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How To Sell Print-On-Demand T-Shirts: A Step-By-Step Guide

How To Sell Print-On-Demand T-Shirts: A Step-By-Step Guide

So you’re ready to make your mark with print-on-demand t-shirts. It’s a profitable product choice—every year, apparel brands generate billions of dollars from tees, thanks to their universal appeal and endless design variations.

But how do you ensure your t-shirt business stands out in a crowded market? The answer is to pick a print-on-demand company that offers well-made garments, quality printing, and fast, reliable shipping.

From there, it’s down to you to create awesome graphics perfectly tailored to your customers’ tastes. This post helps with both parts of running a print-on-demand t-shirt business.

The best print-on-demand t-shirt companies

The first step in your quest for world t-shirt domination is to pick the best print-on-demand company for designing and making your shirts. According to merchants, the companies below are as reliable as your go-to tee:

  1. Printful
  2. Printify
  3. Apliiq
  4. Teelaunch
  5. Gooten

1. Printful 

A selection of print-on-demand t-shirts available from Printful.

Printful is a popular app for creating print-on-demand t-shirts and more. With no order minimums or upfront fees, it’s accessible for businesses of all sizes. Plus, it’s easy to link products to your Shopify store, as well as to Etsy and Amazon.

Printful offers more than just printing. It can also produce custom packaging and will take care of warehousing and fulfillment. That means less work for you.

When it comes to t-shirt variety, Printful has you covered. There are men’s, women’s, and children’s styles, including standard t-shirts, polo shirts, and tank tops from popular brands.

  • Popular t-shirt brands: American Apparel, Bella + Canvas, Gildan, and more
  • Average fulfillment time: 2–7 business days
  • Mockup generator: Yes
  • Ecommerce integration: Yes
  • Branding options: Custom packaging

2. Printify

Printify’s T-Shirt design dashboard showing the ability to upload and edit a custom graphic.

Printify offers more than 850 print-on-demand products, including a wide range of t-shirts, tanks, and hoodies in various colors. It’s easy to connect Printify with Shopify, Etsy, and eBay, and there’s also an open API for added flexibility.

Printify lets you order samples, so you can be sure of the design and quality before you commit to a larger order. It’s a great choice for sellers worldwide, thanks to its network of more than 90 printers across the globe. Plus, you can see the average fulfillment time for each supplier, helping you make informed decisions.

  • Popular t-shirt brands: Bella+Canvas, Gildan, Delta, and more
  • Average fulfillment time: 2–7 business days
  • Mockup generator: Yes
  • Ecommerce integration: Yes
  • Branding options: Varies by t-shirt

3. Apliiq

A selection of print-on-demand t-shirts available from Apliiq.

Apliiq is a print-on-demand that’s focused on apparel. It offers a diverse range of shirts, including standard t-shirts, tank tops, flannels, polos, and even unique tie-dye tops. Depending on your chosen style, you can select from dozens of colors.

But Apliiq doesn’t stop at printing. It also offers private labeling, woven tags, embroidery, and patches, allowing you to customize products for your brand. You can order samples with no minimums, perfect for testing quality before making a larger commitment. And if you decide to go big with Apliiq, bulk orders can net you discounts of up to 18%.

  • Popular t-shirt brands: Gildan, Jerzees, Tultex, and more
  • Average fulfillment time: 5 business days
  • Mockup generator: Yes
  • Ecommerce integration: Yes
  • Branding options: Custom labels, logos, tags, and packaging

4. Teelaunch

A selection of Teelaunch print-on-demand apparel products.

Teelaunch is a print-on-demand service that began by focusing exclusively on clothing. You’ll find men’s, women’s, and unisex t-shirts, tank tops, long-sleeve tees, and sweatshirts. It even has shirts for youth, toddlers, and babies. Sizes range from small to 5XL and colors vary, with more than 20 options for many styles. Some shirts even offer double-sided printing.

Teelaunch works well with Shopify, but you can also sell on Etsy, Facebook, Amazon, or eBay. While the app doesn’t offer free samples, there is a discount for first-time users.

  • Popular t-shirt brands: District, Champion, and more
  • Average fulfillment time: 3–6 business days
  • Mockup generator: No
  • Ecommerce integration: Yes
  • Branding options: No

5. Gooten

A selection of print-on-demand t-shirts available from Gooten.

Check out Gooten, a print-on-demand solution designed for businesses. With a catalog of over 280 customizable products, including t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and accessories, Gooten offers plenty of choice.

Most products are ready within three to four business days and ship at a flat rate, making it easy to plan and budget.

With a network of over 50 manufacturers in more than 70 global locations, Gooten is ready to help your print-on-demand business grow.

And it’s not just about printing. Gooten also offers woven and embroidery decoration options, giving your products that extra touch of quality.

  • Popular t-shirt brands: Bayside, Champion, American Apparel, and more
  • Average fulfillment time: 3-4 business days
  • Mockup generator: Yes
  • Ecommerce integrations: Yes
  • Branding options: custom labels and packing slips

Print on demand with Shopify

Source, design, print, sell, and ship t-shirts—all from your Shopify store. Simplify your business by running everything from one place.

Discover the best print on demand apps

How to sell print-on-demand t-shirts (4 steps)

An example T-shirt design screen from a print-on-demand service.

Once you’ve picked a print-on-demand service, the next step is to create the visual design for your shirts. Don’t worry if you’re not an artist or a design expert. There are several ways to approach this task, each with its own pros and cons.

The key is to choose the method that best suits your skills and comfort level.

  1. Find your t-shirt niche
  2. Choose t-shirts for printing
  3. Create t-shirt designs
  4. Build an online store to sell your tees

1. Find your t-shirt niche

A successful t-shirt business starts with a clear niche. In a crowded market, unique t-shirt designs that appeal to a specific audience are an absolute must. Research other online t-shirt businesses to spot market gaps and develop a unique selling proposition.

Use your market research to understand your potential customers’ interests and behaviors. This information can help you create buyer personas to hone in on your target audience.

2. Choose t-shirts for printing

T-shirts come in many forms! Review your print-on-demand partner’s inventory to pick the right t-shirts for your customers.

Most sellers opt for cotton or polyester tees. Cotton is soft, comfortable, and durable—and is a good choice for eco-conscious customers when sourced organically. Polyester keeps its size and shape well but can retain odors. Blended fabrics offer a balance but may cost more.

Also, consider the weight and fit of t-shirts. Lightweight, slim-fit shirts are ideal for outdoor activities and workouts, while heavyweight and relax-fit shirts tend to be more comfortable and longer-lasting.

3. Create t-shirt designs

Before you start selling, you need to create eye-catching designs. Here’s how:

DIY design

If you’re artistically inclined, leverage your skills to create your own t-shirt graphics. This could be anything from a unique illustration to a popular meme, fan artwork, or your brand logo. Remember, while unique t-shirt visuals can set your brand apart, ensure the design process doesn’t outweigh the profits.

Leverage online resources

For those comfortable with DIY but needing a little guidance, online t-shirt templates and mockups are a great resource. These tools often provide free templates and design elements, making the process easier and more cost-effective.

Outsource to professionals

If design isn’t your strong suit, consider hiring a professional. Platforms like Shopify Partners connect you with experienced designers who can bring your vision to life. This can be a worthwhile investment, especially if it frees up your time to focus on other aspects of your business.

4. Build an online store to sell your tees

When your tees are ready, you’ll need a place to sell them. For most businesses, that means an ecommerce website, a business social media account, or, better yet, both! Here’s how to set up your store:

Pick an ecommerce platform

Choose an ecommerce platform that fits your needs. Consider factors like pricing, features, and ease of use. Shopify is a popular choice for clothing designers and sellers because you can integrate your favorite print-on-demand app directly into your store. That makes it simple to set up product listings.

With Shopify, you can also add social media sales channels to sell to customers on Instagram and Facebook.

Set up your store

Decide on a name for your store, register a website domain, and build your first pages—such as a homepage, product pages, and a page containing your shipping policy, which needs to match the terms provided by your print-on-demand supplier.

You’ll also need to configure your checkout so that customers can pay for their tees. If you’re using Shopify, you can take advantage of its internet-leading one-click checkout.

Select a theme

As you build a brand around your t-shirt designs, consider how to reflect your business’s aesthetic in your store design. The right store theme can make your store more visually appealing and easier to navigate.

Add your t-shirts

If you are using a print-on-demand service that integrates with your ecommerce platform, it should be simple to list your t-shirts in your store. Include unique, memorable product names, detailed descriptions, and clear pricing information to help customers feel confident about their purchases.

If you can, order samples of your shirts and invest in high-quality product photos that showcase your designs.

Market your products

Once your store is live, it’s time to attract customers. Start by identifying your target audience and where they spend their time online. This could be on social media platforms, forums, or blogs related to your niche.

Create a marketing strategy that reaches your audience on these platforms. This could involve social media advertising, content marketing, and influencer partnerships. Remember to highlight what makes your t-shirts unique.

You could also consider a launch promotion, such as a discount on each customer’s first purchase—or a two-for-one offer.

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In our free 40 minute video workshop, we’ll get you from product idea to setting up an online store to getting your first print-on-demand sale.

Getting started with print-on-demand t-shirts

The beauty of print on demand is its flexibility and scalability. You can continuously test new designs, experiment with different niche audiences, and adapt your products based on customer feedback and market trends. When you’re ready, it’s simple to expand your product line beyond t-shirts to all kinds of apparel products.

Print-on-demand t-shirts FAQ

Is a t-shirt business profitable?

A t-shirt business can be profitable. However, profitability depends on several factors including the quality of your designs, your marketing efforts, and your ability to manage costs. With print-on-demand, you can start with minimal upfront costs, making it a potentially lucrative low-risk business.

How many designs do I need to start a t-shirt business?

There’s no set number of designs needed to start a t-shirt business. With the right illustration that resonates with an audience, it’s possible to run a t-shirt business based on a single design. On the other hand, offering a variety of t-shirt designs can help attract a wider customer base.

What are some of the best print-on-demand services?

    This article originally appeared on Shopify and is available here for further discovery.
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