This is my very first full-fledged income report and it’s a very special one because it marks the end of an interesting and insightful year during which I worked A LOT on turning around the downward sales trend which I’ve had to witness the past 2 years.
The idea behind these reports is to give you an in-depth view into the inner workings of my t-shirt business finances. I will share with you not only some of the things I’ve been working on, the good and the bad, but also give you a detailed breakdown of my different income streams and expenses.
Ideally, what I am about to share with you is meant to inspire you and motivate you to take action, because without action there cannot be a proper result. Remember, just because my business runs mostly on autopilot, that doesn’t mean I you don’t need to nurture it. And it took a lot of hard work and many hours of creativity to get to the point where I am today. I hope you enjoy this report. I’m always keen to hear what you think and how I can improve them.
Glennz Tees is a world-famous t-shirt company owned by t-shirt guru Glenn Jones from New Zealand, thus the name Glennz (Glenn+NZ). Glenn is a graphic designer who, for over 18 years, has worked in the design industry focusing on packaging, illustration and corporate identity. While doing corporate designs, he was also making creative t-shirt designs on the side and submitted them on the t-shirt design site Threadless.com in 2004. His designs were well-loved by many on Threadless and, in no time, he became a celebrity to the Threadless shoppers and to t-shirt lovers all over the world. He was the most printed designer. Every t-shirt freak loved Glennz, the t-shirt guru on Threadless!
Because of his celebrity status in the t-shirt world, a US-based t-shirt company contacted him and proposed for partnership in 2008. Glen decided that it was time for him to move out from Threadless and start his own line. Now, Glen designs t-shirt artwork in his home office in New Zealand while everything else is made in Austin, Texas by his partner company.
After watching and reading a lot of interviews of Glen Jones on the success of Glennz Tees, I’ve come up with five things that make his t-shirt business such a great hit:
So you’ve got 1,001 really cool t-shirt design ideas that you can’t wait to print on tees, but before calling your graphic designer for an all-nighter, let me ask you this: how can you be so sure that those t-shirt designs would sell? How can you be sure that you’re not just delusional or overly optimistic in thinking that the design that you love would be loved by your customers, too? Does this confidence spring from your knowledge and familiarity about your customers or does it just come from mere gut feel?
I may sound like a party pooper but do hear me out. My intention is just to save you thousands of dollars! If you’ve done your research and you have your numbers, then maybe I can’t do you any good because you already know what you’re doing. However, common sense tells me that you are still on your way to figuring out the t-shirt business code (or else you wouldn’t be reading this article).
Confidence in creating t-shirt designs come from experience, knowing the t-shirt design trends, and familiarity with your customers. If you are not equipped with enough experience, then it is absolutely necessary that you get to know your customers from head to toe. This is not only useful in designing t-shirts, knowing your customers by heart is essential for you to run a successful business.
In order to have a successful t-shirt business, here are the things you have to know from your target customers:
So you’ve finally decided to start a t-shirt business. Congratulations! It’s not going to be easy at first but with hard work and good knowledge of the t-shirt industry, you can turn your little t-shirt shop into a serious business. But before anything, I have one question for you: Do you want to take it slow and steady or do you want to take shortcuts and win the race fast? Because, yes, there are shortcuts to having a successful t-shirt business and no, they do not involve scams and dirty work. There are strategies that can boost your t-shirt business so that it will have a big leap forward from a humble t-shirt shop to a successful t-shirt empire. These strategies have always been there but they’re something that t-shirt entrepreneurs want to keep secret. No one shares these secrets. Why? Because they really work and they don’t want others to know it because if everybody applies these strategies, that means they’ll have more competition.
Do not underestimate your capacity to earn significant money from a t-shirt business because that is very possible! Here are some little-known strategies that successful t-shirt business tycoons keep secret:
All of us in the t-shirt business would want to create shirts that would go viral, right? Not only will it be good for our bank accounts, it’s so darn good for marketing our business, too. But trying to achieve the level of viral is a hit or miss thing. During the conceptualization of your t-shirt design, you could be so confident that it would be the talk of the town because you’ve researched enough or you just know the taste of your market by heart. However, there are lots of instances that your market would just ignore the t-shirt you expected to go viral. You really can’t tell for sure that something would sell like crazy until you’re already selling like crazy. That’s what’s so hard about aiming to get viral with design: you really can’t tell for sure.
There are also many t-shirt brands that resort to vulgar artwork just to get attention. While most of them succeed at it, having that strategy is not sustainable in the long haul. Anything that gets instant attention fades out really fast. That just shows that we should not aim for a few good shirts to get celebrity-level attention but for all our shirts to become marketable.
The t-shirt business is one of the most popular businesses of choice of young entrepreneurs who are still trying to find out if entrepreneurship is right for them. Their initial notion of the t-shirt business is that it’s fun and relatively easy to run. The actual t-shirt printing could be easy in itself but what most new t-shirt entrepreneurs are not prepared for are the 101 things that are essential for running a successful t-shirt business. These include in-depth research, defining your brand, marketing online, marketing offline, and creating systems for good workflow, good order flow, and the most important one of all: managing business finances. You might suddenly have a headache just thinking about all the other non-shirt related things you have to do but let’s take this one step at a time.
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.
Advertising your t-shirt business today is very different from how t-shirt entrepreneurs do it in the olden days, but they require more or less the same effort and money! You might disagree and say that the internet has made advertising much easier (and free) but just try one day into your online advertising venture and you will know that it’s not as easy or cheap. The advertising game has changed a lot but it remains the same. Basically, the only things that changed are the platform and the consumers’ attitudes, trends, but everything else–the basics of good advertising like good research, great design, amount of hustle and marketing skills– still remain the same. If you want to know how to advertise your new t-shirt line, here are 10 tried and tested ways:
Heat Press Machine or Heat Transfer Printing is the modern, no-fuss way of printing artwork onto t-shirts. It is a great alternative to the classic screen printing. Of course, when it comes to quality and longevity, screen printing still wins the game. But for the regular customers’ point of view, they can’t tell the difference between a screen printed tee and a heat pressed tee. This is a good thing for t-shirt entrepreneurs because not only is heat press printing easy and affordable to do, it also makes custom t-shirt printing possible. With screen printing, the customers have to order in large quantities or else it would be too expensive per piece, but with heat press machine, it’s still affordable even if they order one or one thousand. No wonder heat press is a favorite of many t-shirt entrepreneurs. If you just bought your heat press machine, here is a basic guide on how to use the machine.
In the t-shirt business, like all other businesses, it is very important to define your niche. Niche is your target market or a highly focused, specific type of people that you want to sell your products to. Bear in mind that you cannot sell to everybody. Attempting to do so would just waste your time and make your brand forgettable. First of all, what is a niche? “Teenagers” is not yet a niche because there are so many kinds of teenagers on this planet. That’s still not focused enough. Selling t-shirts to all types of teenagers is very risky because you’d still be shooting at random teenagers. And that’s a total waste of time. However, “female teenagers aged 14-18 who love Nirvana and Doc Martens” is a niche. So is “geeky male teenagers aged 14-18 who prefer reading science books over parties”. Having a niche means you can draw a clear picture of your market. From what they’re wearing, what colors they like, what music they listen to, where they hang out, and the most important of all…what things they’re willing to pay for.
The best time to define your niche is before you even start creating your t-shirt designs so that when you’re done printing your shirts, you’d have a pretty good picture of whom you’re making your t-shirts for. The reason for this is simple: It’s impossible to sell marketable shirts without knowing your market. Try it and it’s damn near impossible! The worst thing could happen if you skip this step is that you’d have hundreds of shirts not selling because you don’t know how, to whom, and where to start selling them! If you don’t identify your niche early on, I guarantee you’ll have a severe case of regret. In trying to figure out what went wrong, you’d be working backwards; tracing your steps, until you realize that what’s missing all along is a defined niche.
I’m sure this is not the first time you read about the importance of finding a niche. It’s like listening to a broken record. Of course you know the importance of finding a niche but the hard part is in actually identifying them! The truth of the matter is, it’s not an easy peasy thing to do but the good news is that it’s not rocket science, either. Here are some steps on how you can choose your perfect niche to help you in your quest.