14Aug
By: Andrew Roach August 14, 2017 Topic: How to Start a Business

T-shirts are a staple part of wardrobes across the globe. Clever entrepreneurs, like yourself, have tapped into the popularity of this product and started their own T-shirt businesses.Starting an online T-shirt business is a popular choice for both beginner and veteran ecommerce entrepreneurs as T-shirts are cheap to source, have universal appeal, and are relatively simple to customize.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own online T-shirt business, it’s important that you’re aware that it’s a competitive field in ecommerce. If you want to succeed, you’ll need to make sure that your store stands out from the crowd. To ensure this, it’s important that you source high-quality products, create appealing designs, and build a strong brand image.

This may sound like a daunting process, especially if it’s your first time starting an ecommerce business, but don’t worry — we’re here to help you. We’ve created this article to provide you with all the necessary information you need to create a successful online T-shirt business. 

Let’s get started.

Starting Your Online T-Shirt Business

How to start a online T-shirt business

If you’ve already started your ecommerce journey, and you’ve been looking into starting your own online T-shirt business, you may have noticed that it’s actually relatively cheap and simple to get your store up and running.

In fact, we’ve already wrote an article explaining how ecommerce entrepreneurs can launch their own online stores in less than 30 minutes using Shopify. You can read the article here (we highly recommend this if you’re just getting started with ecommerce).

Starting your own T-Shirt business with Shopify is a simple process. You’ll also have continuous support from their side, both when starting your store, and during the process of you running your store — it’s the ideal ecommerce solution for ecommerce entrepreneurs.


Finding a Niche For Your Online T-Shirt Business

As an ecommerce entrepreneur who is looking to start a successful online T-shirt business, you may find it useful to find a niche for your store. We’ve already mentioned that ecommerce is a competitive field, and finding a niche can really help you to create a successful online T-shirt store that stands out from the crowd. If you can manage to create a T-shirt store that is truly unique, either in terms of brand image, or the products that are available, your chances for success will be considerably higher.

If you decide to create a niche store, take your time, and do your research.  Take a look through other online T-shirt stores which you like and use them to brainstorm ideas for your own business. Note down anything which you think is impressive and then take some time to think about how you can make your online T-shirt business even better. Ultimately, you can target any niche which you want to. If you think that there is an untapped market, take advantage of it. It’s easier to stand out when there’s little competition, and it’ll be much cheaper too! 


Designing Your Products

How to start a online T-shirt business

When you’re trying to launch a successful online T-shirt business, the design of your products is critical. If your products have great designs, you’re already ahead of the game. Your products will act as a strong foundation for your store’s success.

It’s much easier to market great products, so try to nail this part. Be creative. Don’t be afraid of thinking outside the box. Try out various different designs which relate to your brand, and see which ones fit best on your T-shirts.

If you don’t feel confident in your own ability to design awesome products for your online T-shirt business, don’t fret to seek help from others. You can contact local designers, who will likely be willing to provide their services. You can also take advantage of online freelance platforms, like Upwork and Fiverr, which you can use to liase with freelance designers. There are a variety of different ways that you can source high-quality design work at an affordable price point.

Validating Your Designs

Once you’ve assembled a few solid design examples for your online T-shirt business, you’ll need to seek validation from others. You may think that the designs which you’ve come up with are ready for printing, but others may point out some vital improvements that will help your products in the long run. It’s also important that the feedback which you receive for your designs is unbiased. You can achieve this by posting your designs on some forums (make sure that you watermark your designs so nobody can steal them). You can also receive some professional feedback by getting in contact with some local consultants — they will provide you with professional, unbiased opinion.

Online discussion platforms, like Reddit, can prove to be a vital tool when you’re gauging the success of your t-shirt business’ designs. You can post your prospective designs onto the relevant sub-reddits, and you’ll receive honest feedback from people who are interested in your products. If you receive positive reactions from your post, you’re already armed with some potential customers who you can reach out to when you launch your products.


Sourcing Your Products

How to start a online T-shirt business

When you’ve validated the designs for your online T-shirt business, you’ll need to take some time to consider where you’ll be sourcing your T-shirts from. If you source high-quality T-shirts for your stores inventory, it’ll make for a better shopping experience for your customers.

Sourcing Your T-Shirts

Running an online T-shirt business is highly competitive, so you’ll need to stand out in any way that you can. One way you can do this is by sourcing the highest quality products which your business can afford. If your customers find that your products are shrinking or ripping after a couple of wears, then it’ll build a bad reputation for your ecommerce store. This will dramatically decrease the chances of these customers purchasing from your store again, which is clearly something that you want to avoid. If your online T-shirt business is stocked with high-quality products which are built to last then your store will gain a great reputation that will help your business grow. We highly recommend using the best quality products available for your online T-shirt business. 

Printing Your Designs

Having high-quality prints on your products is essential for a successful online T-shirt business. If your customers find that your designs are cracking or fading after a few washes, this will leave them with a bad impression for your business.

There are various different options which you can take advantage of to print your designs. You can get in contact with local printing businesses, which will allow you to check the quality of your prints before you ship them to customers. However, this may be an expensive process, especially when your ecommerce business grows and the demand for more prints increases.

At Oberlo, we believe that online T-shirt businesses can benefit greatly from a dropshipping business model. It’s simple, cheap, and you can run it from anywhere in the world. Below, we’ll show you exactly how:


How to Start an Online T-Shirt Business With Dropshipping

How to start a online T-shirt business

As an entrepreneur running an online T-shirt business, dropshipping is a great business model. If you dropship your T-shirts, you’ll never need to carry any inventory. Forget about having piles of T-shirts littered around your house, or having to waste valuable resources renting a storage space. Instead, you’ll simply receive orders from your customers, and ship the products straight from your supplier’s warehouse to their door. A dropshipping T-shirt business is streamlined, and will allow you to manage your business from anywhere in the world.

If you decide to use dropshipping to run your online T-shirt business, you can take full advantage of ecommerce platforms like AliExpress, which allow you to source high-quality products at an affordable price point. You’ll be instantly connected with a wide network of suppliers who are open to collaboration. You can reach out to individual suppliers on AliExpress who can print your designs directly onto their T-shirts, and then you can ship said products directly to your customers door — it’s as simple as that. 

If you decide that AliExpress dropshipping is the best option for your ecommerce business then we recommend that you use Oberlo. With Oberlo, you can easily import products directly into your ecommerce store with just a few clicks. You can also manage all your orders easily with Oberlo. Oberlo is free, so you can start dropshipping today.


Online T-Shirt Business Success Stories

Many successful ecommerce entrepreneurs created their online T-Shirt businesses with a dropshipping business model. One of Oberlo’s users, Melvin Chee, 22,  started off his own ecommerce store as an experiment and ended up making $100K+ in just 3 months.

Tag someone who you’d chill with now on Friday night ? Shop now ?@apparels_co?(link in bio)

A photo posted by ?@APPAREL ? (@apparel) on

Melvin decided that he wanted to start an online T-shirt business when he stumbled across Oberlo in a Facebook group. He knew that he would need to find a niche which would enable his ecommerce store to succeed. He settled on a bank of core products which were basic T-shirts with funny slogans printed onto them. It was these products, incorporated with his marketing efforts, which transformed this experiment into an ecommerce success story. You can check out our full article on Melvin’s story here.


Start Your Online T-Shirt Business Today

Now that you’ve read through this post you’ll know exactly how to start an online T-shirt business and create your own success story. Remember, starting an ecommerce business in this niche will be competitive, so be sure to make use of the tips which we’ve mentioned in this article.


Want to learn more?


If you have any further questions about starting an online T-shirt business, or ecommerce in general, then let us know in the comments section– we’re more than happy to help.

  • Sally Howard

    I have recently been considering a tee shirt niche which seems to be largely ignored, namely very tall men and women. There are so many cool tees put there but NONE for those who are unusually tall. I, in particular, am very sensitive to and interested in, this segment, as I have three family members who fall into this category – one female over 6′ tall and two males over 6’7″. Tees on the market hit them at about waist height, so no cute, funny, unique tees for them. Suggestions about the viability of
    marketing tees to this niche would be greatly appreciated!

  • Dennis

    How do you go about ordering t-shirts with a custom design through AliExpress? Not seeing how via their website. Thanks!

  • Denis Smith

    Nice article. But is it not better to work PODs or even as an affiliate? Because it cuts lots of hassles. The profit margin is also not bad for affiliates. A friend of mine made more than 200k with some POD platform. Many people are also being successful with PODs.

  • brownin329

    You can do a search on Google to see what is popular and see what is selling. You can also do a keyword search on google trends. Or read this article: https://www.shopify.com/guides/what-to-sell/where-to-look-for-product-ideas

  • Linda Iheme

    Hello,
    Please can you recommend any specific supplies on alibaba or Ali express? I am looking for a supplier that can custom make t-shirts.
    Thank you!

  • Andrew Roach

    Hey Linda!

    Sadly, I can’t recommend any specific suppliers on AliExpress, but there are lots available which can help you out with custom T-shirts.

    Try to find suppliers which have high feedback scores and then you can contact them by clicking the ‘Contact Now’ button on AliExpress.

    Give them a brief overview of what you’re looking for, and then they’ll let you know if they can help you.

    Hope this helps!

  • Andrew Roach

    Hey Dennis!

    You can get in contact with individual suppliers and request them to put your designs onto their products. There isn’t a specific function on AliExpress to do so.

    Once you’ve landed on a reliable supplier who will print your designs, you can then dropship the inventory directly to your customers.

    Hope this helps!

  • Andrew Roach

    Hey Linda.

    Unfortunately, I can’t recommend any specific suppliers on AliExpress, but there are plenty available which can help you to launch your own custom T-shirt business.

    Simply look for suppliers with high feedback scores and then click ‘Contact Supplier’ on the left hand side of the page. Relay your request to them and they’ll inform you if they can help you or not.

    Hope this helps!

  • Andrew Roach

    Hey Denis.

    If you want more information about this topic, check out our article: https://www.oberlo.com/blog/print-demand-vs-aliexpress-dropshipping/

  • Linda Iheme

    Thank you! Can the suppliers at Ali Express actually ship the designs to the customers without me having to have the products at home. Also, How can you prevent your logo and designs from being used by they suppliers.

  • Andrew Roach

    Yep, that’s exactly right. The suppliers can ship your products directly to the customers!

    I imagine that there won’t be any issues with the suppliers regarding this, but it’s always good to add a copyright / trademark to your designs. It’s best to seek a legal advisor for help here.

  • Linda Iheme

    Thank you!

  • Celeste Daniels

    How do you get your custom designed T-shirts or items loaded onto your store once you’ve linked to AliExpress and imported said link to your store? So, only items being shown and displayed with your logo on it. Thanks in advance

  • Sanjay Lod
  • Isidro

    Is there a one on one coaching available on how to create an drop shipping store? I’m not a tech savvy.