How to Sell T-Shirts Online

There’s no better time than the present to start selling t-shirts online.

Sell T-Shirts Online

Today, it’s easier than ever to break into retail and start an online t-shirt business, especially in the apparel industry, where demand will always exist. So, let’s take you through everything that you need to know before you start your own successful online t-shirt store.

Understanding the T-Shirt Business

Selling t-shirts online is an extremely saturated industry, mainly due to how easy is to get a store up and running. But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to stand out and become successful. While t-shirts are a popular eCommerce product, the industry is unique in that success is highly dependent on niche designs. There may be millions of shirt stores online, but only yours will have the design that you’ve created for your specific niche audience. This makes t-shirt stores uniquely easy to set up and quick to profit if you’ve tapped into the right target group. But, it’s not just about creating a great design that people will flock to; you also need to nail down printing, suppliers, fulfillment, online presence, branding, web design, and more to ensure that your online t-shirt business is successful.

Types of T-Shirt Printing

Screen Printing

One of the oldest methods of t-shirt printing, screen printing is done by transferring ink directly onto the shirt using a blocking stencil in the shape of the desired design.

Why You Should Screen Print:

  • It produces durable and long-lasting results.
  • It’s cost-effective when printing in bulk.

Why You Shouldn’t Screen Print:

  • You can only print simple images and designs.
  • It’s not cost-effective for multiple colors.
Shirts screen printing

Direct to Garment

DTG, or direct-to-garment, is a form of t-shirt printing that uses a machine which prints ink directly onto the shirt, similar to an ink-jet printer.

Why You Should Use DTG:

  • You have an unlimited choice of color options.
  • You can print designs with high-detail accuracy.

Why You Shouldn’t Use DTG:

  • There’s no volume discounts because each shirt takes the same time to print.
  • It’s not cost-effective for large production runs.
Direct to Garment t-shirt printing

Heat Transfer

Heat transfers, or transfer printing, involves transferring a design from transfer paper onto a shirt with a machine that applies heated pressure to the garment.

Why You Should Heat Transfer:

  • It’s economical for small shirt orders.
  • It’s better for complex designs on light fabrics.

Why You Shouldn’t Heat Transfer:

  • The end result is lower quality and less durable.
  • It takes more time and work to do yourself.
Heat Transfer t-shirt printing

All-Over Printing

Also referred to as cut & sew, all-over printing involved printing on every piece of the t-shirt before it’s sewn together.

Why You Should Use All-Over Printing:

  • It allows you to create a more premium product.
  • Gives the shirt a seamless print across the entire piece.

Why You Shouldn’t Use All-Over Printing:

  • The base price is higher.
  • Custom cut and sew prints take longer to make.
All-Over Shirt Printing

Dye Sublimation

Dye sublimation is a method of t-shirt printing that transfers your design into your t-shirt through ink and heat, similar to heat transfers. The difference is that it uses a specific type of ink that absorbs into the fabric permanently.

Why You Should Use Dye Sublimation:

  • You have much more freedom with design choices.
  • The design will stay longer without cracking, peeling, or fading.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Dye Sublimation:

  • You can only use this method with polyester garments.
  • Designs are susceptible to white creases.
T-Shirt Dye Sublimation

List of Print-On-Demand Dropshippers

Printful T-Shirt Dropshipping

Printful

One of the largest and most popular print-on-demand dropshipping suppliers, Printful offers a variety of printing techniques that they can use to create your t-shirt designs. Printful uses direct to garment, cut and sew, embroidery, and screen printing on its products.

Printful offers a selection of 8 clothing brands that supply them with t-shirt blanks, which you can choose to be used for your designs. What makes Printful unique is the sheer amount of product variations that they have. However, the cost of having a wider variety of shirts to choose from is the fact that Printful’s base prices for blanks are much higher than the other dropshipping suppliers on this list.

Printful typically takes between 2 to 7 days to fulfill orders, and offers several options for adding your own branding to shipping materials. You can add custom stickers, package inserts, and notes to the box, enhancing the unboxing experience for your customers.

Printify

Printify

If you’re looking for a print-on-demand dropshipping solution with an international vendor network, giving you access to a variety of unique products you won’t find elsewhere, then Printify may be the choice for you. Printify uses direct-to-garment printing on their shirts, and offers 7 different brands to choose from.

Printify usually takes between 3 to 4 days to fulfill orders, and offers options for custom shipping branding, including custom return labels, custom packing slips, tag removal/application, hand tag application, and pack-ins. Their service is free to use, but a premium subscription for $29 a month gives you 20% off all products.

CustomCat

CustomCat

The option on this list with the second-to-least expensive costs for shirts, CustomCat is a print-on-demand dropshipping service that you may want to consider. CustomCat uses direct-to-garment printing and offers an unparalleled variety of brands, with over 30 brands to choose from with their service.

CustomCat has an average fulfillment time of 2 to 3 days, however a major downside is that they do not offer custom branding options for the unboxing experience.

Print Aura

Print Aura

Stationed in New York, Print Aura is a print-on-demand dropshipping supplier that uses direct-to-garment printing and offers over 10 different t-shirt brands to choose from for your printed designs.

Print Aura’s average fulfillment time is 3 to 5 days, and offers custom branding options such as custom packing slips, personalized shipping labels, neck label removal, tagless label application, hand tag application, custom shipping packaging, individual bagging with size stickers, and added pack-ins. However, some of these options may come at additional cost.

Gooten

Gooten

Offering the least expensive base price for shirts, Gooten is a print-on-demand dropshipping platform that uses direct-to-garment printing for their products, of which they have a selection of 11 different apparel brands.

Gooten typically takes 3 to 4 days to fulfill orders, but they do not offer custom branding on any of the shipping materials that your product will be boxed in. However, they do offer adding a custom neck label to garments.

Download "The Definitive Online T-shirt Marketing Checklist"


Online T-shirt Marketing Checklist

Successful Online T-Shirt Stores

Check out our favorite success stories for inspiration.

Succesful Online T-Shirts Businesses Use 3dcart

LogoUp is a family-owned embroidered apparel business that specializes in creating custom apparel for companies and organizations that want their logo on shirts, jackets, hats, and more.

Must-Have Features for Selling Shirts Online

Optimize your online store for selling unique designs

Color/Size Options Matrix

With the color/size options matrix, you can use advanced options on any product to differently quantify and configure every unique aspect of the product. You’ll be able to add specific weights, inventory numbers, prices, and more for customers to select.

Options Matrix

Product Customizer

Using a product customizer, like the Doogma Designer, gives customers the ability to customize the design of their own shirt. With the added feature of dynamic pricing, customers will be able to see how different designs, shirt materials, apparel brands, and printing techniques will look and cost for the final product. This way, you won’t have to have a picture and price pre-set for every single possible product option; the product customizer app will do it for you.

Product Customizer

Printful Integration

Your store can be directly integrated with Printful, which is our top recommendation for a print-on-demand fulfillment company. Direct Printful integration will make importing products quick and simple, so you have more time to focus on building your online store and designing your products.

Printful Integration

Website Themes for T-Shirt Stores

Stand out with modern themes that showcase your t-shirt designs

brock

Brock Clothing Website Template

Since your products are heavily focused on design, you want to make sure the theme your online store uses doesn’t distract from your shirts. Equipped with a large home page carousel and easy navigation, this theme uses a minimalist design approach that puts your product and images front-and-center. Large photos are perfect for showing off people modelling your t-shirts, which will catch more eyes than just showing a shirt on a hanger. You can even showcase featured design collections on the home page, which is helpful if you have designs that fall into different categories.

look

Look Retail Website Template

If your shirt designs are classy and higher up on the fashion spectrum, then this theme may be perfect for your online store. Clean and modern, this theme utilizes a huge carousel banner that is perfect for stylish product and model photography. There’s space for you to clearly outline your design vision and the mission of your store, giving your site more depth and making customers more interested. You won’t be just another t-shirt store with this design.

Fashionista

Fashionista Garment Website Template

Since your shirts will be all about their design, you won’t want your website’s theme to get in the way of that. This minimal design puts a large focus on the visuals department, including a huge hero banner carousel and tall featured product photos that give you a lot of space to show of your t-shirt designs. Because of its neutral color palette, any type of t-shirt design will fit right in and pop off the page. Navigation is easy with this website template, leaving nothing in the way of your designs and your customers.

Ap New Fashion

Ap New Fashion Apparel Website Template

Branding is one of the most important aspects of building an online t-shirt business. With this apparel website template, your online t-shirt brand will be brought to the forefront. On top of a clean white background sits large product images that are ready for you to input your t-shirt designs. This theme also showcases a prominent logo, perfect for making your t-shirt store’s branding shine throughout the whole site.

How to Sell Shirts Online

get started
  • Find your niche

    Because graphic t-shirts are in such a highly-saturated market, it’s difficult to stand out if you don’t determine who your target audience is and what they want to see. Instead of designing something general, like funny phrases, try and design something more specific, like funny grandmother phrases. It’s easier to stand out when you focus on a specific audience, so that you can make a name for yourself as the best store for that specific design. Do some research into what niches are trending, and what you may feel is a neglected market. Also, think about what you actually like, because a great way of targeting towards a niche is by filling your own needs and desires.

  • Create your designs

    Your designs should be unique and high-quality; there’s nothing worse than being accused of stealing a design or uploading a low-res file that doesn’t do your idea justice. Don’t worry though; you don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to get designs for your shirts. There’s a plethora of designers out there that you can hire freelance to design your shirt for you, bringing your vision to life in a way that will look great on a shirt.

  • Choose your printing method

    You want your products to exude quality and make a good name for your brand, so it’s important to choose the right printing method. There’s a variety of ways that you can print t-shirts yourself, but there’s also several print-on-demand suppliers that you can integrate into your store that will print shirts as soon as they’re ordered. This way, you won’t ever be responsible for printing shirts yourself, holding inventory, or shipping products. Different print-on-demand suppliers use varying printing techniques, brands, and materials, so be sure to look into which supplier works best with your vision.

  • Decide where you’ll sell

    Now that you’ve figured out your products, you’ll need to decide on what platform you’d like to sell them on. There’s a decent list of t-shirt marketplaces that you can list your products for sale on, including Teespring, Zazzle, Threadless, and Redbubble. But, these marketplaces often deduct hefty fees from every sale that you make, so you might want to consider building your own online store with an eCommerce platform like 3dcart.

  • Build your online store

    If you’ve decided to start selling with an eCommerce platform like 3dcart, then you’ll need to start building your online store. Choose the website theme that best fits your t-shirt designs and products, and customize it to better fit your personal brand. Enable all of the features that you’ll need to in order to run your business effectively, such as a print-on-demand integration and a product customizer tool. Make sure that all of your payment and shipping methods are set-up properly, and then you’re ready to launch your site!

  • Start marketing

    After you get your store up and running, you can start working on your online presence. A huge aspect of getting your online t-shirt store off the ground is by marketing your unique brand and your one-of-a-kind products. Establish your personal brand, your company’s voice and mission, and get to work on building up social media power. Work on dominating the search engines with unique keywords and search terms that your niche products will rank well with. Most of all, get your name out there and make people want to care about the product you’re putting out.

3dcart includes everything you need to sell shirts online

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I design my shirts?
If you’re an artist looking to sell your designs, or if you have some design skill and would like to create simple designs yourself, you can use a program like Adobe Photoshop to illustrate what you want to be on your final products. However, you can also get help from designers in communities like Dribble and Behance, where you can search for the design style you’d like to use and connect with designers who may be willing to create a design for your products.
How do I print my shirts?
You can either print your shirt designs yourself using heat transfers, screen printing, or dye sublimation, or you can get your shirts printed by a third-party print-on-demand fulfillment supplier that uses direct-to-garment and cut & sew printing. Printing shirts yourself may garner you more profits, since print-on-demand services charge more per shirt due to the labor involved, but you’ll have to do more work and spend more time on products yourself. This is ultimately up to you, and how you want to approach your business.
How do I build my online store?
With 3dcart, it’s easy to get your store up and running. Start with a free trial and begin building your online store using 3dcart’s store builder, allowing you to choose a theme that you can customize to fit your brand, add all of your products into your store’s inventory, and set up all of the backend processes so that your store runs smoothly.
How do I market my business?
There’s a lot of ways that you can do this, but the main forms of marketing that you should focus on are social media marketing and search engine optimization. Formulate your brand and its personality, and start building a presence online to target towards the community your products are fit for. At the same time, start optimizing your online store to dominate the keywords that your products are associated with.