Web Strategy Vikingbuilt out ShirtSpice.com and then acquired it. We added it to our managed portfolio it in Early 2018.
The 5 principles for a successful t-shirt business are:
- Most important — do you have want it takes to be a successful t-shirt business owner?
- People buy t-shirts because they like the design on the front of the shirt.
- Platforms and fulfullment companies that print your t-shirts on demand
- You need to match your product with the right customers.
- Printing, shipping, tracking and customer service can all be outsourced.
Successful T-Shirt Business Principle #1: Mindset
First, having focus on a particular niche that has passionate people in it makes all the difference in the t-shirt business. You must find a niche where people are very proud and passionate about their interest and passion and are willing to share their passion on social media — even better if they are already wearing t-shirts that represent their niche!
For example, people are very passionate about their jobs — you could sell t-shirts that are job specific to various people and they will be proud to wear their job-related shirt across their chest.
Second, leave all of your assumptions at the door: let data drive all of your decisions. For example, if you are marketing shirts to teachers, don’t assume that only teachers in their 40s would buy your shirt. You MUST test to confirm your hypothesis.
Third, live inside your niche — get into the mind of the niche fans. Spend a couple of hours on Pinterest, Instagram, and competitor stores to find themes, colors, logos, and products that can give you a sense of the niche and existing products. No need to reinvent the wheel!
Finally, take action. Once you have your store set up, and a shareable and wearable t-shirt to market, you can launch. It’s never been easier to sell t-shirts — don’t wait to build your successful lifestyle business.
Successful T-Shirt Business Principle #2: Design
Design quality is essential to a high performing shirt business. Ask yourself: would I be embarrassed if I was wearing this t-shirt? If yes, time to start over on that design. If no, post it and start marketing!
The designs need to be stylized enough so that people will buy. You can’t just take any old image off Fiverr and expect people to buy.
The successful t-shirt sales equation is a passionate niche + shareable product = big sales.
Your niche specific t-shirt designs can be created on your own or sourced from a designer. You can find designers on websites such as Upwork. You should look for freelance graphic designers who are talented but are still building their portfolio. These designers need to understand how to design for printing.
As you become more experienced, you and your designer will work to produce good designs and you will be pumping out high quality designs that you like and are excited to sell.
Successful T-Shirt Business Principle #3: Partners
There are two types of partners: a website partner and a printing partner.
Shopify: your go-to Website Partner
Shopify is an easy to use platform with a fantastic backend — Shopify will fulfill orders, produce in-depth reports, has highly functionable payment gateways for credit cards and Paypal, and has many integrations to the print on demand companies.
Many people ask why not use a free service such as WooCommerce (a WordPress Plug-in). I advise against it because you have to worry about hosting. If you are driving 10s of thousands of people to your WordPress site and your site goes down, you are on the hook for hundreds of dollars of lost revenue from wasted dollars on ads and lost revenue from store browsers. Shopify has 99% up-time and has fast acting support.
Like I said above, Shopify has great customer support, secure and solid payment gateways, and all the required integrations to get your lifestyle business going.
Selecting a Printing Partner
After signing up on Shopify, you need to connect to a print on demand company through an integration application. I use Teelaunch and also like Threadmeup.
For a printing partner, you need to find someone who is reliable — these printing partners are an extension of your brand. If you pick an unreliable print on demand service, you will damage your brand.
A good printing partner will be reliable, scalable and will have superb customer service.
Successful T-Shirt Business Principle #4: Marketing
The number one goal of marketing is to match the product with the right customer. If you can’t get your product in front of the right people, you can kiss your advertising money down the drain and any dream of that Ferrari good bye!
Matching the product with the right customer is marketing 101: if you have dog t-shirts, show the shirts to dog people!
For our t-shirt business, we get 90% of traffic from Facebook ads. While organic reach via fan pages are okay, paid traffic which is targeted is fair superior for driving traffic and getting sales. We are able to target such specific niches of people because Facebook has so much information on people from their liking, commenting, sharing, and other behavior. Remember the winning combination: passionate people + a shareable product = big sales.
Successful T-Shirt Business Principle #5: Operations
Shopify and the print on demand platforms will take care of the printing, shipping, and tracking — all things that are incredibly time intensive for a t-shirt design business. The benefits is that your business is low risk and doesn’t need to worry about these things.
On the back side of things, you will still need to run reports to determine profitability, analyze the markets and current trends, and identify any new niches to get into. You have the time and ability to think big picture since all of the operations are handled by the website platform and print on demand platform.
By following these 5 principles, you will be on your way to building a successful t-shirt empire and a profitable lifestyle business. The most important are mindset and marketing — make sure you have the right mindset and set-up, and make sure you are getting your designs in front of the right customers — match your design with the right customer and you’ll be successful.
Readers: which principle do you need more help with? Which area is your favorite to work on? What’s stopping you from building a successful lifestyle business?
As always, feel free to reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with us via the chat system in the web page at shirtspice.com