How to sell T-shirts online: A quick guide

How to sell t-shirts online
(Last Updated On: September 8, 2023)

T-shirts are more than just a piece of garment. It can be a fashion statement to a casual outfit, our own personal storyboards, or to uniform attires. So, it could be said now that t-shirts are not just a clothing, it’s an emotion.

Selling t-shirts online in India is a business idea that requires less capital to start. It’s a great first business idea for new entrepreneurs.

However, you will need to do a lot of research before using this idea to start a profitable online business. And, we have done much of that research for you.

In this quick guide, you’ll get to know about every step on how to start a t-shirt business online in India — from finding an idea to acquiring your first customer.

So, let’s get started!

How to sell t-shirts online?

Selling t-shirts online can be a lucrative and creative venture, especially with the growing popularity of eCommerce platforms and to sell custom t-shirts online.

Whether you’re an artist, entrepreneur, or simply want to start a side hustle, here are the steps on selling t-shirts online to make money:

1. Decide your niche and audience

  • Niche selection: Identify your target audience and niche. Determine what type of t-shirts will appeal to them. This could be based on interests, hobbies, or specific designs. Niche is the heart of your business. It defines what your business stands for and who it serves. Decide who you want to sell t-shirts to.
  • Competitor analysis: Study of successful online t-shirt sellers. What designs are they offering? How do they market their products? Understanding your competition can provide valuable insights.

Let’s understand with an instance. Selling t-shirts for women – this category is too broad. T-shirts for women who like cats – now that’s a specific niche, good for t-shirt branding.

BeBachkod, an Instamojo merchant store, sells happiness with t-shirts. Their funky t-shirt designs make you smile.

how to sell tshirts online

To whom did BeBachkod direct their t-shirt offerings? In short, who is the target audience? They think your style reflects your personality and invite everyone to wear their personality on their sleeve with their t-shirts.

how to sell t-shirts online
Bebachkod – Instamojo merchant store

Read read – How BeBachkod sells Happiness with t-shirts

  • Define your ideal customer. This means, the customer who loves the t-shirts you sell, buys them more than once, and recommends your business.

Everyone can wear a t-shirt. But, you need to narrow down your audience even more to get your business on track. 

Here are some tips to help you decide on a niche for your t-shirt business.

a. Search Google Trends for trending topics

Google trends on t-shirt type

Every time a new trend emerges, t-shirts with related designs becomes in-demand. So, keep a look-out for what people are searching for on Google. You’ll find an audience who share a similar interest. This interest can be the foundation of your t-shirt business.

b. Your own interests

Why not start a t-shirt business based on your interests? Make a list of what of you love and find out its potential as a business.

c. Research on social media

Once you have decided on a target audience, scrounge social media to find out where their interests lie. Join Facebook groups related to your niche and find out everything about it.

2. Create a business plan

  • Define your brand: Develop a brand identity that reflects your niche and the message you want to convey through your t-shirts.
  • Set goals: Establish clear and achievable business goals. Decide how many t-shirts you want to sell, your revenue targets, and your marketing strategies.

Related read: 5 Top business plan templates you need to get started

3. Design your t-shirts

  • Design software: Use graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator or Canva to create your t-shirt designs. Alternatively, you can hire a professional designer.
  • Quality matters: Ensure that your designs are high-quality, unique, and resonate with your target audience.

Once, your brand is successful, you can grasp the attention of the customers by introducing a new product.

Related read: New product development: From concept to market

Here’s the best way to sell custom t-shirts online. Have a look at Young Tees (a store created by Instamojo) for custom t-shirt section.

Young Tees by Instamojo

Create your own online store

4. Source or print your t-shirts

  • Print on demand: Consider using print-on-demand services like Printful, Printify, or Teespring, which handle printing, packing, and shipping when an order is placed.
  • Screen printing: If you prefer more control over production, you can work with local screen printing companies to create your t-shirts in bulk.

5. Build your online store

  • Choose an eCommerce platform: Select a platform like Instamojo that suits your needs. 
  • Customization: Customize your theme of online store to align with your brand identity. Include a user-friendly navigation menu, clear product descriptions, payment gateway integration and high-quality images.

Related read: How to choose the best eCommerce platform for your small business

6. Set pricing and shipping

  • Pricing strategy: Determine the pricing for your t-shirts. Consider factors like production costs, shipping fees, and desired profit margins.
  • Shipping options: Offer a range of shipping options, including standard and expedited, to accommodate different customer preferences.

Related read: How to use discount pricing strategies to make more sales

7. Market your t-shirts

  • Social media: Utilize platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to showcase your t-shirts through appealing visuals and engaging posts.
  • Content marketing: Start a blog or create valuable content related to your niche. This can help attract organic traffic to your website.
  • Email marketing: Build an email list and send newsletters with updates, promotions, and exclusive offers to your subscribers.

Related read: How to effectively use social media to launch your business successfully

8. Customer service and support

  • Responsive communication: Provide excellent customer service by promptly responding to inquiries and addressing customer concerns.
  • Returns and refunds: Clearly outline your return and refund policies on your website to set customer expectations.

Related read: Online customer service: Tips from eCommerce business owners

9. Analyse and optimize

  • Track metrics: Use analytics tools to monitor your website’s performance, track sales, and assess marketing campaigns’ effectiveness.
  • Feedback: Encourage customer feedback and use it to improve your products and services.

10. Scaling your business

  • Expand your product line: As your business grows, consider adding more products like hoodies, hats, or accessories.
  • Paid advertising: Invest in paid advertising on platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to reach a broader audience.

Related read: How to start an eCommerce business in India: 8 steps from 0 to launch

9 most popular niches for online t-shirt business

After looking at how to sell the t-shirts online, now let’s have a look at the type of niches you can cover when planning of starting your new business.

We all know that starting an online t-shirt business is an exciting endeavour, and choosing the right niche can greatly influence your success. To help you get started, here are 10 of the most popular niches for online t-shirt businesses:

1. Funny and humour tees

Everyone loves a good laugh. Create t-shirts with witty one-liners, clever puns, or humorous illustrations that resonate with people’s sense of humour.

Here’s an example of Marathikida, the online store created by Instamojo doing fully justice as an example for funny and humour based t-shirts.

sell t-shirts online
Marathikida online store on Instamojo platform

Another example is Bewakoof. Here’s how it is selling such tees full of humour and meme stuff.

Bewakoof Funny and Humour Tees

2. Fitness and active lifestyle

The fitness industry is booming, and people are proud of their dedication to a healthy lifestyle. Design t-shirts that feature motivational fitness quotes, workout graphics, or yoga-inspired artwork.

3. Geek and pop culture

Appeal to fans of movies, TV shows, video games, and comic books. Create t-shirts with references, quotes, or artwork related to popular geek and pop culture icons.

Let’s see the example of The Souled Store here:

The Souled Store Geek and Pop Culture

4. Pets and animal lovers

Pets are like family, and people love to showcase their love for animals. Design t-shirts with cute or funny pet-related graphics, slogans, or specific dog breeds and cat breeds.

Nowadays, who don’t like grooming their pets? Well, as the days are evolving, the industry for pet clothing is also expanding. Let’s have a quick look on Heads up for Tails: how they are providing the t-shirts for the pets:

Heads up for tails Pets and Animal Lovers

5. Travel and adventure

Capture the wanderlust of travellers and adventurers with t-shirts that feature world maps, famous landmarks, or adventurous quotes. This niche caters to those who love exploring new places.

6. Environmental and sustainability

As eco-consciousness grows, t-shirts promoting environmental causes, recycling, and sustainability are in demand. Advocate for a cleaner planet through your designs.

7. Vintage and retro

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Create t-shirts with retro designs from past decades, such as ’80s neon, ’90s grunge, or vintage typography.

8. Motivational and inspirational

Empower your customers with t-shirts that feature motivational quotes, positive affirmations, and inspiring messages. Help people express their aspirations and goals.

9. Hobbies and interests

Cater to specific hobbies and interests like gardening, photography, music, or painting. Create t-shirts that reflect the passions of your target audience.

Discovering creative sparks for t-shirt design ideas

If you want to have some ideas on t-shirt design then here is whom you can rely on. The below-mentioned sources are reputable and widely used by designers and artists to find inspiration and stay up-to-date with design trends. 

However, it’s important to remember that while inspiration is valuable, it’s equally important to create original and unique designs that reflect your brand and style.

1. Pinterest

Pinterest is the best place to find visual inspiration. Just type your niche’s keyword and the word ‘T-shirt’. You will find hundreds of design inspiration.

inspiration for tshirt business
Inspiration for travel t-shirt designs on Pinterest

Pinterest will also help you narrow down your search by displaying popular keywords associated with your initial search. You could also try searching the keywords ‘niche + calligraphy’, ‘niche + quotes’ for design ideas.

Related read: 5 Pinterest board ideas for your small business

2. Google images

You can find unique t-shirt designs via Google images. Try a combination of different keywords, such as niche + quotes, niche + funny, niche + joke, niche + quotes, niche + slang.

sell engineers t-shirt online
Google search for – t-shirts for developer

Caution: Be careful not to use an artist’s images or copyrighted items to avoid a lawsuit. 

3. Behance

Behance is a trusted platform where professional designers showcase their portfolios, featuring high-quality and innovative design work.

4. Instagram

Instagram is a visual-centric platform where designers and artists frequently share their work, making it a valuable source for design inspiration.

Related read: 25 tips to increase your sales from Instagram (with examples)

5. Dribbble

Dribbble is a community of designers and creatives known for its high-quality design content and inspiration, making it a reliable resource.

6. Design blogs

Design-focused blogs like Designspiration, Awwwards, and Abduzeedo regularly feature design trends and inspiration, including t-shirt designs.

How to get your designs done?

How will you get your ideas designed? Now, getting your t-shirt designs done involves a creative process that includes ideation, design creation, and execution. Here’s how to do it:

1. Start designing your t-shirt

If you are familiar with graphic designing, you can design t-shirts using tools such as Canva or Photoshop.

Your other option is to hire a designer. There are a wide variety of tools and communities you can use to find a suitable graphic designer to help with your t-shirt designing. Here are some of them:

  • Freelance networks such as Upwork and Fiverr
  • As discussed, design communities such as Dribble and Behance.
  • Buy t-shirt design from marketplaces such as Vexels and CreativeMarket

2. Source materials and equipments

To sell t-shirts online, you will obviously need to source plain t-shirts to print your designs. Depending on your business model, you have to buy them either in bulk or partner with a print-on-demand drop shippers. 

A simple Google search will help you find wholesale dealers that sell plain t-shirts in bulk. Here are a few sources:

  • Indiamart
  • Alibaba
  • Tirupurknitwears

Order samples from a few places before buying in bulk. And select based on quality.

What equipments are needed to sell t-shirts online? You need to find printing equipments for printing designs on the t-shirts.

printing machine t-shirts
Heat press printer. Source: Indiamart

Other than this, you can also partner with a print-on-demand business to minimise cost of buying the equipment. Find businesses who offer wholesale t-shirt printing in bulk. You can find them online or even near your location (tip-use Google Maps).

3. Setting up your online t-shirt store

The best way to sell t-shirts online is on your own online store. Creating your own eCommerce website to sell t-shirts online is the biggest and most important step you will be taking. It’s when you see all your business ideas and dreams manifesting into reality!

Once you start setting up your online store, you will finally see your business ideas and dreams manifesting into reality

You have your t-shirts designed, printed, and ready to find its customers. It’s time to reach your target audience online. An eCommerce website is the best way to do that.

With eCommerce platforms like Instamojo, it’s never been easier to set up a fully-functional online store to sell your products online. In a matter of a few hours, you can sign up and start selling t-shirts online.

And, you can start for free!

Watch this short video on how to start your own online store with Instamojo:

Launch your online store via Instamojo

The key to start a profitable and sustainable t-shirt business online is to sell unique t-shirts. And these t-shirts should strike a chord with your target audience.

Related read: How to start an online business with zero investments

To reach a wide customer base so that your products can be found, having an online store of your own is necessary. You can create a free online store to get started.

Want to see how your online store will look like? Sign up for free on Instamojo and start creating the store of your dreams!

Sign up on Instamojo


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