How to Start A Profitable Online T-Shirt Business in 2022

December 22, 2021

T-shirts are one of the most widespread pieces of clothing — worn by just about everyone worldwide. This is because t-shirts can make our interests and personalities stand out more than any other garment while also being relatively inexpensive to buy. Furthermore, The global demand for custom t-shirt printing is expected to be 10 billion USD by 2025.

Due to this fact, selling t-shirts online is potentially ridiculously lucrative — making them skyrocket in popularity.  If you’ve been looking into opening your own online T-shirt company, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll guide you through each step on how you could start an online clothing business, along with a few things to keep in mind.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

9 Steps To Starting An Online T-Shirt Business Successfully

1. Find Your Niche

The most successful entrepreneurs are those who find a niche for their business. If you're looking to start an online T-shirt store, it's essential to find something truly unique. There are a few ways you can find and evaluate your niche, which are: 

  • Visit its subreddits and see how many subscribers it has and how engaged the community is. 
  • Check Facebook's Audience Insights tool to find out how popular your niche is on the platform. 
  • Browse this list of hobbies on Wikipedia for inspiration. 
  • Think about your interests and what communities you belong to. 

Are you still confused about how to choose your niche? Let us give you an example. Generally, categories like "t-shirts for people who like funny slogans" are too broad to get noticed in a very developed market. 

Therefore, as a starting point, you can narrow it down into something like “funny slogan custom t-shirts for athletes or doctors and nurses.” If you found that this is an untapped market, you should go for it!  It’ll be much easier to stand out with less competition, and it’ll be cheaper too.

Overall, always remember to take your time researching and brainstorming before you start a T-shirt business. Look to other successful stores, take note of what you like, and use them as an example of how you can make your store even better.

2. Source Your T-Shirts

The next step in establishing a t-shirt business is finding suitable suppliers. Finding quality suppliers is just as important as finding quality blank shirts. It’s essential to educate yourself and choose your suppliers wisely to have the best product.

When starting your own shirt business, you might think about sacrificing quality for profit margins. However, you need to consider how the quality will affect a customer’s decision to share your brand and purchase from you again. If, for example, the shirt shrinks or rips out after a brief period, it will put you in the bad books — hampering your e-commerce business in the process.

If customers are unhappy with your online business, they will leave and never come back. The best way to avoid this is by providing excellent customer service. If your online T-shirt business has superior quality products built to last, your store will have an excellent reputation that will help it grow. 

3. Create Your T-Shirt Design

Your products will be the foundation for your online store, so you want to make sure they're amazing. Fantastic products will be easier to market, which will increase your store’s chance as a whole to become successful. Be creative and adventurous with your T-shirt designs. 

If you want to try designing some on your own, many design websites are out there. Some of them are Zazzle, Redbubble, Snorgtees, Kickstarter t-shirt campaigns. You can also check google trends for some inspiration for your t-shirt business.

If you’re looking for help designing your T-shirt business website, you can hire a freelance designer. These designers often offer various services and will work with you to create a product line for your company. There are a lot of options out there. If you’re unsure where to start, try looking for some on Upwork or Fiverr. You can also contact local designers and those from the web.

Whatever it is, make sure that you get high-quality designs at reasonable prices. Or if you want to save some money, you can try using adobe photoshop and produce great designs all by yourself. There are also design communities like dribble and Behance, which work together to give excellent results.

If you are still confused about crafting your unique creation, you can always buy pre-made designs. If you’re interested in the design aspect of the business, be aware that, while there are plenty of designs for sale online, this also means that many people buy them — making it harder for you to stand out.

4. Validate Your T-Shirt Designs

Now that you’ve created some T-shirts for your online store, you need to get feedback from others. This step is crucial as it helps you get some much-needed and unbiased perspective to know better what you can improve on.

But before you can ask for validation, you need to (at least) generate an image of how your t-shirt will look. To get images of their final designs on t-shirts, designers can either order samples, take photos themselves, or create 100% digital mockups. 

If you’ve done either one of those three, there are a few ways you can validate your T-shirt design, which are:

  • Posting your designs on forums (and watermarking them!) 
  • Another is to get in touch with some local consultants. They will provide you with professional, unbiased opinions. 
  • Create mockups and post them on the relevant subreddits, then wait for honest feedback on their success. If you receive positive reactions, you’ve just armed yourself with some potential customers to message when you launch your products.
  • Post them on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or any other networks your friends and potential customers are on.

Besides the ones we mentioned above, you can also raise funds by asking other people or crowdfund. Crowdfunding has made it easier than ever to test and validate a new business idea. Although launching a campaign may be time-consuming, the benefits you get in return might be worth your while.

This way, you can get your entire project funded before investing any of your own money. If you have a novel t-shirt idea (matching tees for dogs and their owners), crowdfunding might be the way to go.

5. Print Your Designs

The print on your T-shirts is a significant point of contention for both you and your customers. Quality printing is necessary for a successful business. If your customers find that the prints are cracking or fading after a few washes, this will leave a lousy impression on your business. 

When printing designs, one of the most common options most sellers choose is to contact local printing shops to get your prints before shipping them to customers. 

However, this can be expensive to keep up with, especially for growing e-commerce businesses with high demand. To keep costs low, order shirts in bulk. One way to do this is to bump up the order from 10 to 20 pieces. For just a few dollars more than planned, you can end up with more shirts than you intended to buy to start.

6. Choose Printing Method

There are three popular choices when it comes to the different t-shirt printing methods. The first is screen printing, one of the most durable t-shirt printing methods that produce long-lasting results. Because of this, it’s a popular choice for business owners who design and sell t-shirts online and in-store.

However, screen printing is more expensive than other methods and involves a long and complicated setup process. Furthermore, screen printing can be difficult with complex designs, which often incur high costs and longer production times.

Despite that, if you have large orders and have the cash to spare, screen printing might prove to be the method for you as this particular method is more effective when handling larger orders.

Another printing method is heat transfer, and professional printers use this technique to print on high-quality heat transfer paper. Heat transfers are a relatively inexpensive way to produce full-color t-shirts. A local printer can print a stack of prints, and then you can transfer them to t-shirts with a commercial heat press machine as orders come in.

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The third type of printing involved is direct to garment printing that operates much like an ink-jet printer you might have at home. It can print high-quality images with accuracy on t-shirts and other fabric types. You can print t-shirts, blankets, or pillowcases with guaranteed high quality with direct-to-garment printing.

The only disadvantage of this method is the lack of volume discounts because large orders take a lot of time to print.

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Lastly, embroidery is also a type of printing you can do in your t-shirts if you are looking for a three-dimensional effect. You can use embroidery software to transform your designs into electronic instructions for a sewing machine. Once the machine stitches the design onto a shirt, this handy tool will appropriately color it with threads. The shirt’s fabric must be sturdy so the embroidered design doesn't overwhelm the weaker material. The thread may make the fabric pucker or sag if you don’t. 

7. Determine The Pricing

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Pricing is yet another important consideration in starting a t-shirt business. You’ll need to account for your purchase price of the shirt, the cost of printing the design, and the percentage margin you want to sell them at.

If you’re going to sell at a 50% margin, multiply the overall cost by two for your unit price. But if you are aiming for a higher profit margin, then use this price formula:

Retail Price = [(cost to produce) ÷ (100-profit %)] x 100

Never price your t-shirts less than what they are worth. You have to consider the human aspect of pricing too. For example, a 1$ difference between 29 and 30 will work in the customer's mind and can be helpful for you.

Creating a bundle package is one way of deciding on an attractive price for you and your customer. This way, you can sell more t-shirts with less effort, and the customer gets what they want. 

8. Create a Mockup

Earlier, we mentioned creating t-shirt mockups to help you validate your design to other parties. However, that’s not all it can do. It also helps your potential customers see what your products look like on your online store.

This way, shoppers will know what they are getting, no matter the color or style available. Accurate mockups also give people confidence that they have chosen a shirt that will look good in real life.

When the time comes to take your t-shirt business to the next level, dress it up with unique styled photos that reflect your brand. Hire models with a likable look and take photographs with a style that appeals to your audience.

9. Build an Online Presence

Once you know your audience and have a design in mind, it's time to decide on where you're going to sell. For a T-shirt business, it’s essential to know that these garments can be versatile, all-inclusive, or even very niche. You may have already come up with a design and know your target audience, but what about your competitors? Have you researched their sales and marketing strategy?

Proper market research can help you define your audience before selling. Market research should also ensure that your brand is present on the right platforms, so your audience can find your products quickly. 

For example, if your target audience is active on Instagram and Snapchat, they’re less likely to use Google Search to find T-shirts. Therefore, simply using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies to market your brand to success is not enough. You must also be doing influencer marketing. 

Influencer advertising is an easy way to reach your customers and build your brand simultaneously. Once you find out where your customers like to hang out online, you can start setting up your online presence. Specifically, you can begin selling T-shirts online!

Moreover, several t-shirt print-on-demand services integrate with your Shopify store. This means you can start taking orders right away, and these services will print and ship the shirts to your customers on your behalf, eliminating the need for upfront cost or inventory. You can also use the service for other printable products, such as mugs and totes.

5 Things To Remember Before You Start Your Online T-Shirt Business

It can be eye-opening to create and sell custom t-shirts online. With the right tools and technology, it's not hard to design or print shirts, but building a brand becomes more difficult when you're competing with other businesses. With competition comes slim profit margins. Building an online t-shirt company is a little more complicated than it first seems. When you are all ready to start your own t-shirt business, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Create Unique Designs

Most people shopping for shirts and graphic tees look for something that reflects their personality and opinions. Therefore choosing the right design will give your brand a convincing ability over the customers. Remember to use high-quality designs and not trademarked ones as this will affect your t-shirt business.

2. Maintain or Enhance T-Shirt Quality

Your t-shirts need to be of the best quality. To build a sustainable business, the quality of your products must be top-notch. You can disappoint someone once, but they won’t let you do it twice. If your t-shirts fade and rip or shrink after a few washes, this will not make fans of your brand. 

Customers will be more likely to leave feedback about your product and find a new provider. Higher-quality t-shirts cost more to produce, but a higher-quality product can also mean higher prices.

3. Determine How To Manage Your Inventory

It's crucial to determine whether or not you'll manage your own inventory or use print-on-demand services to save time and effort. One of these things is whether you should hold inventory for the shirts you're selling.

The trade-off with this method is that you may be able to sell more in-person, but then you'll take on a lot more risk. On the other hand, Print-on-demand is always the best low investment business idea.

4. Constant Analysis

Tracking the success of your t-shirt business is crucial, but it’s not always easy. Fortunately, there are several insightful metrics at your disposal. One great way to monitor your sales is through dropshipping. This e-commerce business model is not only cost-effective but also allows you to experiment with new designs for relatively little investment.

5. Build Reviews And Social Proof 

A key aspect of selling T-shirts is asking customers to review your product online. Social proof is important in this niche, and customers want to know that they are getting what they paid for. So when they need to decide on an online purchase, they want to hear from someone who has done it already.

6. Brand Awareness

Brand awareness can make or break your company, and establishing your company as trustworthy and a leader in your industry is the first step. The first impression is everything, and developing your logo and website should be crucial. Think about how you want your customers to view you and establish your tone and style from there.

7. Influencer Outreach 

With the advent of micro-influencer and nano-influencer marketing, finding the right influencers has become easier than ever. Not only do these small-time influencers have a few hundred followers, but they are also very influential to them.

This is because they can more closely target demographics interested in their content, which can be vital to expanding your business. T

here is a quick and easy way to get the ball rolling with your online T-shirt business: reach out to a few smaller influencers and offer them free shirts in exchange for them sharing pictures of them wearing your products. It only takes a small amount of investment, and this social proof will boost your brand recognition. It might be your best bet if you have a low marketing budget.

8. Use Remarketing

Remarketing is a fantastic tool for retailers with a high bounce rate. When someone adds T-shirts to their cart and then disappears from your website, you can re-engage them through Google Ads or Facebook Ads. You could offer discounts or new offers that remind them of the items they've already added to their cart.

This way, expressing your creativity and selling t-shirts online can feel effortless. You can start a t-shirt store with virtually no capital since the business model leaves so much of the overhead cost up to the individual. 

No matter how big or small your dreams are, a t-shirt store is an excellent first eCommerce business idea for new entrepreneurs.

FAQs about Starting an Online T-Shirt Business

Is selling t-shirts online profitable?

Selling t-shirts can be ridiculously lucrative. This is because t-shirts are popular, and their market can potentially grow by 9.6% per year from 2020-2025. To make it even more profitable, you can reduce the cost of making them by buying them in bulk.

How do I start a home t-shirt business?

There are several things you need to do to start your home t-shirt business

  1. Find Your Niche
  2. Source Your T-Shirts
  3. Create Your T-Shirt Design
  4. Validate Your T-Shirt Designs
  5. Print Your Designs
  6. Choose Printing Method and Material
  7. Determine The Pricing
  8. Create a Mockup
  9. Build an Online Presence

How can I promote my t-shirt business?

To promote your t-shirt business, you can run contests, have an active social media presence, create videos and photos, advertise, build a website, and ask for referrals.

How do you find the target audience for t-shirts?

Look at your t-shirt designs and think back to who you designed them for. For example, if your t-shirt has pictures of cats, it might attract people who own cats, loves cats, or just animals in general. In comparison, t-shirts with artistic designs might interest art enthusiasts, artists, or people who like high fashion.

How do I market my T-shirt on social media? 

You can promote your T-shirt on popular social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Marketing your business on different platforms requires different strategies. However, there are a few things you must do that applies to most of them:

  • Create a content and promotion calendar.
  • Prepare engaging visual assets.
  • Vary your content.
  • Have unique hashtags.
  • Boost your marketing with ads.


With so many tips and business ideas, you can create your own t-shirt designs and make a name in the t-shirt industry. You can use our Commercial maker from Offeo to put your message to the target market through social media accounts or any eCommerce platform. Digital marketing will take your new t-shirt business to great heights by giving you higher ROI and conversions. Our commercial maker is very easy to use and can make the name of your t-shirt brand in the fashion industry.

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