7 Tips for Reaching that Breakthrough Moment to Turn Your T-Shirt Business Around
How can you turn your average performing T-shirt gig into a money-pumping online business? Simple. Focus on fundamentals.
Making a living from a T-shirt business isn’t about reaching a bigger audience or charging a premium price — it’s about discovering your niche, obsessively learning from your mistakes and finding ways to reach your target audience.
Besides, if a white T-shirt can become a fashion classic, than anything’s achievable.
#1 Get your brand on point from the start
Branding is a crucial part of a successful business. Without a unique story and a clear reason why your online shop is running, it’ll be hard-pushed to build a community of loyal fans and tap into the word-of-mouth that’s so important for e-commerce brands.
If you’ve skipped this step initially, take time to figure out and develop the story now. Running a successful T-shirt business is all about discovering your tribe and building on it. Your unique value proposition (the stuff that sets you apart from other brands) is the number one reason why customers are willing to pay more, consume more and recommend your products to others. If you had to choose between buying a pair of Nikes and a pair of unbranded sneakers for half the price, what would you choose?
A strong brand trumps everything else.
Club 75’s tees are a big deal in Paris.
#2 Embrace your quirkiness. Design products that will stand out
Stellar design and creative thinking are must-haves for a successful T-shirt business. For your brand to catch fire, it has to bring something new and cool. Becoming a trendsetter is what will give your brand legs and save you tons in the advertising budget.
Sure, it’s easier said than done, but if creativity isn’t your strongest suit, you can always seek out talented designers to help you create something truly unique and interesting. Whether you decide to leverage your personal network and find the person with the right style and skills locally or tap into freelance marketplaces like Fiverr or PeoplePerHour, make sure to give the designer a clear and detailed brief to cut the back and forth communication to a minimum.
Never compromise on the quality of your T-shirt designs. If you fail to nail this part, your quest for success will be a constant uphill struggle.
#3 Validate T-shirt designs before printing
If you prefer some ideas over others, it’s because it resonates with you personally. And when it comes to running a business, personal biases can be very dangerous. Are your decisions driven by market research, gut feeling, or a mere personal preference? It’s critical to seek out feedback on your T-shirt designs before printing anything to make sure they’re as perfect as they should be. Sometimes you’ll find that a few tweaks here and there can elevate a mediocre design to an outstanding piece of fashion wear.
Don’t ask for feedback from people that are very close to you or share your taste in fashion because they’ll likely nod in agreement even if they do have criticism. Try to get your T-shirt design in front of a potential audience to gauge their interest, test your pricing and gather general feedback. A Facebook or Reddit group can serve as a great testing ground for ideas.
#4 Brush up on your intellectual property knowledge
Don’t even think about nicking some high-resolution images off of the Internet and making a run for it. At some point, the copyright law will catch up with you and you will regret the day you learned how to Google. Having said that, you can dig around the public domain resources if you’re looking for something really specific (or unusual). For example, the British Library, Pixabay and Smithsonian Institution have some incredible images that are free to download and use.
Another thing you should consider is trademarking your brand. This will save you from having to worry about people ripping off your brand once it gets popular. Plus, you’ll be able to add the little ® next to your brand name — and that’s really cool.
#5 Give Facebook marketing a decent try
Crafting a Facebook marketing strategy will help you understand your audience better, get the word out about your products and drive more traffic to your online shop. When it comes to attracting and converting new customers, Facebook ads can be incredibly effective — no other online advertising tool offers such personalization and targeting.
In addition to custom audiences and advanced targeting, Facebook allows brands to collect direct and indirect customer feedback and sentiment. If the ads are receiving an overwhelmingly positive reaction in the form of likes, shares, and comments, your brand will benefit from increased exposure and social proof. If your ads provoke a backlash or fail to generate any customer response, you may want to think about your artwork and copy or your T-shirt designs.
#6 Consider packaging for your tees
Packaging is still one of the least explored elements of a successful T-shirt business. If you’re packing tees into plastic bags or cardboard, perhaps it’s time to look for more creative ideas. There are so many other materials that can help you create a brand experience and significantly increase the perceived value of your products. Take a look at the packaging below — something as silly as making your tees look like ice cream can breathe new fire into your brand.
#7 Give your business a social mission
Modern consumers are more and more socially conscious, demanding their favorite brands to give back to society and try to make the world a better place. Adding a social mission to your list of core business goals will help build a strong online community around the brand and, ultimately, generate more sales. Whether you decide to donate a percentage of your profits to a chosen charity or commit to using only environmentally friendly materials, you will quickly see that doing good is good for business too.
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