Working as a freelance web designer is great. You get to work from anywhere, set your own hours, and make decent money. What’s not to like?
However, there are downsides to it as well, and the biggest one is the feast-and-famine cycle that can be really stressful. It’s great when you have work… But what about those dry streaks when you don’t?
This is why freelancing is not enough. You need to have multiple sources of income that can keep you afloat when client work dries up. Luckily, you already have artistic skills, which you can use to start a print-on-demand t-shirt busines.
Clearly define your target audience.
It’s tempting to try to appeal to the broadest possible audience by selling generic t-shirts that can be worn by anyone.
It would be a big mistake, though. Think about it. What do you do when you need a simple t-shirt? You go to the nearest mall and buy one for $5. Now, guess what? Your customers are exactly the same. And selling $5 t-shirts as a small business is simply unsustainable!
Moreover, generic t-shirts are impossible to market, because who would you even market them to? When you run paid advertising campaigns, you need to know exactly who you want to sell to, otherwise, you will just spend a bunch of money on ads without having anything to show for it.
So take time to clearly define your target audience. What is their gender? What is their age? What are their interests? What are their hobbies? Where do they hang out online? You need to know all these things if you want to succeed.
Analyze your competition
You don’t have to start from scratch. Go to your competitors’ stores, sort their inventory by what sells best, and then pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. Do proper research, take notes, and try to work out patterns. This will help you understand your target audience and your niche much better.
Also, this probably doesn’t need to be said, but just in case… Don’t just copy the best-selling designs! This is not only immoral, but it can also get you into trouble legally. The point of your research is to understand the market, not to copy your competitors!
Draw inspiration from the relevant media
One of the easiest ways to come up with winning t-shirt concepts is to draw inspiration from the relevant media.
What media does your target audience consume? It might be comics, books, TV shows, movies, music, etc. Whatever it is, you should be well-versed in it, so that you could use related imagery, quotes, and references in your designs.
Get feedback on your t-shirt concepts
You know that saying that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face?
Well, in the world of entrepreneurship, the equivalent is having a business idea, and then actually testing it against the market. You might think that you know what the customers want, but you actually don’t know it until you talk to said customers.
So take your t-shirt concepts, go where your customers hang out (online or offline), and ask them for feedback. It’s quite likely that they will not be as receptive to your designs as you had expected. Still, let them talk, listen attentively, and avoid getting defensive.
You might have to go back to the drawing board after doing this. That’s okay. Don’t take it personally. Just focus on improving your t-shirt designs.
Set up your online store
Okay, so now that you have your t-shirt designs ready, it’s time to prepare to sell them.
First, open a Shopify account, and set up your online store. It’s a very straightforward process that shouldn’t take you much time.
Then, sign up with Printify, so that you could get print on demand t-shirts by Printify, a print-on-demand fulfillment company that is trusted by over 50,000 merchants worldwide.
Finally, integrate Printify with Shopify, and import your Printify t-shirts to your Shopify store, and write appealing product descriptions. Voila! You are now ready for business!
Drive traffic to your store
It’s important to understand that simply opening your store is not enough. You need traffic if you want to get sales. But how can you get that traffic?
Paid advertising is the answer. I suggest you to start with Facebook ads. Create the ads, A/B test them, and then double down on the ones that work well. Master paid advertising first. You can branch out to things like SEO, content marketing, and influencer marketing later.
A print-on-demand t-shirt business is an excellent fit for someone who already possesses design skills. However, design is only a small part of it, and the learning curve will be steep.
Still, it’s very doable, and if you want to have more financial security in your life, you should definitely give it a try.