Starting a tshirt company can be challenging if you have limited funds, but it’s not impossible. In future writings, I’ll share some other ways you can get started on a limited budget, but today, I want to address the following question I got from Jerome on our TshirtRiches Facebook page.
QUESTION: I figure you get a lot of messages and I’m not sure if you’ll answer, but I have been watching your t-shirt business videos and it inspired me to take a chance. First off, I’m a single father of 5 and I’ve worked as a call center manager for 10 years.
I recently purchased a t shirt heat press to try to start making t-shirts to make just a little extra money. I’m really working with a small budget and I will for the most part have to start where I am until I make enough to upgrade. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for me. I’m basically out of pocket trying to make this t-shirt business opportunity happen. Your advice would mean a lot.
hi Jerome. Congrats on starting your t-shirt business. This is a question I get often, and my advice is always the same. Most every new t-shirt startup entrepreneur makes the mistake in believing everyone wants to buy their t-shirts, and as a result, they try to sell their shirts to everybody.
My biggest recommendation would be to identify a niche you wish to go after, and do everything you can to learn everything about that space and be everywhere.
For example, we’re in the ‘Christian’ t-shirt niche and everything we do centers around that space. We’re not trying to sell these religious tees to punk rockers, fitness junkies or race car fanatics. By staying in one t-shirt niche, it allows us to design t-shirts around our market.
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We do everything we need to do to get familiar with the conversations and interests happing in that space. We market and advertise in places where Christian folk are likely to be. We wouldn’t advertise in a major newspaper publication like the Atlanta Journal Constitution when there are newspapers exclusively for the Christian market.
When you know your market or niche, you take your tees directly to them. It’s much cheaper and your marketing dollars are very well targeted. Going too broad in the beginning will cost you a fortune and it’s difficult to try and appeal to everybody.
For example, other t-shirt entrepreneurs are making tees exclusively for nurses, teachers, skateboarders, barbers, natural hair, etc… I’m blown away with some of the ideas and concepts people come up with and make money from. For example, there were some college students who made beer t-shirts and earned themselves a small fortune.
So the thing to do is to pick just ONE niche area and go into it and show out. Usually, i’d suggest it be something you’re already interested in, or have knowledge about. Using your call center job for example, there’s millions of people working in a call center and I imagine they have inside jokes for the crazy folks they have to deal with on the phone.
Start there and see if you can identify language that appeals to people who work in call centers. I imagine if you focus and research this out, you’d be surprised at what you might be able to come up with. People working in a call center would get and understand the slogans and jokes and this is what niche marketing is all about — you’re already in the space. Turn it upside down and see what you can come up with.
That’s just a suggestion though, but wanted to give you an example of what you could do if you sit down and think this thing through. Making, designing and selling t-shirts is a fun business, so get creative and have fun with it.
If you’ve come up with some unique t-shirt design ideas or slogans, please share a link in the comments section below — I’d love to see what you’ve come up with (others will also be able to click the link and see your designs too).