How Do I Start a T-Shirt Business on a Really Tight Budget

Starting A Merch Store With A Shoe String Budget
Are you a newbie who wants to start selling merch but don’t want to splurge initially? While it’s ideal to start with some good funding, it isn’t impossible at all with only a shoestring budget.
Are you a newbie who wants to start selling merch but don’t want to splurge initially? While it’s ideal to start with some good funding, it isn’t impossible at all with only a shoestring budget.

Building a t-shirt business from scratch is no easy job. If you’re up for the extra challenge, try building a t-shirt business on a really tight budget!

Although it’s not impossible to start a business with little to no capital, there are a few things you must pay attention to in order to stretch what little you might have and turn it into a fully functional business!

t-shirt with no design and t-shirt model

The start is oftentimes the most difficult stage but once you are able to lay down the foundations, things will start to move forward.

This does not equate to instant success, but as long as you have a strong foundation, marketing your merch brand will be a little less fussy.

It will be easier to maximize the potential of your marketing efforts!

How to create a strong brand

It is very important to create a strong brand as the backbone of your business. Once a business has a very iconic branding, this makes it easier for them to stand out from the competition.

Achieve this by doing the following:

  1. Pick out the niche you want to target.
  2. Pick out the perfect name for your brand.
  3. Pick out the perfect logo for your brand.

Picking out a niche means doing research on a potentially profitable segment of the market which can be penetrated.

Take note, it is always important to look for profit if you are planning to start a t-shirt business as a legitimate business and not just a hobby.

Choosing a name is free! This is actually one of the most important parts of building a strong brand.

The brand name itself has to be something impactful and something the market can remember.

Brand is just perception, and perception will match reality over time.

Elon Musk

Making a logo for your brand can be quite tough.

You can outsource this part to the professionals or you can try to do it yourself.

It is important, however, to make sure the logo is unique and represents the business perfectly.

Try to find your competitive advantage

Looking for an angle where you’ll stand out is very important.

This would give the t-shirt business an upper edge against the competition. It could be either an angle that is “not too explored but has potential” or a “different way of approaching a popular niche.” 

These two are different angles that can be explored in order to hit the perfect target market.

To simplify everything, both what and how to matter a lot.

What are you doing that’s different and how are you targeting the market differently?

Make a t-shirt business for free?

Although not technically free, there is a way that you can take care of the supply of t-shirts without having to buy the t-shirts, design them, print them, pack them, and ship them yourself.

This practice is called drop shipping and it is a way for a t-shirt business to exist without needing most of the expensive tools, inventory, and manpower.

Shopping cart with money and a macbook with black screen

Dropshipping works by working with a certain company that sends t-shirts on demand!

This means all you’ll have to do is market your design and the company would make the shirts for you and send them.

This saves a lot of time, energy, and money in the long run.

Dropshipping companies usually charge a fee and once you work out the numbers regarding how much you are earning despite that fee, you’ll be able to make projections, targets, and other data-based decisions that can help your t-shirt business.

Of course, even if the supply side is taken care of, you’ll still need to make your brand and designs known.

Take it to social media

Start making your presence known on social media.

The good thing about social media is once you’ve learned how to use it to your advantage, it can be a very powerful tool to promote your business!

The best part is, you don’t really have to pay for social media ads if you are skilled enough!

woman using a phone thinking about business on instagram

Learning how to promote your products online might not always be that simple, there are trends you’ll need to follow and there’s a lot of trial and error you’ll have to go through.

However, once you’ve made your business “viral” on social media, this will help improve the outcome of your t-shirt business.

Here are a few ways to make sure you cover all bases:

  1. Have different social media accounts for your business (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, and etc.).
  2. There are apps that allow you to schedule posts, make sure to regularly upload content.
  3. Use your social media accounts to engage in “high-engagement content” like memes, social topics, and even groups.
  4. Be responsive on social media. The more you interact, the higher your chances of converting audiences into customers.
  5. Use the right hashtags, engage with the right content, and make sure you promote your product correctly (sometimes being too pushy has a negative effect).

Although these aren’t the only social media techniques out there (you might have some of your own), these are some ways you can make sure your social media account remains engaging to your potential customers.

Since you won’t be having any physical product, you’ll have to make sure you cover all digital bases possibly even smaller niche ones.

Be consistent in your efforts

If you’re doing your best today, make sure to do your best tomorrow.

Being a consistent brand is very important especially if you want to have repeat customers (finding new customers is harder than just catering to repeat customers).


Thank you for reading, and we hope you found this useful. If you have any questions or you want to follow us for more related discussions, follow us on Twitter.

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