How to Start an Ecommerce T-Shirt Printing Business

If you feel like your life would be improved by working from home instead of commuting everyday, running an ecommerce business could be the perfect option. But what can you sell when pretty much everything can already be bought online? And how can you make your business unique?

It might surprise you to discover that there is a growing market for bespoke T-shirts—and it could be the key to unlocking your business potential. Whether you’re printing your own designs or those of your customers, you can provide a service that most people won’t be able to find in their local shopping mall. Not only that, this type of online business usually generates a huge amount of online chatter—making your customers your very own marketing professionals.

What Do I Need to Start an Online T-Shirt Store?

In order to make a success of your ecommerce business, you’re going to need some key supplies:

Quality T-Shirts

Before you do anything, you need to be sure that you can source quality T-shirts—both reliably and affordably. To give your customers plenty of options, look for blank shirts in at least five colors to begin with.

There is a balance to be struck between quality and price, however. Search the local market and the internet for products that are both durable and made with quality fabrics while keeping a close eye on the price per unit. Compare several suppliers before making a decision, and try to leverage an ongoing purchasing arrangement for a lower price per shirt.

A Professional Printer

Thanks to new printing technology, you can print high-quality T-shirts in your own home. There are three printer options to choose from, and each of them comes with their own inks and accessories:

  • Screen Printing: If you want to print simple designs, screen printing might be a good option. Although usually only suited to one color, screen printing is a relatively simple process. However, the process of making each screen is expensive, so this is only a viable option for printing in bulk.
  • Heat Transfer: Heat transfer printers work like large garment presses—the shirt is placed on a hot plate along with heat transfer paper containing the design, and pressure is applied to transfer the image from the paper onto the shirt. This process is easy to complete at home, as the designs can be printed directly from a home computer. However, the cost of a press is high, and the quality produced isn’t great.
  • Direct-to-Garment Printing: If you’re starting a business from scratch with limited resources, direct-to-garment printing is probably the best option. This process is almost exactly the same as everyday inkjet printing—you place the T-shirt in the printer and click the “print” icon on your computer screen. While this isn’t the best option for long production runs, it’s perfect for a small business printing bespoke T-shirts to order.

How Do I Write T-Shirt Product Descriptions That Sell?

Chances are that you’ll need two descriptions for each product: one short one for your main category pages, and one longer description for the product page. By including all of the main details of the product in the opening line or two, you may be able to use the same text for both pages.

There is no right or wrong way to write a product description for a T-shirt. However, there are a few things you should ask yourself before getting started.

  • Who is the T-shirt for? Write in a way that speaks to your target customer.
  • What are the basic details of the T-shirt? Include information such as color, size, material, design elements, and cleaning instructions.
  • What makes this T-shirt special? Make it clear why people should buy it instead of a shirt from one of your competitors.
  • Where should this T-shirt be worn? Provide some context—is this a fun T-shirt that’s perfect for parties, or something that shows off your interests?
  • What can be worn with the T-shirt? Put together a “look” incorporating the T-shirt to give customers inspiration.

How Do I Market My T-Shirts?

If you’re starting your first ecommerce store, you probably don’t have much spare cash for marketing. But you don’t need to rely on big-bucks marketing campaigns during the early days of your venture. Here are a few ideas for marketing your T-shirts that won’t break the bank:

  • Write guest blogs about T-shirts for relevant websites.
  • Post photos of people wearing your T-shirts across both your personal and business social media accounts.
  • Integrate your social media channels into your online store.
  • Ask people to post photos of themselves wearing your T-shirts.
  • Use shopping cart recovery software to reach out to people who didn’t complete the buying process.
  • Discuss your products with customers using live chat.
  • Take part in relevant discussions on forums and online discussion boards.
  • Launch a crowdfunding campaign—this doesn’t just raise capital for your new business, it raises awareness.
  • Open a test store with Volusion. There’s a 14-day free trial, along with support from ecommerce specialists.

The great thing about starting an online T-shirt business is that you don’t need special skills or experience to get started. A relatively modern home computer, a supply of blank T-shirts, some design software, and the right printer is all you need to get started in the comfort of your own bedroom.

Have any questions about starting a T-shirt store? Ask them in the comments!