How to start an online T-shirt business: All you need to know (2021).

T-shirts aren’t just casual wear. They’re clothing that often reflect our interests and personalities.

Selling t-shirts online is a popular option for artists and entrepreneurs looking to learn how start a business. The global custom t-shirt printing market is expected to surpass $10 million by 2025.

There’s no doubt that t-shirts are becoming more popular than ever. This will make it difficult to stand out from the crowd. You can make your mark by creating tee-shirt designs that appeal to your target audience.

This guide will show you how to create a shirt company online that generates extra income month after month.

1. 1. Choose a niche to start your online t-shirt business

An online clothing business can stand out by creating a niche. This will allow you to attract the right audience and not blow your budget.

Although the term “niche” is often used, it is important to know which one to use when you are trying to start an online t-shirt company. A successful online t-shirt company model requires you to be unique. One way to do this is to target a specific audience or group of people.

Categories like “t-shirts for people that like funny slogans” will not be noticed by a large market. It’s going to be necessary to make it more specific. T-shirts that have funny slogans or relate to veterinarians and dog owners are one example of a niche.

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If you are looking for ways to start an online t-shirt company, there are many options. Here are some:

After narrowing down your market, you can create a business plan to start your shirt-selling business. This plan will outline your goals and offer you different sales opportunities. Next, you need to figure out how you’ll implement that plan.

2. 2.

Finding suppliers is the next step in how to start an internet t-shirt company. There are many options for t-shirts and different print jobs. Quality is key to your brand’s success. We have already mentioned this, so make sure you are educated and select your blank shirts carefully.

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When you open a shirt shop online, it might seem tempting to compromise quality in order to make more profit. However, you should consider the impact of quality on a customer’s decision whether to purchase again from you or share your brand.

The quality of a t-shirt depends on many factors such as fit, size, material, softness and weight. T-Shirt Magazine’s review on the top blank t-shirts to print is a great place to start.

After narrowing down your options, it is strongly advised to order samples in order to make an informed decision.

3. Create your own t-shirt designs

Next, you will need to design your t-shirt designs. These are just a few of the ways that you can get started on your t-shirt design business.

Find the top-selling designs and niches

You can look at other popular designs and ideas for niche t-shirts to get inspiration.

Here is a list with links to some of the most popular graphic t-shirt marketplaces. These pages can be used to search for the “best sellers”, and “most popular” sections. This will give you a better idea about your next niche or tee design.

To get an idea of what topics people are interested in, you might also consider looking at Google Trends. This will give you inspiration for your online t-shirt business.

Hire a designer

You will need to design the t-shirt designs once you have an idea. You can probably create some amazing designs if you have Adobe Photoshop and a similar program. If you are like most people, however, you will need some assistance.

You have many options to find the right graphic designer for you.

Design communities

Dribbble Dribbble is a community of designers with a lot of creative talent. To find the style that you are looking for, search for it and contact the designers to inquire if they are available for freelance projects.


: Behance is a great platform to explore. Portfolios of different artists from around the globe can be viewed. They specialize in niches and styles, as well as illustrations. You can contact a designer if you like their work and request a quote for your custom t-shirt design.


Networks of freelancers

You might also consider the popular freelance networks Upwork and Freelancer. It is easy to find qualified t-shirt designers quickly. You can also check their portfolio and past achievements. You can also reach out to someone you like and have them hired on the spot.


Buy t-shirt designs

You can buy pre-made designs if you are having trouble finding a designer to help you start an online t-shirt company. You should keep in mind that there is a high chance that someone else already has the design you select, making it difficult for your online shirt selling company to stand out.

The following graphic marketplaces sell t-shirts:

  • Designious sells vector packs, PNG t-shirt designs and clip art for creating your own products.
  • Tshirt Factory: This site offers a wide range of vector images, from urban to punk and old school styles, for t-shirt printing companies.
  • Creative Market – This market doesn’t just focus on t-shirts. You can also find more than 3 million fonts, graphics and themes created by independent creators around the globe.
  • Graphic River – Where you can purchase and sell royalty-free Photoshop files, vectors and icon packs to enhance your t-shirt designs

Remember that if you are interested in starting an online t-shirt company, you might need to buy a commercial license.

4. 4.

After you have finalized your designs, the next step in how to start an online t-shirt company is to create mockup images. Mockups allow customers to see the final design printed on a shirt.

There are several ways to get images of your final designs printed on t-shirts. You can order samples or take product photography yourself. Or, you can use the many tee-shirt templates online and create a digital mockup like this one.


The most popular type of mockup file is Adobe Photoshop t shirt templates. These templates allow you to preview how your designs will appear printed on a T-shirt. Many Photoshop templates have multiple layers. You can change the shirt’s color and create your own design to blend in with the shirt’s folds, creases and contours.

These are some resources that will help you to find the right mockup file for your shirt-selling business.

You don’t have to use Adobe Photoshop if you aren’t interested. There is also web-based mockup software available that allows you to do the same thing, without needing to download Photoshop.

You can also enlist the help of someone on Fiverr for similar tasks. Search for t-shirt mockups.

5. 5. Validate your designs for your online t-shirt business

You should confirm that there is a market and interest in your business before you spend a lot of money. You have many options to validate the market and sell T-shirts online.

One of the most common and popular methods to validate your design ideas is:to open a shirt shop online

Social networks for personal use. You can post some of your designs on your Facebook profile, in niche Facebook groups, Twitter, or other social media networks that your friends and potential customers use. Asking family and friends for their opinions is a good idea, but they are not always kind.

Reddit. Although the community is generally against marketing, Reddit still offers honest feedback on your designs . This can even translate into sales once you launch. It’s easy to locate a niche market of potential customers through subreddits. Ask them for their feedback on your designs before you launch.

Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding makes it easier to validate and raise money upfront for your business idea. It can take time and preparation to launch a crowdfunding campaign. The benefits of crowdfunding can be enormous, with the possibility of fully funding your project before it is launched. Crowdfunding might be a good option if you have an innovative idea for a t-shirt company (e.g. matching tshirts for dog owners and dogs).

Print on demand. Shopify and other ecommerce platforms make it easy to create an online store, domain name included, in just a few hours. This will allow you to validate your business idea. To validate your t-shirts, you can start a 14-day trial and integrate a print on demand service.


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6. 6.

Once you have your tee designs and mockups in hand, you can start building your online store.

A few t-shirt printing-on-demand services can be integrated with your Shopify store to allow you to take orders quickly. These services will print your t-shirts and send them to your customers every time they receive an order.

It’s easy to start your business without the need to buy or hold inventory. You also have the option to print your design on other products like mugs or tote bags.

The following print on-demand companies offer a range of t-shirts:

Once you have your shop set up, you can start selling t-shirts online.

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Five things to consider when starting a tee-shirt business

While it is relatively easy to start a business by using the technology and tools available to design, print, and ship custom t-shirts, it can be difficult to build a brand that stands out from the rest. It’s not easy to build an online t-shirt business when there is so much competition and such low profit margins.

You must make the right choices if you want to sell t-shirts online.

It is important to consider several factors when starting an online shirt-selling business. Before you move forward, each of these essential elements must be carefully considered.

  1. Printing techniques for T-shirts. There are many ways to print designs on a T-shirt. You can save money and make better business decisions by choosing the right one.
  2. Design. Most people who purchase graphic tees want to connect with their feelings and express their personality.
  3. Quality. To build a sustainable business, you need to ensure that the quality of your shirts and the printing job are top-notch.
  4. Brand, It is essential that the t-shirt industry has a strong and interesting brand.
  5. Inventory, How can you manage your inventory to get volume discounts? Or use a print on demand service to save time.

Let’s have a closer look at each.

1. Printing T-shirts

When it comes to making an online t-shirt company, there are three main printing methods. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. The time and printing partner you choose will also impact your decision.

To help you understand each step, we have listed the three options for printing t-shirts. It doesn’t matter if you have your own printer or rely on a local supplier. Understanding the workings of each printing method is important.

Screen printing

Photo courtesy of: Printful

Screen printing is an age-old technique that has proven to be reliable for those who sell t-shirts online or in-store.

Screen printing is a popular method for printing on t-shirts. It can provide durable and long-lasting results. You can also print on items like canvas items, mugs and other products to make and market, which is a great way to increase your product range.

Screen printing can be labor-intensive at first, so printing in bulk is more cost-effective. Complex designs and designs that have more than four or five colors can also pose problems with screen printing. Each color will increase production costs.


  • Large quantities are more cost-effective
  • Volume discounts


  • Multiple colors are not cost-effective
  • You can only print simple images or designs

Heat transfer

Photo courtesy of: Transfer Express

Heat transfers are also available in many forms and have been around for some time. You might have seen heat transfer paper in your local office supply shop.

This method is great for printing designs on your computer at home and then transferring them using an iron. However, it’s not ideal for small businesses. Plastisol transfers, which are the most advanced form of heat transfer, are printed by professionals on high-quality heat-transfer papers.

Heat transfers offer the advantage of being able to order multiple prints from your local printer, and then transfer them to your tee shirts using a commercial heat press machine.

T-shirts can be printed with full-color images using heat transfers. This is possible quickly and easily.


  • Each shirt can be “printed” on demand
  • Smaller batches are more affordable
  • There is no limit to the number of colors that you can use in a printed piece


  • Direct-to-garment printing and screen printing are less durable and of lower quality.
  • A large upfront investment is required in heat press machines (from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars)
  • Do-it-yourself means more time for you

Direct-to-garment (DTG).

Photo courtesy of: Anajet

Direct-to-garment printing works much the same way as an ink-jet printer at home. This printer is a popular type of equipment for t-shirt printing. It prints directly on the tee and produces accurate full-color images.

Direct-to-garment printing is a great way to print quality that’s comparable to screen printing. It also produces better printing than heat transfers. It works like an inkjet printer and does not require setup, unlike screen printing. It’s simple and economical to print small orders.

It is not possible to get a volume discount on large orders of direct-to–garment printing online teshirts. Each shirt takes approximately the same time.


  • Unlimitless color options
  • High accuracy printing design
  • Ideal for one-off orders and small orders
  • No set-up costs


  • Large production runs are not economically feasible
  • There are generally no volume discounts

2. 2.

A visitor wouldn’t want to see a duplicate of a tee-shirt design from another source in your catalog. You don’t have to make your designs complicated. In fact, most of the top-selling graphic tees in sales are simple. They must connect with your audience and be memorable.

Your design files must be at least 300 pixels per in (dpi/ppi) and have a transparent background. They should also be large enough to cover the entire print area of your t-shirt. Your exact specifications may vary depending on the printer used and the printing method used. More information will follow.

3. 3. Quality

Quality is the next important aspect of how to set up an online t-shirt company that will be successful over time. It’s possible to disappoint someone once but not twice. You won’t get raving fans if your t-shirt shrinks or cracks, or a pattern that isn’t durable.

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T-shirts of higher quality can be more expensive to make but also have higher prices. Your final quality t-shirt will be determined by the material used for printing, the method used to create it, and the preparation of your design file.

Photo courtesy of: Nuvango

4. 4.

When you want to start your own shirt business online, a strong and interesting brand is essential. Your brand is your promise to all of your choices. This includes your niche, design, quality, and designs. In a highly competitive industry, it is crucial to create a memorable brand.

Customers have many options, so it is important that an ecommerce company has a distinct presence to grab their attention.

You can use a niche to market your online t-shirt business that embodies a lifestyle to communicate with these customers.