As a printing company, one of the questions that we regularly receive from our customers regarding selling their own printed T-Shirts is what’s actually involved in the process.
While T-Shirt drop shipping services are designed to remove a lot of the stress and the cost away from you, giving you more freedom to create more top quality designs and marketing your own products, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get sales – instead, this comes down to you.
One of the biggest expenses when you’re selling your own T-Shirts (or jumpers, hoodies, vests etc), is your time, so it’s important to put a lot of the groundwork into place early, before you actually begin to sell your products. In this post, I’m going to focus on 15 questions which you should ask yourself before you start a T-Shirt business so you can fully understand what’s involved and what you should be looking for while you’re contemplating your designs:
Have you got an idea in mind?
So, you want to sell your own T-Shirt designs but do you have an idea of what designs you want to sell in mind? This might seem like a fairly obvious question but one thing which is often overlooked is knowing the target audience which you’re aiming to sell your designs to so you can work out if your designs are appropriate. By finding a niche or a target market, you might also be able to get some inspiration to help you pitch your designs to potential customers.
If you’ve already got some ideas in mind (for example, if you’re an artist or a graphic designer), then you could transfer your artwork directly onto a T-Shirt but it’s important to know who would want to buy these. Is your artwork geared to a younger audience? If so, then there’s no point pitching your brand to an older audience. Knowing all of this beforehand can become key when working out how to sell your clothing and how many sales you should be getting.
Have you done your market research?
Once you’ve worked out the target audience, you’ll then need to research the market to find out if these designs will sell. Look at other companies who sell garments to a similar audience and find out what kind of designs they sell. You can also browse their top sellers to get an idea of what type of designs sell more frequently (i.e ‘arty’ designs over block lettering?)
It’s also important to know what prices T-Shirts usually sell for. If you’re pitching a company that creates T-Shirts for 18-30 year olds then important to price yourself competitively against other companies selling to this age range otherwise, you’ll lose customers to competition that sells their designs cheaper than you. Having an eye-catching design which sits at the perfect price point gives potential customers more incentive to buy from you.
Do you have a business plan?
Creating designs for T-Shirts may seen like a simple concept, you create the designs, send them to a printing company, upload images to your webstore and then they instantly begin to sell. Unfortunately, it’s never as simple as this and having a business plan is incredibly important no matter what kind of business you’re looking to start.
Things which you need to consider are:
- Target audience – Again this is important as it can determine a number of factors
- Do you have a marketing plan?
- How much money will you be investing in advertising?
- Do you need to hire a designer?
These questions may seem like they’re simple to answer, but it’s important to remember that they can all affect the amount of money that you will need to spend and the amount of customers that you will achieve.
Have you created any designs?
The important part of any printed T-Shirt company is the designs that you’re looking to sell. If you’re planning a T-Shirt which is going to sell to a specific subculture or group, it’s important to think about and plan your designs carefully. Market research will help you identify the types of designs that you should be aiming for – although it’s incredibly important to not copy anyone else – and you can also read our guide on how to create the best T-Shirt designs.
If you’re not a designer yourself, you need to have an idea of what you want to sell. Create descriptions of the designs that you have in mind and hire a freelance designer to create these designs. Be warned, however, this can be expensive so it’s important to consult the business plan that you created earlier and decide how much money you can allocate towards getting your designs created.
If you do hire a freelancer to help create your designs, it’s important to ensure that all of the designs remain yours. If you can agree on a contract beforehand which gives you the rights to all of the T-Shirts that are created, then great, this is a huge bonus. You might also need to factor in the cost of a lawyer into your planning if not.
What’s your price point?
Our system is relatively easy for this step. We’ll tell you the cost of the T-Shirt (which also includes the cost of printing, packaging and delivery) and then we can recommend the perfect price point which you should sell your T-Shirts for and how much profit you’ll then make from each sale.
How much profit you make, however, is entirely up to you but again, it’s important to study the market and find out what other printed T-Shirts are selling for. By doing this, you can work out your price point and what profit you should aim to be making on each of your designs.
You also need to consider what other services you would like on top of the T-Shirt printing, such as:
- Custom labels
- Different fabrics for your T-Shirts
- Printing techniques
- Competitors pricing
- Marketing costs
Our on demand service does take away the cost of storage and shipping so you can save additional money which can be spent elsewhere to create your ideal clothing brand, or you might decide that this saving can go directly into your profits.
Do you know how to sell your T-Shirts?
Again, our on demand service will provide you with a personalised web store where you can showcase and sell your designs. However, if you decide to sell through another platform it’s important to study the different ones on offer and find one which is perfect for you. Shopify, WooCommerce, and WordPress are all fantastic choices but can you link your store to the printing company so they can print an order when it comes in?
If you’ve got an existing website, it’s important to work out if the store can easily tie in with what you’ve already got. We work with a large number of bloggers on their on demand stores and our simple system means that they can easily create a link to their stores on their blog menu. As the store is created through our servers, it’s linked directly to our order management system which means that when an order is received, it’s automatically downloaded into our system so we can print and dispatch it directly to your customer for you.
Have you started marketing?
OK, so you’ve got the details of your business nailed down, you’ve got some awesome designs that you’re proud of and you’ve got the store ready to showcase your designs and begin to sell them. The next step is promoting your T-Shirts so you can begin to get some sales.
Remember, having a web store doesn’t automatically mean that customers are going to find you and start buying your products so you need to work on promoting your designs and bringing the customers in through marketing efforts. If you have a blog on an existing website then this is a fantastic place to start and begin your promotion straight away. Write a couple of excellent blog posts for your readers and then you’ll soon begin to see traffic arriving at your shop.
If you haven’t got a blog set up, then you need to consider other marketing techniques such as promoting your clothing range on social media to help you attract customers. If you decide to market this way, you’ll need to study what other companies are doing, are you using the correct social media platform? Are there platforms that you’re missing? Are your posts good enough to attract customers?
Do you have time?
Starting a business isn’t easy and it’s not something that everyone has the determination to do and to make successful. Sometimes, it’s difficult to attract sales and you’ll need to constantly learn and update your techniques, offer promotions and continually find and learn new ways to bring the customers in.
Remember that T-Shirt businesses already exist and they’ve already got their own tactics nailed down before you’ve even put pencil to paper on your first design so competing against these is going to be a hard and long process so you need to ask yourself if you’ve got the time and the patience to invest into making your new venture work. If you want your T-Shirt business to succeed then you need to stick with it.
Do you understand Trademark and Copyright laws?
This is an incredibly important question when it comes to designing your own T-Shirts as you can’t just copy someone else’s designs and expect to be able to sell these. At Garment Printing (as with many other T-Shirt printing companies), we do not permit the use of Trademarked of Copyrighted symbols, pictures or words unless we’re printing for the intellectual property owner.
What’s the difference between Copyright and Trademark?
A Trademark protects the marketable assets related to a brand. Words, names, sounds and colours which distinguish the goods and services sold by other brands and are all covered by Trademark laws.
What does this mean? Well, for a start, you can’t create a brand called Nike and have a tick for a logo. It also means that you need to think of a brand name and double-check that it isn’t already being used by another company – especially if that company is in a similar industry to you.
Copyright law is designed to protect original artist material or intellectual work – which includes T-Shirt designs. This means that you can’t create T-Shirts based on characters or words which are owned by others (such as band T-Shirts, films, TV shows etc) and sell them because you know that they already have a following. In order to do this, you will need permission from the Copyright holder – assuming that they’re willing to give it to you.
For more information on this, you can read upon the Copyright law or contact legal advice before you think about creating your own T-Shirts.
Do you need to Copyright your designs?
Believe it or not, if you create the designs yourself then you’re automatically the Copyright holder. However, you might want to get legal advice if you want to register your designs with an official Copyright office.
Can you use historical quotes from people / movies / books etc?
This is a tricky question as it’s a subject which has many different rules. Generally speaking, if the quote has passed through the public domain then you should be covered legally to use these quotes within your printed designs. If not, then you’re in the realm of the Fair Use policy where you could be taken to court by whoever owns the Copyright for the quote that you’re trying to use – although this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a case!
In this situation, it’s usually advisable to steer clear from the quote that you want to use unless you’ve got permission from the Copyright holder or if you’ve contacted a legal adviser to find out if the quote is free for you to use.
Who is responsible for Copyright infringement – you or the printing company?
In cases where it’s your design – it’s your responsibility to ensure that you’ve for the full permission from the Copyright holder to use their designs, quotes or images when creating your printed T-Shirts.
As I mentioned earlier, many companies (Garment Printing included) will not permit the use of any Copyrighted or Trademarked material in your design unless you can prove that you have permission the Copyright or Trademark holder.
If a design is printed which belongs to someone else under Copyright or Trademark law then its your sole responsibility and you can be taken to court (I say can because, in most instances, you’ll be asked to remove all designs which feature the Copyrighted material prior to court action being taken). Again, it’s always advisable to speak to lawyers in cases such as this – we are printers after all and not legal representatives and this shouldn’t be considered as sound legal advice.
Have you prepared your artwork correctly?
So, you have created your designs and received any required permissions to use someone else’s designs – now you need to get them printed! It’s one thing drawing your artwork up, it’s another thing altogether getting that design printed onto a T-Shirt. For all printing techniques, we need to artwork prepared in a certain way which allows us to print your designs without any issues or problems with the quality.
For this, you may need to have (or know someone who has) experience in photo editing software such as Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop. You can follow our useful guide on how to prepare your artwork files for printing for more information on this.
Do you know what garments you want to sell?
So everything is set, designs are done, your site is live, artwork is with the printing company, marketing is complete but there’s one final thing which you haven’t considered – which type of garment do you want to sell?
Sure, you want to create your own T-Shirt business, but why stop there? You could add hoodies, jumpers, vests, hats and a whole host of other garments to your store to help capture a different kind of audience and to take advantage of different events and seasons throughout the year. What’s more, a T-Shirt comes in various different materials which all offer different quality and printability. For example, if you’re looking to create an eco-friendly T-Shirt range, have you considered using Bamboo T-Shirts?
Another thing to consider when you’re planning what garments to use is their availability. You might want to use the latest Bamboo T-Shirts to launch your eco-friendly T-Shirts store, but how long will it take the printing company to get these T-Shirts into stock? Is there plenty of stock available to cope with demand or could your customers end up with huge delays before they receive their order?
Knowing the different T-Shirts that are on offer also helps you to manage the costs and your profit as different T-Shirts and brands will vary in price. Before thinking about making as much money as possible, though, it’s important to consider your customers – are they going to be happy buying the lowest quality T-Shirts? Would they be happy to pay more money for a higher quality T-Shirt? If you decided to use high-quality T-Shirts for your brand then this is how your brand is going to be known. Your customers will tell their friends and family and word-of-mouth is one of the best marketing tactics around.
For any advice when it comes to starting your own T-Shirt brand, contact our on demand team by clicking on the contact us button below.