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How to Use UpWork to Build Your T-Shirt Business

in Design, Market Research, Marketing, Productivity

Upwork, formerly Elance and oDesk, is an international work platform where entrepreneurs and freelance workers collaborate remotely. You go to Upwork to find a job (if you’re a freelancer) or to find freelancers to hire (if you’re a business owner). This is a brilliant way to meet good people to help you. Online workplace platforms such as Upwork have been around for many years now and they will get bigger and bigger as more and more businesses and freelancers find the system a good alternative to going to the office.

If you’re a t-shirt entrepreneur and you are a one-man-show (as you’re just starting out), you don’t have to set up an office right away (or ever) or hire a team fulltime when you can easily manage your team online. This, alone, is enough reason for any entrepreneur to join Upwork! Note that we are not affiliated with Upwork and we are not making this article just to promote them. We are sharing how Upwork is awesome for small business owners because we’ve been using it for over five years now and we’ve never been disappointed so far. We want t-shirt entrepreneurs like you to get the many benefits of using Upwork, too!

Reasons why Upwork is awesome:

  • No need to have an office. All you have to do is log in to your computer, talk to your team via Skype or chat about the day’s tasks, and voila! That’s your “office” meeting. You don’t even have to get off your pajamas or wear pomade because no one cares. How awesome!
  • No commute means no wasted time. Since you don’t have an office, you don’t have to drive or ride a public transport just to meet your people. The only commute you’ll be having is from your bedroom to your home office.
  • No need to buy office supplies and computers. Aside from the lovely benefits mentioned above, you won’t have to buy expensive computers for your team because they have their own laptops already, at the comforts of their home. Yipee! If something happens to their laptops, you don’t even need to pay a dime unless you offer to. That’s one awesome benefit of hiring freelancers compared to actual office employees. Do not be guilty for it! As long as you’re paying them the right fees, they know that being a freelancer means owner their own computers.
  • Low electric bill. Or no electric bill! Unless you decide to meet once in a while in your home office or your shops, your electric bill won’t be affected at all. This is cutting costs to its finest.
  • Micromanagement is easy. Upwork knows that one of the main challenges of working online is the possibility of the team not working hard enough or not working at all when they promised they would. That is why Upwork created a time tracking app that monitors freelancers’ activities.
  • You can work anywhere! It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Bali sipping a pina colada or at home with your pets all day. This kind of flexibility is awesome for entrepreneurs like you who are always on the go.

Well that was a rather long list. I’m pretty sure that by now you’re convinced that Upwork is the way to go. You’re interested but you still don’t know how this can be useful for your t-shirt business. You might have second thoughts because you know that running a t-shirt business should be very hands on and doing things online is just not hands on enough.

Let me tell you about a 28-year-old t-shirt entrepreneur I know who, since 2008, never leaves his house unless he really wants to (i.e. a date with girlfriend, to buy groceries, etc.). You read that right. He rarely goes out. The reason is that he’s a very busy man, and not because he is just lazy to go out. He figured that he can manage everything from order inquiry, marketing, to shipping right at the comforts of his California home (which he bought thanks to the money he earned from his booming t-shirt business).

I asked him how he does it – run a t-shirt empire while he’s in his pajamas eating homemade steak. He simply said, “Learn to delegate tasks the right way. Once you’ve mastered that, everything is a breeze.” Of course, he uses Upwork!

In detail, let me just give you an idea of how you can use Upwork for your t-shirt business.

Graphic Designers for T-Shirt Design

There are plenty of talented graphic designers that can help you with your t-shirt artwork. You can either hire them on one-time basis (meaning, they have to do 10-20 shirt designs for you for a certain time) or you can hire them as needed. The drawback of having them as needed is that they may not be available when you need them. You don’t want him to be cramming your artwork along with 10 other projects. My advice is you get a good designer and you work for one whole month with your t-shirt designs (if you’re designing your own tees for your store). But if you’re a custom t-shirt printer, then it’s probably best that you get two more designers just in case the first one can’t handle the job.

Researchers for T-Shirt Supplies

So let’s say you want to find the cheapest (but softest) cotton tee in China. Do you really have to go to China? Perhaps. But if you want to save a lot of money, the best way is to contact someone from China (or any place where you want to buy your tees) and let him or her do the research for you. Just make sure the person has a good feedback score in Upwork (yes, there’s such a thing!) so you’d know that he/she is reliable. Once you establish a good connection with your researcher, you can ask for his/her services in case you want to sell other items in the future.

Virtual Assistants for Online Marketing

If you’re running a business, it’s almost impossible that you’d be able to handle day-to-day online marketing. Your concerns should be on the orders and whether they’re done right and delivered on time. And even if you can squeeze some free time, you should be doing things to improve your other businesses or to have some quality time with your family. Hire someone who knows what your brand is about and who’s an expert at online promotion. If you’re not yet too sure with the direction of your brand, hire a PR team for the first few months. You can get outstanding Virtual Assistants in Upwork who don’t charge like crazy. If you’re lucky, you’d find them right away. But if you can’t find the perfect one for you, don’t be discouraged right away. It’s normal to get a few bad apples at first. Trust me, you’ll find a good VA in no time if you just keep looking.

Copywriters for T-Shirt Grpahics and Web Copy

You’d need the help of a good writer even before Day 1 of your t-shirt business. You’d be drafting a lot of proposals, emails, contracts, and a whole lot ma thousand paperwork months before opening your store or website. And when you’re closer to opening, you’d need a writer’s help to come up with witty copy for your tees, website pages, Facebook page, and other social media platforms. Once you start operating, you’d need to send newsletters, make blog posts, and a million other writing jobs that would be easily done by a talented copywriter. Do you have enough time for all of this? Certainly not. Managing and maintaining online presence is a full time job!

Web Designers for Creating a Website

Anyone can help make a handsome website but most US-based web designers charge too high that it’s almost tempting to just open a physical store. However, at Upwork, you can find a lot of Web Designers from all over the world that are willing to help you at prices you can easily afford. Choose the ones that have offer one-stop solution for web design so that you don’t have to manage a lot of people with just a simple task. Lots of awesome websites you see online are made by Upwork freelancers!

If you’re still reading this article, I’m sure you’re convinced to give Upwork a try. How do you start? Simply go to Upwork’s website and create an account. Follow the steps in creating a profile and you can finish your account in less than 15 minutes. Once you’re an official member, you can start posting for jobs and searching for freelancers. In finding freelancers, make sure you find a team that’s really responsible and who treats their online work seriously. If not, you’d have an awful Upwork experience. You have to learn the skills of spotting the right ones. Good luck in vaulting in the best team for your t-shirt business!

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