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How to Start a Shopify T-shirt Store with 6 Steps in 2024

Summer Nguyen | 06-19-2024

How to Start a Shopify T-shirt Store with 6 Steps in 2024

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The custom t-shirt printing market is worth billions of dollars and still a growing industry. It’s forecasted to rise by 11.1% annually until 2030. With the help of online tools for printing and selling your t-shirt designs, starting a t-shirt business has never been easier.

By choosing a target audience and creating t-shirts that appeal to them, you can produce popular clothing at a low cost. This guide outlines how to launch an online t-shirt business that generates additional monthly income.

6 Steps to Launch a T-shirt Business

1. Find a Niche

Successful online t-shirt companies learn how to differentiate themselves from competitors. Identifying a niche and catering to that demographic or interest group is a good way to differentiate your items.

Selecting a t-shirt specialization will assist your online business in drawing in these driven clients.

Generally speaking, niches such as “t-shirts with funny slogans” are too general for a startup to effectively compete in. Instead, use keyword research tools and sub-niches to identify the terms that people in your target audience are using to find your content. “T-shirts with slogans about teachers” or “funny t-shirts for dog owners” are two examples of sub-niches within the funny t-shirts category.

A few methods for calculating the worth of entering a niche are as follows:

  1. Get ideas from this Wikipedia list of well-liked pastimes .

  2. Utilize Facebook IQ Audience Insights to determine the extent of your social media niche.

  3. Check the number of subscribers and participation level on a niche subreddit.

  4. Think about your personal hobbies and the groups you are a part of.

Make a business strategy that details chances to sell personalized t-shirts to your target market after you’ve identified a specialty.

2. Cooperate With High-Quality Materials and Printing Suppliers

Finding a bespoke t-shirt maker or a wholesale clothes supplier is the next step in launching an online t-shirt business.

Not all t-shirts are the same, and different printing methods produce different results. Since shirt quality is crucial to your brand’s reputation, it’s important to educate yourself about the options.

While it might be tempting to partner with a budget supplier and sacrifice quality for higher profit margins, remember that product quality affects whether customers make repeat purchases or recommend your shirts to others.

Remember, at the very first beginning of running a business, it’s much more important to focus on quality, building brand name, and gaining customer trust than making quick money and then losing both customers and reputation.

Choosing a quality t-shirt involves considering factors like:

  • Fit
  • Size
  • Material
  • Softness
  • Weight

Tip: Once you’ve narrowed down your options, order some samples so as to make an informed final decision.

3. Design Distinctive T-shirts

Once you’ve chosen a shirt supplier, you may decide to create your very own unique graphic t-shirts. Here are some methods to begin going:

Find the Best-selling Designs and Niches

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for t-shirt designs, consider what’s trending and selling well right now on graphic t-shirt markets like:

Utilizing Google Trends to learn about the subjects people are currently interested in is another helpful suggestion. Make your t-shirt designs inspired by these popular topics.

Hire a Designer

Start drawing some sketches of your t-shirt designs after you have a broad concept in mind. You can make the designs yourself if you know how to use graphic design tools well. Still, getting some assistance might be helpful. The following are a few websites where you can locate qualified graphic designers:

Design Communities

  • Dribbble : A community filled with talented designers. Look for designs you like, then send the designer a message to find out whether they are suitable for your project.

  • Behance : Features the portfolios of global artists with a focus on graphic design and illustrations.

Freelance Networks

  • Upwork : An all-purpose freelance marketplace featuring listings for illustrators and artists. Locate a capable t-shirt designer, then review their portfolio and prior work accomplishments. Via the platform, you can hire someone if you like them.

Marketplaces for T-shirt Design

For your t-shirt business, you can buy pre-made designs rather than employing a designer. While you save money up front, your store may find it more difficult to stand out if other retailers also sell your designs. Take a look at these marketplaces for t-shirt graphics:

Note that before you can use your photographs on t-shirts, you might need to get a commercial license for them.

4. Visualize Your Designs with Mock-ups

You have a couple of options for creating mockups: you can use web software or an image editor like Adobe Photoshop.

Alternatively, there are web-based mockup software options available that offer similar features without requiring you to download Photoshop:

If you prefer not to create digital mockups, just order samples of your shirts and take their photos.

5. Validate Your Design Concepts

Before you fully invest in your new business idea, it’s smart to test the popularity of your designs. There are several ways you can do this:

Reach out to Personal Social Networks

Share previews of your designs on your social media accounts and in groups or communities where your potential customers hang out. Keep in mind that opinions from friends and family may be biased.

Ask Reddit

Despite Reddit’s general dislike for overt marketing, it’s still a valuable platform for getting honest feedback on your designs. Engaging with the community can also attract potential customers and provide free marketing.

Use Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding platforms offer a way to test, validate, and gather upfront funding for new business ideas. Launching a crowdfunding campaign requires preparation and effort, but if you have a unique t-shirt business idea, it could be worth exploring.

6. Establish Your Online Store

With your t-shirt designs commissioned, mock-ups created, and feedback acquired, it’s time to establish your online store.

Integrating your products with a Shopify store is easy if you’re producing your t-shirts using a print-on-demand service. Once a customer makes a purchase, print-on-demand apps take care of the item’s manufacturing and delivery. Customers can visit your store to peruse the selection of shirts.

Here are some t-shirt printing apps that seamlessly integrate with Shopify stores:

Only $1499 ($1999) to launch your Shopify store

  • Ensure store readiness for driving traffic
  • 100% satisfaction or money-back guarantee
  • 30 support days
  • 45 days of expert guidance/personalized support
  • 45 days of unlimited revisions
  • 3-month free trial of 12 Avada apps
  • Learn more
    Shopify Store Setup Service

    Key Considerations for Setting Up a T-shirt Business

    Every phase of operating a t-shirt business, from designing and printing to delivery, may be handled by a tool these days. The true difficulty, though, is differentiating your brand from the competition. The following five elements are crucial to take into account while creating your t-shirt business plan:

    1. T-shirt Printing Techniques

    There are 3 popular methods for printing t-shirts, each with its pros and cons:

    • Screen Printing: Durable and versatile, best for bulk orders but less suitable for complex designs.
    • Heat Transfer: Affordable for small batches, but can be time-consuming and may result in lower quality.
    • Direct-to-Garment (DTG): Produces high-quality prints with no setup costs, ideal for small orders but lacks volume discounts.

    2. Design

    Originality is crucial. Ensure your designs are unique and meet printing requirements for quality results.

    3. Quality

    Product quality directly impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty. Invest in higher quality t-shirts to command higher prices and build a reputable brand.

    4. Brand

    Develop a strong, distinctive brand that resonates with your target audience. Incorporate your business branding into every aspect of your business, from your logo to your marketing efforts.

    5. Inventory Management

    Decide whether to hold inventory or use a print-on-demand service. Each approach has its pros and cons, so weigh them carefully based on your business goals and resources. Ultimately, building a successful t-shirt business requires careful consideration of these factors and a commitment to delivering quality products that align with your brand vision.

    A Successful Example of Online T-shirt Businesses

    Many entrepreneurs have found success in launching shirt-selling businesses. Take Ryan McCarthy, founder of Imouri (formerly Sugoi), for example. Since 2016, he’s been using Shopify to operate his anime-inspired t-shirt printing business.


    Ryan’s journey began when he couldn’t find anime-themed clothing that matched his personal style. He quietly launched what he initially thought would be a small venture. However, it quickly evolved into a six-figure print-on-demand apparel company specializing in streetwear influenced by Japanese pop culture and anime.

    His key to success? Identifying winning designs early on by leveraging platforms like Reddit and paid ads to test products before committing to them. This strategic approach helped him gauge market interest and refine his offerings, ultimately leading to his business’s growth and success.

    Platforms that Integrate with Shopify to Enhance Your Revenue


    Instagram stands out as a premier social media platform for brands, with 70% of shoppers turning to it for their next purchase and over 200 million daily visits to business accounts. It continuously adds new digital marketing and sales features, such as shoppable product tagging in feed posts and Stories, to improve the ecommerce experience.


    TikTok , known as Douyin in China since 2017, has achieved global popularity, particularly among millennials and Gen Z, with a strong following among women under 35. Celebrated for its powerful algorithm and success in influencer marketing, TikTok effectively connects niche audiences with captivating user-generated content.


    Facebook continues to lead in the social media arena, boasting the highest number of monthly users and offering numerous tools for content creation and audience engagement, including comments, reactions, and Messenger. The Meta Business Suite streamlines management for businesses operating both Facebook and Instagram accounts.


    YouTube reaches nearly 2.5 billion monthly active users as of October 2023, making it a crucial platform for influencer marketing. Creators play a significant role in educating viewers about products and helping them make informed purchasing decisions through diverse content formats like haul videos and “shop with me” vlogs.

    Final Words

    Expressing your creativity and selling t-shirts online has never been simpler. No matter which niche you aim to cater to or how ambitious you are with your quality and designs, a t-shirt store can serve as an excellent starting point for new entrepreneurs in the e-commerce world.

    With Shopify, you can easily kickstart your sales and manage your expenses. Connect your store to a t-shirt printer within minutes and launch a catalog filled with products your customers will adore. Shopify provides the tools and support you need to turn your t-shirt business idea into a reality.

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      A data-driven marketing leader with over 10 years of experience in the ecommerce industry. Summer leverages her deep understanding of customer behavior and market trends to develop strategic marketing campaigns that drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, and ultimately, sales growth for our company.

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