How to start a T-shirt business online

The first step in starting a T-shirt company is to choose a niche and create unique designs that will set you apart from your competitors. It is important to choose a production method and a sales platform. You also need to market your business. If you are successful, you can sell T-shirts online for an average profit of $8 per shirt.

In just five easy steps, you can start your own T-shirt company online.

1. 1.

To have a successful T-shirt company, it is crucial to find a niche. T-shirts are very similar by nature. It’s difficult to make a product that stands apart. This is what you need to do to get shoppers to choose your store over more established brands. The T-shirt market is saturated. It is important to have a clear idea of how your product should look, who it will be sold to, and why.

The Horse Junkie is a niche T-shirt brand, targeting people who love horses.

2. Make Eye-catching Designs

No matter what you do with your T-shirts sales, attractive designs are essential. Your products will stand out from the rest by having eye-catching designs. It’s a good idea to pick a theme or an image for your brand during the design process. This could include a logo, fonts or color scheme. Anything that can help your business be easily identified.

Your designs must be eye-catching and original. Many T-shirts are popular because they feature quotes and characters. However, this doesn’t mean that they are not allowed to be used. Disney is particularly strict about outside companies using their trademarks or characters. These elements are very popular among customers, but they can also get you in serious trouble if you don’t have permission.

These are some of the cheapest ways to create original designs:

  • Hire a freelance graphic designer: If your artistic skills are lacking or you don’t know where to begin, you might consider hiring a skilled freelancer. Sites such as Fiverr or Upwork can help you find experienced designers for your individual projects.
  • Download a free mockup generator:Tools such as Placeit allow you to upload your designs onto real photos, allowing you to take product lifestyle shots. You can also mock up basic designs with Printful.
  • Crowdsourcing ideas: Ask your followers on social media what designs they are most interested in. You’ll get great feedback and you can be sure that your final T-shirt will be a huge hit.
  • Get in touch with a wholesaler. Many wholesalers who offer custom printing have their own graphic teams, which can help you design your designs.

 “Be original and don’t copy other’s designs. Many T-shirt designs are protected by federal copyright, so new T-shirt sellers believe they can print the same design without any problems. This is not true. Designing T-shirts takes a lot of work. It’s more than just finding popular designs to reprint. It’s necessary to design your own designs, and ensure that they don’t infringe on any trademark or copyright.

– Andrea Sager, Owner, Andrea Sager Law PLLC

3. Select the type of T-shirt business you want

You have many options for selling T-shirts online and offline. You can sell T-shirts online right away with no upfront costs using a website like SunFrog . This site allows you to create designs and earn profits each time a design is sold on their site. You can also start your own T-shirt business if you want to build a complete empire.

Learn more: 

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There are many types of online T-shirt businesses

Sell Via Best for
T-shirt Sales Site Individuals who are looking to make passive income from low-maintenance businesses
Ecommerce site People who want to create a brand shopping experience that can expand.
Personal Blog Established bloggers & influencers

T-shirt Sales Sites

Online platforms for selling T-shirts include those that allow users to create their own designs and then sell them on the site. Shoppers can choose from any combination of T-shirt designs. The site creates the product and fulfills the order once the order has been placed. Each time a design is sold, the T-shirt designer collects a commission.

This is what your product page will look like once it’s live on Teespring.

These sites are numerous and each one is different in terms of what they require and how much designers can get paid. Some sites are more of a crowdfunding platform and will only make your designs after a certain amount of pre-orders have been made. Others will host your designs on their site for as long as they are needed, without any minimum order requirements.

Popular T-shirt sales sites include:

There are many steps that you can skip if you sell through these sites. There are no upfront fees, including handling in-house or outsourced manufacturing, shipping, and even navigating ecommerce platforms. It’s easy to simplify your life and get on with marketing your business.

 “Print-on-demand merchandise is a great way to start your T-shirt business. This service allows you to select from a variety of T-shirts and other apparel, and then add your designs to your online store. You can now spend more time marketing and trying out different ideas and designs without having to order large quantities. Although the margin of profit will be smaller, once you have developed your strategy and tested designs, it is easy to migrate your business model to bulk order designs.

– David Alexander, Designer, Developer & Digital Marketer, Maze Press

Branded Ecommerce Websites

It is easy to create an ecommerce website using a platform such as Shopifysquarespace or square. This allows you to sell T-shirts online, while also having greater control over marketing and the sales process than a sales site. Shopify is the best choice for a basic ecommerce site. There are many free ecommerce websites and other subscription-based ecommerce solutions.







Selling T-shirts online with a branded Ecommerce site is a good idea.

Although sales websites are great for passive income, there are limitations in the products you can sell, how they are presented, what packaging is used, and the materials. Building your own website can be a great option if you want more control over your products and a wider range of products. It does require personal investment of time and money.

The pros and cons of creating a website

There are many benefits to building your own ecommerce website:

  • More control: Unlike T-shirt sales websites, you can personalize your products down to their last detail. You have full control over pricing, product descriptions, and photos.
  • Increase your sales margins. T-shirt selling sites produce and ship your product at a higher percentage. Although there’s less work involved, the potential profits are smaller as you receive a smaller percentage of each sale.
  • Increase product lines: Having an ecommerce website means that you don’t have to limit yourself to T-shirts. Anything is possible to sell.
  • Multiple sales channels It’s not enough to sell on your website. You can also sell via social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, or even local markets.

 “To launch a successful T-shirt company, you will need to advertise and sell on multiple channels including your site, marketplaces, and social networks. It is essential that you choose a management system as your central hub for products and processes. This should also be extensible and have existing plugins or apps to integrate with other platforms and social media sites. Take a look at the different platforms, including Shopify, Magento and BigCommerce. Then make your decision and don’t hesitate to take action.

Bob Herman, co-founder and COO of

Cons of creating a website

There are some disadvantages to building your own ecommerce website:

  • Higher costs: Managing your site requires an ecommerce platform. This software allows you to purchase a domain, source your products, manage shipping and fulfillment, and pay any advertising fees.
  • More time commitment: You’ll be responsible to fulfill all orders, update your site, provide customer service and manage your finances.
  • More responsibility. Customers expect you to deliver on your promises. They will buy products from you in a timely fashion and receive friendly, responsive customer support if they have questions.

It is easy to create a custom ecommerce website for selling your T-shirts. Shopify offers a simple-to-use website building tool, as well as tons of plugins that can help you source, ship, or create products. Shopify allows you to expand your social media sales and even sell products in person using their mobile point of sale (POS) app. Shopify offers everything you need to launch an online T-shirt shop at an affordable price. Shopify is the best place to start.








A personal blog allows you to sell T-shirts

You can sell T-shirts online if you have a website and a large following on social media. There are many ways to make money online selling T-shirts, no matter what subject you write about. Online T-shirt sellers who are most successful cater to a particular niche. A blog with a catchphrase, name or other specific information makes for a unique and fun T-shirt design.

It all depends on the website builder that you use. Bigcommerce offers a WordPress integration that makes it easy to add ecommerce to your site. BigCommerce hosts your order management, catalog and payment processing. To get started, visit BigCommerce.

Go to Bigcommerce

Manage your blog on WordPress and let BigCommerce host the rest.

Affiliate Marketing – Sell T-shirts Online

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money from your social media followers. Although there are many affiliate platforms, if you have a large following on social media, it is easier to make money through an affiliate program with a high-quality online brand. You have brand recognition through direct affiliate programs. These programs offer a lot of flexibility and are often free to join.

Amazon’s Influencer Program is a popular program. This is what you see if you ever see someone posting a link to their Amazon Store on social media. You simply pick the products that you like (in this instance, your favorite T-shirts), and add them to your Amazon Store. Then, you earn money with qualified purchases.

Apparel can earn as much as 7% commission. This is not a 50% markup on retail, but it’s still a good idea to add an Amazon link in your social bio.

4. Select a production method

Once you have your idea and sales channels sorted out, it’s time to decide on a production method. There are three options: you can make your T-shirts from blanks and then screen print them yourself, or you can buy a lot of T-shirts premade by a manufacturer or wholesaler. Or you can use a service that prints and ships custom T-shirts as soon as you order.

Each method of production has its pros and cons. Although printing the T-shirts yourself is the most profitable way to make them, it can be labor-intensive. Pre-made T-shirts from a wholesaler or manufacturer will give you a slightly lower margin, but also increase the chance of running out of products. You are responsible for shipping orders with either of these options. While print-on-demand is the most expensive option but require minimal action once they are properly configured, these services are very easy to use.

In-house Production

Screen printing is the best way to create your custom T-shirts on a large scale. A screen printing technique uses a mesh screen to transfer ink onto a surface, such as T-shirts. Because it is vibrant and multicolored, screen printing is a preferred method. It also allows for high-quality results.

Semi-professional screen printing presses can cost several thousand of dollars. It is definitely an investment. If you’re serious about printing your own designs however, it will give you the best sales markup. Plus, you have the ability to expand your product line, modify designs and even create custom orders by owning your equipment.

You will also need a screen printing presskit with ink and stencils. Next, you’ll need T-shirts. You can save a lot by buying in bulk as you won’t have to buy blanks. To get the best prices, source from a manufacturer or wholesaler.

Next, you will need to set up a shipping process. You will need to buy shipping supplies and select a shipping company if you want to start an online T-shirt shop. Fulfillment companies such as ShipBob make ordering shirts easy. They will pack your shirts and ship them at the best price. You can even have ready-made shirts stored in the warehouse so that you can concentrate on designing and printing your shirt. ShipBob is a place to find a representative.

Go to ShipBob

You will need space to produce your custom T-shirts. It will be necessary to have space for your printer and drying area. You will also need an area to pack and ship orders. Before you start thinking about your space and any potential roommates, think carefully about what you have available.

Screen printing is more expensive than heat transfer, especially in terms of upfront costs. The product’s quality and durability are not as good as screen printing. It’s better to spend on a higher-quality printing process if you want to build a brand.








Print-on-Demand Services

Print-on-demand services are the same as selling designs on a Tshirt sales website. Print-on-demand services let you sell your designs through your own website. You can keep your branding intact and appear like a small, self-contained business.

These businesses use a technique known as drop shipping. The retailer will pass customer orders to their supplier who fulfills the order. Drop-ship and print on-demand suppliers often brand orders under the retailer so that customers don’t know they aren’t getting their product directly from them.

Print-on-demand is a popular option for T-shirt companies because it allows them to avoid the cost of in-house production. You won’t have the hassle of shipping orders. Drop-shipping companies are more expensive than traditional wholesalers, but they provide the same service as a product.

Printful integrates with many ecommerce platforms. Customers place orders on your website and the order goes directly to Printful. The service prints the t-shirts, fulfills orders and then ships them to you. Print-on-demand is a great way to test brand ideas or new tee designs. Register at Printful to get a free account.


 “A great way to start a T-shirt company is to use Shopify and add a print on-demand app to you store. Drop-shipping companies will print your T-shirt for you and ship it to you when you place a new order. Shopify offers many print-on-demand options, but Printful and Printify are the best.

– Hassan Alnassir, Founder & Owner, Premium Joy

Bulk Orders from Manufacturers

The middle-of the-road option is to purchase your custom T-shirts through a manufacturer or wholesaler. It will cost you somewhere between printing your T-shirts yourself and ordering from a drop-shipper or print-on demand company. Although you won’t need to purchase a screen printer for your orders, shipping and fulfilling them yourself will be required.

You can find a variety of suppliers where you can buy custom T-shirts. Many suppliers will have their own graphic or art department that can help you design your T-shirts for free. Online directories can help you find companies to buy wholesale products. You can also visit trade shows for apparel, gift and general merchandise to view each company’s product in person.

5. 5.Market Your Business

Your online T-shirt company’s success depends on your product marketing. This is also an aspect of selling T-shirts online. It will always be a continuous process. Marketing a product involves many elements. Pricing, branding, advertising strategies, and sales channels are all important.

The following are top areas to consider when marketing your T-shirt company:

Strategistically price your T-shirts

When it comes to the decision of a buyer to buy a product, price is a major factor. If you are looking for the most basic information, our price guide will walk through pricing terminology such as profit margins and markups.

Psychological pricing is one of the most popular pricing strategies. Notice how price tags end in nine? Because they subconsciously signal to the brain that you are getting a great deal, $9.99, $19.99 and $99.99 are common promotional prices. A great deal is when your price tag ends in odd numbers, particularly nines. A $19.99 price tag is the same as a $20 price tag. But, the one that is cheaper has been proven more effective than the one that is higher.

Be sure to compare the prices of your competition. While you don’t necessarily need to be the most expensive, you shouldn’t be the least, especially if you’re just starting out your business. A mid-range price and high-quality custom products are great ways to build your brand.







Use creative packaging

For startups to stand out and establish their brand identity, they need creative packaging. This article on creative packaging ideas provides information about the different providers, costs, as well as tips. A few simple changes to your packaging can make a big difference, such as adding logo stickers or branded tissue paper. Customers will share their product experience online through an Instagram or unboxing video if the packaging is attractive.

 “On-brand, attractive packaging is important. Because they feel connected and personal, people prefer to shop at small businesses rather than big-box stores. Gift-wrapping products shows that you care about your customers and makes them stand out from the rest. Unique packaging encourages customers and others to share your products on social media. Instagram videos of unboxing are very popular and can help you build word-of-mouth for your small business.

Taylor Mack, Small Biz Refined, Online bookstore owner and marketing blogger

Consider Additional T-shirt Sales Channels

After your business is established, you can consider adding additional sales channels to your marketing arsenal. You should have a Facebook Page for your business. You don’t have to post photos of your shirts. Instead, you can create a catalog of your products and sell them through a Facebook Store. Your product catalog can be linked to Instagram Feed posts or Stories, allowing you to sell your products through these channels. You can connect your product catalog to any major ecommerce platform. They likely have a plugin or tool that will help you do this.

You can also advertise your T-shirts by taking them out on the streets. To help increase awareness of your business, you can participate in local markets, pop up shops, or community events. Although you are an ecommerce seller you will likely gain a strong fanbase of friends and neighbours in your community. This is a great way to get started.

Start a Subscription Service

A club called T-shirt-of the-month is a great way to market online. Platforms such as Cratejoy allow you to easily manage a subscription service. This allows you to both create new customers and also provides software for managing subscriptions. Customers can subscribe to you for monthly merchandise. Cratejoy offers a 14-day free trial.

Visit Cratejoy

High-quality product photos are recommended

High-quality photos are essential for selling online. You don’t even need to be a professional photographer or have fancy equipment to capture high-quality photos. The product photo guide shows you how to capture great photos with your iPhone.

Product photos showing the T-shirt in-use do better since others can imagine themselves wearing the shirts.








Things to consider before starting a T-shirt business

There are many important things to keep in mind when you start a T-shirt shop or any other retail business. It is important to have a well-planned business plan, invest in the right tools and protect your business assets while you are still starting your business, especially if your goal is to grow it.

Create a business plan

It’s important to create an ecommerce plan. This plan will include all your market research, sales channels and revenue projections. It will also cover growth ideas and long-term goals.

Modern ecommerce businesses start online but end up opening brick-and-mortar stores or selling products to other retailers. This is the right time to reflect on where your T-shirt business is going and what steps you need to take to make it happen. A business plan is a must if you want to apply for funding or loans.

Invest in Software

As we’ve mentioned, it is important to have an ecommerce platform. You also need to think about how you will take payments online. There are many options available when it comes time to choose an ecommerce merchant service provider or payment processor. Many ecommerce platforms have integrated payment processing.

You will need to deal with sales tax as an online seller. Online sellers must collect and submit state sales tax on almost all orders. Each state has its own laws and your business size will determine which ones you need to follow. It is more important than ever to invest in quality shipping and accounting information. QuickBooks, a trusted accounting software designed for small businesses, is very popular.

The pros and cons of selling T-shirts online

If you are able to manage your resources well, selling T-shirts online can be a great way to showcase your creativity. Many people sell T-shirts online to supplement their primary income source, which could be blogging or a regular job. No matter what your motivation, it is important to keep costs low and remain competitive.

Selling online has its pros

  • It’s simple to get started. Typically, you only need to design a T-shirt and then figure out logistics and storage. Although you will need to market your products as well, many print-on demand services allow you to showcase your T-shirts in their entire collection.
  • You can start with very low costs: Drop-shipping your T-shirts will allow you to have almost no initial costs. This also means that you’ll make less profit since drop-shipping companies typically charge more per order than wholesalers.

Cons of Selling Online

  • High in-house costs:If your company doesn’t use drop-shippers and orders T-shirts in bulk in many sizes, you will likely spend thousands on inventory. You’ll also need to store the T-shirts, as well as pay your manufacturer for mockups and plates.
  • There is a lot to choose from:On Teespring alone there are over five million sellers all around the world. To make your product stand out, you’ll need to market it well and hire a great designer.

Bottom line

It’s possible to sell T-shirts online for very little upfront. You will still need to market your product and create a unique design to make it stand out among the crowd of sellers. You can reduce the time it takes to sell T-shirts to a pre-existing audience by designing and selling them through your online store.

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