Starting a T-Shirt Business: A How-To Guide

Are you tired of spending hours shopping around for t-shirts, only to be left unsatisfied with the limited choice of styles? You’re not alone!

You (and people like you) deserve more than the average t-shirt designs currently on offer. Then the idea hits you: “I could create my own line of awesome t-shirts with my designs and logos.”

Well, the good news is, you totally can!

Next, you’re probably wondering how to start a custom t shirt business.

Fortunately, modern tech gives you the opportunity to revolutionise the Australian t-shirt industry your way,
and bring your own personalised style bursting onto the market!

That way, everyone can enjoy your logos, designs and concepts as part of their own wardrobes, fashion shows, social media posts and more.

How to start a custom t shirt printing business  

Whether it’s from the comfort of your own bedroom, your favourite local café or travelling in some fantastic far-away land, it has literally never been easier to channel your passion for design and style into a thriving online custom t-shirt business.

Intrigued? Well, read on for our how-to guide for starting an Australian custom t-shirt business.

What does a t-shirt business look like and why should you start one?

As that quintessential staple in pretty much everybody’s wardrobe, t-shirts may seem simple, but this doesn’t mean they need to be boring – especially if you have a vision for something customised. Instead, t-shirts are the perfect canvas to showcase your personality, capture a collective feeling or simply display an appealing design.

Thanks to a recent boom in Australia’s e-commerce capabilities, kick-starting your own t-shirt business has never been simpler. In fact, you could start and operate your own label anywhere, anytime and on virtually any budget.

With the custom t-shirt market set to soar beyond $3 billion by 2025, now is a pretty perfect time to get involved and capitalise on Australia’s thriving printing and delivery opportunities to get a share in the spoils.

So, you’re probably pumped wondering how to start a customized t-shirt business. Well, here’s our guide to get you started on the road to your own t shirt printing business.

8 Steps: How to start a custom t shirt printing business  

1. Understand the types of t-shirt printing methods

When it comes to operating an Australian custom t-shirt business, a previously difficult barrier to entry was finding someone to actually print the t-shirts. However, this is a problem of the past due to the emergence of specialised t-shirt printing providers, like us at PrintLocker.

However, not all providers are built the same!

When choosing which t-shirt printing provider is ideal for you, look to those that are capable of direct-to-garment, embroidery and all-over printing for the most comprehensive level of service.

Depending on which t-shirt method you choose, you also want to ensure that your t-shirts are made of a specific material – for example, all-over printing requires 100% polyester fabric. 

Whatever your style and vision for the t-shirt masses is, we recommend first consulting with a trusted clothing printing expert like us to help choose a path forward that is best for you. 

After this, tick! You can now start on the next step.

2. Conduct market research

Right. Now that you’ve kicked off the first step on how to start a custom t shirt printing business, it’s time to clear your mind and ask yourself:

  • What exactly am I hoping to achieve from my custom t-shirt business? 
  • What sort of audience am I targeting? 
  • Who would buy my custom-printed t-shirts?
  • Why would they choose my t shirt business over others?

These are super important questions that you need to answer during the research stage of establishing your Australian t-shirt business.

While there is no limit to the amount of research you can do, we always recommend the following three points:

1. Identify your key target audience

Are you trying to sell to an indie surf crowd? Maybe heavy metal bands are more your style? Whatever scratches your itch, it’s important you have a clearly defined customer in mind.

2. Create a business plan

How will you market your product? Will you need funding? What are your financial projections? We’ve all heard the adage, failing to plan is planning to fail, so take a look at this template to start your business plan today!

3. Creating your custom t-shirt design

Now for the fun part. With your target audience in mind, embrace your inner artist and let your creativity run wild. But wait… where should you design it?

4. Choosing an online design tool

A major driver behind the thriving Australian custom t-shirt market is the increasing availability of t-shirt design software making the stylistic process easier than ever before.

Once you have a solid understanding of your passion and vision for your t shirt business, we recommend investing time into choosing the online design tool that best suits you.

For instance, at PrintLocker, our online t-shirt design tool is built into our online ordering process, so you can upload and design your brand easily through our site.

5. Decide on the right business structure

When registering your custom t-shirt business in Australia, it is important to consider what structure will work best for you.

But, before you get lost in a sea of business mumbo-jumbo, take a quick look at the guidance provided by the Australian Government or even consider consulting with a qualified Australian Accountant. That way, you can decide whether it’s best to be a sole trader, a partnership or a fully-fledged Australian business. Qualified Accountants will run you through all the pros and cons of each structure so you can make the right call and get back to the creative side of your t-shirt business endeavour. 

Once you’ve decided on a structure, it’s time to start getting the word out.

6. Develop a marketing plan

Ok so you’ve set up your custom t shirt business and you’ve got your designs – now it’s time to connect with your audience and show them how good your t-shirts are.

That’s why one of the most important parts when deciding how to start a custom t shirt business is your marketing!

So, here are some handy tips to consider when developing your marketing plan:

  • Start on social media. With few barriers to entry, you’ll be able to start putting out colourful content immediately and mostly for free. Keep in mind that the platforms you decide to focus on will vary depending on your target audience. For Gen Z stick to platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, for Boomers, aim more towards Facebook and for business professionals, think LinkedIn.
  • If you are going to sell t-shirts online, online articles, websites and other SEO-based content will quickly become your best friend. To stand out, try to learn the tips and tricks of this digital industry, or better yet, outsource these tasks to a trusted marketing professional.
  • Perhaps even consider paid advertising. Of course, this depends entirely on your budget but if you have the extra bucks available, this can be a great way to capture customers fast and build that t shirt business fast.

As a final tip, consider partnering with a POD vendor. 

Not sure what that is? Let’s take a look.

7. Consider using a POD vendor

Print On Demand (POD) vendors provide a comprehensive e-commerce solution that deals with the storing, printing, packaging and delivering of your products.

Here’s how to make a custom t-shirt business with pod vendors.

While the POD will take a certain proportion of the profits in exchange for their services, this system allows you to benefit from the POD’s already established brand exposure (think Etsy or Shopify) and it also means you can avoid shipping and inventory costs over the long term.

With the right design, PODs can be how to start a custom t-shirt business free and with little risk.

8. Make use of free promotional platforms

In the early days of any business, it’s important to be ruthless in the search for value at all levels of operation. Whether it’s free trials on custom design software, free social media apps or partnering with businesses for free promotion, saving money is key.

Now you have the answers to how to start a custom t-shirt business

By following the tips while keeping overheads low, you’ll have set your Australian custom t-shirt business up for success and be on your way to capitalising on the growing market thanks to your own creative ingenuity.

Looking for an all-in-one solution to get your custom t-shirt business started?

If you have the design, we can turn your t-shirt into an absolute masterpiece! Whether your custom t-shirt business needs a few shirts or thousands – you’ve definitely landed in the right place!

At PrintLocker we’ve been providing our customers with uniquely customisable shirts, hoodies, blankets, phone cases and everything in between for years!

All you need is a few minutes and a t-shirt design, and we’ll take care of the hard work for you to get your business up and running. Whether you’re in Australia or a little further afield, we promise the highest quality t-shirt printing, affordable prices and incredible delivery times.

So what are you waiting for? Partner with us to get your t-shirt business started today!

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