7 Steps to Start a Profitable t shirt Business for Beginners

Start a Profitable t shirt Business

T shirt is easy comfortable simple wears than other clothing, everyone have t shirts in the wardrobe. So T-shirts are in great demand. Yes. Some of you may take the t shirt business as a small and easy business, indeed the competition in the t shirt market is extremely fierce. You may be in a real challenge if you decide to start your own t shirt business. If you want to be successful t shirt business ownership, you have to make adequate preparation in the t shirt selection, wholesale, and marketing strategies.

In this article, we will provide you with the step by step guide to start a profitable t-shirt business for beginners.

Step 1 Choose Your Niche and Target Audience

Before starting any business, it is essential to identify your target audience and niche market. Determine what type of t-shirts you want to sell and who your target audience is. Use Google Trends or other market research tools to help you understand the demand for different types of t-shirts. Your niche can be based on specific interests, events, or themes. For instance, you could specialize in custom t-shirts, offer print on demand services, or focus on a specific market such as sports fans.

But some of you may ask how can i offer print on demand t shirts? How to do with the graphic in unique designs?

Where can you get design ideas and handle images?

Mockup generators and software are useful tools that can help you to simply create mockups of your t-shirt designs without having to hire a professional designer. There are many options available, including Chat GPT from OpenAI, Adobe photoshop and Midjourney. These tools can be used to create realistic images of new designs that you can use to promote your products on your website, social media, and other marketing channels.

With a mockup generator or software, you can upload your design and customize various aspects of the mockup, including multiple colors, background, full color images and other details. This can help you to create high-quality visuals that showcase your designs in a professional and attractive way.

This also save you time and money compared to hiring a designer. These tools are often affordable or even free, and can be used by anyone with a basic understanding of design. But pay attention to copyright infringement.

Step 2 Conduct Market Research

Conducting market research is crucial to the success of your t-shirt business. Find out what your target market wants and needs from a t-shirt. Analyze your competition, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how you can differentiate your clothing brand from theirs. Create a business plan that includes a description of your brand, target audience, marketing plan, and financial projections.

Step 3 Decide Your Distribution Channels Online or Offline

It’s not about others, depending on which way is work best for you. The first thing you need to consider is where to sell, online or offline? The product positioning, pricing, and marketing strategy are also different according to the different distribution channels. Your business budgets will fluctuate depending on the selling model you choose.

Online t shirt business

t shirt you can sell

If you’re looking to sell t-shirts online, there are many ecommerce platforms available to choose from. Each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your business.

C2C E-commerce Platforms

C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer) e-commerce platforms like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy are great options for beginners. They offer preset shop and listing templates, so you don’t have to worry about store design. Additionally, they have a built-in customer base, so your products will automatically be included in their marketing campaigns. This means you can focus on create t shirt designs and uploading your products, and let the platform handle the rest.

However, it’s important to note that these platforms take a percentage of your sales and there’s a lot of competition. If you’re planning to selling t shirts online, you’ll need to differentiate yourself from other sellers by offering unique t shirt designs, funny slogans or high-quality products.

Local Selling Platforms

If you want to sell your t shirts as local businesses, you can use platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. These platforms are great for reaching customers in your area and don’t take a percentage of your sales. However, they have less traffic than the C2C platforms and you’ll need to handle shipping and customer service yourself.

Independent Website Store

If you want complete control over your online store, you can create an independent website store using platforms like Shopify or Wix. These platforms allow you to customize your store design and have full control over your branding. However, they require more work in terms of driving traffic in search engine to your store and handling marketing campaigns. You’ll need to invest time and money into optimizing your website for search engines and running ads to attract customers.

Offline T-Shirt Business

If you prefer selling t-shirts in physical location, you can open a store or set up a stall in a high-traffic area. This option is great for small profit margin and quick turnover. If you’re looking to start high-quality t shirts business, you can create a private label and open an independent brand mortar store in a shopping mall. This option requires more investment but can result in higher profit margin and greater brand recognition.

Step 4 Conducting Market Research

In order for your small business to succeed, it’s important to identify a problem, need, or demand that your product can fulfill in the market. Conducting market research is a crucial first step towards achieving this goal.

Primary Research: 

The first step is to gather and analyze current sales data to determine the effectiveness of existing business practices. You can visit brick and mortar stores and observe which t-shirts are the best selling, how they are displayed, and why. It’s also important to consider your competitors’ strategies and determine the current state of the market. This will help you understand what is selling and what’s not.

In addition to understanding your competitors, it’s also important to have a deep understanding of your customers’ needs and preferences. To do this, you can prepare a questionnaire for potential customers, including questions such as:

  • What factors do you consider when purchasing t-shirts?
  • What functions do you expect most from a t-shirt?
  • What fabric composition is currently trending?
  • What type of print do you prefer?
  • What price range is appropriate for different types of t-shirts?
  • Where do people typically buy t-shirts?

Along with face-to-face surveys, online research is also a valuable tool to gain an objective view of market trends and demands.

Online Research: 

best seller t shirt

When conducting online market research for your t-shirt business, there are three main points that require your attention. Firstly, you should visit big C2C (consumer-to-consumer) platforms to observe what products are the best-selling. Additionally, you should follow the comments below popular t-shirts and take note of the keywords related that appear in the search bar when you search for “t-shirt.” These are all important sources of information.

Amazon Bestsellers List

As a part of online research, you can refer to Amazon’s bestseller list and wish list to see which styles and types of t-shirts are in high demand (such as gym t-shirts, yoga t-shirts, office t-shirts, leisure t-shirts, blank t-shirts, etc.).

Customer Reviews

In order to stand out from the competition, it’s important to identify the shortcomings of existing t-shirts and find ways to address them. By reading through the customer reviews below t-shirt listings on Amazon, which is a well-developed C2C e-commerce website, you can gain valuable insight into what customers are looking for in their t-shirts. Comments pointing out the flaws in t-shirts can be a valuable resource to improve the design or fabric of your t-shirts to meet customer demand.

Keyword Prompts

When you type “t-shirt” into the search bar on Amazon, a list of related keyword prompts will appear. These prompts are based on frequently searched keywords by customers, and can provide insight into the types of t-shirts that are in high demand.

more t shirt keyword search

Step 5 Setting the Right Price for Your T-Shirts

Pricing plays a crucial role in the success of a t-shirt business. In today’s digital age, customers can easily compare prices online, so setting the right price is important for attracting customers and ensuring profitability. Rather than pricing your t-shirts based on your own preferences, it’s essential to consider the market and wholesale cost.

One simple way to determine the right price is to research similar quality t-shirts on e-commerce platforms like Ali Express, Amazon, and eBay. If your competitors are selling similar t-shirts for $20 per piece, you can consider pricing yours a bit lower, say $17-$18, to enter the market. You can also refer to the prices on Amazon’s Best Sellers List to get an idea of what prices are acceptable to customers.

Pricing for Regular T-Shirts:

As someone who has helped dozens of retailers to wholesale and customize t-shirts from clothing factories in China, I can provide some general insights into the t-shirt industry’s price environment.

Many businesses wholesale blank t-shirts for their business, with wholesale prices in China ranging from $3-$5 per unit, depending on the order size. Small business owners generally keystone pricing, while brand t-shirts are priced at 4-5 times the wholesale cost.

Pricing for High-End/intricate designs:

Fashion t-shirts with special functions or graphic designs may have higher costs due to the unique fabric and design requirements. For instance, the wholesale cost for special graphic t-shirts from Chinese T shirt company can be more than $7 per piece. In such cases, the retail price of these t-shirts can be up to 10 times the wholesale cost.

Customers who prefer special graphic and functional t-shirts prioritize quality, design, and functionality over price. Hence, it’s crucial to invest in improving your t-shirt optimization, quality, and design to increase their value and justify a higher price point.

In summary, pricing your t-shirts based on market trends and wholesale cost is crucial for your business’s success. By setting the right price, you can attract customers and ensure profitability.

Step 6 Decide Where to Source T shirts with Competitive Prices

Where to source t shirts with competitive prices? Which ways can you find them? Come to China Wholesale market? Drop shipping? Local wholesalers? Wholesaler directly from China? When sourcing t-shirts with competitive prices, it’s important to consider the scale of your business and your specific needs. For small businesses, drop-shipping is a low-risk, low-investment option that allows you to test the market and avoid handling inventory. On the other hand, long-term businesses may higher profit margin from purchasing wholesale t-shirts directly from a supplier or even a t-shirt factory in China.

Start-up period:

If you don’t want to waste time on selection and packing, If you want to test which is best selling for you, If you’ve been thinking about venturing into the t shirt businesses but lack of experience and afraid to stock up, then drop-shipping is good for you. Start your t shirt via Drop-shipping is a low-risk, low-invest, low-cost business idea for first-time businessmen like you.

Drop shipping is suitable for business starters for a variety of reasons:

  • Easy to conduct.
  • low startup costs.
  • Low barrier to entry.
  • Low time cost.
  • No need to handle inventory.

Steady period: 

In this stage, you may have accumulated some experience and have a certain understanding of the t shirt market. You can choose to buy wholesale t shirts from your own wholesale website or wholesale market in your country. There are also advantages to this business model:

  • Less MOQ than import, you can order less quantity but more styles.
  • Lower price than drop shipping.
  • You can feel the quality of your product by yourself.
  • More options to your needs
  • Unlimited color options

Long-term business period:

For long-term business, we must grasp the essence of the t shirt business to win the victory in the market, which is to strive for the lowest cost price and maximize profits. In this case, whether you intend to buy blank t shirts or customize new styles, t shirt factory is a good choice. Made in China is undoubtedly the most cost-effective choice for you.

The inventory price in China is much lower, custom t shirt in large quantity price is really low, Of course, the price can not be lower to stocklot market. While price down because of large orders, You don’t have to doubt the quality, as 80% of the world’s t shirts come from China.  Write your requirement, order samples before you make large quantity to check the price and quality range.

If you don’t have chance to come to China, you can also find many wholesalers and manufacturers from China online. Stay at home and search on internet, Mostly you can see:

Alibaba: The truth is only a few Chinese t shirt factories establish an independent website, but the majority of them have set up shops on Alibaba, and many trading companies cooperating with factories will also have their own shops on Alibaba.

However, it is also a heavy task to find the right supplier on Alibaba. You need to compare the price, style, material and so on. The price and MOQ is not true, they write down price $1, when you send inquiry they will tell price is $5, MOQ shows 10pcs, but when order will go up to 200.

Aliexpress: Aliexpress is a consumer-to-consumer and small-business wholesale platform. The wholesale MOQ of Aliexpress is lower than Alibaba, around 10-100 pcs. If you want to try the market by small orders and more styles, then Aliexpress is a better choice.

DHgate: Although DHgate is not as large scale as Alibaba, essentially they are the same thing–both of them are Chinese wholesale websites. Many t shirt companies open online store on both websites. So you can compare the price and MOQ of the same product in Alibaba and Dhgate. This fit small business best.

1688: Many China Amazon seller take goods from 1688(A Chinese domestic wholesale market platform), but bad news is that they are write in Chinese.

Heyday: The company has over 12 years export experience in clothing industry, selling to over 20 counties, they will provide you professional suggestions and 1 & 1 service for long time business.

Step 7 Marketing for Your Online Store

Having high-quality and creative t-shirts is not enough to succeed in the market. Without reasonable marketing, your products will be lost in the vast sea of competition. Here are some typical marketing strategies for online stores:

As mentioned before, the main channels for online retail are independent Google stores and C2C e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay.

Selling on Google

For a small start-up business, setting up an independent Google new website may not be the best option due to the large investment required. T-shirts, in particular, may not yield enough profit to sustain your business if it’s the only product you sell. Instead, consider selling other products like pants and skirts.

It is important to take advantage of social media marketing and Google ads.

Other social media marketing: T-shirts can be a great niche product since creative visuals can easily trigger customers’ impulse to purchase. Posting eye-catching t-shirt pictures and short videos on YouTube, Facebook, Tiktok and Pinterest can attract potential customers. You can also pay web celebrities or influencers on these platforms to promote your store.

Selling on e-commerce platforms

Optimize product listing

The first and most important thing to do when opening a t-shirt store on an e-commerce website is to create an attractive product listing, including product pictures, videos, and descriptions.

Set up advertising campaigns

Depending on your product positioning, you can invest reasonable advertising fees to promote your store.

Offer discounts/coupons

When it comes to marketing, we cannot ignore the “customer factor.” As an online t-shirt store owner, you should tailor your game plan according to your customers’ behaviors and needs. Offering discounts and coupons can attract more customers.

In conclusion, attracting more customers can be achieved through offers and discounts. Starting and running a business is not easy, so make sure you learn the basics of how businesses work before starting.

If you have any questions or want to wholesale or customize t-shirts from China, feel free to contact us.


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