How to start a t-shirt business

How to start a t-shirt business

At this very moment, there are people – real people – wearing bad, substandard, or improper shirts. It’s true. What’s also true is that you have the power to change it – the technology has improved to the point of empowering just about anyone to run their own business. But why should you start a t-shirt business? Well, as we’ll show further, the market is flourishing, highly profitable, and welcoming anyone willing to seize the opportunity. 

There’s never been a better time to capitalize on the current market trends to reach financial success. Read on to see just how many other people are maximizing their passive-income potential through that very same idea. 

This is a terrific moment for anyone considering how to start a t-shirt business. Fast fashion is still in vogue – the people always want new, flashy accoutrement that meshes with their own interpretations of the self, the world around them, and the very nature of reality itself.

In case you’re in a rush, here’s a quick walkthrough:

  1. Acknowledge Market Potential: The customer t-shirt industry is flourishing. 
  2. Technology and T-shirts: This is a very good time to get into the t-shirt game. 
  3. Believe in Yourself: Show the people what you’ve got. It’s a big world. Regardless of what the angle is, even the most esoteric notion can potentially connect with a bunch of other people who feel the same way. 
  4. Have a Good Idea: The brain is always on, anyway. Just nudge it a bit away from comfortable happy places and more toward making money.
  5. Retail vs. E-tail: The good, bad, and ugly of reaching modern audiences. 
  6. How to start a t-shirt business with Printify: This is a free-to-start venture that has essentially no risks while coming with big potential rewards.
  7. Printifying Successfully: These people achieved great things using the Printify setup. Why not step up and claim some similar triumphs?

1. Acknowledge market potential

Custom t-shirt printing market size worldwide from 2016 to 2025 (in million U.S. dollars)
How To Start a T-shirt Business Market Potential
Source: Statista
How To Start a T-shirt Business Market Potential
Source: Statista

Looking around, it’s not hard to see that custom and individualized t-shirts are trending. But, if you’re wondering how to start a t-shirt business, the great thing is that it’s really not that hard. Yes, making the decision to move out of a comfort zone and into the unknown can be scary, but that’s where the real rewards are. Speaking of rewards, Credence Research Incorporated estimates the custom t-shirt market to reach (or even exceed) $10 billion by 2025. While it’s easy to throw abstract numbers around, the point is that with such a big pie, securing even a small piece would equate to a significant profit.

If you’re ever unsure of a product’s viability, here are a few key points to consider:

Ascertain the product’s market size

At the most basic level, market size is the number of individuals in a certain market segment who are potential buyers. You should aim to give your customers the products they want, and not products you’ll have to convince them to buy.

Calculate market growth rate

This is usually determined by studying market patterns over a few years. Tools like Google trends (but there are many others) are great for simplifying this process.

Determine profitability

All businesses need to profit to survive. This means dialing in numbers like return on investment (ROI), return on sales (ROS, return on net assets (RONA), and return on capital employed (ROCE). Fortunately, there are many market research tools and specialists that can help bring clarity to an otherwise disorganized alphabet soup of foreign terms.

Assess the competition

Quite a few people are thinking about how to start a t-shirt business. No one is ever the only game in town. If you manage to monopolize something, congratulations. However, it’s much more likely that any startup will go head-to-head against other businesses already entrenched within the same sector. So, use tools like this to understand the economic geography of any industry you’re planning to enter. In other words, don’t start a lemonade stand right next to a soda factory.

Know your customer

T-shirts are bought frequently – they wear out, become less interesting than newer editions, are purchased as pieces of a set, etc. The point is that getting into the mind of a customer helps entrepreneurs cater to their needs. Regardless of the target audience, it’s a big advantage to know what motivates, intrigues and stimulates that demographic.

As you’ve been wondering how to start a t-shirt business, know that the stars have indeed aligned for anyone choosing to get in. It’s literally become easy. So easy, in fact, that there are written articles that walk people through the whole thing. All that is required in this ultramodern era to get cracking is some enthusiasm, a can-do attitude, and a bit of discipline – well, it’s also important to have fun with it, too.

2. Technology and t-shirts

How to start a t-shirt business - Technology and t-shirts
How to start a t-shirt business - Technology and t-shirts

So, why is the t-shirt industry making such a splash right now? Why do so many people want to know how to start a t-shirt business? Well, one generalized way of breaking this phenomenon down is by pointing out a symbiotic, self-sustaining combination between technological improvements and the inevitable descent of human culture into frenzied consumerism.

How to start a t-shirt business - Technology and t-shirts 2
How to start a t-shirt business - Technology and t-shirts 2

Custom t-shirts are everywhere these days. It’s a veritable blizzard of colors, patterns, and improvisations. It’s a trend only seeming to increase in popularity. Why? The reason can be spelled out in two words: digital printing. The application of this contemporary method has rapidly and comprehensively replaced time-consuming (and expensive) old-school techniques like dyeing and pressing. 

Digital printing - Direct to garment

In this method, a digitized format of an image destined for printing is analyzed by a computer and converted into a printable format. This digitization results in images being printable within seconds. Combine this actualization with the introduction of modernized inkjet heads – nozzles that disperse colors onto printed materials via the form of tiny droplets, and the entire printing process can be completed in moments.

Otherwise known as all-over-print (AOP), sublimation printing is a design process where inks are transferred onto the product using heat.

If you’re thinking about starting a t-shirt business and looking for long-lasting products that feature distinct colors and high-resolution quality, keep an eye out for AOP clothing in the Printify catalog. The sublimation printing method allows for long-lasting designs – the images won’t crack or wear even after dozens of uses. It allows you to play around with designs that cover the entire blank product from seam to seam.

3. Believe in yourself

How to start a t-shirt business - Believe in yourself
How to start a t-shirt business - Believe in yourself

So simple, but so necessary. While yes, it’s a hard fact that success isn’t usually an overnight phenomenon, the key is working to your best efforts with whatever cards have been dealt. Not unlike training a muscle group in the gym, working to build up confidence is something that develops over time. 

Contrary to mainstream media, it’s actually a normal occurrence to have doubts. However, overcoming intrinsic adversity results in feelings of satisfaction, optimism, and, one of the ultimate human experiences, self-love. 

There are moments when anyone might feel a bit smaller than they’d like to when considering how to start a t-shirt business. Just remember, the rewards are real in today’s flourishing international economy. 

But, as perspective is everything, this moment could be the dawning of the terrific concept or idea that sends your business into overdrive. See, any endeavor is bound to encounter moments that aren’t as smooth as the beautifully glazed illusions of social media and reality television.

How to start a t-shirt business - Believe in yourself 2
How to start a t-shirt business - Believe in yourself 2

Moving outside the familiar is not for the faint of heart. However, don’t be afraid to chase variations of unfamiliar positional thinking – it is through comparisons, trials, and potentially even failure that true art and originality can arise. Even wondering how to start a t-shirt business is putting energy in the right direction. 

The great news here is that there are resources available, like this blog for creating printed ideas, dedicated to helping you start a t-shirt business, even if you don’t have any investment money available.

4. Have a good idea

How to start a t-shirt business - Have a good idea
How to start a t-shirt business - Have a good idea

Easier said than done, right? Well, not necessarily. The respected philosopher and neuroscientist Dr. Deepak Chopra ventured that the human brain conjures a rough 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts per day. Statistically speaking, at least a few of them must be golden. And even if they’re not, the very idea of encountering existential angst could be the handle that drives your venture. 

Ever heard of the starving artist? It’s totally possible to start out with an idea that transitions and evolves into any number of subgenres. After all, you’re special. Or, maybe you’re not special… Either direction could be the start of a great brand idea. And it may very well liberate you from worrying about how to start a t-shirt business and allow you to actually do it.

Get out of your own head

How to start a t-shirt business - Get out of your own head
How to start a t-shirt business - Get out of your own head

The quest to find a perfect idea is far from linear. But, what aspect of life is? The journey itself has to be joyful. Restricting feelings of success to self-imposed limitations is a recipe for a bummer. Love the process. Love your process. Through daily life, innumerable perspectives will open – providing checkpoints for analysis, observation, and even critique. 

Fortunately, these movements can be undertaken gradually, or even in tandem with other, more comfortable pursuits. There are also a ton of creativity exercises designed to get the brain fired up. The catalyst for a great idea can bloom from a random image web search, reading a provoking bit of content (books, online, advertisements, whatever), meditation, taking a brisk walk, and so much more. 

All in all, there are virtually no limits on what can stimulate a killer’s thought. But even the act of reading these words is putting more metaphysical momentum toward the goal of starting a business. Take advantage of the strangeness of alternating mindsets. After all, you’re the one thinking about how to start a t-shirt business. You’re the one making those metaphysical ripples. It’s only a matter of time until that raw energy coalesces into something financially fruitful.

Create your own custom t-shirt!

5. Retail vs. eCommerce

How to start your t-shirt business - Retail vs. eCommerce
How to start your t-shirt business - Retail vs. eCommerce

It’s little surprise that the way business is conducted has taken quite a few turns over the past few decades. Yes, the internet changed things. Nowadays, it’s very normal for people to do a bit of online research before venturing into the brick-and-mortar world to buy a product. 

Traditional retail is the sale of various services and goods to individuals from merchants. Etail (also called eCommerce) refers to transactions that take place between customers and business owners over an electronic network – the web. But the thing is, each way of doing business has respective pros and cons. Furthermore, these factors come into play with extra impact when considering how to start a t-shirt business with no money.

E-tail advantages:

  • Reviews and Information: While the goal of any business is to be trusted by customers, end-users have always looked to real people for recommendations and advice when purchasing products. When a store provides these details upfront, that enterprise gains momentum toward securing its audience. 
  • Convenience: Right off the bat, e-tail is super accessible. Anyone anywhere can have immediate access 24 hours a day – as long as they have a connection. Even without a traditional connection, sources like libraries and internet cafes make this option easy to tap into. 
  • Pricing: If a store offers a better deal, more options, or some other increased value to customers relative to rivals, they win the customer. While search engines can be tailored to push certain products, the rapid availability of information gives customers options for seeking better services, items, etc. 
  • Flexibility: It’s so easy to go onto an online store and make a few changes. With Printify, there’s no need to worry about how to start a t-shirt business. It’s a matter of seconds to create new products, remove old or outdated items, change branding, reformat a design, switch print providers, increase/decrease prices, and so much more.
  • Explosive Market Growth: The winds of favor are blowing hard in favor of modern eCommerce. According to Statista, retail e-commerce sales worldwide in 2020 amounted to 4.28 trillion U.S. dollars, and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to a mind-boggling 5.4 trillion U.S. dollars in 2022.

Initial investment

First of all, standard retail requires having to pay rent for a physical location. Add that to the necessity of maintaining an inventory for walk-in customers, having to potentially pay staff wages, covering insurance, etc. The list goes on and on for those literally supporting an actual roof. If you’re wondering how to start a t-shirt business with no money, this point should serve as a breath of fresh air.

Disadvantages of eCommerce:

  • Online Security and Fraud: Certain companies have become notorious for pushing inferior quality goods to customers after taking their money. It’s very difficult for the average layperson to verify the legitimacy of a store before they purchase – particularly as many people impulse buy from well-crafted advertisements.
  • Inspections: Often, all an online customer has to work with are a few pictures of products or including products. As everyone knows, it’s well within the realms of possibility to have some shady photographer take selectively placed pictures to boost an item’s attractiveness, an unscrupulous computer wiz to modify pictures and make things look better, or any other way of falsifying the customer’s perspective. There’s just no replacement for being able to hold something in one’s hands and gauge the value in person.

Time constraints

If an item is needed within a short amount of time, shipping costs may factor in. Postage isn’t always the most reliable way of getting an item from one place to another; items may be lost or damaged in transit. Furthermore, online shipping simply can’t compete with the speed of grabbing something off a shelf and walking it to a cashier.

6. How to start a t-shirt business with Printify

How to start a t-shirt business with Printify
How to start a t-shirt business with Printify

There are a lot of different business models out there; various strengths, weaknesses, goals, etc. But, when considering how to start a t-shirt business, the Printify setup checks all boxes: effective, efficient, and transparent… Oh, and free. Don’t forget free. One of the main reasons that most businesses fail is cash. Well, the lack of it. While innumerable additional factors come into play when determining whether a startup is successful, Printify skips this first obstacle entirely by providing immediate access to the garment production table. Rather than wondering how to start a shirt business with no money, there’s a clear-cut method available – along with (literal) 24/7 support.

Why bother with a t-shirt business?

Well, because it’s a super easy ball to get rolling. Once you learn how to start a t-shirt business and set everything up, whenever a customer pays for an item, that product will be pulled, printed, and packaged – all without the designer (you) doing anything.  No matter how many products are shipped out, there’s never a need to get involved in sourcing, warehousing, machine maintenance, supply, etc. – it’s all handled. The potential for scaling is virtually limitless. When an enterprise takes off and demand increases, the ability to rise to the occasion is often the straw that breaks the camel’s back. There’s no fear of this occurring in the POD model, though. After a bit of time investment, the rewards flow on their own. 

Check out some of the bestsellers below.

Unisex Heavy Cotton Tee
Unisex Heavy Cotton Tee
Unisex Jersey Short Sleeve Tee
Unisex Jersey Short Sleeve Tee
Gildan 2000 unisex ultra cotton tee
Gildan 2000 unisex ultra cotton tee

7. Printifying successfully

While it’s one thing to try out something entirely new, following in the footsteps of another down an unfamiliar road is entirely different. It’s true that first starting down the road of wondering how to start a t-shirt business can be an unnerving experience. The action requires quite a bit of self-confidence, perseverance, and internal fortitude. The great news is that a bunch of other people has come this exact same way before – many reaching great success. The best part is that you don’t have to take our word for it.

Check out these success stories to get the creative, confident mojo flowing:

For online entrepreneur Rich Khun, running a successful online t-shirt business comes naturally. From making $200,000 a year to successful YouTuber – Rich is a true inspiration.

Rich caught our attention not only because he uses Printify services but also because we’re hooked on his YouTube channel, Hustle Ninjas, where he’s rapidly emerging as one of the “influencers to watch” in the “make money online” scene giving some great advice on how to start a t-shirt business, and much more.

Christopher Sattes, an eCommerce entrepreneur from Virginia in the USA, knows a thing or two about running a successful business.

Christopher sold products in multiple profitable niches before settling on his current weird and wonderful idea: An Etsy store called “Dog Ross Pet Painting,” where pet owners can purchase custom portraits of their dog, cat, and more, in amusing outfits and scenes from famous movies and significant time periods.

An extraordinary tale of triumph. Lindsey lost a 12-year business but bounced back stronger and more confident than ever. Currently, she is making a business for herself in print on demand and excelling at it. Her Etsy shop, FerrisBuilt, and her Shopify store FerrisBuilt.net have more than 4500 sales. 

Conclusion

In short, this article should give a brief introduction on how to start a t-shirt business. Thankfully, it’s not a particularly hard task. The Printify system itself is organized to give anyone a chance to succeed. Regardless of background, ethnicity, or prior failures, this organization is dedicated to providing the people with opportunities to capitalize on their own creativity and inclinations to bring about a better world for themselves and their communities at large. We’d love to be a part of your success story. Get started with Printify today, and let’s put your brand on the map – right up there with other Printify superstars like Rich Khun, Christopher Sattes and Lindsey Ferris.

Make it happen today!

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21 comments

  1. jo
    October 16

    How do you protect my designs from being used by your other customers who are also selling through your printing services? Some of my designs will be copyrighted through the U.S. Copyright Office, however, others will be simply be protected by just having them in use, in commerce.

    1. Martha Simmons
      October 19

      Hi there,
      The designs you upload on Printify Mockup Generator when creating your products are not used anywhere else, and they are not accessible to anyone else. Only the person, who has access to your Printify account, can access your designs.

  2. TJ
    August 31

    Also, do you have your own payment supported platform or would I have to join shopify or another platform? And what other ones beside shopify if that’s the way I need do it?

    1. Naomi
      September 1

      Hey there!

      Printify does not provide a storefront that would be accessible to your customers, so you’ll need to use one of the sales channels. On Printify you can design products, edit listings, control which products appear on your store, manage sales and overall – run your business. Here is a full article on which direct sales channel integrations we offer and how to connect each one.

  3. TJ
    August 31

    Does your platform protect me from doing something that infringes on someone else’s rights? Even if their not members of your platform?

    1. Naomi
      September 1

      Hello TJ!

      You may not post or upload content (text, data, articles, images, photographs, graphics, software, applications, designs, features, and other materials) that infringes on the copyright or trademarks of others.

  4. FOLA
    August 15

    Hello , do I need a license to sell online

    1. Martha Simmons
      August 17

      Hi there,
      You would only need a license, if you’re using copyrighted or trademarked designs for your products.

  5. Elizabeth Smalls
    May 2

    Good evening, I have a great logo idea to put on a t-shirt would I need to patent my idea first before I start sending my idea with printify? and how much would it cost to get started? I’m new at this. So much I need to learn. i

    1. Naomi
      May 3

      Hello there! Hope you are doing well.

      You can upload your design on Printify and order a product without any worries about copyright infringement. You keep all the rights to your designs, and they are shared with our print providers only in order to have the item fulfilled.
      When it comes to publishing your design to a sales channel, this is when your design becomes visible to everyone, so to avoid the chance of people copying your design, you can copyright it before publishing.
      As for the costs, please consider that total price consists of price for product, print, tax and shipping expenses. T-Shirt prices start at $5.25 and you can see the full production price once you add a design to an item of your liking.
      If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask [email protected].

  6. Geekatari
    March 28

    This post is very encouraging. It is worth the shot now that my wife and myself are in certain need to try some new way of income.
    I have some ideas for my brand, and with the help of this service it could possibly work.

  7. Dylan Liddiard
    February 23

    What percentage do I receive from sales do I get the full sale or just a cut

    1. Naomi
      February 24

      Hi there!

      On Printify you will need to cover base costs that include production and shipping, and based on that you set your own retail price, depending on the profit you’d like to receive.

  8. Jay
    February 6

    ? Can one display products in all e commerce channels at the same time and also is intellectual property law maintained with regards to been copied by someone

    1. Naomi
      May 26

      Hi there!

      You can definitely trust us with safety of your designs, we use your design file only for purpose of printing your order. Nevertheless, whenever your product is published on a sales channel, it is visible for others. Without direct access to your design file copycats can’t use your design, but they can still have ideas quite similar to yours. I do hope you won’t have to experience it.

      As for multiple sales channels, you can publish your product on one and just copy it to all remaining sales channels. On My Store, click on 3 dots next to your product and choose ‘Copy to’ option. After that you can select which of your stores you want to share the product with.

  9. Christopher Laffredo
    January 21

    This is a great article and has literally given me a few ideas with wordplay I want to use in my soon to be new tee-shirt business!
    Thank You now I need to get my @$$ in gear and get on it!

  10. Sheila Manley
    December 31

    Hi I’ve been thinking of my own online brand and I think tshirting can be one, hopefully it will work out.

  11. Everyone
    November 7

    Hi, please explain to me why the store Famous IRL can use things like Schrute farms or Michael Scott paper company? Are they paying licensing fees? Everything I’ve read in your terms of agreement and printify’s terms of agreement consistently says to watch out for copyright laws and using other peoples material. What is the fine line here? Any help is appreciated!!

    1. Martha Simmons
      August 10

      Hi there,
      Thank you for your question! As long as you have the license to use copyrighted designs, you are more than welcome to do so also on Printify. However, you may not post or upload content that infringes on the copyright or trademarks of others. If you have any further questions about this, feel free to address them with our merchant support team via [email protected].

  12. Ricardo Romero
    August 3

    Inspiring 🙂 … can’t wait to upload my first designs and sell my first product

    1. Elina Stafecka
      August 3

      Awesome! We can’t wait for it too, Ricardo!

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