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How to Start a T-Shirt Business: Creating an Online T-Shirt Store

18 min read

In the new world in the wake of the pandemic, a lot of people have turned to starting a small business to generate a steady income. But running your own business can be tricky. The field is often turbulent, no matter your niche. So it’s very important to incorporate new technology in your business’s marketing as the opportunity arises.

These days, it’s easier than ever to start and market your products. Nowadays, people are selling all sorts of goods online, including t-shirts. So, if you’re a creative person who is interested in selling t-shirts offline and online, then this article will definitely help you answer a lot of your questions.

Just a couple of decades ago, t-shirts were created by workers to keep themselves cool in warmer months, but now, everyone wears them. t-shirts are the most commonly worn shirts around the country. If you can come up with simple and eye-catching designs, your products can go viral within days! What many don’t know is that starting a remote t-shirt business can be easy, especially with the help of emerging ecommerce tools like Ecwid that make it super easy to sell any kind of product online. So, you can start selling any sort of t-shirts, like vintage concert t-shirts, custom originals, or even high-end fashion designs with just a few clicks.

In this guide, we’ll be going over the t-shirt business opportunities, top production tips, and how you can successfully market your products to boost your sales.

Let’s get started!

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T-Shirt Business Opportunities

As offline clothing outlets continue to be taken over by online stores, it isn’t unusual to wonder how it all works. Many people would like to believe that online t-shirt brands are only built by celebrities who became social media famous. It is, in fact, not uncommon for famous social media personalities to launch their merch — which, by the way, sells like crazy. However, it is possible for anyone, no matter the amount of followers, to start and establish a t-shirt brand using the right tools.

It is essential to be aware of all the investments needed to start your new T-Shirts brand. The brand will require your energy, time, creativity, money, and a free store/pop-up space if you want to launch offline as well. If you have all the boxes checked, then it is time for you to start exploring the idea of becoming an entrepreneur.

Stage 1: How to Start a T-Shirt Company

The first step includes the following parts.

  • How to design T-Shirts
  • How to make T-Shirts
  • Print On Demand T-Shirts
  • Launching a T-Shirts Collection
  • Introducing limited T-Shirts

How to design T-Shirts

The first and foremost important step is defining the purpose of your t-shirt business. Are you aiming to promote awareness for a cause, provide fangirling t-shirts for a show, create interesting designs that are unique to a specific niche? When you have answers to these questions, designing a t-shirt becomes quite simple. The next step is to choose the color of your design and t-shirt, the font style, the graphics, the mood of your t-shirt, and the various styles you would like to sell the t-shirt in.

How to make T-Shirts

There are two options here, you can either print the t-shirts yourself or form a contract with a local company. Printing your t-shirts will save you the expenses of hiring the local company but can cost you a lot of your time. If you’re producing in bulk, it is better to hire a company but in the case of on-demand printing, you can easily make the t-shirts at home.

Print-on-demand T-Shirts

There is no need for a large amount of inventory upfront for print-on-demand t-shirts. As you won’t be designing or ordering the t-shirts ahead of time, there will be less risk of wasting money. Once you create a product, you don’t need to invest a lot of time and energy in keeping the t-shirt business running. You will not need to pre-contract your shipping company, nor ship the products yourself. There is also no need for inventory or high upfront costs under this method.

Launching a T-Shirts collection

One of the most attractive business strategies is to create a t-shirts collection. This could be based on the current season or a famous show or book. You could also design the collection to promote awareness about a cause. Collections usually provide customers options to select between, ultimately, buyers often end up buying the entire collection. You could also introduce a limited collection to hype up the market and sell your t-shirts faster.

Introducing limited T-Shirts

Limited T-shirts are a big seller. Let’s say, a new movie came out like the Dunes and you get inspiration. You create your unique design and are sure that these t-shirts would only sell in these months. This is one of the best ways to increase your sales. Customers love buying t-shirts that will never be sold after a specific date. This can also help you promote your other t-shirts and drive a lot of audience to your business online and offline outlets.

Stage 2: How to Market the T-Shirts

The second step includes the following parts.

  • Create an email list with your t-shirts Brand
  • Collaborate with Contrasting Brands
  • Promote on social media
  • Collaborations with Micro-Influencers

Create an email list for your T-Shirts brand

Email lists are one of the best gifts of modern technology. They help you connect to your audience. When you start promoting your t-shirts, give people incentives to opt-in to your email list. An incentive can be something like the first 1,000 subscribers get 25% off on their first purchase or the first 100 people receive extra goodies with their first order.

An email list audience that is very engaged, means an increased likelihood of them buying your t-shirts.

Collaborate with contrasting brands

As a t-shirt business, the brand collaboration ideas are endless. You can collaborate with another emerging brand. Now, the brand could be anything, a jeans brand, a jewelry business, or a bookstore.

A jeans brand would be a very typical collaboration idea. You could, collectively, launch a collection. This would increase your and their sales. Other options are a different pants brand.

Everyone loves pairing jewelry with their outfits. While you are originally a t-shirt selling brand, collaboration with a jewelry brand could make you an outfit selling brand! You would have to sit down to creatively design t-shirts that look best with some of their jewelry to sell it to your customers. These collaborations can be a game-changer for your business.

A collaboration with a bookstore is a non-traditional one which is why it can drive a larger audience. Creating a collection that is bookish can be sold not only on your website but also as merch for the bookish world. Readers love buying clothes that reflect their interests. So, this would be a big seller!

Collaborations with micro-influencers

Besides collaborating with contrasting brands, you can also collaborate with micro-influencers. Micro-influencers have a very specific niche which can be extremely beneficial for small t-shirt businesses.

Be sure to approach influencers that align with your brand and try to give them maximum creative freedom to promote your product. You can also send PR packages to various influencers for them to promote your t-shirts on their accounts. This brings their followers to your account and website. Even if not all of the audience buys the t-shirts, they may buy them in the future. This also generates traffic on your website and account which then stands out to the algorithm.

Promote on social media

Social Media is an amazing way to promote your offline and online world, especially Instagram. All you have to create is an eye-catching social media appearance and you might not need to use any other form of marketing to bring customers to your business. Visuals are very important to promote your work so carefully selecting the colors, fonts, and graphics used for your t-shirt business can make all the difference.

Stage 3: How to Sell T-Shirts

The last step includes the following parts.

  • Do giveaways
  • Sell of Amazon
  • Sell on eBay
  • Sell on Etsy
  • Sell of Social Media
  • Sell on your own website

Let’s break it down…


Everyone loves free things; giveaways are one of the smartest ways of marketing. Brainstorming ideas for creative giveaways will increase your sales. Even if the majority of participants don’t buy your t-shirts, they’ll become familiar with your work and hopefully spread the word about it. And ultimately, they could end up buying your t-shirt in the future. You may be able to contact influencers who will be interested in helping promote your work, helping you reach a wider customer based on any giveaways you do. The main purpose of giveaways is to make a wide majority of people see your work so they can come back to it or recommend it.

How to sell T-Shirts on Amazon

Amazon is a wonderful place to start. To sell your t-shirts there, you have to create a business plan first and find your niche. Since Amazon houses millions of businesses, you cannot start selling your t-shirts without any market research. Next, you would want to place your order with your product suppliers and create your Amazon account. Once the account is all set up, create a product listing and start managing your inventory. This will optimize your sales.

Quick tip: Make sure to follow up on customer reviews. Reviews are crucial on this particular kind of platform and will either make or break your t-shirt business.

How to sell T-Shirts on eBay

T-shirts are one of the top-selling items on eBay. This popular platform is a great resource to make money selling t-shirts. The process is quite simple, and the t-shirts can be listed quite easily. You can select a few options of payment for it including PayPal, Venmo, and a book account for people you’d eventually like to buy the t-shirts.

It is important to write any detailed information like the story behind your custom t-shirts on eBay, this will help buyers purchase the merchandise. It is also great to get and encourage reviews on eBay as reviews are a game-changer and serve as a free form of advertisement for your business.

How to sell T-Shirts on Etsy

Etsy is a great place to sell your t-shirts as it provides you with an already built customer base. There are various fees that you must know of before signing up your business on Etsy. There is a $0.20 listening fee that ensures your t-shirts to be listed on the website for four months or until they sell. There is also a transaction fee and you do have to pay the standard PayPal fee to process the income. If you’re looking to advertise your business on the internet, there is a 15% Offsite Ads fee that allows you to advertise your t-shirts across the web.

How to sell T-Shirts on social media

Facebook and Instagram are the leading apps that can help small businesses sell their work. Both platforms have their own specifics.

Facebook provides two types of promotions: free and paid. For free promotions, you can ask your friends and family to spread the word. Once you have a few customers, you can ask them to promote and review your work. Reviews always bring in more customers. For paid promotions, you can create Facebook ads that have a very targeted audience.

Instagram has both types of promotions as well. For free promotion, you can create a public account and build an audience slowly. The other way is to create paid ads. You can create an Instagram Ads account to drive more audience to your merchandise. For Instagram, it is important to remember that the color scheme and aesthetic of your posts do matter. Post maximum collaborations along with customer reviews. Make great use of highlights, stories, reels, and grid posts to engage the audience.

How to sell T-Shirts on your own website

Your own website is also a great place to consider selling your t-shirts. Overall, selling t-shirts from your own site comes with several advantages and perks. One of the biggest ones is the opportunity to keep all of your profits, without the need to pay any marketplace fees. This is besides the shipment or printing expenses, of course. While marketplaces offer faster customers, which is great if you’re thinking locally, online stores help you expand your business country or worldwide without the expense of opening more shops.

Besides, having your own site allows for an opportunity to build a customer base that is fully dedicated to your work and brand. This ultimately provides you the opportunity to retarget any visitors you get to your site.

Ecwid makes it easy for you to sell t-shirts online from your own site and even other platforms like eBay. Once your merchandise is ready, opening and creating an Ecwid site is quite easy and quick.  Getting started on a platform like Ecwid is free, although a monthly fee is required for access to advanced features and the sale of digital products. However, you can easily get your t-shirt business started with Eciwd’s free ecommerce website (Instant Site), which comes with easy customization and secure checkout.

Once you have your site ready and are open for business, customers can easily purchase your t-shirts and we’ll immediately receive them in their inbox.

Is It Profitable to Start a T-Shirt Business?

In short, yes. Making t-shirts does not cost a lot. Starting from a basic design to a very complex ones, t-shirts can be sold between $10-$70. Whereas the designing cost is a one-time thing, the only cost you’ll be paying is material, printing, and shipment. Those combined do not exceed the profit you can make from the t-shirt business.

How to Start a Low Budget T-Shirts Business?

If you have a low budget to start your t-shirts business, no need to worry. Every step has a cheaper alternative. You can design your t-shirts using free apps like Canva. The printing cost can be reduced by using printing methods like screen printing, heat transfer, and direct-on-garment. Consider the print-on-demand option to reduce surplus and save time. Free promotions on social media can also help reduce marketing costs. If you cannot afford an offline outlet yet, it is completely okay to produce the t-shirts at home and sell them online.

Selling T-Shirts with Ecwid

As you already got from this article, selling t-shirts can make a great side hustle that can easily turn into a full-time business and source of income. With the right idea and innovative mindset, you can easily start your own store with Ecwid and begin accepting payments with just a few clicks. No need to deal with third-party sellers or marketplaces, getting to keep most of the profit you make.

Sign up for Ecwid today and tell us how it goes in the comments!

Do you want to learn more about selling t-shirts online?

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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