How to Start Your Own T-Shirt Brand & Store from Home
A Step by Step Guide
Many of us aspire to start our own fashion brand, sketching out pictures and drafting designs of what are clothing line would look like. Ideas are one thing but the execution is another. For the thousands of people who aspire to start their own fashion brand, only a handful take any steps towards realising their ambition.
If you are still procrastinating about starting your own online clothes shop, you can easily get things started with an online store selling your own custom T-shirts. You create your own T-shirt brand and your own corresponding store, all for the price of a standard WordPress website (usually less than $5 per month). You don’t need any equipment, specialised software or storage space.
Before you start this step-by-step guide, be sure to have your T-shirt designs at the ready.
A quick disclaimer, this is the process that I have used to create my own online T-shirt store. You can use any WordPress hosting provider and different website platforms and plugins to get the same job completed. Some WordPress plugins may conflict with others or pose security threats in some manner – although Woocommerce and Printful are very reputable.
Domain Name & Hosting for Your Online Store
Before you get started, it is a good idea to think of what domain name (i.e. your web address) you want for your store. You can do this by going to https://www.name.com/domain/search/ and checking if your web address is available.
In this example, however, we won’t buy our domain from this website, to make things easier, we’ll use our hosting provider for the domain name too.
There are a number of companies that can host your website for you and provide easy, 1-click installation of WordPress. These hosting companies include HostGator and Blue Host.
With Blue Host, simply go to the homepage and click to get started. Select the Basic Plan to begin with and then enter your domain. Next fill in your details but untick the extra-options near the bottom.
Make sure that you select the length of contract that you want – it prefills to the 36 month option normally. You can usually get a discount on the hosting, by hovering over the “x” in the top corner of your browser – this often fires an alert box with a special offer or discount that you can use to get the hosting cheaper.
Fill in the details to complete your registration and then verify your account via email. Once you have chosen your password and logged in, you should see the option to login to WordPress.
Once you have logged into your WordPress site, you should find yourself in the “dashboard” area. This area is used to design and populate pages and posts on your website. Here you can go to “Plugins” menu item on the left-hand side menu and click “Add New”.
In the search box on the right-hand side, type “WooCommerce” and hit enter.
Click “Install Now” to install the WooCommerce plugin and then click “Activate” once it has been installed.
Using Printful.com To Upload Your Designs
By using Prinful, you can sell T-shirts that are made-to-order. You will not have to stock anything. The orders will be sent straight to Printful, who will complete all of the orders for you, sending them direct to your customers.
Still in the plugin area of your dashboard, search for “printful” and install “Printful Integration for WooCommerce” and activate it.
Now it’s time to upload the designs and create your T-shirts in the Prinful interface. Ideally, all of your designs should be in vector format (either an SVG file or AI file) – so that they can be resized without losing any quality.
If you search online, you should find a number of websites which will change your jpeg or png into a vector for you. If your designs are hand-drawn, then you will need to scan them and either use Adobe Photoshop or another online tool to convert them to vector format.
Next go to Printful and click to sign up – choose the “drop ship” option if you are presented with a drop-down menu asking what you want to do with Printful. Next confirm your email address, by clicking on the email from Printful.
In Printful, on the left hand menu, click “Stores” and click the “Choose Platform” button on the left:
Then, under WooCommerce, click “connect”.
You should be prompted to grant permission to connect Prinful to WooCommerce, if you are happy, click “approve”.
Now, back in Printful.com, click “Add Product” and choose the T-shirt style that you desire.
Next, click on the “Design” tab on the top left and then “Upload File” on the left. Here you can upload your T-shirt designs in vector format.
On the right hand side, click “front”, “back” to add designs to both the front and back of the T-shirt.
Choose the colour of your T-shirt from the palette on the bottom-left of the screen.
Next, click “Proceed to Mockups” and choose the pictures and models that you want to use on your store to showcase your T-shirt.
Now click “Proceed to Description” and add a description in the box which if full of prefilled text. You can leave it as it is for now, but it is always better to add some unique text if you want to be found via Google. Finally, click “Proceed to Pricing” and set the price that you want to set for the T-shirt.
The product should now sync to your WordPress/Woocommerce store.
Go back to the WordPress dashboard and click on the “Printful” item on the side-menu. Under “settings” you can change and update all of the shipping options.
There should also be a “Products” item in the side-menu of the dashboard. Click this at any time to edit the products, their descriptions and to add categories and tags to organise your shop.
You should also be able to edit the appearance of your store by going to “Appearance” and “Customize” in the dashboard’s menu. Here you can change the logo, header images, the navigation menu of the store and change the ‘CSS’ if you know how to code.
Now add some additional pages to your store. Be sure to add an “About us” page and a “Delivery and Returns” page. You can do this by going to the menu in the dashboard, clicking “Pages” and “Add New”.
You will need to display your contact details and return policy on the website if you want to use Google Shopping Ads at any point. You can find the Printful returns policy https://www.printful.com/policies/returns here.
Turning Visitors into Customers
Using Google Shopping Ads and/or Facebook ads is a good way to get customers to your website, but getting them to make a purchase is another thing. You need a store that inspires a feeling of trust in your visitors and prompts them to make a purchase.
Be sure to have a landline telephone number available on the site (tip: use a telephone answering service if you don’t want people ringing your home) and ensure that the front page of the store shows any reviews or even testimonials that you may have obtained. To get started with accumulating reviews, make sure that you sign up to TrustPilot and also Google My Business.
And that’s it! As mentioned earlier, if you want to learn more about getting visitors to your website, I’d recommend watching some tutorials regarding “SEO”, Facebook ads and Google Shopping Ads.