Ready to launch up your own kickass t-shirt brand, but don't know where to begin? Well, I'm all about helping entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. We often have ideas, but that's just the beginning. Bringing those ideas/concepts to reality is what we are about at launch up.
My name is Rory Ivey and I am the Founder and CEO at Motivately.com: a premier motivational street-wear apparel brand for dreamers and achievers. So I have first hand experience in doing this and I want to share that knowledge with you so you can thrive too. At the end of the day, all you have to do is start.
As you may have heard, selling t-shirts can be a very lucrative business. But it doesn't happen overnight. It takes work, and trial and error. But the good news is, I can help you to navigate and avoid alot of those pitfalls. I will take you step by step through the same blueprint I followed. Let's begin!
Step 1: Finding Your Niche Market
A niche market is a branch of a larger market on which a specific product is focused. "This means making sure that your product suits the interests, the demographic and the economic status of the target group." Start by finding the type of T-Shirts you love and try to be as specific as possible. For example, lets say you love dogs and you want to sell t-shirts to other dog lovers. Then that's already a niche, because you are not using a broad subject, such as animals. When people go to your store, they know they are going to find the best t-shirts related to dogs. You can even break this niche down even more. Lets say there is a huge community of people who love Pugs(a dog breed), then you could make all your designs around pugs. But you can choose anything: cats, food, skating, motivation, fitness, or even t-shirts for fire fighters. An example of a niche store is: thebaddadsclub.com. Rather than just targeting “dads,” this store has targeted “bad dads.” With a twist of-course. The Bad Dads Club focuses on positive father figures and embraces the dad attitude with graphic t-shirts etc.. You can target “stay at home dads” or “dad bods" or anything you like. You can use a resource such as "Google Trends" to check keyword niches, to see if they are popular or consistent overtime. I think you got the gist now.
Step 2: Name Your Business
For me, this is one of the most exiting parts, because I love coming up with ideas and naming them. "Names carry logical data, emotional resonance, and the energy of your entrepreneurial intentions with them, that registers with readers or customers on a mostly subconscious level." The best advice I would give is to be creative and try to include your main niche keyword into your domain name. You will know the right name when it feels right. You can use the Shopify name generator, to help get free name suggestions for your niche. Once you enter your keyword and click search..just scroll down to "alternative domain names" and you'll see a number of available names to register.
Want to do it yourself? Here's what I would did- Lets say I wanted to start a t-shirt line on pugs... The obvious keyword is pugstshirts.com right? or pugtees? But most likely those are already owned by someone else, plus they are not unique names. So I would start being creative and out of the box. I'd think up names like, puglife.com, apugsworld.com, pugville.com, momsandpugs.com, badpug.com.... get the idea?
Use one of the domain name registrars below to search keywords, until you find a name that's available to register( .com preferably). It may take a while and seem like all the names are taken, but if you stay the course, eventually an available name will pop up.
Step 3. Register your domain name at any one of these companies
- Shopify.com : Since you will be using Shopify for your business, it will make it seamless to use them to register your domain name. You can use other domain name registrars too, and point the name to your shopify store.
- Godaddy: Is one of the oldest and most popular domain registrars. They manage more than 77 million domain names.
Step 4. Come up with Unique Designs
Being unique is key in this business, so avoid copying designs. You can explore other designs that are popular, but make sure to change it enough to make it your own. To make it even better than the competition. So how do I come up with designs?
- You can start by doing the designs yourself. Try to get about 5 designs to start.
- However, if you're not great at drawing or digital art, then you can hire a graphic artist on platforms such as Fiverr (starting at $5), or Upwork.
- You may also use a stock image website like shutterstock.com to find images to sell. Their licenses per an image starts at about $99. But you get the lifetime rights to use that image on merchandise. The isn't unique, but it's not saturated, because most t-shirt shops wont want to risk spending $99 for a design that they don't know will sell well. So with this option, you would have to do alot of research on what's selling first. I've got a few designs through this option to start out. I love their quality.
Step 5: Sign Up with Shopify
Shopify is considered the best ecommerce platform on the market today. "It's designed to help people build their own, scalable online store with hundreds of built-in features, and tons of apps. You can sell products directly on your website, and across multiple marketplaces and social media." With shopify you also get a free security certificate for your website. So buyers feel safe and confident buying from you. It cost exactly $29/month, but it's worth every penny. Running my own store on Shopify, i can confidently recommend them.
Good News! Shopify offers a 14-Day free trial. So you can sign up for free in under a minute and begin using the platform, even to make money.
Step 6: Finding A Beautiful Template(Theme) For Your Brand
Finding a great looking web template or theme is one of my favorite parts of this process. It's like getting dressed. It's how you represent yourself to the world and you want to represent yourself well. In this case, your business. Shopify offers some nice free themes, which i have used before. However, I like going that extra step and getting a premium theme, so i can look my best. Shopify also has their own marketplace where you can buy themes for your site. Those usually cost over $150. But I have found great shopify themes on established platforms like, TemplateMonster.com and ThemeForest.net. I have been using these platforms for over a decade and highly recommend them. I simply visit their sites and search for shopify tshirt themes. You may only find a few, but any apparel related theme can work. Just find a design that captures your attention. Themes on these platforms start as low as $49.
Installing theme to your shopify website: This should be automatically done if you purchased the theme directly from the shopify marketplace. However, if you use a third party company to find better selections, you will get a download link to download your theme. Then you will have to unzip the file on your computer and upload it to your shopify store. I personally use a program called winrar to unzip files, but your computer may already have built in programs for that. It's not hard, but if you're not a technical person i understand. We can help you if necessary; just send us a message. Also, visit this link for more details: https://help.shopify.com/en/manual/using-themes/adding-themes#upload-a-theme-file-from-your-computer
Step 7. Customize Your Theme
It takes a little time to get familiar with Shopify and your new theme, so be patient. Play around with it; move things around then preview it to see the results. Keep making changes until you are happy with the look and feel. When I first started my T-shirt shop, i constantly contacted TemplateMonster.com to help me with certain things, or to fix certain things. They offer free technical support for about 6 months. You may also pay someone $5 on fiverr.com to fix or help customize your theme. The more complex your request, the more it may cost. Though I got frustrated and inpatient at times, it was well worth it. I love my store. Once you start seeing your shop come together, you'll feel that excitement. You'll be eager to complete it and launch.
Step 8. Add The Printful App To Your Store
With Printful, you can launch your store with no money, or inventory. And they ship the products for you too. Here is a video to guide you through the process.
Step 9. Celebrate!!! Celebrate!!! Celebrate!!!
Now you are ready to share your awesome creations with the world!!!! Whohoo!!!
Step 10. Other Best Practices
- Secure social media pages with your store name(or something close enough). Get a facebook and Instagram page to start. Because promoting your products is very important to get sales and to building a brand. You could use general posts, facebook ads, pay instagram influencers that compliment your niche etc...
- Order samples of your t-shirts to see how they print and fit. You get about two samples a month from printful. Meaning you'll pay the minimum for them. This will help you to choose the right t-shirt from the printful app for your brand.
- Don't give it. Starting a business takes time. let it mature. Keep being active on social media and keep coming up with new designs. Wear your designs, do photo shoots and whatever it takes to be successful.
I hope this post helped you alot. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. And keep tuned in for more awesome business ideas.