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Thinking of starting your own online T-shirt business? Tees are an essential item in any wardrobe and they can be easily customised. Plus, it's now easier than ever before to peddle your wares online.
We've put together a guide to help you find your place in the market, source quality products and navigate the ins and outs of running an ecommerce venture.
A T-shirt business sells custom-designed tees online through an ecommerce store.
There are a few different business models available when selling T-shirts. The main options are:
Here are the simple steps to get your new business up and running:
Certain skills, equipment and resources can help make starting a T-shirt business a whole lot easier. Let's take a closer look at some of the boxes you'll need to tick to boost your chances of success.
No matter what type of business model you go for, whether it be Sole Trader, Partnership or Company, all three require a well-structured website to sell your products. If you have the right skills, you can build your website yourself. Alternatively, you can hire someone to do it for you.
The T-shirt printing industry is huge, so helping your shirts stand out from the crowd is a major challenge. Do some market research to find out what's already out there, what's popular and what's not, and identify your target audience.
Once you have your website up and running, you'll need to be able to deal with the back end of the business. This includes managing your finances, deciding how to market and promote your business, and being able to maintain clear communication with suppliers and customers.
One of the advantages of opening a T-shirt business online is that you don't necessarily need any qualifications. But if you're worried about opening a business without any former knowledge, you can enrol in an online course that will teach you the basics.Udemy lists a wide range of T-shirt business courses that show you how to set up your business and how to market it to ensure steady traffic to your website. Major ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Etsy also offer plenty of educational materials to guide you through setting up your store and reaching your target audience.
Of course, if you want to design the T-shirts you sell yourself, it's always good to have a background in illustration, graphic design or another creative niche. Doing so will give you the skills and expertise to create eye-catching designs that appeal to your audience and that can't be found elsewhere on the Internet. If you're not a designer, you can hire a freelancer on a platform like Upwork or Fiverr.
Ecommerce stores take care of most of their business online, so you won't need to worry about investing in expensive equipment. Where you will need to spend money is in creative software, web hosting and other helpful platforms.
To set up your online store, you'll need some or all of the following:
If you choose a dropshipping or print-on-demand business model, you won't need a warehouse or large amount of storage space to hold all your inventory. However, you will need some basic home office equipment, including:
Choosing the right business structure is critical as it determines who will make vital decisions in your business and how you'll pay tax. While your business is in its infancy, you'll typically benefit the most from a Sole Trader or Partnership structure.
However, be aware that there are a few different ways you can set up your T-shirt business. The right option for you could vary depending on factors like the size of your business and how much money you're investing.
A breakdown of business structures:
This is the simplest option and one that many online businesses use. It's easy to set up and it ensures that you're legally responsible for all business operations.
If you're going into business with a friend or family member, you may want to set up a Partnership. Under a Partnership arrangement, you and one or more other people share business income and debt between yourselves.
If you choose to establish a Company, it's treated as a separate legal entity to you and any other founders. However, setting up a Company is a more expensive and complex option, so it's not suitable for everyone.
You can find out more about structuring your business in our how to start a business in Australia guide.
Just like any other online business, you'll need to make sure your T-shirt business satisfies all legal requirements. Not only will you need to get to know Australian Consumer Law, but you'll also need to create a few important legal documents and policies.
Here are a few helpful documents to consider:
You'll also need to consider your tax obligations. If you're a Sole Trader, you can use your individual tax file number (TFN), but Partnerships, Trusts and Companies will require a new TFN.
If your business has a turnover of $75,000 or more, you'll also need to register for goods and services tax (GST). Also, if you can run an efficient record-keeping system, you'll find it a lot easier to meet all your reporting obligations at tax time.
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With a T-shirt business, it's essential to have a target market in mind. These will be the people that will buy your product, and finding a niche market will affect how you choose to market your T-shirt business and its products.
For example, is your target audience likely to use Facebook or Instagram? If they are, then paid advertising on these platforms could be beneficial. If not, you may want to look at targeted email campaigns and other online advertising options.
Another way to expand your audience is by taking advantage of different selling platforms. As well as your own ecommerce store, you might want to consider utilising eBay, Etsy or launching a Facebook store.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is also crucial. Through the use of popular keywords and common search terms, you can boost the search engine visibility of your online store.
Figuring out how much to charge your customers depends on the quality of the product that you're selling. Firstly, you'll need to budget your expenses. You can do this by looking at your overheads, including the cost of the T-shirt itself and your website costs. This will give you a general idea of how much you need to charge to cover your expenses.
Secondly, you'll need to research the market to check the prices of other stores. Selling T-shirts online is a competitive business, so you'll need to find a price point that will still make your business profitable while still representing good value for money to customers.
How do I choose a T-shirt supplier?
There are several factors to consider when sourcing T-shirts for your business. Price and delivery speed are obviously important, but so too is the quality of the shirts. Consider factors like sizing, durability, material and fit. Look for reviews and recommendations from other customers, and order samples from multiple suppliers before making your final decision.
Is an online T-shirt business profitable?
There's no guarantee that any online business will be a profitable venture. While there's always going to be market demand for tees, the custom T-shirt industry is a very competitive space.
However, a strong marketing plan can help your business stand out from the crowd. T-shirt businesses tend to rely on large numbers of orders as profit margins aren't huge. This means you'll need to attract lots of traffic to your website in order to be successful.
How can I start a T-shirt business with no money?
Starting a T-shirt business doesn't require a huge amount of capital investment, especially if you choose dropshipping. To start a dropshipping business, you'll simply need to set up an ecommerce website and spend time marketing your products.
How do I start a print-on-demand T-shirt business?
To start a print-on-demand T-shirt business, you'll need to have a series of shirt designs ready and a viable website to sell them through. You'll also need to choose a printing provider who will print your T-shirts and ship them to your customers.
Can I design my own T-shirts?
Yes, if you're a creative type and you have the necessary software, you can start creating your own T-shirt designs. There are also many online templates you can use to get started. If you need help with this part of the process, you may want to hire a graphic designer.
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