the first step is always identifying a hungry audience. Otherwise, you may end up with boxes of T-shirts in your garage.

Choose the Right Business Model

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to start a T-shirt business you needed a bulky and expensive printing press and tons of inventory. Today, you don’t even have to “touch” your T-shirts. That’s because companies such as Teespring.com, Zazzle.com and CafePress.com give you the chance to open what’s known as a print on demand (POD) T-shirt shop. This means you create the designs, upload them to their websites, and they’ll handle everything else including printing, shipping, and even returns.

What’s Your Design Strategy?

Design is another critical component. Will you be a slogan-based T-shirt company or a true design or artwork-centric company? You’ll need to find graphics and slogans that reflect the personality of the buyer and your target audience. Creating designs unique to your audience’s needs will make a lasting and successful business. You can even get creative by launching contests where you ask your audience to choose the shirt they want to buy.

Using a POD setup means less startup capital for you and potentially faster profits. Here’s a look at what you’ll need to jump-start your new T-shirt company.

Company Name (free)

Logo (free – $100)

Designs ($5 – $20 per design at Fiverr.com)

Domain Name ($10/year unless you use POD shop)

Website hosting ($5/month unless you use a free website service)

Email provider (free to $10/month)

Traffic to your website (free if you use only social media or $5/day with social ads)

TOTAL POTENTIAL STARTUP EXPENSES: $20

How many businesses can you start with $20? Not many.

Yet, every successful entrepreneur knows that great ideas are a dime a dozen. Where many would-be business owners fail is in the marketing of their ideas. For T-shirts, sites like Etsy or even Pinterest and Instagram are terrific marketing avenues for great T-shirt designs.

The process is two-fold however, with the highly competitive nature of the T-shirt industry. It’s supremely important that you brand yourself. And remember, before you put your “T-shirts For Sale” sign in your virtual yard, finding the right niche could make or break your business.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to launch a T-shirt business with little to no startup capital, check out Teespring Profits course.

Fran Harris is a business explosion expert, CEO of a digital marketing agency, and founder & CEO of Black Business University, the world’s first online course marketplace for black entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies, featuring hundreds of on-demand courses to help you grow your business.



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