How to Start a T-Shirt Business That Makes Money

How to Start a T-Shirt Business That Makes Money

We’re not the fashion police but are required to inform you that there are people – real people – wearing absolutely cringeworthy shirts at this very moment.

It’s tragic but true.

What’s also true is that you have the power to change this. Current technology enables you, and just about anyone else, to run a successful online business right from the comfort of your livingroom couch or a preferred café. 

Why should you start a t-shirt business? Well, there’s never been a better time to capitalize on the latest market trends to reach financial success. As we’ll discuss in this article, the market is highly profitable and welcoming to anyone interested in learning just how to start a t-shirt business.

Read on to see how many people are gaining passive income through this very same approach.

Table of Contents

Why Sell T-Shirts?

It’s safe to say that t-shirts will be in high demand as long as people choose to wear clothing. If this realization leads you to wonder just how to start a t-shirt business, the great thing is that it’s not that hard. Yes, deciding to move out of your comfort zone and into the unknown can be scary, but that’s where you’ll reap the real rewards.

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

Speaking of rewards, it is estimated that the custom t-shirt market will reach $3,086.08 million by 2025. While it’s easy to throw abstract numbers around, the point we’re making here is that with such a big pie, securing even a small piece could be more than enough. There are countless ways and even more materials on the internet to get you started on this journey. All that’s needed from you is some enthusiasm and a pinch of discipline. Let’s jump right in!

Retail vs. eCommerce

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

The way we conduct business has changed over the past few decades. Yes, that’s right, our social lives were not the only things changed by the invention of the internet – it’s now also where we get our food and our clothes. On top of that, the recent global lockdowns significantly sped up the process of moving even more of our lives to the web. With that in mind, you should think about what is the best choice for your business. It is fair to say that eCommerce is currently booming and the potential market growth is looking very promising, but this does not necessarily mean that eCommerce is the way to go.

On our journey to learn how to start a shirt business for free, let’s look at a more detailed comparison between retail and eCommerce.

Retail eCommerce
Location Physical location.

You need a place to store and sell goods.
A website.

You sell goods on the internet.

With POD, you can, but don't need to store goods.
Accessibility Can be 24/7 but is limited to location and specific working hours. 24/7 for you and your customers.
Customer Experience Customers have access to products and staff in person.

Finding products takes time.
Customers have access to product photos, other customer reviews, and online support.

Finding products is easy.
Delivery Customers can receive products immediately or arrange a delivery. Product delivery takes time, done by a third-party delivery service.
Costs Rent, warehouse, products, staff, taxes. Costs depend on chosen platform and services.
Set-up Difficulty Takes days and even months in planning and a large investment. Depends on the platform, but your store can be up and running within hours.
Location
Retail Physical location.

You need a place to store and sell goods.
eCommerce A website.

You sell goods on the internet.

With POD, you can, but don't need to store goods.
Accessibility
Retail Can be 24/7 but is limited to location and specific working hours.
eCommerce 24/7 for you and your customers.
Customer Experience
Retail Customers have access to products and staff in person.

Finding products takes time.
eCommerce Customers have access to product photos, other customer reviews, and online support.

Finding products is easy.
Delivery
Retail Customers can receive products immediately or arrange a delivery.
eCommerce Product delivery takes time, done by a third-party delivery service.
Costs
Retail Rent, warehouse, products, staff, taxes.
eCommerce Costs depend on chosen platform and services.
Set-up Difficulty
Retail Takes days and even months in planning and a large investment.
eCommerce Depends on the platform, but your store can be up and running within hours.

How to Start a T-Shirt Business: Step-by-Step Guide

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

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the industry, you can begin learning how to start a t-shirt business. Don’t worry; we won’t throw you into the deep end of the pool. We’re here to guide you through.

1. Research the Market

The first thing you’ll need to do is look at the market to see what is currently trending among shoppers and your future customers. The type of research you do, or if you carry out any research at all, is entirely up to you. 

You can pick products and ideas that are currently trending or think completely outside of the market box by drawing from your own life experiences. Have you ever tried to find and buy something that no one was offering? Now’s your chance to create that thing.

In addition to your own thoughts and ideas on how to start your own t-shirt business, you can check out our recommendations and learn how to research and profit from eCommerce trends.

2. Choose a Niche

When you begin learning how to start a t-shirt business, you’ll also need to figure out who’s your target customer. 

This is called a customer niche

Think of what kind of people they are and what products they’re looking for. Since we’re talking about how to start a t-shirt business here – think of what shirts they would be wearing.

Ideally, it would be something that other merchants do not yet offer, but don’t be afraid of some competition for your chosen customer segment.

Picking a niche is crucial. The eCommerce industry is saturated with competition, so if you try to sell to everyone, you’ll end up selling to no one. Think this step-through, do your research, and brand accordingly.

3. Write a Business Plan

The next step in learning how to start a t-shirt business is preparing a business plan. This might initially seem like the scariest step, but it does not need to be more complicated than planning out a weekend road trip, and you are not required to submit it anywhere. 

A business plan contains an overview of your business goals and methods for reaching them. Having a thought-out plan on how to start a t-shirt business will ensure that you always keep your goals in mind and stick to a definite schedule. You can keep your plan down to the hour, the season, or year – you decide. You are your own boss.

4. Find a Print Provider With Quality Products

You can scan through the internet using keywords related to your chosen market niche to find the best print providers. You’ll be looking for quality products and the possibility to order samples of those products. 

It’s essential to test out the whole process to confirm that your customers are getting the best products and services out there. 

In addition to a large selection of products, many print providers also offer a variety of printing methods. We suggest looking for direct-to-garment and all-over, as well as embroidery printing. Each one of these printing methods opens up a wide range of design possibilities.

When starting a print-on-demand t-shirt business, it’s crucial to check the quality of products before you start selling. With POD, you don’t have to handle inventory or shipping. So, to make sure you sell the highest quality products, ensure to order samples and try the products yourself before you start selling.

This way you’ll avoid selling low-quality products and dealing with returns or customer complaints.

5. Create Your Unique Design

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

Next up you’ll want to create a best-selling t-shirt design. Make a cup of your comfort beverage and embrace your creative side to produce designs with the help of Photoshop or any other editing software. 

There are plenty of options to go with, depending on your niche. Keep your branding consistent and ensure your designs are original. 

If that does not work, there’s also an abundance of designers offering to create precisely the designs you’re looking for. You can find graphics designers on services like Fiverr.

Once you have a design ready, make sure to see if it looks good with your chosen t-shirt. Printify has a handy mock-up generator, which will help you envision what the end product will look like.

6. Create an Online Store

Once you’ve created some of your products, you’ll need to find a way to offer them to your customers. 

This is where a sales platform or marketplace comes into play. Remember that you’ll be looking for the best sites to sell online that will help you sell shirts to other people on the internet. With that in mind, consider where the best place to house your store could be. 

If you’re just starting out, consider going with a marketplace, such as Etsy or eBay, so that other people could easily find your store. On the other hand, Shopify, and website builders like Wix, are better for those who are looking for an “easy to use” solution.

If you want complete ownership of your store – consider going with WooCommerce or Prestashop.

Fortunately, Printify not only teaches you how to start a t-shirt business but also has set up integrations with some of the most popular eCommerce services out there.

7. Set a Price

Start with some casual market research and go through the prices and deals offered by your competitors. You should price your products with these competitors’ prices in mind. 

The main thing to focus on during product pricing is ensuring that you set your prices high enough to profit from your product sales.

Don’t forget that order fulfillment comes with some costs. Pay attention to shipping prices, taxes, and other expenses you might incur while running a t-shirt business. These expenses should get covered by your sales.

8. Market Your Products

Creating designs and setting up your store is just the beginning. If you don’t market your business, you’ll have a hard time making sales.

Luckily, marketing isn’t as difficult as it might seem.

Start off by using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Building an audience will increase your brand awareness and therefore – sales.

When it comes to social media, it’s crucial you choose a platform your target audience uses. For example, TikTok and Instagram are most popular amongst Millennials and Gen Z, while Facebook is more liked by Boomers.

Don’t try to be everywhere at once. There is no need to advertise yourself on TikTok if you know that your customer niche doesn’t use TikTok. Try to primarily keep to platforms and events that your customers would attend. This will ensure that they actually get to see your designs, and visibility does lead to sales.

If you’re planning to sell your merchandise on a website, try to learn as much about SEO as possible. Include keywords into your product descriptions, and consider starting a blog – it will help with SEO and brand awareness all at once!

Depending on your budget, you might want to consider paid advertising. While it can be costly, it will increase your chances of getting noticed.

Think about how you can plan out a successful creative marketing campaign to get noticed by your target audience.

9. Analyze Your Performance

Keep an eye on what you’re doing and whether it works. As you begin your journey of figuring out how to start a t-shirt business from home, you are sure to encounter many questions and concerns along the way. 

It is important not to let challenges discourage you and keep you from experimenting. Monitoring and keeping track of what you do will help you adjust and refine your actions. 

Platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, offer analytic dashboards, so you can see exactly how your store is doing. By tracking which products sell best and where your audience is from, you’ll be able to optimize both your inventory and marketing efforts.

When it comes to marketing, you can use tools like Google Analytics to see how much traffic you’re getting, how your catalog converts, when your audience is the most active, and many more metrics.

Instagram and Facebook also have integrated business analytics, which will further help you plan out the best marketing campaigns.

Make It Happen Today!

How to Start a T-Shirt Business With No Money on Printify

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

Good news – we’ve made it to the easiest and most fun part of this guide. That is, of course, beginning your Printify journey. This is all part of learning how to start a t-shirt business. At this point in time, you’re only a few short steps away from launching your high-quality t-shirt store.

1. Create a Printify Account

Sign up will only take a few clicks. Printify is free to use for merchants that are starting a business. With your free account, you will get access to Printify’s Mockup generator that will create mockups for your store’s product listings. 

You’ll also get access to eCommerce integrations, the ability to place orders, merchant support, a self-serve help center, and custom order imports from your store.

When your sales grow, you might be interested in changing your business plan to gain even more Printify features.

2. Pick a Product From Our Catalog

Take a look at the Printify Product Catalog to find the best shirts for your store. You’ll be able to choose from a variety of print providers from various locations in the world. 

Take note of internal ranking based on product reprints and delayed production time in the last 30 days to find the best print providers for your store.

Printify offers a growing selection of products, product variants, and printing methods. Our teams are always hard at work to bring you the best quality products that we can find. 

Take a look at the Unisex Jersey Short Sleeve Tee, the Unisex Heavy Blend™ Crewneck Sweatshirt, the Unisex Barnard Tank, and many more!

3. Apply Your Design

Use the Printify Mockup Generator to drag and drop your unique designs onto t-shirts. Duplicate, adjust the size, and position them for the best possible look. Add text, and change fonts.

You’ll get access to product mockups that will help you and your customers visualize wearing your shirts.

Place a sample order to make sure that the products you offer in your store are of high quality and up to your standards.

4. Connect to Your Store

You’ll need to find a way to reach people, so you can sell them your designs. The easiest way to do this is by connecting to an eCommerce platform. As we mentioned earlier, Printify integrates effortlessly with some of the most popular eCommerce platforms and marketplaces available. Check them out to see what works best for you.

5. Start Selling

Sit back and watch those shirt orders come rolling in. Printify has automated all store order fulfillment processes, letting you focus more on learning all the nooks and crannies of how to start a t-shirt business. Your orders will be fulfilled and shipped to your customers directly.

Printifying Successfully

While it’s one thing to try out something entirely new, following in the footsteps of others is something different. 

Learning how to start a t-shirt business can be a stressful experience. It requires quite a bit of self-confidence, perseverance, and even courage. 

The great news is that a bunch of other people have come this exact same way before – many of them reaching great success. The best part is that you don’t have to take our word for it. You can hear it from them.

Check out these success stories to get your creative and confident mojo flowing:

Rich Khun

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

We’re not only fans of Rich as a Printify user, but are also hooked on his YouTube channel – Hustle Ninjas. It is a useful thing to check out for up-and-coming entrepreneurs, as he shares advice and experience on how to start a t-shirt business online.

Christopher Sattes

Christopher Sattes from Virginia, USA, runs a successful Etsy store called Dog Ross Pet Painting

At first glance, it might look like he’s selling fancy portraits of dogs and, although this is true, this is also a place for commissions. Christopher offers the option to purchase custom portraits of your dog, cat, and others, in amusing outfits and scenes from famous movies and important time periods. 

His luck did not start here, he has a background in selling products across multiple profitable niches before he started dressing dogs in fancy gowns.

Lindsey Ferris

In an extraordinary tale of triumph, Lindsey lost her corporate event production business of 12 years, but this didn’t hold her down and stop her from becoming a successful eCommerce entrepreneur. 

Lindsey runs an Etsy shop, FerrisBuilt, which has more than 7000 sales of shirts, notebooks, mugs, and other print-on-demand products. The merch she offers has truly inspiring and empowering messages, though there are also some designs that are more calming and fun.

Conclusion

Congrats, you now know how to start your own t-shirt business! Thankfully, this is not a particularly hard task. 

Printify is set up to give you and anyone else a chance to succeed, regardless of your background and any past failures. We are dedicated to providing opportunities to the people, channeling their creativity with the hope of bringing about a better world for themselves and their communities.

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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33 comments

  1. Bafarmi
    July 1

    Hello, I am a seller on the ebay platform, the price you give me and the price I give to the end customer will be different, if the product is shipped from you to my customer, which price will be sent to the customer in the invoice? And whether the name of my store is mentioned in the invoice that he bought from ebay and my store or not?

    1. Martha Simmons
      July 4

      Hi Bafarmi,
      Your customer will be charged with the price you yourself set up. Printify charges you the production and shipping costs (+ tax/VAT, if applicable). You charge your customer production + shipping + the profit. In other words, you yourself have to set the profit margin, however, we recommend setting it at least at 40% to successfully grow with Printify. You can read more about it here.

      And that all said, the customer will only see the retail price, so they don’t know how big of a profit margin you will have set.

      As for the invoices, Printify does not send your customer any invoices, however you should be able to set up your own payment policy on eBay.

      If any further help is necessary, please reach out to our merchant support team via the live chat on Printify website.

  2. Wylie Detenamo
    February 2

    Where can I check if my designs are not infringing other peoples designs?

    1. Florence Kingsley
      February 3

      Hi there Wylie! You can check out this article and the Intellectual Property Policy can be found here.

  3. Funke
    February 1

    Do you have children sizes

    1. Martha Simmons
      February 2

      Hi there,
      Yes, we have a whole section in our Product Catalog for children’s and baby clothing. See here.

  4. Sandra
    January 20

    Hi, May I Connect my printify products to an Ecwid on line
    store?

    1. Florence Kingsley
      January 20

      Hi there Sandra,
      Currently there is no direct integration with Ecwid. However, you can still use Printify for your order fulfillment, as long as it allows you to create product listings and collect payment from your customers.You can also create product listings, using our Mockup Generator and save the mockup images to your computer, then manually upload them to your listings. Please see more detailed information here.

  5. Zanele Monare
    December 20

    Hi can I use this platform for South Africa, I did not see a supplier in South Africa on your platform

    1. Martha Simmons
      December 22

      Hi Zanele,
      At the moment we unfortunately don’t have any print providers located in South Africa, however we do ship there, so you can still use Printify.

  6. Bob
    October 24

    What happens if someone want to return an item?

    1. Naomi
      October 26

      Hello there!

      Print On Demand products have customized designs, therefore items cannot be returned to print providers, however you can come up with your own return policy in case you want your customers to have this option.
      We offer reprint or refund for any order that has issues or differs from the ordered. Make sure your customer has provided the picture of the issue, and send it to our merchant support along with the order number.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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].

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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].

  18. 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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