Sell T Shirts Online Introduction
Everybody loves great T-shirts, right? So, they ought to be easy to sell, right?
There are some who claim to be able to sell anything to anybody, in a retail setting, online or on the street corner.
The truth is that selling is not a sure thing, no matter how great the product, or how well you market it. There are basic principles that you can use, though, no matter what the product or the platform. If you see yourself as the next great T-shirt entrepreneur, here are some basic steps you can follow to make it so.
Find Your Niche
Because Tees are the “uniform” for a large percentage of the population, there is no “formula” for what will sell. Unless you’re passionate about something else, and the tees are just a way to spread that passion, think about your “brand.” What will you represent? Pop culture, travel, retro design, political commentary, personalities, a specific interest or a popular cause are just some of the possibilities. Whatever you choose as your niche, try to narrow it to the point where it is truly unique.
Shirts are available in all sizes for men, women, teens, children and babies. They feature sports graphics, cars, snappy slogans, “cute” critters, edgy issues. You can support a cause or promote a business, reflect an affiliation, make light of current events, make people smile, be slightly risque or totally off-color — in short, there is no end to what you can say or show on a T-shirt. There also is no formula for designing the shirt that is destined to be a best seller. But you have to find a direction and target a specific audience.
In the beginning, you might chalk up a few failures before you happen upon a design that draws customers.
Be prepared for the fail. The familiar adage that “it takes a long time to become an overnight success” is as true in the online T-shirt business as in any other endeavor. Don’t give up if your first few — or 50 — designs don’t become big sellers. Your goal, however, is to find a corner of the market that works for you. Once you find that niche, capitalize on it!
Find a Designer
There are at least 1,001 ways to find inspiration; fiddle around with your own graphics, play with words and slogans, or use a design company to refine your ideas. Use graphics, photographs or words — it’s all up to you. But, if you want to get into the T-shirt-selling business in a big way, you’ll probably find that you won’t have time to do all the creative work as well as the down-and-dirty organizing-the-business kinds of jobs.
Unless you’re that one-in-a-million, energetic creative genius with a screen press in your garage, there are parts of the business that are best done by other people. Design services comes in all forms, sizes and price ranges. You can outsource your design ideas to freelancers, work with one of the full-service tee-shirt design companies, sub-contract the design part of the business to local or online services, or join a creative design club like merchcandy.com and grab hot new designs on a weekly basis.
You might find an instant fit, or you might have to experiment a bit until you find the solution that works best for you.
Find a “Store”
When you’re just getting started, you may be tempted to simply order a minimum number of shirts just so you can actually see and touch “your” product. Almost everyone, starting out, has a tale to tell about unsold inventory. Fortunately, today you don’t have to become one of those storytellers. Here are the options:
Online merchandising platforms are as varied as T-shirt designs themselves. Some, like Shopify, help you set up the “storefront” for your e-commerce venture, handle most of the nitty-gritty details and offer support as well, all for a set monthly fee. Others focus on the production side, leaving the merchandising aspect in your court. Teespring and other services allow you to set your own goals, develop a timeline, create and market a specific product, and will only produce the shirts and ship them out to customers when a minimum threshold has been reached. It can be a good way to test the waters with little risk.
Take the time in the beginning to research available marketing and merchandising techniques. You’ll gain valuable insight, develop a knowledge base of what has worked for others, and have the tools you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons for your own business. As your business grows, investigate other ways of selling your shirts, including giant Amazon, which offers plans for individual sellers as well as for worldwide firms via there Merch By Amazon program.
Make Your Pitch
You have a dynamite design and a production partner that offers good service, quality shirts at reasonable prices and you’re ready to start selling. Now you just have to get the word out, right?
In the beginning, that can be difficult. Even if you have a website, it’s probably going to take more than a few clicks and likes before the orders — and the dollars — start rolling in. Add a shop section to your Facebook page; pay for boosts to promote your shirts.
That’s what advertising is designed to do. Social media can be amazing. Ecommerce firms like bigcommerce can lead you through the maze of setting up your online store, creating an image, solving the logistics of taking orders and filling them, collecting money and dealing with customers. They also offer additional support and provide tools like Buyable Pins so that customers can buy shirts when they spot them without ever having to leave a favorite social media site.
Building on Your Successes
The truth is that in sales, as in most fields, there are really only a few basic principles. The key to success lies in learning the rules, adapting them to your particular situation, and being diligent until you achieve your goals.
That’s as true for selling T shirts on line as it is for selling lemonade on the street corner on a hot July day.
Remember, once again, that the most successful business people — and companies — had to reinvent themselves at some point in the journey. So if those first few T-shirts that you try to sell wind up back in your own closet, don’t despair. Learn from them, and keep going!
Selling T-shirts online can not only be fun, but it can also be very profitable! Why not get started now?