Designing and selling T-shirts is no small feat. There are lots of steps you’ll need to take to run a successful clothing business. Fortunately, some of those steps are fairly easy to do. By the time you’ve read through our list of pocket tips, you’ll be well-prepared to take your endeavour to the next level.
We’ve linked to some more in-depth reading so you can dig into the topics in detail if you like or find that tip particularly relevant to what you need.
So, without any more fuss, here are our mini tips for how to design and sell awesome T-shirts!
1. Starting steps
1 – Decide what products you’re going to sell. Are you sticking to all T-shirts, or do you want to try out some other stuff, too?
2 – What style of shirt is going to work best for your brand? There are lots, so have a think!
3 – Figure out who is going to design your stuff — will you be doing this, or will you hire someone to do it for you?
4 – Think about where you’re going to sell your tees: Online? a physical store? or in a Pop-Up Shop?
5 – Give your brand a clear, distinct personality — What will make it stand out? Take a look at some cool brands we’ve featured in our #TshirtTuesday series, they’re really good at defining their personality.
6 – Collect ideas on Pinterest — it can really help you define your style and the look you’re going for.
7 – Choose your brand name carefully.
8 – Once you’ve figured out your brand personality and name, it’s time to get started on a logo!
2. Money & Practical Talk
9 – Set your budget and consider your profit margins. Perhaps a bit dull, but definitely important.
10 – If you need to print a lot of shirts at once, look into bulk T-shirt printing to save money.
11 – Figure out where you’re getting your funds from — maybe you can do some crowdfunding?
12 – You’ll need to decide on a payment method: Usually, PayPal and credit cards are good enough.
13 – Create a space online to sell your products. Some people choose e-commerce shops, others do it through social media, and lots have their very own site. We recommend going with your own site (here’s why).
3. Designing Your Products
14 – Go online to find inspiration. Look to some offbeat sources for inspiration too, like buildings, kitchen gadgets and more!
15 – If you’re not designing stuff, here’s where you can get free images for your designs.
16 – If you’re going to hire someone to do design work for you, pick a designer carefully. Check out their portfolio and talk to them in person (don’t rush this decision, it’s a really important one).
17 – Use a mood board to play around with your ideas.
18 – Try out how ideas will look by using T-shirt templates (they’re a handy tool to visualise) how your concept will look in real life.
19 – Finish your shirts in a professional way: Here are some tips from the pros for how to make your T-shirts look professional.
20 – Now, before you send your carefully thought-out designs to be printed — have you had somebody review your design?
21 – Brush up on intellectual property rules — otherwise, you could run into some nasty legal issues later on
22 – One more thing! Have you thought about how to package your tees? You can do some really fantastic stuff with packaging!
4. Printing Decisions
23 – Come up with creative ways to personalise your stuff. Here are some ideas specifically for jumpers, but they’ll work for lots of different pieces of clothing, too.
24 – Think about what sort of T-shirt printing technique you want to use when you plan and design. Different methods have different pros and cons (you can learn about those here).
25 – Once you’ve chosen your printing technique, think about your fabric choices, too.
26 – Now, it’s onto colour combinations! There’s more of a science behind it than you might think.
27 – Take combining different design elements into account too, like geometrical figures and photos or a plain design on a textured tee.
28 – Consider doing an all-over print. It doesn’t work for everyone and for every situation, but it can look seriously cool.
29 – Make sure you get the high-quality printing you need. Here’s a quick checklist to help you choose the best company, including what you need to look for.
5. Marketing Your Products
30 – Decide who you want to sell your T-shirts to, and talk in a tone that appeals to them. If you already have an ideal customer from the basics step, this should be simple!
31 – Don’t be afraid to use social media channels to promote your brand. Start with one or two you feel comfortable with. (Here are some tips for tackling Pinterest, Vine and Snapchat).
32 – Use Twitter to instantly deal with customer feedback. It’s quick and easy!
33 – Marketing using YouTube videos can be a good tool to show customers your brand, your products and your professional know-how.
34 – If you are going to add extra content like videos or blog posts to your website, make sure it’s high-quality. There’s no sense in cluttering your page with junk content, so take a quick look at some tried-and-true techniques.
35 – Hold a contest! They can be a really fun way to get your customers involved.
36 – You can also run special promotions and discounts to encourage people to get buying.
37 – Show your customers ways they can wear your tees. You could have a style guide or create a series of outfit ideas featuring your product.
38 – Try a bit of growth hacking for yourself for your T-shirt business – it’s probably easier than you think.
39 – Consider making customised bags for your customers to take their stuff home in. They’ll be walking around exposing lots of fresh eyes to your branding and logo.
6. Displaying Your Products
40 – Pick good-quality photographs for any displays you create. Again, you can use templates or you can choose models yourself, but either way, don’t compromise here.
41 – When you do your photos, shoot and style your models in a way that fits with your brand and is consistent.
42 – Create a mockup to show off your stuff to potential customers and clients.
43 – If you have a physical store, consider coming up with a personalised uniform for your employees. It can be a great way to establish your brand.
44 – Fold your T-shirts the right way for visual displays. Yes, most people know how to fold a T-shirt, but not everybody knows how to make it look great folded, too!
45 – Think about creating a special seasonal line based on an event or a holiday. Lots of brands do this, and for a great reason.
46 – You’re probably going to want to create a catalogue. Here’s a guide to achieving a truly mind-blowing one.
7. A Few Additional Overall Tips
47 – Choose people to work with who get your vision. Whether that’s a designer, your in-store team or your printing company, don’t compromise on this, and only work with people who really understand what you’re going for.
48 – Keep an eye on the competition. It’s always good to know what other people and companies in your area are doing, and that’s definitely true for selling tees as well.
49 – On that note, make sure to stay on top of style trends; this year, simplicity and escapism are in.
50 – Take risks. Some brands stand out because they go against all conventional advice and stick to what they know makes them special. Don’t be too scared to break the rules sometimes.
8. Extra Tip:
51 – And most of all – don’t panic! This is a lot of information to take in, but you’ve got this. 🙂
T-shirt Printing for Designers
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