So, you finally decided to sell t-shirts. Hurray! But are you sure you will not lose money in this endeavor? How do you ensure that the shirts you’re making will not just be gathering dust in the basement? T-shirts are usually printed in bulk to get bigger discounts but how sure are you that all the shirts you print will be sold? The honest answer is, we can’t really be 100% sure.
But there’s a secret to get almost 100% in t-shirt sales: Create shirts that your customers will love. Actually, not just love. It should be something that they cannot resist! But I guess you already know that. What you want to know is HOW to create irresistible t-shirts. That is exactly the reason why you’re reading this, amirite? So without further ado, here are our tried-and-tested ways of how you can come up with t-shirts that will surely be a hit to your customers:
Research the Taste of Your Target Market
So you might say, “But I have no target market!”. But that, my friend, is just impossible. Even a blank t-shirt has a set of target markets it’s aiming to attract. Are you designing t-shirts for teens or oldies? Are you designing t-shirts for the prim or the partygoer? This is very important when it comes to the conceptualization of your t-shirt design. If you’re in a band, figure out what type of shirts your fans like. Take a look at what your fans are wearing, and more importantly, what your fans are buying. If you’re a metal band, I’m pretty sure your fans prefer darker colors than happy ones. If you’re making shirts for a certain event, research on who’ll be attending as if you’re a detective. You can find clues based on their age, where they hang-out, what they find cool, etc. Define, define, define until you get a clearer idea of the taste of your target market. This is not rocket science! This is actually quite easy if you just pay enough attention.
Make Your Design Simple, But Not Simpler
You might think that for a design to have an impact, it should be very intricate and full of detail. But the when it comes to t-shirt design, the simplest design that kicks ass wins the prize. The goal is not to put too many elements. The goal is to create something simple but attention-grabbing. The reason for this is that too much detail (and color, and texture) will make the shirt design cluttered. If people look at an overly designed t-shirt at a certain distance, they might not be able to make out what it is. Another thing to consider is that if your shirt is design-heavy, then you’re most likely to spend more in manufacturing it.
If You’re Not a Designer, Do Not Design the Shirt!
It’s just a t-shirt artwork! How hard can it be, right? The answer: It’s pretty darn hard! Sometimes, we just want to try the DIY route and design the tees we want to make because we want to be creative or we think it will save us plenty of dollars. It may be okay to do this if you’re just designing t-shirts for your family or some friends, but if you’re wondering how to make a tshirt for a large group of people (giveaways for events, items for your store), then please erase that notion in your head that you are a graphic designer! There is a reason that people study Graphic Design for years. Designing t-shirts doesn’t end in the artwork. You have to know the technical side of printing and design. If you DIY, you will likely encounter plenty of design problems and you might potentially waste a lot of money (and valuable time) by printing tees that are far from attractive.
Use Colors Wisely
Every designer knows this but since you’re probably the one conceptualizing the t-shirt designs, you must know this. You must bear in mind that although the colors look good on screen, they will likely look different in the actual t-shirt. The difference depends on many factors like the color of shirt, fabric, type of ink, etc.
Here are some basics:
- First off, try to limit your t-shirt design up to three colors only to lessen your t-shirt printing cost.
- Next, make sure you use complementary colors to enhance your t-shirt design.
- Third, light-colored shirts and pastel ink are not good together.
If you’re going to print your t-shirt using silkscreen printing, use the Pantone Matching System (PMS) in your artwork for accuracy. Choosing the right colors for inks and shirts is one of the trickiest parts of t-shirt printing that even your reliable designer could get it wrong. The best way to ensure you get it right is by coordinating with the t-shirt designers of your chosen t-shirt printing company.
Make Sure Your Shirt is Made from Good Material
This is a no-brainer and probably doesn’t have to be in this list because it’s too basic. However, most of us tend to forget about quality when we’re thinking about profit. Please, if you care about your customers and your reputation, I beg you to only use shirts with decent quality. How can you tell? I can’t tell you everything (this topic is quite broad and should have a separate article) but one way to tell is by knowing the thread weight count. Nicer shirts are generally 30-single and 18-single would be more heavyweight.
One way to tell instantly, though, without knowing all these technical shirt stuff, is by its price. If it’s too cheap, then there must be a reason. Ask an expert to help you in finding the cheapest shirt with good quality. You don’t want customers to be complaining because the shirt got tattered after the third washing! Your awesome t-shirt design artwork would just be put to waste if the t-shirt quality is awful.
Get Your Target Market’s Opinions Before Printing
Since your ultimate goal is to create a shirt that your customers will surely love (which should be every t-shirt maker’s goal!), then what better way to find out that it’s lovable than by contacting some of your target market and directly asking them for their opinion? Feedback is very important if you want to make a really good design. Create as many samples/studies as you can then mock them up on a photo of a model. Find out which shirts they like best, which shirts are they willing to pay for and how much, which shirts they won’t even give to their enemy, etc. This is probably the best way to do it if you really care about impressing your customers. To compensate them for their efforts, give them a token or a freebie (free t-shirts?) for taking part in your research.
Use a Reliable T-Shirt Printing Company
Last but definitely not the least, choose a t-shirt printing company that’s reliable. You may get everything mentioned above right but if you choose a t-shirt printing company that doesn’t know what they’re doing or doesn’t have a good system for doing things, then you’re in deep trouble. One great way to find a good company is by asking your friends for referrals. Do not just take into account the cost of printing t-shirts, you have to choose a t-shirt printer that have been around for a long time and have satisfied customers. Preferably, customers you know.
Don’t trust the internet so much because there are many companies that claim they’re the best but are actually crappy. However, you can do a quick research on them on Yelp and check out their reviews. You can also ask in forums for recommendations. Then, give them a call and ask them if they can do what you need. Let them send you over a sample print before printing hundreds of tees, of course. As you may know, we really can’t be so sure. The only way to find out if a t-shirt printer is good is by checking the actual t-shirt.
There’s no other way to make good t-shirt business but by making really good products. If you’re planning to sell t-shirts, make sure they’re really impressive design-wise and quality-wise or don’t do it at all. You’d just be ruining your reputation if you make lame products. Apply all of the things mentioned above on how to make a tshirt and rest assured that your customers will be smiling wide while wearing their tees. They will wear the shirts with pride, which is, of course, absolutely good for your marketing. The best thing about making shirts that your customers really, really love? They will be surely coming back for more. Bonus: They will tell their friends about your awesomeness, too!