How to Sell t-shirts Online Without Inventory: Step-by-Step Guide

by | Apr 25, 2022 | Live Work Play Travel, Work Online + remote & nomad Life | 3 comments

Sell t-shirts online without inventory from home or while working and travelling abroad!

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Designing and selling t-shirts online is one of the most popular online businesses people start as a side hustle or full-time career. It is a great business you can do from home or while working and travelling abroad. You don’t need a huge amount of knowledge or investment to start a t-shirt business and this is why I have done it. In this post, I will walk you through the steps to sell t-shirts online without inventory through print-on-demand. These are the steps I have followed, which have proven successful I might add. After all, the humble t-shirt is a universal item that pretty much everyone wears at different times. This could be as bed wear, travel wear, general casual wear or going out wear. So let me help you take the leap to start your online t-shirt business using print-on-demand. 


What is Print-on-Demand?


Print-on-demand is similar to dropshipping. It allows you to sell t-shirts online, without the hassle of managing inventory, fulfilment or shipping. That’s right, print-on-demand printers will do all this for you. Using a print-on-demand printer will ensure you won’t be stuck with a stack of unsold t-shirts. Of course, there are costs, so when setting your pricing for your t-shirts you will need to take this into account. More on this later in the blog post. 

Briefly how it works is, when someone orders through your website, the order is fulfilled by the print-on-demand printer. They have the t-shirts in stock, they print the design on the t-shirt and then ship it to the customer-worldwide. Voila!


Can You Make Money Selling t-shirts Online?


Before you start the process to set up your online t-shirt business, you will want to know can you make money selling t-shirts online. Well I read recently that according to Wix eCommerce store, the global custom t-shirt market in 2020 was valued at around $4 billion. Wow! No wonder so many people are making money with their online t-shirt business – so why not you too! As long as you have great designs, excellent product and set a price people will pay, then yes, you can make money. But if you aren’t prepared to give up your current full-time job you can always start your online t-shirt business as a side hustle first. If you need more convincing, here are 5 good reasons why selling t-shirts on-line is worth it.


5 Great Reasons Why Selling t-shirts Online is worth it


Before I started selling my t-shirts online, I did a lot of research. I needed to convince myself that starting a t-shirt line would be of benefit. The news the industry was valued at around $4 billion was a spur that made me investigate. If you are wondering whether selling t-shirts online will be a profitable business venture, here are 5 great reasons I discovered why selling t-shirts online is worth it.


  • You Don’t Need Special Skills or Experience


That’s right, you don’t need special skills or experience when creating and selling t-shirts online. There are plenty of online businesses out there to help you. From graphic designers to on-demand printers to marketing specialists, selling t-shirts online can be automated quite easily.


  • It is Easy to Start


Yes, it is easy to start an online t-shirt business from the comfort of your own home. You don’t need a physical office or equipment. The hardest thing I found was deciding on a design to put on a t-shirt. But once you have your design the process, I found, was very easy.


  • It doesn’t stop you doing other things


Once I had my t-shirts up on my website and the process of selling them is automated, I can do many other things.


  • You only need a little capital to start


The biggest capital was spent on registering a business name, registering a website address, getting a website created, (I already had one), hosting of the website and when I had the idea for my designs I got a graphic designer to make my designs a reality. I also had a small budget for advertising but was reliant on spreading the word for free using social media. Apart from these things, no other capital was required. I was also working from home and didn’t need to rent an office for my business. 


  • You can switch up ideas and diversify your t-shirt range


Originally I offered one type of t-shirt, of different colours with the same logo. As these started to sell I was able to look for other products. After feedback from my customers I added other hoodies to my range.  I also introduced t-shirts with different says. The latest was ‘Travel in Progress’. As you grow, you can mix it up. 


The Steps to Start Your online t-shirt business at a Glance


  1. Do Your Research to Come Up with Ideas
  2. Choose Your Niche
  3. Choose Your Name
  4. Create Designs
  5. Choose a Print-on-Demand Printer
  6. Choose your Shop
  7. Choosing your Options within Print-on-Demand Service
  8. Do a Test Run
  9. Market, Market, Market and Build Your Brand


Step by Step Guide on How to Sell t-shirts Online


Now I’ve convinced you that starting an online t-shirt business can be worth your while, it is time to get the process happening. I’m going to walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to get started.


Do Your Research to Come Up with Ideas


As with any new business or project you need to do some research. I suggest formulate a business plan of the who, what, where, why and how of your online t-shirt business. This way you can keep referring to it, and change it to the adapting needs of the business. Your research could involve doing a survey of what people are liking at the moment.


Choose Your Niche


You may not realise it but there are niches in the t-shirt world. There are t-shirts for females, males, rock bands, tourist hotspots, street wear, political parties, sleep wear and more. Choose your t-shirt niche as this will make it easier to choose designs, as your designs will reflect your niche. But don’t focus on a certain niche simply because you like it. You need to choose a niche that sells. 

If you go online and search for t-shirt brands, you will find out what is ‘hot’ at the moment. And if you want a successful t-shirt business where success means lots of sales, definitely take into account what is hot right now to choose your niche. It doesn’t mean you should copy what is already out there, but it does mean you can incorporate ‘what is hot’ into your own ideas. So check out your competitors and take notes of what they are doing right.

I have said to choose a t-shirt niche that sells. If you truly love your niche, go for it, there will be people out there with the same likes as you. I love my travel niche and as I believe t-shirts are a ’travellers’ uniform’; I am creating and selling t-shirts that are not only of good quality but reflect travel. 


Choose Your Name


Choose a name for your online t-shirt shop. One that reflects what your brand is about. Or it can be the name of your business. I was already using the name LiveWorkPlayTravel as my travel blog name, so that is the name I chose. I’m basically using my logo on my t-shirts to advertise my brand. 

Don’t forget to ensure the domain name is also available. You will want your business name to match your domain name. Also get licensed and trademarked if needed. Yes, protecting your designs, logos and/or slogans is a must. You don’t want anyone stealing what you have created.


Create Designs


Now you have settled on your niche and the legalities of your business, the next step is to create a design. Will your design be words, a logo or pictures? With my t-shirt business I use my logo. 

There are a number of options for creating designs. You can design one yourself by using software such as Canva. Canva is an online graphic design platform which allows you to create many things –  including t-shirt designs. If you are struggling with designs, you could employ someone from a platform such as Fiverr, Upwork, Behance or Dribble where freelance designers hang out to create designs for you.


Choose a Print-On-Demand Shop and Upload Your Designs


Once you have your designs, it is time to get them printed. The best option is to use a print-on-demand online shop. What’s that you ask? This is a printer where you choose a garment (like a t-shirt), put your design on it, have it printed and the online shop then sends it to your customer. You don’t need to keep stock and you don’t have to pay for anything until an order arrives. This spares you the need for storage space to pile unsold t-shirts. Some print-on-demand t-shirt printers include:

  • Printify
  • Printful
  • CafePress
  • Teespring
  • Spreadshirt
  • Zazzle


Choose Your Shop


Before you connect your Print-On-Demand service to your shop you will need to choose a platform for your shop. Popular platforms are Shopify, Wix and TeeSpring however, you can have your own website with ecommerce facilities on it, such as WooCommerce. Once you have this platform set up, you can connect your shop to your print-on-demand service. After you have your designs ready in your print-on-demand service it is a relatively easy process to link to your shop. Don’t be deterred if this sounds scary. Most of the channels have step-by-step instructions for tech novices to set things up. I’m technically challenged and I did it! You can visit my store here to see what I have done.

TIP: Ensure your store is mobile friendly as a lot of people shop from their mobiles.


Choosing Your Options within Print-On-Demand 


There are things To Consider When Choosing The Size, The Colour, The Type Of Material As Shown In This Chart.

lots of options within the print-on-demand service


It’s wonderful having a great design but nobody likes an ill-fitted and low-quality garment. During the creating processes within your Print-on-Demand printer you will be given a few options to choose from. 


Style and quality of garment


There are many styles of t-shirt you can choose from regular short-sleeve t-shirts to long sleeve t-shirts, polo shirts and hoodies to name a few. Choose good quality for your products. Sample your products yourself to ensure the quality control. Having a quality product creates a positive experience and this is one thing that keeps customers coming back.


Colour options


There should be colour options available as not everyone likes wearing a white t-shirt. Have a variety of colours for your t-shirts – black, grey and any other colour that takes your fancy that the printer offers.


Size options


Consider size options you’ll offer your customers. If you want your t-shirt brand to be accessible to everybody, then include all sizes for everybody.


Set your price


Another thing is to set your price. Through the print-on-demand service you will be advised how much each product will be. For example, a t-shirt may cost you $10 to produce from the print-on-demand printer. If you sell it at $30 through your store, you will be making $20 profit per t-shirt.

In general, based on current trends, a sale price of $5-$15 will struggle to make a profit. $16-$29 is roughly the price range customers are spending on a t-shirt. If a t-shirt is priced at $30 and above, it will need to be quality. There is no harm in having t-shirts set at this price to test the waters and see if your brand of t-shirt is worth this much to customers.

Most sellers aim to make about 50% profit on each t-shirt sold. To do this, use the formula, Retail price = Cost of product x 2. This will give you leeway to have specials, and offer discounts of say, 10-20% to get more sales.


Offer a variety of Payment Options


Payment options for your customers are also important. Choose as many payment options as possible as people love choice.


Do a Test Run


Once your shop is ready and you have imported all the designs, give it a test-run. Order a t-shirt for yourself to see if everything runs smoothly or get a friend to purchase something. Ensure all the processes run smoothly – from adding items to the cart, to the payment process, to the delivery. Make sure you iron out any bugs in the processes to ensure your business looks professional, and hopefully a customer will become a returning customer.


Market, Market, Market and Build Your Brand


Once you have a shop with t-shirts you will want customers to visit your shop. Using the power of social media to market and sell your t-shirts is a great way to drive traffic to your store. Firstly decide on the platform or platforms you wish to use. Platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, etc. Good news is creating a social media account is free and posting is free also. However, you can choose to advertise on these platforms to get your product out there. 


Get Your Online t-shirt Business off the ground Now!


Selling t-shirts online is a great business idea that doesn’t require too much investment, and can potentially make you lots of money. You don’t need experience or knowledge either, as the steps from conception to product are pretty simple. With the help of free tools such as Canva, Printify and social media outlets, you should be making some $$ in no time. And it is a great business you can set up and do from home or while working and travelling abroad. If you have a t-shirt business or are thinking of starting one as a side hustle or full-time, I’d love to hear about it in the comments following.


How To Sell t-shirts Online Through Your Own Store. These t-shirts Are Waiting To Be Sold Online.

Thanks for sharing!

Useful Travel Resources for Your Next Adventure!


Accommodation: Where Will You Sleep Tonight? If you want a bed in a hostel dorm find a great deal with HostelWorld. I mostly stay in hotels now, is my favourite site for booking hotels from budget to ‘I feel like splurging’. For something completely different I house and pet sitting through Trusted Housesitters – this has saved me thousands on accommodation, no joke!

Flights: I always head to Skyscanner first to find a cheap and flexible flight.

Car Rental: When I need to rent a car I turn to RentalCars.

Train Travel: I love riding the train rails and get the best value from raileurope. And Japan has a great one too – JapanRail Pass.

Bus Travel: Check out Busbud for bus tickets.

Pre-organised Tours: I’ve been on a few in my time with Contiki being my first and favourite. if you are 18-35 years of age you should check them out.

Jump-the-queue entrance tickets: I don’t enjoy standing in long queues which is why I book my entrance tickets and day trips in advance. My favourite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Travel Insurance. There are a number of reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without having bought a policy as you never know when something might happen. SafetyWing is great digital nomads and long-term travellers and World Normads has policies for general and adventure travel.


Sharyn McCullum In A Black T-shirt With Her Live Work Play Travel Logo In The Shape Of A World.

Hi. Sharyn here. Savvy Australian female with a passion for travel and working abroad. I’m on a mission to provide you with my best tips, tricks and hacks to work abroad and travel the world. If I can do it, so can you!  Read more.


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  1. Meghan

    Thank you for sharing such detailed information about selling print-on-demand products, as well as providing websites that do this! I’m definitely going to keep this in mind for when I start to sell physical products. 🙂

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Many people look for ways to make money online and selling t-shirts online is a popular one!

  2. Jeanine

    This is a great idea to start your own branded product I love it…thanks for sharing all your knowledge…


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