February 9, 2018
Have you been thinking about starting an online custom T-Shirts business and aren’t sure where to begin? Maybe you are in the printing business and you want to diversify your product offering, or perhaps you are an entrepreneur looking for a lucrative new online business opportunity.
An online custom T-shirts printing business requires minimal investment and is relatively easy to start-up and run. The trick is in making an effort during the planning stage and acquiring the best software to support your business plan. If you make good decisions in the early stages, you will reap the benefits down the line.
In this article, we’ve outlined the ten most important considerations for starting an online T-shirts business using WooCommerce.
#1 Make good decision early
As mentioned you need to make good decisions from the beginning. Abraham Lincoln once said; “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
It will prove worthwhile to spend some time planning your online custom T-shirts business. It’s always a good idea to draw up a business plan, define your goals and objectives and attach timeframes to them. This will help you to stay focused and pursue those initiatives which can lead you to success.
#2 Choose a Niche
Competition in the online custom T-shirts business can be stiff. Choosing a custom T-shirt niche helps you to narrow your target market to a very specific group of clients to whom your products will be particularly appealing.
For example, let’s say you decided to target college students who wear T-shirts. That would be a rather broad category. It would be more effective to narrow your niche to college students who appreciate ironic T-shirt designs.
It would be even better to subdivide your niche into market segments based on a major i.e. Psychology, Economics or Computer Science, then offer fantastic custom T-shirt graphics containing some kind of ironic subject specific message.
Here are few examples of successful custom T-shirt niches:
#3 Design – Getting great graphics and slogans
Design is an integral part of setting up a successful online custom T-shirts store. T-shirts, on their own, are a generic item. T-shirts are an essential part of almost everyone’s wardrobe but what makes one T-shirt different from the next is the printed slogan and/or graphic it contains. This takes a T-shirt from a simple apparel to a form of self-expression apparel. If you are able to develop a unique and customizable T-shirt printing concept, this may prove to be the most valuable aspect of your T-shirt business.
You can hire a graphic designer to create your unique concept for your online custom T-shirts store , you can also purchase graphic packs, vectors and more…
- T-shirt Factory for t-shirt designs, vector packs, custom art, banner ads, branding and corporate identity.
- Download T-shirt Designs for well researched, on-trend globally sourced T-shirt designs.
- Mintees is an online T-shirt and apparel design community.
- T-shirt Artworks for original T-shirt artwork from artists around the world.
#4 Develop a Brand
Having chosen a niche and taken care of your concept you need to put some thought into your brand. Everything from your stores name to the domain you choose, to your color scheme and font choice all affect your brand. Your brand is the thing that sets you apart from your competitors in the online custom T-shirts market. Having a strong and consistent brand ensures that your product will be recognized and preferred.
#5 Source for quality T-shirts
It’s going to be really tempting to use the cheapest T-shirt you can get your hands on to maximise your per unit profit but this may not be the best option especially if you want your brand to be associated with a quality product.
Providing your customers with a soft and long-lasting T-shirt will ensure repeat purchases and referrals. For more information on how to find quality T-shirts click here
#6 Choose a print method and printing partner
The following T-shirt printing methods are relatively easy to learn and master, however, if you’re not already in the printing business, and not really interested in going into the printing business, it will be better to outsource the T-shirt printing operation to a partner, while you focus on your brand, concept and target market.
Nevertheless, you will need to know a few basics about T-shirt printing as it pertains to design complexity, use of color, printing costs and volume discounts to effectively develop your market offering.
Screen printing is a simple and versatile method which works best for bulk orders in one or two colors. It involves applying color through a screen and has been widely used as a T-shirt printing method for many years. Unfortunately, color and print resolutions are limited with screen printing making it more suitable for simple designs.
Simple design, limited color
Transfer printing is one of the best techniques for color printing and involves transferring a print from a screen using heat. This method is a bit slower than some of the other methods but if done properly it can produce quality prints of rich designs. As long as the fabric being used can withstand high temperatures, this could be an effective T-shirt printing method.
Introducing more colors but keeping the design simple
Digital Printing involves printing in color directly onto a T-shirt. The ink is immediately absorbed into the fabric and cannot be felt on the shirt. While digital printing allows for customization and greater detail in design, unfortunately, it is not always the most cost-effective method for large batches. It does, however, work very well for custom T-shirts with complex graphic intense designs.
Complex design with lots of detail
There are a number of large and established printing companies who specialize in online custom T-shirts printing and order fulfillment, many of whom cater to huge markets and have the capacity to fulfill orders globally. When you make a sale, an order is automatically sent to your print partner with the customer information.
The printer gets to work producing the items required and ships the order to the customer on your behalf. We’ve provided herewith a list of a few companies specialized in online custom T-shirts printing and order fulfillment. It will be worthwhile to do a search of printers who are specialized in order fulfillment for your target market.
PrintAura integrates with your WooCommerce site to take care of the T-shirt printing and drop shipment aspects of the business.
Similarly, Printful also integrates with your WooCommerce site to take care of the actual T-shirt printing and order fulfillment.
Tshirtgang provides T-shirt printing and customer fulfillment (drop shipment) for its members.
For a company who understands the importance of branding, Printed Mint specializes in one-off printing and branded drop shipment solutions. They offer a variety of print methods including; dye sublimation, latex print technology, direct to garment and decal transfer, to name a few and place great emphasis on quality.
Jakprints offers clients the ability to safely and cost-effectively ship their order anywhere in the Continental US in 1-5 business days. They also do international deliveries using USPS.
Gooten works with a number of international print vendors who are thoroughly vetted for quality, responsiveness and reliable delivery.
#7 Hiring a designer vs buying designs
Even if you have the best online custom T-shirts slogans and images it wouldn’t be as aesthetically pleasing having a graphic designer produce a professional print layout for your online custom T-shirts concept. It would be well worth your time and effort to either buy unique graphics online or employ a designer to produce a range of customizable graphics for your T-shirt line. If you design your own T-shirt graphics and they prove to be a success in the market you may want to consider copywriting your work. Also, be careful not to use material that is licensed to someone else.
To find a great designer to partner with, freelance sites such as Behance or Dribble could be useful. You can also have your artwork custom designed using DesignCrowd, where you launch a T-shirt design competition on their platform, set a budget and describe what you would like the T-shirt to look like. The designers at DesignCrowd will submit designs for your feedback and you can choose the design that best suits your needs.
#8 Producing samples
Before launching your product on the market, you will want to ensure that your online custom T-shirts platform works the way it should and that your final T-shirt product stands up to the quality you envisioned. It will be a good idea to print a few samples. Doing so can avoid embarrassing order failures and resolve any issues during testing. These custom T-shirt samples can also be used to demonstrate your product offers in any marketing efforts.
#9 Testing designs – market research
Before you finalise your concept and graphic line-up you may want to test a few designs by posting your concept on social media and other platforms to see which ones generate the most interest.
#10 Setting up your online custom T-shirts store
The platform you choose to run your business on will be a major contributing factor in determining your online T-shirt business’ success. Setting up an online T-shirt store is fairly straightforward and there are some fantastic off-the-shelf e-commerce templates with custom T-Shirt plugins available.
Once you’ve developed and tested your concept, given some thought to your brand and have some graphics available you can start setting up your actual store. For more information on how to set up a custom T-shirt store using WooCommerce click here.