After deciding on the platform, I need to get started on building the brand. Usually it’s the other way around. Figure out the brand and research before choosing a platform. But I was eager to start and I wanted to understand the process of each platform. Also the designer in me wants to play around with their t-shirt tools and understand possible apparel styles before starting.
Maybe you chose a platform or maybe you didn’t. It doesn’t matter at this point because the first step is figuring out what you want to sell.
Find your niche.
You need to understand who you want to target and why they want to buy your product. What is the market you want to target? Then what is the subset of this market you want to target? In other words, what is your niche?
This is the most important part about branding a product. Many products fail because they generalize it and tries to market it to everyone. Its great that its meant for everyone, but that doesn’t mean everyone will buy it.
“If you market to everyone then you market to no one”
Find a market, narrow it down and then narrow it down some more. If you can take it another step further, try to offer something in return for customers that will buy your product.
Heres an example from TenTrees:
- Market: People who care about global warming
- Narrow it down: Tree huggers
- Narrow it down some more: They worry about deforestation
- In return your customers will get: You will plant 10 trees for every every item sold
Tips to find your niche
-Do some research on what is out there already. See whats successful and get inspiration from that. Don’t rip off or copy it though.
-Design something around your passion. If hedgehogs are something you like then base ur niche off of that.
-Design something you would wear. If it’s something you wouldn’t pay money for then don’t expect other people to pay for it.
-Don’t compete with big brands like Nike or Lululemon. Picking a niche such as basketball then make sure its unique and different than Nike’s product. If not, it will just look like a copycat and people would rather spend money on the bigger brand
-Offer something in return like TenTree does. Not a must, but it helps.
I use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to design my products. After exporting them as PNGs I simply upload them onto Teespring. If you’re not much of a designer, you can hire freelancers to do it for you. One important thing about hiring freelancers are to make sure they don’t rip off any images from google or violate any copyright infringements. The use of unpaid fonts may get you in trouble too.
Personally, I never hired any designers before. But If you’re looking to hire some quality designers, try these websites:
As a designer myself, I encourage everyone to try it out. It can be fun and addicting at times. Here are some websites I get my design inspiration from.
Choose a distribution platform
In part 1, I listed some available options to choosing the right platform. I wanted jump right into it or I would invest my time in building up a website on shopify. I went with Teespring cause I can upload a design and start marketing it. This really depends on your goal and how far you want to take your t-shirt business.
Here comes the hard part. Marketing your product to the world. Ideally you want to market your product without paying money on advertisement. You want the market validation before committing money to it. Spending money marketing a product that no one wants can really hurt your finance.
Here are some ways to market:
Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The free and easy way to market it. But just because you made a post filled with hashtags doesn’t mean people will start buying from you (maybe on some rare occasions) It takes time to build up your audience.
Although Its highly effective when you have lots of audience, its hard to build up initially. However, I would still suggest posting and tweeting regularly even when you have no followers. Eventually people will stumble upon your post and hopefully into your product.
The Creative way – Find out where your niche hangs out at. Be apart of their community. Maybe its on reddit, Facebook groups, or a website forum. Ask them nicely what you think about this design and if they would buy it or not. Understand what they are looking for and what they want to wear.
For Airbnb, they grew rapidly when they found their audience on craigslist. Facebook approached different universities and made a network around them. You will need to find your own creative way to grow your business.
Facebook Ads – You built up the traction. Theres a few dozen products. You get a couple of sales here and there. Its time to advertise it and get the word out. Your sales have proves that people like it and are willing to pay for it. You need to get this product to the right audience. Facebook ads is a powerful tool where you can target these specific audience. Marketing on Facebook can be a waste of money if your ad is not effect though. Read more about this process here.
My progress on the t-shirt business
Today is Day 1 of starting my t-shirt business. I spent half the day bouncing ideas area, brainstorming and settling down on a concept. Spent another 2 hours to whip out some designs that I have now uploaded to my Teespring Storefront.
I call it Squishify and my niche is to target people who are health conscious but also loves junk food. All I did for to determine my niche was connect to two things I like doing. Work out and eating junk food. I wanted something motivational and funny at the same time. The style of design was minimalistic and clean. Thats how I like my clothes at least.
As this is targeted towards people who work out, I though tanks were a better choice. Here are my designs:
After getting these designs up I had two things I wanted to change:
-Adjusting the price.
-Add a female tank to each design.
After publishing the designs, the only way to change the price is when the campaign ends. The alternative was to duplicate each product, edit the duplicated one, and delete the old one. But I thought I should keep it for now and test the price range at $25 a tank.
My campaign ends in 4 days so I’ll see how this goes first.
There you have it. You can start your online t-shirt business in less than an hour if you have a design in mind. Having your shirt up there is the beginning. Now on to marketing
Please let me know what you think about my tanks. It appreciate any feedback I can get.