Most online t-shirt sellers get into the business as a way to earn some extra money on the side. However, most of them dream of eventually turning this side hustle into their main hustle. After all, who doesn’t want to make a living being creative and selling t-shirts from home? With so many platforms to sell on and with the income you can make selling tees, your dream may just come true. Getting there, however, isn’t as easy as most think and it will require some effort, especially when it comes to consistently coming up with new t-shirt design ideas that sell.
It sounds easy enough to create new t-shirt designs all the time since you probably decided to get into this business because of how many clever ideas you had for t-shirts. After a while, however, it can get harder and harder to come up with fresh, competitive ideas that stand out. Luckily, we have your back. Check out these tips to help inspire new and creative t-shirt design ideas your customer base will love.
T-Shirt Design Ideas #1: Cater to Your Target Market
Before you put just any design on a t-shirt, you have to know who that t-shirt is meant for. Identifying the market you’re designing for will help you have a set focus, which can make coming up with new designs even easier.
Instead of just designing freely, think about the person you are about to design for. Since you want your customers to feel a connection to what you’re designing, it makes sense to take the time to get to know them and really understand what they want from a t-shirt design.
If you don’t have a clear idea of who you’re designing for, start by asking yourself if your designs are meant for a younger customer base or older buyers. This will help you determine an age range for your ideal customer base.
Next, focus on their character or personality traits and their interests. For example, you may be designing for someone who is politically active, but are they looking for a feminist t-shirt or a t-shirt with an animal rights slogan? Combining interests is also a good idea in order to create even more original t-shirt designs. It also helps to get to know common expressions, inside jokes, and other quirks relevant to your target market.
Finally, when thinking of the person you’re designing for, it also helps to look into what brands they already wear or what brands they aspire to wear. This can provide you with t-shirt design inspiration which can prove to be valuable. By looking into competing brands you can also identify opportunities in the market for designs that aren’t yet being covered.
Although this will require some work, all businesses need some research and commitment to get them off the ground, especially if you want a smooth and successful start. If you do your research and you get it right, you can establish a solid brand and position your brand in the market.
T-Shirt Design Ideas #2: Stay Current
To get inspired and to get your creative juices flowing, pay attention to the world around you. Things are constantly happening all around so it only makes sense to use this as a source of t-shirt design inspiration.
Beyond just reading the newspaper and watching the news, it also helps to stay informed about a broader range of topics. After all, we live in the age of the viral video, memes, etc. Other things to stay current on include movie releases, celebrity news, sporting events, social conventions, and, of course, holidays.
It may not be enough to simply pay attention to these events and happenings — you also have to be ready to act fast. The news cycle never stops or slows down, so it pays to be the first to offer a t-shirt design related to a current hot topic.
Since you already have a target audience in mind, do your best to avoid losing sight of them. So, yes, pay attention to current events and get inspired by them but be sure your t-shirt design ideas make sense for your target market. Get to know your target market’s overall opinion on important topics and use this in order to ensure your t-shirt design ideas apply. Avoid trying to cover a full range of opinions because this can feel inauthentic and can backfire, for example, you wouldn’t want to sell vegan shirts and t-shirts for bacon lovers in the same shop.
So, you may be wondering how to keep up with so many trends, especially if you still have a full-time job you’re committed to. An easy way to ensure you get the most viral information quickly is by following news and culture accounts on social media. You can quickly and easily see what’s trending and explore that further. You can also follow the social media accounts of major brands and celebrities that fall within the niche you’re designing for. This will ensure you don’t miss any celebrity’s latest catchphrase or the newest cat meme.
Tools like Google Trends and even trend publications and newsletters, like The Cool Hunter, Acquire Magazine, and Trendland will help you stay in-the-know. It’s also recommended that you don’t just stay current but also try to stay one step ahead of the game.
T-Shirt Design Ideas #3: Know What’s Selling
If you want to sell t-shirts, it helps to know what’s currently selling. Doing a bit of market research may be enough to fill your mind with tons of new and creative t-shirt design ideas that are more likely to sell. Start by looking up what your competitors are offering and what’s trending with their audience. It’s definitely fair to use this to get inspired but never copy or steal their designs; think of this as a jumping-off point for your own creative and unique designs.
Another great option is to jump onto some popular print-on-demand (POD) websites and marketplaces and take a look at what their best selling or most popular items are. This can provide you with tons of insight and can even help you make more focused designs geared towards different segments within your audience.
While PODs can help orient you a bit, you can also use tools like KWFinder to see what people are searching for in general and not just on POD sites. After a bit of time, you may find that you know the trends better than before. For example, you may notice that people search for couple’s t-shirts way more towards the end of January in anticipation of Valentine’s Day than during any other time of the year. You can use this valuable information to set up a design calendar so that these opportunities for new designs never pass you by.
Note: POD sites recommend you start promoting your seasonal designs 6 weeks prior to the actual date or holiday they’re for.
T-Shirt Design Ideas #4: Offer Custom Designs
Offering your buyers custom designs is an easy way to give them exactly what they want. Custom designs may sound a bit intimidating, so narrow down their options by offering a base design that can be customized to meet their needs. By offering custom t-shirts, you can be sure your customers will connect with the design and feel special because no one else has a t-shirt like theirs.
This is also a great option for larger groups who need custom t-shirts such as schools, sports teams, organizations, or even families who are preparing for a large family reunion. You can also offer designs for events like custom t-shirts for a charity run, a fundraiser, or for a sorority or fraternity event.
Your custom designs don’t have to be completely custom because then you’re basically just offering your freelance design services. Offer some basic templates that the customer can make certain changes to and you should be good to go.
T-Shirt Design Ideas #5: Invite a Guest Designer
If you’re already feeling burned out and are having trouble coming up with new t-shirt design ideas, you can always take a step back and invite someone to help you out. Whether you need a little break or you don’t have the skill set needed to create the design you want, you can always invite a guest designer to make some designs for your shop.
This is a great way to add something new to your shop that your customers might enjoy. If this is something you want to try, look to collaborate with a designer that fits in with your target market and the aesthetics of your shop or brand. There may be designers your customers love who don’t already sell t-shirts, so collaborating with them is a great opportunity for both of your brands to grow. Not only will you get fresh, new t-shirt design ideas, but this can also even attract new customers to your shop, which is never a bad thing.
Another option is to hire a freelance designer to create some of the designs you really want but don’t have the tools or skills to create on your own. There are tons of websites you can use to find designers who can produce the art you’re after at a reasonable price so you don’t have to worry about going over budget either.
T-Shirt Design Ideas #6: T-Shirt Design Tools
A t-shirt design tool is an ideal tool for all sorts of t-shirt designers. Using a t-shirt design template can simplify the design process, helping you to create a design you maybe couldn’t make on your own. Not only can you stretch your skills further but you can also save valuable time for other aspects of your business.
Another benefit of using t-shirt design tools like Placeit’s T-Shirt Design Maker is that it makes it super easy to create t-shirt designs with small changes and variations. Instead of starting your t-shirt designs from scratch, use a template to achieve these nuanced designs successfully and in no time. You can quickly and easily change the color of a graphic, change the font without losing the alignment, and even swap the background out for another one in a single click. You can save all of these t-shirt designs, test them out, and go back to make changes if needed later on. Since you’re saving time, you can explore new ideas and experiment with your current offering.
These t-shirt design templates are sorted by style, event, holiday, and other categories, so it’s super easy to find the graphics for the look you’re trying to achieve. You may even find there are design templates for categories and topics you hadn’t even considered.
Although it may seem like coming up with new t-shirt design ideas is the easiest job in the world, the truth is that it does require some research and practice if you want to make money doing it. By keeping yourself organized and allowing your creativity to flow with tips like these, this practice can get easier over time.