Nowadays, it seems like everyone is starting their own t-shirt business. Why not? The business provides for unmatched creative output and can be lucrative if executed properly. Of course, with the hundreds of online t-shirt stores in competition, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. If you want to make the most of your newfound business venture, these 6 tips can help give you a leg up over the competition.
Find Your Niche
Before you even start looking at printers and prices, you first need to find your target market. Make it as specific as possible. The easiest way to do this is to start with a broad idea and then narrow your focus. Are you going to offer text shirts, graphic shirts or both? Do you plan to concentrate on women, men or babies? From there, break it down even further to your target age, occupation, marital status, etc. The more specific you get, the easier it will be to devise a marketing strategy and ultimately sell your shirts.
Study Your Competition
Look at other clothing lines that you’ll be directly competing with and study them. Keep track of everything from their online presence to their promotions. Take note of how they are addressing their audience and ways that they could improve and implement these strategies in your business plan. You can gather this information fairly easily by reading the blogs of your competitors and signing up for their newsletters. This knowledge can keep you up-to-date on the latest trends and give you new ideas for your own company.
Create Your Brand
As much as people will deny it, they still judge a book by its cover. The same holds true for your t-shirt business. While your t-shirts and their designs should be original and of good quality, you also need to concentrate on your brand image. If you’re offering humorous t-shirts, your company should make sure the design and copy of the site reflects your actual product. As well, make sure your logo and company name makes sense and is both smart and memorable. Your site itself should be easy to navigate, uncluttered and highlight your product in the best possible light.
Have Excellent Customer Service
There’s nothing worse than dealing with unresponsive customer service. Offer several ways customers can reach you besides email like Live Chat options, social media profiles and a phone number. Customers appreciate immediate responses to their questions or issues. Most importantly, respond to unsatisfied customers professionally and courteously. Never be rude. Remember: the customer is right. If you make a mistake, always address it immediately, if possible before customers even contact you to complain, and apologize. You might not be able to correct past issues, but you can make sure you don’t repeat them.
You don’t need to give all the details about your life but tell your unique story. The most obvious place for this is, of course, in the About section, but find ways to sprinkle these personal moments in your company’s blog. It can be anything from your inspiration for a new design to actually showing the process of creating a t-shirt. People always enjoy a good behind-the-scenes look at a company and the more personable you make it the more your audience will be invested in you and your company.
This should also carry over to your social media presence. Offering promotions, interacting in communities that could bring you potential new customers, and generally posting VALUABLE content relating to your marketplace are great and nearly effortless opportunities for business leads.
Get Your Customers Involved
The incredible success of companies like Threadless is simple: customer involvement. Not only do they allow people to submit their own designs, they also have their audience voting on what designs they want to get printed. This is incredibly successful because it gives people autonomy and a certain amount of control within the company. Even if you intend to print your own designs, you should find ways to involve your customers somehow in your business whether it’s simply by allowing customer reviews on your products or allowing them to cast votes on a choice of new designs. In general, people want to feel that their opinions matter. Giving them a small amount of ownership will give them a sense of empowerment and increase their brand loyalty.
Enjoy Your Business
If you’re looking for the simplest advice on how to start a t-shirt line, it’s this: Have fun. If you’re passionate about your company and look forward to your work day, you’ll be much more productive. Don’t focus on making money, at least in the beginning. Instead enjoy your company, your audience and the learning experience it provides you.